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Showing posts from February 10, 2013

The Problem With Protestantism, Part 6

I'm sorry; I said that this part would be about resources, but I'm not ready yet. In addition to everything I've said, let me talk briefly about encountering the Catholic claims, and what that was like. In fairness, I had despaired of finding the hermeneutical magic bullets to tell me what I should believe via Sola Scriptura. I was mad that no one had ever seen the gaping holes in our prevailing ecclesiology. I was stunned to find that every interpretation of Scripture potentially came with its own ecclesiology. Strip away all the mediating ecclesial institutions; what you find is the same: people deciding for themselves what the Bible says, and so, what they as individuals mean by "the Church." But unity even in faith if not in government requires consent, and is assumed today rather than achieved. So I chased down the Catholic Church out of an urgent desire to know the will of God, and do it. You can look back here on this very blog if you need proof. This is no

5 Is Not A Serious Number

5 Thoughts For Today 5. If I saw the girl with one arm from this season of The Bachelor, I would be tempted to ask her out. But then I would say, "Oh, wait, you were on The Bachelor. Never mind." Which prompts us all to ask why we watch it, if we wouldn't get in their faces and tell these people that they disrespect themselves and the Sacrament of Matrimony (yeah, I went there) by doing this. 4. Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? No, seriously, I'd like an answer to this question. 3. Speaking of parking, there is no actual rule for a pot to be awarded in Monopoly when one lands on Free Parking. Even though every single person I've ever known plays this way. #sensusfidelium #tradition. 2. I'd like to think I'm pretty tough. But put a cat or kitten in the room..."KITTY!!!" The rule applies to dogs as well. You've been warned. 1. "I never thought that I'd love someone/That was someone else's dream..."

The Problem With Protestantism, Part 5

The goal of every Christian is to know the will of God and do it. It is the harmony of faith and action that is called holiness. Why would we believe anything that obscures the truth about God and is contrary to His will: "that they may be one"? Even today, Christians fail to maintain the unity we are called to. My challenge is not simply to hold the Catholic Church up as some kind of paragon. Rather, it is to ask all Christians to re-examine those principles which make reunion impossible. Sola Scriptura and the rest of the Reformation-era principles are just such principles. Let's cut the mess: All the chatter about, "We could attain unity, if only the Catholic Church wasn't so separatist" is just nonsense. If you dress the dissent of the 16th century up in gentler words, you're still asking most Christians in the world to accept a new ecclesiology and new doctrine just to get your preferred schismatic off the hook. And it's an ecclesiology when a

5 Valentine's Day Thoughts

5 Thoughts For Today 5. Grey's: Seriously, I don't like this company buying the hospital. My "common good" alarm is going off. And I hate my "common good" alarm. And Dr. Hunt: Why would you divorce your wife and continue to have sex with her? Is this the cool new thing? Are you trying to go to Hell? 4. Grey's, ctd: This entire cast is a bunch of fornicating perverts, adulterers, and general scumbags. On the other hand, I am the Church Lady, and Kepner still manages to seem like an uptight freak. Grace, anyone? God is Love? Anything? You work at Seattle Grace Hospital, for pete's sake! 3. No, actually, I asked Mary for a wife. I asked St. Valentine for courage. [Do you ask your natural mother to set you up?--ed.] Um, no. But I'm remembering something...Oh, yeah, Mary is PERFECT, and always gets what she prays for. [Sure she is.--ed.] Fine; denounce the Church Fathers; they'll pray for you. [Bah!--ed.] 2. I was reading the Gospel for to

The Problem With Protestantism, Part 4

To ask about history, competing paradigms, and other assorted issues can be summed up in one word: authority. Evangelicalism can fret about the problem of individualism until Kermit the Frog turns purple, but until the individual is not the arbiter of what Scripture says via the principle of Sola Scriptura, there will be no way to determine what Christian faith actually is, the basis for theology and ethics, for starters. If I were Satan, I could not devise a more brilliant strategy to take back the world: Don't attack the Christian authorities; multiply them. They'll fight for a few centuries, but most people will give up and suppose that if it were that important, smart people would agree . But that's the sick thing about Sola Scriptura: agreement is impossible, because the Bible doesn't answer back. Certain discussions only go so far. Protestant ecumenism today consists in either pretending that disagreements of major consequence (like sacramental theology) are re

Lenten Levity

5 Tacky Things To Do On Ash Wednesday 5. Show up to Mass on a day when it's totally optional, and skip Mass on Sunday when it isn't. 4. Leave after receiving the Eucharist. Seriously, I don't get this. This is reason 3b why Protestants think we are going to Hell. 3. Park in a disabled space for no reason at all. 2. Eat a piece of bacon at 12:00 AM Thursday morning. 1. Stay home while loudly proclaiming, "Me and Jesus are having church right here!"

Ash Wednesday

5 Thoughts For Ash Wednesday 5. It seems that God is just here, upholding everything, quietly blessing everything good. 4. I think my sacrifice is as nothing. Before I offered it, it seemed great and weighty; now I feel I offer Him too little. 3. I'm 33, and it's Lent. 2. "My voice is breaking/My heart is burning..." 1. I love you all.

The Problem With Protestantism, Part 3

In addition to the two problems presented by looking at Scripture in a deeper way, there is a third. Actually, the first two aren't problems; they're observations which present problems when their truth is acknowledged. The third is a bonafide problem: What does the Bible say? Even granting the fact that figuring out what the Bible says is not the entirety of what Christians are to believe, it's a very important question. So what method will you teach us so that we can know and do what it says? You cannot retreat to lexical and exegetical expertise, because nearly all interpreters have experts and schools where that expertise is taught. We cannot appeal to the Holy Spirit; anyone holding any position can appeal to Him whenever he wishes. We owe it to ourselves to rule out everything that is not unique or dispositive, and then examine the presuppositions undergirding the rest. In fact, when we bring this problem into the ecclesial dimension of our Christian lives, we see t

The Problem With Protestantism, Part 2

I want you to get inside my head so far. [Yikes.--ed.] This next part is about asking where things fit and how they function. My theological training as a seminarian as far as it goes was excellent. I don't know a single person there who had reason to be disappointed. We knew Reformed theology; we knew how to articulate a stern, unbending theology into terms palatable to modern man. Despite my school's reputation as a hotbed for theological rebellion, this is grossly unfair. It is both confessional and pastoral, and the only scandal I see is that many of you use doctrinal confessional loyalty as an excuse to be inhuman. Pardon the aside. I mean to say that it cannot be said that I was never Reformed. There was quite a lot of consternation amongst the students concerning the two covenants between God and Man at the dawn of human history: the "covenant of works" before the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the "covenant of grace" afterward. You can see it there in

The Problem With Protestantism, Part 1

It's not that the Catholic Church is so blindingly obviously true at the outset. I believe in the grace of God and in his leading, but if I overstated this, I'd be manipulating you, and misrepresenting myself. But in all things, truth is connected. And truth is knowable. Truth can be on the level of nature or above it. I trust I'm not scaring anyone yet. But you can't approach this question as a "Protestantism vs. Catholicism" thing, mainly because there is no Protestantism, properly speaking. There are Christian communities of varying theologies that were formed, or are now in some way connected to, those leaders who separated from the Catholic Church in the 16th century. It's really important to state that clearly and somewhat precisely, because it becomes important to the story I'm telling. As I am fond of mentioning to several friends, my Myers-Briggs type is ENFP. "Close enough is good enough." I paint with broad brushes to tell a br