Monday, July 16, 2007

Pope Benedict: More Complication Added, More Simplifying Needed

You probably have heard by now, the recent controversial words of the Pope that many in the Protestant churches have taken some exception to. For sure, some have been harsher than others. But in almost all Protestant denominations, there's been some kind or reaction, at some level or another.

Here's a somewhat humorous (but yet in some ways quite serious) response from PYY regular AC of Fore Left.

Here is one of the harsher ones. The story isn't as harsh as the headline to the article:

Pope bashes Protestants -- again

This one is even more so. It's not as kind in the main body of the essay:

What is it about this arrogance that still angers me? Because the world is divided already, and we don't need this supercilious conversation right now? Because the country is in an immoral war abroad, and there's hunger and homelessness at home, and still we talk about this? Because we're straining at gnats, and swallowing camels?

Here's one that's not as harsh, but is more or less telling what Protestants should do about it:

Non-Catholics who are up in arms of the proclamation by Pope Benedict XVI that the only true church in the world is that of Catholicism shouldn’t even bother with getting upset. Just chalk it up to an old man trying to get a little attention.

I highly recommend reading Mr. Martin's essay, he has the right idea here. But as right as he is about how non-Catholics should react, even he cannot help but show in his writing that he's a little miffed about the Pope's erroneous statement:

Yet as I reflect on my years as a Catholic, it pretty was a wasted experience as there was more identification with the church, and not with Christ.

And that’s why Pope Benedict XVI is meaningless, along with his decision to re-state the primacy of the Catholic Church. This week, the pope released a document correcting interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, which some say modernized the church. But for hard liners like Pope Benedict XVI, the liberals went too far in some of their declarations.

But what ticked folks off is his assertion in the 16-page document by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the only denominations that can call themselves a true church is if they can trace their roots back to Jesus Christ’s original apostles. He even suggested they suffer from defects.

Here is the document that is making all of the fuss, with this particular part as one of the cornerstones of the Protestant criticism:

"Third Question: Why was the expression 'subsists in' adopted instead of the simple word 'is'?

Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth' which are found outside her structure, but which 'as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity.'

"'It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.'

Personally, I think this has been a part of the Catholic Church for years now, and is hardly anything new. It is but one reason (of many), the Roman Church has alienated some of its membership over the years. There are many other reasons, but this attitude is nothing new to the hierarchy. They have always believed they were the one true church, and it goes back a long way. From the time Luther split the church back in 1517, there has been much contention between the Catholic leadership and the rest of the sects and denominations over who held the keys to the Kingdom. And while there have been times where the fellowship of all Christians was better than others, the people of the Protestant world have forgotten much of this during the latest lull.

This is but one of the reasons, I am not Catholic. It's also the reason that I am not a member of any church or denomination. I have made this decision many years ago, because the Roman Catholic Church is not the only church that claims spiritual superiority over the rest. You can find many others that make the claim that they have the truth and thus are spiritual heirs to the Church that Christ built, yet I found none that truly have a stake to either claim.

So, what's all of this mean? It means that there are varying beliefs within Church World and not all can be right. Does this mean that Roland Martin is any more of an authority or can make any other claim of spiritual superiority than Pope Benedict? Not from where I sit.

In my last post here at PPTG, I discussed the way man has complicated things that pertain to God. In one of my responses to a comment, I asked a reader to take a look at Revelation 12 and to pay close attention to the woman. Now, I will ask those that care to, to take a look at Revelation 11.

Do that and the next post may make better sense. In it, I will try to put some of this into better perspective and maybe in turn, it will spark some deeper thought into the reasons that the Pope and other leaders from other organizations, do not speak for me. Don't try to figure it out right now. Just read it and familiarize yourself with the metaphorical prose.


Sam said...

Individual adherence to religious articles of faith, select any religion you choose, demands that people select one set of beliefs over all others. In such conditions, what opinions should we expect from the Pope, who is head of the universal Christian church? In point of fact, the difference between what Catholics and “Protestants” believe is miniscule, and has much more to do with how faith is observed, rather than what our faith teaches us to believe. Of course, there are variations of the “what,” but on the weighty issues of religious faith, there is no major gap.

If anyone thinks that the Pope is exercising arrogance about what he believes is the central role of the “mother church” in Christendom, what do they think about the same behaviors found in some (too many, in my opinion) protestant churches? Obstinate attitudes, especially as it relates to radicalism, is alive in well in the institution of religion, whether Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and some Hindu and Buddhist sects.

I am not a catholic – but we must at least observe that the Roman Church has fulfilled an important role in history since the fall of Rome. Much of what we know about the so-called “dark ages,” we gleaned from vast libraries maintained by the Church. The Pope exercised his authority in much the same way as any other potentate, and remarkably, he forced the will of the Church upon generations of European kings and princes. Many people forget that the office of the Holy Roman Emperor lasted until 1918 – not even a hundred years ago. If we understand this history of the Roman Church, what should we expect Pope Benedict to say about role of Catholicism today?

Radical religious thought and deed originates in the unacceptable behaviors of individual leaders; some of these yo-yo’s continue to be adored even 1,500 years after their death. Personally, I would rather see greater unity among Christians, rather than so much sectarian bickering. We appear to be fussing about issues least important, and ignoring the most egregious violations to the laws of nature: Islamic extremism.

LASunsett said...

Thanks for your input Sam. I will be covering some of the things you address, in the coming post(s).