Friday, February 27, 2015
On The Nose
The Church polices the boundaries of orthodoxy, of course. This requires negations, as the delicious denunciations of the Syllabus of Errors illustrate. But in the main Catholics tend to see the Church as self-sufficient, a world unto itself. Most Protestants sense this, and it can be very irritating to them.I think that describes perfectly what is wrong with the Protestant church - we are defined largely by being not Catholic. That said it also contains a warning for the Catholic church, it's not "self-sufficiency" it is Christ sufficiency. I think it is self-sufficiency that has lead to most the issues in side Catholicism, when they place the good of the church in front of Christ. (but then that is true for most churches when they err.
I can imagine a speaker at a “Future of Catholicism” conference discussing the ways in which Pentecostalism in South America puts great pressure on the Church. Protestantism is obviously part of the world in which the Church finds herself. Moreover, the Church has an ecumenical vocation, and that requires engaging Protestantism. But on the whole when Catholics discuss or debate the future of Catholicism the issues are almost always intramural.
But dangers aside, the Catholic presumption of self-sufficiency is for the best. The conviction that our future comes from within provides an important freedom. For when we’re too dependent on negation, we allow ourselves to be defined by changing winds of fashion. That’s because what we don’t do and believe depends on what others do do and believe.
The Protestant church, particularly in its evangelical expressions, works so hard to be in the world that it is often consumed by the world. At least when measured numerically, this greatly aids evangelization, but it hurts maturity. There is no place for the more mature Christian to retreat to to be fed and rest and revive. Revival in the Protestant tradition consists of returning to "the gospel message" getting fired up about it again rather than advancing in our own personal relationship with God, the church and the world.
The Protestant church is like someone wandering the wilderness aimlessly, the Mountain Men of religion if you will. The Catholic church is like the army - building outposts and reaching into the wilderness from those outposts. I wonder if that analogy might help the relationship between the two? The army could use a good scout from time to time.
Catholicism Protestantism evangelism