Skip to comments.The Crisis of Authority in the Reformation
Posted on 04/01/2008 4:32:20 PM PDT by annalex
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It is the equivalent of the comment that I was responding to - Everyone decides for himself concerning the Scriptures. And it just isn’t so.
I can't see how efforts to condemn Protestants is viewed too highly with God. The foundation of salvation is faith in Christ, not whether one is Protestant or Catholic. God judges on faith in ones heart, and I would question how efforts to condemn fellow Christians demonstrates faith. In fact, it is pretty clear from the Bible that is not your job.
I am impressed God authorized you to make such judgment despite that seems to goes against the Word of God.
Of course not. That’s even farther in the opposite direction. Oh, but you were being facetious.
Which, of course, is the Lutheran confession as well.
The difference is that there is unity in doctrine in the Catholic Church, simply because doctrine itself is never modified just because there are differences in opinion over it. People who feel their personal opinion is more important than the defined doctrine end by leaving the Church to follow their own opinion and are, of course, no longer Catholic. Or in some cases, they are excommunicated, if they do not leave voluntarily. In both cases, they can be reconciled, but only if they acknowledge and accept the doctrine of the Church as it is.
I think there is a problem with the use of the word “Protestantism,” because it can describe anything from orthodox Anglicans or Lutherans to fundamentally non-Christian wackos like the UCC. I’m not sure how this can be handled. I remember we once had a discussion on FR of Protestants who accept the standard Creedal definition of the Trinity as constituting the orthodox wing.
Yep...Lost from the Catholic religion, they landed right on the doorstep of the Throne of Grace...
It is the same old “our church is the original blah blah...” The holier than thou attitude is one reason the Reformation was needed to undo the class structure the CC instilled.
We could just call all those orthodox folks who acknowledge their salvation by the shed blood of Christ, as described in the traditional Creeds, as “Christians”.
Yes, they are, but the discussion was about what was encompassed by the term referring to non-Catholic Christians, that is, Protestants. Catholics and orthodox creedal Protestants are Christians; we can’t refer to “Christians” and “Catholics,” although I know there are some on FR who do, unfortunately.
There are many different kinds of Protestantism, some of which are Christian only in the sense that they’re not explicitly anything else. But they all refer to themselves as Protestants, even though some of them have split off so far they’re in outer space.
OK, but that’s not a weakness confined to Protestants alone. Would, say, a womyn priest who blesses gay marriages and pretends to administer the Sacrements be Catholic?
Faith in Christ demands an interest in truth on your part. What you say is indifferentism: the belief that disputes between communities of faith on such core subjects as the role of the sacraments, priesthood, communion of saints, obedience to the Gospel are unimportant for salvation. This is a strange was to believe in Him Who said "I am the Truth", and also warned about many who will call on His name only to be told "Depart from me".
not your job
It is everyone's job to "satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you". I do just that. You are the one who brought up "traditions of men", and they are condemned right in the Bible -- I didn't invent it.
The Lutheran confession on this score, correct me if I am wrong, is in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The departure from Catholicism is in the rejection of the belief in transsubstatiation. I consider this a very serious breach from the Holy Tradition, which always spoke of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist as objective and not a product of the communicant's faith effort.
Over all, -- given the entirety of Luther's beliefs, including the mangling of the Old Testament Canon, discouragement of the monastic devotions, and the intrioduction of the innovative doctrines of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura, -- I think you were right the first time, that Lutheran confession dates from 16c and not from the Early Church.
Of course not. Now, is a woman minister who blesses gay marriages and pretends to administer the Eucharist be Protestant?
...the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord and they (Lutherans) reject those that teach otherwise.
It is the Lutheran belief that this article of faith was shared by the early Church.
Of course the Early Church believed in the Real Presence. It is good that the Lutherans acknowledge that. Like I said in 25, it is the totality of Lutheran beliefs that departs from the patristic teaching.
No, the womyn church folks are not Catholic in belief, and they’ve actually already been formally excommunicated. Even our wimpy bishop here actually forbade a group of them from holding some bizarre function in a local parish. His next step should be to can the pastor, but I think he’s too timid to do so.
However, overall I don’t think you’re understanding my point. There are flakes in every religious group. However, they are just that - flakes. They eventually move away and are no longer considered members of that group, either by themselves or, certainly, by the group.
