Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ecumenism: From Preacherman's blog

If you're from Preacherman's blog, and you're willing to enter into dialog about my recent comment there, this is the place. Please, if you comment here, stick around to hear my response. And don't slander the Church; I will delete comments that are untruthful or vicious. (And I don't delete comments often!)


Mork said...

I'm not here to debate, I want you to know that I appreciated your comments on the Preacherman's Blog though I strongly disagree with a couple of things you said - for example the argument of ignorance is pretty condescending to a lot of great men and woman of faith and intelligance.

I am not here to debate - he said/she said.

But,I just want you to know, that it is a pity that people on both sides of the debate can not be as open and honest as you. I wish you well on your journey.

japhy said...

Let me give an example of ignorance that might clarify what I meant by it. At the time of the Reformation, there were certain historical Christian documents (like the writings of St. Justin Martyr from the early-to-mid second century) that were not available -- they had not been discovered. These early documents give context to the Catholic Church's interpretation of Scripture and other traditions.

But without knowledge of this support of Catholic tradition (especially such ancient support), that tradition appears to be something the Church invented later on down the road.

That's what I meant.

Anonymous said...

Japhy...let me say first of all, way to go in setting an example of patient understanding in linking Preacherman's blogpost to your rather than "hijack" with all of your thoughts. It shows some great empathy.

Good conversations. Japhy, here's one of the questions I tend to have in a "Catholic Church" conversation. This is coming from a pastor within a "Church of Christ" although I'll be the first to admit, I consider myself first and foremost a Follower of Christ that lives within a certain heritage; a heritage that is both flawed, and yet, having a great tradition in bibilical authority. I am a Church Planter as well, and so missiology is big on my radar.

Ok, the question...when Catholics (foregive the stereotype) make reference back to the "one church from Peter" I suppose I'm always curious, Which church? I do believe in one universal church that is absolutely grounded on the identity of the God/Man Jesus Christ, but as I look over the landscape of history, the church has expressed itself in a variety of ways. I happen to believe that the "variety" is healthy as it means that the Gospel is being contextualized throughout the world.

I'll do some digging for some better examples, but it seems like even the "Catholic Church" (and by that I mean that formal institution) has not been completely unified throughout history.

I'd love to hear some thoughts and, obviously, how you understand it as one within the Catholic tradition. Thanks for the opportunity to be on your blog. Grace.

japhy said...

Dwayne, thanks for coming over here to continue the discussion. Let me get right to your questions.

When Catholics make reference back to the "one church from Peter" ... I'm always curious: which church?

At first glance, I take this to mean "The church in Philippi? or Corinth? or Galatia? or Rome? etc." Let me answer this geographical issue first (although it probably isn't what you were referring to). The Catholic Church is made up of "autonomous particular Churches" which are in turn comprised of "local particular Churches" (dioceses governed by a bishop). The "autonomous particular Churches" share a specific liturgical and canonical (i.e. legal) tradition. For a particular Church to be considered "Catholic", it must be in communion with the particular Church in Rome (whose bishop is the Pope). Where I'm going with this is: the churches that Paul set up through Asia Minor were in some sense autonomous, because they had their own bishops (episkopoi). However (and you as a "Church Planter" can relate to this), St. Paul had authority to instruct each one of them and keep them in line when they began to stray from the faith. This means that, while the churches were autonomous, they were united to one another because of their obedience to the faith. ALL the churches had to obey the decision of the Council of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15). So then, even though there are many particular Churches (and several different "Rites" in the Catholic Church -- Roman, Byzantine, Melkite, Ruthenian, etc.) they are all One Church because they all hold the entirety of the Catholic and Apostolic faith.

But like I said, I think you were going deeper than geography. You continued: I do believe in one universal church that is absolutely grounded on the identity of the God/Man Jesus Christ, but as I look over the landscape of history, the church has expressed itself in a variety of ways.

I will probably need some examples of the "expressions" of the "one universal church" that suggest to you that the there is not a historical continuity between the Catholic Church of today and the Catholic Church of A.D. 50.

Certainly, the liturgies in the Church have developed and changed, but the liturgy is (among other things) an expression of the faith of the Church directed to the perfect worship of God the Father. The faith became more deeply understood as time went on, but it did not ever change; the Council of Jerusalem is one such instance of the Church coming to a fuller understanding of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

I'd like to know more about what you mean by "the 'Catholic Church' ... has not been completely unified throughout history".