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Posts Tagged ‘Protestantism’

Well, so you’ve probably heard that the largest body of Presbyterians in the U.S. have voted to allow gay clergy.    I’m not actually going to delve into that here because it is clear to me that mainline Protestantism is busy destroying itself from within.   The situation reminds me of the book of Judges which tells us what happens to the people when they have no king, and each man decides for himself:

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.  Judges 21:25

Now, the really funny thing about this quote and why it matches the situation with the Presbyterians so well is that it comes immediately after, and by way of explaining, the previous chapters concerning the tribe of Benjamin.  If you haven’t read it before, I won’t ruin it for you.  Suffice it to say that the chapters concern homosexuality, licentiousness, abuse, rape, murder, more murder, lies, cover-ups, chaos, mayhem and evil. 

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.

So…this is what the great reformation has wrought.  Everyone, every denomination doing what he thinks is best, and moral relativism’s grip gets tighter.

Oh, but I said I wasn’t going to discuss the Presbyterian Church situation, per se.  Right.  Okay, back to the point of this post.  What I want to talk about is the response to the Presbyterian Church situation, at least insofar as other more orthodox Protestants view it.  Which brings me to today’s article in Christianity Today, the magazine of Evangelical Christians.  In an article entitled, The Road to Gay Ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a Reformed Presbyterian theologian by the name of Dr. S. Donald Fortson III addresses the voted change to that denomination’s constitution.  Dr. Fortson is a Professor of Church History and Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary—Charlotte. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which (I learned from reading his article) broke away from the main body of the Presbyterian Church in anticipation that it was only a matter of time until the main body fell to “a pro-gay agenda relentlessly pressed until at length Presbyterians officially landed in the gay ordination camp”.   

The article itself is brilliant in its linguistic and theological acrobatics to say how wrong this decision by the PC(USA) is, how unbiblical and outside of tradition…without of course, admitting that the entire Protestant Reformation was…<ahem>…unbiblical and outside of tradition.  And of course, to make his point, this Reformed Presbyterian relies on the Church Fathers of the Catholic Church to make his case.  It’s a brilliant use of equivocation.**  Really, it’s brilliant

Here are some examples of Dr. Fortson’s theological heroics:

And church history is crystal clear: Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere, never, by no one in the history of Christianity. The church fathers insisted that doctrine and practice must be tested by Holy Scripture. In addition to careful exegesis, another test was catholicity, that is, what has been the universally accepted scriptural interpretation passed down in the church. (emphasis mine)

To what church is he referring?  the Presbyterian Church?  Or that other one

I kinda think he means this one

He continues–

When novel teachings were shown to fail both the careful scrutiny of Scripture and the consensus of the orthodox Fathers, heretical ideas were doubly condemned.

Um, gosh, could the ‘novel teachings’ he refers to be something like, I dunno…sola fidesola scriptura?  If you remember your history, they both failed the careful scrutiny of Scripture and the consensus of orthodox Fathers, not a one of whom supported either.  The reformers were the ones who championed these novel teachings.

He goes on to quote SAINT Vincent of Lerins (without “Saint” naturally) —

… if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly that is, by the authority of God’s Law [Scripture], then by the tradition of the Catholic [universal] Church. …[W]e take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.'”

Um, Dr. Fortson, I know you are a scholar and like a teacher of kids as well as an actual historian so I’m sure you realize that (this is embarrassing) but uh, you do realize that you misquoted a church father, right?  I am sure that you did not mean to suggest that St. Vincent, the Catholic monk said, “the univeral church” because of course, he didn’t.  He said, the Catholic Church.  Changing the name of the church would seem sorta like you are hiding or obfuscating facts and of course as a Professor of Reformed Theology…I know you wouldn’t do that.  I mean, it’s not like he was just some presbyter schmoo.  He was a monk.  So I’ll just correct it for you.  Here, let me correct your mistake.

‘… if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly that is, by the authority of God’s Law [Scripture], then by the tradition of the Catholic Church. …[W]e take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.'”

