Thursday, November 19, 2009

If you're one of those people for whom the answer to the question, "Why aren't you Catholic?" is, "Because it's indefensible heresy, and I'd fear for my soul and anyone else even considering it," then this upcoming list is NOT for you. For all the rest of us-- from those who named their cats "Benedict" (I know you're out there, stop lying) to those who have a healthy affection for the Catholic Church and its people, but will respectfully take a pass on "coming home,"--I dutifully present: (as if anyone cares/is reading this)

The 5 Reasons I'm Not Catholic (At the Present Time)

5. Justification/Perseverence/Trent Though sola fide has no way of being verified historically, beyond, "Luther said so," it seems ludicrous to believe that our gracious God would make it so easy for those of us who love Christ to foul it up. Experientially: I may sense the separation that my sins create, but I cannot know that they will damn me, sans repentance for each specific (mortal) sin. It seems antithetical to God's gracious nature, His beneficence toward His own. Especially given all the things Rome says constitute mortal sins. Let's also give credit to Protestants of today, even Calvinistic ones, who would not deny that Charity must be present with intellectual assent to the true doctrine of God. In fact, I would say that the Catholic definition of faith as, "intellectual assent to the true faith" is too limited. James 2 is speaking of intellectual assent.

4. Mariology. I can't reject it entirely, but I can't affirm it all in conscience, either. More investigation is required. Note to Protestants: Give due consideration of the fact that most pre-Reformation deniers of Mariology did so with the express purpose of attacking the purpose and work of Christ. At the very least, take the stated Catholic desire to guard doctrines concerning Christ via defining Mary seriously.

3. Eucharistic reservations. I do not believe that observing the Supper as a Protestant is entirely without benefit. (Obviously.) If the invalidity of the Protestant celebration is chiefly caused by invalid Holy Orders, this deserves further investigation.

2. Development of doctrine. While Protestants generally do not have an objective standard by which to judge what are developments and what are accretions, ("What is your objective, consistent standard for accepting certain pre-Reformation doctrines or even councils, and rejecting others?") the Catholic explanation seems, at present, highly convenient. Sounds like, "We, the Catholic Church, are never wrong." While I certainly believe the Holy Spirit does not err or lie, to believe that this promise and those to the church must necessarily work out in the Catholic fashion (with a ton of asserted infalliability) seems intellectually lazy, and lays a much heavier burden on individuals than, "Believe in the one He has sent." In crass terms, too much De Fide, and too little "We don't know." (And freedom!)

[And the last underlies them all]

1. Ecclesiological. By what means does an individual know that the Roman Catholic Church is the one Christ founded? Even a sweep of the whole 2000+ years of Christian history (in which the practice of Christianity looks a whole lot more culturally Catholic than Protestant, I must say) doesn't settle it. Also, Catholics admit that other Christians can be saved. They are even far more generous toward other religions, (especially as compared to Protestants) provided that remaining in one is out of invincible ignorance. Protestant theologies may have more holes than the PGA Tour; Catholicism might even be more consistent and intellectually satisfying, especially with respect to certain questions which Protestant converts always ask. It seems to better fit the history of Christianity, on the whole. But the most important consideration is, "Is God trying to tell me/us that Rome is His Church?" I want to hear God's voice. And if that cannot be determined, or God doesn't want to answer that question, it'd be stupid to go anywhere. I can still imagine preaching the gospel in some kind of Protestant church, teaching people to love, respect, and try to understand Catholics and Orthodox as best as they can.

In the next few days, I'm going to write what I think are the 5 biggest problems/questions Protestantism faces (in terms of theology and organization, not ethics per se, in case that wasn't clear). Should be fun.

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