How Not to Become a Catholic, Part 3

James Tonkowich

James Tonkowich

The following is Part 3 in a continuing series. If you missed Part 1 go here, and if you missed Part 2 go here.

One thing many people can’t quite get their heads around is the Catholic Church’s claim that there is one Church founded by Jesus and that one this Church, according to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), “constituted and organized as a society in this present, world, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.” Or as Richard John Neuhaus liked to put it, “The Catholic Church is the Church of Jesus Christ most fully and rightly ordered through time.”

A surefire strategy for keeping that claim at bay is to defend the legitimacy of the multitude of Protestant churches and denominations as perfectly normal, part of God’s will, and having nothing whatsoever to do with the terrible sin of schism.

Rule #6—If You’re an Evangelical, Ignore the Sin of Schism Altogether

A castaway had been marooned alone on a tropical island for more than ten years. Now finally a boat had landed on the island’s shore to rescue him. “How have you managed all these years,” asked the officer in charge.

“Let me show you,” the castaway replied and he gave the officer a tour of what had been his home all those years.

In a clearing near the beach were three structures. “This is my house,” he said pointing to one. “And this is my church,” he said pointing to another.

“What’s this third building?” asked the officer.

“Oh,” said the castaway dismissively and with distain in his voice, “that’s my old church.”

“Schism” is a word I never heard in evangelical circles. And in your struggle to avoid the Catholic Church, it’s a word you should completely forget. Evangelicals, it seems to me, have Protestantism figured out. It’s consumer-driven, free market, entrepreneurial Christianity. If you don’t like your church, find one that suits you better. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, but you probably owe it to yourself and your spiritual wellbeing—or at least to your kids’ spiritual wellbeing. Heaven forbid that they should attend a youth group with an inferior worship band.

If there are no congregations to your liking, feel free to start your own. The folks in your old church may be disappointed or angry. They may call you a “sheep stealer,” but it’s very unlikely they’ll accuse you of the sin of schism or call you a schismatic.

Those pesky Church Fathers (see Rule #4) had a very different take on divisions in the Church. St. John Chrysostom (347-407) wrote, “I say in private and in public that to tear the Church apart is no less an evil than to fall into heresy.” Not to be outdone, St. Augustine put it this way: “There is nothing more serious than the sacrilege of schism because there can never be any just need for severing unity.” Methodism founder John Wesley (whose heirs we’ll get to in a moment) preached:

[Schism] is evil in itself. To separate ourselves from a body of living Christians, with whom we were before united, is a grievous breach of the law of love…. And as such a separation is evil in itself, being a breach of brotherly love, so it brings forth evil fruit; it is naturally productive of the most mischievous consequences…. It gives occasion to offense, to anger and resentment, perhaps in ourselves as well as in our brethren; which, if not presently stopped, may issue in bitterness, malice, and settled hatred; creating a present hell wherever they are found, as a prelude to hell eternal.

But free-for-all schism has been the order of the day since the Reformation opened the free-market more than five hundred years ago. Think 25,000+ Protestant denominations, assorted cults claiming the Bible, and countless independent churches. Jesus prayed in John 17 that his people be one even as he and the Father are one. Somehow I can’t imagine that he meant what we experience today. In fact, in light of that prayer, the current state of disunity seems monumentally sinful.

But unless you keep “schism” out of your vocabulary and “sin of schism” out of your thinking, you could end up thinking about Church unity. That could then lead you to affirm that it makes biblical sense that there should be “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” And I don’t need to tell you which Church best fits the bill.

Rule #7—If You’re in the Protestant Mainline, Assume that Schism is Somebody Else’s Sin

If you’re a Mainline Protestant you’re nodding your head about those fractious evangelicals. Churches and the covenants that bind members are sacrosanct. You would never, never, ever commit the sin of schism. That’s what other people do.

So, for example, when I was president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, a group reporting on the political shenanigans of the Protestant Mainline churches, I was regularly denigrated as a “schismatic Presbyterian” by the organizations many critics because I was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), a denomination that broke away from the mainline Presbyterian church in 1973.

