Bookmark and Share
My Photo

FROM the EDITORS:

  • IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
    Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.

NEW & UPCOMING, available from IGNATIUS PRESS







































































« Okay, confession time... | Main | And now, let the music play... »

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Comments

Mark Brumley

Thanks.
I think I can put at least one reason why I am no longer a Protestant relatively succinctly:
Because I am convinced that the Church as depicted in the NT was a concrete community of disciples, constitutively one in the Spirit, to be sure, but also constitutively visibly one in faith professed, in sacraments (however embryonically understood and manifest these were at the time), and in apostolic authority (notwithstanding the occasional conflict among leaders that is bound to happen), with a special authority possessed by Peter as touchstone of apostolic communion. Now either the Church of the NT has ceased to exist, in which case I have to think Jesus was wrong when he said the gates of hell would not prevail and that he would be with the Church until the end of the world, or the NT Church continues to exist, however developed it may have become beyond the original ecclesiastical mustard seed. Yet only the Catholic Church fully fits the picture of the Church we find in the NT. So either Christ was wrong and the Church is gone, or Christ was right and the Church of Christ exists today in the Catholic Church. Since being a Protestant conflicts with being in full communion with the Catholic Church, I am no longer a Protestant, even though much good exists within Protestantism, etc.

Mike D'Virgilio

You argue your point very well, and if I was inclined toward Catholicism you might have me convinced. But just because it was the Catholic Church that established and perpetuated the faith for 1500 or 1600 hundred years doesn't necessarily mean it is the one true church. A Sovereign God will use what he will. The reason I am not a Catholic (well there are many) is just that I don't see the NT Church the way Mr. Brumley does. So if I don't see the same definitive structure as he does, then his conclusions do not follow (for me).

When I became a non-Catholic many years ago I was virulently anti-Catholic. I am not any longer. I see why the Catholic Church is so appealing to so many people, and I root it on in our spiritual and temporal battles in this world. I remember the first book I read after I was "born-again". It was called "Knowing God" by J.I. Packer. He made a statement in that book that has always stuck with me and seems more true to me than ever as I get older. Basically he said we would be surprised at how much of a person's theological outlook is determined by their personality. Some people are inclined to the safety and authority of the Catholic Church, others are not. God uses a fractured Protestant Church as he does a unified Catholic one. The genie's out of the bottle and will stay so until Jesus comes again. We can argue and debate, some will be convinced others won't, but we're all in this together.

Chad Toney

Mike, any relation to Nick D'Virgilio, drummer for Spock's Beard?

Ah, looks like there is, considering you have them linked on your blog!

padraighh

There are a couple of points that are apparent here

1) The admission that the Catholic Church has the power to unify
(also the fracturing of the Protestant Churches). But this is precisely what
Jesus prayed for to his Father.

2) Contempt for legitimate authority. Jesus taught his disciples to obey
legitimate authority. If the Protestant ethic is so free to choose, then can
they choose a faith that denies the divinity of Christ? Why not? Because the
Catholic Church settled that question early
and it has been accepted by Protestants.
The list goes on and on.

3) The emphasis on salvation by works in the sense that individual
interpretation of the scripture is the means to salvation.

James D.

Carl: As usual you have some stimulating, collegial and thoughtful ideas, and I need to go back and re-read them to get the full import.
Mark: I like your idea that what we see in the Roman Catholic Church today may well be what was seen embryonically in the early church, but I think you would have a healty debate on your hands proving what we see in the R.C.C. today is what existed in the New Testament. The framework shown in Acts and the epistles is hardly conclusive. In order to lend support this view, one must to go to uninspired histories which like scripture can become two-edged debating swords.
Mike: Your quote from Packer probably has more truth than most people realize. I think that God makes more provision for man's fallen individual psychology than we realize. Furthermore and more importantly your comment about God using a fractured non-catholic church as well as an organizationally unified Roman Catholic Church is right on the money. The reforms of Trent would not have occured had it not been for Luther and friends. By the same token mainline Protestantism's inevitable slide into heresy would not appear as grievously apostate (as it actually is) were it not for the bulwark of basic Roman Catholic orthodoxy in creedal matters.

Jenny Bluett

"Some people are inclined to the safety and authority of the Catholic Church, others are not"

So... what did those poor, mature, independent of mind and strong in faith folk do for that long, dark millennium and a half who were not inclined to thwere sweet, cushy, little security blankie of the pastoral care of their bishops unified with the Holy See?

Sorry about my spelling errors, seems I accidently tripped over Il Papa's cassock as I tried to suck my thumb, carry my blankie and hold his hand all at the same time. He was kind enough to pick me up and carry me on his shoulders though. Oh, and he happened to be wearing his pallium and it kept me warm. You know, it kindof reminded me of that parable...

Mike D'Virgilio

Chad,Indeed I am. Nick is my little bro and it was because of me he has such great musical taste. Unfortunately for me, he got most of the talent.

