In the comments to my post, “When Protestants Attack,” Ed Jacoutot, who is Catholic, asks some questions that are worth bringing center-stage. For example, he wonders,
If worship in the Protestant Tradition is “proclaiming and re-enacting the saving acts of God”¬ù – per Robert Webber, and your paraphrase – “celebrating what God has done through both the Word and the Table.”¬ù Then – where do we differ? I see nothing in these descriptions that Catholics can find a quarrel – and if there is hardly a quarrel – why are we not one?
I suggested in a previous comment that many Protestants are, frankly, clueless about worship. This is a sad fact to confess, if indeed the chief end of humankind, in the words of the Westminster Catechism, is “to worship God and enjoy him forever.” Worship would seem to be an area where Protestants and Catholics could find common cause‚Äîassuming we both believe what we are saying about the importance of worship.
Instead, as Ed notes, we (or at least some of us) prefer to hurl insults at each other. He observes‚Äîand I concur‚Äîthat many Protestants’ understanding of Catholic theology and practice comes straight out of the Reformers’ sixteenth-century critique of some of Catholicism’s darkest days (papal corruption, the Inquisition, etc.).
I would add that many Protestants read the New Testament, especially Paul’s letters, by imposing these same failings on the Judaism of the first century. Thus, the legalistic Pharisees held to the same (heretical) doctrine of salvation by works that the “papists” held in Luther’s day‚Äîand continue to hold in ours. (The joint Lutheran-Catholic statement on the doctrine of justification by faith notwithstanding!)
I note that a previous entry recalled that Catholics too know very little about Protestant beliefs and practices. But one thing I am willing to admit is that whatever they are – I believe they arise from a sincere desire to make their relationship with God as perfect as possible – and wish it for others too.
That is very gracious of you, Ed. I also seek to understand Catholics and Catholicism by assuming the best of intentions on their (your) part.
Then, he concludes with a question worth addressing:
Maybe it will help (me at least) if some of your Protestant readers can tell us what it is that we Catholics or our Church [do that] makes them cringe so? And, maybe I am wrong – maybe the animosity I think I detect is much milder than I imagine and instead – we are in reality “Brothers in Christ¬ù.” Wonderful would that be so. I’m listening.
What do you think, Protestant readers? I assume you’re in the majority in these parts, so what would you say to my Catholic brother? Where does the cringe factor come from? I’m sure Ed would appreciate your honesty‚Äîand I definitely appreciate your attempts to address the question in a manner that befits Christians who speak the truth in love.
technorati tags: catholic, catholicism, protestant, protestantism, roman catholic
The second-ever Christian Reconciliation Carnival will be held here at Dr. Platypus on (or shortly after) March 1. If you would like to nominate a blog post (your own or someone else’s) on any aspect of living out the unity for which Jesus prayed, please email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight, February 28. Please include the following information:
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February’s special topic is the Church and Racial Reconciliation. Bloggers who belong to racial or ethnic minority groups (relative to your locale) are especially encouraged to offer a submission.
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