Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Recovering Catholics: PROTEST!

Part 3 in the series RECOVERING CATHOLICS at Trinity Reformed UCC.

Systems
What we will be talking about today are systems. So when we critique a system, we’re not saying “Their God is wrong.” We’re comparing their frame of viewing God to our own. I LOVE systems, however, systems can be just as easily dehumanizing as they can be helpful and efficient. Systems that require prerequisites in terms of gender, sexual orientation, or race are flawed. Those type of systems show that ultimately we fit in NO boxes completely as there are always exceptions. Some respond to this by cutting off those limbs that stick outside the box, or lying, or making concessions, or realizing that there is no box. The box is constructed by us for us to keep us safe from the CHAOS of the natural world. Those of us to see order in the natural world are less in need of boxes.

History
On October 31, 1517, in Saxony (in what is now Germany), Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, which served as a notice board for university-related announcements. These were points for debate that criticized the Church and the Pope. Luther's spiritual predecessors were men such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus. Other radicals, such as Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin, soon followed Luther's lead. Church beliefs and practices under attack by Protestant reformers included Purgatory, particular judgment, devotion to Mary (Mariology), the intercession of and devotion to the saints, most of the sacraments, the mandatory celibacy requirement of its clergy (including monasticism), and the authority of the Pope.
(From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_Reformation)

The Theses sparked a theological debate that would result in the Reformation and the birth of the Lutheran, Reformed, and Anabaptist traditions within Christianity. Today we shall compare and contrast the theological views between Catholic and Trinity's ancestor, the Reformed Tradition. This is a historical overview and in no way represents the current belief system at Trinity Reformed now.

Roman Catholic (RC) View of God: God is not limited by time or space... holds the following ideals: the infinity, unity or unicity, and simplicity of God, as well as the personality of God. More can be found in this Catholic Encyclopedia Article

Reformed (R'ed) View of God: God is sovereign, perfect, and holds all righteousness and power. Created all things and sustains them. Not limited by creation.

RC Revelation: Bible, including the Apocrypha, is authoritative source of revelation as well as tradition and church teaching. The pope when speaking ex cathedra (From the chair) and is immune from error. Church is the mother, guardian, and interpreter of the canon.

R'ed Revelation: Sola Sciptura (scripture alone). Bible is God's word and remains without error in every aspect and guides all of church life and teaching.

RC Salvation: Saving grace is found through the sacraments, the highest being Communion. Church administers sacraments, ergo there is NO salvation outside the church. This is an internal catholic struggle as recent teaching has recognized that grace can be received outside the church.

R'ed Salvation: Christ saves the chosen. The elect can never resist the work of the Spirit or fall after receiving salvation. Salvation is found in the 5 points of Calvinism: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints.

RC Church: The apex of the church is the Pope and the qualities of a true church are unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity.

R'ed Church: Church is composed of God's elect who have recieved salvation. Hold only sacraments as Baptism (that symbolizes entry to the body of church and can be renounced) and Communion (which the Holy Spirit works with them to make them spiritual participants in the original supper). Elders are elected to teach and oversee the local church body. Unity of church must be grounded in doctrinal agreement.

What are your thoughts? What are your views concerning God, Revelation (how God is or isn't revealed in today's world), Salvation (what saves someone from sin, or is there even a need for it?), and the Church? If you had to pick one or the other, which would you pick?

6 comments:

Brad said...

Luke,

AWESOME job of putting a huge subject into a concise summary. I found the comparisons very helpful, and the Reformed view was spot on. I'd be interested in seeing a progression comparison between the Reformed view and the current Trinity UCC contrast. How did that progression take place?

Good stuff!

Luke said...

"I found the comparisons very helpful, and the Reformed view was spot on." -Brad

well thanks for that! there's a danger when trying to teach complex theological systems to over-simplify.

The interesting thing is, when I asked the question "If you had to pick one or the other, which would you pick?" the congregation overwhelmingly responded "Catholic."

the progression came from being hyper-high-church with no room for mistakes.. when the then-pastor was discovered to be having an affair, the church had to evolve or die. that's the big reason everyone cites, but when they built their new church in '94 they did a modern congregationalist style church, not the regimented linear pew arrangment of their old church.

it's a complex history that i'm still learning.

Brad said...

"The interesting thing is, when I asked the question "If you had to pick one or the other, which would you pick?" the congregation overwhelmingly responded "Catholic.""

*smacks forehead* Doh!

Oh, so the church itself went to the UCC after that incident? I thought you were talking about the UCC having traced it's roots back to the reformed tradition. Do you know what denomination your church was prior to the move?

Sounds like a really tough story... It also sounds like legalism was the rule of law (pun intended). Tragic. I'm definitely theologically reformed, but all about tatoos in church. Not a fan of "high church," but "different strokes for different folks." If the theology is sound and the culture reflects it, then church can take a huge variety of forms and glorify God (I'd even say it is necessary).

Luke said...

nah, it was Reformed and then moved into the UCC since the inception... but had remained largely high-church reformed until the early 90s. The shift was a long time in coming, but now they're largely congregational and O&A and what not, very progressive in view, yet still right of Jesus (that crazy leftie ;-))

"If the theology is sound and the culture reflects it, then church can take a huge variety of forms and glorify God (I'd even say it is necessary)."

Eloquently put, sir!

Sam said...

I don't remember reading the words "Bible is God's word and remains without error in every aspect" - whence therefore do they come?

Luke said...

hey Sam! yeah that was a big one that no one could get over... myself included. that list came from a book i thought i cited in the post (turns out i didn't, the MLA gods are ANGRY!) called Charts of Christian Theology & Doctrine
by H. Wayne House. i've asked a few reformed friends and they claim that this is accurate, but you're the Calvin expert, what say you?

thanks for the comment, your comment section is still broke! darn that Mac site!