This is so great to see Protestants and Catholics in healthy non-vitriolic debate. I wonder if we'll ever see that between the Sunnis and Sheits.

I'll be visiting the site lots more. Thanks.

Bruce Hollenbach

I'm a Bible translator working and living down in southern Mexico. I've got RC friends here and back home in the U.S. I could almost become one myself, that is, if I had never left the U.S. Down here one sees a different RC church, where Marian devotion virtually displaces proper worship of God and where empty formality is apparently thought to suffice in a context almost devoid of morality or moral teaching. No thanks.

Carl Olson

Bruce: If you think Mexico is bad, you should have been in Corinth in the middle of the first century. That church was a mess: arguments, divisions, incest, sexual immorality, power struggles, idolatry, snobbery, and a host of other ills. And don't even get me started on the church in Galatia.

My point is that Catholics, in various times and various places, have failed (often badly) to practice and live the Catholic Faith as they should. There are also cultural divides, which may or may not lead to theological/doctrinal error, or to a misunderstanding on the part of those from another culture. Growing up, I knew plenty of Catholics who not only didn't live a Christian life, but knew next to nothing about Jesus, the Bible, and so forth. But I chose to study what the Catholic Church formally teaches and to look at both the bad and the good, the latter including John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and a myriad of other Catholics who lived in such a way that there was no doubt about their love for Jesus Christ. And--surprise!--it turns out that those folks are usually the ones the adhere to Church teaching and who understand that theology, spirituality, and morality all go together, working in a unified, catholic whole.

MMajor Fan

One of the things that hurt and disturbed me the most that is related to this subject is how Catholic commentators totally ducked, as if with embarrassment or lack of real faith, the role of the Holy Spirit in the papal conclave. During the visibility of the death of the Great Pope John Paul II and the election of our Pope Benedict XVI, they had ample opportunity to explain how the Holy Spirit guides the process. Yet they all had to become the wily political insiders, commenting as if this was a political election. For example, they would discuss if a “Latin” or “African” bloc of cardinals would vote a certain way. They would ignore that each cardinal in that bloc, in addition to such secular concerns, would also be personally informed by the Holy Spirit as a factor in the intensity and formation of his views. Catholic commentators had a world stage to explain how the Holy Spirit works in pragmatic “voting” matters, and how this is how the Church is protected, and yet they mentioned not one word about the Holy Spirit. It is the same with the subject of papal infallibility. If Catholic commentators cared less about looking like a media maven during the conclave and more about educating how the Holy Spirit guides, they could have laid a foundation for understanding the belief in papal infallibility. Ironically Protestants who understand the Holy Spirit would understand this explanation better than apparently some Catholics. To this day I cannot understand how that opportunity was missed. Or rather, I do. Papal infallibility (and it is used very rarely, not as a day to day given) is very easy to understand for any Christian who believes that a given person “has got the Holy Ghost” and Catholic commentators could have used the conclave as a way to show our belief and the Holy Spirit’s presence. The selection of Pope John Paul II would have also been an opportunity to explain that as a look back. I’m increasingly aware of how embarrassed too many Catholics are at acknowledging the Holy Spirit in their own Church. I hear more about the Holy Spirit in my praise and worship CD’s than I do from Catholic apologists. So the misunderstanding about papal infallibility is part of that overall failure in proper faith formation and communicaton.

Cristina A. Montes

"Basically he said we would be surprised at how much of a person's theological outlook is determined by their personality."

If you look at the lives of the saints, you'd be surprised at how different they are from each other, and yet, they all are part of the Roman Catholic Church. You'd also be surprised at the diversity of spiritualities within the Catholic Church, all of which are united in worship, faith, and authority.

Carl Olson

I hear more about the Holy Spirit in my praise and worship CD’s than I do from Catholic apologists.

I hope you mean "some Catholic apologists." After all, I did write, above: "Where does Scripture indicate that once the New Testament canon was established, that the authority that established it—the Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit—loses that authority?"

But your point is well taken. However, my experience is that some Evangelicals never (and I mean NEVER) mention the Holy Spirit. And I've known some Pentacostals who rarely mention Jesus. One thing I appreciate about Catholic doctrine and liturgy is the Trinitarian reality is continually emphasized and brought to the fore, as it should be. For what it's worth...

Jackson

MMajor, I heard Fr. Neuhaus mention the Holy Spirit several times during the conclave.

One thing that both Catholics and Protestants need to do is read this sermon from John Henry Newman:

http://www.newmanreader.org/works/parochial/volume1/sermon4.html

Jackson

Mr. Spencer is quite upset and feeling deeply sorry for himself because of Carl's "fisking." Look at his site. Among other things, he's getting rid of his Catholic books. Perhaps it's time to ask himself, "Might I be wrong?"

Carl Olson

His reaction is curious. And the accusation of fisking merely obscures that all I did was respond fairly and squarely to several of his points. Is that so hard to handle?

