Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
One of the most used terms I’ve ever heard is the term “universal”. A simple Google search will provide everything from “Universal Serial Bus” to “Universal Studios”, and everything in between. Yes, even that “universal drive” that is pictured above is easily found. There is even a company called “Universal Shipping”. Yes, I know it is not my policy to name names, but for the sake of this discussion, I want to show just how far the term “universal” goes. In a very real way, the term “universal” is quite “universal” in its own right.
Interestingly, the synonym for the term “universal” is “catholic”.
Yes, you read that right. Catholic is a synonym for universal. Here:
including a wide variety of things; all-embracing.
“her tastes are pretty catholic”
synonyms: universal, diverse, diversified, wide, broad, broad-based, eclectic, liberal, latitudinarian; comprehensive, all-encompassing, all-embracing, all-inclusive
“her musical tastes are quite catholic”
This is quite interesting to think about. I suppose you could say that your computer has a “Catholic Serial Bus”, but that might confuse people. You might consider starting a company called “Catholic Shipping”, but that would also be rather confusing. Why? Mostly because of how the term “catholic” is used in our modern society. Specifically, the term catholic has come to be associated primarily with religion, and even more specifically, the Roman Catholic church. However, let me say something about that, and it is quite simple. The Christian Church is catholic.
Wait a minute. How is a anything other than the Roman Catholic church catholic?
That is a good question, and a very easy one. Unfortunately, it is also a very polarized topic, and it may be quite possible that some will be “triggered” (I really don’t like that term) by its implications. However, let us start with something very simple. I think it is reasonable to say that every Christian church can agree that Christ Jesus is the foundation of the church, and that our mutual (read catholic) faith is built upon his life, death, and resurrection. OOPS! Not! See what I did there when I wrote mutual, I put the term catholic in parenthesis.
I suppose it may seem as if I am saying that all Christians are “catholic”. Truthfully, that is exactly what I am saying. The Christian faith is a universal faith. It is difficult, historically speaking, to discern when the Roman Catholic church first began. However, it would seem that the term catholic primarily became associated with the church of Rome, and the Pope, in 380 AD. Emperor Theodosius I was the one who limited the use of term catholic to Pope Damasus I of Rome and Pope Peter of Alexandria. This would last until about 1085, at which time the schism between the eastern and western churches happened. Oddly, the last ecumenical council that was recognized by the eastern and western church was the Second Council of Nicaea, which was in 878 AD, 207 years prior.
Where am I going with this?
If you are familiar with any of the three ecumenical creeds, you would know that they all make reference to the “catholic church” or “catholic religion”. In the Athanasian Creed, it opens with the statement ” Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith”. Towards the end of the Apostle’s Creed, it reads “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church”. In the Nicene Creed, towards the end, it reads “In one holy catholic and apostolic church”.
From the standpoint of the three ecumenical creeds, which are largely unknown outside the liturgical church, the term “catholic” is one in which the whole Christian church is part. This is not an issue of what denomination one professes, rather it is what faith you profess, and that faith, for all Christians, is catholic, but not necessarily Roman Catholic.
I’m not going to kid myself, or anyone else. The Christian church is divided. To that end, it truly is not “catholic”, especially as Christ Jesus would have had it. In many instances, especially in the last couple centuries, there have been many splits within the church over teachings that were universally accepted for over a millenia prior. Indeed, even as early as 1917, many modern doctrines that are now taught in some churches were virtually unspoken, or even considered heretical. When a church begins to accept something false as truth, and I know how divisive this will sound, that church is no longer truly catholic. This is especially true in our modern society, a society in which we all want to have control over our fates, and where many churches now teach that we can choose to be saved, never mind that their “goto verse” for this is from the Book of Joshua, and Joshua was not speaking about salvation, nor was he speaking to non-believers. Yes, the church is divided, and no longer can it truly be called “catholic”.
In truth, there should be one catholic church, consisting of all Christians, throughout the world. That is to say, one universal Christian church. This would be a truly unified church, but such is not case. Nor is it likely that it will be until Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. Until then, the church is likely to remain divided, even though scripture would deny such division.
The term “universal” should truly apply to the church, if the church were truly universal. If a computer component can plug into a “Universal Serial Bus” or a shipping company can call itself “Universal Shipping”, then so too, the church should find a way to become truly universal.
Now, if a company called “Catholic Shipping” opens up, and they are headquartered in Tacoma, I might be intrigued. Please contact me immediately if this happens.