August 10, 2020

Riffs: 10:20:09: The Status of the Reformation according to 9 Marks and B16

brwUPDATE: Fr. Dwight Longnecker has a great analysis of what the new RCC/Anglican arrangement will mean and how it will work.

The 9 Marks blog is increasingly, uh…interesting….from a post-evangelical perspective.

Jonathan Leeman writes about the danger of seminary profs being disconnected from the local church, a point that I fully agree with based on scripture and my own experience in a Christian school. But when you are reading reformed Baptists, you never get a free lunch. Along with his thoughts about seminary professors and churchmanship, Leeman comments on what he heard at a recent conference at Gordon-Conwell.

Most of the speakers seemed only too happy to treat Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox as “brothers and sisters in the faith,” as easily as a Baptist might refer to a Presbyterian. Now, I trust that some RC and GOs are Christians, but such unqualified, unnuanced passing remarks effectively dismiss the Reformation and jeopardize souls. Don’t you realize the effect your passing comments have on sheep?

As John H at the Boar’s head Tavern comments, this is the view of the reformation that prevails among the YRR: It was the true believers separating from the unbelievers.

John H quotes someone who might know a bit about the Reformation: Martin Luther. Luther’s view?

We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source.

For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true holy Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the true keys to the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the articles of the creed.

Similarly the pope admits that we too, though condemned by him as heretics, and likewise all heretics, have the holy Scriptures, baptism, the keys, the catechism, etc. […]

I contend that in the papacy there is true Christianity, even the right kind of Christianity and many great and devoted saints. Shall I cease to make this pretence?

This no doubt explains why Luther hasn’t appeared on the program of Together For the Gospel.

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict the 16th takes one of the most bold steps in reuniting the church any of us will ever see by creating a way for faithful Anglicans who seek communion with Rome to remain Anglican under Anglican leadership. It’s a stunner, and a move that will probably result in thousands of Anglicans moving to Rome.

It will be interesting to hear TEC’s and ACNA’s response to this move.

The two visions are work here are compellingly different and need little comment. Benedict the 16th is making a historic overture that underlines what has happened in Catholic Christianity since Vatican II. My allowing Anglicans to be Anglican, he presents a new model of communion that holds substantial possibilities within world Christianity. It is an example of Christian vision that seem, at least to me, to be about the Gospel in ways that we should all be able to appreciate.

Could we all ask ourselves this question: How could I meet other Christians halfway, and not demand that they become like me to be legitimate?

Could we consider how long we want to be the ones dictating terms of “true Christianity” to the Catholic and Orthodox communions?


  1. I guess it comes down to how one defines what a Christian is, right? And for that it would seem that we have to define what the Gospel is, right?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Tip: The Gospel is NOT Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles.
      Or Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist.
      Or Culture War Without End, Amen.
      Even if that’s all that’s left of it these days.

      Could we consider how long we want to be the ones dictating terms of “true Christianity” to the Catholic and Orthodox communions?

      See above list.

      • I was thinking more in terms of how one believes a sinner is justified before God. I agree that none of that stuff should factor into the discussion.

        • How? C.S. Lewis said there really is no confessional unity on how, just on that fact that it occurs, with Jesus as our mediator/substitute.

          The YRR emphasis on the footnotes of justification, also known as “nuke N.T. Wright,” is going to far for Christian unity.

          • Perhaps I’m a bit too YRR (does 35 still qualify?) I may misunderstand their use of the word, but it would seem that by my beliefs I am “accursed,” per Trent. That tells me that the RCC and I have different ideas about how one is justified before God.

            My Catholic stepfather tells me that I have completely misunderstood this, but based on my studies from Catholic sources I can’t come to any other conclusion. Or does “anathema” mean something different when pronounced by a Council than it does when translated in Galatians 1?

            Again, it seems to come down to where you draw the lines for your box that you consider to be “Christian.” What confuses me is how the RCC can tell me that I’m “accursed” on one hand, but on the other call me a “separated brother.” Which is it?

            BTW, I would love to be shown how I am completely wrong about this.

          • Yeah, on a related note N. T. Wright likes to say, quite boldly, that “One is justified by faith; not by believing in justification by faith.” The YRR have that quote on their dart boards as well.

        • Ah, here we go again with Trent, and “anathema sit”. In the formulas used, the general strucure is “If anyone says (X, Y or Z is/is not), anathema sit.”

          Now, you can translate that as “let him be accursed.” Or you can translate that as “you’re excommunicated.”

          Jason, I’m taking a wild guess here – you’re not a Roman Catholic. Ever been one? Ever formally renounced Catholicism and knowingly embraced heresy? If not, then you’re not covered by Trent’s anathemas.

          Shock, horror, whaddya mean?

          I mean, Trent was dealing with heresy – all those newly-minted Protestants (and other weirder sects, and they were out there too, boys and girls) who had formerly been Catholics since they were baptised/confirmed/communicated/married or holy orders/religious life. All those ex-Catholics who were refusing to come back. Those were the ones anathema.

          You people, on the other hand, who have been true-blue Bible Protestants for the past three centuries – well, you can’t be excommunicated because you were never joined. Same way I can’t be kicked out by the Plymouth Brethren for drinking and gaming because I never was one.

          This does not mean that we’re rowing back on any of the doctrines, by the way; just that formal excommunication is not applicable to those not natively RC. And yes, there has been progress made on the whole front of “separated brethren”.

          • Martha,

            Actually, I was raised in the Catholic Church until I was about 12. I was baptized and had my first communion as a Catholic. However, I chickened out before going through the sacrament of penance and I was never confirmed. I don’t think this really matters either way though. I don’t accept the authority of the RCC to declare me either excommunicated or accursed.

            My point is only that the pronouncements indicate that there is a difference in the understanding of justification. To me, that’s at the heart of the Gospel. Then again, I am maybe too YRR for the crowd here.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Ah, here we go again with Trent, and “anathema sit”. In the formulas used, the general strucure is “If anyone says (X, Y or Z is/is not), anathema sit.”

            Now, you can translate that as “let him be accursed.” Or you can translate that as “you’re excommunicated.”

            Remember, everybody, the Council of Trent was during the height of the Reformation Wars, when it was Prots-vs-Caths not only in Northern Ireland, but ALL OVER EUROPE, causing a series of wars and orgy of destruction not seen again until World Wars I & II. (The Thirty Years War left all central Europe as Road Warrior without the cars and oil.) The Church — and everyone — was on a serious wartime footing, and during wartime you don’t dare do anything to weaken the home front. You force strength through unity for the war effort.

            I mean, Trent was dealing with heresy – all those newly-minted Protestants (and other weirder sects, and they were out there too, boys and girls)…

            I believe it. I’m from California, current Weird Religion Capital of North America. And I’ve read of the “Burnt Over District” of 19th Century Upstate New York & Pennsylvania. And some of the historically weird cults (like the “Castrators”) that popped up in Russia. People get into weird religions then & now; why should Reformation Wars Europe be any different?

          • Jason, unless things are very different in America, the Sacrament of Penance is part of the preparation for First Communion.

            Your situation then is that you are a former Catholic who has left the Church and joined a different one. You reject the authority of the Church, as you say in your comment. Therefore, according to Trent, if you reject certain dogmas then you are anathema – that is, formally excommunicated until and unless you repent and return.

            You don’t intend to return. That’s fine. As long as you are, to the best of your ability, following Christ and not denying the basics of the faith (the kind of basics formulated in the Creed), then the state of your soul and your ultimate destination is between you and God.

          • Martha,

            For a very long time, it was depressingly common in North America to give kids their First Communion without requiring confession. In fact, I was received into the Church in the ’80’s as a college student, and was confirmed and received Communion without ever making a sacramental confession (yes, I’d already been baptized).

            Fortunately these things are less common now. But Jason’s memories ring true.

            Anyway, not that Jason cares (and there’s no reason he should), but a 12-year-old child who leaves the Church isn’t usually considered to have any culpability for so doing. (This question was discussed recently in the Catholic blogosphere regarding Sarah Palin, whose family likewise left the Church when she was an adolescent.)

    • I think you’re right, but we must remember the gospel isn’t “Christ uses this mechanism to save you” but “Jesus Christ, the Son of God is risen from the dead.” At least that’s what St. Paul says in I Corinthians. Catholics might have the apparatus of that wrong, Orthodox might, we Magisterial Protestants might (I’m FV Reformed), or the evangelicals might. But the fundamental thing isn’t “how does Christ save” but “Christ is risen from the dead.” And the Catholic Church teaches that we should trust the resurrection at least as much as most Protestants do.

  2. And if we reject Nicene unity, choosing instead to put our own theology over the creeds, we’ll be the only real Christians before long.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The theoretical ultimate end-state of Protestantism: Millions of One True Churches. each with only one member, each denouncing all others as Heretics and Apostates.

      • Based on what is happening in the Cleveland, OH diocese I would maintain that the Roman Catholic Church has its fair share of this as well. There is much anger over some parish closings and a lot of folks who don’t really care about their bishop’s authority right now. It seems very Protestant to me.

        I don’t think that situation is unique in American Catholicism either, but that is the one I happen to know well because my mom is part of the diocese and is quite upset about how the bishop is running things. My point to her is that if he’s her bishop then she has to submit to his authority and trust him, but she doesn’t like that idea very well. In other words, she believes that her church needs reformation.