And while it’s true that the PCA has a schismatic relationship to the mainline/oldline denomination, “schismatic Presbyterian” remains the dumbest thing I’ve ever been called.

Twentieth century philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Allow me add a corollary, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to talk nonsense.”

Somehow my detractors managed to forget that all Presbyterian churches got their start with the English Puritans who were dissenters (that is, people in schism) from the Church of England. And the Church of England was itself born of schism from the Catholic Church; a schism brought about not by lofty theological conviction or vital spiritual renewal, but by Henry VII’s empty coffers and bursting libido.

The idea of any Protestant fussing and fuming about schism is laughable since Protestantism is by definition (note the name) schismatic—and typically darned proud of it. The Episcopalian bishops who occasionally attempt to guilt disaffected clergy and laity to stay in the denomination by proclaiming, “Schism is a greater sin than heresy,” are either disingenuous or delusional—unless they’re making plans to return to Rome, which they’re not.

Having said that, let me make it clear that I have great affection and admiration for friends in the mainline renewal movements. They are courageous folks who stay in their decaying denominations often at great personal expense and attempt to turn them back to God and to the Gospel. While I sympathize, their arguments against schism and for unity are, it seem to me, either an appeal to sentiment or based on an unreasonable claim about their denomination.

An elderly woman I know made the sentimental appeal this way. She detested the pastor of her mainline Presbyterian congregation for his revisionist theology and what she viewed as shady dealings. “Why not leave?” I asked.

“I was baptized in this church,” she told me, “I raised my children in this church. I’ve never gone to any other church and I will die in this church. This is my church and that son of a b**** isn’t going to take it away from me.” Well, alrighty then.

Less piquant versions of the same argument come from pastors and theologians. This church baptized me, married me, and ordained me. I won’t leave it to those who will destroy it. Besides, as one renewal leader noted recently, “Churches are not reformed by people who have left them.”

Fair enough, but it’s hoping against hope. Decades of renewal activities in the Episcopal Church and Presbyterian Church (USA) costing millions of dollars and untold man-hours have delayed, but have not prevented the current theological and moral freefall. Many orthodox lay people and clergy have already gone elsewhere. The average age in the mainline denominations is now well over seventy with young people and dynamic, orthodox young clergy staying away in droves. And to top it off, research shows that Protestants are more loyal to their brands of toothpaste and toilet paper than they are to their church denomination. Encouraging warm feelings and dogged commitment has no future.

The alternative is to claim that the existing denomination is, in a sense, Holy Mother Church. And so John Wesley vehemently argued that it was a sin to leave the Church of England to form a Methodist church. Today his heirs are arguing that it’s a sin to leave the United Methodist Church to form something new. Why? Because schism is such a grievous and grave sin and the existing denomination must be preserved at all costs. I agree that divisions in the Body of Christ shouldn’t be multiplied, but why not go back and heal the original wound? Rather than multiplying divisions, let’s get rid of them all.

The United Methodist Church (or the Episcopal Church, or the Presbyterian Church (USA), or the United Church of Christ) is not Holy Mother Church, but bodies in schism from Holy Mother Church. If future schisms are unacceptable, then past schisms are equally unacceptable. Why not quit the exhausted Protestant project and come home?

Westminster Seminary Church historian and Reformed thinker Carl Trueman has written:

Every year I tell my Reformation history class that Roman Catholicism is, at least in the West, the default position. Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism; in the light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic; not being a Catholic should, in others words, be a positive act of will and commitment, something we need to get out of bed determined to do each and every day.

Why, I wonder, would anyone get out of bed determined to continue in schism? Better to either remove schism from the list of sins or convince yourself that it’s someone else’s sin. The only other alternative will leave you with no good reason for being Protestant at all.

 

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  • http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/ eMatters

    I’m so disappointed in the IRD.  No more donations for them.  That article was pure straw.  He assumes that the Catholic church is the “one true church” based on a couple pro-Catholic quotes then argues that if you aren’t part of it you are guilty of schism.  

    The Reformation happened for a reason.  Actually, 95 of them.  And they are still valid.  Jim & Co. can keep the justification by works, Marianism, indulgences, purgatory, etc.

