Love Jesus and Hate Religion? Count Me Out.


I am not one of those people who “loves Jesus but hates religion.”

I am a pew-sitting, mass-going, catechism-following, Roman Catholic.

Based on my deeds, I’m not worthy to be called a Christian, much less a Catholic, and yet the Church took me in and accepted me as a completely new person in Christ. I’ve never encountered that kind of love and forgiveness anywhere else. Ever.

The Church, which is made up of fallen people living in a fallen world, is not perfect. But it is a direct conduit of the grace and forgiveness of Christ. Every mass takes you to the foot of the cross where you can lay down your worries, stresses and failures and be made new again in Christ.

If Jesus was going to be at the Cox Convention Center here in Oklahoma City, I imagine there would be lines of people, trying to get in. What we overlook is that Jesus is at our parish church at every mass, and that we can reach out and touch Him and be healed any day of the week.

Sixteen years of campaigning for office, filing bills, making speeches, battling over issues; of the chaos and ruthlessness that is politics, has taught me a few lessons. The most important is that, left to my own devices, I can and will do terrible things.

I learned that the hard way; by doing terrible things and then having to live with the remorse afterwards. When I follow my own “personal morality,” I can convince myself of most anything. When I follow my own lights and do what I think is right without any reference to the God who made me, I can be a monster.

It is a crushing thing to come face to face with your own sins, to see without the varnish of self-justification the harm that you have done. But it is also a gift, because from that knowledge of what you really are and how useless your “personal morality” really is, comes an understanding of who God is, what the Church does, and why you need them.

I work with people who campaigned for public office and were elected based on their Christian witness. They waved the Bible and held up their personal morality as the primary reason why people should vote for them. They attacked their opponents for not being as Christian as they were. And it worked. They were elected.

The problem with this is they were deformed by this process, deluded into believing that they really were holier than their opponents and most of the rest of the world. They came to believe that everything they did was of God just because they did it. In short,  they believed their own publicity and they became their own Gods.

They are sophisticated idolators whose God is their political party, their ambitions, and ultimately, themselves. They are the Pharisees of our times, and, believe me, they can cut your heart out without an anesthetic while quoting a Bible verse that they have taken out of context which they claim makes them righteous for doing it.

Before you condemn them, remember this: It can happen to anyone. In the same situation with the same pressures and temptations, it would almost certainly happen to you. Jesus said it best, “There is no one good but God.”

That’s why I would never be a person who “loves Jesus, but hates religion.” I find the greatest moral and spiritual freedom I’ve ever known in simply doing my best to follow the two-thousand-year-old teachings of the Catholic Church.

The Church is not perfect, but it is the repository of faith. For fifteen hundred years, the Eastern and Roman Catholic Church was the voice, the only voice, of Christianity in the world. Despite its human failings, the Holy Spirit has protected it so that it has handed down the full faith of Christ, the whole Gospels, intact and unblemished from one generation to the next for 2,000 years.

If you believe in the Trinity, you owe it to the Catholic Church. If you believe in the Bible, you owe those scriptures to the Catholic Church. If you believe in the virgin birth, the forgiveness of sins and the life everlasting, you inherited those beliefs from the Catholic Church.

I believe what the Church teaches. I believe in my own sinfulness. I know for a fact that I cannot be holy, Christian, or even a good person on my own.

Being Christian is not a matter of saying “Holy, Holy” and waving your Bible around. It is not wearing a t-shirt that says “My boss is a Jewish Carpenter.” It most certainly is not using “proof texts” taken from the Bible out of context to justify doing whatever you want.

Being Christian is first of all, going to the cross and knowing that you, like the good thief, are a sinner, not that you have sinned, but that you are, and always will be a hopeless, helpless sinner. It is knowing that you deserve to hang on that cross instead of Him.

Being Christian is, first and foremost, humility before God in the face of your own sins. Secondly, it is doing what Jesus told you to do. I don’t just mean doing the parts of what He commanded that fit in with the group of people you run around with, or that will get you a better job or make your life easier. I don’t mean picking out a few sins that don’t tempt you in the least and then condemning other people for doing those things.

You are not made holy by pointing out other people’s sins and condemning them. You are made holy by seeing your own sins and turning to God in humility to ask for forgiveness that, if you are honest, you know you do not deserve.

From my own life as a sinner, I will tell you that while you can come to Jesus anywhere you are, just exactly as you are, you cannot maintain a lifelong walk with Him alone. You need direction from centuries of Christian teaching, community and fellowship.

You can’t love Jesus and hate religion. If you try, you will inevitably end up loving a Jesus who is not Christ the Lord but a mirror image of you. Without the Church, and its stubborn insistence on following the whole Gospel of Christ, including the parts of it that various power brokers find inconvenient, you will revert to type and become your own God, following your own rules and justifying your sins, not with conversion of heart and trying to change, but with lies, obfuscations and the arrogance of self.

