Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Failure of Protestantism

When the protestants meet on Sunday, they go to understand the bible, to hear their pastor's interpretation of the bible. When a Catholic goes to Mass on Sunday he goes to ritually re-present the realities recorded in the bible. For the protestant, the bible is history, for the Catholic it is an eternal Word, the protestant looks at Jesus as a good historical role model, the Catholic participates here and now in the mysteries of Christ's life, death and resurrection. The protestant condemns himself to history, the Catholic opens himself to eternity. Such is the difference between the spiritual life characteristic of man, the cult, and the barely disguised descent into the profane which is Protestantism.

From the Noetic Muse


This is why I converted to Catholicism, by the way.

17 Comments:

Blogger atgnatus said...

That applies at least as much to Orthodoxy which maintains the "Gold Chain" of Tradition unbroken and unchanged from Christ Himself.

That also shows the commonality between the two Churches.

9:56 AM  
Blogger xofezura said...

Regardless of whether Catholicism or Orthodoxy has the "fullness of the faith", either is preferable to protestantism.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Oblate-Man said...

I'm so sorry you feel the need to trash Protestants. The original post and the subsequent comments show a shameful lack of knowledge of Protestant worship and faith walks.

The very origin of Protestantism was founded in the doctrine of the priesthood of believers, asserting tht all Christians are capable of interpreting the Bible for themselves. The Catholic Church taught (and continues to imply at times) that the laymen needs the assistance of the clergy and the Magisterium.

Another main tenet of Protestantism has been viewing the Bible as not only literal but eternal. It is not either/or (historical or eternal), but both.

As a Christian who was raised an evangelical, moved to a more liturgical position as a Lutheran, and is now a Benedictine oblate, I have treasured my multi-faceted experiences within the many traditions of Christianity. I look forward to the day that Catholics and Protestants will see that they really are brothers and sisters in Christ. It is too bad that your attitudes will delay that day.

1:42 PM  
Blogger xofezura said...

St. Augustine said to the Donatists: "wherefore have ye separated yourselves?"

I do not view the Catholic Church as being on equal footing with each of 30,000 schismatic and/or heretical sects.

For what it is worth, I grew up in an Assemblies of God church, and spent my college years in a Baptist parachurch. I don't believe that I have a "shameful lack of knowledge of Protestant worship."

But pax vobis by all means. Am I to understand you are a Lutheran Benedictine oblate? If so, what is it that makes you prefer Lutheranism over Catholicism?

2:23 PM  
Blogger Oblate-Man said...

Well, I'm a little frustrated. I posted a lengthy reply to you on Friday, Xofezura, but it seems to have been lost in cyber-space. I don't know if I have the energy today to re-create it all.

For now, forgive me for any offense about your own experience. Another lesson for me that I always need to express myself positively, and not assume anything but the best of intentions about others.

Today is just not a good day for me to try to express myself on this issue. I'll try to take this on tomorrow, because I really do have some things to say, and I would love to exchange views and information. Pax.

4:43 AM  
Blogger xofezura said...

Sounds good! I would like to hear about your experiences as an oblate as well. I don't live all that far from St. Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo and have started to consider the possibility of becoming an oblate myself ...

8:50 AM  
Blogger Oblate-Man said...

OK, let's give this a shot:

The main thrust of this post is to explain why I am a Lutheran and not a Catholic. A secondary purpose is to suggest that it is OK to have different branches or denominations, and that they should (for the most part) be in full communion with one another.

1. I am a Protestant because I was "led to Christ" by a Protestant (Free Methodist), and because I agree with the basis for the Reformation, that we are justified by faith alone, and that there is a priesthood of all believers, capable of interpreting Scripture with the aid of the Holy Spirit, not requiring the intervention of an ordained person or an official organization.

2. While the Catholic Church has re-examined its position on many issues (through the Council Trent and other conciliar events, leading to Vatican II and the 1999 Augsberg Agreement), I find I still cannot agree with it on two major items: the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope; and the concept of the Magisterium being co-equal in authority with Scripture.