    There is nothing wrong with denominations.  The “church” is the body of authentic believers.  If people worship different ways as to not violate their consciences that doesn’t qualify as sin.

  • Diogenes

    Ah, but what about the Eastern Orthodox?  It is easy enough to dismiss Protestants (of which I remain one) as schismatics, but it is much more difficult to determine just who were the schismatics between the bishop of Rome and those in communion with him and the patriarch of Constantinople and those in communion with him.  I will leave aside the Oriental Orthodox and the Church of the East since those separations occurred as a result of their rejecting the teachings of ecumenical councils which took place while they were still in communion with both the bishop of Rome and the bishop of Constantinople. The question of who were the schismatics at the time of the Great Schism (that is, the East-West Schism of A.D. 1054 or whatever date you want to place on it) is one that cannot be avoided by any serious Christian seeking to return to unity with the one, holy, apostolic and catholic Church as both Rome and Constantinople claim to be that Church and claim the other is the schismatic and as each has strong arguments on it side.

  • Editor

    But both cannot be right. I would suggest, for such an important question, that the right response is not simply to throw up your hands but to investigate further.

  • Harold Fickett

    Well, Jim, I’m glad that some of our Protestant brethren finally showed up.  I really would have been disappointed otherwise.  And the question of Eastern Orthodoxy is something that should not be left to the scholars but one that the Orthodox laity and the Catholic laity need to explore together as well.  In fact, I think if the Catholic and Orthodox laity explored this together, a sense of the faithful might emerge that would hasten the reconciliation of the two ancient communions.  Something for which we have been asked by the Catholic Church to pray–not as a matter of preference but as an issue–unity–that is essential to the revelation we have been given in Christ.  We are to be one.  

  • Donm

    eMatters. what you’re calling a reformation was more accurately a revolt. Reformation is done from within – and did take place from within. The idea that the church Jesus started is some non-formation with zero structure means that He could not define the unity He prayed for.  Therefore – there is something wrong, or at least out of step with the idea of denominations in His divine plan for his church.
      While we’re at a reply – the Catholic Church does not profess justification by works alone and the bible we both embrace has plenty of passages to back up “faith working in love”. Please do not perpetuate that misrepresentation.
      Until well after the 95 thesis worship included sacrifice. Christian worship included th re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice as he commanded. Therefore, worshiping in different ways is also a fruit of, dare I say it, the sin of schism. Please look with fresh eyes at the Church Christ started. There’s nothing better than Jesus meeting you in the Eucharist!

  • AnnaMarie53

    My goodness!  It seems to me that all these people replying to this article are possessed of what I call “pretzel logic.”  They want to twist anything and everything to escape the simple (and at times painful) Truth that the Church Jesus Christ founded is the Catholic Church!  There is no way around it and it has ever been thus.  As more and more serious Biblical study is done we are faced with the indisputable fact that the Gospels were all written with the first century A.D. They were written by Christ’s Apostles and that, as they say, is that.

  • JohnE

     “There is nothing wrong with denominations.  The “church” is the body of
    authentic believers.  If people worship different ways as to not violate
    their consciences that doesn’t qualify as sin.”

    I don’t think there’s necessarily any problem with worshiping in different ways — Catholics do that too in some degree with the various rites.  The more fundamental problem is the differences in beliefs.  Jesus gave us the Church (the pillar and bulwark of the truth) as the means of unity, and not an abstract spiritual-only Church that is easily redefined by man to be whatever they want it to be.

  • Matt B

    eMatters, That 95 theses argument sounds like you’re nursing a grudge.  At this point, I’m tired with the whole claim/counterclaim of “who’s a real Christian.”  It generates more heat than light.  In fact, there is no light in the whole debate.  Only God can judge a person’s conscience – but he will indeed come to “separate the wheat from the chaff.”  I guess that what Bob Dylan means by “the answer is a blowin in the wind.”  A lot of chaff blowin everywhere, and very little “whole grain goodness.”  Talk doesn’t matter anymore.

  • Jacob Suggs

    At most, what you have just said is that you should be Catholic or Orthodox, but don’t know which yet.

