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Peter Kreeft: Who's in authority here? (Ecumenical)
Da Mihi Animas ^ | May 18, 2014 | Peter Kreeft

Posted on 05/18/2014 1:43:38 PM PDT by NYer

All the beliefs that divide Catholics from fundamentalists are derived from the teaching authority of the Church.

Because Catholics believe in the Church, they believe a fuller, more complex and mysterious set of things than the narrowed down fundamentalist. Thus, the Church is the essential point of divergence.
In the fundamentalist view, the Catholic Church exalts itself over the Bible, adding to God’s Word: It is man arrogating to himself the right to speak in God’s name.
But for Catholics, the fundamentalist puts the Bible in place of the Church as his “paper pope.” Instead of a living teacher (the Church) with a book (the Bible), the fundamentalist has only a book.
Fundamentalists believe that the Bible authorizes the Church. They accept a Church only because it’s in the Bible. Catholics, on the other hand, believe the Bible because the Church teaches it, canonized it (i.e., defined its books) and authored it (the disciples wrote the New Testament).
Last week we looked at the fundamentalist idea of the Bible and contrasted it with the Catholic view. Now we must do the same with fundamentalist notions of the Church.
The most important point here is that the fundamentalist view is a new one while the Catholic view is an old one. The Catholic Church and its claims have been around for more than 19 centuries, fundamentalism for less than one. The historical argument for the Catholic Church is thus very strong. Fundamentalists have to believe that the early Christian Church went very wrong (i.e., Catholic) very early, and went right (i.e., fundamentalist) very late. In other words, the Holy Spirit must have been asleep for 19 centuries in between.
Fundamentalists usually know very little about Church history. They don’t know how many Catholic doctrines can be traced back to the early Fathers of the Church — e.g., that appeals to the Bishop of Rome to definitively settle disputes throughout the rest of the Church occur as early as turn of the first Century; or that the Mass, not Bible preaching, was the central act of worship in all the earliest descriptions of the Christian community.
Five key differences between fundamentalists and Catholics center on the Church’s (1) nature, (2) mystery, (3) authority, (4) structure and (5) end.
Nature
Fundamentalists agree with Catholics that the Church was founded by God, not just by men. For a fundamentalist the Church is not just a religious social club, as it is for a modernist. But while fundamentalists see that God commanded the Church’s beginning, they do not see that He still dwells in it intimately, as a soul lives in its body and as He lives in faithful souls. For a fundamentalist, the Church’s origin is divine but its nature is human.
Mystery
Fundamentalists see the Church in the opposite way from which they see the Bible. They affirm the divine identity of Scripture and minimize or ignore the human side of its authorship. But they stress the human side of the Church and ignore its divine side. In other words, they’re Docetists about the Bible and Arians about the Church. (Docetism was an early heresy that denied Christ’s human nature; Arianism denied His divine nature.) Catholicism alone has consistently affirmed the mystery of the two natures both of Christ, and of the Church and Bible.
Fundamentalists often accuse Catholics of the error of the Pharisees and love to quote Mark 7:7-8, Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees for teaching as divine doctrines mere human traditions. The Pope and bishops are men, after all, and fundamentalists bristle at the thought of ascribing to these humans a divine authority. But they’re inconsistent, for they ascribe to the human writers of the Bible a divine authority, and (of course) they ascribe to Christ a divine authority, though He was also human. So the principle that God can and does speak through human authorities is a principle based on Christ and Scripture.
Maybe the simplest way to see the difference is this: Fundamentalists see the Church as man’s gift (of worship) to God, while Catholics see it as God’s gift (of salvation) to man. For fundamentalists, we’re saved as individuals and then join in a kind of ecclesiastical chorus to sing our thanks back to God. For Catholics, we are saved precisely by being incorporated into the Church, Christ’s mystical Body, as Noah and his family were saved by being put into the ark. (Many of the Church Fathers use the ark as a symbol for the Church.)
It’s as if — to extend the metaphor — fundamentalists prefer to be saved by clinging to individual life preservers, then tying them together for fellowship.
To Catholics, the Church is “the mystical Body of Christ.” The Church is a “mystery.” Fundamentalists don’t understand this category. “Mystery” sounds suspiciously pagan to them. They want their religion to be clear and simple (as Moslems do). They’ll admit, of course, that God’s ways are not our ways and often appear mysterious to us. But they don’t want their Church to be mysterious, like God, because they don’t think of it as an extension of God but as an extension of man.
In other words, they think of “mystery” as mere darkness or puzzlement. But in Catholic theology it’s a positive thing: hidden light, hidden wisdom.
Fundamentalists say that they emphasize “the Church invisible” more than “the Church visible” and accuse Catholics of overemphasizing the latter. Fundamentalists draw a sharp distinction between these two dimensions of the Church so that they can explain Scripture’s strong statements about the Church as applying only to “the Church invisible” (the number of saved souls, known to God) and not to the visible Church on earth.
Why? Because if they referred such statements to the visible Church, the claims of the Catholic Church to be that single, worldwide, visible Church stretching back in history to Christ, still forgiving sins and exercising teaching authority in His name — well, these claims would surely seem more likely to be true of the Catholic Church than of any other visible Church.
Fundamentalists also have a very individualistic notion of the Church. The Catholic sense of a single great worldwide organism, a real thing, is not there. The Eastern Orthodox Church usually has an even more powerful sense of the mystery and splendor of the Church than most modern Western Catholics do. They’re east of Rome spiritually as well as geographically — i.e., more mystical. Fundamentalists are west of Rome — much too American.
Authority
A third difference concerns the authority of the Church. This follows from the previous point: Fundamentalists lack the Catholic vision of the Church as a great mystical entity, an invisible divine society present simultaneously in heaven and on earth, linking heaven and earth as closely as man’s soul and body are linked. And lacking this vision, authority can only mean power, especially political power. Thus, fundamentalists sometimes sound like their archenemies, the modernists, when it comes to criticizing the “authoritarianism” and political power of Rome. For both fundamentalists and modernists lack the Catholic understanding of the Church and its authority as much more than “political.”
Yet fundamentalists tend to be quite authoritarian themselves on a personal level — e.g., in their families. They are more willing than most people to both command and to obey authority, if it’s biblical. The issue that divides us is not authority as such but where it is to be found: Church or Bible only?
Structure
The structure of the Christian community also divides us. Fundamentalists usually criticize the “hierarchical” Church. This is often more a matter of politics than of religion, sometimes stemming from American egalitarianism rather than religious conviction. But when it is a matter of religious conviction, such criticism usually takes one of these three forms:
Beyond these irrational criticisms, I’ve never come across any solid theological argument against the papacy. The current Pope (Blessed John Paul II as of the time of this essay – Editors) has done much to temper fundamentalist fears by his holy personality, wise words and strong opposition to abortion and to the excesses of some contemporary theologians.
End
Finally, fundamentalists and Catholics have different visions of the end or task of the Church. For fundamentalists, that task is only two things: edification of the saved and evangelization of the unsaved. For the Catholic, these two ends are essential, but there are also two others.
The Church’s ultimate task is to glorify God, to be the Bride of Christ. The world is, in the long run, only the raw material out of which God makes the Church. In fact, the universe was created for the sake of the Church! God’s aim from Day One was to perfect His Bride, to share His glory eternally.
When we speak of this eternal glory we have in mind first of all the Church as invisible, as “mystical”; but there’s a substantial unity between the Church invisible and the Church visible, between the Church as inner organism and the Church as outer organization, between its soul and body, as there is between man’s soul and body.
You can see this mystical thing, as you can see a man. The most holy thing you can see on earth has its seat in Rome, its heart in bread and wine on the altar and its fingers as close as your neighbor.
It isn’t that fundamentalists explicitly deny this Catholic vision of the Church; they just don’t comprehend it. They may have things to teach us about being on fire with religious zeal, but we have much to teach them about the fireplace.
A fireplace without a fire is cold and gloomy. But a fire without a fireplace is catastrophic.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Evangelical Christian; History
KEYWORDS: fundamentalism

