Schisms and the Holy Spirit


#1

there are times when the Holy Spirit protects the Church from error. We believe it just doesn’t err in these situations. However, did the Holy Spirit allow the Christian church to split apart in several instances?

I wonder if the theological separations of Christianity somehow bring Christ to people who otherwise might not embrace it? Those who can’t accept a dual nature of christ, or Papal infallibity, for example, might be turned off by Christianity if they had no other option.

Is this an “economia” of the Holy Spirit? I’ve always thought that God doesn’t really worry too much if you think the real presence comes from “transubstantiation” or some other polysyllabic method.

It also seems to me that if the Holy Spirit protects us from error on things like the immaculate Conception, he wouldn’t make a mistake by letting the churches split if it was not the will of God.

Please correct me on this if I am missing something.


#2

[quote="RKO, post:1, topic:312201"]
there are times when the Holy Spirit protects the Church from error. We believe it just doesn't err in these situations. However, did the Holy Spirit allow the Christian church to split apart in several instances?

No. People have freedom to follow or not follow the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. and the Church is One and will never split apart - those in schism and heresy are to some extent separated from the Church, something we define as "not being in full communion".

I wonder if the theological separations of Christianity somehow bring Christ to people who otherwise might not embrace it?

No. Christ said to the Father: "I want them to be one flock with one shepherd". Christ cannot contradict Himself. And what you call "theological separation" is the simple removal of truths from Sacred Tradition along with the insertion of errors (which in the past we used to call "heresies"). As for people going to Christ through others rather than through His Holy Church, that is not a sound argument, because, as Christ said, "if they believed in Moses, they'd believe in Him". Anyone reading the Scriptures would believe in Christ and enter His Church. To believe in Christ and not enter the Church is to believe also to the deceptions, errors, and lies grouped into the doctrines that were born outside of the Church, confusing man-made teachings with divine revelation. The Church, in fact, *is* the mystical Body of Christ, and one cannot truly "bring Christ to people" unless that means bringing them to full communion with the Church and bringing the Holy Eucharist to them.

Those who can't accept a dual nature of christ, or Papal infallibity, for example, might be turned off by Christianity if they had no other option.

That's truly their own problem. Remember John 1? "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him." And also: "those who listen to you, listen to me; those who reject you, reject me." (Lk 10:16)

Is this an "economia" of the Holy Spirit? I've always thought that God doesn't really worry too much if you think the real presence comes from "transubstantiation" or some other polysyllabic method.

There's no problem in avoiding the limitations of human language, as long as we don't go around saying: "it's just bread" or "it's symbolic", and we discern the Body and Blood of Christ, that is, the Real Presence. In the past, in very ancient times, the Church referred to this great miracle as "transmutation". Later, because of the rampaging heresy against the Holy Eucharist, the Church better defined what exactly was that changed, and went to the term "transubstantiation", to clarify that the *substance* is what changes. But to call it anything else as to dismiss the fact that in the Holy Eucharist is present the living Christ, in Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity is indeed to greatly upset the Lord, who spoke through the Apostle: "anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself."

It also seems to me that if the Holy Spirit protects us from error on things like the immaculate Conception, he wouldn't make a mistake by letting the churches split if it was not the will of God.

God does not "let" or "not let", He just "lets". It's what we define as "free will". God "let" Lucifer rebel and drag with himself a big part of the heavenly hosts. That does not mean this was God's will.

[/quote]


#3

1 Corinthians 1:10-13 (KJV)

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?


#4

"No. People have freedom to follow or not follow the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. and the Church is One and will never split apart - those in schism and heresy are to some extent separated from the Church, something we define as “not being in full communion”.

Good point! well stated R_C


#5

The question, of course, is who is in schism from whom?

Jon


#6

It depends on whom you are asking and answering the question. I think we let it be at that because it will serve no purpose to really go on. We know the answer to the question and so are them.

One thing for sure is that schism is not the work of the Holy Spirit for he is the Spirit of unity and not of confusion. The Church fathers have begun to recognize this and there are certainly effort to heal the wounds of schism so that there will be unity. However the reality is not that simple and besides human being human, it makes the effort even more difficult. Human frailty and shortcoming no doubt contributed big part to the schism and that makes it ever more difficult to address because to do so is to admit that weaknesses.