Yes, yes!  ‘the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere’…yes, the Presbyterian Church has been taking great care to hold onto that which has been believed since the time…er…well, since the time that it formed itself in defiance of that which was believed everywhere, always, and by all.  But I will take your word for it that since the time of their rejection of the universal beliefs of the universal church, they have been really really good at holding onto that which has been believed everywhere.  (So that is, what?  1541 or so?)

Dr. Fortson, now on a roll, heads toward his conclusion–

Christianity is a tradition; it is a faith with a particular ethos, set of beliefs and practices handed on from generation to generation. The Christian tradition may be understood as the history of what God’s people have believed and how they have lived based upon the Word of God. This tradition is not only a collection of accepted doctrines but also a set of lifestyle expectations for a follower of Christ. One of the primary things handed down in the Christian church over the centuries is a consistent set of …

I’m sorry!  I need to take a break.  Laughing too hard.  BRB!

kk, sorry, where were we?  oh yes…haha, we were talking about the Christian tradition, some of us more seriously than others.   Dr. Fortson now makes his dramatic and unintentionally Catholic and/or seriously hilarious conclusion regarding the matter at hand–

Revisionist biblical interpretations that purport to support homosexual practice are typically rooted in novel hermeneutical principles applied to Scripture, which produce bizarre interpretations of the Bible held nowhere, never, by no one. (emphasis mine)

So there you have it.  Typical Reformed Protestant absconds with Patristic Fathers, rewrites what they say to make them agree with his Protestant theology, and equivocates his way into agreeing completely with the position of the Holy Mother Church circa 1520 all the while still assuring himself and his wayward, defiant Protestant flock that while it is meet and right to condemn homosexuality via the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, because, well, you know, those Papists got it right on that one, but hey, don’t come waving your authority in my face!

Hahahahahaha.   I wish I had an nth of the intellect and scholarship of someone like Dr. Michael Barber who I know would see layers here that I do not.  Nevertheless, I  find this whole article ripe for satire and abuse.  I wonder if these earnest Sophists ever realize how absurd and hilarious they are!  God bless ’em. ***

**a quick lookup of the word “equivocation” reveals that its synonyms are misrepresentation, deceit and doublespeak.  To be charitable to Dr. Fortson, we are only using the definition of equivocation in the philosophical use, meaning a fallacy.

***and my original response via the comment section may not have been as charitable.  Mea culpa.

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Pope Benedict making the Sign of the Cross

 

Over at Catholic Answers, I came across this this link on a forum posting.  The minister at a very large Methodist Church in Texas has a series of sermons about different Christian faith traditions, in very charitable and ecumenical presentations. 

The series started with his appreciation of Roman Catholicism.  I listened to it and was very moved.  Not only would Protestants brothers and sisters benefit from it, but we Catholics as well.  Overall, the pastor gave a very fair presentation.  (A couple of his historical dates seem influenced by his Protestant background, e.g. the date of the establishment of Roman papal authority.)  But his historical overview is generally acceptable.  It’s what he has to say about the things he appreciates in Catholics where this sermon gets going, and surprising.  I’ve never known any Protestant to admire our Purgatory beliefs, for instance.   What else does our Methodist brother appreciate?  Not surprising: our commitment to life issues, our steadfastness against cultural attacks, and our work with the poor.  Oh, and of course, Authority.  Surprising: Sacramentals, liturgy, reverent ritualized prayer, candles, and the Sign of the Cross.  He even tackles the sex abuse scandal.

I got a bit choked up listening to it.

Here is the minister, Dr. Ed Robb, preaching on “Why I appreciate the Roman Catholics“.  (there is a video option as well).  Take time to listen to it; it just may make you appreciate your faith more.

The Woodlands UMC

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The increasingly reliable Daily Mail‘s headline tells the tale:

Babies who are born at 23 weeks should be left to die, says NHS chief

The British daily has found the official with Britain’s National Health Service, Dr Daphne Austin being quoted in a BBC documentary saying:

‘We are doing more harm than good by resuscitating 23-weekers. I can’t think of very many interventions that have such poor outcomes.

