Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Catholic and Protestant Dialogue

The Ignatius Insight blog has had a lot of good stuff lately. Most recently it is an interview with Mark Brumley on differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. It points out that there are real differences in the theories of justification, but that is not the biggest barrier. The biggest differences are the Papacy, Mary, and efficacy of the Sacraments.

Of course, these sorts of differences are fairly minor - on the order of differences between Protestant denominations. For example, Presbyterians and Baptists disagree about infant baptism. Similarly, there are arguments about "real presence" in the Eucharist.

It reminds me that it is not our theology which saves us. We must have enough theology to have the right Jesus (without the right Jesus, you do not have the Father). But we must agree on the major and overlook the minor.


braverdave said...

Sprinklers and dunkers.
Kneelers and slouchers ;)

I come from a Mennonite background. Amish and Hutterites are offshoots of Mennonites with Mennonites generally being more accepting of modern things like electricity and indoor plumbing.

Mennonite theology emphasizes the primacy of the teachings of Jesus as recorded in New Testament scripture. They hold in common the ideal of a religious community based on New Testament models and imbued with the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount. Their core beliefs deriving from Anabaptist traditions are:

The authority of Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

Salvation through conversion by the Spirit of God.

Believer's baptism understood as threefold: Baptism by the spirit (internal change of heart), baptism by water (public demonstration of witness), and baptism by blood (martyrdom and asceticism or the practice of strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline).

Discipleship understood as an outward sign of an inward change.
Discipline in the church, informed by New Testament teaching, particularly of Jesus (for example Matthew 18:15-18). Some Mennonite churches practice the Meidung (shunning).

The Lord's Supper understood as a memorial rather than as a sacrament or Christian rite, ideally shared by baptized believers within the unity and discipline of the church.

One of the earliest expressions of their faith was the Schleitheim Confession, adopted on February 24, 1527. Its seven articles covered:

Believer's baptism

The Ban (excommunication)

Breaking of bread (Communion)

Separation from and shunning of the abomination (the Roman Catholic Church and other "worldly" groups and practices)

Pastors in the church

Renunciation of the sword (nonresistance, nonviolence and pacifism)

Renunciation of the oath (swearing as proof of truth)

The Dordrecht Confession of Faith was adopted on April 21, 1632, by Dutch Mennonites, by Alsatian Mennonites in 1660, and by North American Mennonites in 1725. There is no official creed or catechism of which acceptance is required by congregations or members. However, there are structures and traditions taught as in the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective[15] of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.

(excerted from Mennonite Theology)

I just moved recently, from a small town to a smaller town, and fortunately there is a small Mennonite Church just down the road. When my grandparents and my father first came to this country after World War 2 (through sponsorship by Mennonite churches already established in Canada after WW1) some of the first church services they attended were held in barns of various church members.

Most of my clothes have buttons but I do have a few with hooks and eyes amongst the handmade clothes as gifts from Oma (grandma) and various aunts. Not that buttons are evil ... but they are modern and some Mennonites, Hutterites and Amish are very slow to jump off the horse and wagon (a Mennonite joke).

TheDen said...


Amen to everything that you wrote.

In our lives, Jesus Christ commands us to seek the truth. Additionally He prays that we all be one.

While our differences may seem huge, we must always remember to keep Jesus Christ at the center. At the center of our lives and at the center of relationships.

Between us...between our friends and between our enemies so that as we draw ourselves closer to each other, we draw ourselves closer to Him.

I've heard Mark Brumley talk on the radio. That guy sure knows his Scripture.

nedbrek said...

braverdave, I've heard the Amish were once very active in evangelism. They went through a period of severe persecution, which led to their withdrawal from society. Is there any truth to that?


braverdave said...

Ned, it's that in the world but not of the world and striking the balance. All branches of Mennonites (including Amish and Hutterites) have (had) an active envangelical mission. Some groups to an increasingly lesser degree as a resut of the persecution and subsequent withdrawal from an increasingly wicked society.

Salt and Light to the earth and world are mainstays of Mennonite teachings. I think that leading by example, or rather following Christ's example, is one of the best examples of evangelism and often overlooked.

I have been involved with MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) missions (local - not overseas) during my years in a Mennonite school and through my church. The leaders on these various missions, including overseas ones which friends of mine participated in, all stressed the importance of not being too pushy with the Good News (and never withholding the mission works from those not interested in the message that accompanied it). A good friend recently came back from a water mission (digging wells and building cisterns for sand based water purification) to Central America (Guatemala if memory serves) and he never once mentioned Jesus to any of the people he came into contact with. He worked all day and was too exhausted at the end of the day to do anything but eat and sleep. But the message and example is there nonetheless.

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Matthew 25:35-36

nedbrek said...

I can certainly understand the negative example, hypocritical Christians damage the Gospel message.

And doing good for others is important, and can go a long way towards changing people's minds.

But, if we believe their is no salvation outside Christ, shouldn't we tell people? Gently, with understanding and love, but warn them of the wrath to come. That "great and terrible day of the Lord".

braverdave said...

Certainly, but they have heard the message before and the mission was there for the specific purpose of doing the water works.

Man may not live by bread alone but when our brothers and sisters are hungry and thirsty who among us can't help but provide food and drink.