When does Christ become an impediment to faith?

May 10, 2021

One of the chief uses of religion is that it makes us remember our coming from darkness, the simple fact that we are created.

G.K. Chesterton

A compelling case for the study of religion is to discover who is Jesus Christ. The answer lies with a follow-up question; who is He? St. Augustine provides context to this question in his Confessions:

I now tried to discover other truths, as I had already come to realize that incorruptible is better than corruptible, so that You must be incorruptible, whatever might be Your nature.  For no soul ever has been able to conceive or eve will be able to conceive anything better than You, the supreme and perfect Good.[1]

St. Augustine describes Christ as the incorruptible against his own corruptibility. For him, the answer lies in the One who is pure joy, goodness, and love. In his First Catechetical Instruction St. Augustine explains that that the chief reason Christ came was to manifest and teach God’s love for us.[2] If we begin to follow the pattern of the question who is Jesus Christ, He is the Son of God who came to reveal God’s love to us in a most remarkable way by sacrificing His son for the salvation of souls.

The Premise of Religion

St. John Henry Newman would claim that an assent faith begins with a process of investigation. This means that any investigation into faith or religion begins with the premise that faith is true and believable. If this is the case then the formulation of religion or the intention of handing on faith is to help the person live a religious life. The aim of religious instruction is to provide a person an opportunity to engage God and everything associated with the Alpha and Omega. These basic principles open a passage way toward answering the question; who is Jesus Christ which guides us toward understanding the mystery of Christ.

A proper understanding of Catechetical instruction

The term Catechesis, for the sake of this article is defined as a handing on of the faith, this does not mean that the primary concern is the delivery of dogmatic theological principles. The principal aim of catechesis involves a specific transmission of God’s love through His son Jesus Christ so that we may develop and active and intimate relationship with Him. Privy to this process is the transmission of the Word of God that serves as the foundation of all Catholic doctrine that comes from Jesus Christ. This means that catechesis first and foremost involves the proclamation of the Word of God which is the kerygma-Gospel that reveals the mystery of Christ and provides unity for Christian doctrine. The unity of both the kerygma and catechesis work as one unified pillar with the intention to guide a person to engage a life with Christ as the head.[3] The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us:

Whoever is called to teach Christ must first seek “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”; he must suffer the loss of all things . . . in order to “gain Christ and be found in him and “to know the power of his resurrection, and to share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that, if possible, he may attain the resurrection from the dead.[4]

The study of religion involves the study of faith and morals which is the premise of catechetical instruction. It involves the transmission of Christian doctrine to serve as a central assessment in the maturation of the Christian faith. Religious education cannot be separated from this formative process if the aim is to raise faithful and loving Christians.

Is Christ and impediment to faith?

The Christian message involves the transmission of God’s love for his people revealed through His son Jesus Christ.[5] God invites us into a relationship with Him through His Son. In Christ we receive the revelation of God’s love through Jesus’ death and resurrection and the promised hope that He will come again.  The message proclaimed by Christ is a message of salvation.[6] Christ is the most excellent gift of the Father’s love to us.[7]

If Christ proclaims a message of salvation, then how can He be an impediment to faith? The Christian experience just like the study of religion and catechetical instruction if not associated with the triune God can be viewed as a force of opposition. The result is a perverted view of the theological virtue of love, a disregard for the respect and dignity of all life, a rejection of the kerygma and the teachings of Jesus Christ-specifically Christ is not God. Christ becomes an impediment when the person actively chooses himself over Jesus Christ. He rejects the basic premise to proclaim the Gospel to all nations in the name of Jesus Christ in order to satisfy his own selfish needs in the name of his own Jesus who for convenience’s sake is not associated with God.

In answer to the earlier question, who is Jesus Christ?  He is my Lord, Savior and King whom I would die for, for the sake of the Kingdom.

If you know Christ and nothing else, you know everything.”

St. Bonaventure

 

[1] St. Augustine, Confessions 2nd ed., book seven, IV, (Hacket, 2006), p. 120

[2] St. Augustine, De Catechizandis Rudibis, (Westminster, 1946), p. 21

[3] Eph 4:15

[4] CCC 428

[5] Col 2:2

[6] Jn 14:6

[7] Jn 3:16

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