(I guess I'm slowly coming back to this blog of Reformed-Roman dialogue...slowly)
I was frustrated tonight when speaking with a fellow Catholic because of this prevailing series of thoughts I see in both Reformed and Roman Christians.
It's the idea that 'if they only knew what we taught, then they'd convert immediately'. I was recruited to convert a Reformed person who is dating a Catholic girl, but I'm refusing to go any further than I've already gone (just showed him the Catholic account of things). I get annoyed because they keep telling me that it's just misinformation. Really? I think that there is a significant number of people who understand 'both sides' and choose their own (including the Reformed side). Was Luther or Calvin or Beza ignorant of the Catholic claims? Clearly not. Were modern theologians like Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Jurgen Moltmann ignorant? No. And are Protestants at present, running the gamut from Michael Horton to Rowaan Williams ignorant of it? Obviously not.
I explained to the woman in mass tonight that actually Protestants are just following the development of doctrine from Augustine's conceptions of Original Sin and predestination, along with a development of Anselm's theory of Atonement, etc. And she laughed and did what all Catholics do... start screaming 'Eucharist!' and 'mere symbol'. By the time I tried to explain that Reformed Christians don't think it's "merely" a symbol and that Anglicans actually can claim it as a sacrifice, etc I just gave up (and Mass was starting).
I thought it was hillarious too as we were singing Vineyard worship songs and the priest faced us (not East), etc that Catholics think they are always more Traditional than everyone else.
Similarly, I get annoyed when Reformed Protestants just assume that Catholics don't understand Protestantism and are just ignorant. All the same things apply as I've written already.
There are people whose consciences and in-depth study of scripture and Tradition lead them to Protestantism, as there are those whose same study leads them to Catholicism. Even if we hate each other's theologies (though I don't think I feel this way towards any theology except Anabaptism), can we at least admit that religious views are not just the result of ignorance, and that brilliant and loving Christians exist in both camps? I certainly am not saying, both are right, I'm just saying that both have arguments of at least some validity, and are not solely reducable to misinformation.
My personal example here is my friend Lance and I. We both were at a basic Evangelical Protestant understanding for a year of biblical studies together. As we studied theology he headed towards Lutheranism, and I towards Roman Catholicism. He's getting into Radical Orthodoxy and I'm getting into la nouvelle theologie / ressourcement, and we can actually agree on quite a bit. We obviously disagree on major issues, but I respect his theology and I hope he respects mine. Actually neither of us came up with our theology, as I've said, we left Evangelicalism :)