My reasons for this center on the lack of Scriptural direction on either of these issues. In lieu of clear Scriptural direction, I must rely on my reason and conscience (like a good Lutheran).

3. Still, I believe it is possible for Protetants and Catholics to live in full communion. Both sides have evolved over the centuries, recognizing movements of the Holy Spirit in the other. That the late John Paul II was a spiritual giant and a leader of Christendom is beyond debate. And there are plenty of other Popes in history who likewise were men of great faith and love. The dividing issue is one of authority, and I don't think there will be a resolution on that issue. It's too central to both sides. But there can be peace and acceptance. There can be honest disagreement about the structure of the Church without there being an issue of exclusivity, if both sides wish it to be so.

Hope this makes my position clear. I'd appreciate any feedback.

Pax

9:02 AM  
Blogger xofezura said...

1. I am a Protestant because I was "led to Christ" by a Protestant (Free Methodist),
and because I agree with the basis for the Reformation,
that we are justified by faith alone,
and that there is a priesthood of all believers,
capable of interpreting Scripture with the aid of the Holy Spirit,
not requiring the intervention of an ordained person or an official organization.


Well for me, sola fidei seems like a disastrous doctrine.

Remember, I grew up in an Assemblies of God church, where everybody "knew" they were saved
because they had "faith". In the Catholic Church this would be called the sin of presumption,
I believe. As you know Jesus said many things like "many will say 'but we called you Lord'
and I will say 'depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.'" etc.

So, these Protestants I grew up with (and meet to this day) all know that they're saved, and
yet many appear gravely deficient in, um, works. It's not for me to judge, but as C.S. Lewis said (paraphrase),
"A Christian should be giving enough money away that they have to live below their means." I can say
that in American Christianity in general, this does not happen to a large extent. However, Catholics
would not go around boldly proclaiming "I'm saved!" but more likely "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!"

As James said (2:14) "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?"

Regarding everyone being able to interpret Scripture with the aid of the Holy Spirit,
this seems questionable to me.

I remember when I was hanging out with Baptists in college. I was actually leading a Bible
study in a dorm with one of them. We got to Jesus performing the miracle at Cana and the Baptist
said "we're going to tell them that the wine wasn't actually wine, right?"

I said something like "huh?"

He proceeded to explain to me that Jesus was a teetotaller who never drank any wine, and that it
was clear that all references to wine in the New Testament were actually to water that had been
spiked with a small amount of wine to kill micro-organisms.

This, apparently, is a position widely held by Southern Baptists.

-----------------------

So, you can see my skepticism. While the Catholic Church has often held its laity to too low of
a standard, not everyone is cut out to be able to unravel the Bible by themselves, or too be protected
from error.

For example, take the doctrine of the Trinity. That cannot be easily determined from Scripture. The
evidence for this is that it took 300 years and several heresies and a Saint named Athanasius and a
council to work that out. Had he failed we might all be Arians today.


I'll get to your other points in a short while. I'd just like to add that this is no condemnation of
Lutherans a group. I'm quite sure there are individual Lutherans who are better Christians than I am.
They just suffer from:

1) not having the "fullness of the faith" as it has been handed down
2) not benefitting from the grace of many of the sacraments
3) not having the assurance that the "gates of hell will not prevail" against their church

So ... I imagine if you are a strong Christian, you can join any denomination you like and God will help
you in your journey. If you're a weak Christian such as Xofezura, you really need the Catholic faith in
all of its fullness.

And it is curious to me. You are a Lutheran, yet you have picked up the Benedictine spirituality. I know
that Benedictine Oblates are ecumenical at the oblate level. Nevertheless, it is a Catholic order. To
what extent this is picking and choosing on your part, and to what extent the Holy Spirit is leading you
to Catholicism, I couldn't say. But I think you are denying your inner Catholic. :)

This is just a jumble of thoughts in no particular order, since your point #1 was packed full of items of interest.

