Friday Confessions: I’ll die a Catholic

I mean, of course, if I live long enough.

No worries, I do not see swimming the Tiber in the near future, but Roman Catholicism has a draw to me that is pretty interesting.  I am drawn by the connection to the past. You have to understand, the idea of individual popes no longer holds an attraction to me. I find great comfort in the UMC because it does make use of a tradition beyond the last pastor, but as Protestantism breaks down (and no, I do not consider Pentecostalism Protestantism), I doubt that it will be too long before the UMC goes the way of the EC. The way I see it, a portion of the UMC will end up SBC while another part will end up RC and still yet will end up who knows where. A solid hierarchical control, such as we see in Rome, is needed if Christianity is to continue in the West. But then more than that. Overall, Protestantism, if followed to its logical conclusion, allows for a different Christianity with each person, and finally, no Christianity. Protestantism is fine, in an individualistic society – oh wait, you see the oxymoron there, don’t you?

I like the Saints, the focus on Tradition, the use of Scripture, and the adoration of Mary. I like the constant flow of Christianity through Catholicism that I see. I do not yet agree with the Pope, however, nor with unmarried priests, and a few other things, but I can respect the decisions made to get Rome to those points. I also can respect the decisions that will, I hope, move Rome slowly to a Vatican III, or IV. I like the fact that Rome does not move fast.

Something else, I suppose. I like the High Church of Rome, the doctrines (many, not all), and the variety of orders. I like the difference of opinions and viewpoints shared throughout Catholicism. That is the necessary Protestantism, the nuns on a bus and the priests who oppose them. I like the Benedictines.

I suppose, if Rome adopted Wesley, more UMC’ers would get wet.

Not for me, not yet. I am a very happy Methodist, and so is my family. I will continue to pray the rosary from time to time, mediate on Mary, remember the Church Fathers, and hope for a broadening of the Church hierarchy.

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20 Replies to “Friday Confessions: I’ll die a Catholic”

  1. “Overall, Protestantism, if followed to its logical conclusion, allows for a different Christianity with each person, and finally, no Christianity.”

    Joel, is that really how you think of Protestantism? As a sort of “aint nobody gonna tell me what to believe but Jesus” thing? Have a look through something like Keith Mathison’s book on Sola Scriptura, because right now you’re caricaturing Protestantism as badly as the anti-Protestant apologists.

      1. Yeah, but the principles of Protestantism, in its historic sense anyway, don’t lead to that conclusion. And as for SS being a myth, again, not in its historic sense. It was not intended as a method where I, in isolation, can just use the Bible and reach the conclusions that seem true to me. That’s why a work like Mathison’s would be helpful, it irons out that misunderstanding.

          1. No, not at all. Historic Protestantism is what formulated the idea of Sola Scriptura, and it was not formulated in the way it is typically lampooned.

          2. And I understand that – but by appealing to Tradition (through formulation), aren’t you destroying the philosophy of sola scriptura?

          3. It doesn’t make sense to me that appealing to the correct formulation of sola scriptura could undermine sola scriptura. If you think it does, I have to think that your conception of sola scriptura is not the historic one. This is why I recommend Mathison’s work.

  2. “I am drawn by the connection to the past.”

    I agree, I think that this is an attractive thing to most Christians. Moreover, I don’t think that this has to happen exclusively within Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, or Anglicanism.

    Protestantism, in many earlier instantiations, viewed itself as fully connected to the entirety of Christian history. It seems to have lost this over the past century or two, beginning to see 1517 as the beginning of history. Thankfully, there is a strong movement to revive the connection. For instance, I teach a Sunday School class every few years on Early Christian history and how we are connected to it as both a community and theologically. The course is usually exceptionally well attended. Our church (Presbyterian) has also moved towards weekly communion and recitation of the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed every week. There are other very encouraging moves this direction within Protestantism – the creation of the Early Christian Studies program at Wheaton, including a PhD program, as well as the work of Thomas Oden, highlighted in the Ancient Christian Commentary series. Also, concerning your tradition, two well-regarded Methodist universities – Duke and Emory – have Patristics scholars on staff who are Protestants…Warren Smith and Anthony Briggman. I hope that’s encouraging to you in some way.

    1. Bryce, Agreed with all of it, but early protestants are different than today. Today, they are getting further and further away from any meaningful connection to the Church Fathers.

  3. Maybe several million Protestant fundies need to read that Mathison book. Then understand it. Then take it to heart.

    If only fixing Protestantism was as easy as reading a book.

    Looking around the Protestant landscape it’s difficult not to conclude that Protestantism is a busted flush. And I say that as a lifelong Protestant.

  4. I agree with you in that there’s a lot in Catholic theology that I, too, find beautiful. I guess I’m technically still a Protestant, although I don’t hold to sola Scriptura and question other bedrock Protestant doctrines. Good post.

  5. If the UMC should end (or end up EC like), I’ll gladly go back to my Wesleyan and Nazarene roots if need be – do I like the liturgy of the UMC? Yes, but the theology is what is most important to me, and at least I know I still have options left that believe the exact same things, they just don’t practice church in exactly the same way…

    That said, I do understand your draw to the RCC…

  6. we lose connection to the church fathers because the church generally doesn’t teach church history – thats reserved for those unspiritual theologian types.. we’re obviously better off with “12 steps to effective christian living” and “blame the devil for everything you do wrong..”

    I dont think *proper* protestantism is on the decline, I think the Church is, and that includes all churches (i’d also suggest the UMC is long past it’s best by date..).

    What we need is for the church (and the unchurched) is to realise that we are all messed up, that’s why we’re in a church in the first place. And get off our high horses, and re-educate ourselves (starting over like little kids), about what’s required to live in the Kingdom (love, compassion, forgiveness..).

    As most importantly… stop letting any old person be a pastor. And ban Joyce Meyer, Tak Bhana and chuck swindel (yes, I know that’s not how its spelt).

  7. “a few other things”! Really? Protecting pederasts is just etc. to you? Or maybe it doesn’t even mean that much: “I like the fact that Rome does not move fast.” No, they sure don’t. And any movement at all is usually being dragged kicking and screaming.

      1. Actually, it’s bigotry. Again, I say that as a Protestant, raised in a very anti-Catholic (bigoted) culture (Northern Ireland Protestantism in the Sixties).

    1. Yeah, I didn’t say it was all of them or even most. In fact, I focused on the hierarchy’s protection of pederasts, not the pederasts themselves. This well-documented and immoral practice cannot be shoved to the side when considering the Catholic Church. Even in a short blog post. It matters.

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