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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pursuant to the last post, you can read Ignatius' seven epistles by clicking on the links in sequence here. I suppose you could save yourself time by reading Bryan's selected quotations, but I'd rather read him for myself, so I did. Boy, if the Church fell into error with the establishment of the hierarchy, it happened quick. This cat died in 107. He knew John the Apostle, heard him teach. What we Protestants must explain (and our individual variations must also) is, "What is the criteria for judging truth and error?" We have to begin to see that our theological differences as Protestants are actually judgments of the Church's supposed error from distinctly different angles and emphases, (free will, sacraments, government, et al) so our actual unity consists of only one thing: anti-Catholicism, or at best, non-Catholicism. What I'm bothered by is that we presume our own ecclesiological legitimacy, wherever we are, and then, we each make arbitrary decisions about which Protestant tribes are closest to us. Talk to a different person, get a different set of "acceptable" associations. The point is this: We can't all be right. But that's the funny thing: aren't we using the same source of final authority, the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments? What's the problem? You can go two routes to explain all this away--and I'm going to sum up roughly--1. Ignore the problem, reasoning that "just loving Jesus" is enough (though who is doing that and not doctrinally is itself arbitrary) and that God doesn't care; or 2) insist ever more strongly that you/your tradition is correct, rejecting all others, and embracing a naive positivism ("I'm right, and if you'd just read the Bible plainly, you'd see it, too.") I'm not willing to become Catholic on the strength of the conundrum itself; however, we have some explaining (and some uniting) to do.
(BTW, "just loving Jesus" is enough, in a certain sense, and that should be what is driving us to unity: recognizing Christ in others.)

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