11:38 AM  
Blogger xofezura said...

2. While the Catholic Church has re-examined its position on many issues (through the Council Trent and other conciliar events, leading to Vatican II and the 1999 Augsberg Agreement), I find I still cannot agree with it on two major items:
the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope; and the concept of the Magisterium being co-equal in authority with Scripture.
My reasons for this center on the lack of Scriptural direction on either of these issues. In lieu of clear Scriptural direction, I must rely on my reason and conscience (like a good Lutheran).


Atgnatus also has issues with the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope, which is why he is Greek Orthodox
and not Catholic.

I think that I will pass on defending the pope because I don't want to get Atgnatus riled up.

Let's take the issue of cloning human embryos. Obviously, not discussed in the Bible. Is it right or wrong?

Well, some Protestants say "yes, because xyz" and some say "no, because abc." How could they ever arrive at
a consensus? They would have to resort to Reason, and then they would end up saying "go for it."

Look at what over-reliance on Reason has done to the Anglican Church.

And, if you look at the Eugenics movement in America in the early part of this century, it was spearheaded by
Protestants because "it just made sense" and virtually the only people fighting against it were those weird,
foreigner Catholics. Forced sterilization of the mentally retarded -- think of all the problems it could solve!

The Catholics resisted it because the Magisterium had determined that sterilization was bad, period. Therefore Catholics did not need to go out and Ph.Ds in Biology or the social sciences in order to determine right from wrong.

Human reason is fallible, whereas Tradition .... when was New Testament put together? 4th century,
what did people do for the first 3 centuries? Rely on Tradition. Tradition particularly within the churches that have valid apostolic succession, seems to have an implicit guarantee of protection from the Holy Spirit.


3. Still, I believe it is possible for Protetants and Catholics to live in full communion. Both sides have evolved over the centuries, recognizing movements of the Holy Spirit in the other. That the late John Paul II was a spiritual giant and a leader of Christendom is beyond debate. And there are plenty of other Popes in history who likewise were men of great faith and love. The dividing issue is one of authority, and I don't think there will be a resolution on that issue. It's too central to both sides. But there can be peace and acceptance. There can be honest disagreement about the structure of the Church without there being an issue of exclusivity, if both sides wish it to be so.

Well, it's not possible because many many Protestants deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, as you know.

If someone denies the real presence, then they receive unworthily at Mass by definition.

So I can say with some conviction that all the lost sheep in the Protestant wilderness are welcome to return to
the Mother Church at any time, but if you choose not to, it seems odd to wish to participate in her sacraments.

One can say "Christian unity" and "ecumenism" but those are just words if you actually believe radically different
things.

For another thing, Eucharist is one sacramant, Reconciliation is another, and Confirmation is another sacrament. Why would someone want to
receive Eucharist without Reconciliation or Confirmation? It is a package deal.

As for dialogue and cooperation that of course is possible and desirable. If you look at this blog's list of charities
you'll see "Gospel for Asia" on the list. They are basically Baptists, but Atgnatus and I support them on the
grounds that they are bringing Christ to people who otherwise would have no chance to receive Him (due to the inability
of Catholics or Orthodox to get sufficient feet on the ground in that part of the world). Better a deficient
knowledge of the Truth that the Holy Spirit than none whatsoever.

12:05 PM  
Blogger xofezura said...

One final note. It isn't my intent to try to convert you from Lutheranism to Catholicism. My previous attempts were just meant to indicate "why Xofezura is Catholic and not Lutheran."

I think that anyone who becomes a Christian in this day and age would do well to ponder, when choosing a demonination, why he is choosing one with a 50, or 200, or 500 year history, when their are options with 2000 year histories.

I remember that -- although I went to church in the Assemblies of God every week -- I did not know what Lent was until I went to college!

Easter always irritated me because I would have to get extra dressed up and all the people at Church ran around going "it's Easter" and I would always feel (not think) "yeah, so?" What was so special about it? It wasn't like Christmas, where the Church got decorated. In fact, the only thing that made Easter different from other Sundays is that the pastor would usually feel compelled to preach for an extra half-hour.

