Why say "I'm Catholic" when you're not? (Trying again to post)

I tried to post this thread last night and got bumped off before it posted all the way. Here it goes…

I have a Lutheran friend who always challenges me about the Catholic church. She seems to want to convert me or just argue – I’m not sure. But one of her claims is that Lutherans are actually catholic; she doesn’t like to be called Protestant or even Lutheran, in fact. I think she understands there is such a rich history and wants to be part of the historical church without the authority of the pope.

Does anyone else know people who view their faith/church this way?

DeniseR - you may be right. Her “challenges” may just be a way of probing you for knowledge. As to others like this, it seems to be a fairly common protestant practice to try and justify themselves as the historical church by various means. I will pray that your friend comes to realize that the Pope and the Church are inseperable.

God bless.

[quote=DeniseR]…]I think she understands there is such a rich history and wants to be part of the historical church without the authority of the pope.

Does anyone else know people who view their faith/church this way?
[/quote]

Yes. The majority of Roman Catholics in North America. From the title of the post, that’s who I thought you were referring to.

Thank goodness there are still enough upstanding Catholics to inspire people and show them the path through the way that they live, just as Paul instructed (it’s too bad that the Church doesn’t seem to excommunicate members anymore - the prescribed method of dealing with those who ignored that instruction)

As a protestant ready to come home, I can’t stress enough how damaging certain types of “progress”, that a large number of Catholics over here seem to want, may be to the Church.

If enough “progress” is made, then there will be very little reason for protestants to rejoin the Church. It’s basically a choice between appeasing bad Catholics or continuing to stand for Truth which will add to the number of good Catholics.

Needless to say, I am delighted with the new Pope (not that I didn’t like JPII).

Oh, and just to answer the question as you intended :slight_smile: - No, I don’t know any protestants who claim to be Catholic (although I admit that I don’t know any Lutherans).

  • Greg

I think they’ve borrowed this act from the Episcopalians, although there is more justification for Episcopalians to claim catholicity because they also claim valid Apostolic Succession. While the Swedish Lutherans have Apostolic bishops, most Lutherans do not (nor would they WANT them).

Yet Lutherans these days have taken to claiming that THEY are the Church as it was before it needed the Lutheran reform, and that Rome has fallen off the edge of the earth. :rolleyes:

I know a brillilant, ex-Catholic, now LCMS, guy with a PhD from Columbia who promotes this silly view.

If enough “progress” is made, then there will be very little reason for protestants to rejoin the Church. It’s basically a choice between appeasing bad Catholics or continuing to stand for Truth which will add to the number of good Catholics.

And that’s it in a nutshell. Either you are Catholic or you are not. I hope the Vatican gets louder and louder in the next few years and the “progressives” are pushed so far out of the loop that no one will ever again confuse these dissidents with true, believing, confessing, practicing Catholics.

[quote=DeniseR]I tried to post this thread last night and got bumped off before it posted all the way. Here it goes…

I have a Lutheran friend who always challenges me about the Catholic church. She seems to want to convert me or just argue – I’m not sure. But one of her claims is that Lutherans are actually catholic; she doesn’t like to be called Protestant or even Lutheran, in fact. I think she understands there is such a rich history and wants to be part of the historical church without the authority of the pope.

Does anyone else know people who view their faith/church this way?
[/quote]

The fact that you find this surprising is a strong argument for us Protestants to keep using the term “Roman Catholic” for you guys even if you don’t like it. Of course Protestants think we are Catholic, just as you guys think you are Orthodox. What on earth did you think the Reformation was about, if not about the nature of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?

Frequently Protestants will say “catholic” lowercase, just as you would generally say that you are orthodox rather than Orthodox so as not to get in a shouting match with the folks from Constantinople. But the claim is that we belong to the Catholic Church as mentioned in the Creeds. This is just basic Protestantism. You shouldn’t find it weird or surprising. If we didn’t think this, we would join y’all’s church.

(OK, lots of poorly informed Protestants do use the word “Catholic” the same way you do. That’s another reason why semantics matter. Most people don’t think through the issues, so labels need to be kept clear.)