So the question perhaps is not very wise as to be raised here unless honestly you want to go that way again, Jon.


#7

Well, the ones that separated from the Church that maintained the apostolic succession are the ones in schism. Remember that creed from 17 centuries ago? The Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

The argument is slightly complex when we focus on the schism of the Eastern churches (which we now call the Orthodox Church), but for all other communities it’s actually quite clear, and the query is quite simple: input a name of a Christian community, receive the date of the schism and the names involved, or other related info.


#8

I think a reflection on John 6 will help answer this part of your post:

"60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?[a] 63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him. 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. 67 Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Here, many of Jesus’ disciples left him over one theological statement. Jesus, respecting their free will, allowed them to leave him over this. It doesn’t follow that the same Jesus would be pleased by reaching more people, but not having them believe fully in his words. That’s my two cents.


#9

If only Our Lord had the foresight to endow His Church with a fixed, even rock-like, authority to judge such things and to act as a visible principle of unity.

(of course, He did do so :slight_smile: )


#10

=Reuben J;10274117]It depends on whom you are asking and answering the question. I think we let it be at that because it will serve no purpose to really go on. We know the answer to the question and so are them.

I can’t argue with this, though I suspect the thread will go on.

One thing for sure is that schism is not the work of the Holy Spirit for he is the Spirit of unity and not of confusion. The Church fathers have begun to recognize this and there are certainly effort to heal the wounds of schism so that there will be unity. However the reality is not that simple and besides human being human, it makes the effort even more difficult. Human frailty and shortcoming no doubt contributed big part to the schism and that makes it ever more difficult to address because to do so is to admit that weaknesses.

Agreed! The best we can do is pray, and whenever possible, work for unity.

Jon


#11

My point was that they would say you separated from them.

As for the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, our division doesn’t translate into me not being a member. I am.

Jon


#12

Well, they would, but it would be historically and factually inaccurate :shrug:

And I could argue (but I won’t) that according to the writings of the major figures of Christianity (ex. Church Fathers and Church Doctors) separation from the Catholic Church governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him does translate to not being a member of the Church. And the reason I won’t argue this is that the Church, in Her divinely inspired wisdom, teaches us that indeed a valid baptism incorporates all Christians into the mystical body of Christ - though not in full communion with the Church.


#13

=R_C;10278408]Well, they would, but it would be historically and factually inaccurate :shrug:

From your POV as a Catholic. :shrug: From my Point of view as a Lutheran, it takes two to tango. I just pray for unity.

And I could argue (but I won’t) that according to the writings of the major figures of Christianity (ex. Church Fathers and Church Doctors) separation from the Catholic Church governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him does translate to not being a member of the Church. And the reason I won’t argue this is that the Church, in Her divinely inspired wisdom, teaches us that indeed a valid baptism incorporates all Christians into the mystical body of Christ - though not in full communion with the Church.

I understand.

Jon


#14

I agree. Jesus Himself tells us, “For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)


#15

[quote="Genesis315, post:9, topic:312201"]
If only Our Lord had the foresight to endow His Church with a fixed, even rock-like, authority to judge such things and to act as a visible principle of unity.

(of course, He did do so :) )

[/quote]

I like the way you're thinking!


#16

From my POV as someone who knows a few details of the history of the Church, I know that there was the Catholic Church and a Catholic monk called Luther who walked away from it by elaborating a new doctrine based on taking things out of the Catholic tradition and Scripture and by adding some of his own innovations, and dragging others with him. It wasn’t the Pope who created a doctrine and a movement protesting against Lutheranism :shrug: And no, it does not take two to tango, just like it did not take two when Lucifer rebeled and dragged with him lots of other angels :shrug: Would you argue that from his POV it is God who is in schism from hell?

I don’t mean to push the argument to the point of getting upset at one another, since after all the work of the Father of Lies is to spread division amidst the offspring of the Woman who will eventually crush him (Genesis 3:15, Revelation 12:17). However, that doesn’t make the Church any less of a divine institution, and any protestant community any more than the work of human hands :shrug: And by the way, that’s in the Scriptures.