We can convince ourselves of anything. I know, because I’ve done it. Because I see other people do it every day of my working life.

We need to be with other sinners who, just like us, are trying and failing, then trying again, to follow Christ as they walk through their days in this life. We need the Church.

  • http://carimorgantretina.wordpress.com chiefcari

    I’m sorry, but what about separation of church and state? Does that not apply?

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    I don’t understand your question. Why do you think that this is a First Amendment issue?

  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

    Superbly said, Rebecca. I suspect that you just found one of those that thinks its more important to protect the state from the church than the church from the state. I pray for them in their misguided thinking.

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Thank you for your nice comment. I know there are people like you describe. I was once much the same as them myself. I hope that chiefcari comes back to talk more about this.
    Again, thanks.
    Rebecca

  • http://carimorgantretina.wordpress.com chiefcari

    You attribute your bad political decisions and terrible choices to your lack of faith and Church at the time. With that logic, you are implying that only through the wisdom of the Church and God can we make sound political decisions. This then caused me to bring in question our statue of separation of church and state because that would be a clear violation.
    Also, my thinking is not misguided. In fact, it is well-formed and thorough. Yes, some people do need Church. However, some people need a temple. Everyone needs to have a moral center and have faith in something, but everyone’s beliefs and needs are different. Thus, needing the state to be protected from the coercion of a single religion.

    • Holly J. Harrington

      I dont think she is saying this. When voting you need the Lord to help you with an informed conscience to vote for the right person on the job. The Lord went up in front of the “State”—Pontius Pilot. What did Christ say to the state—”You would never have power over me unless it came from Heaven.” This is very telling to the state. The state has no power either except that which is given from above over any of us either. Yet you still have a choice— to go along with the state of disagree. Separation of church and state only says one cant tell the other what to do and that there is no one church for the state in this country. That is all. The Constitution never said anything about your religious conscience and how you vote or how a politician holds their morals when voting.

      • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

        Holly, I think you words here, are the gist of it. Thank you for adding then to the conversation.

        “Separation of church and state only says one cant tell the other what to do and that there is no one church for the state in this country. That is all. The Constitution never said anything about your religious conscience and how you vote or how a politician holds their morals when voting.”

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Hi!

    Again, I don’t see any connection between my confession of personal sinfulness and a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. These are individual matters of personal belief. Personal belief not only doesn’t violate the First Amendment, it is protected by it. In truth, I don’t have very much faith in human ability to make sound decisions based on their own “personal morality.” But that is my opinion, the expression of which is protected by the First Amendment, rather than forbidden by it.

    I agree with you that there should be no state religion. I think that is antithetical to religion, as well as just and stable government. However, believing passionately in my own faith and believing also that without God human beings make some very bad decisions is not a violation of separation of church and state, even if the believer in question is an elected official. Saying these things publicly is not violation of the First Amendment, either. In fact, the freedom to believe and to advocate for beliefs is protected by our Constitution, not forbidden by it.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Rebecca

  • http://quinersdiner.wordpress.com quinersdiner

    What a wonderful post. It is so encouraging to know there are faithful Catholics like you sitting in our legislatures. Up here in Iowa, Catholics aren’t always treated so well by the legislature. Read my post for details: http://quinersdiner.com/2012/04/13/dishonest-iowa-democrats-smear-a-good-woman/ . Keep up the great work.

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Sigh. Reading your post just makes it clear that we are not facing isolated attacks but a generalized attempt to push Catholics in particular and Christians in general out of the public sphere.

    One day, if I feel up to it, I may blog in more depth about my experiences.

    Keep the faith. Literally.

    Rebecca

    • http://quinersdiner.wordpress.com quinersdiner

      Here’s the good news: the Des Moines Register and the Dubuque Star-Herald both ran my piece. Governor Branstad called after reading it. He had a brainstorm: he followed up by nominating Monsignor Frank Bognanno to the Iowa Board of Medicine. Let us hope Senate Democrats are a little kinder to this nominee. Iowa is the launching pad for Planned Parenthood’s Telemed Abortion scheme. That’s why the Iowa Board of Medicine is so important: they allowed it to proceed with their previous board.

      • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

        That’s an impressive response to your blog! I’ve never had the governor call me about something I’ve written, and I work two floors up from the Governor’s office! It’s possible they will behave better this time, simply because doing the same thing over and over starts to look like a deliberate pattern of discrimination rather than whatever “reasonable” objections they raise.

        Keep up the good work!