1 posted on 05/18/2014 1:43:38 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...
This thread is posted for education purposes, to better understand the differences that separate our 2 churches.

Catholic ping!

2 posted on 05/18/2014 1:45:19 PM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: NYer

“This thread is posted for education purposes”

Maybe it is; but you then attempt to declare what ‘fundamentalists’ believe.
As a member of Christ’s church I say your attempt to define me is NOT accurate.


3 posted on 05/18/2014 1:54:19 PM PDT by aumrl (let's keep it real Conservatives)
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To: NYer
Like Aquinas, Kreeft is a master of brevity and lucidity, and often insightful.

Beyond the common arguments, Kreeft offers this insight:

Fundamentalists also have a very individualistic notion of the Church. The Catholic sense of a single great worldwide organism, a real thing, is not there.

The Eastern Orthodox Church usually has an even more powerful sense of the mystery and splendor of the Church than most modern Western Catholics do. They’re east of Rome spiritually as well as geographically — i.e., more mystical. Fundamentalists are west of Rome — much too American.

Authority

A third difference concerns the authority of the Church. This follows from the previous point: Fundamentalists lack the Catholic vision of the Church as a great mystical entity, an invisible divine society present simultaneously in heaven and on earth, linking heaven and earth as closely as man’s soul and body are linked. And lacking this vision, authority can only mean power, especially political power.

