Tuesday, July 10, 2007

News Flash: Pope affirms Roman Catholicism

I think the above title reflects well recent movements from Benedict XVI who has been spending his theological captial "correcting" the "mistakes" of Vatican II. According to this press release, he apparently has claimed that "Orthodox churches are defective and other Christian churches are not true churches." Boy, shocking--on the order of dog bites man. As Benedict goes on to explain in the article, "Christ 'established here on earth' only one church," the document said. The other communities "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense" because they do not have apostolic succession — the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ's original apostles.

And this remains one of the fundamental challenges that the Roman Catholic Church still presents to Protestantism--how is it possible to affirm "one holy catholic and apostolic church" when Protestantism is broken into hundreds of denominations? For Roman Catholics, the only way to preserve unity is to point to apostolic succession, a line of ordination that goes back to the apostles. For Protestants, the means for unity is also apostolic succession, but it is a succession of commitment to the apostolic message and mission (Ephesians 2:11-22; Matthew 28:16-20). As the authority of Word and Spirit continues to be observed in Protestant churches, we manifest the unity of Christ's church even in the midst of our denominational groupings.

7 comments:

Jordan Mark Siverd said...

Pastor Lucas,

Shouldn't the same principle apply within our denominations as well? Namely, that we require nothing more of our ministers with respect to their faith (or worship?) than that it bow before the Spirit speaking in the Word through conformity to the apostolic message and mission (WCF XX.2)? If so, it seems that the FV Study Committee Report (perhaps due to an unfortunate GA mandate) took an approach that was sectarian in a way that, in principle, was similar to that of Benedict XVI.

Granted, ministers must conform as a matter of external conduct to the lawful requirements of the church (WCF XX.4), but I don't see how we can ask anything more of their consciences than what God has already asked, without adding to the Word in usurpation of the Spirit's unique authority (WCF I.6 n.12 and accompanying text; see also Rev. 22:18).

How do you see the answer to this question? How can you claim that Benedict's approach to other churches is methodologically wrong while the FV Committee's approach to our own church was methodologically right?

"Veni, Domine Jesu."

Jordan Mark Siverd
New Orleans, Louisiana

Wayne said...

I'm inclined to agree with the Pope that he is being consistent with the RCC's position, good for him. However, he's wrong about Prelacy. It is the Message and Mission that was lost in "Authority" and "Pride". God forbid that the RCC should be open to reform in light of Scriptural reproof. They would rather claim they are orthodox rather than actually being orthodox.

Wayne

Sean Michael Lucas said...

Hi, Jordan:

Wow--I'm not sure how you got from the Pope's comments to the study committee. And I'm not really sure how the two sets of issues are similar even a little bit. As a result, I'm going to decline to entertain your thought-exercise.

Best, sml

Jordan Mark Siverd said...

Ha! Yes, I see what you mean. I filtered your post through the lens of my mind, applying something a computer science teacher of mine once dubbed "Jordan logic." =)

Notwithstanding my failure to articulate the connection very well, I am sincerely concerned that our approach to the FV situation perhaps inadvertently placed our church over the Word (as a functional matter) rather than under it vis-à-vis individual conscience -- an error which also animates (though less accidentally) the CDF's recent papally-ratified statement. But you're probably wiser than I to suggest that such questions are not well-suited for the comments-section of a blogpost! =)

As I've previously stated, I am grateful to you and the other committee members for your work even if I have some concerns about the final product.

Well, I hope things are good in St. Louis. Keep up the good work and the inspiring blogposts!

"Veni, Domine Jesu."

Jordan Mark Siverd
New Orleans, Louisiana

pilgrim said...

I just commented on this as well. Apparently some Protestants are riled, yet this is the Pope being Catholic. The question of Apostolic succession assumes mroe than it answers, and your response is along the same lines as the one I give when presented with this "proof."

It is also true that the RCC is as fragmented as Protestanatism, it just looks more united organizationally. But doctrinally it is not.

Principium unitatis said...

Hello Sean,

I discuss the last two sentences of your article in my post titled Sacramental Apostolic Succession and Ecumenical Unity.

- Bryan

Anonymous said...

Re:
First-hello to Jordan. This is David, an old Latin Mass RCC friend from BSF 04:
Pilgrim: You stated that RCC is "as fragmented as Protestantism, it just looks more united organizationally. But doctrically it is not." You are sincerely mistaken. The teachings of Holy Mother Church are constant and true. Those Catholics who dissent have put themselves outside of full communion, even if they "appear" to be practicing their faith. Our Lord promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against His Church. That promise will remain unbroken until the end of time. Unfortunately today, a huge percentage (perhaps as many as 90%+) baptized Catholics are outside of full communion. These poor souls are only step away from formally rejecting Christ and His Church by joining the revolution to which you cling. You also make a false distinction between the "organization" and some unnamed thing-this is a common error among protestants as they have no ecclesiology. The only proper distinction is to discuss the individual sinful members who make up the hierarchy.