guilty as charged

  • You refer to other religions as "Non-Catholic."

I was recently explaining my version of the Christian Family Tree. Fortunately, when you googlesearch that term, you get this lovely article from Catholic Update as the first thing on the list, and I'm glad for that- because there's so much misinformation out there.

Wikipedia, for example, presents this version most of the uninformed populace probably hold, if they've ever casually glanced at a history book or browsed Wikipedia:

One can hardly blame them for its glaring inaccuracies. They clearly haven't a clue.

And when Protestant denominations multiplicate like rabbits in heat, one can hardly blame the secular world for getting it wrong. Consider the Presbyterians and what actually passes for a 'visual aid' in someone's book:
It looks like the schematic for a pipe system in a boiler room!

You can basically sort Protestants into various categories: Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist, etc. But what's really needed is a map of who broke off from whom on and on down the line. Because everyone broke off from someone before them, ad finitum. But who has the time or inclination?

Until then, here's the condensed version:

Christ established One Church- it is Holy, it carries on the mission of the Apostles, and it is a universal communion of faithful who practice different rites. In 1054, some of those faithful decided to carry on the mission of the Apostles outside of that universal communion. Five centuries later, various individuals decided to carry out their own mission outside of that universal communion.

Thus we have to two kinds of Christians:
1. Those who are Catholic.
2. Those who used to be Catholic.


Kt said...

The word "Catholic" has two definitions, and despite which one you're using I would still have to disagree with your concluding statement. Let me explain. Protestant churches still say the word "catholic" in the Apostle's/Nicene creed, not to mean the Roman Catholic Church, but the universal church of Jesus Christ which encompasses all believers. So if you're using this definition, your conclusion becomes 1)Those who believe and 2)Those who used to believe. But of course those who used to believe no longer can be called Christians.

I read your conclusion using the other definition, that you meant specifically the Roman Catholic Church. Again, I disagree. The goal of the Reformation and of modern Protestant churches is to break free from centuries of human-imposed hubris and unbiblical doctrine, returning to the model of how early believers lived and worshipped. We never "used to be Catholic" because we believe much of Catholic doctrine strays away from Christ's original message, and so we skip over it altogether. And if you're talking about denominations, not individuals, you still have to take into account early branches that have continued to evolve since the first church which have never been affiliated with the RCC, such as various orthodox groups.

There's my two cents. I did enjoy the nonsensical pipe diagrams of denominations, though. Seriously, does anyone in the Presbyterian church actually use those things?

SWP said...

The Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Churches are the only ones that perpetuate the model that early believers lived and worshipped, as described in Acts.

I say Catholic Churches and Orthodox Churches together because the 'various orthodox groups' to which you refer have always been affiliated with the RCC. The Holy See in Rome has always recognized the apostolic authority of the See of Constantinople and the other churches of the east; the Schism was a failure of the eastern Patriarchs to recognize the supremacy of the See of Peter, but they do not argue that the See of Peter still has apostolic authority equal to the Patriarchs, because that's ecclesiastical reality.

How can I say that these patriarchs in Rome and Byzantium lead the only churches that still perpetuate the model described in Acts? Because they have Deacons, Priests, and Bishops who gather the faithful in celebration of the Eucharist. How do we know that this is the model of life and worship for the earliest christians?

Let's consult Ignatius of Antioch, one of the earliest christians, who said in AD110 in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans: "You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop.

"Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church"

Or we could consult Clement of Rome in his Letter to the Corinthians in AD80: "Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached; and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty: for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier"

And who was writing earlier than that? St.Paul who described himself as a minister using the term "diakonos" 1 Cor. 3:5, 2 Cor. 3:6, 6:4, 11:23, Eph. 3:7, Col. 1:23, 25

One could also consult the Acts of the Apostles 6:1-6, 14:23, 21:8 and the leters to Timothy and Titus.

I'm glad to see you are willing to recognize the existence of a universal Church of Jesus Christ which encompasses all believers. I think this is where our devotion to Christ in each other needs to outweigh our devotion to our particular views about Christ, a place we so often find ourselves in our friendship, Katie.

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