    Keep in mind though that theologically speaking, the Catholics and Orthodox are very close together (and many on both sides are trying to heal the breach entirely), while you can find a protestant who believes nearly anything. It is also worth noting that each considers the other to have valid Apostolic Succession and sacraments, and neither considers that to be true (so far as I am aware) of anyone else. So the idea that each schism moves farther from the truth is at least consistent with itself.

  • a protester

    This article is typical of the one sided perspectives prevalent among many Catholic converts from Protestantism.  You can attack Protestants all day long (and we certainly provide plenty of ammunition!), but the Reformation divorce in the Christian Church was a result of sin on both sides.  As both Catholic and Protestant scholars will say, corruption and greed were rampant in the medieval Catholic Church.  In other words, there were legitimate things to be protesting!  Today, after decades of dialogue, Catholics and Protestants are more united than ever.  Most Protestants say we already agree on the essentials.  It is the Catholic insistence that Protestants must sign on to every last Catholic dogma (indeed, be assimilated into Catholicism) that keeps us from visible unity.  Any true effort at Christian unity must involve a humble, repentant, and open spirit from both sides.  The Catholic Church’s current self-understanding precludes this.  In light of the Catholic Church’s complicity in the Reformation split and the scandal of the clergy abuses in the present, your rosy picture of “holy mother church” is almost laughable.  As Jesus would say, take the plank out of your own eye.  Until then, we Protestants will continue to work for unity from our side of the tragic Reformation divorce.

  • Nat

    eMatters, why blame the IRD?  Yes, Jim was president several years ago, but he makes clear here that he now disagrees with his mission.  Jim disagrees with IRD, and you disagree with Jim’s critique – how does it follow to fault the IRD?

  • noelfitz

    This series of articles is brilliant, well
    written and thoughtful, even though I would mildly disagree with some of
    it. 

    I am like the woman who claimed “I
    was baptized in this church … I raised my children in this church. I’ve never
    gone to any other church and I will die in this church.”.  So, with God’s grace, I will remain faithful
    to the Catholic Church I was born in.

    I consider Protestant
    Churches as heretical, not schismatic.  The
    position of members or the Orthodox Churches interest me.  Are these followers of the first-called
    Apostle, Andrew, part of the one true Church? 
    What does ‘subsist’ really mean?

    I like to have two
    churches near me, one not to attend and the other to attend.  I do not go to my parish church, as I prefer
    the one in my old parish.

    However these views
    should not detract from my huge appreciation of these articles by James
    Tonkowich.
     

  • JefZef

    Years ago, some of my best friends left the Church to follow, what they believed to be, a more “biblical” path.  Their incessant character assassinations of Catholicism lead me to investigate their claims. 

    I’m not a scholar or theologian.  This may seem simplistic to some, but in the end, it was the mere existence of Easter Orthodoxy that provided, what to me at least, was the greatest worldly proof that Catholicism is the one, true Church instituted by Jesus Christ.  

    I began by temporarily removing the Catholic Church from the equation and looking only at the
    two schisms, one in 1054 and the other in 1520, and examined their fruits in the
    modern age.  They are profoundly different.

    On the one hand, you’ve got one multinational Church, united under one
    Patriarch, that has remained unified and consistent in its doctrine, liturgy and
    traditions for nearly a millennium.   

    On the other hand, the Protestant Reformers couldn’t agree from day one.  There were Radical Reformers (Calvinists and the like) and Magisterial Reformers
    (Lutherans and Anglicans).  All of which have splintered into the 25,000+ denominations we have today.

    All of these schematics are Christians and none of them are Catholic, so why has
    one remained unified and consistent, while the others have fractured and
    splintered into so many varied parts as to be nearly unrecognizable as one
    religion? What is it that the Orthodox Church has that the Reformers do not?

    I think the answer lies in the Apostolic priesthood.  Because the Orthodox retained a valid, Apostolic priesthood and all seven
    Sacraments, as well as a devotion to Mary, they had the perpetual
    protection of the Holy Spirit to keep them from chaos, confusion and division.
    Without that divine protection, I don’t think it would have been possible for
    them to last a century, let alone a millennium. A thousand years of consistency
    is just not possible for humanity alone. We are not even consistent in our
    interpretation of the US Constitution after two hundred years.

