Non-Roman Catholicism pt. 2


#1

Since the thread “Catholic but not Roman Catholic” became a debate about the views of Jason Engwer, I decided to post my own answers to the original challenge on a separate thread. I’m an Episcopalian, and hence consider myself to be Catholic (i.e., a member of the “one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic” Church named in the Creed) but not “Roman Catholic” (i.e., I am obviously not in full communion with the bishop of Rome). Here’s my answer to the specific issues raised:

: that baptism is regenerational (i.e., is the means of initiation into the ‘new life’ in Christ) :

I agree with that

:2) that baptism of infants is proper:

I agree with that

:3) that the bread and wine of the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ:

Agreed

:4) that the Eucharistic celebration is a true, continuing sacrifice, :

Agreed. At most, I might question the propriety of some of the language used by the Western Church in the Middle Ages and later to describe the exact nature of this sacrifice, but my disagreements, if any, would be matters of nuance. I certainly confess that the Eucharist is a sacrifice in the sense spoken of by the Fathers.

:5) there exists a hierarchy of bishop, presbyter (priest) and deacon:

Yes

:6) the special authority of the bishop of Rome:

Yes. Obviously I would disagree with the modern “Roman Catholic” view of just how far that authority extends, but that it exists I have no doubt

:7) intercessory prayer of the saints:

Yes

:8) post-death purification (purgatory):

This is found in the Fathers rather tentatively, and I would subscribe to it in a similarly tentative way. I think that some kind of post-death purification is highly probable but am not sure it should be a matter of dogma.

:9) tradition as a rule of faith in addition to Scripture,:

I would question that way of putting it. I don’t think you can find it in the Fathers in quite that form. Basil’s On the Holy Spirit comes closest. But for the most part the Fathers use language implying some kind of sufficiency of Scripture (what Catholics would call “material sufficiency”) while also speaking of tradition (which cannot simply be limited to the contents of Scripture) as authoritative. I would also subscribe to that approach, while leaving room for a number of different ways of explaining just how Scripture functions within the broader category of Sacred Tradition.

:10) that Mary was immaculate:

I subscribe to that in the very broad sense found in the Fathers, which does not have anything like the specificity of the later dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

:11) that Mary was ever-virgin.:

I admit that I have doubts and questions about this, but it is so firmly taught by the early Church that I do not dare to deny it.

:They will claim the “real christian church” did not believe in them.:

No, I won’t.

:but ask them to provide any sources that call any of these 11 points heresy before the mid 300’s.:

That is surely an odd approach. If you are denying that one can be “Catholic” without being in communion with Rome, and if these 11 points are supposed to establish that, then you need to show that they were positively taught in a binding way by the early Church. If the early Church simply did not condemn them, or if they were held as opinions by some Fathers and not by others, then a good case can still be made that one can be in the trajectory of the historic Catholic Church without subscribing to all current teaching of the churches in communion with Rome.

In Christ,

Edwin


#2

I will only address one comment in your last paragraph. Certainly, one can be “catholic” without being in communion with Rome. All Orthodox Christians are catholic in this sense. But members of the Anglican Communion are not. Why? Because they do not have valid holy orders. Therefore they do not participate in the apostolic succession, nor do they have valid eucharist (whether they believe in the real presence is immaterial if they do not have it!) For these reasons Episcopalians are not really “catholic.”

I say this not to cause offense, but to help enlighten you. I am a former Episcopalian who joined the catholic church for these reasons. If you wish to be catholic, please consider doing the same yourself!


#3

I had composed a longer, more thoughtful post, but I was logged out automatically (I think) and now it is lost forever. :mad:

[quote=Contarini]Since the thread “Catholic but not Roman Catholic” became a debate about the views of Jason Engwer, I decided to post my own answers to the original challenge on a separate thread. I’m an Episcopalian, and hence consider myself to be Catholic (i.e., a member of the “one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic” Church named in the Creed) but not “Roman Catholic” (i.e., I am obviously not in full communion with the bishop of Rome). Here’s my answer to the specific issues raised:
[/quote]

Not all Catholics in communion with the Pope of Rome are Roman Catholics. Personally, I don’t like the term Roman Catholic and would prefer Latin Catholic or Western Catholic.

As others said in the other thread, the Catholic Church is a communion of (roughly) 22 Churches sui juris. The Latin Church is the largest with nearly a billion members. I think the second largest is the Ukrainian Catholic Church with around 7 million members.