‘For me the big issue is that we’re spending an awful lot of money on treatments that have very marginal benefit.

‘I would prefer to free up that money to spend on providing support to people who have much more lifelong chronic conditions.’

This official, we are told, advises what treatments and care should be funded in the West Midlands region.  In other words, lives depend on her authorization.  And she would “prefer to free up that money” than treating the babies.

She claimed keeping them alive is only ‘prolonging their agony’, and it would be better to invest the money in care for cancer sufferers or the disabled.

And what might be the ‘prolonged agony’ that would warrant killing these children? Why, “blindness, deafness and cerebral palsy”, of course!  What a horrible drain on society are the blind, deaf and disabled.  Do you think that Annie Sullivan thought much the same of her student, Helen Keller?  That Helen was a drain on the financial resources of her family and her country?  I doubt it.  

Why is this little throwaway article important to us Christians? Because we know intuitively that what this official is suggesting with respect to 23-week preemies is just the latest salvo in the war to drag Western society into a full-blown embrace of euthanasia for the disable, sick and marginalized. 

The Daily Mail helpfully introduces us to the horrible effects of allowing 23-weekers to remain alive. Meet Molly Griffith.

Apparently, The Daily Mail is not fooled by this doctor’s neo-rational argument.  Again surprising and delighting this Catholic blogger, the paper introduces us to Molly Griffith, who would ostensibly be the kind of child that Dr. Austin is looking to kill off.  When she was born prematurely at 23 weeks, she could fit into the palm of a hand.  She is missing a kidney, has epilepsy, and one side is weaker than the other.  But the NHS did not have the sort of cost-cutting twelve years ago, and she endured, growing into a happy, energetic and normal child.  And if the picture of Molly tells us anything, it is that “lifelong chronic conditions” do not deprive human beings of love, joy, intellect, meaning, and above all, life.  Euthanasia does.

 
Notably, the Church of England, bastion of moral relativism that it is, (again) declines to take a stand for life, morality and Christ.  Blessedly, The Daily Mail apparently will.
 
God bless The Daily Mail.

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I’ve been in conversations with my Protestant friends lately, particular one young evangelical I love.  I’ve been trying to get them to read the Bible.  Does that sound funny?  It strikes me as being not a little ironic, for the Catholic mom to be urging young Evangelicals to read the Bible.  They all own one…I’m just not sure how much actual reading goes on.  If you don’t count the apps that send a little out-of-context verses to their phone or the daily Scripture passage widget on their high-tech church websites (because we are evangelizing through the media, you know), I’m not sure they actually ever read the Bible. 

So, here we have Christians who genuinely love Jesus, profess a great faith, who ardently defend sola scriptura, and who do not read the Bible

So what is forming the faith of these youngsters?  What understanding do they have of their beliefs?  of Christianity and their own particular denomination / sect / bible church?  Well, where they are getting their religious beliefs from seem to be mostly two-fold:

  1. Church services which are a lengthy sermon (usually not much theology there) and worship music
  2. Contemporary Christian Music and … uh…more worship music

So the majority of the doctrinal teaching for many Protestant youth (and most Evangelical kids) is — as far as I can tell — worship music.   And today’s worship music either lacks doctrine or (in a surprising number of instances) contains bad doctrine.  There, I said it.  Modern Christian worship music is bad theology.  I used to think it was sort of repetitious and bland, saccharine and, um..repetitious.  Then I began to think more deeply about it and realized that actually, the music oftens conveys a bad theology.  It’s leading our Christian youth and young people down a bad path.  (I know I’ve promised the post about the dangers of the rising popular Christian music industry a gazillion times.  This is still not that post.  Sorry!)

The above tirade is my rambling way of introducing the real subject of this post, which is that our protesting Protestant brethren are still trying to bring Catholic practices into their Protestant lives.  It’s funny really. 