        I’m not trying to hijack this discussion, but I felt like I couldn’t let this one go. No ecclesial organization has a monopoly on unity or disunity.

        • Jason,

          As a Catholic, I do the right and the responsibility to let those above the bishop know of the problems that he is causing.

          I really don’t think that the issue here in Cleveland is people rejecting the bishop, but Bishop Lennon handling parish closings very, very poorly. In fact, I’m concerned about my own cluster of parishes. My parish is changing from Francisican to diocecian, July 2010. If all 3 parishes are intact in October of 2010, I will be very surprised.

          • Anna — based on what I’ve heard, it sounds like the whole thing has indeed been handled very poorly. The parish my mom grew up in (St. Procops) is being closed and on paper it makes perfect sense to do so. However, I also know that there are other parishes whose closings seem a bit fishy.

            I guess what I don’t understand is how much liberty an individual Catholic has to disagree with the decisions of the bishop. I realize that since he is not speaking collegiately with other bishops on a matter of faith and doctrine there is no claim to infallibility here. However, as the head of the diocese doesn’t he get some deference in the sense of “bishop must know best so we just have to deal with it?”

          • Jason,

            I’d have to say that the appropriate ways are to protest all the way up to Pope Benedict, but if Bishop Lennon is still determined to close certain parishes, then accept it. AND, find another parish that a person can support, AND change your giving to avoid the diocese. I’ve started giving 1 week a month to our maintence line item because I’ve heard that it is not part of what the diocese gets a cut of.

          • Anna — I have a question regarding your “right and responsibility” to go over Bishop Lennon’s head. Is that something stated in Canon Law somewhere? I’m not trying to be snarky, but to understand where the individual parishoner gets this kind of authority. As with my point above, I would love to be shown where I am wrong with this based on some kind of official teaching of the RCC.

          • You really would need to consult a canon lawyer on this, but taking a wild stab at it, this section might apply:


            Can. 1733 §1. Whenever a person considers himself or herself aggrieved by a decree, it is particularly desirable that the person and the author of the decree avoid any contention and take care to seek an equitable solution by common counsel, possibly using the mediation and effort of wise persons to avoid or settle the controversy in a suitable way.

            Can. 1737 §1. A person who claims to have been aggrieved by a decree can make recourse for any just reason to the hierarchical superior of the one who issued the decree. The recourse can be proposed before the author of the decree who must transmit it immediately to the competent hierarchical superior.

        • Christiane says

          Jason, here is something from the Catholic catechism that might be applicable to your concern about authority:

          “1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”

          You can read the rest of the context by google-ing ‘Catholic catechism: moral conscience”

          • Thank you Christiane and Martha for the research. I don’t think that either really applies though. These are not matters of people being directly aggrieved nor are they about moral decisions. It’s really a question of thinking that the bishop is doing a bad job at how he is handling his job of closing parishes. At least from talking to my mom that is the sense I get.

            Personally, I am in full agreement with my mom, Anna, and others who are upset. There is much that seems fishy about how he is handling this task. However, I’m a Protestant so it’s not a big deal for me to protest since that’s what we do. My point is that, from the outside, this seems to contradict the unity that the RCC claims it has when it makes fun of how every Protestant is like his own pope.

          • Jason,

            I think that you might be looking at unity in one way, and Catholics in another. From the Baptist standpoint, if you disagree enough you go separate ways. More of a unity built on being identical.

            For Catholics, we can disagree, even loudly, but still consider ourselves as part of the same body. Just like our bones consists partly of cells that make new bone and others that destroy bone.

          • Jason, I imagine the people upset by the parish closing and how the bishop handled it are definitely consider themselves aggrieved by the decree of closure :-)”

          • Anna,

            My point is just that we Protestants could also make some claims to unity, but the kind of disunity that Headless Unicorn Guy mocks seems to be just as rampant within the RCC. It’s just a different flavor.

          • Anna –
            Your reply made me laugh, because you did exactly what you said that Jason did.

            Typical protestant unity is not based on any sort of hierarchy, so to assume that because two people aren’t under the same hierarchy that they aren’t “unified” misses the entire point. The RCC views it’self AS The Body, which contains it’s hierarchy which must be maintained or The Body is not unified. Protestants view themselves as PART of The Body, which contains the hierarchies of all Christian churches. So to “part ways” is not to destroy the unity, since the unity wasn’t based on an allegiance to a hierarchy to begin with.

            A more succinct way to put it might be that Protestants believe they are in unity if they are living at peace with one another (on a personal as well as ecumenical level). They do not feel that different leadership structures invalidate that unity. Rather, they allow people to find where they fit, lessening the conflict and thereby increasing the unity.

            It is not a unity achieved by being identical. It is a unity achieved by admitting that we are different.

      • Ever read “The Three Christs of Ypsilanti”?

  3. Imonk, I don’t really have a dog in this hunt, but what I’ve found is, yes, seminary professors ARE disconnected from local church priorities – at first. But, when believers are questioned deeply about their assumptions and asked about local examples – they end up either realizing they are a lot closer to the professors than to the more rigid practitioners OR they paper over their cognitive dissonance with expressions like “I have trouble with that sometimes,” or “we can’t know everything” or “that’s what most experts think.”

  4. ” Don’t you realize the effect your passing comments have on sheep?”

    Yeah, you might be serving as an example of humility and charity! *gasp*

  5. Wow, that thing with Benedict XVI and the Anglican Communion is pretty huge. That may be one of the coolest things I’ve read in a while. Good for both RCC and AC! It’s about dang time IMO!

    • Christiane says

      We see what CAN happen when people are respected.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In an Catholic far-future SF story of mine (“Dyads”, coming out in an anthology next spring), the backhistory mentions a “High Anglican Rite” in the RCC, and implies the KJV is the translation used in its liturgy. A previous future history project I was involved in back in the Eighties also assumed a merger between the RCC and the High Church Anglicans during the 21st Century, similar to what happened with Eastern Rite Catholics such as the Ukranians.

  6. From the perspective of someone working as editor for a journal for veterinarians:
    I don’t know what kind of an effect passing comments have on sheep. Or cows. Or chickens for that matter.
    I don’t see any scientific research being done about that. It’s all about virusses, vaccinations or antibiotics.

    At the God Journey Wayne Jacobson and Brad Cummings fairly recently spoke about pastors talking about their ‘sheep’ and concluded this was a condescending way of talking about believers. We are nobodies sheep but Jesus’. And we are able to hear his voice and weigh that against passing comments of any kind thanks to the Spirit indwelling us.

  7. Jonathan Hunnicutt says

    First off, I agree that seminary profs should not be disconnected from the local church. Partially this is for their own effectiveness. As I remember my favorite profs, all of them were involved in their church and related their material to their church life. In fact, I know of one prof at my seminary who was asked by the seminary to do hospital chaplain work because he spent too much time in the library.

    So I agree that seminary needs to be more connected to church especially in more obvious ways. However, it works the other way around too. Churches ought to foster more connections to the local seminaries. Far too much of churches distrust of seminary is just evangelical anti-intellectualism. Seminaries might actually be able to teach churches a thing or two. And churches might actually be able to teach seminaries a thing or two.

    In other words, how can churches and seminaries be more collaborative?

  8. Jonathan Hunnicutt says

    So now i have to comment on the RCC/Anglican thing. Especially since God is dragging me kicking and screaming into the Anglican church.

    I’m not entirely sure I like it. What does the RCC get out of this?

    The Onion (a satirical news paper) came out with and article yesterday titled: “Priest Shortage Forces Vatican To Hire Temps To Deliver Sacred Rites” Unlike most Onion articles where the headline is way better than the article, the article was very funny.

    But it gets me wondering. I’m a pretty cynical person. Is the RCC doing this to steal some priests from the Anglo-Catholics? Are they doing this because of the priest shortage?

    • jonathan,

      my guess, and I admit it is cynical and not gracious, is that they (the Vatican) know that there are a whole bunch of Anglicans and Episcoplians who would rather swollow a few difficult to understand, but mostly unseen differnces on theology, so they (Anglicans and Episco) can rid themselves of having to be confronted with what they view as very seen, noticeable socialy liberal policies in their own churches.

      Does that make any sense?

    • This will do nothing to solve the priest shortage. Anglicans have an even worse clergy shortage than Catholics and the Anglo-Catholic priests that accept this new offer will still report to an Anglican ordinariate and generally minister to Anglo-Catholics, so in no way does this supply the Church with a surplus of priests.

      Plus, we are talking about a very small scale here. World-wide Anglo-Catholicism would add up to a medium-size North American diocese, in terms of numbers. Spiritually, it is very significant, but in worldly terms, it is quite minor.

      Austin, I would hesitate to generalize about Anglo-Catholic views on theology, liturgy and social doctrine, as these vary wildly. The problem that the Pope seeks to address is to find a way to include those Anglicans that fully accept the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church yet cannot bring themselves to leave behind certain corporate aspects of Anglicanism, which the RCC also holds in admiration (such as the BCP, public recitation of the Divine Office, the Anglican hymnal and so on).

      • Jonathan Hunnicutt says

        Good point.