Edwin

Yes, I think that Luther’s original intention was not to start a new church, but that’s how it ended up. Many of Luther’s beliefs were quite a bit more “Catholic” (i.e. Marian doctrine) than the current Lutheran church.

Henry VIII didn’t think he was going to start a new church. He just wanted to be head of the Catholic Church in England. But things have a way of getting out of hand, once started.

The true reformers were actually the religious orders.

[quote=Contarini]The fact that you find this surprising is a strong argument for us Protestants to keep using the term “Roman Catholic” for you guys even if you don’t like it. Of course Protestants think we are Catholic, just as you guys think you are Orthodox. What on earth did you think the Reformation was about, if not about the nature of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?

Frequently Protestants will say “catholic” lowercase, just as you would generally say that you are orthodox rather than Orthodox so as not to get in a shouting match with the folks from Constantinople. But the claim is that we belong to the Catholic Church as mentioned in the Creeds. This is just basic Protestantism. You shouldn’t find it weird or surprising. If we didn’t think this, we would join y’all’s church.

(OK, lots of poorly informed Protestants do use the word “Catholic” the same way you do. That’s another reason why semantics matter. Most people don’t think through the issues, so labels need to be kept clear.)

Edwin
[/quote]

Thanks for the response, Edwin. I knew that Catholics see Protestants as part of the Catholic Church because they were baptized in the Trinitarian formula. But I didn’t know Protestants saw themselves as part of the Catholic church, too. My friend seems to get defensive when I refer to her as Lutheran, but that’s what she is. However, she is so far removed from Luthur in her beliefs, which makes her even further from the Catholic teachings. What was interesting was that when PJPII died she took great interest and with all the press coverage she seemed to take “pride” in her “catholism” but still rejects the pope’s authority.

From my view (and I could be wrong), the Reformation was about a sincere Catholic who saw abuse in the Church and tried to change it. But he went about it in the wrong way. Instead of staying in the Church and changing it from within, he got himself excommunicated by promoting heresy. His pride got in the way and he protested against not just the person sitting in Peter’s chair but the authority of the office. He left behind the authority of the pope, Apostolic succession, and Tradition. By doing so, he made himself the authority to teach the truth as he saw it and thus began a slippery slope of discent.

When sexual abuses by some priests came to light it didn’t undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church. The people who were abusing and covering up were dead wrong and needed to be
exposed and punished. It would have been wrong for some sincere Catholic priests to protest by starting up their own church and claiming they would have handled the situation differently. Instead, faithful Catholics have been working hard to ensure this doesn’t happen again. There have always been “Judas’” in the Church and there always will be.

Personally, I don’t mind the term Roman Catholic. It says we follow the pope and I’m proud to follow the pope, knowing he is the sucessor to Peter and preserves the teachings of the church Christ established.

[quote=Contarini]The fact that you find this surprising is a strong argument for us Protestants to keep using the term “Roman Catholic” for you guys even if you don’t like it. Of course Protestants think we are Catholic, just as you guys think you are Orthodox. What on earth did you think the Reformation was about, if not about the nature of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?

Frequently Protestants will say “catholic” lowercase, just as you would generally say that you are orthodox rather than Orthodox so as not to get in a shouting match with the folks from Constantinople. But the claim is that we belong to the Catholic Church as mentioned in the Creeds. This is just basic Protestantism. You shouldn’t find it weird or surprising. If we didn’t think this, we would join y’all’s church.

(OK, lots of poorly informed Protestants do use the word “Catholic” the same way you do. That’s another reason why semantics matter. Most people don’t think through the issues, so labels need to be kept clear.)

Edwin
[/quote]

Catholic means universal. In what manner can Protestants be considered “catholic”??? There is no universal Protestant church; unlike the Catholic Church, which is found in every corner of the world, each of the various Protestant sects are mostly limited to a particular group of people or geographic area. Even where Protestant denominations have made headway in Catholics lands, such as Latin America, they continue to divide and multiply just as they always have. So please explain how Protestants can be called “catholic” or universal.

