On having a Mother-in-law problem

Scott Hahn likes to say that Protestants have “mother-in-law” issues.

This is perhaps just a rephrasing of a basic thought, but an inspiration came to me on Ash Wednesday that I never thought of in exactly these terms before.

From the one angle, why would Jesus let anyone into Heaven who doesn’t like His Mother?
And, from the other angle, why would anyone want to go to Heaven who doesn’t like Jesus’ Mother? Whether they want to recognize her as Queen or not, she’s definitely there.

What do Protestants think Our Lord will say to them when they get to Heaven after spending a lifetime calling Him a liar?
“What part of ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you’ didn’t you understand?”

It’s kind of like Marge Simpson’s dream of Catholic Heaven versus Protestant Heaven (and Jesus, of course, was in Catholic Heaven in her dream).

We often speak in Pascal’s Wager-type terms of the mere practice of our lives and what it’s going to take to get into Heaven: that if Evangelicals are right, and all I have to do is confess Jesus, I’m covered. However, it’s more than that; it’s about who Jesus *is*.

One of the things converts on _The Journey Home_ consistently say is how they had to become Catholic because that was the best way to know and have a relationship with Jesus.

Because Jesus is real. Jimmy Akin answers the “how do Jews and Muslims worship the same god we do” question by analogy to Batman. Batman and Bruce Wayne are the same guy, but most people don’t know that. If Dick Grayson, or Alfred, or Superman, or James Gordon is talking to him, that person knows he’s talking to both Batman and Bruce Wayne at the same time, regardless of costume. However, if some other person is talking to Batman, he thinks he’s talking just to Batman, and not to Bruce Wayne. Then that same person talking to Bruce Wayne thinks he’s just talking to Bruce Wayne. However, he’s still talking to both Batman and Bruce Wayne; he just doesn’t know it.

I guess that works, but the fact is the person doesn’t know the whole person unless they know he’s both Bruce Wayne and Batman.

The point is that Protestants and Catholics worship Jesus, but the differences in our beliefs are not just differences in praxis or theory–they are differences in Who we think Jesus is, what we understand His personality to be like, etc. We don’t often think in those terms, but the Protestant Jesus runs the gamut from the Vengeful Judge to the Friendly Hippie Dude, and everything in between (Catholic views span the same spectrum, but the difference is that Protestants base their theologies on their “takes” on Jesus).

If the Protestants are right, I’m in for a bit of a surprise when I die-not that I’d be going to Hell, but because Jesus will turn out to have a completely different personality than what I expect Him to have. I’ve been reading the Gospels completely wrong my whole life; His words have a completely different meaning than what I thought, and for that to be true, His tone and everything else would have to be completely different from what I thought.

When it comes down to it, C. S. Lewis is right that our personal judgement, and perhaps Final Judgement, is “God in the Dock”: us judging God. When we see Jesus face to face, can we be ready to meet Him, and are we prepared for the fact that He may turn out to be different than we expect Him to be?


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