    If I had any useful math skills , I’d try to calculate the odds. Two
    separate Churches agree on 99% of their doctrines then go their separate
    ways. After 50 generations apart, they come together in 1965 to discover that the only
    doctrinal difference they have is the very same 1% that they had a thousand
    years before. How does that happen, when Calvinists couldn’t last one
    generation, and Pentecostals can’t even do it on the same day in two churches a
    mile apart from each other?

    In the end, I was left with, not 25,000 denominations to choose from, but two.  Since Jesus clearly gave authority to Peter and not to Andrew, the choice was obvious.  The current custodian of the keys to heaven is Pope Benedict XVI.

  • CatholicMinnesotan

    Perhaps the reason that the Catholic church is not so compromising is that there is no theological reaon for us to give up our faith to embrace yours, as ours is the one we have been handed down from the apostles.  Our goal is to bring the protestants home to Rome, not to bring Rome away from itself to them.  Also, your point about the abuses is a red herring.  The humans might fail in the execution, but the doctrines, sacraments, and teachings are still valid.

  • james

    Dear protester, If this Universal, Catholic Church hsa been protected by Jesus Christ himself from teaching error,(1 tim 3:15) then it must not, it cannot compromise with error. It is the Truth that sets us free. We cannot build unity on anything but Truth,  A good example of this is Mt ch 19 vs 9 in which Jesus teaches that marriage is a covenant that fron God’s view,cannot be broken. Many christian communities allow for divorce in spite of Jesus clear teaching that repudiates this practice. Only the catholic church has maintained Jesus clear teaching in this regard. Artificial contraceftion was condemned by all mainline christian churches until the 1930 Episcopal Lamberth conference, and now, only the Catholic Church has stood by the sacredness of the marriage bond and unitive and procreative purposes in the sexual union. We all must make a decision to accept or reject the Cathlic church as the bride of christ, the holy mother church that does not exist to punish us but to help bring us into the kingdom of heaven. Does the Church teach anything thta would lead you away from Christ? If not, What is stopping you from coming into the fullness of the Faith? Let us worship together then, in Spirit and in TRUTH.

  • a protester

    Dear James, I think the issue you’re getting at here (and CatholicMinnesotan as well) is as much philosophical as it is ecclesiological.  Your position is similar to other fundamentalist religious groups that believe that they are in possession of the fullness of Truth and so it is impossible for them to be wrong.  There can be no dialogue, compromise or unity with such individuals.  If the Reformation can be likened to a divorce, with sin committed on both sides, then your position is a bit like a husband who says, “yes, darling, you can move back in, but only so long as you admit that I’ve been right about everything all along and will always be right about everything for all eternity!”  Who wouldn’t want to go home to that?  Thank God that closed minded view does not represent the majority of Catholics – the Pew Forum of Religion and Public Life shows 84% of American Catholics believe there are many paths to eternal life and 81% believe there is more than one true interpretation of their religion’s teachings.  A full 64% believe the Church’s teachings should be changed to accommodate modern beliefs and practices.  But then, you would probably join this article’s author in deriding the majority of your fellow Catholics as the followers of “Father Starchild and Sister Sunbeam.”  I invite you to turn from narrow minded dogmatism and embrace the humility, love, and grace already being embodied by most American Catholics – it is the path of Jesus and the only path to unity in the broken Body of Christ. 

  • Marian Cavadias

    I think that approaching Christian unity requires a spirit of love. And that is exactly the type of argument that prevents any progress towards unity and it is one that both the Orthodox and Catholic churches are looking past. The relationship between primacy and synodality in the universal Church, and the importance of spiritual ecumenism is where Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Hilarion of the Patriarchate of Moscow have found a platform to move forward.  The Pope is held in high esteem in the Eastern Orthodox church and the Pope in turn values greatly the spiritual and cultural treasure of the Orthodox churches. The Pope is not interested in westernizing the Eastern and Oriental churches and indeed he has told the Eastern Catholics to hold strong to their traditions lest they be lost forever. As someone else mentioned the See of Rome recognizes all the sacraments of the ancient churches (Constantinople, Alexandria -Coptics-, Antioch, and Jerusalem) including their priesthood. So we are more alike than we are different.

