Friday, January 28, 2011

Truth in the Problematic Dutch Catechism

After Vatican II, Dutch bishops published a book that is commonly referred to as the Dutch Catechism. It is rather non-dogmatic in its approach, and there are some issues to be found in it. After it was published, the Vatican had a team investigate the book and issued a 50 page document outlining the issues with it. One issue concerned birth control. The book was issued prior to Humanae Vitae, but basically offered a dissenting view on the issue of birth control, ultimately leaving it up to the conscience of the couple. Obviously this is not Church teaching, and this problem was addressed in the Vatican document.

Unfortunately, instead of actually fixing anything, the Dutch bishops simply published the Vatican document as an appendix to the Catechism they had produced.

But one thing I read from this catechism stood out to me. It says a lot about our faith.

It reads:

"The heart of the book is the message of Easter. If the news of Jesus’ resurrection were removed, not one page of the book would have any value."

This is very important when it comes to Christianity. St. Paul said that unless Christ rose from the dead, his faith is in vain. Many people think of Jesus as just a good moral teacher, on the same level as Buddha or Confucius. But our faith is not based on a series of principles, but on the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was not simply a moral teacher. He is the second person of the Trinity and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World. We achieve our salvation, not through following a life ethic, but through our response to God's grace, and being part of the Body of Christ. That's why the Eucharist is the "source and summit" of the Christian faith. If Jesus was a moral teacher only, then the Eucharist would be pointless. All the other moral teachers said they were mere men, such as Buddha for example. But only Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. A good moral teacher would not say he is the Son of God.

We are saved only through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, not simply because we're "good" people. Also, his grace comes through his Church, and that's why there is no salvation outside the Church. Jesus established a Church, and he said no one comes to the father except through him. As the Bible says, the Church is the Body of Christ. Jesus never once said "No one goes to the father except those that follow a moral teacher".

Christianity is not about following the advice of Jesus, but rather it is about being followers of Jesus himself.

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