Richard Rohr reflection

When I read or hear Richard Rohr, I am reassured. If this beloved and renowned Franciscan can say what he says, I belong where I am—in the Catholic Church, challenging its damaging teaching. He calls his theology “alternative orthodoxy.” That’s what I can call my set of beliefs. Rohr takes issue with the belief in original sin, taught to Christians since before medieval times.

I agree with Rohr that everybody is born with divinity inside her- or himself; we are not born with a sin that needs to be erased. When I was studying theology for a Master’s degree, the pronouncements of theologians who assumed people are born with original sin repelled me.
Anselm of Canterbury’s interpretation seemed the most outrageous.

To vent my scorn, I translated his ideas into a tragicomedy, a medieval drama with a cast of three:
The feudal LORD-GOD who collects payments of honor, MAN who was created to give honor to LORD-GOD, and GOD-MAN JESUS.

In the beginning, MAN dishonors LORD-GOD by sinning. He’s in a fix—how to pay his debt to LORD-GOD? Negotiations between debtor and creditor arrive at an impasse because nothing MAN possesses equals the amount of debt he owes LORD-GOD. Poor MAN faces eternal damnation, an added insult to LORD-GOD who demands payments of honor.

Enter GOD-MAN JESUS, who as both MAN and GOD can meet the repayment amount. GOD-MAN JESUS takes care of the debt by dying.

This was Anselm’s explanation of why Jesus had to die on the cross. Ridiculous! For the same reason I do not recite the words given us when the priest announces the “mystery of faith.” The congregation unthinkingly recites or sings something like, “Savior of the World, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free.” Free to enter the gates of heaven? How many people believe this anymore?  Peter at the gate now is a figure in jokes.

With Richard Rohr I believe divinity dwells in everyone—What’s called “God” is in all the universe. And the spiritual master Jesus of Nazareth teaches us to enter the inner realm of divinity within us. The Aramaic word Jesus used was mistranslated “Kingdom,” so that people imagine a locality ruled by a monarch.

The Reign of God Jesus of Nazareth preached is already deep inside us.
The Reign of God is within you. Luke 17:21

You'll see my struggles with traditional Catholic teachings woven together with my life lived in a very very Catholic culture when you read Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confesses.


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