Can we ever be in unity?


#1

Can Catholics and Protestants ever come to a point where we are in unity of the Holy Spirit? What would that Body look like? What would it take from each of us? Or is it impossible?


#2

[quote=neweyes]Can Catholics and Protestants ever come to a point where we are in unity of the Holy Spirit? What would that Body look like? What would it take from each of us? Or is it impossible?
[/quote]

There’s no way all Protestants will ever be united to the See of Rome. In a best-case scenario there would always be a few fundamentalist schismatics.

I could imagine a situation in which the non-fundamentalist versions of Protestantism fell so obviously into apostasy that orthodox members of those traditions sought refuge in Catholicism. Indeed, one could argue that that’s where we’re heading now. There appear to be basically four options for Protestants:

  1. An increasingly extreme liberalism that regards all tradition with suspicion because the only criterion for truth liberals accept is that it liberates formerly oppressed minorities.

  2. A “megachurch” evangelicalism that is basically another form of liberalism, just watering down different things (and catering to capitalist middle classes rather than to the intelligentsia as liberalism does).

  3. An increasingly hysterical fundamentalism that sees everyone else as part of a great end-times Satanic conspiracy.

  4. A return to historic Christian orthodoxy, overcoming the suspicion of tradition endemic within much of Protestantism, and looking to Catholics and Orthodox rather than liberal Protestants as dialogue partners.

I hope and pray for a time when those Protestants who embrace option 4 (that’s the camp I’m in, obviously) will be reunited with Rome.

There is also a fifth option–a neoconfessional Protestantism that reasserts historic Reformation distinctives while rejecting the anti-intellectualism of fundamentalism. But I think this is a very unstable position and is unlikely to have long-term appeal in the 21st century. I could be wrong–declaring any religious tradition dead is a risky and arrogant business. But when I look at confessional Protestant groups, I generally see them moving toward either 2, 3, or 4. Missouri Synod Lutherans, for instance, seem to be tending increasingly toward option 2, with a substantial minority who embrace option 4 (many of whom are converting to Catholicism). Conservative Presbyterians are facing a significant Catholicizing movement; it remains to be seen whether those who reject this movement will be able to avoid a reaction that basically puts them in the fundamentalist camp.

Edwin


#3

Thanks, Edwin–it’s a lot to think about. I know that it’s what God wants–unity in One Body. Perhaps we already are one in the fact that we’re all worshipping Jesus. And perhaps we’ll never truly be united until we all meet Him in heaven and worship together…


#4

Of course, your question seems to suppose that the Catholic Church is lacking in some regard what Protestantism can bring to it. I assure you it isn’t. :wink: In fact, our heterodox people are leaving for mainstream liberal Protestantism precisely because they are not able to change the Church to suit them. And those who leave for Evangelical churches want what they don’t know they already have because of poor catechesis.

The Catholic Church is Christ’s Body, and the whole of the Church of Christ subsists within it. Other bodies are merely separated branches that must be healed and grafted on or they will eventually die. Their members, being separated members of Christ’s Church may be saved, but at the cost to the unity of Christendom in faith and practice.

It’s rather like the man who always drove when he and his wife went anywhere together. As the years passed by she moved closer and closer to the passenger side door. One day she lamented to him how they used to hold hands and snuggle when he drove the car. He answered, “I wasn’t the one who moved.” The Catholic Church hasn’t moved in 2000 years. It’s time for all orthodox believers to return full faith and practice within her arms.


#5

[quote=Della]Of course, your question seems to suppose that the Catholic Church is lacking in some regard what Protestantism can bring to it.
[/quote]

Oh, no, not at all, Della. I guess you’d have to know me to know what I meant, but I can assure you that having not grown up with religious beliefs or practices, it is not easy to sort out the differences we have among the different branches of the body. In fact I was just reading something Paul said today about new branches, grafted among the existing branches. Wish I could remember what that verse was!!

Anyway, I am open to learning.


#6

[quote=neweyes]Oh, no, not at all, Della. I guess you’d have to know me to know what I meant, but I can assure you that having not grown up with religious beliefs or practices, it is not easy to sort out the differences we have among the different branches of the body. In fact I was just reading something Paul said today about new branches, grafted among the existing branches. Wish I could remember what that verse was!!

