The One True Church

I remember one conversation I had with a Roman Catholic priest. In the course of our talk, he asked me if I belonged to the Church. I replied, “I belong to the one true church.”
“Oh, then you’re a Catholic,” he said.
“No, I’m not.”
“Then you don’t belong to the one true church.”
“I am part of the only real church, the one that isn’t represented by any earthly organization.”
“That would be the Catholic Church.”
“We’ll have to agree to disagree.”

Church and Spirit

I believe that there are Catholics who are part of the true church, as well as Baptists, Lutherans, Adventists, Unitarians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, humanists, agnostics… Perhaps I need to start defining terms. Bear in mind that these are my own definitions. They do not necessarily accord with those of any religious organization, and they are subject to refinement as I continue to learn.

There are many churches and other religious, spiritual, and philosophical organizations. These are all human creations. The church, the real one, is the coming together of people to work in harmony for good under the influence of the spirit.

The spirit is that part of us that recognizes what is good — confidence, laughter, being faithful, nurturing your children, making sacrifices for others who need help — and that knows when we have done harm. Whether this part of us is human nature, a product of human evolution, or a gift from a higher power is not important in practice.

The Divine

Shall I dare to try to do what the Bible does not, to define God? I have heard it said that chaos is simply a form of order that is too complex for us to understand. Perhaps among all the creation/destruction going on in the universe, God is that which seems to provide direction, the reason that there appears to be an increasingly complex pattern of development in the midst of increasing entropy.

Or perhaps not. I suppose it is foolish to try to define that which must be greater than anything we can see or imagine, when it appears that we can only describe, at best, 4% of the physical universe.

In Practical Terms

At least we can agree, I think, that there is something that has the power to bring us together to accomplish good things, even great things. Whether we call this gathering “the church” or something else doesn’t matter. The important things are the accomplishments, the cooperation, and the compassion we show.

I don’t imagine my Catholic (or Methodist, or Buddhist) friends will agree with much of this. I do hope it helps them understand a little better where I am coming from.

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5 thoughts on “The One True Church

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  1. Thanks for this chiefy.

    I was reminded of a description that a seminary lecturer gave me some 25 years ago. He said, “imagine the ‘church’ like a solar system. For the Roman Catholics the heart of the church, the sun, is the Roma Catholic Church. Everyone outside of that are called “separated brethren”. The closer to the roman church everyone gets, the closer the communion, community, fellowship they have with each other. I like the picture except for the Roman Catholic Church bit. for me it works if you say that Jesus is in the centre. and the closer to what Jesus is, the closer to love and forgiveness and acceptance and self sacrifice, then the closer the genuine bond we can have with each other.

    1. That’s an interesting idea, if you consider that gravity works as it does because massive objects like the sun change the nature of the space near them. In this metaphor, in order to resist the truth, one has to expend energy like a rocket escaping a gravitational field. The farther from the truth, the less energy it takes to move farther away. But it also takes energy to move closer to the truth. You’ve got me thinking.

  2. Good post, Chiefy. I wish you well on your search for enlightenment outside the constraining boxes (a.k.a. “organized religion”) invented by other fellow inhabitants of this little planet who have no more and no less clues than you and me about what is out there. Having said that, as long as “organized religion” pushes forward concepts of “high moral standards”, respects the “freedom from religion” of their fellow citizens of the earth, and does not make a fuss when such or such so called holy book is burned during a spring cleaning exercise, that’s OK with me.

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