Thursday, July 9, 2009

Super Post, Must Read - Today's Catholicism - Variety in the Roman Kirk

"Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my Church" - The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Chapter 16, Verse 18

What's the Rock?
For Protestants it is St. Peter's confession - God bless them, as a former Protestant I have to say I believe they do more to advance the Catholic faith by teaching orthodox Christological and Trinitarian and Biblical theology than 9 out of 10 of the lapsed Catholics you meet throughout high school and wherever Italians and Francophones dwell.

Catholics believe St. Peter is the Rock (along with his successors, the bishops of Rome, or "popes"), but as a little bit of a tour of the Roman Church, I've replaced 'the Rock' with those things which some Catholics emphasize the most.

What's the Rock?: Abortion

I once told a Catholic "Christ died to start a Church, not a Pro-life Movement"

I've been reading the American Papist blog today and a number of the other "top" Catholic blogs and I find them dreadfully boring. They're just Abortion this, Abortion that, Abortion... yes, if I lived during the Holocaust I would be talking about how horrible it is, but the point is, the Gospel must still be preached, theology must still be taught, the Liturgy should still be refined, etc. As a student of Political Science, it is my firm conviction that abortion will never be illegal, and that probably something worse will come up eventually that Catholics will rave about all the more.

Needless to say, I am pro-life, I do think abortion is a moral evil, but I do think it is a subordinate issue. I have a friend who was a lapsed Catholic for over a year and he was HEAVILY involved in the pro-life movement, i'll never forget when I said to him "salvation is by grace" and he said "what's grace?" - that almost stopped my conversion immediately, but I'm simply saying all of this to emphasize how abortion has usurped the message of salvation which after all is the whole purpose of Christianity.

What's the Rock: Charismatic Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Charles Spurgeon (still one of my heroes) once said in regards the Wesleyan movement that he didn't care about being filled with enthusiasm, and that the only emotion he wanted to feel deeply was repentance. I agree with him. But there are some things I like about the Charismatics, the fact that they actually believe the Bible is one refreshing thing. I empathize with Lutheran Theologian Paul Tillich who once said "I am excited for the day when we can all talk about God again without embarrassment". This article in first things by the Episcopal (famous Catholic sympathizer) writer Philip Jenkins is all about the Charismatic movement (specifically in the global south):

Their stories fill me with hope that once again supernaturalism will triumph over the arbitrary western tyrant of naturalism.

What's the Rock: All Things Idolatry

C.S. Lewis said that Catholicism goes wrong when it becomes the world-old folk religion of amulets and magic. In spite of Newman's wonderful sophistry about "dulia" and "hyper-dulia" and "latria" I've been unfortunate enough to have to read medieval british books on popular Piety and they always talk about how we should "worshippe the Saintes in a goodley waye" or some other myspelld idolatri. It's really annoying how they write. In any case, many Roman Christians in my estimation easily jump over the line from mere dulia (devotion) to latria (worship). Maybe it's just me, but my own brain has a worship and non-worship switch. Anyway, I still like the saints but I think the Anglican Communion has a healthier theology on them... it could be worse, we could be East Orthodox, there's worship for you (I don't know the Greek word for Latria otherwise I'd use it to sound smart).

I find that others are so ridiculous about protecting the Eucharist that it is just ridiculous. I understand respect and treating the Eucharist in a worthy way, and I believe transubstantiation, but seriously, we are talking about the same Jesus right? They stopped serving the Eucharist by intinction (dipping the bread into the wine and giving it to the communicant) because a drop of the blood might fall on the ground. ... does anyone in the Catholic Church remember that Christ's blood was poured out onto the ground for our sake. That he was despised, trampled, and spat on. I think he can take a carpet at St. Alexander's parish church.

And for the life of me, I'm tired of trying to explain my way out of awkward moments at mealtime when a Protestant friend or family member will ask me about upside-down buried statues of St. Joseph and real estate. (St. Thomas More, pray for the destruction of idolatry and false veneration!)

What's the Rock?: The Church

Dave Armstrong and many Protestant Converts boast about the awesomeness of the Church and use grandiose statements about how humungous and gigantic "our" (as if they did any of it) Ancient Communion is. They teach what the (self-proclaimed) Bishop James White describes as sola ecclesia, or 'the church alone' for salvation. I don't believe this is official church teaching - and neither would Protestants if they had to sit through the dreaded "subsistit in" debates which are now every discussion on Vatican II (the council says that true Christianity -or something to that effect - "Subsist in the Catholic Church", the debate is thus, 'are Protestants unknowingly in the Catholic Church, or is this Feeneyism - only the visible Catholic Church is the true elect church). Anyway, whether they changed Tridentine declarations or not (I think they kind of did) Vatican II now teaches something much closer to a catholic/orthodox view of Tradition, that Scripture is materially sufficient as the source of faith and morals and that Tradition is the interpretive lens.

The Church and Ecclesiology is important, but even Papa Benny says that the more offices and mechanisms the Church adds for itself the more the Spirit is quenched.

What's the Rock?: Social Gospel

This group is the inverse of the previous group, they seem to think that Jesus was a 1st century Che Gueverra who was killed for resisting "the man". The whole purpose of Church is to protect the poor and the innocent. To accept Homosexuals and outcasts. Like the Charismatics, I don't have as much of a problem with the Social Gospel people, they do a hell of alot more to live their faith than I do. But my issue is always with their watered-down theology, and dodgy leftist politics. This group reminds me of a female Catholic theology student I talked with the other day with whom I voiced my concern "I think the Church (Catholic) has contradicted itself" and she replied to the effect of "so what? you thought we were infallible?". Strangely when the Catholic Church advertised "Infallibility", I assumed it's adherents believed in it, but it's ok, I still do, but not with the fervor I used to, and now with the knowledge that many in the fold do not.

What's the Rock?: Christ

This final group are to me the group I associate myself with. I have found a small communion of Catholics (most of which are dead) with whom I associate myself. St. Thomas More, the Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Peter Kreeft, Henry Nouwen, Thomas Howard, Richard John Neuhaus and to a lesser extent J.R.R. Tolkien & the Anglo-Catholics (C.S. Lewis, and others). These are the people who always centre Roman Catholic theology on the person, work, and teachings of Jesus. When they discuss the faith, they talk about the love of Christ, about the mercy of God, about true repentance and Christian living. They emphasize the Eucharist, the Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints only to point to Christ. Peter Kreeft says that Protestants will only become Catholics if they see the Christo-centric nature of Catholicism (which for me was like finding Waldo, but it is there somewhere). I feel at home with the Anglican converts to Rome, because most of them seem to share this similar view, a view taught quite alot in Traditional Anglicanism (may she rest in peace), and I feel like a thoroughly English Catholic. My faith isn't centred on abortion, or 'christian' marxism, or speaking in tongues, it's about Jesus. It's not that those things are wrong, it's just that they are subordinate in importance. To Sum this camp up, I'll close with a quote I love by C.S. Lewis about this:

"This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objectives -- education, building, missions, holding services. The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christ's. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose."

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