Thursday, January 29, 2009

Observations In The Church of Rome (Pt.3) - "Unam Sanctum?"

Ok so I totally cheated about the last post in that John Wesley basically wrote it. But this one will again be actual observations. And I know I threw in that arbitrary one on American History, but whatever, I should be writing an essay right now anyway.

OK. So, I was attracted to Catholicism at first because it seemed perfectly united in everything, the Catechism spelled out almost every detail, so I figured that would be the case. Well... there's one observation that might not be shocking to many, but has become a pro and a con of Rome. That is the fact that nearly no one is unified. ... The only people who know doctrine are SSPX who are pretty much renegades now, despite what our wonderful German Shepherd (papa bene) is trying to do with them. But the vast majority of Catholics hold fairly divergent views. Now this isn't really a criticism of Catholicism as much as it was just a correction to my understanding of Catholicism. For example, one of the critiques a presbyterian friend who I shall only refer to as Jay Bennett had with Catholicism is that it was Latitudinarian in it's definition of doctrine. My first thought was: What the hell does Geography have to do with this?!. But then he explained that the Church has for th most part merely denounced heretical ideas on far ends of the spectrum. So they've taught that legalism is wrong (a LONG time ago) and they've taught that antinomianism is wrong (daily), and we rest in between....ok that was a really bad example. Um. Here we go, this is better: They've taught in Unam Sanctum that No one outside the Church can be saved, and then they've taught in Vatican 2 that maybe people from non-Christian religions can even be saved. Wow that actually just sounded more like a contradiction than a broad scope, but I'm not worried, there's probably canon lawyers and theologians who've found a loop hole for that somewhere. Anyway, I guess my memory is foggy this morning but the basic point of this now ridiculously long paragraph was that many people can hold many views, and that Catholic thinking isn't monolithic.

My other Presbyterian friend said in a facebook message once that Rome is much divided with competing views like Molinism and Augustinianism and thus was not really united. Well to my relief and despair no one in Catholicism actually discusses Justification, BUT if they did, i'm sure none of them would know what either term meant. But I must say that Trent, the destruction of the Jansenists, etc, have pretty much killed the Augustinian tradition...Jesuits I'm looking at you....gah molinism, and I thought Arminianism was bad.

I was also talking to a Catholic friend I have who studies theology and is doing a great amount of work on Martin Luther. I started to wonder how a Catholic could view Martin Luther, as I still really admire him, and she said that she loved him and thought he was a great reformer for the Church. And I thought I was angry at the Jesuits, GAH POPE LEO!! why did you have to excommunicate him. Let me explain, I have a history professor who does his work in Luther's early writings and doctrine and the early Lutheran movement, and he told me alot. His argument was that Luther's entire theology was based on his reading of St. Augustine's doctrine of "Sola Gratia" and that he just saw grace as divine favour rather than a substance metaphysically distributed by the Church/by God/by Mary (mediatrix of all graces)'s confusing there's alot of slashes. ... Anyway that might be true, I've read a very small portion of Luther's early writings and many of them according to these people I talked to could've got a nihil obstat. Apparently it was only later in his life, after he'd been excommunicated that he started to teach sola fide and view himself as an eschatological figure from Revelation, and write entire books cursing Jews, etc...that's 'crazy' Luther, but I'd like 'devout' Luther.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that, you are actually free to hold many views as a Catholic (within the confines of Tradition's definitions ie. the Catechism). Like Catholics quoting Luther, like the continued existence of Hans Kung (who I'm sure the Vatican has tried to assassinate), like the Donut Man, there is diversity. The best illustration of this is a glance at Pope Benedict's view on Purgatory and Karl Rahner's view on Purgatory and the Medieval view of Purgatory. I figure give it another 50 years and Purgatory will be chisled down to a few seconds. stoked, I guess i won't need that plenary indulgence.

I'm not trying to be cynical or blasphemous I just think there is so many more important things that these issues now that I sometimes make light of them. I will spend a year becoming a Roman Catholic, but I will spend my life becoming a Christian, that is, becoming like Christ. And in the words of St. Paul/God the Holy Spirit,

"One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat...Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way...For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men." -Romans 14

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