        Like I said, I’m pretty cynical. Sometimes people actually do have good intentions for things.

        I also think this all hinges on what exactly the incoming Anglo-Catholics will have to agree to.

        • The entire Catechism of the Catholic Church, the teachings of the Church Councils, Papal Primacy and Infallibility, and all other sundry doctrines of the Catholic Church. They were pretty explicit about it.

    • Priest rustling. Uh-huh. Yeah, the sneaking out at night, lurking outside rectories and whopping unsuspecting vicars over the head with a half-brick in a sock, then stuffing them in the boot of the car and speeding off to the Bishop’s palace with them just wasn’t working out as well as we’d hoped.

      Sorry, Jonathan, that is just so funny. This isn’t merely “Sure, come on in, it’s all okay”; I’m not up on the details, but I imagine there will be the necessity to confirm that they accept all the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, and I think there will be the need for ordinations (this does not mean that Anglican orders are being seen as valid, if I’m informed correctly).

      So if we went the Hans Kung route and just ordained women/married/gay priests, it’d be a lot easier.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Never mind Anglican-to-Catholic “Priest-rustling”, what about Catholic-to-splinter-Protestant Sheep Rustling? How many of these Bible-Only splinter churches specifically target us Romish Papists? How many send “missionaries to the Heathen” to 90+% Catholic countries?

        • Jonathan Hunnicutt says

          I lived for a month in Mexico. I met some RCC missionaries from Mexico to Mexico. They were just trying to get people excited about Jesus. They were awesome.

        • Actually, Headless, with regard to the number of liberal/progressive Catholics who’ve jumped to The Episcopal Church in America, I think we should make up some kind of form letter of apology.

          The Buddhist candidate for bishop in Northern Michigan? One of ours, former pupil of Fr. Charles Curran.

          Matthew Fox, God love him.

          Jim McGreevey, former Governor of New Jersey.

          Too many to mention who’ve decided they are Thinking Christians and that since the Pope isn’t returning their calls, they might as well go somewhere they can mould to their liking.

          • How could I forget? Fr. Cutié: today caught canoodling on a beach with your sweetie, tomorrow an Episcopalian minister!

            The Presiding Bishop herself, although that was a family decision made when she was only eight or nine.

          • L. Winthrop says

            Fox was defrocked from the RCC, and then got the Piscos to hire him.

            (I didn’t steal your girlfriend if you broke up with her already.)

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            The Buddhist candidate for bishop in Northern Michigan? One of ours, former pupil of Fr. Charles Curran.

            If “Northern Michigan” means “Da U.P.”, I’d chalk it up to Da Strangeness of Da Yoopers.

          • L. Winthrop, I’m not accusing the Episcopalians of sheep-rustling; these people were well out the door anyway.

            It’s a bit embarrassing though to be treating another church as a dumping-ground for our rejects 🙂

            Headless, I was following Northern Michigan (and I think it is indeed Da Yoopers) as an interested outsider, and the good Lord above only knows what’s going on there. Looks like they’re two to three years without a bishop, and the way the Selection Committee went about it was novel, to say the least: how else would you describe an “election” where there’s only one candidate? Even liberal bishops/standing committees withheld consent to the bould Kevin Thew-Forrester becoming bishop, so now they’ve got to have another shot at finding someone.

            It was a “D’oh! Of course!” moment when Kev’s past as a progressive RC came out: well, of course! what else would he be? I mean, anyone who discovered the spiritual path of Buddhism at a Lutheran summer camp while being a minister in the Episcopal Church almost has to be ex-RC, right? 😉

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            …and the way the Selection Committee went about it was novel, to say the least: how else would you describe an “election” where there’s only one candidate?

            I’d say they were copying Third World election traditions.

            Like Kim Jong-Il’s DPRKorea, Saddam’s Iraq, Stalin’s Russia, every African hellhole…

  9. I’ll risk being the one to say this, but if salvation can be found in the normative everyday practicing of Roman Catholicism then all of us Protestants should just stop protesting, put our swimming caps on, and jump into the Tiber

    I’m not YRR, but the Reformation was for a purpose, there were, and still are, legitimate issues over grace, justification, how they are obtained, authority etc.

    These have not been addressed.

    • Are we saved by grace alone, or by a belief in grace alone?

      • Actually, we are saved by the shed blood of Christ Jesus upon the cross of Calvary. By God’s Grace He sent His only Son to die for us and satisfy His wrath against sin. So yes, we are saved by Grace alone by belief that Jesus shed blood paid for our sins.

        Do many RCC and GO believe this? Yes they do. But their official teaching is cloudy on this in that they reject Justification by Faith. Which means they reject the Book of Romans, Galatians, etc… That is the problem.

        While I also agree with others here that our desire is unity and we see many good things in Catholicism and Orthodoxy (heck, the mormons and jw’s do good as well), I must agree with Paul in Galatians. If the RCC or anyone else preaches a gospel other than Grace alone by Faith alone in Christ alone by God alone according to the scriptures then let them be eternally condemned. Adding any other requirement other than having faith that the shed blood of Jesus paid for my sin and by repenting of my sins and believing in Him I am justified and declared righteous (having no righteousness of my own) in the sight of God is a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all.

        • We do not reject Justification by Faith, we reject Justification by Faith “Alone.”

          • It comes down to “Just give me Jesus” vs. “Just give me Jesus and _____.” As I see it, that latter choice winds up giving you a whole lot of _____ and not much room for Jesus.

            If you really want to push the point, the easiest way to determine if a “Christian” religious group is a cult is by how much _____ they require adherents to add.

            And there’s a whole lotta _____ in the RCC.

          • Here’s a perfect example of ______:

            The RCC is re-emphasizing the need for indulgences. (

          • Ah, indulgences!

            DLE, it may surprise you to know that indulgences never went away. There are many, many ways of gaining indulgences.

            There are plenary and partial indulgences, and you get them through prayers, novenas, pious practices, and the likes. No payment changes hands.

            The news story you quote about the local church announcing indulgences probably means that there is a novena. As you say, there is a “re-emphasizing” because of all the old devotions that were downgraded and neglected after Vatican II, but which were never done away with, and now the Church is re-discovering her heritage.

    • Austin,

      If you really get into the teachings of RCC, you will find they are not very far from the Evangelical beliefs. Yes, they have a lot of formality in their practices, but they agree with Protestants on the concept of salvation. (Note that I come from a RCC background which continued all the way through college. I didn’t leave over salvation, and my beliefs on salvation haven’t changed since leaving the RCC.)

      Luther wanted to reform the Church of Rome, and I would say that his reforms have been accepted by the RCC. Sure, it took them a few hundred years, but the modern RCC faith really isn’t that different than your main-line protestant denominations.

      • My opinion is that in many cases, JAy is right and that many Catholics do in fact appear to hold beliefs not that different from evangelicals wrt salvation, particularly in America where the Protestant church has had a large influence on Catholicism. However, I would suggest that that’s not necessarily the case everywhere in the world and that here in America as well, I have encountered many in the RCC who are surprised at the concept of salvation by faith alone. I am in no way anti-Catholic and much prefer watching mass on EWTN to just about anything on the Protestant networks, but I’m also not afraid to state my opinion that the official doctrinal statements (and sanctioned practices) of the RCC are flat wrong on important issues like the nature of and means of salvation in many cases. These official statements often get swept under the rug, though, and what comes out in actual practice in RCC people’s lives is something that even I as a solid Reformed theology advocate can be comfortable with.

        • Christiane says

          Sometimes evangelicals are surprised when they read the actual Catholic Cathechism.
          Very surprised.

      • The problem is that the RCC and evangelicals (including Lutherans) are using the same words with different meanings. That was the major problem with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification that came out a few years back.

        They RCC and Lutheran World Federation (which my church body is not part of) came out and said that they were in agreement on Justification. The problem is that they never defined the terms. Terms like grace, faith, and original sin are ambiguous in the document.

        I disagree that the reforms Luther intended have been accepted. There is sill a dual authority of Scripture and tradition (including the pope speaking “ex cathedra.” There is still the issue of pennance vs. full absolution. There is still the issue of saints as intercessors vs. Christ as the intercessor. And there is still major disagreement on the main issue in all of Scripture, justification.

        There is still a desire to see reformation in the RCC and that all Christians can have true unity in Christ’s church, but we’re not even close yet. We still need to work towards that end.

    • Saying that you can be saved in the RCC is not saying that it does not need reformation.

      “Reformed and REFORMING” is a phrase I heard quite a bit when I was part of local Reformed congregations.

      Is salvation all that their is to be had in the life of the Christian?

    • You said it I didn’t, the water will give you a chill

    • I agree with your first paragraph one hundred percent.

      Come on in, boys, the waters fine!

    • Here is what the Church teaches about Justification both before, during, and after the protestant rebellion. The Truth remains the Truth no matter how many corrupt and/or ignorant clergy and laity there are in the Church who may have chosen to personally teach and act differently, regardless of whether or not they are in the majority.

