The Shabbiness Of Untruth

The Shabbiness Of Untruth, by Rod Dreher.

Father Thomas Petri, OP, nails a theological lapse in his fellow Catholic priest James Martin, SJ — a lapse that is widely shared today, whether those who do realize it or not. Excerpt:

Could Jesus be ignorant and need to learn from others? The question comes up whenever Catholics go to Sunday Mass and hear Matthew 15:21-28 … It’s the scene where a Canaanite woman approaches the Lord and begs him to cure her daughter of a demon. Initially not answering her, Jesus delivers a seemingly striking rebuke: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel … It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Of course, he eventually accedes to her request and heals her daughter, but only after she demonstrates her faith in his divinity by calling him “Lord”.

Some claim that this shows Jesus being taught a lesson. Fr James Martin tweeted: “Today we see Jesus’ human and divine natures: he learns from the woman that his ministry extends to all, and he heals her daughter.” Even more audaciously, the official Twitter account for the Maryknoll Missioners actually declared: “Jesus was part of his culture: prejudiced against Canaanites. But he allowed a foreign woman to expand his views. Do we?”

Sadly, many Catholics will have heard similar claims from the pulpit. To claim that Jesus was part of his culture, and limited in his understanding, is a favourite argument of those who want women to be admitted to the priesthood. Jesus’s culture was sexist, they say, so it’s understandable that he would not ordain women.

But the idea that Jesus did not understand his mission in its fullness contradicts both the Catholic understanding of Jesus’s divinity and humanity, and the way the Church’s tradition has understood the Gospels. …

If Jesus Christ, the God-man, was in any way ignorant and had to learn from others, then we 21st century mortals may feel justified in presuming that Jesus has something to learn from us. That is, we set ourselves in judgment over Him, reading Scripture with an eye toward seeing His judgment as culture-bound and flawed. If Jesus was wrong about the Canaanite woman, what else might he (and those who speak in his name today) be wrong about, because their understanding was and is limited by their culture?

If that’s the case, then we can’t really speak of truth as if it were something objective, to which we must submit. We can make it up as we go along, telling ourselves and others that we are growing into a new truth, just as Jesus of Nazareth did when He met the Canaanite woman. There’s really no limit to what we can justify with that understanding of Jesus, and of Truth.

Thus does liberal Christianity turn the splendor of truth into a drab and shopworn thing, a shabby garment fit for slaves serving what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger termed the “dictatorship of relativism”.

hat-tip Stephen Neil