Here’s a not entirely inaccurate graphical representation of what I mean. Perhaps some may consider that the straight red line should have been drawn a bit crooked here and there…(Isaiah 42:16, 45:2, Luke 3:5, John 1:23)

http://forums.catholic.com/picture.php?albumid=2066&pictureid=14353


#17

Oh, it is a remarkably innaccurate map. I won’t go into the portrayal of the Schism, but the portrayal of protestantism as being one monolithic movement (in green) is incredibly misleading. The contention is that Zwingli and Luther, along with anabaptists, and later Calvin were once all one communion.

This one is a little better.

Jon


#18

Well, that’s the one I modified. And I never claimed my map was accurate, just that it wasn’t to throw away. I do agree that the Great Schism is more of a two-sided issue than of one group moving out and that this is misrepresented in that image, as well as the fact that not all protestant communities originated from one same separation or group. However, to be honest, what I most dislike of the actual image is the lack of proportions - that’s what I was trying to fix:

  • The splitting of red and blue is misleading, considering that even to this day there are about 250 million members of the Orthodox Church vs. 1200 million members of the Catholic Church.

  • The distance between the blue line and the red line does not underscore how close the Orthodox and Catholic Church are, “almost in full communion”, especially after 1965.

  • The lines of protestantism are as thick as those of Catholicism, a great inaccuracy. Also, the idea of 5 well-defined lines greatly contrasts with the fact that there are (as mentioned) tens of thousands of denominations and counting.

  • The line of anglicanism fails to show the fact that a Catholic ordinariate was established to welcome the clergy of the Church of England who wanted to return to full communion with the Church, which is happening.

Other than that (and a few more details) either image makes the point of who is in schism from who, and anyways the map is just one visual aid (and not the best one, of course).


#19

I don’t ask this in an effort to hijack this thread, so please forgive me if it seems like I am.

Would you say that regardless of whether the Holy Spirit acted to cause schism, is it true to say that Christians in communion with Rome do not have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit, that He may be inspiring Protestants to follow Him in the same way as He calls to those in full communion with the Holy See?


#20

=R_C;10282976]Well, that’s the one I modified. And I never claimed my map was accurate, just that it wasn’t to throw away. I do agree that the Great Schism is more of a two-sided issue than of one group moving out and that this is misrepresented in that image, as well as the fact that not all protestant communities originated from one same separation or group. However, to be honest, what I most dislike of the actual image is the lack of proportions - that’s what I was trying to fix:

Ok.

  • The splitting of red and blue is misleading, considering that even to this day there are about 250 million members of the Orthodox Church vs. 1200 million members of the Catholic Church.

I won’t argue that perhaps the boldness lines create a bit of a misconception

  • The distance between the blue line and the red line does not underscore how close the Orthodox and Catholic Church are, “almost in full communion”, especially after 1965.

Perhaps, though I suspect its intent was not to show differences, but instead for clarity of the clarity itself. I think, however, sometimes Catholics tend to overstate the similarities of doctrine. That’s the impression I get from our Orthodox friends here at CAF.

  • The lines of protestantism are as thick as those of Catholicism, a great inaccuracy. Also, the idea of 5 well-defined lines greatly contrasts with the fact that there are (as mentioned) tens of thousands of denominations and counting.

Again, I see your point on the boldness. As a Lutheran, I think clearly the well-defined Lutheran line is appropriate. As to the others, I believe in general terms, one can view within non-Lutheran protestantism general fellowships, often with Calvinism as a central thread.

  • The line of anglicanism fails to show the fact that a Catholic ordinariate was established to welcome the clergy of the Church of England who wanted to return to full communion with the Church, which is happening.

That might reflect the age of the chart, but I agree. Of course, if we’re looking at the boldness of a line of Anglicans returning to unity with the Bishop of Rome through the Ordinariate, it would be a decidedly thin line. :smiley:

Other than that (and a few more details) either image makes the point of who is in schism from who, and anyways the map is just one visual aid (and not the best one, of course).

I don’t think a Lutheran with any knowledge of history would dispute that our roots are in the western Church.

Jon


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.