Is not joining something equivalent to leaving it?

Is not joining something [be it Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Methodism, etc.] equivalent to leaving it?

I ask because this seems to be an assumption in a great many discussions, even if it isn’t stated in those words.

Not at all. Also upholding one thing doesn’t mean an utter rejection of another thing. That I prefer to use a pen doesn’t mean I reject all pencils.

…or that I prefer to not call Marriage/Unction/Confirmation/Ordination doesn’t mean I reject them.

Originally Posted by Peter J
Is not joining something [be it Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Methodism, etc.] equivalent to leaving it?

I ask because this seems to be an assumption in a great many discussions, even if it isn’t stated in those words.

It is an assumption by some that if you choose not to join Church “X”, then that means you reject it. Or, if you reject one tenant of Church “Y”, then that means you reject them all.

Personally, I find both a rejection of the ecumenical spirit found in Vatican II and embraced by a number of communions.

Jon

Bingo. Or the old " if you opt out of the Rosary and don’t believe the Mary dogmas you must have an awful disdain for the Mother of God".

I suppose it depends on the situation and on what you mean by equivalence. A conscious decision that you ought not belong to a group for X reason is exactly the same decision whether or not you previously belonged to that group. But refraining from joining the group because you’ve never heard of it, or because you just haven’t yet finished investigating it enough to make a decision, is an entirely different.

Of course, even in the case of an explicit decision one way or the other, being in a group could help one to become more familiar with it (or at least give more opportunities for this to occur), and/or lead to a misplaced certainty based on familiarity - which could influence how well founded the decision is. So if as in, for example, the case of not joining/leaving the Catholic Church, there is a moral element involved, the culpability surrounding making the wrong choice could be influenced.

So in the sense of what the decision is - if an explicit decision is made, yes. But in most other senses, such as moral culpability, or the subjective wisdom of leaving/not joining, probably not. But of course in these other senses, I doubt that any two decisions are equivalent, whether both of the same not join/leave variety or not.

[quote=JonNC]It is an assumption by some that if you choose not to join Church “X”, then that means you reject it.

[/quote]

Possible positions on a religion are a) it’s true, b) it’s false, and c) I don’t know yet. If I can quibble a little here, “not choosing to join Church X” could logically follow from either b) or c), but “choosing not to join Church X” really only makes sense under b) (unless it has the qualifier “at this time, and until I figure things out” or similar). I say this because I think this is difference in word order is highly related to equivalence the OP says they think some people are making.

If you examine Church X and cross it off the list of possible Churches to join, then that is pretty well equivalent to saying that you think it is wrong. Because if you thought it was right, then logically you should join, and if you weren’t sure yet, then it shouldn’t be crossed off yet.

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Hi. In response to the above replies: using a pen doesn’t mean you’re rejecting all pencils but it doesn’t mean you’re accepting them either. Using a single pencil could be considered the sign that you are not rejecting all pencils; and yet, does not using pencils mean that you are, in some way, rejecting the pencil case that *also *contains the pen?:slight_smile:

Peter Kreeft put it this way in one of his talks:

If Romeo proposes to Juliet, and she says, “I’ll think about it; ask me tomorrow”, well, tomorrow is only a day away. Stack up enough tomorrows, and your answer will not be “wait and see”, but “no”. Eventually, Romeo will die, or marry someone else.

Of course, he was talking more about agnosticism than different churches. But it can apply.

Some Christians also don’t see it that way. Some believe if you are a Christian, you’re already in communion with every other Christian. So asking them if you are a Catholic, they may say “No, but I am a Christian, and so are you. That’s enough, isn’t it?”.

In that sort of a way, Protestantism is very open - sort of like Unitarian Universalism.

To the Lutherans who’ve joined in, you may reject the authority of the Catholic bishops. But although you do that, and in so doing you reject the Catholic Church, I know you don’t reject everything we teach. You accept the things you personally agree with - i.e, baptism, the sacramental presence, the common priesthood, the Bible, etc.

But as long as those things are detached from the fullness of the Catholic faith, I don’t think you can say you are fully like us, or fully accept or believe Catholicism. It’d be just the same way with the Reformed Church or the Methodists or the Anglican Church. You may share something in common with them, but you’re not fully one of them, nor would you want to be.

So you do, insofar as it is untrue, reject, Calvinism, Methodism, and Anglicanism.

And so, if you reject one part of them, you do, in a way, reject the whole thing. Because they hold right and good things does not mean they have the right to hold them hostage before you - as if you would be less Christian in telling them they are less Christian because their beliefs are incorrect in some areas.

