Fr. Dale Matson
It was a great phone conversation as usual yesterday. I found it interesting that you claim to be a man capable of ‘Hope’ but not ‘Faith’. I have thought about it more and am reminded of St. Paul’s great chapter on love. I believe you are a man of ‘Love’ also. Read first Corinthians, Chapter 13 and pay particular attention to the final verse. He cites the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Love. If you turn to the New Testament book of Hebrews (Chapter 11 verse one), you have the following definition for faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV) Based on that definition, it seems to me you are also a man of faith. Does that make you a Christian? No. Most Christians don’t understand that having faith in Christ does not mean just that He is who He claims to be and that they want His salvific work to apply to them. It is not just a case of Christ living in us. We also live in Him. In him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28a).
Faith is positional. Positionally, Christ is in us and we are in Christ. We died with Him on the cross, arose from the grave with Him, ascended with Him and are seated with Him eternally. “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:3-6:11). We also have this from Ephesians. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” (2:6). It has already been accomplished but has not yet happened. This is the mystery of the Christian brand of faith. This makes Christianity and Christ Himself unique as a faith and Him unique as a savior. This makes Christianity a faith based on hope because it is an already accomplished yet not yet accomplished reality.
Our baptism is a public expression of this and our being placed into His body the church universal. The church is our spiritual family where we are nurtured and sanctified. The Eucharist (Communion) is our remembering (actually anamnesis) of how God the Father’s love is expressed to us in the person and work of Jesus the Christ. Baptists claim that the liturgical churches (Orthodox, Roman and Anglican) don’t have an ‘Altar call’ (an invitation to come forward and accept Christ as savior), yet we have an altar call every time we celebrate the mass (Eucharist) and people come forward to literally receive Christ Who is physically present in the bread and wine (another mystery). The ‘reformed’ Christians like Calvin, Luther and Zwingli were rationalists who threw the baby out with the bathwater. Christianity is a mystery religion. I personally believe the Gospel stated and demonstrated in the Eucharist will speak to you even more than the Gospel in a homily.
Your brother Dale+