Carl Olson

Mike: Many thanks for your comments and kind words. They are appreciated. Although it appears that Michael Spencer has taken my comments in the wrong way, I am thankful that you and others are open to healthy and respectful discourse about these important issues.

"But just because it was the Catholic Church that established and perpetuated the faith for 1500 or 1600 hundred years doesn't necessarily mean it is the one true church."

Are you suggesting that the Catholic Church was the true church for 1500-1600 years, but then lost that position? Does this mean (as Mark Brumley points out above) that the gates of hell did prevail? Did Jesus establish more than one church, at different times? If the Catholic Church wasn't the one true church established by Jesus, what church did he establish? And how? I ask the questions sincerely, because the statement, if followed to logical conclusions, raises them.

"Basically he said we would be surprised at how much of a person's theological outlook is determined by their personality. Some people are inclined to the safety and authority of the Catholic Church, others are not."

There is some truth to this notion, but it only goes so far. For instance, I am a former Evangelical who became a Catholic ten years ago, and I know many (dozens) of former Evangelicals who are now Catholic. The range of personalities among even that relatively small group is tremendous: outgoing, introverted, studious, not so studious, emotional, stoic, insecure, confident, blue collar, white collar, artistic, etc., etc. What is fascinating is that the Catholic Church appealed to each of them in varied ways, but they were each ultimately drawn to her because of historical and theological assertions that they deemed to be true. For many of them, becoming Catholic was not a "safe" thing to do, nor was it easy, in many cases, to acknowledge the authority the Catholic Church claims to have been given by Jesus Christ. Oddly enough, when I was becoming Catholic, a Fundamentalist pastor (then a good friend of mine) told me I was doing it "for the attention." Yet others accused me of becoming Catholic because of a need for security. One long time family friend mused that I was attracted to the artistic aspect of Catholicism; another friend told me he figured I was taken in by the scholastic, logical elements of Catholic theology. Only a few of them took seriously my persistent claim that I became Catholic, in the end, because I believed the Catholic Church had been founded by Jesus Christ, had been guided and guarded for 2,000 years by the Holy Spirit, and that the Catholic Church is an essential part of the Father's plan of salvation for mankind.

Another problem with the personality argument (in addition to the fact that among 1 billion Catholics there is a tremendous range of personalities), is that when it is extended beyond Christianity, it can be used by some to say, "Well, some personalities are drawn to Buddhism, others to Islam, still others to Hinduism" and so forth. It can become, in other words, a way to deflecting attention from the fact that while our personalities are certainly drawn to certain types of experiences, ideas, arguments, and so forth, they cannot be used as excuses to ignore the truth.

Finally, we should always keep in mind that theology is not just man's theories about God, but man's engagement with divine revelation, with the final goal of knowing and understanding God to the degree granted by His grace. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"The Fathers of the Church distinguish between theology (theologia) and economy (oikonomia). 'Theology' refers to the mystery of God's inmost life within the Blessed Trinity and 'economy' to all the works by which God reveals himself and communicates his life." (par 236)

This is significant because although there can be a variety of theological approaches, theology presupposes that God has revealed Himself in certain ways, and that He can be understood in certain ways. And that, in turn, points to the necessity of authority in order to define, clarify, and defend this divine revelation, which God did not simply pipe into everyone's PDAs, but revealed through His Son, who in turn entrusted it to the Apostles and the Church, who were given the Holy Spirit in order to continue on, throughout time, this authoritative work—again, the work of Christ—of defining, clarifying, and defending.

"The genie's out of the bottle and will stay so until Jesus comes again."

Which brings us back to the question of what happened between, say, A.D. 30 and A.D. 90. If Jesus established a single Church—assuming that He has a monogamous relationship with His Bride (cf., Eph. 5), what was that Church? Now, the Catholic Church readily acknowledges that Protestant communities possess many elements of grace and holiness, and Catholics should happily admit to that fact. But if Jesus desired unity and prayed that we would be one, would He establish a model of church that lacks an essential unity and is constantly fragmenting? Analogously, even when Old Testament Israel failed (and it happened often), did God repeatedly establish a different Israel? Or did He renew the one People of God that He had already established? Likewise, the new Israel, the Church (cf., Gal 6), is continually undergoing purification and even seeming death (see Chesterton's The Everlasting Man for a brilliant take on that notion), but always remains the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, founded by Jesus upon the Rock of Peter and entrusted to the Apostles and their successors.

There is much more, of course, but I hope that suffices for the moment as an attempt to further flesh out thoughts that I expressed in my post.

Pastor Astor

I long for a time where we can learn from each other, hear one another out, see each other as brothers and sisters instead of as members of the opposing team.

Mark Brumley

What a bunch of interesting posts. Of course I didn't expect my summary of why I am no longer a Protestant to be a comprehensive statement of the case.

Keep up the discussion.