Hi Iron,
There is also choice “d”, which is “I have never considered any other communion but the one I’m in, nor do I intend to”. Frankly, I believe most laity in the pews, regardless of communion, falls into this category.
I actually think that if one holds to “a” about Church “X” and still chooses not to join it, they are closest to the OP’s question,* “Is not joining something equivalent to leaving it?” *

If you examine Church X and cross it off the list of possible Churches to join, then that is pretty well equivalent to saying that you think it is wrong. Because if you thought it was right, then logically you should join, and if you weren’t sure yet, then it shouldn’t be crossed off yet.

Essentially I agree, though there are matters of degree. For example, one might say,“I can’t join Church ‘X’ because of this one doctrine.”

There may also be extenuating circumstances unrelated to what Church “Y” teaches.

Jon

=TarkanAttila;12255990]Peter Kreeft put it this way in one of his talks:

If Romeo proposes to Juliet, and she says, “I’ll think about it; ask me tomorrow”, well, tomorrow is only a day away. Stack up enough tomorrows, and your answer will not be “wait and see”, but “no”. Eventually, Romeo will die, or marry someone else.

Of course, he was talking more about agnosticism than different churches. But it can apply.

Some Christians also don’t see it that way. Some believe if you are a Christian, you’re already in communion with every other Christian. So asking them if you are a Catholic, they may say “No, but I am a Christian, and so are you. That’s enough, isn’t it?”.

In that sort of a way, Protestantism is very open - sort of like Unitarian Universalism.

Not UU, as they may accept others that are not trinitarian Christians, but it does reflect a level of unionism.

To the Lutherans who’ve joined in, you may reject the authority of the Catholic bishops. But although you do that, and in so doing you reject the Catholic Church, I know you don’t reject everything we teach. You accept the things you personally agree with - i.e, baptism, the sacramental presence, the common priesthood, the Bible, etc.

Actually, for a Lutheran, it should be things we personally agree with, but things our communion agrees with.

But as long as those things are detached from the fullness of the Catholic faith, I don’t think you can say you are fully like us, or fully accept or believe Catholicism. It’d be just the same way with the Reformed Church or the Methodists or the Anglican Church. You may share something in common with them, but you’re not fully one of them, nor would you want to be.

So you do, insofar as it is untrue, reject, Calvinism, Methodism, and Anglicanism.

And so, if you reject one part of them, you do, in a way, reject the whole thing. Because they hold right and good things does not mean they have the right to hold them hostage before you - as if you would be less Christian in telling them they are less Christian because their beliefs are incorrect in some areas.

The bolded I disagree with because, taking that position, leaves no room for dialogue. In fact, I would contend that was the character of relationship between our communions, to a large degree, prior to Vat II.

Jon

Not joining something is not equivalent to leaving it because resistance is not the same as rejection.

Although, according to Pope Benedict, resistance to devotion to our Holy Mother is neglectful: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=12256124#post12256124

Benedict speaks of “praising Mary”; something Lutherans do every Sunday in the Liturgy. We do not, however, believe that the Immaculate Conception and Assumption into Heaven are dogma. Something that both Orthodox and Anglicans also state.

The Christian does not base belief upon alternative ideas but rather in all truths that stem from Scripture - the whole truth - and therefore, find their home in it. In addition, because these various truths are connected, faith and reason, through thorough exegesis, do reveal the sum of their parts. So praising Mary is a good, but neglectful of the whole person if Marion dogmas are rejected, because the praising is only being shown to a part of her being. It then follows that a big part of God is being neglected because His Mother is neglected, which could lead to greater misunderstanding and further division. If I don’t show someone the courtesy they are to be shown in the light of God I am not loving my neighbour because I am resisting some element of God’s love and I am also not loving God as I could be. Whether or not one is a Roman Catholic, a Lutheran, an Anglican, a Methodist, it makes no difference because we all have access to information which faith and reason (and prayer) should help guide us to a belief in greater truths. But it has to be taken into account that people have been brought up with different belief systems, thus making it a very big jump to go away from their initial comfort zone and believe something new - so, for the most part, I would call this a resistance in mass, not total rejection in one’s heart. And ‘God draws straight with crooked lines’, but the eraser he uses only to rub out the bad stuff. Faith and reason determines that if Christian truths grow through revelation into love and beauty, then this is God drawing, not erasing. So if God is not rubbing out, then what gives us the right to do the rubbing out, whether we are Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, or otherwise?

As long as they are all # 2 does it really matter?

Well, no, of course not. I know Protestants have standards. I assume the Nicene Creed? But some even reject that. Where does one draw the line? And if one draws the line at “Jesus Christ is the Son of God” and “the Bible is God’s Word”, well, how far the lines of latitude go! There’s the OSAS crowd, there’s us Catholics, there’s the Calvinists, the Baptists, the Christians who don’t believe baptism saves us, a thousand other significant differences in the consequences of believing those two things.

