Can you be too catholic to understand Catholicism?

Peter Leithart is. He has a series of questions for those moving away from Protestantism to Catholicism. I’m not a Catholic, although I am a pretty high church Protestant, so I’m going to answer these questions from experience. His questions are in bold. My reply is in blue.

Here’s the question I would ask to any Protestant considering a move: What are you saying about your past Christian experience by moving to Rome or Constantinople?  

The same thing anyone says about any move in Christianity. That they are growing. 

Are you willing to start going to a Eucharistic table where your Protestant friends are no longer welcome?  How is that different from Peter’s withdrawal from table fellowship with Gentiles?  

Would Peter accept a Eucharistic table with emergents? Cool, if he does, but does he realize how many Protestants are against the Open Table concept? That is has a long standing history in Protestantism? That many churches, sects, and denominations practice the Lord’s Supper being given only to members or members in good standing? Is this all that different? Is it wrong? 

Are you willing to say that every faithful saint you have known is living a sub-Christian existence because they are not in churches that claim apostolic succession, no matter how fruitful their lives have been in faith, hope, and love?  

See the above question and think about how Peter’s post on Catholicism fits into his question. He is saying the exact same thing about Catholics that Catholics, he believes, says about him. 

via Peter J. Leithart » Blog Archive » Too catholic to be Catholic.

There is more in the post, but you’ll have to read it.

I love mirrors, because sometimes, the best ones, are those which we look into and think we are looking at someone else. Peter is not too catholic to be Catholic. He practices much of the same beliefs he sees as pitiful in others.

And honestly, icons are awesome. So is the host. If I could get my home church to put the un-eaten portions of the host into a container for meditation, I would – and don’t think that I haven’t asked, repeatedly.

Scripture isn’t a boundary, but a starting point and a guide. If Peter really feels like the Church can only permit what Scripture explicitly teachers, then he should not be Reformed, or Christian.

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6 Replies to “Can you be too catholic to understand Catholicism?”

  1. “Too catholic to become Catholic”? — to clever by half.

    As someone who is capping 20 years of formal biblical and theological study — and the last 12 months of focused reflection — by being received into the RCC at Mass tomorrow evening, I found Leithart’s essay humorous but not remotely substantive.

    Thanks for the link — I don’t normally see his essays unless they are in First Things.

  2. I’m Presbyterian and my current theological reading is Jerry Walls’ book on Purgatory and the excellent Introduction to Catholicism by Lawrence Cunningham. Gone are the days when I’d waste my time on Banner of Truth stuff.

  3. I must’ve missed the part in the Catechism where it says that if you convert to Catholicism you are saying that: “every faithful saint you have known is living a sub-Christian existence because they are not in churches that claim apostolic succession, no matter how fruitful their lives have been in faith, hope, and love”. I thought Protestants were separated brethren in whose communions the Holy Spirit is active through the word of God and baptism.

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