Thursday, January 27, 2011
Covenant or Contract?
My understanding of this topic is far from thorough, so this may not make much sense. But the two non-equivalent concepts came to mind today, for no particular reason, then a few other thoughts came to mind. A covenant is supposed to be an exchange of selves, whereas a contract is an exchange of goods or services perhaps. Catholics, in particular, have a very strong sense of two things: marriage as normally indissoluble and the Church as indivisible. Hence, marital divorce and subsequent remarriage is not permitted, and apathy towards the oneness of the Church is unacceptable. In both cases, we have God's covenant(s) with his people as a model. Throughout all of Israel's lapses to infidelity, God remained faithful. What does that mean? Didn't He supposedly replace Israel with Christians? By no means, as St. Paul might say. In reading the New Testament, it is a key concept that, in Christ, the new fulfills rather than abolishes the old. The covenants remain, but in fulfillment. Rather than junk the covenant as God to Israel, He brings it to fruition in the new covenant. Two things occurred to me about Protestant Christianity -- loosely applied, considering that there is no singular Protestant position: (1) leniency in divorce and subsequent remarriage, and (2) a very relaxed notion of one universal Church. Could the two be related to the notion of contracts rather than covenants? Hmm... does that make any sense?? So the notion of a divorce -- in marriage as well as in a schism -- is unthinkable because covenants are unbreakable. How so? Well, if a covenant is an exchange of selves, and God entered into a covenant, wouldn't that mean that it is an infinite and perfect giving on the part of the infinite and perfect God? Therefore, while God stands (which is forever), the covenant stands. Since the Church extends through time as well as space, then the covenant covers the saints who have gone before. Having been perfected in the past, e.g., through martyrdom by God's grace, then the Church will also never totally defect, since that is now impossible for the saints in Heaven, already in God's presence. But that speaks of the Church triumphant in Heaven, not the militant on Earth, doesn't it? Well, which Church on earth claims such strong bonds with, or even speaks of, the saints in Heaven? Which Church claims an indissoluble and uniting bond among its members, and sees itself as a family rather than a group of like-minded believers? That does not make for a solid case, though, but it can be indicative... Aahhh.. 1 am blog posts can be confusing..