22 thoughts on “How to Think and Act Protestant

  1. “But that may be an exaggeration; survey results show that most Catholic voters were blissfully unaware of the bishops’ advice, and probably would have ignored that advice even if they had heard it.”

    My former people.

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  2. D. Hart, as usual – great stuff.

    I wonder how the game changes for “theologically informed” converts who take that Tiberian swim for decidedly non-theological reasons. For instance: I have a friend (a fellow Pursuer of Truth and Defender of Liberty) who recently converted to Romanism because a feverish invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary helped him avoid an illicit roll in the hay while under the influence of cheap whiskey and cheaper wine.

    This friend of mine considers himself an intelligent man, but no amount of logic will do any good. He’s had an experience, and he’s got the brains and the book-smarts to know a legit experience when he’s seen one. Any push-back I give him is me “burdening his conscience,” and any rebuke is me being a typically aspiritual Protestant.

    So the question is: what camp do you see my friend falling into? The camp of converts who chafe under Cardinal XXX’s press-conference antics, or of the camp that could care less – that is, exhibit that oft-lauded “simple” or “old-lady-who-has-gone-to-daily-mass-for-50-years” faith?

    Aren’t the folk-religion, “Mary Saved Me From My Naughtiness” types more of a danger to themselves than anything else? And what is that oh-so-easily ignored Bishop Y doing about that?

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  3. One way to protest is not to call oneself a “protestant”. Why should sectarians define themselves over antichrists who imitate the true Christ?

    David Lipscomb: “We are satisfied that voting does much more harm to the church than dancing does. And we are no apologists for dancing.”

    http://johnmarkhicks.com/2012/01/02/voting-more-evil-than-dancing-says-david-lipscomb/

    The Scots Confession of 1560,Chapter 24 — the preservation and purification of religion is particularly the duty of kings, princes, rulers and magistrates. They are not only appointed for civil government but also to maintain true religion and to suppress all idolatry and superstition.

    The sectarians who deny that National Christianity is New Testament Christianity are most likely Marcionites who don’t think there was any gospel in the Old Testament. Once such people begin talking about the spirituality of churches, they are not far from the conclusion that churches must be composed of only of those who profess to believe the gospel. And then they will probably start talking about “experiences”. And I don’t mean “sacramental experiences”.

    Sectarianism is dangerous because it encourages people to separate themselves from the world. Some of them become so indifferent to managing the direction of history that they don’t even vote anymore….

    The History of Scottish Congregationalism, 1960, p 17.

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  4. Seth, is your friend sure that a visit to purge the bad alcohol in the john was the reason for his chastity, not Mary?

    Don’t know where to put this one, though Pentecostals and charismatics have similar experiences that defy logic. Just make sure he doesn’t bug you about the great intellectual tradition of Rome.

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  5. D. Hart,

    A pastor friend of mine described those who were drawn to Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy as acting “as if they were under some kind of enchantment.” A hastily uttered prayer to St. Mary may seem miraculous to some, but only to those who already have the Romish narrative bought and paid for. After buying the folk-religion aspect of Roman piety, all roads do seem to lead to Rome. I guess that’s why some can create shrines over burnt toast or water-damaged walls.

    Mostly it’s just disappointing, especially from someone who should know better. Some people don’t like being the odd-man out. And some people are just cowardly.

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  6. By the numbers, conversions are largely the effect of personal factors (link: http://www.pewforum.org/2009/04/27/faith-in-flux/)

    The top two reasons for conversion are “Religious institutions, practices, and people” and “Life cycle changes” (mostly, family reasons).

    Well, well down on the list are things like theological conviction — except in the case of Caths going Prot.

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  7. And this is what continues to baffle me about Romanist converts from Protestants. They despair over Protestantism’s disunity on what Scripture teaches, but they completely ignore Rome’s disunity on what the Magisterium teaches. Then, they lecture us on the true meaning of the Magisterium. I guess it really is all about justifying a decision that all too often seems like it was made emotionally, not intellectually.

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  8. You unfortunately speak the truth, DH. Especially given Mr. Mill’s earnest conversion account in Patrick Madrid’s ‘Surprised By Truth.’ [Np offense intended. I follow this lead.] Seriously, what good is an infallible Church if all its pronouncements are goofy to fallible?