  • http://mcdermottfootcare.wordpress.com McDermott Footcare

    From 8kidsandabusiness.com Earlier today, I went to the Funeral Mass for a 6-year old boy who died of a brain tumour. As devastating and hard as it was to be part of the Mass, I, and many other people, took consolation in the priest’s homily of eternal life and the beauty of co-redemptive suffering that we, and particularly this little boy, shared with Jesus. I took comfort in the beauty and tradition of sacred liturgy and sacred music, the familiar gestures of the priests, and the Holy Eucharist. I also take great solace in the Sacrament of Confession where Jesus, in the person of the priest, forgives my many sins and reassures me that He loves me. These are just some of the reasons that I/we need the Church.

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Those things comfort and sustain me too. I’ve been reading your blog with growing awe for what a courageous and grace-filled woman you must be to love and care for so many people.

  • abcinsc

    Reblogged this on The Peanut Gallery and commented:
    Love God… love His Church… warts and all.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Amen.

  • The Diatribe Guy

    Noticed your “like” on my blog and wanted to say thanks for your insightful blog. I truly enjoy seeing humble people struggling but sincerely trying to live out their faith no matter what capacity in life they are being called to. Very nice post.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you.

  • http://justbreatheblogdotcom.wordpress.com Cassie

    Hello Rebecca! Thank you for your post. I saw that you visited my blog today and liked my latest post. May I ask how you stumbled across it? As a senior in high school from Oregon, I must admit I was surprised as you are not in my typical sphere of influence. Thank you for humoring my curiosity! :)

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      I just found you while browsing. You blog on Incorruptible God and Corruptible Man was very insightful; far beyond anything I would expect from a high school student.

      • http://justbreatheblogdotcom.wordpress.com Cassie

        I appreciate your visit, as well as the encouragement! Thank you! I will also be coming back to your blog in the future – thank you for taking the time to share your faith and thoughts with others.

        Soli Deo Gloria

  • Doc Arnett

    As the pastor of a small congregation in Kansas, I read your blog with great interest and appreciation. Although it’s an obvious overtatement/understatement, it seems to me that either people grasp the concept that Jesus alone is the atonement and sacrifice for our sinfulness or their professed belief in him merely plays well into their self-righteousness. Thank you for your clear and passionate expression of faith!

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Pastor Arnett.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000354241581 Steve Evans

    Rebecca, Thank you for your thoughtful and personally revealing expression of hte on-going tension that exists for all people who seek to follow Christ in the totality of life. There is simply no arena of endeavor or relationship in which Christ and His righteousness should not form our center and be the foundation for the decisions that we make.
    The reminder that the Christian life is truly lived out in community is very significant. We are not alone in the fight that is life. We are in it with God in all of His persons and He brings us together in His Body.
    I pray that the Lord blesses you richly in all that you do.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      “There is simply no arena of endeavor or relationship in which Christ and His righteousness should not form our center and be the foundation for the decisions that we make.”

      That is, or should be, the essence of the Christian walk for all of us. Thanks for your great comment.

  • http://thabto.wordpress.com/ justturnright

    Rebecca,
    Nice job with this.
    I, too, am a church-attending, imperfect Catholic who is trying my best to do as the Church teaches.
    I, too, need the Church. Glad I’m not alone.

    Thanks for this post.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      I think there are a lot of us.

  • http://momsmuse.wordpress.com Mom’s Muse

    Rebecca, this was the best sermon I’ve heard in a long time. Thank you for your wise words and very cogent defense of personal belief in the public sphere. I come from a tradition (Mennonite) that has wavered between distrustful and ambivalent when it comes to Christian involvement in politics, so I am interested in how other people allow faith and politics to play out.

    I particularly resonated with “The Church, which is made up of fallen people living in a fallen world, is not perfect. But it is a direct conduit of the grace and forgiveness of Christ. Every mass takes you to the foot of the cross where you can lay down your worries, stresses and failures and be made new again in Christ.” Amen, Sister! Some day I’d love to hear your life story – it sounds fascinating!

    I have to echo an earlier comment – I don’t typically have conversations with elected representatives – I’m just an ordinary stay-at-home mom in a small town. So thanks for your post and for taking the time to read my blog.

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Thank you! Your blog on memorizing scripture is about an important thing which I believe all Christians should do. It’s not enough to read the book. We need to have the words themselves in our hearts for the times we need them. If I ever get my head above water, I want to follow in your footsteps with this.

  • http://www.newequus.wordpress.com Mindy Bowman

    Great post! I agree 100%. My church family is a wonderful support group. They are there to lend a helping hand, a sympathetic ear…they are Jesus “in the skin”.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks Mindy!

