The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism

Mark Brumley wrote a fascinating article, Why Catholicism Makes Protestantism Tick: Louis Bouyer on the Reformation. The article is an overview of Louis Bouyer’s book,** The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism**.

I think it will interesting to discuss some of the ideas drawn from that article and book.

Start here:

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What is there left to say? It should be fairly obvious to any educated person that Protestantism began as a reform movement within the Western church in the sixteenth century, taking root in Northern and Western Europe to become a branch of Western Christianity in its own right. For there to be reform, something must exist which needs reforming, in this case the Catholic Church led by the Pope in Rome.

I just checked. Ferris is in bed sick. I’m sure he will be back in school tomorrow.:smiley:

The article says that sola scriptura - properly understood by both sides - ought to be the means for healing the rift rather than the wedge that separates us.

"the supremacy of the Bible does not imply an opposition between it and the authority of the Church or Tradition, as certain negative principles adopted by the Reformers implied. Furthermore, the biblical spirituality of Protestantism, properly understood, is in keeping with the best traditions of Catholic spirituality, especially those of the Fathers and the great medieval theologians. Through Scripture, God speaks to us today, offering a living Word to guide our lives in Christ.

Thus, writes Bouyer, “the supreme authority of Scripture, taken in its positive sense, as gradually drawn out and systematized by Protestants themselves, far from setting the Church and Protestantism in opposition, should be the best possible warrant for their return to understanding and unity.”

Do you see sola scriptura as a means for you to be re-united with the Catholic Church?

Chaper 10 of the actual book:

CHAPTER X - The Catholic Church necessary to the full flowering of the principles
of the Reformation

:smiley: I see Sola Scriptura as a means to greater unity among Christians. That could mean that the Catholic Church unites with us Pentecostals.

Cool :thumbsup:
Can I get you to expound on that just a bit?
How would you propose to resolve matters of differing interpretations of Scripture on matters considered essential by at least one group?


James–Though not quite what you’re asking Itwin, here’s something related: “John Wesley on Doctrinal Standards and Church Unity”—

Though I regret that my own church did not follow Wesley’s advice to stay united with the larger Methodist body and further with the Church of England, I think full doctrinal unity can be a work in progress to be completed on Judgment Day, but with full charitable unity acheivable now. I am convinced leaving my church would be a step against achieving both doctrinal and charitable unity among Christians.

Some Christian groups baptize infants and some do not yet both sides claim to be lead by the Spirit and to be rightly dividing the Word of God.

A few questions come to mind:

  1. Does doctrine matter?
  2. Are contradictory and conflicting doctrines acceptable in the one Body of Christ?
  3. Does the Holy Spirit teach one truth to one group and a different truth to another?
  4. As a Spirit-filled Christian, which of these two groups will you not be able to unite with on the basis of their false doctrine?
  5. Is there a biblical basis for determining which doctrines are “essential” and which we can pretty much do whatever we want with?


Is Pope Francis an Evangelical, Charismatic Catholic?

I don’t have an answer. It’s something the Holy Spirit is going to have to work out. We need to be willing to talk about what we believe and why we believe it, and pray that the Holy Spirit would convince those who need convincing of the truth. “Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).


It depends on what you mean. If you mean that all Christians have to totally agree on every color, shade, and hue of theology then I disagree. We have plenty of examples in the New Testament where the Apostles left the answers to some questions to individual believers to be guided by their conscience.

What I do believe is that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” that is sufficiently articulated in the Holy Scriptures, which “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

Of course not. The presence of differences between the different communions is due to humanity. We have a tendency to coalesce into our own tribes.

You mean baptism? Obviously, I would unite with a Pentecostal church that teaches believer’s baptism. Nevertheless, I don’t consider infant baptism in itself so bad nor would I feel obliged to split from a church that did practice it. A denomination that is very similar to my own in theology and history, the Church of the Nazarene, has a tradition of baptizing infants at the request of their parents. The Evangelical Free Church also gives the option of baptism or infant dedication to parents.

What I object to is the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, whether its practiced on infants, older children, or adults.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So, every doctrine enumerated in the Bible is “essential.”

But I think you mean “essential for salvation.” I believe the biblical basis is to be convinced by the Holy Spirit of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

I believe that the protestant world has been using this method for 500 years now…How is it working out? :smiley:

Sorry - couldn’t pass that one up…:wink:

Seriously - The Bible itself gives us the approach we should take so I would suggest that if “Sola Scriptura” is to be used to bring unity, then perhaps the biblical method should be employed to resolve Doctrinal matters of importance to at least one of the groups.

Would you agree with this?


I’d say Protestants are picking up our slack in some places :smiley:


My daughter has asked me my wishes for a Christmas present. Perhaps this is it (or something by Pelikan). I have read bits and pieces about Bouyer’s book.
Brumley’s review spurs the curiousity.

Thanks, Randy



I was just musing that you have been awfully busy on here lately.

Interesting. I can’t think of anything that has been more divisive in the Body of Christ than the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

This might be beyond the scope of the thread, but what was it that prevented this from happening?

Definitely. :thumbsup:

AbideWithMe may be referring to something else, but Methodism in the United States separated from the Church of England during the American Revolutionary War, when the remnant of the colonial Anglican Church was left in ecclesiastical confusion due to the break with the Crown. John Wesley, who lived in England and remained a priest in the Church of England, responded to the pastoral need in America among Methodists who were left without Anglican priests to administer Communion and the other sacraments by directing the American Methodists to create their own church, which became the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the predecessor bodies to the current United Methodist Church.

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