Jackson

Here's the post I was referring to when I said he's feeling sorry for himself:

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/a-better-writer-gets-a-turn

Wolf N. Paul

Carl:

You dismiss Mike's comments about the Catholic Church not necessarily being the one true church by suggesting that in that case Jesus would not be monogamous. That does not lack a certain humorous quality, but in view of the fact that the Catholic Church herself recognizes SOME bodies as "sister churches" it falls a bit flat.

Apparently it is possible, in Catholic thought, to distinguish between THE CHURCH and particular churches (even ones which do not recognize the Pope's jurisdiction); the disagreement would be whether Protestant churches are such particular churches, and since Dominus Iesus and the recent clarification from the CDF all of us know what the Catholic position on that is.

Anyway, I suggest that your quip about Jesus' implied polygamy is ultimately about as funny and intelligent as the statements by anti-Catholic Protestant agitators that Catholics must be cannibals because they eat flesh every Sunday. It purposely misunderstands the other person's position in the worst possible way. I think it is particularly inappropriate because you as a former Evangelical know full well that Evangelicals do NOT believe that Jesus has MANY brides but that they believe that all Christians, regardless of their denominational affiliation, are members of the one Body of Christ.

iMonk

Mr. Olson,

Please note the second line of my post:

>(And let me be sure to say that Olson’s piece was not a personal attack on me or offensive. He’s more than welcome to state his faith and use my post as fodder.)

Josh S

According to Catholic dogma, does Scripture have authority primarily because
a) It is divinely inspired and has God as its author
or
b) Because the Church said so?

Maddie

I find Spencer's response totally bizarre. I understand that he doesn't care to go down the apologetics road - because enough people are already doing that, for sure. But if he spends time critiquing Catholicism, why aren't Catholics allowed to respond?

The theme of his blog sometimes seems to be "Why I am not a Catholic even though there are things I like about Catholicism."

I really don't understand why Catholics aren't allowed to say, "The things you don't like about Catholicism? Well, I like 'em - and let me tell you why" without IMonk running screaming from the room tossing his Ignatius Press books out the window as he goes.

I hope he keeps "Church and Community," though.

I've lost a lot of respect for IMonk. He *doesn't* want to be a bridge builder because he really doesn't want to listen to an deeply informed perspective from the Catholic side.

Michael A

I find it funny that people actually believe that the RCC had a monopoly on worship for 1500 years. I know many Eastern Orthodox and Coptic believers who would beg to differ. Despite the century or so of mutual excommunications and territorial battles, there never has been one single Church in existence since shortly after the apostolic period. That the bishop of Rome outshone the Patriarch of Constantinople has much to do with geography, economics and military might and little to do with Jesus being monogomous. Are we to conclude that God's sovereignty somehow diminishes when the power plays of men take place?

I agree with an earlier poster regarding the canon. It's laughable to say that the canon did not exist prior to 400. It was not created then - merely affirmed.

Ted

Yes, Michael, the canon existed in 150 AD, as we have it now, accessible to all Christians.

and as for the RCC position on the Orthodox? You need to inform yourself a little bit. Two lungs and all that.

Mike D'Virgilio

Hi Carl. I left yesterday and there were 5 comments and now they're are 25. I very much appreciate your certitude about the Catholic Church, and your arguments are cogent and carry some power. Very impressive, actually. A cousin of mine who I "led to Christ" became a Catholic again a few years ago and your arguments are much of what I've heard him say as well. It's stuff like this that has caused many Evangelicals to become Catholics. However, there are a whole lot of Catholics that have become Evangelical as well and they are just as persuaded in their leaving as others going.

Anyway, I wanted to clarify one point you addressed from my earlier comment that I think you misunderstood. Of course every kind of personality is represented in any church. It wasn't so much personality type I was getting at, but something deeper and more difficult to define. I guess it can be said this way. Human beings possess reason and use logic, but that does not mean that reason and logic are always utilized to reach conclusions. There are certain inclinations that are simply more powerful and cause one person to view a proposition or evidence one way and another person to come to a completely different conclusion. What seems so incredibly obvious to me simply isn't to the next person. This is part of personality, but not the whole thing. As I've gotten older I'm much less dogmatic, and I believe God's mercy and grace are much more expansive than any of us can fathom, and that he uses every permutation of his Church to accomplish his will.

Mike D'Virgilio

One more comment. I just read Mr. Spencer, and I feel sorry for the guy. What a shame he has to take this all so personally. The man needs to get some callous if he's going to put his thoughts out to the world.

nick

Mr Olson,

In responding to Mr Hollenbach, you noted that the Mexican church's abuses of Catholicism were not near as abusive as those of Corinth. Though I would certainly agree with the argument, it is difficult to do so when I don't see a Catholic "Paul" within the institutional structure of the church standing up against them.