  • http://citesimon.wordpress.com CiteSimon

    Reblogged this on Cite Simon and commented:
    See what Rebecca Hamilton has to say about why we need the church. Her post is a refreshingly honest and relevant take on the role the church plays in her life – maybe her observations also apply to us. See what you think.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks for the reblog!

  • http://andevengreaterworks.wordpress.com puddin85

    I am so thankful that He alone is God. ” In your unfailing love yo u will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling”. Ex 15:13

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Great thought Puddin!

  • http://pacwp.wordpress.com pacwp

    Thank you for visiting my little corner to the internet! I hope to stop by your blog often, we all need to support each other

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      You’re right. We do need to support one another; now more than ever.

      • http://pacwp.wordpress.com pacwp

        I believe God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.

  • http://todayiprayed.wordpress.com todayiprayed

    This is fabulous! I love your descriptions, your words, you put words to my thoughts and my frustrations with “i love Jesus, but hate religion” that folk say so often.

    Fabulous quote!
    “You are not made holy by pointing out other people’s sins and condemning them. You are made holy by seeing your own sins and turning to God in humility to ask for forgiveness that, if you are honest, you know you do not deserve.”

    Even more fabulous quote!
    “You can’t love Jesus and hate religion. If you try, you will inevitably end up loving a Jesus who is not Christ the Lord but a mirror image of you. Without the Church, and its stubborn insistence on following the whole Gospel of Christ, including the parts of it that various power brokers find inconvenient, you will revert to type and become your own God, following your own rules and justifying your sins, not with conversion of heart and trying to change, but with lies, obfuscations and the arrogance of self.”

    Thank you!

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Thank you! I think your blog is pretty wonderful too; so full of love for broken people. Keep up the good work.

  • http://laportsiablog.wordpress.com addyclay

    Reblogged this on The Journal Box and commented:
    A Great read for today!

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank yo for the re-blog!

  • Bernie Lutchman

    Hi Rebecca!!
    That was a superb message and I am southern baptist. Very powerfully written! Most people don’t have a clue how the Bible survived from Revelation until now, for instance! Absolutely correct about “morality” politicians! Thank you and may the Lord bless and keep you and yours!

    Bernie

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Bernie!

  • http://hiddeninjesus.wordpress.com jessicarenshaw

    Dear Rep. Hamilton,

    I don’t know how you found my new blog, hiddeninjesus.wordpress.com, but I am so glad you did! Your blog is refreshing and I was cheering you on as I read it! We live in California but our daughter, Rebecca (!) Padilla and her husband David have lived in Edmond, OK, since their wedding 15 years ago. Their daughter Katherine, 8, was born in OKC. My first husband and I were first-generation believers in God (I came from a secular humanist family) and we raised our kids evangelical. As a young adult, Becky wanted to experience God in ways not just cerebral, as she saw them, so her family belongs to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Katherine attends their school and just celebrated her first communion.

    I appreciate your open pro-life stand. I had the privilege of writing the biography of abortion survivor Gianna Jessen: Aborted and Lived to Tell About It (1995 and 2010, Focus on the Family).

    Wishing you and the people in your life God’s richest blessings,
    Jessica Shaver Renshaw

    P.S. I love the Crazy People File. I’m afraid I have probably qualified as one of them at one time or another.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks Jessica for your great comment. I know a few people who go to St John’s in Edmond. It’s such a huge parish! I saw a video of Gianna Jessen, speaking about her life. It was powerful. What a privilege to write her biography. Thanks again for your comment. Stay in touch.

  • http://thethankfulheart.wordpress.com Rhonda Sittig

    So many, many true things in this post. I’m an evangelical church loving Christian. Thank you for your wise words.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Rhonda!

  • http://freeeducationforhomeschoolers.wordpress.com/ Phyllis

    You can love Jesus and hate false religion, because the Bible says:

    Pure religion, before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (KJV).

    If religion is not pure, I hate it, but if it is and I’m doing what it says in James 1:27, then I know my religion is right.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Phyllis.

  • http://wayneaugden.wordpress.com Wayne Augden

    Although I’m not catholic, I’m in agreement with much of what you said. We do need the church. We need to be in a Christ centered, Bible believing, teaching church with fellow sinners.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Yes we do.

  • http://theharvestprinciple.wordpress.com theharvestprinciple

    Only anarchists believe in separation of church and state. The first amendment states that the government will not establish a state religion, nor will it interfere with anyone’s freedom to worship as they see fit. It is listed in the same amendment along with freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government for redress of a grievance. How that can be construed as only atheists and loonies are allowed to run the government is beyond me. Andy

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    “How that can be construed as only atheists and loonies are allowed to run the government is beyond me.”

    Well said!

