Michael Trolly, our most gifted organist, a former deacon from our Traditional Anglican Communion days, is also a gifted apologist. He also spent some time as a missionary with Catholic Christian Outreach, so he has much experience in reaching out to those who are searching for God.
In this month’s Annunciator, the newsletter or Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he has a marvelous piece about how one might approach someone who believes in a pantheistic view of the universe. Read the whole thing!
Many people claim that everyone believes in the same God, or even that believing in
a pantheistic universe where all is one, and we are all God, is pretty much the same as being a Christian. I think there is one question we can ask that can help provide (both them and us) with some insight, and it is this: “Does the universe love you?”
What I mean is, if you say that all is one, does this “oneness” love
you? Christianity does believe that ultimate reality is a unity, but
we believe it is a unity of three Persons — three Persons who love
perfectly, and whose love overflows throughout all of creation – a
creation which is filled with the presence of God, but is not God.
God chose freely to create something separate from Himself so
that He could love us, and it is precisely this belief in the Trinity,
this dogma, that safeguards this very practical, personal, spiritual
experience of being loved by God. During my most recent
semester at St. Paul University, I read a book by Cardinal Walter
Kasper called The God of Jesus Christ. He argued powerfully that
Christians cannot defend the concept of “God” in the abstract,
beginning with an apologetic for monotheism and then defending
the doctrine of the Trinity as a second step. He argued that a
Triune God is the only sort of God who could really be God,
because only a God who had this eternal, loving relationship as
part of His divine nature could really be the “living God” who
worked in history or entered into human hearts.
My spirituality or religion, whatever terminology the postmodern world prefers,
begins with the reality that God loves me. I know this because of
the experience of grace, because of (to use a phrase I heard Dr.
John Patrick use once) “flowers left on the doorstep of my heart”–
and this means that God must be able to love; and this makes our
doctrine of the nature of God very important indeed.
The second central thing about our faith, to skip forward
to the third feast under consideration, is that (as I heard Bp. Scott
McCaig emphasize once in a sermon) “God loves us with a human
heart.” At the core of reality–even beyond our concept of reality–
is a beating human heart. I think that this is a wonderful point to
emphasize when people are wondering what it is that Christians
believe, and wondering what makes our faith distinctive, because
I think it very efficiently makes the point, in a way that is
incredibly attractive rather than argumentative. Let me say it
again, we believe that the deepest mystery of the universe is a
beating, loving, human heart. This is so because of the
Incarnation, which again shows how a doctrine is essential to our
experience of the spiritual. I may not be able to prove to
someone’s satisfaction that God came down from heaven and took
on a human heart, (as well as the rest of human existence), and
took that heart into Eternity to become the heart of all life, but it
should be immediately obvious that this is a unique idea not found
in any other belief system, that it is central to my faith, and that it
is a supremely beautiful and compelling idea.