To clarify, if the recent popes were vigorously denouncing the idolatry of Mexican Catholics, I think you'd find many Protestants finding more respect and honor for the church. Too many people see Mexican Catholicism as a reflection of the whole, merely because the whole doesn't reject it.

Finally, I would love to join the Catholic church as I recognize it in the US. But the last thing I want to do is join a US faction (differing vitally from the whole just as the Mexican group supposedly differs from the whole). Does this make sense?

Carl Olson

Anyway, I suggest that your quip about Jesus' implied polygamy is ultimately about as funny and intelligent as the statements by anti-Catholic Protestant agitators that Catholics must be cannibals because they eat flesh every Sunday. It purposely misunderstands the other person's position in the worst possible way. I think it is particularly inappropriate because you as a former Evangelical know full well that Evangelicals do NOT believe that Jesus has MANY brides but that they believe that all Christians, regardless of their denominational affiliation, are members of the one Body of Christ.

However flippant my comment might have initially appeared, it was not meant as a mere quip, nor was it disingenious in any way. Yes, as a former Evangelical I think I understand many of the varying Evangelical ecclesiologies quite well. But my response was specifically addressed to the implication in Mike's remark that the Catholic Church had, at one time (until A.D. 1517?) been the " one true church", but now no longer is that church. Which means there has been at least two "one true churches," (if I might abuse grammar so). As an Eastern rite Catholic who has friends who are Eastern Orthodox, I know full well the difference between the Church and particular churches; but that wasn't the topic of conversation above. Put this way: I wasn't responding to J.I. Packer, or Darrell Bock, or (insert Evangelical theologian name here), but to Mike's remarks.

As you know, Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiology is quite different from that of Evangelicalism in general (it's hard to be specific, since there such a vast range of Evangelical opinions re: the nature and identity of the Church). Yes, Evangelicals believe, at least in certain sense, in "one Church," but in reality and practice, it's difficult (impossible, I think) to reconcile that view with the fragmented and contentious nature of Protestant Christianity. To appeal to the matter of Catholicism and Orthodoxy only highlights the problem, because there is far more that unites Catholics and Orthodox (especially apostolic succession and the Eucharist), than divides (essentially, the Papacy), even if relations have often been cold and acrimonious.

Put another way, regarding Mike's remarks, my question is this: If the Church is the Bride of Christ, and Jesus established the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church was the "one true Church" for 1500 years, what happened to the marital relationship between Jesus and the Church in, say, 1517? Did he "divorce" the Catholic Church? Separate from her? Did he take another Bride?

The Catholic view makes far more sense because it asserts the ongoing unity of the Church (as indicated in the statement, from Lumen Gentium that the Church founded by Christ "subsists in the Catholic Church"), while also asserting that there are particular Churches (the Eastern Orthodox and ancient Oriental Churches) that are considered to be "sister Churches" (as you note). Yet the recent CDF document states, in that regard: "However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches." And, as we all know, that document reaffirmed that Protestant communities are not, speaking in formal theological terms, not particular or sister churches, even though "elements of sanctification and truth ... are present in them".

padraighh

Bruce,

Strange that you are in Mexico to convert the poor benighted Catholics,
apparently you think they're not Christians. Something like
the pharisee "Thank God I am not like these Mexicans."

There are by the way many people in the world who have never heard of
Christ Jesus. You might try taking the Gospel to them
rather than cherry picking Catholics.

Carl Olson

I agree with an earlier poster regarding the canon. It's laughable to say that the canon did not exist prior to 400. It was not created then - merely affirmed.

I'm not sure if this was in reference to my remarks or not, but if so, I never said the canon didn't exist prior to 400. I said that it wasn't established until late 300s/early 400s, and I use the term establish in the formal sense—that is, the canon was formally defined in local councils at that time.

Carl Olson

I long for a time where we can learn from each other, hear one another out, see each other as brothers and sisters instead of as members of the opposing team.

A wonderful desire, but I think that the discussion on this thread, thus far, has embodied the sort of calm, careful dialogue that is helpful to all involved, including myself. And, for the record, in case there is any doubt, I do consider Protestants to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. But, sadly, there is real division and disagreement, and so the conversation continues, hopefully to the glory of God and His Church.

Carl Olson

One more comment. I just read Mr. Spencer, and I feel sorry for the guy. What a shame he has to take this all so personally. The man needs to get some callous if he's going to put his thoughts out to the world.

Over the past couple of years I've enjoyed reading many of Michael Spencer's posts, and I bear no animosity at all toward him. His reaction surprises me a bit, but it is what it is, if I might resort to ambiguous cliche. My post above was not an attack on him, nor was it meant to be some sort of knee-jerk "Catholic apologist" reaction. Rather, because he explained why he most likely couldn't become Catholic, I pointed out that I think some of his reasons aren't very convincing to me, and that, in fact, they highlight reasons why I did become Catholic.