  • http://missionwriterdotorg.wordpress.com Corey Blankenship

    Reblogged this on Missionwriter and commented:
    This beautiful extends the heart of “Beware of Christians.” Just as we need to set aside the barricades of faithless religion, we need the living legacy of the universal church.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Corey! Thanks also for the re-blog.

  • stclementmom

    “…Left to my own devices, I can and will do terrible things…” — a very humbling realization that I also seem to keep discovering, over and over again.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      We are fallen people living in a fallen world. It can be no other way.

  • http://dailymedit.wordpress.com Kayode Crown

    Hey thanks for following my blog. So kind of you.

  • http://dailymedit.wordpress.com Kayode Crown

    Thanks for liking my posts

  • http://dailymedit.wordpress.com Kayode Crown

    Thanks for following my post. I believe it is important to stick to the church. But we can’t conclude that the church is infallible (as you have said). then if it is fallible how do you draw the line between what is right or wrong with it of its assertions. Therefore sticking to Jesus is more important than sticking to the church because he can’t be wrong.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Kayode, I agree. Jesus is Lord, and Him only.

  • http://basare.wordpress.com basare

    Thank you for sharing this message.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank YOU for reading it!

  • http://simplyrhetorical.wordpress.com simplyrhetorical

    Thank you for your spiritual understanding of the carnality that people have exhibited under the guise of Christian committment. Please continue to pass on what God wants the church to know.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you for your comment.

  • http://nextbusstop.wordpress.com bustramp

    Thank you for liking my blog and thereby introducing me to yours. It is refreshing to find a blog that offers thoughtful debate on serious issues rather than quibbles over minutiae of doctrine. However I am sorry that you find it necessary to describe yourself as “Public Catholic” rather than “Public Christian”.and that so frequently “church” is treated as synonymous with “Catholic Church” in the sense of “Roman Catholic” rather than “catholic” in its original sense of “universal” both by yourself and many of your correspondents. I am sure it is not your intention but as a non-conformist protestant I feel excluded. In these day when the “Church Catholic”, in it original sense of “universal” is so under attack we cannot afford to be divided. As Jesus himself reminds us “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and no town or household divided against itself can stand.” – Please forgive the “proof text”.
    As for your main point that commitment to Christ must involve commitment to the ChurchI agree wholeheartedly but we must never forget that the Church is under the lordship of Christ and our primary loyalty is to him through whatever branch of the church we happen to have been called. And the Holy Spirit has an uncanny knack of raising up prophets within the church to remind us of this.

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    “In these day when the “Church Catholic”, in it original sense of “universal” is so under attack we cannot afford to be divided.”

    I agree COMPLETELY !!!

    “I am sure it is not your intention but as a non-conformist protestant I feel excluded.”

    Not my intention at all! Just jump in and swim with the rest of us.

    “I am sorry that you find it necessary to describe yourself as “Public Catholic” rather than “Public Christian”

    I am a Christian, whose job requires her to be public about her faith and who gets beaten up over it quite a bit. I live my faith as a Catholic. But there is one Jesus, and He is Lord of us all.

    ” It is refreshing to find a blog that offers thoughtful debate on serious issues rather than quibbles over minutiae of doctrine.”

    Thank you! Keep coming back.

    • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

      Bustramps comment caught my eye, and my thoughts. When I was young, my home church was E&R/UCC, and Catholic services were intimidating, even for a kid who even then loved the liturgy.

      As I’ve grown older and married into the Lutheran church, which shares more liturgy with the RC Church (and the Episcopalians) I find it increasingly beautiful and awe inspiring. But without knowing the history it is quite intimidating. Sometimes, I think our Evengelical brothers and sisters get caught up in this, which is a shame, their services are as meaningful and awe inspiring, just in a different way.

      There if I wrote this correctly, I shared some of my understanding while either irritating everybody (or nobody :-) ). If I offended anybody, sorry.

      Our different traditions all come to the foot of the Cross, and that is what is important. We will win this battle together or lose it separately. Either way we will go Home.

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    I felt called to the Catholic Church by the Eucharist. It was the most compelling thing, something that was gentle but insistent and would not let go of me. I didn’t “choose” to convert; I was invited by the One who owns the place.

    I can’t imagine why anyone would be offended by either one of these comments. They are the honest reflections of thoughtful Christians. God works with each of us differently, and each of us has a unique self to offer to the work of bringing the Kingdom. You are both my brothers in Christ. We need to love another, because we are going to be spending eternity together.

    I also agree fervently with this:
    “Our different traditions all come to the foot of the Cross, and that is what is important. We will win this battle together or lose it separately. Either way we will go Home.”

    Amen and Amen!

  • http://thedivineword.wordpress.com tachr

    Thanks for your interesting thoughts. I am not involved in any Church. I feel tired of all discussions going on there. So I feel best with your latest comment, reply…. We all have different needs.
    The heart is also a Church, can be at least… My home is a Church….
    I would like to thank you for all likes on my blogs. I feel very encourage by it. God’s peace!

