[quote=CThomas]You say that “with our own people, we have one standard against which all Catholics may measure themselves.” Of course, Protestants, too, have one standard against which they may measure themselves – the Bible. The diversity of views and beliefs among Protestants really isn’t quite as bad as you make it out to be when you take into account Paul’s instruction to tolerate non-essential differences in beliefs among Christians.
Of course I understand immediately what you mean when you refer to Paul. He was a teacher. He assessed what stage his audience was at before he gave his teaching; he assessed what the next step was; he assessed what was the most important teaching to put forward for this group and what could be dickered over later.
But just because someone is a student in, say, Theology 101, does not mean that that student is not expected to charge with all energies toward Postgrad.
It is not an either/or scenario. This is an other problem Catholics have in dialogue with groups of Protestants. We are synthesizers. Protestant points of view appear to us to be analytical.
We have tried to obtain clarification about what are the ‘essentials’ on which we can agree. To no avail. What does one do if one group says that something is a nonessential and another group says that it is essential?
Who is the umpire?
[quote=CThomas] A minority of the differences among Protestant sects involve the core essentials that require Christian unity.
To measure is to know. Please quantify ‘a minority.’
[quote=CThomas] Outside principles clearly set out in the Bible, there is no violation of Christian unity by different people having their own beliefs on certain issues, with everyone respecting everyone else.
This is too vague for me to gain any understanding from it. Could you specify please?
[quote=CThomas]Anyway, to answer your question, the Church, through the local congregation, has an important role in letting a Christian know if he “has strayed.” That’s the function of Church discipline. Ultimately, excommunication could be necessary where a purported Christian obstinately refuses to reconcile himself with Christian doctrine.
This strikes us as relative among congregations and among denominations. The guy who runs the Toronto Airport Revival was excommunicated as a Baptist pastor because, he claims, he prayed with his hands in the air. Now surely praying with your hands in the air – or even seeking the anointing of the Holy Spirit, if you will – surely that is not something to be excommunicated for.
[quote=CThomas] But short of that, careful reflection and study on the part of each and every Christian is necessary to prevent himself from straying, or to correct such a straying where it has occurred.
Of course it is. Who would dispute that?
But are we the measure of ourselves?
Is our own interpretation of Scripture the measure of our righteousness?
If these two things were true, then why would we need the Church – at least why would we need the Church for anything to do with our faith. Of course no one would dispute that we need coffee and donuts at the church bazaar.