    If you would like to find out more about the ecumenical movement between Orthodox and Catholic Christians, the Society of St. John Chrysostom is an organization of laity and clergy of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches.  It is essentially a grassroots organization that is striving to promote understanding and unity between the Apostolic churches. I am a lay member as well as currently serving on the board of the southern California chapter. OUr web site gives more information about ongoing efforts to help bring about unity: http://lightoftheeast.org/  There are various chapter throughout the U.S. and in the U.K.

    May the Holy Spirit guide all Christians to seek the unity that Christ desires for His Church.  “And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as you, Father, in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us” (Jn 17:20-21)

  • james

    Dear A Protester, There is such a thing as “invincible ignorance” that may excuse many of the catholics that you quote in your statistics. I will not judge their soul as only our Lord can do that in in merciful manner. All i’m saying is that the Catholic Church was instituted by Christ and the Holy Spirit given to the magistarium to lead us into all Truth; Truth grounded in the Holy Scriptures. I prefer to stay the course with the present day “Peter”. Do you know of a safer way?

  • lakingscrzy

    “84% of American Catholics believe there are many paths to eternal life and 81% believe there is more than one true interpretation of their religion’s teachings.”

    And this is why the Church exists and holds dogma regardless of what the people *want*. If the church(this goes for Protestantism as well) changed its stance every time the paradigm of the world shifted, what is the point of the church? This is begging for a homogoneous spirituality of moral relativism, something completely incompatible with Orthodox Christianity. You might as well say that there is no such thing as heresy as long as the people want it. Maybe we should accept abortion because people want it? How about slavery? Lots of people wanted that.

  • lakingscrzy

    “Actually, 95 of them.  And they are still valid.  Jim & Co. can keep the justification by works, Marianism, indulgences, purgatory, etc.”

    Funny, Luther held to Marianism quite strongly and he held to purgatory as well. Sola Fide has been busted time and time again, and do indulgences even qualify as an argument anymore?

  • Harold Fickett

    One thing that should be said in response to “a protestor” and others comes from the late Father Richard John Neuhaus.  When asked why he converted from Lutheranism to Catholicism, he said, “Because the Reformation worked.”  When I became a Catholic, the holy man who gave me instruction and dealt with all my misgivings, particularly in regard to my evangelical background, kept reminding me: “Just because you are becoming a Catholic does not mean you are as good a Christian as many among your Protestant family and friends.”  I look at sacramental life within the Catholic Church as the banquet of Christ’s presence helping me to remain one of the Lord’s disciples.  Evangelicals often have great preaching and a wonderful emphasis on Bible study and fellowship, but they miss out on the Eucharist, Confession, and the deeply wise spiritual traditions within the Church that have developed over the ages.  Why be on such a thin diet when all this is available?  What many of my friends see as impediments are actually riches. 

    The medieval Catholic Church WAS badly in need of reform.  It just wasn’t in need of being split up.  Luther, Calvin and the other Reformers should have remained within the Church, however difficult such an obedience would have been–and, of course, it would probably have been very difficult indeed, costing them their lives.  In the light of history, though, wouldn’t their contribution have been greater as martyrs rather than capital “R” reformers? 

  • Adriel

    That you rationalize it as a “divorce” says it all. A “divorce” implies the severing of a contract between two equal parties. I don’t think I need to elaborate on how or why that idea is preposterous.

    “Sin boldly,” as it was said, and admit to a schism; one based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the one true church, and a lack of faith in its protection from the gates of hell.

  • noelfitz

     Are Protestants heretics and Orthodox schismatics?