Anyway, I am open to learning.
[/quote]

I can see how it would be confusing to those, like you, with no particular religious background. To try to sort through it all on your own! Yikes! What a task–I don’t envy you the effort.

About the branches, I believe you are referring to Romans 11 in which Paul was talking about Gentile believers being grafted onto the people of God who are the spiritual descendants of Abraham by whom God promised to bless all the world–a reference to the coming of the Messiah, the Christ. Jewish believers could claim direct lineage to this promise, but Paul is saying that it is by faith in Christ that we are all a part of Christ, not through bloodlines.

Just from this example of one passage of Scripture it is obvious that a proper reference/context needs to be understood in order to see what the author was talking about or what he was trying to teach us. No one can do that on their own without the Church that gave us that Scripture, and that is the Catholic Church.

I think a really good book for you to read (a very readable one, btw) is: Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church by Henry G. Graham. I think it would be a great help to you.


#7

[quote=Contarini]There’s no way all Protestants will ever be united to the See of Rome. In a best-case scenario there would always be a few fundamentalist schismatics.

I could imagine a situation in which the non-fundamentalist versions of Protestantism fell so obviously into apostasy that orthodox members of those traditions sought refuge in Catholicism. Indeed, one could argue that that’s where we’re heading now. There appear to be basically four options for Protestants:

  1. An increasingly extreme liberalism that regards all tradition with suspicion because the only criterion for truth liberals accept is that it liberates formerly oppressed minorities.

  2. A “megachurch” evangelicalism that is basically another form of liberalism, just watering down different things (and catering to capitalist middle classes rather than to the intelligentsia as liberalism does).

  3. An increasingly hysterical fundamentalism that sees everyone else as part of a great end-times Satanic conspiracy.

  4. A return to historic Christian orthodoxy, overcoming the suspicion of tradition endemic within much of Protestantism, and looking to Catholics and Orthodox rather than liberal Protestants as dialogue partners.

I hope and pray for a time when those Protestants who embrace option 4 (that’s the camp I’m in, obviously) will be reunited with Rome.

There is also a fifth option–a neoconfessional Protestantism that reasserts historic Reformation distinctives while rejecting the anti-intellectualism of fundamentalism. But I think this is a very unstable position and is unlikely to have long-term appeal in the 21st century. I could be wrong–declaring any religious tradition dead is a risky and arrogant business. But when I look at confessional Protestant groups, I generally see them moving toward either 2, 3, or 4. Missouri Synod Lutherans, for instance, seem to be tending increasingly toward option 2, with a substantial minority who embrace option 4 (many of whom are converting to Catholicism). Conservative Presbyterians are facing a significant Catholicizing movement; it remains to be seen whether those who reject this movement will be able to avoid a reaction that basically puts them in the fundamentalist camp.

Edwin
[/quote]

Edwin, I always read your posts with such appreciation. I confess, I always find myself wishing you’d just just “pope,” ie, swim the Tiber. You’d be welcomed very warmly.


#8

[quote=neweyes]Can Catholics and Protestants ever come to a point where we are in unity of the Holy Spirit? What would that Body look like? What would it take from each of us? Or is it impossible?
[/quote]

We should be right now.

Even though we do not share the whole truth, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Even if we get attacked by some small groups it may just be a test of our humility. The Truth always wins.


#9

We will never have an ecclesastical unity. However, it appears that we have a spiritual unity. That unity is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


#10

[quote=Uranage]We will never have an ecclesastical unity. However, it appears that we have a spiritual unity. That unity is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
[/quote]

But wasn’t unity in one church something that Christ wanted and expected???


#11

Edwin:

Excellent post. As the Chinese curse goes, we are living in “interesting times.” American Christianity is probably unique - and that adds to the disunity.

O+


#12

[quote=neweyes]Can Catholics and Protestants ever come to a point where we are in unity of the Holy Spirit? What would that Body look like? What would it take from each of us? Or is it impossible?
[/quote]

I think it will take something really big that can only be attributed to God to reconcile our seperated brethern back into our fold. That being said…the what would it look like question is easy…like the Catholic Church, as we should not water down our faith to attract followers…


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.