Mark Brumley

The discussion here might be furthered if we all took care to write in ways that do not seem to presuppose bad faith or the deliberate mischaracterization of others perspectives.

There is so much said above it would be very difficult to comment on all of it. One item that is fairly easily addressed concerns the canon of the Bible.

Josh asks whether, according to Catholic dogma, Scripture has authority primarily because it is divinely inspired by God or because the Church canonized it (i.e., said it was divinely inspired). The answer is that the Church says the Bible is divinely inspired because it is divinely inspired. The Church's canonization is a recognition of the divine authority Scripture possesses because of God's action. ; the Church's judgment here certifies the divine inspiration of the Bible, it does not cause it. Canonization is a definitive judgment, based on the authority of the apostolic leaders of the Church to settle matters pertaining to faith and morals for the community of the Church. And of course the Catholic view of the matter is that it is infallible, i.e., preserved by the Holy Spirit from being wrong in order to safeguard the Church in her faith and mission.

People interested in learning more about the topic should consult WORD, CHURCH AND SACRAMENTS IN PROTESTANTISM AND CATHOLIC by Louis Bouyer and published by ... Ignatius Press.

Carl Olson

It's stuff like this that has caused many Evangelicals to become Catholics. However, there are a whole lot of Catholics that have become Evangelical as well and they are just as persuaded in their leaving as others going.

Thanks, Mike, for your comments and interest in this post/blog. There certainly does seem to exist a two-way street of sorts when it comes to Catholicism and Evangelicalism, and I've met many Catholics who have become Fundamentalists or Evangelicals. What is striking to me, in almost every single case, is how often they are either very angry at the Catholic Church, and/or display little knowledge of Catholic teaching and doctrine. I say that in a very qualified way, because, first, there are many reasons (as you rightly point) involved in people leaving this or that group and joining another. Also, my comment isn't meant as an arrogant jab at those who have left the Catholic Church; on the contrary, I think it is often (not always, but often) an indictment of the poor state of Catholic catechesis, which has often (again, not always, but often) been deplorable and downright scandalous in recent decades. Father Robert Barron, who grew up in the 1970s, has written some excellent stuff about this problem, including a chapter, "The Trouble with Beige Catholicism", found in his book Bridging the Great Divide (Sheed and Ward, 2004), in which he points out that a "Catholicism" devoid of doctrinal content, authentic love for Jesus and the Church, and a vibrant liturgical/spiritual life is going to eventually alienate those who rightly desire those things. What I have found, again and again, is that so many former Catholics have reacted—understandably—to a form of Catholicism that is, well, not really very Catholic. To use the Revelator's words, they have been repulsed by the lukewarmness of the Catholicism they were raised in.

Having said that, the fact remains that they in reacting against (protesting!) such things, they have thrown out the baby with the lukewarm bath water. Oftentimes they begin to mouth stereotypical notions ("Catholics worship Mary!", "Catholics think the Pope is sinless!," "Catholics believe that they are saved by being good!") that just a little bit of honest research and study will reveal are wildly off the mark. Especially frustrating is hearing some former Catholics say things such as, "Well, I knew a Catholic who believed..." or "I heard of a priest who said...." That sort of argument can be used, of course, to condemn nearly anyone or anything, which is why trying to honestly and respectfully understand what others really believe is so important. Which is why, again, I appreciate your resposes and comments.

Human beings possess reason and use logic, but that does not mean that reason and logic are always utilized to reach conclusions.

We certainly can agree that conversion and belief are mysterious things, and cannot be explained by mere scientific means, or limited to the workings of logic and reason. Apologetics and reasoned argument, as important as they are, can only go so far.

Mike D'Virgilio

Carl, I wonder if I grew up in a Catholic environment that educated me instead of leaving me ignorant if I would have been open to the pitch of the "born agains" as my dad called them. Your points about stereotyping are very well taken and it's unfortunate people make decisions based on such shallow conclusions. I was one of those angry converts you talked about, but I've done a lot of thinking, reading, studying in the last almost 30 years and I'm comfortable with the conclusions I've come to. I really appreciate Catholicism in ways I never could before and see why it's so attractive to many very solid people. But for me, I don't see myself going all the way back.

Jenny Bluett

If my use of severe sarcasm here deserves chastening, I'll take it. I'm sorry.

Can I share what I find tremendously frustrating as a convert, it is the derogatory allusion to a type of psychological deficiency that possibly exists for Evangelicals who enter the Catholic Church. Is it safe? Yes and no. Remember the reference to Aslan?

If freedom from ecclesiastical authority is a desirable position to be held by the Christian, considering the influence by one's personality, than what explanation is to be levied for the individual's fortitude who choses to throw themself upon the mercy of God?

What of the Christians in the West prior to the Reformation? How then did their psychological makeup and individual personalities aid in formation their response (submission) to the governing of the bishops and their submission to the councils prior? What do we then do with the historical witness within Christianity since its beginning?