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  9. The difference is palpable between the Called to Communion blog people who are are rather joyous–and theologically– at joining or returning to the Catholic Church

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/

    and the angst and crappiness of Darryl Hart’s flock

    sean
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
    “But that may be an exaggeration; survey results show that most Catholic voters were blissfully unaware of the bishops’ advice, and probably would have ignored that advice even if they had heard it.”

    My former people.

    Robert
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink
    And this is what continues to baffle me about Romanist converts from Protestants.

    Joe M
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 10:52 pm | Permalink
    You unfortunately speak the truth, DH. Especially given Mr. Mill’s earnest conversion account in Patrick Madrid’s ‘Surprised By Truth.’ [Np offense intended. I follow this lead.] Seriously, what good is an infallible Church if all its pronouncements are goofy to fallible?

    Mark Mcculley
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink
    One way to protest is not to call oneself a “protestant”. Why should sectarians define themselves over antichrists who imitate the true Christ?

    If you need validation that bad, let ’em rock, Darryl. They make your version of the Christian religion look worse than how Trump is disgracing the Republican Party. Then again maybe you

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  10. vd, t, there’s a reason you come here, why you’re not protesting at the local PP, doing pro-bono work for Daleiden, and not going to church. Your schtick is much more OL than CtC.

    More later.

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  11. I know, but Protestants are schismatic:

    Since the October 2014 Synod of Bishops on Marriage and the Family and its scandalous midterm report — which promoted a looser and ostensibly more liberal attitude toward “remarried” divorcees and practicing homosexuals — the Catholic Church is increasingly faced with bishops and prelates who also support that innovating agenda with respect to the traditional moral teaching of the Church.
    Just in the last few weeks, some sobering events have happened: A German archbishop publicly declared his support of active homosexuals; a Spanish bishop allowed a transgender woman to become the godmother of her nephew; a Swiss bishop is now being sued by a homosexual organization for an alleged hate crime because he quoted, and too literally, the Old Testament; one of the Pope’s close advisers will give a speech at a conference in Rome with several markedly progressive speakers.

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  12. The burdens are light:

    Does papal infallibility demand unthinking subservience in all things? No. We are expected to be intellectually engaged in our faith. We might personally dislike a particular pope. We might find papal teachings challenging. We may question a pope’s judgments and offer a critique of his opinions, but we always do so in a quest to understand and obey more fully.

    What a good Catholic cannot do is disrespect a pope, disregard his teaching and dismiss his authority in a spirit of rebellion and dissent.

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  13. But if papal infallibility can emerge from the grass roots (bottom up), why is the insistence that the church gives us Scripture?

    As I am a convert to the Catholic faith, when I first learned of this, I was astounded. Rather like Rex Mottram, I assumed that papal infallibility was an example of Roman Catholic arrogance and overreaching papal power. Instead, the infallible definition of a dogma was the final seal on a process that had taken centuries to mature. The papally infallible definition of a dogma was also a response from grassroots requests and the result of a conscious and complete consultation process, not only with the bishops and theologians, but with all of the clergy and faithful. I was impressed.

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  14. How to think and act liberal Protestant (so much for all that theology):

    For all I know, many or even most liberal Catholics hope and pray for doctrinal reform. But what if Trish is right? If so, the question I’d want to ask these liberals is: Why do you continue to attend church and think of yourself as a Catholic?

    If you attend for the beauty of the liturgy, why not just become an Episcopalian? If it’s the sense of community you crave, why not join the Unitarian church? Either way, you could certainly continue to be spiritually moved by the pope’s public utterances, in the same way you might be stirred by an inspiring presidential speech.

    But what’s the point of staying put when you’re utterly indifferent to so much of what the Catholic Church (and on contraception at least, pretty much only the Catholic Church) proclaims to be true?

    The answer matters because of what it might portend about the future of the church. Maybe Trish, a cradle Catholic, has a sentimental attachment to the church. But what about her children, presumably raised to believe that Catholic doctrine is “useless”? Will they remain Catholics and choose to raise their children in the church? I’d be surprised, frankly, if they did.

    Upholding church doctrine and affirming it as true, in the style of conservative Catholics, is one thing. Fighting to change church doctrine, as my perhaps imaginary liberal Catholic reformers would want to do, is another. But treating doctrine as completely beside the point is something else entirely.

