Our diff. dont matter. Only our faith in Jesus?

A close protestant friend of mine sent me this: johnharmstrong.typepad.com/john_h_armstrong_/2010/01/how-meeting-real-christians-from-different-traditions-makes-a-real-difference.html

We have often gotten into big arguments about ecumenism. It seems many protestant constantly stress the whole, “We have a mutual faith in Jesus and that is all that matters. Therefore, all the things that divide us are not really important (including belief in the Eucharist)”

It figures that the order mentioned in the article was an order of Jesuits… they have become super liberal.

“What? You dont believe that the Eucharist is the real body of Christ? That’s ok. You can still have communion thinking in your heart that it is a symbol. What matters is our mutual faith in Jesus.”

This stuff makes me really mad. YES, what matters is our faith in Jesus. But that does NOT mean that these other things dont matter. People throw out the baby with the bath water. It is a loaded statement. If you agree that what matters is our faith in Jesus, it limits a person’s response to the possibility that other things matter also hence, they shouldnt be withheld. . If a muslim said, come worship with us, what matters if that we believe in the God of Abraham. That is totally true… but that does not mean that we should put Jesus divinity aside for the sake of ecumenism.

To say, “we have many things in common so lets not fight or demonize one another” is an accurate and trustworthy statement. To say, “let us worship together knowing that we both believe that it is only by Jesus blood that we are saved” is an accurate statement. To say, “we as conservative Christians have many more things in common than do liberal Christians of different denominations” is also an accurate statement. But to say… “our commonalities are so similar, that the differences are not really meaningful differences that should divide” is taking it WAYYY too far. The Eucharist isnt a preference for a particular way of worship that can be put aside for the sake of ecumenism. It is the real presence of Christ. It cannot be put aside. If some Jesuit orders dont agree, that is fine. But that is the Catholic church position on the matter. Didnt Saint Paul say that we should respect the customs of other cultures if our own offends them? In essence when in Rome, respect the Romans? Well if these people are in Rome (Catholic Mass) they should respect the Church above the Jesuit order.

These are just my thoughts. What do you all think of the article? Have you ever had to deal with the, “our diff dont matter because we have a mutual faith in Jesus” argument? How do you deal with that in a respectful way?

I skimmed over his article. It is good that he is no longer “anti-Catholic” because he met a Christ-loving Catholic. There is no better way for us Catholics to evangelize.

As for other Christians who just say “only our faith in Jesus” matters… Well, Jesus is the Truth (Jn 14:6) and Paul told us to adhere to sound doctrine (1 Tim 1:10, 1 Tim 4:16, et al) as very important. That is part of faith in Jesus. To those “only faith matters” Christians, they reduce the faith only to recognizing the formal “Jesus is Son of God” part of Jesus and not the other truths about Him. While it is true someone can be saved without assenting to every true doctrine about Christ, can one really say he has faith in Christ if he obstinately rejects some true doctrine about Him?

On the one hand, I don’t think doctrinal issues should prevent us from uniting on common issues like abortion or whatever. On the other hand, we should never take the common attitude that “doctrine isn’t important.”

From the article:

“My own spirit was lifted up by this brother who had so much respect, not only for his other Christian brothers in A.A., but also for our own Catholic tradition. "

Respect for Catholic tradition? The Baptist received the the Eucharist :eek: That is not respect IMO. The articles says the Baptist asked permission and it was granted him, which again is :eek:

I can understand someone asking if they truly do not know what the Eucharist is. But whom ever gave him permission committed a grave sin in my mind. Am I wrong?

The key is ensuring that what you have faith in, is really Jesus and not merely some misunderstanding of who and what Jesus is and represents. But in ALL of the Christian churches that I have encountered, “understanding” is not only dismissed, but often taboo. Not long ago, I encountered a Protestant pastor insisting that people avoid understanding as it is a bad thing. I asked him how he was sure that his faith was truly in the right concept of Jesus. He couldn’t answer. Unknown to him, his church was about 60% Secular teachings.

Seek no understanding as a church, but merely faith and you will follow only the Devil and have faith in only a fantasy.

Good post :thumbsup:

Excellent point here. I think part of the problem is that so many different words are used for doctrine. I hear people say, Essential vs. non essential matters; values; preferences; dogmas. If you look doctrine into all those categories it can get difficult to understand what you are defending. And people will commonly say… “that is not an essential matter” which really means, there are some essential and some non essential doctrines.

Totally agree with you here. That is why I was so confused. He had respect for the Jesuit who said it was ok for him to do it, but not for the catholic church.