I, for one, am technically a Latin Catholic, but I consider myself a Byzantine Catholic and will (hopefully) soon be filling out the paperwork to transfer to the Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church.

:10) that Mary was immaculate:

I subscribe to that in the very broad sense found in the Fathers, which does not have anything like the specificity of the later dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

I am not sure what you’re getting at here. Many Orthodox also object to the Immaculate Conception, largely because they also object the the Augustinian definition of Original Sin. Frankly, I’m not convinced that the Latin Church has a clear definition of Original Sin. The definition in the new Catechism, for example, is probably not objectionable to most Orthodox.

Almost all Orthodox do believe that the Mother of God was conceived in “original holiness”. Hence, they celebrate her conception on December 8 (or 21 if they are old calendarists).

Jason


#4

Benedictus,

A minor point, but one that I think points out different nuances between the Eastern and Western churches, is that the Conception of St. Anne is celebrated on Dec. 9th not the 8th.


#5

Hi Edwin,

First I wanted to say how nice it is to see you post here. I’ve always looked forward to reading your posts when I happen upon them.

You wrote:

[quote=Edwin]That is surely an odd approach. If you are denying that one can be “Catholic” without being in communion with Rome, and if these 11 points are supposed to establish that, then you need to show that they were positively taught in a binding way by the early Church If the early Church simply did not condemn them, or if they were held as opinions by some Fathers and not by others, then a good case can still be made that one can be in the trajectory of the historic Catholic Church without subscribing to all current teaching of the churches in communion with Rome.
[/quote]

How many teachings do you hold as binding upon christians?

How many of those teachings can be shown to be binding upon the early church?

How early are we talking?

As far as opinions and receiving some and not others. Where do we draw the line.

You say that you accept that the Bishop of Rome has authority to some extent. How does that authority affect your faith now?

I have more to add to this but it will have to wait until later.

In JMJ, Richard


#6

This is interesting: the the Ruthenian Metropolia of Pittsburgh celebrates the Conception of the Mother of God by St. Anne on December 8, but the Orthodox (or at least the OCA) celebrate it on December 9.

I wonder why there is a difference. Another latinization?

Jason


#7

[quote=Benedictus]This is interesting: the the Ruthenian Metropolia of Pittsburgh celebrates the Conception of the Mother of God by St. Anne on December 8, but the Orthodox (or at least the OCA) celebrate it on December 9.

I wonder why there is a difference. Another latinization?

Jason
[/quote]

Hi Jason,

How I heard it explained was that the EO move the non-Christological feasts one day off to show that they are not equal with the Christological feasts. It was a brief explanation to me and there may be more to it than that. As far as the latinization, that’s also a possiblity for the EC, so that they celebrate on the same day as the western church… The western church seems more literal in defining its theology, thus maybe the Dec. 8 date. I was initially surprised when I heard of the difference also.


#8

arnulf,

I know that in the view of Rome we don’t have valid orders, and because I respect the authority of the Pope (though I don’t grant him as much as he claims), that judgment troubles me. I don’t find the argument against our orders intrinsically convincing, because it relies on a strict interpretation of “intention” that does not seem workable to me. But that’s my private opinion. I know that there is some question as to whether Leo XIII’s decision is still relevant given the participation of Old Catholics in Anglican consecrations since that time, but it remains a rather difficult and technical question. At any rate, I don’t think the Anglo-Catholic claim that we are on the same footing as the Orthodox is really a valid one. My main reason for becoming Episcopalian was to avoid breaking with Protestantism entirely, so unlike a real Anglo-Catholic I don’t mind being classified as a Protestant, although one who takes Sacred Tradition very seriously. I find it difficult to deny the validity of any Eucharist/Lord’s Supper celebrated by Christians, even if they don’t actually believe in the Real Presence. I think it’s much better to have episcopal succession if possible (as I would argue we do)–and it would be best of all to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome. But we all, in one way or another, live with something less than perfection (even those in communion with Rome live with imperfections in other respects). In short, my claim to be Catholic was not based primarily on an Anglo-Catholic theory of the Church–it was one that all baptized Christians could make, in my opinion, although I think we Anglicans make it with somewhat more right than some, having preserved relatively more of the Tradition intact.