      James 2 RSV
      13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over
      14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his
      faith save him?
      15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food,
      16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the
      things needed for the body, what does it profit?
      17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
      18 But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from
      your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
      19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe — and shudder.
      20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?
      21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the
      22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,
      23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to
      him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God.
      24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
      25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received
      the messengers and sent them out another way?
      26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

      This is the only location in the Bible where the phrase “faith alone” is found. The Church teaches salvation by grace alone, received from Christ alone by merit of His passion, crucifixion, and resurrection. Both faith and works (faith in action, active and passive) are given to us by grace alone from Christ Himself alone as the source, that we are free to accept or reject according to the free will given to us by God. For even the demons have faith, yet have eternally chosen to reject the works. The fallen angels were eternally ejected from Heaven not because they no longer believed in God, but that they rejected what that belief required of them. Obedience, opposite of the sin of pride.

      There is only one Church, one Faith, regardless of the number of wayward children. Since we are fallible, Christ provided a way to recognize this Church and Faith (of which Christ is the head) by granting the keys (symbol used in the OT for the tranfering of authority) to bind and loose through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with the promise that the gates of Hades would never prevail against the Church. We all accept the inerrant Bible. If the Holy Spirit(Ghost) had the power, the ability, to enable human hands (of fallible human beings) to infallibly put the Word down onto paper and to discern the canon, then the Spirit certainly has that same power and ability to ensure the one Church infallibly maintains official (that which is to be held by all) matters of faith and morals regardless of the fallibility of human beings themselves and their sinful nature against the Truth the Holy Ghost guarantees. This requires absolute faith and trust in God that He could ensure that the infallible Truth remains with us fallible human beings. It is noteworthy that 7 whole books of the Bible and sections of 2 others were removed shortly after separation from this one Church (and thereby doctrinal infallibility) by those who unscripturally claim that the Bible is the only source of authority (which removing books from the Bible requires an authority outside of the Bible as it contains no list of canon), and who claim upmost reverence for the Bible. Even the early edition of the KJV included the full canon before the later removal of these books. Since the canon of the Bible is not in the Bible, Protestants do accept Holy Tradition in some form as well since it is the way they are aware of the Bible itself and the books to be included within, except the ones they threw out on personal authority. Protestants have not truly rejected the notion of infallibility as the Church defines it. They have merely transferred it from the Church itself in union with the keys of Peter, to each individual themselves where personal infallibility allows one to interpretation that may be used to twist and misuse Holy Scripture and Tradition (historicity) according to their own whims.

      Christians are allowed to read the Bible for their own education and spiritual growth, but interpretations must be in union with the Church as instituted by Christ. This is the doctrinal unity that the ‘Catholic’ Church has that the Protestant churches will never attain while remaining separate from the Church. Peace in Christ.

  10. To me, it’s always a question of balance. As the quotes show wrt Luther, he continued to have respect for the Catholic church he had always known and recognized many good things in it. Calvin too, though often looked at as virulently anti-Catholic, actually stated clearly that he was simply speaking out against abuses and corruption—-he never minced words but he had no blanket, 100% condemnation of everything connected with “Rome.” I think we can have respect for and charity towards all in the broad church while not being afraid to speak clearly where we think our “brothers and sisters” are going astray. Can we all just agree on the Apostle’s and/or Nicene Creeds and start working in unison from those benchmarks alone?

    The church is not served by divisions, but at the same time we can’t let our doctrines and theology become an amorphous goo that no longer matters and Christianity just becomes a feel good, let’s all just hug sort of thing. I’m 100% for working together, for reconciliation, for mutual respect, but all within balance.

    The Book of Common Prayer preface states that no human institution, no matter how well devised, can keep from being corrupted with time. I believe the Catholic church experienced this in the past and I believe the contemporary evangelical church is right there now as well and needs its own Reformation. If all sides could recognize their potential for corruption and receive the correcting influences of the larger Body of Christ, it seems we’d stay better on track.

    • better said than I could put it

    • But does “corruption” mean abuses or sins by the members of that church OR a corruption of the teachings of that church? I would say the first in inevitable but not the second, for God promised to lead his Church “into all truth.”

      I am all for the Creeds, but who gets to define what these clauses mean:
      1. the communion of saints
      2. one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church
      3. one baptism for the forgiveness of sins

      Most Protestants I know say that they accept both of these ancient Creeds, but they do not believe that God forgives sin through baptism, nor that we are a true communion with the saints who have died and are now alive with God in heaven, etc.

      I appreciate the spirit of your comment and humbly offer these questions/thoughts for consideration.

      • Certain things can be read differently but still be within unity. Fr. Ernesto pointed out an example below:
        “Do notice that the exact mechanism of salvation is not specified. St. Anselm read it one way while St. Gregory the Theologian read it a different way and they were both part of the same Church. The Church agreed on the historical events and their ultimate significance. But, they allowed for wiggle room on the exact mechanisms of how it happened. And there was no little debate about it.”

        As more specific example, to a point you mention, is described by another Orthodox priest, Fr. Stephen:
        “There are several forms of the one Baptism: there is the Baptism with water that we all know – there is the Baptism of blood (martyrdom) – there is the baptism of tears (the so-called second baptism when we repent of our sins) and there is also the baptism of desire – when we want to be baptised but have somehow been prevented. I’ll let God take care of the infants who are not baptized and trust that they are not consigned to punishment.”

        Do Protestants put different meaning in some of the words? Yes. Does that mean there is not still a unifying message in the Creeds? No.

      • Hi,
        I think we’d all agree on corruption referring to sins and abuses of individual members. But my statement about corruption was definitely referring to your second category having to do with the church institution. No argument about the church being led into “all truth”, but my opinion is that this refers to the church as a whole rather than the concentrated power and authority of a single man or office…ie. the papacy. To refer to Calvin again, he believed that truth was not concentrated in any single person (including himself) or group and saw the incredible concentration of unchecked power in the papacy as being one of the most critical problems for the church. Early church popes specifically rejected the kind of power or homage that later medieval popes claimed as a right—-I think for many Protestants, including myself, it’s the institution of the papacy that is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to any sort of ultimate reconciliation. It’s no more complicated than the idea that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” and that even within the context of an institution ordained by Christ, concentration of power in one ordinary human man will lead to power and politics trumping the true faith. That’s my take also humbly offered.

        • And please don’t think I’m singling out the Pope when talking about absolute power (that just happens to be closest to the subject matter of this thread). The same concern holds true for megachurch leaders and televangelists and any powerful Christian leaders who make their own independent empires outside the oversight and checks and balances of larger Christian bodies.


        • Jeff,

          Not to take all the dimensions my reply may suggest, but is it possible that the papacy may play a significant role in uniting Christians as well? Evangelicals experience much of their unity around persons who embody their ideal view of themselves- i,e, Billy Graham or Rick Warren. Is it possible that a pope who “comes down” to meet a significant portion of the Christian world as a symbol of unity may facilitate that and not simply obstruct it? The last two popes have not been divisive in the way that Protestants like to assume the papacy must be. Yes, they still hold doctrines that are significant barriers to unity, but can anyone really say that JP2 and B16 haven’t made millions of Protestants feel a kind of inclusion? Anyone here not RCC, but still say “He’s my pope?”

          When B16 speaks about the Christian faith, I feel he speaks for much more than the RCC. Unity is often a thing that happens without lawyers anywhere in sight.

          • No doubt the “unity” argument has its merits—I understand your point and, as you know, it’s been an argument for the papacy since before Reformation times. No argument that whatever I or others might think about the legitimacy of the institution, there have been “good” Popes—men who gave Christians of their time good leadership and in many cases lasting good influence still felt by even Protestants today. Of course, I’d answer back that our unity should be under Christ, not under the vicar of Christ. But I do acknowledge that when any high-ranking Christian leader (including the Pope) makes overtures towards unity and inclusion, it can be a positive thing.

          • Dolan McKnight says

            I applaud the leadership of JP2 in his role in the fall of communism and B16 in his honesty about modernizing the concepts of limbo and purgatory. Both of these men have led exemplary lives, certainly being examples of Christianity on par with Billy Graham, though certainly in a different way. I might even say they have been the most important spiritual leaders of the last few decades.

            My problem is that Billy Graham does not think he has the authority to speak ex cathedra to proclaim infallible truth. While neither of these popes have done so, the idea that the office makes that claim prevents me from ever being a member of the Catholic church. The history of the Catholic Church, along with that of all other denominations, is a sad commentary on how Chrisitians can be so easily corrupted or even just dead wrong. That the pope is held by Catholics somehow to be above it all in issuing doctrine is beyond my understanding.

            There have been many great popes as well as many scoundrels, just as clergy in all other churches, but I don’t see how the pope has any special place in telling us what God wants us to believe.

          • Dolan:

            Clearly, I wasn’t attempting to minimize any of the offensive aspects of the papacy. I was submitting the consideration that it isn’t a solely divisive institution.

            It would be interesting to ask any Protestant this question: What infallible dogmas have the last two popes established that further separate Christians from one another?

          • I’ll bite. I’m ELCA (till January), but he’s my guy. I gotta respect a pope who stands up for core principles, confronts secularism in Europe, seems to “get” Islam, and generally believes in what he’s selling. I have more in common with him (AND with my obscurantist evangelical brethren) than with ELCA mandarins who don’t seem to believe the creeds they mouth. I guess that’s my way of agreeing with the notion that anyone who believes the creeds is my brother,and then we talk.

