Man was created by God in union with God. Through sin, man has lost this blessed union with God. God became man so that man would be reunited with God, restoring the beauty and love that is found in this unitive and relational grace. The history of salvation is restoration.
We should all be restaurateurs. We should all be restorationists because we are all seeking salvation, and salvation is being restored to the blessed union with God that we lost through the sin of Adam and Eve.
When we go through the scriptures, the stories we come across– all of which are part of the larger story of salvation culminating with Christ – are stories of journeying with God, drawing closer to God and ending in (re)union with God. Christ himself said, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!”
The implicit argument against restoration is that there was no fall, no sin, and nothing is wrong with the world or mankind. For if there has been no fall, no sin, and no need for salvation, then there is nothing to restore. All is well and fine; we can all live our lives the way we want. The Church only exists to affirm this do-it-yourself life of self-determination. The Church is, by this conceptualization, a purely human institution existing for purely human purposes.
The counter is true for the restoration need. Those who accept the reality of restoration claim that there has been a fall, that there is sin, and that humans need restoration to live the life of love and dignity that God originally intended: a love and dignity only possible through union with the Divine. . The prophets of God have taught this. Christ came to accomplish this. The Church exists as this continuation to restore souls to God through Christ until the end of time.
Concern for restoration strikes the liberal as anathema because the anti-restoration argument rests on the assumptions of modern liberalism. Liberal theology, if you call it that, is grounded in a peace treaty with modern sensibilities.
Humans and the world are fundamentally good and are only corrupted by the institutions of power. The human will is ultimately all that matters: the will to choose and the will to be what one wants is the highest aspiration of the human soul (if we even admit the existence of the human soul). ). Choice is all that matters and affirming one’s choices is why institutions should exist (this is what drives “pro-choice” Christianity). Theology and the Church therefore exist to affirm liberal choices and sensitivities.
This, of course, goes against what the Church knows and teaches. While the Church Fathers taught that there is nothing more natural than grace in human life (since we were originally created in grace before the fall), the fact of the fall stripped mankind of grace. So the whole sacramental theology of the Church confers restoration, that’s what it exists for. Baptism restores the grace lost in original sin. The Sacrament of Reconciliation continually restores to us the grace that we lose in our concupiscence. Restore. Restore. Restore. That’s what Catholic theology is.
Moreover, the deep anthropology of Catholicism in recognizing the realities of guilt, lust and temptation also implies the need for restoration. To have guilt, to suffer lust, and to be tempted is to be removed from what you should experience: the bliss of God’s love found in grace. To wash away guilt, to be purified from lust, to have strength against temptation, is to be restored to the love of God by the grace offered to all through the sacraments and to be purified from guilt, lust and temptation.
When Adam sinned, God came to him and offered him the chance to be restored. Adam stubbornly refused. He and Eve were then cast out of the Garden of Eden, from the original union of love and grace they shared with God.
God repeatedly sent his prophets to his people throughout the Old Testament offering them repentance and restoration. The people stubbornly refused and suffered righteous judgment for their sin. God became incarnate through the Son, coming to earth to search for the lost sheep and return them to God to bring salvation. This is the mission of the Church.
The commission to baptize is a commission to restore. From start to finish, the story of salvation is the story of restoration. It is the faith which has been revealed to us in Scripture and which has been taught to us by the holy apostles and preserved through the ages.
You shouldn’t be ashamed of being called a restorer. God is a restorer. All of us who are Catholic should be restorers.
The history of Christianity is informed by this restoration theology. All Christians knew until recently that the story of Christianity, of Christ and his Church, is the story of restoration. It is the call for mankind to be restored to God as originally intended, in the grace and love that Adam and Eve had when they were created, but were then lost in their sin and transmitted to all of us by original sin.
This has not changed even though the rhetoric of some Church leaders has changed. Restoration is a beautiful and glorious thing because it is God’s plan. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we experience the beauty and love of God’s grace. This beauty and love of God’s grace, returned to us through Christ and the Church, is what we wish to share with the world.
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