Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One True Church?

Pope Benedict seems "paper happy" these days. I saw a couple of newspaper articles about this one today:
"Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church." (This is a link to the Vatican website.)

Here are a couple of links to news stories about the paper.
Vatican re-asserts belief Catholicism one true church
Catholic Church only true church, Vatican says

One of the articles I read in the paper spoke about how this would rile Protestants. (I couldn't find any links to those articles.) And I saw similar contents on a Catholic discussion board.

Personally, I'm not riled. Why should I be? I do disagree with Benedict, but he is the pope, after all. Why would anybody be surprised by this? If anything this statement helps to clarify a line of demarcation between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. There are signifcant and essential differences between Catholic & many Protestant doctrines of salvation and the church, as well as issues of authority. I don't believe the Roman Catholic Church (as an organization) is a true church.

Too many people seem to forget that we can disagree without anger. But I'm not surprised some people don't like this, especially those who think all roads lead to God (or a god or gods.) There are also those who seek an outward unity at the expense of the truth.

I might expand upon this in future posts.

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Blogger Theo said...

Good article.

Your Catholic brother in Christ (though you don't believe so),

9:44 AM  
Blogger Joel said...

Thank you! You have no idea how refreshing it is to see a Protestant who actually understands what Benedict was saying. I've seen so many media articles that, rather than citinng the document itself, simply tell us that he said the opposite of what he actually said. He was clarifying the meaning of the word "church" within Catholic teaching, not casting asparagus on any other Christian body.

I don't think there are any salvation issues involved in this one, although there are issues of authority and ecclesiology. And those are areas where we're simply not going to agree until Christ comes back and makes it irrelevant. Better B16 should be up front about that than that the liberals on both sides should pretend the divide doesn't matter.

4:32 PM  
Blogger pilgrim said...

Well. I sued to be RC...

And like I said I don't agree with him, but I understand why he would say what he did--he's simply expounding Catholic teaching...

I think authority & ecclesiology are very important issues and they have a big impact on how one views salvation. In that sense this is a salvayion issue...

(Also James White did make similar comments to mine. Just for the record as you have expresses opinions on him I disagree with. Although James and I would disagree on some areas of ecclesiology.)

5:21 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

Well. I sued to be RC...

You shouldn't have had to. It's a lot easier to get into than that. (Yes, I know it was a typo, but I couldn't resist.) :)

You're right, James White did say much the same thing. (Although you said it with much less ego.) But I'm impressed with the way he responded.

I don't understand how it's a salvation issue, although maybe I'm just thinking from a Roman POV. I can see how the ecclesiological issue would be irrelevant for Protestants, since you believe in an invisible church of all believers. (Which actually marches with what Benedict said, too.) But unless you believe in salvation through church membership (and I'm fairly sure you don't), I don't see how the question of what is and isn't an apostolic church would matter to salvation.

11:23 PM  
Blogger pilgrim said...

Your view on authority will influence how you decide what to believe and what you believe. This is why it was one of the big issues of the Reformation--it wasn't about who you wanted to listen to, and who you trusted.

When Luther was debating salvation it kept coming back to authority--that is he would say the Bible says sucha nd such, and his opponents would counter with, but this council, pope, etc says this...

So it is related.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

I guess I can see that point. It also brings up another question, that's also sort of central to the Reformation: We know God prefers obedience to sacrifice, but does He prefer it to doctrinal correctness as well?

I know you don't consider the Church authority to be divinely instituted, but in Luther's day, it was the only ecclesiastical authority there was, and Paul did say that authority was given by God. If we assume (for the sake of discussion) that Luther's doctrines were more Biblical, but following him required rebellion against authority instituted by God, then the Reformation can be seen as the split between those who believed doctrine was more important and those who believed obedience was.

5:30 PM  
Blogger pilgrim said...

That is why Luther did not do lightly the things he did.

Also I could ask you, obedience to what?
And who was disobedient first?
Those who teach false doctrines are disobedient, and we are not to follow error--so the Reformation (as a whole--there were some minoer aberrant factions) was obedient.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

Also I could ask you, obedience to what?
And who was disobedient first?

That's a fair question. I think the disobedience happened on two levels: disciplinary and doctrinal. (You're a former Catholic; I assume you're familiar with the distinction between the two.)

The Church leadership disobeyed in disciplinary areas. They bought and sold Church offices, they cheated the laity, they dabbled in politics, they abandoned their priestly vows... all of those were disobedience.

The Reformers, in their zeal to reform disciplines, also stripped the "faith once delivered" down to the barest essentials. They didn't actually deny the most basic truths: the Trinity, the Incarnation, salvation by grace. But that, I believe, was by God's grace; He preserved them from going to the extent of total apostasy.

10:09 PM  
Blogger pilgrim said...

Well there's where we disagree--some factions of Rome had gone into apostacy.

And the definitions of salvation by grace were different in various factions of Rome--there wasn't a firm consensus in te West at that time--there was the official Roman version though--especially after Trent when one faction won out.

The Reformers saw things quite differently on that one from the start, especially since it is not merely "salvation by grace" but by grace alone.

12:51 AM  

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