However, in the Catholic Church, they have no effect on doctrine. They cannot claim to be Catholic anymore, even if they hang around for awhile without being formally excommunicated. But they still have not changed Catholic doctrine in any way.
In the Protestant churches, however, these flakes feel that this means they should go out and set up another church, but one that focuses on their emphasis. There is no overall “Protestant Church,” and hence no mechanism for controlling this. So even orthodox, Creedal Protestants end up with bizarre doctrines being attributed to them from these people who have had their own “revelations” and developed their own fragments of doctrine into yet another church. But there’s no overall standard for rejecting them, and no authority to do so.
That was my point, not that the Catholic Church is without flakes - believe me, some days I think they outnumber the orthodox, among whom, thank goodness, the Pope is included!
Thanks, guys, this is actually a good, respectful and interesting discussion.
I think we are focusing on the issue of doctrine. That is, to what extent can you say that independent opinions in a church negate its doctrine? And what is the solution to this problem?
We all know the rather gross saying about “opinions,” which is unfortunately quite accurate.
The problem in Protestantism is that somebody who asserts his “opinion” and has the personal force of character to convince others - but within a religion that has no authority strong enough to assert the essential doctrine, regardless of this person and his opinions - is going to end up by creating something entirely different.
It may be different with a relatively limited focus, such as the difference between Lutheranism and Calvinism, or it may be different in the way that Islam, a product of the Arian Christianity and latent Judaism and paganism circulating in that environment, is different from orthodox catholic Christianity. Which is to say, an entirely different understanding of God, creation, life, law, and humanity.
By way of accelerating the forum that seems to have gotten a flu, I’d like to anticipate a Protestant point which I think is quite valid, even though it is not dispositive of the question.
The valid point is that similarly how the Catholic flakes are excommunicated by their stated beliefs and actions, the Protestant flakes render themselves outside of the Protestant pale by their de-facto rejection of the Bible.
I think there is a true analogy here. We ask for certain beliefs and actions (or refrain from actions) in order to be Catholic, and we wait for no formal excommunication (always slow in coming) before we say that the flake is excommunicated by her very actions. The Protestants ask for certain concepts that they firmly hold as biblical, and once those are breached, the flake is Protestant In Name Only.
So we both believe in the idea that the flakes excommunicate themselves rather than the given community of faith excommunicates them administratively; the latter, if it happens at all, merely confirms the loss.
Having acknowledged this, I think we still have a crisis of authority in the Protestant Ecumen, in a way in which we don’t have it in the Catholic Church. That is because the criteria of what is and what is not permissible can be drawn in the Catholic Church with infinite precision, if that’s the mind of the Church; or they can be left vague, again if that is the mind of the Church. For example, permissible family planning is defined in the Catholic Church with great precision (certain methods are OK in some circumstances and certain methods are never OK). Abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, gay “marriage”, destructive embryonic research are clearly defined (never OK). Just war is deliberately left on a case-by-case basis. Liturgical innovation is not fully excluded but a firm boundary exists. Etc.
This is where the crisis of authority really is: the Protestant flake can plausibly insist on her scriptural interpretation. No magisterium exists to arbitrate that — it cannot exist in Protestantism in principle because the scripture is supposed to self-interpret. So, while in principle both the Catholics and the Protestants have the mechanism of self-inflicted excommunication, the Catholic boundary can be drawn with infinite precision when needed; a Protestant is left to wonder for herself and usually ends up in a likeminded community that confirms and reinforces the heresy.
Exactly. The problem is that there is no “Protestant authority” that can say somebody is interpreting the Bible correctly, incorrectly, or just making up his own religion out of whole cloth. Protestants keep trying to form a central authority (the original intention of the folks at 475 Riverside Drive), but Protestantism by its nature is too polymorphous and centrifugal to be able to create such a thing.
In addition, the Bible is a written work - assembled by the Catholic Church, may I add - and thus requires interpretation. But if there’s no standard for interpretation, how is the Protestant to say what’s right and what’s wrong? In addition, Protestantism is a 500 year old phenomenon that has now shattered into hundreds of “protestantisms,” while the one Church, including the Orthodox, who are only administratively separate, relies on 2000 years of doctrine. That’s a significant difference.
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