Thursday, January 19, 2012


The Pope repeated one of the totally uninvestigated and oft-repeated assumptions of the last 50 years of Christendom, that the divisions among the Christian churches (and ecclesial bodies*) makes the Gospel less credible.


Does the split between Sunni and Shia do that for Islam? Do Theravada and Mahayana schools of Buddhism put people off the Dharma? Did the splits in Marxism dampen the enthusiasm of their base?

My guess is that people are used to these religious divisions. They'd better be. The Christian Church has been fragmenting itself pretty well since day one. I bet in a lot of ways people take these splits as an indication of passion and seriousness**.

And if you check out Protestant denominations that are formed from amalgamation, United This and Uniting That...what kind of leverage or credibility do they get out of that? Do they thrive or fade? Do people actually see them as a sign of desperation in the face of oncoming extinction?

I think its just pablum.

*In RC language, "church" has a specific meaning because the Church of Rome considers itself The Church (with the Orthodox as slightly cranky siblings). Protestants, however, who rejected bishops and apostolic succession, have lost the sacramental priesthood and consequently have only the sacrament of Baptism, not Holy Communion or any of the others....which 5 others they didn't want, anyway. So these incomplete and defective church-like bodies are called "ecclesial communities."  Pisses them off.

**More fun over at PrayTell. I clarified that I was not reading Luther's original intentions but his continuing course of action when I wrote that he "set about breaking up the Church."  I referenced Gene Robinson and the effect of his ordination on the Anglicans. One of the predictable women said that being in the right was more important than "losing numbers" and even cited Jesus losing disciples over his "eat my flesh" discourse in John. And yet she and others are all googoo about reuniting the churches. So bringing divided Christians together in loving communion makes Jesus happy, but if you have a brief and want to split, it's just a crass matter of right vs numbers. So many of those folks are just, well, stupid.


Anonymous said...

she and others are all googoo about reuniting the churches.

Women and leftists confuse activity with achievement.

OreamnosAmericanus said...

I see a theme emerging!

On the brutally anti-feminist website Alcuin-Constant, he also points out that for women, the production of sentiment and emotion is considered sufficient to be counted as achievement as well.

(Since I know women for whom this is not true, I leave the universalizing to him. But he has a point.)

Anonymous said...

"B-Rome-ides" is good! ... Correct I if me wrong, but according to the Teaching Church, isn't anybody baptised a member of the Church? Protestant ecclesia are actually ecclesial heretics and schismatics, aren't they?

But they do have the sacrament of holy matrimony -- whether they accept this reality or not, don't they? Marriages are sacramental by virtue of the baptism of the spouses. If the spouses have each been baptised with water, in the name of the Trinity, and for the remission of sins, then the marriage is a sacrament -- and incidentally not dissoluble.

Imho, what makes the Gospel less credible is the failure to teach the Gospel -- a failure which is a sign of extinction in the face of offgoing desperation.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I recently remark'd to an RC friend that ecumenical unity between Prots and RCs would be quite easy if only the things we care about (or used to care about) could be placed together, side by side,in divine worship without extrapolations of 'connecting the dots.'

Catholics could be in charge of the liturgy, and Prots could be in charge of congregational singing and the sermon. Catholics could also be in charge of the word "church" 99% of the time; it's so important to them, but we hardly use it at all. "Church" for us really means only the building. In real terms, we don't at all believe that "founding the Church" was part of Jesus Christ's mission. We don't deny this; it just doesn't occur to us to say this.

(Dominicans, the so-call'd Order of Preachers, might quarrel with this arrangement, but in the dire need for arranging ecumenical harmony, they may have to consider themselves "protestant" while preaching sermons.)

Anglicans -- deep Anglicans who detest both Calvin and Trent-Thomas-Rome -- could be placed in charge of zilch since they'd rather Christianity unravel'd into a doorway to pagan rites, with JX as the dying and resurrecting corn doll.

As for matters of 'intercommunion' at these ecumenical gatherings, Prots could simply refrain. Really it isn't that important to us. Whether Lutherans and Methodists and so on are welcome to each other's table is a topic of concern only at ecumencial discussions, which is to say, not important at all-- 100% artificial. ... At this point we could bring back an element of pre-Council Catholicism (as far as I have been told, anyway): namely that many a parishioner would do 'privatized' devotion (as the spirit of V2 slander'd it) e.g. praying the rosary during the Mass and (I think) often didn't receive the elements. Because, after all, there's no particular important gain to be made receiving the elements of communion, as the Catechism of the c/Catholic Church more or less admits. The great sacraments are baptism (removes original sin) and confession (restores to the state of grace) and holy orders (makes the priests who can prnounce absolution). Confirmation, Matrimony, Last Rites, and Eucharist only sprucen up what one already has by baptism and confession.

So, really, since Protestants feel no particular importance in the Lord's Supper and Catholics can't think up any particular importance in receiving the elements of communion, "inter-communion" shouldn't be a major obstacle for ecumencial unity. Catholics evidently somehow feel it's important, so ecumenical unity could place them in charge of the liturgy -- and Prots could do the sermon and the singing.

VoilĂ . The Reformation and Counter-Reformation synthesized, and we can all move on to the pragmata that Christians still get riled up about -- gay marriage, single-payer health care, etc etc.

Anonymous said...

... But about the seven sacraments more seriously, I wonder if there isn't only apparent rejection of
which 5 others" by Protestants.

Consider'd strictly in terms of whether a mysterion is a sacrament in Luther's sense, only Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper are sacraments because these signs are or at least should be integrated with God's Word.

But that orders-circumcision, confession, matrimony, confirmation and last rites are mysteria Luther does not deny -- e.g. in his treatment of them in the Babylonian Captivity of the Church (Dillenberger, ed., pp. 324ff). In fact, my guess is that Luther's popular and widely-printed and distributed pamphlet, richly problematic though it may be, was the first occasion when the seven sacraments or mysteries were set forth readily accessible in "the world." I daresay that one could use the pamphlet to prise greater forthcomingness out of hierophants than they are wont to yield up.

For in that time of catechetical dearth it isn't as though every Western Christian was knowledgeable in the Summa theologiae -- although I very much wish that they were! ... Luther's clear statement that Thomas differs from Aristotle on essence and accident could not have been welcome news for the guild in "this world."

Admittedly, Luther's emphasis that faith is the essential for salvation even vis-a-vis the sacraments has tended to let Prot hierophants drop the sacraments out of the world again. Perhaps RC hierophants would have been pleased to do likewise -- but curiously they were lock'd into needing to declare the Prots seriously deficient in the sacraments.

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