          • Christiane says

            Michael, there are many Catholics who want to make Protestants feel ‘included’ in the larger Christian community. Catholics don’t ‘proselytize’ aggressively by attacking someone for their beliefs. If asked about their faith, they will share, but not in a way that is derogatory and disrespectful of the beliefs of another person. I think that this is a mark of respect for the dignity of people of different faiths. And I think it is a great strength.

          • ^
            This. What Kozak says. It’s worth noting that many protestants (T.D. Jakes and other oneness Pentecostals, for example) can’t affirm fairly significant creeds, while B16 seems quite willing to call *anyone* “brother” who will affirm them.

            This is a big deal. The Reformation was great in that it called the Church back to what was important, but the split that resulted can be viewed as at best a tragic necessity given the state of the RCC at that time. The goal is and always has been ONE Church, and B16 genuinely seems to get this. I wonder how many Protestants do?

          • “(I)s it possible that the papacy may play a significant role in uniting Christians”

            Michael, you’re really giving a hostage to fortune with that statement there: what will the watchbloggers think?

            Thanks for the courtesy, though.

          • My brother Dave–a fallen away Nazarene; I converted to the RCC nearly 15 years ago–positively wept when JPII died. And he hadn’t darkened a church door in years. He couldn’t explain why, really, just that John Paul was all he had, so to speak, to look up to for a Christian standard seeing as he no longer went to church himself. JP also addressed a group of lawyers once in a way that really moved him, a defense attorney, and was quite touched at how JP made a point of visiting prisoners in countries he went to–something Dave does every week. He was also very sympathetic to the way JP handled his debilitating Parkinson’s–so yeah, I think my post-church brother would’ve called JP ‘his pope’.

      • L. Winthrop says

        # 3 would not be an issue for Anglicans / Catholics.

  11. iMonk,

    Glad you picked this up. I about spit my coffee when I read Leeman’s post. Couldn’t believe my eyes.

    If Leeman wants to throw out the RCC and Orthodox peoples, he better toss the Lutherans with them. The ELCA and the RCC have agreed that they share a common faith. Yes, they sometimes use different words, but we can’t dis-own the RCC unless we also want to dis-own the book of James.

    Also, I am interested to see what my sister’s TEC parish says about the Pope’s announcement. There had been a lot of talk of them leaving TEC. This may bring the discussion back to the forefront.

    • Steve in Toronto says

      I am sure our friends at 9 marks would have no trouble throwing the ELCA under the bus. You will find however that the LCMS (The second largest and more conservative Lutheran body in America) is just as eager to anathematize the ELCA as their reformed brethren. Back to imonk’s original post my hunch is that the impact of Rome new policy (which is simply a formalizing of policy that has already been in place on an ad hoc bases) will be minimal since most of the more conservative Anglo Catholics left the Anglican community years ago over the issue of woman’s ordination. My hunch is that if the AMiA continues it policy of being a “broad church” (that is not to reform) it will continue to benefit most from defection of disillusioned Episcopalians.

      Steve in Toronto

      • Steve,

        I have rudimentary knowledge of the AMiA, but to suggest that they are broad church just doens’t seem to fit. I think they do seem themselves as a Reforming agent. One only has to read some of their literature and then some TEC stuff to see the gigantic differnce.


        • Steve in Toronto says

          Hello Austin
          I am a member of the Anglican Church in Canada so my knowledge of the AMiA is that of an imperfectly informed but sympatric spectator. The point that I am trying to make is that unlike some Evangelical Anglicans (William Turnbull at Oxford or Peter Jensen in Sydney) the leaders of the AMiA seem to embracing both High (Anglo-Catholic) and Low (Evangelical and often Reformed) Orthodox Christians. They are also welcoming the Ordination of woman (a move that has historically been controversial in both of these camps). The AMiA efforts to hold these often rival threads of historic orthodox Anglicanism together is to me “broad churchmanship” at it’s finest. I know that Broad Churchmanship is often associated with theological liberalism but I refuse to abandon my ecclesiastical flag to usurping heretics.

          Steve in Toronto

          • gotch ya, thanks for the clarification, and agreed, have noticed that the AMiA is trying as hard as possible to do a balancing act with women ordianations

  12. Just as simply being baptized a Catholic does not make a person a genuine Christ follower, taking out membership in an evanglical church does not give one the rights to discipleship. As a charasmatic Christian I am quite willing to believe that within the Catholic church there are those who are genuine and those within the Pentecostal church who are not. What saddens me, and something not yet addressed here, is that the same spiritual courtesy is not shown to me by the Catholic church. I am considered, by them, to be outside the church of Christ. So it is good that the Anglicans can now be allowed to retain their Anglicanism, but I do not see it as anything ground shaking. Let the Catholics give Protestants the same embrace…and , yes, vica versa.

    • Cynthia,

      The Catholic Church considers you to be a sister in Christ with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit (received through your valid Trintarian baptism). It is also true, however, that you are not in FULL communion with the Catholic Church, and so we as Catholics say that we are “separated” brethren, but brethren nonetheless.

      So you are not outside of the Church of Christ but rather not in full communion with her (from a Catholic perspective).

      Anglicans can retain those particular practices and parts of their Anglican heritage but they cannot retain those beliefs held by the Anglican church which contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church: It is not a free ride into the Catholic Church without assenting to her teachings, including the primacy and authority of the Pope, the seven sacraments, and so on.

      Catholics and Anglicans are closer together historically and theologically than, say, Catholics and Pentecostals (a very broad term), so it is easier for this kind of thing to take place with Anglicans.

      May Christ bless you!

      • Devin,

        I am certainly no Anglican scholar, I’m not even much of a baptist scholar, but I have read the 39 Articles. It is my understanding that these are a pretty big deal for Anglicans historicaly. I’m not sure how one can say they are going to maintain there Anglican roots when they will have to deny a substantial part of the 39 Articles to be a practicing Roman Catholic. I don’t mean this to sound harsh, but the whole things seems to be a shell game whereby the Roman Catholic church is saying you can call yourself what you want to, you can have a married priest, but you still have to believe just like us.

        It just doesn’t seem very honest, intellectually or otherwise.


        • “their Anglican roots”

          • This approach with the Episcopal church reminds me of the subsidiary kingdoms common in the Roman Empire. The empire had a number of kings who yielded final authority to the emperor but were otherwise free to rule their nations independently. In practice, emperors showed very little hesitation to absorb those kingdoms and oust the kings whenever they saw fit. Not saying that’s what will happen here but in my opinion, it’s a valid concern.

        • Yeah, but it’s no different from the Eastern Rite churches. Walk into a Ukrainian Catholic church, forget who’s being prayed for in the hierarchy, and you cannot tell it’s not Orthodox. Rome has always been “big tent” in this regard: acknowledgement of Rome’s authority is always the paramount consideration.

          • CastingCrown says

            This was the first thing that popped into my head when I heard the description of what’s being offered. If you’re a Roman Catholic and you’ve never been to one of these non-Latin Rite churches, you definitely should pop in and say “hi” 🙂

          • Well, the Orthodox and Catholic faiths are functionally identical. It’s not that all the Church cares about is authority, as there is a recognition of legitimate differences.

        • That’s why they specify that only those elements of Anglican patrimony that are compatible with the Catholic Faith are what they are talking about. The 39 Articles, it is safe to assume, are right out. They are speaking more of the language of the BCP and such, not distinct doctrines. There has been no bending on that point, nor should there be.

    • Nice post, Cynthia; I share your sentiments, and would only add that the approach I recommend is showing to others the grace and spirit of inclusion that you would wish for yourself. That’s my best attempt at bridge building, and sometimes I’m happily surprised by a “River Kwai” response. Try to encourage as many pentacostals in your ‘hood’ to open their hearts to our bros and sisters as you have.

      HE is our strength
      Greg R

  13. It seems to me that if fellows like Leeman truly believe that the RCC and the Greek Orthodox Church miss the gospel (present a false gospel that confirms people in unbelief), than they will state that position with conviction. It does necessarily not mean that they lack love, humility, or unity.

    Perhaps the greater argument is: does the RCC and Orthodox as institutions miss the gospel; or, is Leeman misunderstood and, therefore, passing on bad advice??

    Growing up in a very strict, very conservative fundamental baptist environment, anything but our little brand of Christianity was not only false, but to be condemned. Catholics were clearly a target. Should they be pointed out as having a false gospel; or is there just a lot of misunderstanding leading to misrepresenting leading to unbiblical separation?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Do you refer to the Gospel that RCC and Orthodox bishops kept from being rewritten by the local Shirley Mac Laines and Trendoids back when calendar years AD were in the low three digits? In Council after Council after Council?

  14. A lot of the discussion begs iMonk’s comments about meeting Christians half-way. Perhaps the second question could be about how many of the doctrines you hold are essential and cannot either be changed, nor can alternate interpretations be allowed. Among some of the most Calvinist, their doctrinal scheme is so rigorously crafted together that to pull out one doctrine is to supposedly tumble the entire doctrinal structure. They have very little room for allowing alternate beliefs in their structure.