Here are three articles in this month’s Christianity Today:

COVER PACKAGE
Practically Theological
How churches are teaching doctrine—and finding eager participants.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey | posted 3/15/2010 09:33AM

COVER PACKAGE
The Lost Art Of Catechesis
It’s a tried and true way of teaching, among other things, Christian doctrine.
J. I. Packer and Gary A. Parrett | posted 3/12/2010 10:31AM

COVER STORY
The Mind Under Grace
Why a heady dose of doctrine is crucial to spiritual formation.
Darren C. Marks | posted 3/12/2010 10:30AM

Although I’m being facetitious in my introductory comments, I want to make sure that I make it clear that I am actually very relieved to see that CT is tackling the problem of the lack of doctrinal teaching among Protestant Christians, particularly in the Evangelical movement.  I actually know one Christian young man who does not seem to understand that we believe in a Triune God.  Yes, yes, we need to love God, we need to burn for Him.  But we also need to know God.  Faith AND Reason.  If I hear one more time, “isn’t it really all about loving Jesus?” or “let’s not get hung up on non-salvation issues” or “it’s about Jesus NOT religion“, I’m going to throw my copy of the Catechism at their head.  All that love and fervor, yet no real understanding of the credos of their faith just leads to heresies and Joel Osteen. 

Yeah, I know — Go work on my big post I keep promising.  Meh.

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When my oldest son first started to attend a preschool/daycare, I chose for him a little preschool at a local Evangelical church.  I could have chosen the fancy new daycare attached to the mega Methodist Temple, or another daycare at a similarly large Bethel Christian church.  But no, I fell in love with the slightly rundown but very sincere daycare at the little Evangelical church.  I clearly did not do enough research though because unbeknownst to me, that little church was building what I later dubbed, The Gigantic Gymnasium on the Plains…yes, a megachurch.  Within the year, we were moved out from our charming little house daycare center to this hospital-sized structure that needed wall mounted maps to direct us where we were going.  /sigh

I learned alot about that style of Evangelicalism though.  Enough to know that this video is hilariously spot-on.  Enjoy!

*What if Starbucks marketed like churches? 

I suppose it is beyond ironic that this video is created by folks intent to sell their church marketing ideas to the ‘culturally strategic church’.  Thank you again God, for allowing me the great gift of being born into a Catholic family!

see also this.  Are these made by Protestants, cause…they surely are hitting the Evangelicals hard.

h/t Catholic Youth Ministry Blog  Javalleluia.

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 In today’s liturgy we read Paul in 1 Corinthians.

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea,  

and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  
All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink,
for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them,  and the rock was the Christ.  
Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert.  
 These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did.  
 
Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer.  
These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. 
Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. 1 cor 10:1-6, 10-12

Paul draws the comparison between the disobediant Israelites under Moses to those present Christians in Corinth.  God sent the Israelites a savior from their bondage in Egypt (Moses) as He would send the “new Moses” Christ Jesus to lead mankind from its bondage in sin.  The Israelites passed through cloud (Spirit) and sea (water) just as we are now baptized.  God provided real and spiritual food and drink for their sustenance, just as Jesus now provides His real body and blood which we eat and drink for our spiritual wellness.  As the Israelites participated as a community, so do we. 

Yet, with all that God had done for the Israelites, most fell into grumbling, idol-worshipping, and disobedience and were “struck down in the desert.”  They did not complete the forty years wanderings to make it to the promised land.

Paul warns us that just like them, we may suffer (eternal) death, though we too have been chosen by God, saved through baptism of water and spirit, and have eaten and drunk from the communal cup.  At any time, we may fall back into idolatrous behavior, in other words, Sin! 

The doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved is a false assurance.  Though God fills our lives with blessings and provides the grace necessary to sustain and save us, at any time any of us might fall into temptation, a fall that may take us away from salvation, just as the Israelites – for whom God sent Moses, performed miraculous deeds and parted the sea – were eventually struck down in the desert.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 13:1-9) , we see that the owner of the fig tree is disgusted that so much time has passed, yet his tree has not born fruit.  Why should he not cut it down?  But the vine dresser offers to provide a year’s worth of extra nurturing.  One more chance for the fig tree to show its worth and do credit to the owner. 