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      You are a wonderful artist! Your posts show a deep faith, as well. We all follow where Jesus leads us, and he doesn’t lead any of us in the same path. Maybe you are a modern-day, Swedish, version of a desert father.

  • http://aprilyamasaki.com April Yamasaki

    Thank you for visiting my blog on spiritual practice and liking my post that led me to yours. I really enjoyed reading We Need the Church, and the way you respond to comments. thanks!

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you April!

  • justifiedandsinner

    There is a old doctrine – goes back to Augustine at least – but I first read it in one of Luther’s sermons. The phrase in Latin is that we are “simul iustus et peccatur”. It is sometimes translated we are simultaneously sinner and saint ( fully, 100%) or better we are simultaneously sinful yet justified.
    The idea is seen in Joseph’s words to his brothers in Gen 50:20 – “what you meant for evil, God determined for good” and is part of that which causes us to have hope – that even when we sin, God can redeem us, forgive us, rescue us and fulfill His promise that “all things work for good for those who love God, who “called” to HIs purpose.
    What protestants – especially those in non-denoms – often overlook – is that word for “called” is the word which is at the basis of the work church – ekklessia. That we are called out together by GOd – to live in relationship (covenant) together with Him. That He uses all of us, together, to be His people – and to accomplish his work – (see Eph 2:10 )..
    Christianity is neither an individual religion, nor a a spectator sport – we are His craftsmanship His magnum opus, as He transforms us…

    Godspeed – and our prayers are with you!

    .

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you. I think you handle, “justified and sinner” says it all.

  • Charmaine

    Thanks so much for reading my humble little blog. and leaving your like. Enjoy your writing. May God protect you in your public servanthood. It’s plain that you love and revere Him.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Charmaine!

  • http://liveyourfullerlife.wordpress.com kelvinkings

    This is brilliant writing. I was glued until the end of the article. Thanks for being honest and courageous enough to spell out your weaknesses. Which, for the most part, we all struggle with. “you cannot love Jesus and hate religion” – Perhaps there is a certain kind of religion that one can hate. An example would be one that doesn’t take care of the vulnerable and insists on competition. Or one that preachers superiority over others. Or that woman cannot be ordained or allowed to preach in church.sh

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Kelvin! These are good points.

  • http://janecatherinerozek.wordpress.com northerneaglet

    Each person that has integrity within their spirituality — they have my admiration! We all are seekers of truth and although church has many benefits, I believe you can find God anywhere. I’m especially close to him in nature and high up in the mountains!

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      I can see that in your beautiful blog!

  • http://whitehothair.com Brook

    Wise and wonderful post! We seem to be on a similar path in that I *love* the Catholic church and want to be part of the Catholic church. Now I attend Mass sometimes and hope they’ll let me finish the classes I started last year. Thank you for sharing how much the Catholic church means to you.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Brook. I’ll say this in advance: Welcome home!

  • http://whitehothair.com Brook

    Of course I don’t take Communion when I attend mass. Someday, I hope…also, *many thanks* for the “likes” on my blog:)

  • http://biltrix.wordpress.com Biltrix

    Hello, Rebecca. Jefferson Berthke, who wrote the “Why I hate religion, but love Jesus” poem and posted it on Youtube was a well intentioned, but rather confused dude. Confused about religion, that is. He admitted in an interview with ChurchLeaders.com that he understood that religion was synonymous with hypocrisy, because that is what his nondenominational church taught him. A lot of ink and pixels were spilt on the topic since. Whatever is a the root of the confusion, it is apparently wide spread. Some of the comments here about separation of church and state and “bad” (a matter of opinion) political decisions illustrate that some people have simply given up on what they think religion is — not what it actually is. Hopefully we can reclaim the true sense of religion by bearing humble witness, as imperfect as we are. Thanks, Rebecca! Keep doing what you are doing. God bless!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      James I had no idea where this originally came from. It’s interesting, how one person can say something that gets passed from one of us to the other and eventually becomes a catch phrase. I guess that is at least partly the power of the internet.
      I agree that we can best reclaim the true meaning of religion by each of us living out our walk with Christ, what you so beautifully call, “our humble witness.” You are certainly doing your part.

  • Indy

    Jefferson Bethke has stated that the inspiration of his poem is the book by Tim Keller entitled the Prodigal God – which is an absolutely life changing book. I highly recommend the book. Here it is just in case you haven’t seen it. I think its rather inspiring. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY

    Your essay was spot on Rebecca – again your words inspire me to continue the growth of my faith. Thank you and God bless.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Indy. I’ll look at your link later today.