[quote=Anima Christi]Catholic means universal. In what manner can Protestants be considered “catholic”??? There is no universal Protestant church; unlike the Catholic Church, which is found in every corner of the world, each of the various Protestant sects are mostly limited to a particular group of people or geographic area.
[/quote]

There is, but it has a different ecclesiology from Catholicism. Protestantism is no less universal in impulse than Catholicism. The CC is not found in all corners of the world - 97% of Asia is not Catholic. Its presence in China is about 1% of the population.

BTW, estimates of its size depend on counting as Catholics millions of people whom many Catholics regard as not Catholic at all - such as all those who use contraception, or are not “faithful Catholics” in some other way. Take them out of the stats, and the Church loses millions of Catholics at a stroke. The size of the Church’s impressively large population relies on including as Catholics all those baptised into her, whatever their morals, orthodoxy, or practice.

The Church can be either “a faithful remnant” - or a worldwide communion: but hardly both. So which is it to be presented as ? ##

Even where Protestant denominations have made headway in Catholics lands, such as Latin America, they continue to divide and multiply just as they always have. So please explain how Protestants can be called “catholic” or universal.

Before Contarini explains, I’ll try to :smiley: :

The RC notion of how a Church can be universal, is not the only possible one - nor even the most profound IMHO. Catholics do have this habit of being unable to imagine how there can be any universality which is not the RC type: visible & institutional.

But this neglects a great deal of what is meant by universality: it overlooks most of what the CC really means by the word.

And Protestantism, despite not being a visibly united and centralised organisation in the way that Catholicism is, has a different unity: one which is spiritual. It acknowledges one Head, Jesus Christ - and He is its centre: it needs no other; unlike Catholicism. But Catholicism is far more divided - under the impressive exterior it presents to the world - than many Catholics will admit: this is why disagreement with those who insist on exterior conformity is so annoying: it spoils the (very attractive) notion that all Catholics are united; so those who disagree must be de-Catholicised: even if those competent to judge of error and truth are quite satisfied of the orthodoxy of the accused.

The appearance of disunity in Catholicism is therefore a far more serious problem for popular Catholic orthodoxy, because this external unity is far more important to Catholic apologetics than the far more important spiritual foundations of the CC’s unity, which are not visible, and do not lend themselves to being proved - apologetics is far too keen on trying to prove things, when they ate often not capable of proof: this leads to something little different from rationalism, and attracts justifiable criticism from the Orthodox.

There are various reasons for this: the influence of a scientistic model of knowledge, and of the pre-Kantian rationalism that is a foundation for so much Protestant Fundamentalist apologetic, are two of them; Fundamentalist apologetic is often a betrayal of salvation by faith.

What is really unhelpful is the ignorance of Protestantism’s history, theology, devotional habits, missionary history, theological controversies, worship, persecutions and martyrs. Unless Protestantism is far better known, in far greater detail, there will be not an ice-cream in Hell’s chance of making a favourable impression on those Protestants who know their stuff. The validity of Protestantism is not dependent on the good character of the Reformers, or on the perfect virtue of modern Protestants; but on the faithfulness of Christ.

Catholics have to start thinking Biblically - otherwise they will not even begin to understand Protestantism. ##

[quote=Gottle of Geer The CC is not found in *all
[/quote]

corners of the world - 97% of Asia is not Catholic. Its presence in China is about 1% of the population. - **The fact is, the Church is present in Asia. In many Asian countries, Catholic worship is suppressed. Please pray for the Chinese Catholics of the clandestine Church and read this: **catholictradition.org/kung.htm

BTW, estimates of its size depend on counting as Catholics millions of people whom many Catholics regard as not Catholic at all - such as all those who use contraception, or are not “faithful Catholics” in some other way. Take them out of the stats, and the Church loses millions of Catholics at a stroke. The size of the Church’s impressively large population relies on including as Catholics all those baptised into her, whatever their morals, orthodoxy, or practice. - Size of membership is not Pope Benedict XVI’s priority. He stated as Cardinal that he would rather a smaller Church than a Church packed with members who do not practice the faith. This does not take away from the “catholicity” of the Church. It is found across the globe.