Thus, fundamentalists sometimes sound like their archenemies, the modernists, when it comes to criticizing the “authoritarianism” and political power of Rome. For both fundamentalists and modernists lack the Catholic understanding of the Church and its authority as much more than “political.” Yet fundamentalists tend to be quite authoritarian themselves on a personal level — e.g., in their families. They are more willing than most people to both command and to obey authority, if it’s biblical. The issue that divides us is not authority as such but where it is to be found: Church or Bible only?

_____________________________________________________

I ask critics of the article to read the article before commenting...

4 posted on 05/18/2014 1:57:04 PM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas ( Isaiah 22:22, Matthew 16:19, Revelation 3:7)
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To: aumrl

What in particular is inaccurate?


5 posted on 05/18/2014 2:16:33 PM PDT by annalex (fear them not)
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To: NYer; dcwusmc; Jed Eckert; Recovering Ex-hippie; KingOfVagabonds; Berlin_Freeper; UnRuley1; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

6 posted on 05/18/2014 2:17:24 PM PDT by narses (Matthew 7:6. He appears to have made up his mind let him live with the consequences.)
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To: NYer

Since we are simply trying to educate, I offer the following links. Thank you for the platform.

The Gospel Discerned and Defined (Rev. John Greer)
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=81901181950

Unmasking the False Gospel (Rev. John Greer)
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1010665821

Absolute Biblical Truth Opposed by Rome (Former Irish priest Richard Bennett)
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=222131232144

Explaining the Heresy of the Roman Mass Parts 1&2 (Dr. John MacArthur)
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1117101711406
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1117101713478


7 posted on 05/18/2014 2:36:25 PM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: NYer

First quote worth noting:

**While I’ve met many Catholics who love the Pope and (unfortunately) some who hate him, I’ve never met or heard of anyone who worships him!**


8 posted on 05/18/2014 2:39:58 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer

**The Catholic Church and its claims have been around for more than 19 centuries, fundamentalism for less than one. **

This made me raise my eyebrows. I don’t think all protestants and non-Catholics believe this.


9 posted on 05/18/2014 2:43:43 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: .45 Long Colt; Religion Moderator
Click here to find out about Ecumenical threads.

Religion Moderator's Guidelines to Caucus/Prayer/Ecumenical threads

10 posted on 05/18/2014 2:47:42 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: .45 Long Colt; Religion Moderator

Religion Forum threads labeled “Ecumenical”

Ecumenical threads are closed to antagonism.

To antagonize is to incur or to provoke hostility in others.
Unlike the “caucus” threads, the article and reply posts of an “ecumenical” thread may discuss more than one belief, but antagonism is not tolerable.

More leeway is granted to what is acceptable in the text of the article than to the reply posts. For example, the term “gross error” in an article will not prevent an ecumenical discussion, but a poster should not use that term in his reply because it is antagonistic. As another example, the article might be a passage from the Bible which would be antagonistic to Jews. The passage should be considered historical information and a legitimate subject for an ecumenical discussion. The reply posts however must not be antagonistic.

Contrasting of beliefs or even criticisms can be made without provoking hostilities. But when in doubt, only post what you are “for” and not what you are “against.” Or ask questions.

Ecumenical threads will be moderated on a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” basis. When hostility has broken out on an “ecumenical” thread, I’ll be looking for the source.

Therefore “anti” posters must not try to finesse the guidelines by asking loaded questions, using inflammatory taglines, gratuitous quote mining or trying to slip in an “anti” or “ex” article under the color of the “ecumenical” tag.


11 posted on 05/18/2014 2:47:55 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas
The Eastern Orthodox Church usually has an even more powerful sense of the mystery and splendor of the Church than most modern Western Catholics do. They’re east of Rome spiritually.

Never exclude the Eastern Catholic Churches! Like the Orthodox, they contribute the awe of spirituality that is so lacking in the West. Best of all, Latin Rite Catholics may attend and even join one of these churches, which are all in full communion with Rome. As one priest expressed it best: "Same faith, different flavor".

The Vatican II Council declared that "all should realize it is of supreme importance to understand, venerate, preserve, and foster the exceedingly rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Eastern churches, in order faithfully to preserve the fullness of Christian tradition" (Unitatis Redintegrato, 15).

12 posted on 05/18/2014 3:32:26 PM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: NYer

A pretty good analysis, but, like a lot of Catholic evangelism, it misunderstands a few things about the protestants.

Fundamentalism IS new, but it arose out of people trying to be Christians who were betrayed by their churches as they apostatized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Fundamentalism was made necessary because of the great falling away, led by the Federal Council of Churches, followed by the Anglicans in 1931.