  • Bob

    Thank you for this and other blog posts. I agree with your conclusion, but I had never thought of that particular way of looking at why we need the Church.

    Now, I have a request to make of you in relation to one of your blog posts, which for various reasons, I don’t particularly want to make in public. Now, I understand that, as a public figure, you wouldn’t be inclined to release your email just like that. But if you can access the email address that is required for posting a response, and if you would be kind enough to email me, I’d be immensely grateful.

  • http://Heartfulmemories@wordpress.com janice oliver

    Well we were certainly on the same page! I visited you to thank you for liking my blog and responding so quickly! Then I see “Love Jesus and hate religion? Count me out” And I was blown away and so very pleased at the simlarity in our thoughts. :) As always Rebecca you make me smile. jan

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Ditto, Jan!

  • http://greenlightlady.wordpress.com Wendy Macdonald

    Great post! I love Jesus and my church. We are told in the New Testament not to forsake the assembling of ourselves. If a person truly loves Jesus, they’ll be happier attending His family gatherings – church!
    ~ Wendy

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      How true Wendy. Also, I think Christians are going to find that we need one another more and more as the culture falls apart around us.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00805469860229478026 Irksome1

    Representative Hamilton, while I agree with what I believe to be the substance of your remarks here, as a Catholic, I hesitate to embrace it under the terms as you’ve presented them here. Specifically, the idea that man is not good and that sin is, in some sense, inevitable, call to my mind not the doctrines of the Catholic Church, but Luther’s doctrine of the utter depravity of man.
    If we are to take Christ’s remark about only God being good, to imply that man himself is not good, then it seems to me that a host of unintended problems arise. It could imply that God’s remark at Creation that man was “very good” is no longer true. If that were the case, then Christ’s references to the nature of marriage “in the beginning” loses loses much of its impact since it would refer to the nature of marriage under an entirely different type of human nature and further imply that the nature of marriage might justly change from what God originally intended in order to accommodate the wholly different nature of man as we find him today.
    If it is true that man always will be a sinner, it seems that this effectively emasculates the Cross of its transformative power. If, in some sense, man will always cause God offense, then the power of the Cross over sin can be nothing more than cosmetic and justification no longer the substantive redemption of man but, rather, a shallow legal label affixed to him even though man’s inherent nature continues to offend God.
    Now, I will be the first to admit that, quite possibly, this is not what you meant. Perhaps you only meant that man’s nature, wounded by the fall, inclines him to sin but does not compel him to it in a deterministic sense. Perhaps you meant only that pre-eschatological man would always sin but that this state of affairs would be corrected. I would think, though, that if this were the case, you might give more care to these issues, especially in a culture such as ours which has Calvinism written into its DNA.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I haven’t answered your comment yet because it’s so thoughtful I am mulling it over first. I’ll get back with you in time. Meanwhile, thanks for your thoughts.

  • Ted Seeber

    Thank you for this Rebecca. I just used a link to this post to explain why Ted Kennedy, though a lousy pro-choice and pro-abortionist politician, could still be considered a practical Catholic- though quite the sinner.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      My private phrase for it that I use when talking to friends is “cultural Catholic.” Practical Catholic says the same, I think.

  • Arkenaten

    With all due respect to you and your faith (and most other commenters) the only thing that the Christian religion guarantees is that humans are sinners from day one (Inherited sin being a particular nasty piece of Church Dogma) and that those who believe in Jesus will be ‘saved’, getting to pass ‘GO’ and enter Heaven. Failure to acknowledge Jesus God will result in being condemned to the fiery pit of Hell for eternity. And if one stands up and disagrees with this line of reasoning one is rebuffed in no uncertain terms,(Maybe having comments deleted) told one will be ‘still be prayed for’ or if one’s point of view is considered untenable, condemned for being in League with the Devil in one form or another – because this is how Satan works, right? Sheeesh!
    Not bad for a loving god, I say. Phew!
    Surprisingly, however, any non-believer can step up to the plate, roll up his sleeves and be as good (in many cases a darn sight better than, thank you very much!) as any Believer; do the job at hand, fulfil promises, lead a decent life and not have to live his/her life with the yoke of a religious institution imposed guilt trip around his neck. And when his Sell-By-Date arrives he can take his chances when the Grim Reaper comes calling.
    My conscience will be clear and I’ll have a peaceful smile on my lips. That you can bank on!

    • Ted Seeber

      Boy, talk about having a cartoon understanding of the faith. I’m going to suggest you read this:
      http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2heavn.htm

      But somehow I think you are far too biased to understand it. And when you are shown the truth, my prayer for you is that you accept the grace of forgiveness and knowledge that you are wrong, instead of stubbornly persisting in the idea that you are the only human being to have ever stumbled onto the truth- thus sending yourself to hell.