The Church can be either “a faithful remnant” - or a worldwide communion: but hardly both. So which is it to be presented as ? -
You are mistaking universality with membership size. A 1% population of Catholics in some countries does not diminish the fact that the Church is present across the globe.

And Protestantism, despite not being a visibly united and centralised organisation in the way that Catholicism is, has a different unity: one which is spiritual. It acknowledges one Head, Jesus Christ - and He is its centre: it needs no other; unlike Catholicism. - **This is an idealized version of “Protestantism”. The mainline Protestant denominations are losing membership to “non-denominational” churches but these churches offer only a simplistic faith. Bob Bennett (Author of The Four Witnesses and also ex-Southern Baptist) was on “The Journey Home” on EWTN last night. At one time he was a missionary with a non-denominational church. He said that deep religious discussion between the various faiths was impossible. Any theological discussion deeper than Jesus Christ as the spiritual center brought division. As such, he said the faith that they brought to converts was very shallow. The spiritual union that you describe is not a profound union.

The validity of Protestantism is not dependent on the good character of the Reformers, or on the perfect virtue of modern Protestants; but on the faithfulness of Christ. - The validity of Protestantism is dependent upon the whether or not the Reformers had the authority to speak for the Holy Spirit.

Catholics have to start thinking Biblically - otherwise they will not even begin to understand Protestantism**. - Are you suggesting that Catholics do not understand the Bible? **

As a few have said many Protestant groups are starting to use the term “catholic” more openly and from what I have seen its a new wave of attacks. And at its heart it is to dilute the term “catholic” into nothing.

The most popular justification of using the term is all those protestant groups who “accept” the historical creeds like the Nicene and stuff where it says “one holy catholic and apostolic Church”. They claim that “catholic” means anyone and everyone and not specifically referring to the CC. The problem is when you start asking them questions and find out how much historical stuff they reject, they will soon see that they cant be the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

Here is a CA article about this topic and some excerpts:

catholic.com/thisrock/1993/9311def.asp

The attempt by non-Catholics to claim “catholic” for themselves is not new. Heretics and schismatics in the fourth century tried to claim the term, yet their attempts proved unsuccessful. In 397 Augustine pointed this out using an illustration from everyday life.** "[T]he very name of Catholic . . . belongs to this Church alone . . . so much so that, although all heretics want to be called catholic,' when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house"** (*Against the Letter of Mani CalledThe Foundation’* 4:5).

And

The portion of the Nicene creed that contains the reference was written in 381.[The first part of the creed, which deals with the Father and the Son, was written at the council of Nicea in A.D. 325. The second part of the creed, which begins by affirming the deity of the Holy Spirit and contains the reference to the Catholic Church, was written at the council of Constantinople I in A.D. 381. The new creed came to be called the Nicene Creed, though it would be more proper to call it the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed, a name so long as to demand abbreviation]. **“Catholic” was added to the Apostles’ Creed in the fourth century, specifically to distinguish the Catholics who recited it from the heretics who also did so. In both creeds “Catholic” is used in its modern sense.
**
Although some “non-confessional churches” in the Baptist and Pentecostal movements have rejected the creeds, most Protestants have wished to use them. As a result, they have been forced to abandon their principle of interpreting a text based on the intentions of its authors. They have had to reinterpret the creeds to fit their own particular views, which is the very thing they revile liberal theologians and liberal Supreme Court justices for doing with the Bible and the Constitution. It would be more intellectually honest if Protestants who wish to use these creeds would simply mutilate them by dropping the offensive clauses, instead of reinterpreting them and claiming that the faith of modern Protestants is the same as the faith of those who formulated the creeds.

This creed mutilation is already engaged in by some Protestants. Some Evangelicals now confess belief in “the Holy Christian Church” when they say the Apostles’ Creed. Some liberal Protestants have gone so far as to drop offensive supernatural elements from the creeds (such as belief in the resurrection of the body). Conservative Protestants might find this anti-supernaturalistic creed mutilation offensive, but at least the liberals have the courage to drop what they don’t believe in rather than reinterpreting it so that it means something completely different.