    If Trish is the future of American Catholicism, we appear to be left with a puzzle: When does a church without a doctrine cease to be a church at all?

    Maybe the callers need to direct their call in a different direction.

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  15. Darryl,

    There is no “problem” because what cardinal x or y says is not “also” the theology. I also dont know why you think RCs dont believe the Word transcends the Church considering Christ founded the church. And since RCs hold to distinguishing doctrine from practice and prudential jusgment, infallibility is not “even harder” for Mills.

    “But if the church can be wrong about the morality and theology of voting and foreign relations, why can’t the same follow for morality and theology?”

    Peter was wrong when Paul opposed him. Do you think 1 and 2 Peter are wrong now? Paul gave commands concerning the appearance and behavior of men and women and concerning eating that you and your tradition ignore. Does that mean his other teachings can be ignored?

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  16. James Young, so you do believe in a one-legged stool after all — Scripture trumps the church? Or are you playing “word” games (get it? cool).

    Also, if you can explain when the bishops are teaching and when they are not, that would be a help. But then again, your help wouldn’t help at all since there is no reason I should believe you. No offense, but neither you nor David Mills have any authority (underneath your reason-tradition-scripture stool).

    Face it. You have to hold on to some sort of theological system irrespective of what the bishops say and do. Welcome to my Protestant world. Yup.

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  17. The nation of Israel was also of divine origin, but the scriptures trumped the traditions the leaders of that institution established. Further, folks outside of that institution had faith and were commended for it. The fact that the gates of hell won’t prevail (sounds like ultimate) does not mean that the church cannot fall into error or develop traditions of men that tickle the ears of those in her care. When she does (and she has), the plumb line we have with which to draw her back is scripture.

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  18. Darryl,

    “Scripture trumps the church? Or are you playing “word” games (get it? cool).”

    So when you say “the truth (the Word) transcends the church” you reduce the Word and truth to Scripture. I’m not playing any games considering Scripture tells us who the Word and truth is.

    “You have to hold on to some sort of theological system irrespective of what the bishops say and do.”

    The theological system the bishops maintain and assert distinguishes between irreformable dogma/principles on one hand and practice and prudential judgment/application of those principles on the other?

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  19. James Young, why would you ask about Scripture and the Word if you weren’t in the habit of treating the magisterium as if a source of continuing revelation.

    So the distinction between dogma and prudential judgment is irreformable?

    Then why do the bishops talk so much about stuff that is not dogma? And do you think they always know the difference? Pius IX condemned the modern world (Syllabus of Errors). Was that merely prudential judgment? Is moving wayward pedophilic priests around only prudential judgment?

    And while I’m asking, you think arriving at infallible dogma is not prudential? I’m more and more convinced that Rome works on a mechanical scheme. Mechanical certainty, mechanical mechanisms of sacraments, mechanical arrival at dogma.

    Funny thing is, history doesn’t ever ever work that way, unless you are the author of sacred scripture and have divine inspiration/infallibility.

    yup.

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  20. Darryl,

    “Then why do the bishops talk so much about stuff that is not dogma?”

    The same reason pastors in your church preach and talk about stuff that is not dogma or irreformable – I doubt you just automatically shrug off what they say whenever they aren’t citing Scripture but respectfully give it a listen and take it under consideration. Do you think infallibility only works if bishops remain cloistered from the world and come out every few decades saying “We will now commence with the infallibility. Hear ye. Hear ye. Afterwards go on with your business, faithful.” and then retreat into their chambers and from interacting with the faithful until the next occasion for infallibility?

    “And do you think they always know the difference?”

    Considering you already quoted Ratzinger and Francis explicitly asserting the difference, I’d say they just might.

    “Is moving wayward pedophilic priests around only prudential judgment?”

    How could it not be (a rather heinous one)? How is “moving pedophilic priests around” an irreformable dogma or principle? That doesn’t even make sense.

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  21. James Young, “who am I to judge” is an affirmation of the difference?

    Yet another we-are-superior-because-you-guys-do-what-we-do. Cool.

    Pastors in the confessional Reformed world know not to speak on stuff where the Bible is silent. Yup.

    What kind of Protestant were you?

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