Sunday, December 24, 2017

Who is God?

I just finished reading one of my Christmas gifts, a small book of 137 pages, which is well worth the read.

God is not Nice
Ulrich L. Lehner
Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 2017

Two words come immediately to mind for describing this book aimed at giving the reader a handle or help for discovering the true God, the only One Who is worth living for. These words are: witness and diagnosis.

Professor Lehner gives witness to his faith, the faith of a Catholic layman, a husband, a father, a Church historian with lots to say about the Enlightenment period, a teacher in contact with small children in a catechetical setting and predominantly dedicated to his work with university students studying theology. His witness is pondered, it's credible, it is that of a young Catholic man living in our day and time. It is a humble witness lived in a social context at the heart of which is his marriage open to life and love, that is to say to family, to progeny. Ulrich gives witness by who he is together with his dear wife and children to what Church is at its very heart.

{ASIDE: This is not to say that his book is aimed at guys. That is the wealth of describing what he does by using the term witness. Each and all can gain from reading, reflecting and making application in his or her own life.}

The author diagnoses where the dominant "culture" falls short in misrepresenting the God of the Universe, in Jesus Christ the God of our Salvation. He does so by latching on to and going round and round with the catch phrase "God is not nice". In doing so he is a giant step ahead of common discourse, which you often hear berating the so-called "Church of nice". Ulrich rightly perceives and reflects in his God-centered approach to what ails society that the anthropological question is derivative and to my way of thinking a no starter. Moralizing and what not desperately need to take a back seat to the primary question and confession about "Who is God". My faith needs to be fleshed out in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There are countless so-called theologians out there who expatiate without having the rudiments of the game down: see here the ultimate tragedy of the Catholic Enlightenment and the scourge of neo-modernism, wreaking havoc with the truth which is ours in Jesus Christ in His Church.

Lehner's book is born as much as anything from his classroom experience. It represents a reasoned approach more than a jousting tournament or a name calling contest with the dominant "culture". It is born of compassion toward those who have gone astray from fundamentals. It is not a new synthesis, not a gantlet thrown down as a challenge, but a hand extended in love by a man who lives his Catholic faith.

With best wishes for a rediscover of Who God is, born in Bethlehem, to us and for us given! Merry Christmas!


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