    “. . . who for us men and for our salvation
    came down from heaven,
    and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost
    of the Virgin Mary,
    and was made man;
    and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
    he suffered and was buried;
    and the third day he rose again
    according to the Scriptures,
    and ascended into heaven . . .”

    Do notice that the exact mechanism of salvation is not specified. St. Anselm read it one way while St. Gregory the Theologian read it a different way and they were both part of the same Church. The Church agreed on the historical events and their ultimate significance. But, they allowed for wiggle room on the exact mechanisms of how it happened. And there was no little debate about it. LOL.

    • Nice post; this is more comfort to me that GOD was doing a solid work through the crafting of the creeds. And here we are, re-inventing a ‘better’ wheel. Thanks for the post.

    • How many times does Paul say in Galatians that a man is Justified by Faith in Jesus Christ and not by any works of law? At least 3 times in 2:16 alone. 3 times? Was he trying to stress something important? It was this teaching that was able to lead a doubting Anglican John Wesley into a firebrand for God. Thank God for Moravians who hold Bible studies in tiny London bookstores. There is no half-way. Adding any “work” other than the work of Christ is “bewitching”.
      The “mechanism” for salvation is clearly presented in Romans 3:21-26. Specifically verse 25…”faith in His blood.” It ain’t that difficult.

      • GalatianMan,

        What would you be arguing in terms of “gospel” and the mechanism for it if you were “LukeMan” or “JamesMan” or “IstJohnMan” or “MarkMan” or even the more broad, NewTestamentMan, etc., etc. The New Testament talks about “gospel” and “salvation” in a variety of ways, many of which don’t even mention justification but deal with other aspects of God’s healing work, or talk about justification differently than the Reformers would choose. Does the New Testament (outside of Galatians) proclaim false gospels, or do we have a little room for variety (at least as much as is in the NT) within the true gospel? Whatever Galatians is doing, it’s not proclaiming the other versions of the gospel as used in the NT (even by Paul) as false gospels. There’s a lot that is both “good” and “news” concerning Jesus.

        • Freeman Are you suggesting that the Gospel Paul preaches in Galatians and Romans is different than John, Luke, or Mark teach? I think not. The scarlet thread of redemption is clear throughout the scriptures; from the sacrificial foreshadowings to the ultimate perfect sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other gospel. The good news is that Yeshua Messiah has paid for all our sins through His shed blood on the cross satisfying the wrath of God against sin. I trust by Faith that Jesus blood did satisfy God’s wrath. It has to be by faith because I cannot explain in any rational way how a blood sacrifice could do that. God says “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins”. I only bring up Galatians because this is where Paul dealt with it head on. Good men who said they believed in Jesus as the Messiah were telling Gentiles that they needed to believe that AND be a convet to Judaism to be a REAL Christian. The current Pope pretty much says the same thing, that those of us who are not RCC but believe in Jesus are not enjoying the “fullness of the church”.

  15. I think this is interesting in light of the OCA’s expressing a desire for deeper dialogue with the Anglicans over the summer.

    Perhaps Fr. Ernesto can provide more insight on that.

    I also found this interesting:
    ” Married former Anglican priests will be dispensed from the vow of celibacy and be ordained to serve as Catholic priests.”

    That does sound like moving to meet someone.

    • Rick,

      If you want to see that in practice, google Dwight Longenecker. His blog is “Standing on My Head.” He actually went from Bob Jones University to Anglicanism to Catholicism.

      (Besides, Eastern Rite Catholics have had married priests for a very long time, perhaps as long as they have existed.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      ” Married former Anglican priests will be dispensed from the vow of celibacy and be ordained to serve as Catholic priests.”

      I understand this is pretty much standard in Anglican-to-Catholic Tiber-swimming. Probably subject to the same restrictions as Permanent Deacons and Eastern-rite Clergy: they cannot marry AFTER being ordained into Catholic Holy Orders, but any previous/existing marriage grandfathers in.

    • Both Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox did see the search that some Anglican groups were in as, frankly, opportunities to bring them home. Having said that, Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA has a particular interest as he is a convert to Orthodoxy from the Episcopal Church. So, he was appealing to members of his former church to consider Orthodoxy, as they were considering their future.

  16. “I trust that some RC and GOs are Christians”

    I suppose it is just possible that amongst 1 billion baptised Catholics, one or two Christians just might have squeaked past the rigorous scrutiny of the Inquisition, but I’m sure the Dominican overseers are working on that, just as soon as the racks are all overhauled and the torturers are certified 🙂

    Now, if we only had figures for how many of us are actually practising, as against baptised and never darkened the door of a church again…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Don’t forget the Albino Monk Assassins of Opus Dei.

      There’s a reason why when the Christian Yahoogroups I’m on do their “introduce yourself” I give my denominational affiliation as “Romish Papist with Satanic Death Cookies!”

      Especially when the only reason these Bible-Believing Christians (TM) even HAVE a Bible to Believe is that the bishops of OUR Church — Yes, the RCs and GOs — kept all the local Shirley Mac Laines from rewriting it in their image back when calendar years were in the low three digits!

  17. I grew up in a Baptist faith that taught the Catholics were not Christian. They were worse than just a simple unbeliever, they were actually the enemies of true Christians. “True Christian” would have been narrowly defined as independent, fundamental, pre-millennial Baptist. Real Jack Chic sorts (of Chic tract fame). If I were still a part of those churches, they would have showed me the door for writing anything like this:

    In those churches I guess I wouldn’t have been allowed to read InternetMonk in the first place.

    • I was strongly influenced by the Chic tracts on Catholicism and was once very strongly anti-Catholic. But although I still am not afraid to clearly lay out differences with Catholic doctrine, in many ways I’ve come to believe that it’s the Chic crowd that is doing more disservice to the Church now than the other way around.

    • Have you checked on that one?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      …Catholics were not Christian. They were worse than just a simple unbeliever, they were actually the enemies of true Christians. “True Christian” would have been narrowly defined as independent, fundamental, pre-millennial Baptist.

      Let me guess…
      “Mystery Babylon”?
      “Nimrod, Semiramis, and Tammuz”?
      “Satanic Death Cookies”?

      Chick ripped off most of his anti-Catholic screeds from several Victorian anti-Catholic books, primarily Hislop’s Two Babylons and the various Tabloid Confessions like Chiniquy’s X Years in the “Church” of Rome and True Confessions of Maria Monk. Queen Victoria was on the throne of Earth’s biggest superpower when these Scriptural Exposes came out and they’re still going strong.

  18. In addition to the YRR, I’m just waiting for the one world government, Left Behind crowd to go nuts with this.

  19. I’m thinking about what Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy about the lion and the lamb.

    He suggests that the lion laying down with the lamb does not make the lion any less lionlike or the lamb any less like a lamb. The lion does not eat the lamb and the lamb does not become fierce. They do not blend into some sort of grayness. They both remain entirely themselves.

    Christians should not strive for sameness. We should all serve Christ to the best of our abilities.

    • Christiane says

      I’d like that, Sarah. It would be so much more than just being ‘tolerant’. It would mean being able to sit down at peace with one another. It is said that Our Lord came to reunite us with the Father and also with one another. Maybe it is beginning to happen. I hope so.

  20. I really have no hope for institutional ecumenism. Even when there appears to be ground gained, I think it rarely translates to what happens on the ground.

    You would think that leaders would be the first to demonstrate unity and that any official stances that ignore the distinction between being a brother and being a mistaken brother would be corrected, but I am not holding my breath.

    Instead, I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If you say you are a Christians/Jesus follower/believer, I see no reason to doubt you.

    If you’re sinning I should help you repent. If you believe something that I believe is wrong, I should try and correct you. All the while trying to maintain a level of humility that will allow ME to realize that I may actually be on the wrong side of the debate. (All assuming we have a real relationship first.)

    I feel free to worship and serve to whatever degree my conscience allows. Being part of a church or denomination that believes MORE like me doesn’t mean I won’t be checking my consciense and brain at the door either.

  21. We can’t meet others half way if we continue to vainly believe that the invisible church can be made visible. The fact is, not only are there RCC, GO, EO, Lutherans, etc. who are not true believers, but the percentage of non-believers among Baptists, pentecostals, Calvinists, etc. is equal if not higher. Continuing to believe that Christianity perished with the apostles and was rediscovered by reformers and re-rediscovered by dispenastionalists will deepen the riff.

    There are reasons to be cautious of ecumenism. Unity at all costs is absurd. Building unity through the ancient creeds is a good start.

    We will always be tempted by exclusivity, to be a part of the “in” crowd. We are all “sneeches” with stars upon thars, open to the con artist peddling the product or belief which will set us apart.

    The way of Jesus is to become nothing – a servant of all. We should take the least honorable seat, and assume charitably that other believers are better than I am. As the monk whose only prayer is the “Jesus Prayer”, if Jesus can have mercy on me, the worst of sinners, then there is hope for the rest of humanity.

    • “We can’t meet others half way if we continue to vainly believe that the invisible church can be made visible”

      This assumes that it ever was, or could be, invisible the way you mean it.

  22. This is HUGE, Unparalleled.

  23. An Anglican who goes to Rome is not really an Anglican or at least never really got Anglicanism. The divide between Rome and Canterbury us not Holy Orders – it is the nature of Justification. Oh catechesis where hast thou gone?