Again, where does one draw the line? Why be a Lutheran, then, if it’s just as good to be Once Saved, Always Saved? I’m not saying you approve of such things, or the LCMS does. I don 't know for sure, and that’s only an example.

Our answer would be: Catholicism has baptism, but it has other sacraments and practises which flesh out the faith the vast majority of Protestants only receive in Baptism and the Bible - if that, sometimes. In other words, it is the Gospel in the fullest, and other Christians possess some of the Gospel, in varying degrees, but not all. They have the cornerstone at least, but not the whole building.

Would the LCMS say something similar?

Actually, for a Lutheran, it should be things we personally agree with, but things our communion agrees with.

…fair enough.

Although, if the LCMS began teaching something you personally didn’t agree with, what would you do? Would you stay with them because the LCMS is, as far as you know, the OHCAC?

For example, I personally am not sure Mary is such a necessary part of Christian prayer life. But I try to pray the Rosary, and I teach as the Church teaches on the issue. I would never teach contrariwise.

The bolded I disagree with because, taking that position, leaves no room for dialogue. In fact, I would contend that was the character of relationship between our communions, to a large degree, prior to Vat II.

Oh, not necessarily. You and other Protestants have pieces that we also have. I think, though, some of those pieces are out of their proper contexts. For example, the Calvinists and their relative obsession with St. Augustine, to the neglect of other Church Fathers. The goal of ecumenical dialogue, to some degree, is to get all our pieces into right context. Sort of like putting a barbecue grill together. We’d say Lutherans have thrown some pieces of the grill to the side, some other Christians perhaps up to 3/4s of the parts away. The goal is to get a functioning barbecue grill.

No, it all about #2:)

  • 2B or not 2B, that was the question.

=TarkanAttila;12257732]Well, no, of course not. I know Protestants have standards. I assume the Nicene Creed? But some even reject that. Where does one draw the line? And if one draws the line at “Jesus Christ is the Son of God” and “the Bible is God’s Word”, well, how far the lines of latitude go! There’s the OSAS crowd, there’s us Catholics, there’s the Calvinists, the Baptists, the Christians who don’t believe baptism saves us, a thousand other significant differences in the consequences of believing those two things.

I think the thing our synod does is allow Christ to “draw the line”. While recognizing errors in teaching and doctrine, we accept Trinitarian Christians as Christian. We even get into trouble in the media, at times, for our clergy not participating in ecumenical worship. And we would agree with you that, while accepting them as Christian, we also recognize that there are indeed dangers in heterodox teachings, such as OSAS.

Again, where does one draw the line? Why be a Lutheran, then, if it’s just as good to be Once Saved, Always Saved? I’m not saying you approve of such things, or the LCMS does. I don 't know for sure, and that’s only an example.

Did I answer this?

Our answer would be: Catholicism has baptism, but it has other sacraments and practises which flesh out the faith the vast majority of Protestants only receive in Baptism and the Bible - if that, sometimes. In other words, it is the Gospel in the fullest, and other Christians possess some of the Gospel, in varying degrees, but not all. They have the cornerstone at least, but not the whole building.

Would the LCMS say something similar?

Essentially. IOW, the means of grace, both word and sacrament.

Although, if the LCMS began teaching something you personally didn’t agree with, what would you do? Would you stay with them because the LCMS is, as far as you know, the OHCAC?

Let me preface that Lutherans typically won’t make the claim that we are exclusively the OHCAC, but that we are part of it. Yes, depending on what that teaching is. I’m bound to scripture and the Lutheran confessions. If the LCMS went outside of the doctrines of the Lutheran Church, female ordination, or same gender marriage as examples, I would have to consider a move. Frankly, there are only three to consider (Catholic, Orthodox, traditional Anglican)

For example, I personally am not sure Mary is such a necessary part of Christian prayer life. But I try to pray the Rosary, and I teach as the Church teaches on the issue. I would never teach contrariwise.

Right. I’m on the other end. Our synod allows for personal piety regarding Mary’s perpetual virginity. I can’t imagine why anyone would not believe it, but I accept that the synod says it is adiaphoron.

Oh, not necessarily. You and other Protestants have pieces that we also have. I think, though, some of those pieces are out of their proper contexts. For example, the Calvinists and their relative obsession with St. Augustine, to the neglect of other Church Fathers. The goal of ecumenical dialogue, to some degree, is to get all our pieces into right context. Sort of like putting a barbecue grill together. We’d say Lutherans have thrown some pieces of the grill to the side, some other Christians perhaps up to 3/4s of the parts away. The goal is to get a functioning barbecue grill.

I see your point. I think, in many ways, the major difference between Lutherans and Catholics is which set of directions should we use, primarily, to put the grill together. :slight_smile:

Jon

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