Contrast that to the tradition in Catholicism (not widely practiced these last 40 years, alas). You start with ashes on the head. You give something up. You fast certain days. By the time Easter comes around, wow! you're ready for it. And then the incense comes out, and the Latin, and the bells ... and all of a sudden it seems like the biggest Solemnity of the year.

There is so much that Protestants have lost that they don't even know they've lost. As a Lutheran you've lost less than others, but you still are missing out ... (in my opinion).

12:15 PM  
Blogger Oblate-Man said...

Great responses! So much to look at, I may have to limit myself to just one today.

So let's look at my #2 point in terms of what is Scripturally present and not present. I don't mean to say that we cannot have any papacy or even a Magisterium because it's not mentioned in the Bible. Only that we are not required to have such institutions. Religion is man's way of dealing with God so that we are not "blown apart". Religion is inherently organized (no matter what the Quakers say). My only point is that when we decide to organize in a way that is not specifically commanded, it seems only reasonable that God leave it up to human choice as to whether or not to recognize that authority. Of course, I could be accused of begging the question if you hold my understanding of Scripture to be deficient.

I think I'll do a little of this each day, and prolong the pleasure of it. It's nice to converse with someone who's got something to say. By the way, I fully agree that we've thrown out the baby with the bathwater. So much richness and mystery have been ignored and wasted because of the excesses of the Hundred Years War and Peasant's Revolt. I do, in fact, believe that the sacraments are efficacious in themselves, and not merely symbols. I just don't know know how. But lacking the fullness of knowledge is not the same as being deficient in faith.

I really like your remark that I'm denying my inner Catholic. I love my times at Osage Monastery (I'm going this weekend), and the sisters there are exceedingly precious to me. In fact, I did consider becoming Catholic. But for the reasons I've already mentioned, I can't do it in good conscience. Any change in that is up to God. I don't think I have "picked" or "chosen" anything. I really do believe God has led down this path; to what end, only He/She knows. Maybe as a bridge between different streams.

Until later -- Pax

1:50 PM  
Blogger Oblate-Man said...

"Well, it's not possible because many many Protestants deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, as you know.

If someone denies the real presence, then they receive unworthily at Mass by definition.

So I can say with some conviction that all the lost sheep in the Protestant wilderness are welcome to return to
the Mother Church at any time, but if you choose not to, it seems odd to wish to participate in her sacraments.

One can say "Christian unity" and "ecumenism" but those are just words if you actually believe radically different
things."

Yes, this would be a problem. I suppose I don't really "full communion" in the sense that there is only one Church again. I suppose I mean that I think the Church can hold to a teaching about the sacraments and assume the best of intentions of those who choose to participate. One of the tenents of many Protestant churches is "open communion," which means that all who profess faith in Christ are welcome to partake, regardless of their understanding of the theology behind the Eucharist (or Communion). Implicit in this is the awareness that many people have differing opinions about what the elements are or become, but that does not negate the more important knowledge: that God tells us this is a vital part of our faith.

By the way, having talked to a lot of Catholics, it is apparent that the Catholic Church's teachings about the Eucharist are not even well understood by a lot of it's own people. Many give me a blank look when I talk about the real body and blood of Christ, even though they hear these words at least weekly. Are they taking the sacrament in an unworthy fashion?

This sounds like a minor point, or even an argumentative one, but I don't mean it to be. The Lutheran Church teaches the efficacy of the Sacraments; that is, they are real vehicles of God's grace using human mechanisms. Even if the person is unaware of them, they have real efficacy. Hence, we view infant baptism as a real entry into the kingdom of God. Those who partake of the Eucharist may or may not have a proper understanding of the elements, but that does not negate the grace God bestows on the communicant.

But I need to make a disclaimer that much of this is on the fly. The idea of unity and ecumenism is very complicated, as you indicated. I just hope the Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches will continue to talk in good faith about these things.

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