Benedictus, I put the phrase “Roman Catholic” in scare quotes and explained what I meant by it, precisely because I know many people object to it. My remarks on Mary being “immaculate” were vague because the patristic references to this subject are similarly vague. My own view is that we should confess with confidence that the Mother of God was in a state of grace throughout her life–i.e., that she never committed a mortal sin. Whether she committed venial sins, and to what extent she shared in the taint of Adam (however we define that), are debatable questions IMHO. But I submit to the judgment of the Universal Church on this point. If I were in communion with Rome, I would have no problem confessing the Immaculate Conception. As I do not belong to a communion that requires this of me, I don’t feel called upon to have a fixed opinion on the subject.

In Christ,

Edwin


#9

Richard, thanks for your kind words and your thoughtful questions, to which I’ll try to respond briefly.

:How many teachings do you hold as binding upon christians?:

I don’t think that kind of enumeration is terribly useful–I’ve gotten all sorts of different answers on this from Catholics, so I’m not just being a fuzzy Anglican by saying this. If pushed, I’d say the Nicene Creed pretty much sums it up, but Christians are also obligated to observe the two Sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist, confess the divine inspiration and authority of Scripture, and be faithful to the historic Church in whatever form it has come down to us (this is my adaptation of the “Lambeth Quadrilateral,” as you may recognize). I would expand this to say that Christians should confess as true what the Church of the first millenium confessed as true, which is summed up in the decrees of the Seven Councils. This is in my view relatively less binding than the Creed. So as you can see, I don’t think there is a sharp line between “binding” and “non-binding,” but rather a spectrum from things that are absolutely central to things that are more or less matters of pious opinion.

:How many of those teachings can be shown to be binding upon the early church?:

Let me know if what I said above leaves my answer to this unclear.

:How early are we talking?:

As I said, I see it as a spectrum, so the earlier the more binding, as a general rule. Nor do I think that there is a time limit–one should normally obey the doctrinal decisions of the Christian community to which one belongs, if they do not violate Scripture or the consensus of the Universal Church.

:As far as opinions and receiving some and not others. Where do we draw the line.:

In terms of the writings of the Fathers, clearly some of their views were not being put forward as the teaching of the Church (I don’t think Augustine ever suggests that purgatorial suffering is dogma, though I could be wrong), while others were (infant baptism, for instance). The Fathers are generally fairly clear about this, though of course that isn’t always the case. Origen, for instance, summarizes the teaching of the Church before he goes on to develop his very controversial private speculations.

:You say that you accept that the Bishop of Rome has authority to some extent. How does that authority affect your faith now?:

That’s an excellent question. In practice it means that I take very seriously whatever the Bishop of Rome teaches, and when it conflicts with what my own communion teaches I weigh the two against each other. And I oppose, pretty much across the board, whatever would take my own communion further away from union with Rome. I know that seems insufficient to you–I’m not sure it seems sufficient to me–but it’s where I am right now.

In Christ,

Edwin


#10

Edwin << That is surely an odd approach. If you are denying that one can be “Catholic” without being in communion with Rome, and if these 11 points are supposed to establish that, then you need to show that they were positively taught in a binding way by the early Church. >>

Hey Edwin, I don’t have any argument with you. Anglican Catholics, Orthodox Catholics, and even “Reformed Catholics” are OK in my book. :smiley:

ReformedCatholicism.com

I’d prefer to pick a fight with those who think either (1) a church with 15 years of history is better than a church with 2000 years since the 15-year-old ones are “following the doctrines of the apostles” (while rejecting all those 11 points mentioned earlier), or … those who (2) write “scholarly” books on Mariology who think Mary can’t be the “Mother of God” since Mary is the “mother of only the non-God part of Jesus.” :eek:

Phil P


#11

[quote=arnulf]I will only address one comment in your last paragraph. Certainly, one can be “catholic” without being in communion with Rome. All Orthodox Christians are catholic in this sense. But members of the Anglican Communion are not. Why? Because they do not have valid holy orders. Therefore they do not participate in the apostolic succession, nor do they have valid eucharist (whether they believe in the real presence is immaterial if they do not have it!) For these reasons Episcopalians are not really “catholic.”