Since the churches from which fundamentalism was born, and later American Evangelicalism, had no authority structure, where else would they turn except the Bible?


13 posted on 05/18/2014 3:45:13 PM PDT by Jim Noble (When strong, avoid them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.)
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To: Salvation

So it’s okay to belittle and antagonize in the original post but not in the responses? After all, among other things, Kreeft essentially said fundamentalists are just ignorant rubes who don’t know history or understand Rome. And no one is supposed to take exception to that? Despite what he said, I offered NO ANTAGONISTIC COMMENT in response. Instead I offered links to sermons from born-again Christian preachers and teachers that would serve to elucidate the topic at hand. After all, supposedly the intent of the thread was to educate. Now I’m learning the education claim was phony. This is an indoctrination thread with the added benefit of belittling ignorant fundamentalists who just don’t understand poor Rome.


14 posted on 05/18/2014 3:46:34 PM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: NYer; Religion Moderator
ECUMENICAL (tag) ABUSE REPORT

If FR had not years ago blocked out html "blink" funtion, I would given it a try here, even though most recent browser editions across the board no longer support that function but through way of rendering "gifs".

There is nothing particularly "Ecumenical" about this Peter Kreeft, craftily written polemical.

From the first lines the writer names some hazy "fundamentalists" who he then goes on to describe and unilaterally define what they believe (making something of strawmen out of others' positions, attitudes/beliefs) while also seeming to imply that his own definitions for those apply to any [Christians] who are not in some way in agreement with such things as office of singular papacy.

RM -- please remove the Ecumenical tag, or the entire thread.

Thank you for your time, and I am sorry to trouble you with this, but hanging a Ecumenical tag on this sort or article is like forcing those not Roman Catholic to have some Roman Catholic (if not loads of them) frame all sides of a discussion, defining themselves and those who may disagree with themselves --- while also unilaterally defining the substance of the disagreement.

It's like -- let us tie the hands of those not Roman Catholic hands behind their backs while we label them all "fundamentalist" -- and by defining their alleged beliefs and reasons for those beliefs, then accuse them of all manner of [alleged] error and lack (by our own definition) but since this is "Ecumenical" then no one but those in agreement with this process can say a word.

Ny'er, you say;

I say -- this sort of article as Kreeft has fashioned does little to advance real understanding between the differences of approach between Roman Catholics and those Christians of the Western world not self identifying as "Catholic", yet I can see how it could not fit under "caucus" tag either.

Kreeft asserts very much -- which could stand to be better examined. Even terming the [Roman] Catholic church "the mother church" for historical reasons, has fatal flaws.

Yet the slipperiness of such usages, where 'Romanism' itself, having rhetorically claimed for itself to be the sole center and singular beginning and now ultimate "head" or "authority" is assumed to be beyond criticism --- is the very issue which is posed as a question in the title of Kreeft's article.

Please, take the "we talk -- you listen" sort of thing to some other forum.

15 posted on 05/18/2014 3:47:00 PM PDT by BlueDragon
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To: BlueDragon; Religion Moderator; NYer

I disagree. Sad that there are folks here who think suppressing dialogue is somehow ecumenical, but this thread provides a useful place for folks who are willing to engage with civility and ought to remain.

Just my opinion, ymmv.


16 posted on 05/18/2014 4:11:56 PM PDT by narses (Matthew 7:6. He appears to have made up his mind let him live with the consequences.)
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To: narses
People SHOULD be willing to "engage with some civility" on this forum, period.

You say that you "disagree" -- but about what? That this Kreeft article does not fir the tag guidelines?

The man is "anti-protestant" by the same tokens some here are labeled "anti-Catholic" (when perhaps anti-Catholicism would be more accurate for many situations).

From the RM's page;


17 posted on 05/18/2014 4:25:41 PM PDT by BlueDragon
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To: .45 Long Colt

Where in the article does Dr Kreeft say that fundamentalists are ignorant rubes? He was raised as a Calvinist himself and speaks with deep love and respect of his Calvinist parents.


18 posted on 05/18/2014 4:28:31 PM PDT by ottbmare (the OTTB mare, now a proud Marine Mom)
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To: BlueDragon

“You say that you “disagree” — but about what?”

With your request and your characterization of both the article and the author.


19 posted on 05/18/2014 4:29:33 PM PDT by narses (Matthew 7:6. He appears to have made up his mind let him live with the consequences.)
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To: .45 Long Colt

How does one become formerly Irish?


20 posted on 05/18/2014 4:45:50 PM PDT by verga (Conservative, leaning libertatrian)
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To: .45 Long Colt

How does one become formerly Irish?


21 posted on 05/18/2014 4:45:50 PM PDT by verga (Conservative, leaning libertatrian)
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