[quote=DeniseR]Thanks for the response, Edwin. I knew that Catholics see Protestants as part of the Catholic Church because they were baptized in the Trinitarian formula. But I didn’t know Protestants saw themselves as part of the Catholic church, too.
[/quote]

Protestants in general are very confused about it. Methodists, for instance (the Protestant group with which I have recently had most to do, except for Anglicans who are a special case in this regard), frequently wonder why they say “Catholic Church” in the Apostles’ Creed. (They have the Nicene Creed in their hymnal but don’t use it very often.) In other words, the identification of “Catholic” with “Rome” is strong in their minds because of normal usage. Roughly speaking, there are four ways in which Protestants think about this:

  1. Fundamentalists who think that there has been a true Church throughout the centuries which is sharply distinct from “Rome.” Of course, those guys often don’t call themselves Protestants.

  2. The average, poorly informed, rather confused Protestant who simply thinks that there are a bunch of Christian churches of which his/her particular church is one, and something called the “Roman Catholic Church” is another. These are the folks who find the Apostles’ Creed very confusing.

  3. More informed Protestants who would say that there is a universal Church which has existed throughout the centuries, to which the Creed refers and of which all orthodox (basically Trinitarian) Christian denominations are part. Often they will speak of this church as “invisible,” but this is a badly defined concept. Historically, the older Protestant traditions have been willing to speak of a universal visible Church (Calvin is a particularly good example). The more congregational traditions do not, and they are less likely to claim to be in some sense “catholic.” (Generally Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians/Reformed, and Methodists fall in the first category, while Congregationalists, Baptists, nondenominational Protestants, and the more modern American traditions fall in the second.)

  4. A small group of ecumenical Protestants, such as myself, who would not only subscribe to 3 above but would also agree that Rome plays a necessary role within the Church. Our view is not that different from a generous interpretation of Vatican II.

I grant that I tend to make generalizations about Protestantism that skew toward category 4, but that’s because most Catholics on this board tend to think that most Protestants fall into category 1. As a matter of fact most Protestants fall into categories 2 and 3.

Edwin

[quote=Anima Christi]Catholic means universal. In what manner can Protestants be considered “catholic”??? There is no universal Protestant church; unlike the Catholic Church, which is found in every corner of the world, each of the various Protestant sects are mostly limited to a particular group of people or geographic area.
[/quote]

Well, that’s not true in the first place, and in the second it’s not very relevant, since “Catholic” doesn’t necessarily mean “found in every country in the world.” But more to the point, Protestants don’t claim that any single denomination is the Catholic Church. Bear in mind that single Protestant denominations are to be compared to the “particular churches” that make up Catholicism. As a matter of fact, the “Roman Catholic Church” strictly so called is by far the largest of your 22 churches. But theoretically you are a coalition of various sui juris churches. If you want to stress this–and most Catholics on this board do, it seems to me–then you can’t compare the Catholic Church with, say, the United Methodist Church or the Episcopal Church, but rather with the Anglican Communion or the World Methodist Council. So the fact that organizationally Protestant denominations are often (by no means always) national is hardly relevant.

However, the really important issue is that Protestants don’t even regard their particular tradition (Methodist or Anglican or whatever) as making up the Catholic Church. The claim is not that even Protestantism as a whole is “the Catholic Church,” but rather that it participates in the historic reality of the Catholic Church–one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. As Denise pointed out, Catholics today (after Vatican II) do grant this to some extent (though a more limited extent than Denise’s generous post indicated).

Edwin

We have matt25 here who says his religion is “catholic”(note the lower case “c”) I hope he replies to this thread and make it clear if he’s a Catholic or Protestant

[quote=mercygate] While the Swedish Lutherans have Apostolic bishops, most Lutherans do not (nor would they WANT them).

[/quote]

I am so surprised to read this about Swedish Lutheran bishops. Please give me a reference so I can get more info.

Thanks and God bless, :slight_smile:
Anna

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholicism

I have seen old-line Calvinists refer to themselves as “Reformed Catholic,” meaning that they consider themselves to be directly descended from the pre-Reformation Church.

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