I say this not to cause offense, but to help enlighten you. I am a former Episcopalian who joined the catholic church for these reasons. If you wish to be catholic, please consider doing the same yourself!
[/quote]

Greetings, Arnulf,

I’ve been a lurker here, now moved to post primarily because this thread was started by a friend of mine, Contarini. His comments on the issue of the validity of Anglican Orders, per Apostolicae Curae, are what many Episcopalians would say, and certainly you don’t cause offense by affirming what Rome has said on the subject. Me, I’m more Anglo-Catholic than Contarini (and not any sort of Episcopalian at all), and I hope I don’t offend if I don’t affirm it. If you want to see a good explication of how Anglicans might think on the subject (and there’s no reason why you should), I recommend Fr. J. J. Hughes 2 books on the matter: ABSOLUTELY NULL AND UTTERLY VOID and STEWARDS OF THE LORD. Fr. Hughes is a RC priest and a former Anglican priest, the first to be ordained sub conditione. He presents the case for the *theoretical * validity of Anglican orders most persuasively. If, however, you want to see the best exposition of the RC position, there’s the book by the (then) Jesuit priest, ANGLICAN ORDERS AND DEFECT OF INTENTION. There are a number of other works that might be mentioned, but these 2 authors fairly represent the case, IMO.

And there is a website, ACCIPE POTESTATEM, with some interesting discussion on the issue, found here:

angelfire.com/nj/malleus/

In general, a sad subject.

GKC

Anglicanus Catholicus


#12

[quote=Contarini]How many teachings do you hold as binding upon christians?:

I don’t think that kind of enumeration is terribly useful
[/quote]

Your probably right, I was thinking the same thing after I posted.

I guess more than numbers, I was thinking about the fact that there were binding doctrines upon christians before their official definition and or declarations. Which is why I had asked my next two questions.

My questions came from your first post where you stated:

[quote=Contarini]then you need to show that they were positively taught in a binding way by the early Church
[/quote]

What I was getting at, or at least trying to get at, is this. How do we know for sure which teachings were or were not binding on christians without the Church defining something as binding?

Take the Nicene era. How do we know that christians believed that belief in the trinity was an essential part of christian faith?

I hope this question does not make it sound like I think we cannot know anything without the Magisterium, but I do believe that the Magisterium is the surest way of a straight course.

[quote=Contarini]As I said, I see it as a spectrum, so the earlier the more binding, as a general rule. Nor do I think that there is a time limit–one should normally obey the doctrinal decisions of the Christian community to which one belongs, if they do not violate Scripture or the consensus of the Universal Church.
[/quote]

The more I thought about this, the more I thought about what an excellent analogy it is. I too see it as a spectrum, but if I may take your analogy a little further, I would say that just as it is a spectrum, we should view all the bright lights and colors through a Prism, which I believe would be the Church.

[quote=Contarini]In terms of the writings of the Fathers, clearly some of their views were not being put forward as the teaching of the Church (I don’t think Augustine ever suggests that purgatorial suffering is dogma, though I could be wrong), while others were (infant baptism, for instance). The Fathers are generally fairly clear about this, though of course that isn’t always the case. Origen, for instance, summarizes the teaching of the Church before he goes on to develop his very controversial private speculations.
[/quote]

This is why I believe the anology of the spectrum is an apt one. In another thread, JasonTE, argues that the Church should not define something as binding that he sees as A-historical, or even what he feels is contradicted. He does, I feel make what seems at first to be plausable arguments, but when I read what he reads I come to different conclusions.

Before my return to the Church, I am a re-vert, I could look through the Fathers and find many things that I felt contradicted Catholicism. But as I started to really read the Fathers, I came away with a Catholic sense of things.

I trust the Church with my salvation, which includes for me, the way of. This is in the sense that above all I believe Christ is who he claims to be, did what the Church claims he did, and does what he promised to do. In short I believe Jesus guides me through this life with his body, His Church.

I don’t say this in an apologetic manner. And I am not trying to point a finger at you for “where you are”, but I say it so you could see where I am, and why (sort of).

Your last paragraph:

[quote=Contarini]You say that you accept that the Bishop of Rome has authority to some extent. How does that authority affect your faith now?:

That’s an excellent question. In practice it means that I take very seriously whatever the Bishop of Rome teaches, and when it conflicts with what my own communion teaches I weigh the two against each other. And I oppose, pretty much across the board, whatever would take my own communion further away from union with Rome. I know that seems insufficient to you–I’m not sure it seems sufficient to me–but it’s where I am right now.
[/quote]

Is very much appreciated.

In JMJ, Richard

p.s. The weekend is closing and so is my time, what little of it I had for the Internet anyway. So, if you don’t hear from me for a while I apologize.


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