For the record regarding Michael, he's been a blessing to me over the last six or seven years on the net. He is indeed, an incredible writer assiting many Evangelical Protestants (and Catholics also).

Rick Shott

I am impressed by this group of people that have TOTALLY missed what is going on with the iMonk. If his response is surprising then you need to get out of the cloister and look at the real world. Here he was trying to create a bridge and way of understanding between (post)evangelicalism and catholicism and the person he put his back towards shot him. With no encouragement from either side then why "cast your pearls before swine." As for his ditching books everyone here commenting on that misses that he is getting rid of Piper as well. What myopia! You have discouraged one vocal and popular person who was willing to take the time to understand all y'all. I find this truly sad.

Carl Olson

Here he was trying to create a bridge and way of understanding between (post)evangelicalism and catholicism and the person he put his back towards shot him.

Sounds great, Rick, and I'm glad that you are so much smarter than those of us not clued into the "real world." But Michael's post presents some views of Catholicism and Catholic teaching that aren't accurate. And since I'd hate for a "bridge maker" to build a bridge toward the wrong part of the shore, I thought I'd help him out a bit. And why oh why is it that Michael can offer his views on Catholicism, but Catholics are "myopic" to offer their views about his understanding of the same. Who is actually out of touch with the real world here?

Mark Brumley

It would be helpful if we moved to the "more light" phase of this discussion and away from the "more heat" phase.

Jackson

It could be time to focus on some common ground between Catholics and Protestants. I recently watched this DVD. I was highly skeptical at first, but I must say it's extraordinary. Fr. Riccardo does a tremendous job. He's on fire. Here:

http://www.ninevehscrossing.com/Order-CommonGround.html

Rick Shott

One I probably did write that comment a bit too quickly, however, I will add this.

It was an attack on his position. From a front that he does not expect. At some point in time he will need to lay out his views. And I think he is right in saying that this is "completely irrelevant." I still do not think you were understanding what he was doing.

As for the myopia, I stand by that although I could have been more clear. As some of the comments on this blog are saying that he is running from the truth of a RC position because he is getting rid of Roman Catholic books, is myopic. As I noted he is also getting rid of Piper. Don't pat yourselves on the back thinking the truth is scaring him away. He has just given up on making bridges.

Jackson

"As I've gotten older I'm much less dogmatic...."

This is unfortunate, because Catholic dogma is wonderful: "Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure."

-Catechism, s. 89

Carl Olson

I still do not think you were understanding what he was doing.

Fair enough. That's probably true. Then again, with all due respect, it seems that Michael himself isn't sure what he is doing. So...

iMonk

>it seems that Michael himself isn't sure what he is doing.

Well you know us Protestants, Mr. Olson. Never as sure as we could be.

Mike D'Virgilio

Jackson, dogma and dogmatic are two different things. I'm sure you know that. Dogma is a system of principles or tenets, and you can be sure I hold those. Dogmatic, on the other hand is asserting opinions in a doctrinaire or arrogant manner; opinionated (from dictionary.com). I simply don't believe everyone has to see everything exactly the way I see it anymore. I am convinced God uses Catholics, Pentecostals, fundamentalists, evangelicals, you name it. I just choose to focus on what units us rather than what divides us. I was not always so inclined.

Bruce Hollenbach

Brother padraighh: You misunderstand me. I have no interest in converting RCs to Protestantism and certainly not in deepening the divide between these two groups as it is so painfully evident in southern Mexico. Don't we Christians already have to bear enough shame over events in Northern Ireland? I take whatever opportunities I can find to mollify the hard feelings that continue to prevail between these two groups down here. What should be troubling all of us is that there are so many confessed Catholics and Evangelicals, in Mexico and the U.S. and elsewhere, whose lives simply don't reflect the clear teachings of Christ as mediated through the Gospels and the rest of Scripture. I hope through my work to make the Scriptures available to people who as of yet do not have the opportunity to read or hear them in a language they understand well. The goal here is not to convert RCs to Protestantism but to turn unbelieving rebels into followers of Jesus Christ. I really don't care what church they may choose to worship in, although I must confess that I find more nurturing Evangelical groups here than Catholic ones. Of course, that's not to say that there aren't plenty of problems and inconsistencies wherever you look.

The downside of debates like this one is that the focus is on groups, and indeed many of us are tempted to find our security in a group, be it the Catholic Church or some other group, and so we tend to pit one group against another, probably to increase our sense of security that we've chosen the right one to identify with. I am persuaded that in the Last Day we will not be asked to defend our choice of one group or another to fellowship with. We will be asked individually what we did with what we knew and what we had. What really gets me excited and encouraged is to meet someone -- anyone -- who cares more about obedience to Christ than about any other possible priority. That's why many of us Evangelicals have taken so much nourishment from the spiritual writings of Roman Catholics. If I find someone who shares my interest in following Christ, I recognize that person to be a member of the same Body of Christ that I belong to, no matter what church he belongs to. I call this unity. I imagine that what I am saying here may be a very Protestant thing to say, but a lot of Protestants would disagree with me. Take some comfort in that.

