Friday 7 November 2014

Catholics and Evangelicals

"The efficacy of the Christian announcement would certainly be greater if Christians would overcome their divisions and could celebrate together the Sacraments and together spread the Word of God and witness to charity". 

Evangelicals have many strengths, among which in many communities is an obstinate refusal to revise the Word of God as they inherit it. They may not believe what Catholics believe about the Bible, but they do retain an insistence that their interpretation of the Word of God, does not simply change with the passage of time.

However, what Evangelicals do deny are the existence of Sacraments. Among Protestants, only a few, including the largely liberal Anglicans really talk of Sacraments. Not a few Evangelicals deny that Baptism is a 'Sacrament' even if they still regard it as a supernatural 'rite of passage' into a relationship with Jesus Christ. If they believe it is a 'Sacrament', they would most probably not call it that. Among Evangelical communities the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist does not exist, and if Communion exists in these communities it is never believed to be the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, neither is there the intention among pastors to confect the Sacrament they do not have the authority to confect. The action and Person of the Holy Spirit, too, is an area of almost complete non-agreement between Protestant Evangelicals and the Catholic Faith and, clearly, there is a reason why Pope Francis will mention the Mother of God to Catholics, but not mention her to Evangelicals, presumably for the reason that they don't believe anything of what we believe of her.

Evangelicals, universally, reject the Sacrament of Penance, deny that there is any need for a priestly presence for a penitent to obtain forgiveness of mortal sins. Few Evangelicals would divide sins into being mortal or venial. For these communities, the idea that a priest has authority to provide absolution to one in a state of sin is offensive for they believe there is one mediator between God and man and this is Jesus Christ, with Whom they claim a personal relationship of salvation. We believe that as well, but we believe the priest is an instrument, an Alter Christus, through whom the forgiveness of sins is effected. By virtue of being Alter Christus, only a priest can confect the Blessed Sacrament. In extremis, the Church permits a lay Catholic to baptise one in need.

In Evangelical communities, no such Sacrament exists in terms of priestly ordination. There is no ontological change for an evangelical minister who becomes a minister, having been a lay man. There is, therefore, no such thing as 'Holy Orders' among these 'ecclesial communities'. Catholics and Evangelicals, while both believing in the necessity of Baptism for salvation and sharing some common beliefs are, sacramentally speaking, like fire and water.

Their beliefs cannot happily co-exist in a united Church without one group of Christians changing their entire belief system. In seeking union, the One True Church would require Evangelicals to accept Catholic doctrine regarding Sacraments (as well as other issues and dogmas), or instead the Evangelicals would require the One True Church to abandon Her Sacraments (and Her dogma).

Given that the Evangelicals do not celebrate or even recognise most, if not all Sacraments proclaimed by the Catholic Church for mankind's Salvation, exactly how are these communities to 'celebrate the Sacraments' together with the Church? There is, as Pope Francis said, only one which they share in common. Unless our understanding of Holy Communion is to radically change in order to remove the 'Holy' from the 'Communion', exactly how are Evangelicals and Catholics destined to 'celebrate the Sacraments' together? Does this Pope believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ or not? After consecration it is not, after all, 'a little bread and wine' that 'does no harm'. The Church accepts as valid those Baptisms performed by 'ecclesial communities' in as much as the Catholic Church says that those Baptised who are not Catholics exist as Christians in an 'imperfect communion' with the Catholic Church, the Pope and the Bishops. 

In order for 'full communion' to exist between the Catholic Church and Evangelicals, Evangelicals would need to accept the entire Doctrine of the Catholic Church and profess belief in it. Alternatively, the Catholic Church can jettison nearly 2,000 years of tradition and dogma and Her entire Faith and just become a Protestant Evangelical Alliance, but any Pope who sought to do that would be, well...words wouldn't do that Pope justice. That would be the Protestant Reformation exploding the Church from within and from the top. Pope Francis may truly believe that an insistence on dogma is 'in the way' of much that he would like to see happen in terms of the Catholic Church's response to a great deal, but if any Pope denies articles of Faith, Catholic Doctrine, that individual would traditionally be regarded as some kind of anti-pope figure, who should be resisted by the Faithful and ignored by everyone else. That said, as Gloria TV highlighted yesterday, even Baptists are asking some pretty eye-brow raising questions of Pope Francis...

"The efficacy of the Christian announcement would certainly be greater if Christians would overcome their divisions and could celebrate together the Sacraments and together spread the Word of God and witness to charity". Either Pope Francis is calling upon Evangelicals and other Christians to accept the fullness of Catholic Truth and come into full communion with the Successor of St Peter or he is calling upon the Church to abandon Her Sacraments. Out of the two options, should any union occur, I know which one I suspect to be the case. I don't know how many Evangelicals are into a poor church for the poor, but then neither is the German Catholic Church terribly keen on that aim. If the Catholic Church incorporated the Evangelical communities, that would, ironically, create a rich church for the rich. A poor church for the poor in the West is a Church faithful to Jesus Christ in times of unpopularity for that fidelity. Of course, the great sell-off of the Catholic religion would reap a healthy revenue indeed, but only at the price of total apostasy.


Mary Kay said...

Thanks for this great post, and for the video link. It's very telling that our BofR is being chastised by a Baptist! Strange days...

Jacobi said...

Baptism and Matrimony are the only Sacraments we co-recognise with Protestants.

I often wonder if the current attempt to change the Mass into a protestant communion service is but an indirect way of eliminating our belief in the Real Presence.

But yes, we must assume that the Holy father is calling on all Protestants to give up their heretical beliefs, receive the valid Catholic Sacraments of Confession, Confirmation and first Holy Communion and become Catholics.

solly gratia said...

I was an evangeelical for over 20 years, so speak with a little experience.
True, they don't accept Catholic doctrine, and true many realise that ecumenism with Rome usually means they have to accept what Rome accepts. And true, centuries of division give them a visceral reaction to aspects of Catholic observance, such as the teaching about and devotion to Our Lady.
However, they are in desperate need of authority, and many know it. The giants, such as John Stott are long gone, and the generation they have now wobble on so much, or are out and out heretics even on Evangelical terms.
What they want to see is that Catholics are committed to the Scriptures, to Jesus, to the Body of Christ, to evangelisation, to unchanging moral standards. This is why some of us have converted to the RCC or Orthodox - as have some of the older leaders such as Michael Harper, Franky Schaeffer. They are a flock without a shepherd, let's help them see that the sheepfold is open to them. It took me 15 years to make the journey.

Jacobi said...

@ Solly

Your comment explains a lot to me. I come from a mixed Pro/Cath family. Hence my slightly simplistic comment, which was nonetheless sincere.

The Catholic Church at present is wasting a huge Heaven-sent opportunity.

If we could only overcome this Relativist insurrection from within and concentrate on upholding Scripture, Revelation, Tradition and the teaching of the Magisterium, with the Pope as Keeper of the Keys and Successor of Peter, and as guarantor of those essentials, and above all, above all, hold to unchanging moral standards instead of allowing Secularist Amorality to seep steadily into and warp our Catholic thinking, what a different world it would be.

Anonymous said...

The Franciscan priest in the photo is not Cardinal O'Malley. It's Father Raniero Cantalamessa, a biggie in the so-called Charismatic movement.


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