Since this institution is run by a religious order, rather than by the archdiocese, he was granted permission to commune (in such settings this is not uncommon).

Translation, “the Bishop can’t discipline us and these non-intellectuals won’t know how to complain to Rome so we can safely thumb our noses at Canon law.” :eek:

So, let me see if I understand this correctly, we make converts wait til the end of RCIA to receive first communion, yet a schismatic can receive communion without confession, confirmation or even baptism? I am thinking that there is something really wrong with that.

No religious order has the right to arbitrarily suspend Cannon law, which is what this Jesuit order did when they allowed non-Catholics to take communion. Only a Bishop is allowed to give permission for a non-Catholic to take communion in the Catholic Church and even then, only in certain situations. When we take communion in the Catholic church, we are saying that YES! we do believe in everything that the Catholic Church teaches. ABSOLUTELY everything! And we also are pledging our loyalty to the Pope!

The problem with ecumenism is that it focuses solely on the things that we have in common. That is like going to the doctor and he says: “Well you have cancer. But we are only going to focus on the things that right with your body and not focus on the things that are wrong with it.”

One big reason why I am skeptical of ecumenism is because the other teams are not playing according to the rules. Many groups are trying to Protestantize the Catholic Church and if they fail at that they are satisfied with proselytizing as many of us out of the church as they can.

I think perhaps you responded to my post on accident? I don’t think it was entirely related. I agree with what you said here about never compromising truth.

OOPS! You’re right, I did! That is what I get for posting late in the evening!

I think that the essential vs. non-essential terminology is the layman’s way of defining orthodoxy, heterodoxy, and heresy. It is a distinction that has existed since the beginning.

I don’t think those concepts line up the way you’re seeing them do so… Logically the issue of “essential” v. “non-essential” is basically just to say, your opinion on said doctrine doesn’t matter, it doesn’t make a difference.

Orthodox, heterodoxy and heresy is a little more absolute. If you’re wrong, you might well go to hell if you don’t get you self right.

There’s a distinction between ecumenical fellowship among Christians of various traditions and true ecumenism in which we begin to make steps towards one another as whole churches. Notice the distinction between the cordial but still distant relationship with the Catholic and Lutheran churches (even after the Joint Declaration some years ago) while Anglicans are being welcomed wholesale into the fold.

I’ve heard both sides but this reminds me somewhat of a friend and fraternity brother who planted a church downtown that asks attendants to “lose their religion and find Christ” - the idea being that it’s truly a nondenominational church even though it’s backed by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. On the one hand, we should be unified for Christ and look for the “Mere Christianity” between us. On the other hand, there should not be a prerequisite of dropping our particular beliefs in order to enter into that fellowship with others. Should we go to one another’s services from time to time? Yes, provided we’re strong enough in faith to do so and not be swayed unreasonably. Should Catholics make worshipping at Protestant churches a regular thing? Only when that no longer means rejecting Catholic doctrine.

Remember the example of the Cathari, a heretical sect that did not resemble Christian theology in the least, and how the Church approached them with detente and dialogue for years. We should be much more patient with our Protestant brethren who are far closer to us than were the Cathari.

It does bother me if the local order invited non-Catholics to partake. What’s not clear to me is whether the Baptist actually took Eucharist, or merely shared in the liturgy. It’s also not clear to me whether the Baptist is a former Catholic who would thus be (rightly or wrongly) viewed as “always a Catholic”. Within the more liberal branches of Catholic theology is the idea that we should never prohibit one from receiving the Eucharist - I don’t agree with that necessarily, but that’s not your question here.

This is a very good point. I would phrase it differently - it’s not that ‘other things matter’ but rather that we (Catholic and otherwise) understand faith in Christ differently.I have met non-Catholics who take faith in Christ to mean “I confessed His Name once and I haven’t changed my mind”. I personally take such faith to be a call that demands response, and a faith that does not compel one to change one’s life is an immature or nascent faith at best (which we have all had at one point in our Walk). The point of a shared faith isn’t to reduce that faith to the least common denominator, but rather to lift up one another into greater life in Christ. To Catholics, this includes the sacraments but also a calling to live one’s life as a sacrifice, a fragrant offering to the Lord through acts of charity, mercy and piety.

I really respect and appreciate your defense of the Blessed Sacrament and the Real Presence. Let’s not toss either baby out (as I look at the picture of my 8-month-old) - fellowship is a real grace that should be lived in, as is orthodoxy. Let us cling to our teachings and to one another, recognizing what comes first and through what all else should flow.

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