God is patient with us as we find our way to Him…and back to Him.  But remember that despite His infinite patience, a time will come when we will be called to account and on that day, we will pass the test, or we will be cut down.  Some people might think this is unfair.  Why?  hasn’t God provided Jesus Christ for our salvation?  the words of life in the Gospels and in the other books of the Scripture?  the apostolic priesthood to be reconciled to Him and from which to receive the sacraments?  the holy Church to teach and guide us?  grace to sustain us?  the Holy Spirit to lead us?  Some say a loving God would not abandon us because of our sinful ways, because we are doomed to fall to temptation.  I say, our God loves us as any good father does, and therefore, expects us to do our best.

If today you observe yourself and you are doing the modern equivalent of dancing around a golden calf, then today is the day to repent.

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I missed this news, too.  Forward in Faith Australia voted UNANIMOUSLY to explore conversion to the Catholic Church.  CNA has a good report:

Melbourne, Australia, Feb 18, 2010 / 05:34 am (CNA).- By a unanimous vote, the Anglo-Catholic group Forward in Faith Australia has established a working party guided by a Catholic bishop to explore how its followers can convert to Roman Catholicism.

The group, which also has members in Britain and the United States, is believed to be the first within the Anglican Church to accept Pope Benedict XVI’s offer to create an Anglican Ordinariate, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The Ordinariate, a form of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, will enable Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining parts of their spiritual heritage.

Bishop David Robarts, chairman of Forward in Faith Australia (FIFA), said members felt excluded by the Anglican Church in Australia, which had not provided them with a bishop to represent their views on homosexuality and women bishops.

“In Australia we have tried for a quarter of a decade to get some form of episcopal oversight but we have failed,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “We’re not really wanted any more, our conscience is not being respected.”

Bishop Robarts, 77, said it had become clear Anglicans who did not believe in same-sex partnerships or the consecration of women as bishops had no place in the “broader Anglican spectrum.”

“We’re not shifting the furniture, we’re simply saying that we have been faithful Anglicans upholding what Anglicans have always believed,” he continued. “We’re not wanting to change anything, but we have been marginalized by people who want to introduce innovations.”

“We need to have bishops that believe what we believe,” he added, saying that converting to Rome would allow the group to retain their Anglican culture without sacrificing their beliefs.

The unanimous vote to investigate the establishment of an Ordinariate was held last Saturday at a Special General Meeting of FIFA at All Saints Kooyong in Melbourne.

The meeting issued a statement saying it received with “great gratitude” Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution proposing the Ordinariate. It also expressed commitment to care and support those who feel unable to be received into the Ordinariate.

The FIFA meeting “warmly welcomed” the appointment of Bishop Peter Elliott as a delegate of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. It also established a working group called Friends of the Australian Ordinariate, inviting FIFA members and other interested persons to provide their names and addresses to the group.

Bishop Robarts said his group was the first Forward In Faith branch to embrace Pope Benedict’s offer so strongly. Other Anglo-Catholics are waiting to see if the Anglican Church will allow them significant concessions on the introduction of women bishops, such as a male-only diocese.

The Traditional Anglican Communion, which has already broken away from the Anglican Communion, is another group to have declared that its members will become Catholic under the Apostolic Constitution.

In other Anglo-Catholic news, Telegraph reporter Damian Thompson reported on Feb. 17 that the former assistant Anglican Bishop of Newcastle Paul Richardson was received into full communion with the Church in January. He served as an Anglican bishop in Papua New Guinea and was diocesan bishop of Wangaratta in Australia.

Richardson said he was not planning to join the Ordinariate but has not ruled out ordination as a Catholic priest.

Copyright © CNA
(http://www.catholicnewsagency.com)

To say that the current Anglican Community is “marginalizing” the Traditionalists is a gross understatement.  It seems to this independent observer that the Communion has de facto booted them.  They have no say at all, and are not even given lip service. 

If Forward in Faith Australia wishes to join our Holy Mother Church, then let me be the first to welcome them.

Australian Anglo-Catholic group votes to explore conversion to Catholicism :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

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