Robert Mixa – Word on Fire Blog –
The recent “State of Theology” survey alarmingly demonstrates that US Catholics are far from uniform in believing in the divinity of Christ. In fact, many tend not to believe in his divinity. When confronting the statement “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God,” a shocking 30% of Catholics “agree,” 27% “somewhat agree,” 9% are “not sure,” 12% “somewhat disagree,” and 22% “disagree.”
When a majority of Catholics in the United States agree or somewhat agree that Jesus of Nazareth was just a great teacher but not God, we have a crisis on our hands.
The tendency to see Christ as merely human likely stems from the same worldview that informed the findings of last year’s Pew Report on transubstantiation, wherein only 31% of responding Catholics expressed belief in the Real Presence.
This denial of Jesus of Nazareth as the divine Son enfleshed laid the groundwork for all the “historical Jesus” reconstructions that are standard within popular media, which has done so good a job of communicating its dubious catechism that many people think what they’re hearing is similar to what the Church teaches. But it is not.
Belief in Jesus as the divine Son incarnate is the hinge upon which the whole faith turns. Ratzinger says, “The unmistakable symptom of the present decline of Christology is the disappearance of the Cross and, consequently, the meaninglessness of the Resurrection, of the Paschal Mystery”; and, “With such a basic reinterpretation all the rest of Christianity is likewise altered—the understanding of what the Church is, the liturgy, spirituality, etc.” Weak Christology is a house built on sand, and we now see how quickly it falls. But most of us in the West prefer this type of Christ because he is less threatening to our spiritual complacency.
The survey results are alarming but no cause for despair. Like Flannery O’Connor, who understood her art to be epiphanic, Pope Benedict made every effort to retrieve Christian epiphany by retrieving the theology of creation and the centrality of Christology. By proclaiming Jesus Christ as the divine Savior and explaining the epiphanic nature of the world, Christians can help call back their brothers and sisters to faith in the true Lord. We have been called to give witness, so let’s do it.