    • Isn’t that the boldness of the move? Forget the theological differences which Anglicans haven’t creedalized anyway. Keep your practice. Add one or two lines to your liturgy and lose all your guilt about a divided church and a leftward route to apostasy.

      Seems like a pretty savvy move.

      • No doubt.

      • Nobody is expecting a massive influx of Anglicans with this move. It’s a response to various Anglican groups of small to middling size which have made approaches about reunification/full communion.

        Heretofore, it was done on an individual basis: Mr Smith or Mrs Jones had to seek admission as an individual. The big difference is that now there are sizeable (for a relative value of “size”) numbers wanting to come over, and instead of saying “You must leave everything in your heritage behind”, the Pope is saying “Take with you what is valuable.”

        It’s not a case of nod-and-a-wink, just sign on the dotted line while crossing your fingers behind your back, we’ll all pretend you’re different but it’ll be business as usual. Neither is it some nefarious plan to roll back the Reformation and reconquer the national churches.

        The Anglican Communion is a large body with very divergent theologies. There have been splinter groups and people leaving over all kinds of matters. The history of the Anglican Church in the British Isles has been one of swinging all over the place from ‘reformed Catholic’ to ‘Reformed’ to ‘Protestant’ to who knows what, and there has been a deliberate fuzziness on the details so as to keep the person who believes in the Real Presence and the person who believes in the memorial meal side-by-side in the pew as long as they say the same prayers.

        However, that approach led to bishops talking about the Resurrection as a “conjuring trick with bones” and let’s face it, the current strains in the Communion – and it’s not just about The Gay Bishop – have already resulted in bodies setting up on their own or transfers between Provinces of whole dioceses.

        From the Catholic side, what are we getting? Some former Anglican or Episopalian parishes coming over en masse rather than as individuals. There has been (so far as I am aware) no movement on the validity of Anglican orders, married clergy, divorced-and-remarried laity, or dogmas from the Immaculate Conception to Transubstantiation.

        I don’t know what the former Anglicans are getting, but they seem to think it’s worth it.

        • From the statement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

          “The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church.”

    • Did Rome stop bowing to images? Praying to saints? Forbidding marriage? Anyone who accepts the 39 Articles can never be excited about this move, but the TAC and other Anglo-Catholic groups never did accept the Articles. They have nothing to do with Queen Elizabeth, Cranmer, Ridley, Hooker and Donne. This is a logical move that they should have made a long time ago, but I suspect the priests and bishops wanted to keep their jobs, so they held back. Now they can move on and a more Reformed Anglican Church can emerge.

      I don’t think justification is the heart of the issue.

  24. I was encouraged to see that Leeman singled out the “Greek” Orthodox Church as troublesome. Glad to know other Orthodox communions are off the hook. 🙂

  25. I’m not an Anglican, but if I were this offer to let me keep my “traditions of spirituality and worship” wouldn’t do it for me. Can they keep their theology?

    • This seems like great news to me. It is a first step. Protestant and Catholic traditions will be coming together much more in the foreseeable future I’d wager. Can they keep their theology too? I think the tradition is pretty important. I can see how an Anglican might think BCP > liturgy of the hours. If they can keep their own BCP that kind of covers themselves theologically. 39 articles and all… I’m not Anglican either (Baptist, actually) but I’m a BCP guy and I don’t think I could join a church that demanded I substitute it with something that just isn’t as good.

    • Don’t get too huggy. The 39 Articles aren’t going to be allowed in any form of the RCC. If Catholics could have digested the 39 Articles we would have a very different history. The 39 Articles are very reformed. Very.

      • Precisely.

      • In fact the 39 Articles are so Reformed that the Methodist revival caused severe strains. In the colonies it led to the split of Methodism from the Church of England in the colonies. In England it was not so strong and the split did not come until after Wesley’s death. Having said that, the split in England was never as severe as in the colonies.

        But, this is to point out that the 39 Articles began to be reinterpreted before the Oxford Movement. There would never have been a Via Media if the 39 Articles had not been reinterpreted. So, please do not heap all the blame on the Oxford Movement for the softening of the stance on the 39 Articles.

        • For myself and for many newer Anglicans in the various ACNA groups, there is a real desire to move *back* towards the 39 Articles, not further away from them. I see Newman and Laud as disasters for the Church.

  26. I had to drop by your blog because I knew you would be fair and honest! I am a cradle protestant and in the process of coming into the Catholic Church. My husband and I are 50 years old and this is a new and thrilling experience!

    We both love Our Lord with all of our hearts and we love our Parish that is situated in an area of southwest VA where the “Romans” are forever the “whore of Babylon” and we will be “left behind” when the rapture comes and takes them away from ever suffering persecution. Ok…whatever makes you fill happy and secure.

    Michael, you are a good Christian man in a time when the internet is used to fire “weapons of words” at others. You know that Our Lord’s prayer for Unity and for all to be as One, just as He and The Father are One will happen.

    Those who hold onto pride and the infallibility of their own “interpretation of scripture” will keep splintering and become smaller and smaller.
    People keep asking me “Why do you want to enter into that bondage?” Are you kidding me?? The “Reformers” from the Calvinist side are more Mosaic law and bondage than any Catholic teaching. The other guys are just like, “oh don’t’s all been graced”.

    I decided to find out what it was supposed to look like and I do not care what anyone says – it was not Protestant and Our Lord’s promise that the gates of hades would not prevail against His Church was not an empty promise.

    People like faith in “faith” or their version of “faith”. Real faith says that I trust Him that he will not let His Church fail even if the Pope becomes another Castro or Stalin or Hitler. He is not perfect…the only thing that keeps Him from making a mess is the Holy Spirit. If I can’t trust Christ on that and try to understand and find out without my own eyes of pride in “my interpretation”, I’ll search forever.

    There are none so blind as though who will not see…so true.
    Blessings and thank you for being fair!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      We both love Our Lord with all of our hearts and we love our Parish that is situated in an area of southwest VA where the “Romans” are forever the “whore of Babylon” and we will be “left behind” when the rapture comes and takes them away from ever suffering persecution. Ok…whatever makes you fill happy and secure.

      There’s a reason the threads over at Slacktivist call Pre-Trib Rapture “The Ultimate Escape Fantasy, followed by The Ultimate Revenge Fantasy.” I’ve seen Rapture’s fruit, and it’s not pretty.

      People keep asking me “Why do you want to enter into that bondage?” Are you kidding me?? The “Reformers” from the Calvinist side are more Mosaic law and bondage than any Catholic teaching. The other guys are just like, “oh don’t’s all been graced”.

      My burned-out-preacher of a writing partner has had to deal with HyperCalvinists. Predestination Uber Alles, with a lot of Holiness taboos in the rank-and-file. Wouldn’t be too far out of place in Wahabi Islam. (Last I heard from him, he’s also under fire from both local Jehovah’s Witnesses and local HyperTrad “Mel Gibson Catholics”; he must be doing something right to be taking fire from all sides.)

    • Teri, you have just described me 🙂 The only exception is that I am a cradle-Catholic.

  27. I would like to know when Luther said that… Was it early on in the Reformation or later in his life?

    Before or after he more or less called the Pope the anti-Christ?

    It seemed the longer the Reformation went on the more disconnected Luther felt from the RCC. In the beginning he said many things like what is quoted above, but as the Reformation went on and “progressed” he seemed to be more and more against the RCC.

    • For Lutherans, the issue is not Luther’s opinions, per se. Lutheran teachers are bound to what is taught in the ‘Book of Concord,’ and not necessarily by Luther’s opinions, or even teachings, unless those teachings are found in the BOC. (Some of his writings are).

      In one of the books found in the BOC, the Smalcald Articles, it says: “This teaching shows forcefully that the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself against Christ because he will not permit Christians to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and is neither ordained nor commanded by God.”

  28. L. Winthrop says

    Something confuses me: Why would conservative Episcopalians prefer to be “Anglican Rite Catholics” over remaining an independent splinter group of Protestant Anglican Episcopalianism? Is there some advantage to it that I have missed?

    I realize that there are “Anglo-Catholics” who naturally look towards Rome with a certain fondness, but are these the people / churches who have been leaving? I was under the impression that they were better described as relatively conservative versions of the Protestant Episcopalians.

    And why would they choose Rome over Constantinople? I think there already are a few “Anglican Rite Orthodox” churches out there somewhere, and that way they could avoid having a pope. (Assuming this to be an attraction for ex-Protestants.) Maybe Orthodoxy is just too far removed culturally to be a “live option”…?

    • The Traditional Anglican Communion is an Anglo-Catholic splinter group of about half a million people that is spear-heading this movement.

      As to Rome over Constantinople, well, there is the Pope to consider. He is kind of a plus.

  29. So, in techno-geek terms, is the RCC going “open source”?

    • No, that would be “Baptists.” Only they grab the code, rewrite it, claim they have perfected the source, and then don’t allow anyone else to touch it. So they’re open source, but bad members of the community (aka transgaming).

      Sorry, I’m a Baptist pastor and can’t resist poking fun at my own tradition for it’s quirks

  30. I find in the RCC a closer ally in the defense of St. Paul’s doctrine of justification than many passing themselves off as evangelical these days.

    • dumb ox,

      That statement fit your name.