  • chaco

    JetZef, I hope you don’t mind if I copy your comment and take it with me to my grave / Judgment. It will show my HUMILITY of following EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE based on Historical & circumstantial Truth (see Jn. 18: 37). No one can argue that we will at least be required to give a reason for the choices we’ve made (“I didn’t care.” won’t suffice). This doesn’t mean I’ll be a Snob toward differring perspectives though. In a book; “The Social Animal” by David Brooks, he uses the phrase; “Urge to Merge”. With that in mind and considering how Laughter helps to nurture a “Kindred Spirit”, did you hear about the guy who’s donkey was braying during the nearby Protestant services ? When these Protestants finally confronted him about the noise , he agreed to donate to their church. When someone noticed that he attended Catholic services, they asked why he donated to one church while attending another. He replied; “I attend my Church to save my Soul. I donate to theirs to save my ass.”   [We have to keep it freindly and leave the final Judgment to the Only One who can read Hearts. People sin more from LACK OF WILL than from lack of understanding.]

  • Admaioremdeiglorium

    I believe this is a remarkably insightful observation, one that deserves a place in the repertory of Catholic apologetics. The inestimable value of Apostolic Succession is forcefully demonstrated by the historical record: In the course of nearly a millennium since the Schism of 1054, the Orthodox Churches have maintained a very considerable degree of consistency in doctrine, morals, worship, and discipline which contrasts sharply with the proliferative divisions and theological smorgasboard that has been the inevitable consequence of Protestantism (in half this time). That God can make good of this is Christianity’s real hope (for example, the end of the Church’s temporal power arguably has been beneficial), particularly in the face of an increasingly hostile secular culture.

  • Admaioremdeiglorium

    Thank you for your excellent article, which was as insightful as it was deliciously droll. Your observations are refreshingly candid, on both sides of the ecclesial divide, while your tone is unfailingly charitable. Your final quotation reflects a curious thread that appears to be the only unifying element left in Protestantism that has any real force: ABC – anything but Catholic! I would imagine that as you became aware of this bias and increasingly free from it, its persistence in the minds of Protestants in your acquaintance must have been startling.

    I’ve watched enough episodes of “The Journey Home” to know that the price converts pay, particularly clergy, to swim the Tiber is beyond the comprehension of many cradle Catholics like me that receive it quite freely. Besides the early martyrs, the medieval monks, the missionaries and so forth who transmitted the Faith, we should be grateful for the sacrifices of so many who gave us our churches, schools, and hospitals, usually from modest means.

    God bless you and all your fellow converts who bring such generosity, passion, and zeal to renew our life in Christ. Please continue to write; you have valuable testimony to share and the desire and skill to communicate it effectively.

  • chaco

    james,  I hold fast to your highlighting of “Invincible Ignorance”.  It gives me necessary hope for remaining happy / Joyful  when witnessing the indifference towards substantiated Truth.  It all boils down to loving & being loved; people sin from lack of will much more than from lack of understanding. Jesus warned the disciples that as surely as the world (at large) rejected him, it will reject them. That hurts – we want love. My MOST VITAL TOOL in overcoming this is recalling the centurion’s words; “Surely, this was the Son of God” (Mt 27: 54) [Even after helping to crucify him.] If we speak what we hold to be True(don’t forget invincible ignorance here), those who persecute us for our integrity really love us in their “Heart of Hearts” (they respect our perseverance in what we believe). This takes “the edge” off of the pain from rejection / hatred and enhances the experience of God’s love for me. [ I look at them and somewhat jokingly say; "We often hurt the ones we love".]

  • noelfitz

    Thanks to all contributing here.  The contributions are thoughtful, charitable, respectful and uplifting, in general.

  • Donm

    To reply would only serve to allow you to drive a wedge. If you want to define those terms for yourself and see how they fit that’s fine. The Catholic Church is loving and often puts forth the idea of concupicence that presents to our separated brothers and sisters an opportunity to learn and grow. If we are interested in truth then let’s get to it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501002865 Tony Frasco

    God bless all Protestants and Evangelical Christians.  May they come to know the Church Jesus started 2000 years ago, founded on Peter as the 1st Pope and the Apostles as the 1st Bishops, with the 7 Sacraments instituted by Christ, and the Church that gave all Christians the Canon of the Bible.

  • noelfitz

    Donm
    I am not familiar with the new CE, but am learning. Thanks you for your reply to me. I am not too clear on the point you are making. Would you like to clarify and we can have a discussion?

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