      • Arkenaten

        Your sarcasm is noted, Ted. Thank you.
        Yes, I forgot to include purgatory. Another religious construct. Oh, well.
        What truth are we talking about now, Ted?
        You see, almost everything you adhere to – and deride me about – is metaphysics and as is demonstrated by your link (thanks for this) the goal posts are always shifting. This is the nature of religion.
        We could spend hours discussing the merits of Augustine or Aquinas or even Kant. And to what end?
        Why not Eusebius?
        Religion is pretty much like a written doctrine between the covers of a ring binder. It can be added to or taken away as and when….and it is! History is replete with excellent examples and tomorrow, this day will be history.
        Hang in there, Ted. You sound like you need all the help you can get.
        Peace.

  • http://heartonthejourney.wordpress.com Paul Bradford

    Rebecca,

    Allow me to begin by asking you a dumb question. This post (which I love, by the way) was at the top of your home page and, naturally, I figured it was your most recent entry; but when I started to view the comments that folks had made I saw that they were from May. Hmmmm. Please assist the confused!

    There is nothing novel or extraordinary about your witness of faith. Certainly nothing is “new and improved”. It is, in every way, an expression of our Church’s orthodox teaching which is the same now as it has been since our Lord first established his Church. And yet, in a world where we are bombarded with “watered-down Christianity” and “modified Christianity” and “updated Christianity” and “contemporary Christinaity” your testimony is nothing short of shocking. We live in an age when the accepted ‘wisdom’ is that there are multiple truths, or relative truths, where there are no ‘absolute’ truths and by maintaining these notions we have come to believe the biggest lie of all.

    I hope you won’t object to my attempt to elaborate and emphasize some of the points you’ve made.

    You say, “Every mass takes you to the foot of the cross where you can lay down your worries, stresses and failures and be made new again in Christ.” So true, and yet by promising us a place to lay down worry and stress you understate the magnificence of the Mass. We experience worry and stress at the surface of our humanity. Worry and stress are actually superficial. You can deal with worry and stress by taking a pill, or getting a massage, or smoking a cigarette. The Mass offers so much more. At Mass our true nature (a nature we share with Christ) is addressed. We are touched at the depths of our humanity, at points we can never even experience while we are blinded by sin. The words of Jesus which cause the faithless to stumble are the words which bring us our greatest joy: “My flesh is real food. My blood is real drink.” Stress relief? Something infinitely better!!

    When you said, “Being Christian … is knowing that you deserve to hang on that cross instead of Him.” I thought about how I long to hang on that cross. I hang on to the cross as a drowning man hangs on to a life preserver. The cross is the one place in the universe that is safe. When I gaze at our crucified savior I can here him calling me: “There’s room on this cross for you, Paul.” His invitation is my salvation.

    Finally, you say: “You are made holy by seeing your own sins and turning to God in humility to ask for forgiveness that, if you are honest, you know you do not deserve.” You are so very, very right!! We don’t deserve God’s mercy — but it goes even further than that. The very concept of ‘deserving’ or ‘undeserving’ are absent in the divine mind. Desert is a human concept. It is an expression of our sinfulness. It is a symptom of our alienation from God and from each other. We discriminate between ‘good’ people and ‘bad’. This discrimination is an aspect of human thought; but, as we read in Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are my ways your ways”.

    What a blessing it is to be called by Jesus!

    In Christ’s love,

    Paul

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Paul, what a lovely and insightful comment! Thank you for posting it.

      The answer to your question is that Public Catholic began as a blog on WordPress. I first published this post there. When I came to Patheos, my archived posts traveled with me. I re-post some of the older posts from time to time because there are a lot of new people who have found Public Catholic through Patheos and they haven’t seen the older posts. In short, this is a re-blog of one of my own posts.

  • Theresa

    That was wonderful!!! I liked how you put it, left to our own devices we are all capable of some pretty nasty things. It’s that stain of original sin. I’ve had friends question the “rules” of religion and my response has been more to equating it to following traffic laws; I’m safer if I stop at the red light and obey the posted speed and my soul is safer if I follow the Church’s teachings as best as I can. But I think I’ll just point people to this blog next time the subject comes up. :)

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank Theresa. Your analogy about traffic laws is very apt.

  • http://changeindirections.wordpress.com Rad change

    Thank you for the like on my blog. Checking out your site and find it very interesting. I will follow it!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you for stopping by! I hope you comment again.

  • http://plantedoak.wordpress.com kris

    rebecca…got a lot from this…most in agreement, some in haven’t quite thought of it that way and going to digest. thank you for your straight forwardness with respect woven through it. it is refreshing and encouraging.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Kris!


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