      While there are a lot of people that are heretics and yet they pass themselves off as Evangelicals- the RCC is in direct opposition to St. Paul’s doctrine of justification. Imputation and Infusion cannot be reconciled. The RCC is in no way an ally to Paul’s justification.

      I know Catholics read this blog and I don’t mean to be a jerk, but St. Pauls doctrine of justification has been badly distorted and even diminished by the RCC. And before you pass judgement, realize that I was Catholic for 14 years.

      • The Catholic church eventually disciplined Tetzel for his unscrupulous behavior; if Tetzel were alive today, he’d be a headliner on TBN.

        I have studied the differences between infusion, imputation, and impartation. What they all have in common is God’s grace. The pragmatism infecting evangelicalism has nothing to do with grace. It is much more akin to modernistic liberalism, with its emphasis upon human autonomy, independence, and positivism: unlike Peter, we don’t need to hold onto Jesus to walk on water; we just need to know where the rocks are. God’s intervention is viewed as a sign of weakness. Grace is replaced with knowledge (just follow these ten principles) and human effort. Gospel is merely bait attached to more law.

        I can discuss the finer points of infusion with my Catholic friends and still walk away friends. I have had a much harder time holding together friendships with those I know who have fallen into faith-prosperity teachings or revivalistic legalism; they ascend to a whole new plane of elitist spirituality. Catholics still agree with Saint Augustine, that God gives what He demands; the modern semi-pelagians among evangelicals have no more patience for such talk than did Pelagius himself.

        I do believe the Catholic church has problems; but, hey! My denomination has its own problems! But every denomination has its distinct issues. I think that is why we need each other and that we need to find that half-way meeting place. God has used Catholics to teach me many things from the unique strengths God has given them. The same is true for Wesleyans, pentecostals…gasp! He’s even taught me things through those young, restless and reformed whipper-snappers.

      • I would recommend that you read the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church. I find that many Protestants are still arguing on the basis of arguments that date to the Middle Ages, and that on the basis of those arguments they claim that the Roman Church is still wrong. Seldom do I find an evangelical who has taken any time to read what has been being said currently, which is why they cannot understand why conservative Anglicans might feel freer to join the Roman Church today. For instance, see the quote below:

        22.We confess together that God forgives sin by grace and at the same time frees human beings from sin’s enslaving power and imparts the gift of new life in Christ. When persons come by faith to share in Christ, God no longer imputes to them their sin and through the Holy Spirit effects in them an active love. These two aspects of God’s gracious action are not to be separated, for persons are by faith united with Christ, who in his person is our righteousness (1 Cor 1:30): both the forgiveness of sin and the saving presence of God himself. Because Catholics and Lutherans confess this together, it is true to say that:

        23.When Lutherans emphasize that the righteousness of Christ is our righteousness, their intention is above all to insist that the sinner is granted righteousness before God in Christ through the declaration of forgiveness and that only in union with Christ is one’s life renewed. When they stress that God’s grace is forgiving love (“the favor of God”[12]), they do not thereby deny the renewal of the Christian’s life. They intend rather to express that justification remains free from human cooperation and is not dependent on the life-renewing effects of grace in human beings.

        24.When Catholics emphasize the renewal of the interior person through the reception of grace imparted as a gift to the believer,[13] they wish to insist that God’s forgiving grace always brings with it a gift of new life, which in the Holy Spirit becomes effective in active love. They do not thereby deny that God’s gift of grace in justification remains independent of human cooperation. [cf. Sources for section 4.2].

        Disagreeing with the Roman Church based on statements of doctrine which are no longer held, or whose understanding has changed is simply setting up a very bad straw man.

        • “Disagreeing with the Roman Church based on statements of doctrine which are no longer held, or whose understanding has changed is simply setting up a very bad straw man.”

          True, but there are still very real point of disagreement. The ELCA has show that it is willing to overlook just about anything for the sake of unity. The JDDJ has major problems.

        • Ernesto, what the Church agreed to in the declaration is the same official teaching of the Church back before the “Reformation” ever started. The reformation occurred when there was much corruption and ignorance amongst both clergy and laity against what the Church actually taught, combined with the ignorance of other clergy and laity who sought to reform something that actually only required better catechesis.

      • Yeah, we have this picky habit of reading the whole Bible, viz. James and the words of that guy, whasisname, Jesus I think. James 2 , Matthew 25:31-46 come to mind. Your interpretation of Paul is flawed without taking these into account. Indeed, James is the key text on Justification in the New Testament. Without it, Paul’s stuff doesn’t even make sense.

  31. Benedictus the Sixteenthus says

    Hi everybody, it’s me–the Pope. I got an offer for ya. I’m going to appoint an, uh, plenipotentiary supernumerary extraordinarius in charge of Baptists. You can keep your snake-handling, Veggie Tales, and Christian rock music. And your preachers can keep their jobs and wives and all that (though we’re gonna have to change the name of the Crystal Cathedral). All you gotta do is have Communion a little more often, and when people ask, say you’re Redneck Rite Catholics.

    Vade in pacem, y’all.

  32. One of my pet theories is that if honest and intelligent people continue to disagree on a subject, that could indicate that they are trying to answer the wrong question. If the faith/works divide is a continuing bone of contention, I would say it is because there is no divide, both go together. “Faith which works through love”. Remember the sheep and the goats? As someone said, the only difference is what they did and didn’t do. (OK, so I’m being simplistic and slightly flippant, but is putting the theology cart before the salvation horse any better than putting the works cart before the faith horse?)

    I don’t believe that you are saved by doing the right things. But neither do I believe that you are saved by BELIEVING the right things. And that’s where I think the Protestants get sidetracked. Because who is in and out of the church (of whatever flavour) is NOT the same question as who is in or out of heaven. But people do tend to confuse the two…

    Regarding church unity, I have just finished reading the biography of Lesslie Newbigin, who was instrumental in the (successful) merge of different denominations into the Church of South India, and also very active in the (not so successful) attempt to do the same thing on a world level with the World Council of Churches. I must admit that before reading, I was very skeptical about the value of organisational/administrative unity. But the two unifying movements I mentioned both took “that the world might know” as their foundational texts, and starting from there it is fairly logical to look to some visible and UNDERSTANDABLE unity that the world can recognise. I suspect that the proposed ‘reunion’ mentioned in iMonk’s post is just as incomprehensible to non-believers as are the doctrinal differences in the first place.

    If I read Newbigin correctly, he was disappointed with the WCC ‘compromise’ of “let’s just be friends” between denominations, rather than going the whole hog like the CSI and each denomination ceding it’s place to the new entity, with each church being allowed to keep it’s own traditions.

    To be honest, I have difficulty imagining what it would be like to have just one global denomination (or no denomination?), with a myriad of different ‘pleasant odours’; and even more difficulty imaging how we could get from here to there. But I think it’s worth dreaming about, sounding out my own reticences and motivations. Why do I need to check other people’s doctrine? I’m not saying there is no need, but why?

    On a different subject, I don’t buy the “will lead you into all truth argument” put forward by Devin Rose above. I grew up in a church where they had what for me looks like a similar belief in ‘sinless perfection’, based on verses in 1 John. If you carry on too far down that road, you end up with a communion of one.

  33. Two quick points: the 39 articles are considered historical documents in the AC. No clergyperson or layperson is required to hold to any or all of those tenets. Most members of TEC have probably never read them. Secondly, while it seems silly to a lot of less-structured evangelical types, leaving the Anglican liturgy and the “right up there with Shakespeare” language of the BCP was a HUMONGOUS barrier to my conversion to the RC. It was a precipitous drop, in terms of the “quality” of the liturgy – though the efficacy changed for the better! This offer by the HF removes that problem.

  34. “Could we all ask ourselves this question: How could I meet other Christians halfway, and not demand that they become like me to be legitimate?”
    That’s a good question, Michael. And I think a lot of meeting halfway is going on out there, but most of it is of the person-to-person, under-the-radar variety — by which I mean Christians from different religious backgrounds forming close friendships with each other and even looking to each other for spiritual support in ways such as praying for and with each other and lending a listening ear when it comes to things that Christians often don’t feel free to talk about in their own church context. Of course, for friendships like this to work, there can be no secret agenda to convert the other to your brand of Christianity. But, if kept agenda free, I think millions of friendships like this could go a long way toward taking the edge off some of the divisions within modern Christendom.
    Beyond what I’ve heard, read, seen in movies, and watched briefly on EWTN, I know very little about Catholicism, and, to be honest, it seems a bit strange and alien to me — which quite naturally breeds a certain level of predujice, if only at the subconscious level. I suspect that a close friendship with a dedicated Catholic (if I could find one in this backwoods, utterly Protestant corner of the Bible belt I live in) would help bring my understanding of Catholicism forward out of the Dark Ages. And if I could observe with my own senses that the fruits of the Spirit and the love of Christ are present in the life of a Catholic believer I know personally, that would make it very difficult for me to base my opinion of Catholicism on the Spanish Inquisition. Heck, just reading comments from Catholic believers on this blogsite has done a lot in expanding my thinking.
    Of course, it would help greatly if many church and denominational leaders weren’t so paranoid about letting their sheep mingle with the contaminated sheep from other flocks.