Brother Nick: (Among Evangelicals in Mexico, we're all brothers and sisters. It's kind of a badge, but not a bad one, really.) Thanks for your contribution. I was going to leave Carl's answer to me alone. It is indeed a good one. But you are right. I'd think a lot more highly of the Catholic Church if someone in the hierarchy would occasionally raise his voice to suggest a bit more meat and a lot less feathers for Mexican Catholicism. Instead, I believe that the average Mexican believes that the Pope has placed his seal of approval upon Mexican Catholicism as it exists, and I am not aware of anyone saying otherwise. This is not for the good of the Catholic Church or for Mexico or for the cause of Christ.

voiceovers

Mr Olson,

I'm guessing that Michael Spencer is feeling attacked because he knows his audience is predominantly Evangelical Protestants and he was in essence appealing to them to be more understanding of their Roman Catholic bretheren and of his exploration of the rich heritage that Roman Catholics bring to the table.

What never ceases to amaze me is when Christians of any faith tradition feel the need to be the "doctine police". Michael was asking questions and bearing his heart to provoke Protestants to think. You, on the other hand, have come in like a reformed smoker, telling all the world the answers to their problems (whether they want to hear them or not) and missing the point entirely.

In essence, Michael was expanding what Queen Elizabeth I was reported to have said .. "There is but one Jesus Christ. All the rest is trifles".

His appeal was predominantly to a Protestant audience to help them embrace you (Roman Catholics) more readily. Your response to his post, is a prime example of the reason why most never will.

What will you do with the Scripture that says "when one part of the body is hurting, we all hurt"? Could that move you to make an apology to Michael, not on the basis of whether you are right or wrong, but on the basis that you have wounded a brother whether intentionally or not? Or would the idea of you admitting you caused a brother pain, by ascribing motives to his heart that simply don't exist, make you stand up all the more defiantly with your desire to correct the wrongs of the Protestant church that you believe you now see so clearly after once having believed with them?

I can just see Jesus, the angels and the great cloud of witnesses all responding like a stadium full of supporters whose team has just fumbled the ball. I imagine them groaning that yet again, we just don't get it.

Carl Olson

Thank you, voiceovers, for the sermon. It was, uh, interesting. What is strange to me is that a number of folks, such as yourself, are all up in arms as if I had high-jacked Michael's website and claimed that he was the Antichrist and damned him to hell. You are acting as if I have gone out of my way to cause pain and scandal, when in fact all I did was to respond to some theological assertions, pointing out that what Michael takes to be problematic in Catholicism (i.e., papal authority, the place of Tradition, etc.), I take to be positive and logical. Why does this bother you so much? Why are you so huffy that I posted a polite and non-polemical post on my blog about something that Michael wrote?

Frankly, this talk of me "not getting the point" is simply arrogant nonsense. There is no apology necessary on my part, for I did not attack Michael, I did not demean him, I did not cause scandal, and I did not go out of my way to lecture him as I am being lectured now by you—on my blog. I never went about "ascribing motives to his heart that simply don't exist," because I don't play the silly game of mind/heart reading that others do (hint, hint).

I can just see Jesus, the angels and the great cloud of witnesses all responding like a stadium full of supporters whose team has just fumbled the ball. I imagine them groaning that yet again, we just don't get it.

Well, someone is groaning, but I'm not convinced in the least that it is Jesus, the angels, or the communion of saints...

voiceovers

I sincerely apologise if you felt lectured on your own blog. That was not my intent.

It's just that I'm a bit stumped. I don't believe Michael Spencer posted his issues with Catholic theology on his blog to be corrected by anyone, whether it be by you or by some of your more vitriolic respondents. I believe he posted those issues as musings to help Protestants more willingly embrace Roman Catholics as bretheren and, perhaps more importantly, to provoke Protestants to think outside their box.

The fact that you felt the need correct his theology, simply suggests to me that you'd rather be right than relational.

So, the point I think you're missing is, I believe, a relatively simple one. If I held up the contents of this page as a way of attempting to reflect the nature of Christ as found in the Gospels, how much do you think I'd find? As John Wesley once wrote to a Roman Catholic brother, "... if we cannot as yet think alike in all things, at least we may love alike. Herein we cannot possibly do amiss."

St Paul was letter perfect in his understanding of the Law as a Pharisee, yet did not love the ones whom Christ loved. It's interesting to me that he needed to be blinded in order to see.

Forgive my arrogance in desiring to find some common ground in the love of Christ, but I think I'd rather be relational than just plain right Carl.

What about you?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Ignatius Insight

Twitter


Ignatius Press


Catholic World Report


WORTHY OF ATTENTION:




















Blogs & Sites We Like

June 2018

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Blog powered by Typepad