October 29, 2020

Internet Monk Radio Podcast #65

podcast_logo.gifVan Til goes wild. Books. Puppets. Acts 15. Lament. B16’s clarification.

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  1. On Cardinal Levada’s clarification, I’d like to highlight one detail under the Response to the Fourth Question: On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realised in history.[18]

    I would note that the definition of the word ‘subsists’ is the product of the Catholic Church’s awareness that “where two or three gather in my name, there I am in their midst.” I know you regard this both/and approach with profound cynicism, but nonetheless it marks a real shift from counter-reformation triumphalism.

  2. Three things:

    I appreciate what you are pointing out and the spirit in which it is offered. Whoever you are, you are my brother in Christ.

    Secondly, I don’t think I’ve made any comments on “both/and” approaches and my “cynicism” about them. I’d think that there could be grounds for a discussion of cynicism on both sides. Ever heard the phrase “20,000 popes?”

    Thirdly, the undiscussable and asserted assumptions of infallibility and Papal authority make the entire discussion a “talk down.” Where 2 or 3 are gathered Christ is somehow present in relation to the RC doesn’t mean that the dialog takes place between equals. I appreciate the fact that B16- whom I consider a great man- has clarified that those of us who serve in ministry and to congregations outside the RCC are, in plain fact, not called of God and are promoting error and deficiency. Such clarity, characteristic of pre-VII Catholoicism, makes everyone’s job easier.

  3. I can’t answer your question about puppets, so I’ll add to the puzzlement. Puppet ministry is certainly non-traditional and non-regulative. Yet it is/was employed and/or allowed in churches in which no other non-traditional form of ministry would even be considered as acceptable. That, to me, is what’s really creepy.

    Re: Matthew Henry — a couple thoughts:
    1) Was Henry’s commentary one of the earliest (at least that was available and understandable to the general populace)?
    2) Tied into that, is it possible that it’s moreso milk than meat?
    3) One cannot twirl a post-mortem feline in even the smallest Christian bookstore without hitting a Henry commentary. Although I disagree with your assessment, I wonder if Henry’s books are the Windows OS of commentaries — not that good, but everybody uses it.

    Peter wasn’t a primate? Then what biological order was he from? 😉

  4. Michael,

    This is a document firmly grounded in the structure of the Church as described in Lumen Gentium (Vatican II). The first reality of the Church is that every baptized person has a direct relationship with the one Mediator Jesus Christ and receives the common priesthood from Him (Ch.II). The hierarchical episcopacy given for the sake of this People of God is a secondary reality (Ch.III).

    The Catholic position (and that of the Orthodox) is that only those communities in which the people are united with a historically rooted bishop are local churches. Each of the faithful is nonetheless a part of the one Church.

    Even so, the baptismal priesthood and charisms of the Holy Spirit are conferred upon every believer in baptism. With much the same sensibility, Flannery O’Connor noted the advantages and disadvantages of Protestant prophets (Letter to William Sessions, 29 Sept 1960. Habit of Being).

    Certainly, nobody should underestimate the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. However, the Catholic position is more nuanced than a flat denunciation of error, and recognizes the truth, ministry, and prophecy that exist outside her structure.

  5. Michael, I would suggest that the Vatican’s declaration doesn’t mean that protestant ministers were never called by God, it just means that they were never ordained by God. Ahem.

    But more to the point, I would ask you to consider carefully that the implications for Protestant ministers that you draw from the document are also things you yourself might say (have said) about the Roman Catholic Church: “Your entire ministry has been an exercise in error… premised on a falsehood… your love and service to the church has been to an errant and flawed body…”

    You said in a recent podcast that the Roman Catholic Church teaches a “different gospel.” I’ve really been curious as to whether you believe that, but this is much stronger language for those folks than what they actually use in the document.

  6. I appreciated your lament. Today, I saw this post on Kaddish by Abbot Joseph, which you may find interesting.

  7. Puppets! Having grown up under the televised tutelage of Jim Henson et al., I was inspired by the creativity and ability to communicate of our felt brethren. I have used puppets from time to time in ministry – both with kids and adults. We always had 2 rules we stuck to though: 1. A puppet cannot get “saved”. Puppets do not have souls. 2. A human must always ‘trump’ the puppets knowledge. A puppet will never disclose profound theological truths.

    Mostly we used puppets because they were fun, they could do unexpected, surreal things, and they had an absurdist view of life. Sometimes you need those methods to communicate truth and soften hard hearts.

    Are some people a little bit puppet-crazy? Indeed.

  8. As a lifelong and devout Roman Catholic, I was personally saddened by the ‘clarification’ coming out of Rome.

    The sad part about the ‘clarification’ is that it does NOT say what it is interpreted to say (i.e.: that Catholics have a lock on the path to salvation and that Protestants are out of communion with Christ) BUT that is how it will be read. It just will.

    Does anyone really believe that some of these twisted priests who have physically, emotionally, and spiritually harmed children are in better stead with God than some truly holy Protestant, like Billy Graham? I assure you the Pope does not think that. In fact, it is a very ‘Catholic’ dogma the believe that it is solely in God’s realm to declare salvation, and we are not worthy to judge who is or is not fitting in God’s eyes to enter paradise (Catholic or non-Catholic alike).

    Obviously, all devout Catholics believe that they have it right or else they wouldn’t be Catholic.

    Obviously, all devout Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ believes that the Catholic church does not have it right, or else they WOULD be Catholic.

    Like Christ’s disciples, we are hard-wired to quarrel (remember the riff they got into over their anticipated places in Heaven), and only through the grace of God can we rise above it to do His work.

    If my Protestant brothers and sisters wish to assert that the post-reformation Catholic church is not legit, and not technically a real church, or that there is no legitimate apostolic succession, or whatever else they wish to fire back at us- fine, turnabout is fair play. What I would RATHER hear from both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide is: how can I live today and tomorrow and the next day in a way pleasing to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior?

    Sigh…. with all of the suffering, injustice, starvation, cruelty, and death in the world, why oh why would we wish to send out a document highlighting differences with our Protestant brothers and sisters, rather than finding common ground and building bridges? I hope this fire burns out quickly and allows us to get back to the charitable and humanitarian works that churches do best…..