Work commitments have severely curtailed the time I have to devote to the blog, so I am very grateful to the other contributors for keeping things going – and how!
I have had the occasional (sometimes more than occasional) query as to why I do not ‘ban Bosco’. There is a short answer to this and a long one: the first one is that I like him; the second is that he speaks for a type of Christianity which whilst it annoys many people, nonetheless has many adherents, and in a site which celebrates the whole spectrum of Christianity, should have a voice.
That is not to say that I do not sympathise with those who feel that Bosco insults their religion, but is to say that I do not think that is what he sets out to do; for himself, and from his point of view, he is trying to ‘save’ those whom he thinks are being ‘deceived’ by the perpetrators of a ‘false’ religion; given that perspective (which, obviously, as an Anglican, I think has, shall we say in true English fashion, its limitations) he is doing what he feels it is right to do.
The difficulty for many here, including myself, is that the dialogue we can have with Bosco is very limited. In a comment the other day he said that Jesus is the ‘Son of Man’, which we agree with, but he seemed to imply that Mary did not give birth to God; well, if Jesus is not God, what is He? That is, I think, at the heart of our difficulties with dear Bosco. I’d be ever so grateful if he’s just tell me whether he believes Jesus is God.
There is, I sense here, a tension between what might be called the first and primitive phase of Christianity, and Christianity as it has come to a deeper understanding of the Faith. Most of us would recoil from the statement that there is no mention of the Trinity in the New Testament, as we can point to the baptismal formula of ‘Father, Son, and Holy Ghost’ and other references; but there is no escaping the fact that it took centuries for the Church to decide on exactly what it meant to say Jesus was God. If you type ‘Trinity’ into the search engine here, you will get a lot of posts on that issue, and Fr Aidan Kimel has just run a wonderful series of posts (four not three) on the Trinity, which offers a profound insight for those new to this dialogue.
But Bosco is like those Christians in fourth century Alexandria who, not having given much thought to it, and taking the view his own common sense can work it out, risks falling into the errors of Arius. Dear Bosco is often to be found mocking St Cyril of Alexandria, but he, like the Cappadocian Fathers, helped to systematise our thinking of what it means to say that Jesus is God. It was for that reason that St Cyril so fiercely defended the doctrine of the ‘Theotokos’. If Jesus was God, and Mary gave birth to Him, then Mary was the mother of God. That was not to say she was the mother of the Trinity, but it was to say that Jesus was God. If Bosco, like some others, does not understand this and thinks it unimportant, then it shows a spirit of haughtiness which goes badly with a humble and a contrite heart. For Lent, Bosco should read Fr Aiden’s pieces; it will do him – and the rest of us, a power of good.