The Stakes Raised But Not Too High

Here is one quote that turned a Protestant Roman Catholic:

Make no mistake, my brothers, if anyone joins a schismatic he will not inherit God’s Kingdom. If anyone walks in the way of heresy, he is out of sympathy with the Passion. Be careful, then, to observe a single Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and one cup of his blood that makes us one, and one altar, just as there is one bishop along with the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow slaves. In that way whatever you do is in line with God’s will.

That’s a plausible motivation for switching teams. If you don’t switch, you don’t inherit the kingdom of God. Stakes appropriately raised. Attention gained.

But then you need to remember it’s a post Vatican 2 world. In that case, becoming Roman Catholic is mainly about being a superior sort of Christian.

I’m a Better Christian as a Catholic

As a younger Evangelical, I was amongst the first to throw stones at my Catholic brethren. In fact, there were times and situations in which I wouldn’t even have considered them to be Christians.

“Catholics aren’t Christian,” right? And, sure, some likely aren’t.

But that needn’t be the case. My life, I hope, and my experience should serve to provide a contrasting picture against the one that many of us might have. My experience and many others, I should add.

The Catholic life, lived to its fullest, has been so incredibly enriching to me and my faith. Through a deeper focus on prayer, through my experience living amongst the saints, through a more global perspective, a deeper reverence for God in worship, and through a much more healthy and hearty view of sin I’ve become, far and away, a much better Christian than I ever thought I could be.

It’s not about being Christian or not. It’s not about entering the true church and leaving behind heresy. It’s like going from a Subaru to a Lexus.

Who are you to judge? Judge, but only up to the point short of condemnation. We’re all Christians now post 1965, but some Christians have more championship banners.

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24 thoughts on “The Stakes Raised But Not Too High

  1. For my Evangelical friends who’ve never experienced this grace: I cannot describe it. But the mere existence of a mechanism (confession) by which I’m accountable for my sins to more than just myself and by which I can receive complete and utter forgiveness makes the reality of sin that much more tangible in my own life.

    It makes me that much more aware of my shortcomings and that much more likely to deal with them straight-on.

    This beautiful, grace-filled vision of the reality of sin makes me a much, much better Christian.

    This is actually one reason why I don’t think Catholics and Protestants can always reason from label. Evangelicals *should* already experience complete and utter forgiveness of sins. Yet they do not … in some measure because they do not hear with the ears of faith, and in some measure because complete and utter forgiveness of sins is not preached.

    Like

  2. Meanwhile in the combox,

    Number one, I’m glad you have opened yourself to critical thinking. I was once a Protestant, but am now Orthodox. I had to roll my eyes at the typical “either/or” question that the article begins with. This is a faulty understanding of both the Holy Scriptures, and Holy Tradition. The scriptures themselves are formulated out of the traditions of the Church (I Timothy 3:15) So, the answer to your Protestant friend should have been, “Yes.”

    2 • Reply•Share ›
    Avatar
    Adam Hovey Kyle Doc Howard • 3 months ago
    Why would you be Orthodox? There is so much chaos wth bishop amongst equals it doesn’t make any sense because no one has final say. This is why you will find some bishops in the Eastern Orthodox communion that will say that contraceptives are on in other ones that will say they are all right. I’m sorry but that’s a self refuting view only one of those can be right. Then what happens though? The bishop that is right would have more authority over the one that isn’t. now whether you recognize that authority or not is up to you.

    • Reply•Share ›
    Avatar
    Kyle Doc Howard Adam Hovey • 3 months ago
    I became Orthodox because it’s the truth.
    2 • Reply•Share ›

    Avatar
    Adam Hovey Kyle Doc Howard • 3 months ago
    Based on what your feelings? With that indication you should become Mormon. Orthodoxy is a beautiful thing but Eastern Orthodoxy especially has so many flaws you cannot have one Bishop contradicting another and calling it official Church teaching. Bishop among equals doesn’t work and it can’t work because it is self refuting logic. My advice to you mate is to take a look into the Eastern Catholic churches you know the ones that cave in on contraceptives. Orthodoxy is beautiful I have no problem admitting that but I can find Byzantine worship while still being in communion with the Bishop of Rome. And the oft repeated lame reason I hear from the Orthodox about why they won’t rejoin the church is either the accusations that we Latins broke communion which is historically False or they bring up the sack of Constantinople which I think was wrong but how often do you hear about the massacre of the Latins? Look man I know that my church’s history is not spotless but neither is the Orthodox in this is something that needs to be discussed instead of blaming the Latins all the time y’all need to look at your own faults and I’m not saying you specifically so don’t blame me for that but ask your bishops to stop blaming the west on every problem. Orthodoxy is beautiful but without the Pope as the head of the Church on earth it cannot be true

    Looks like the CtC apologetic is multi-use.

    Like

  3. The mark of the true church is not making someone a better Christian. Whenever we hear about someone growing in Christ we kick them out.

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  4. Do fellows like this read Westminster:

    The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God,out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

    Or Belgic:

    We believe that since this holy assembly and congregation is the gathering of those who are saved and there is no salvation apart from it, people ought not to withdraw from it, content to be by themselves, regardless of their status or condition.

    If it’s high stakes one wants, P&R have it. And no development of doctrine to undo what is still confessed in order to make peace with the tolerant world. You even get the c-word thrown in.

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  5. “a deeper focus on prayer, … a deeper reverence for God in worship, and through a much more healthy and hearty view of sin…” Is his parish on Mars? I found more of these elements in Evangelicalism, which isn’t saying a lot, than I ever have trying hard to see them in RC life. Just saying…

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  6. I’d like to see Mr. Cagle try to explain what he thinks they’re talking about here, esp the last comment. Me, I don’t think he has the slightest clue. 😉

    Take the bet, Jeff. Now this could be interesting. I think Old Life should stop with the anti-papism [the Catholic Church] and compare the Protestant religion with the Eastern Orthodox.

    They have seniority, afterall–1054 vs. 1517. Test yourself. Seek truth.

    Jeff Cagle
    Posted November 30, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink
    Meanwhile in the combox

    Number one, I’m glad you have opened yourself to critical thinking. I was once a Protestant, but am now Orthodox. I had to roll my eyes at the typical “either/or” question that the article begins with. This is a faulty understanding of both the Holy Scriptures, and Holy Tradition. The scriptures themselves are formulated out of the traditions of the Church (I Timothy 3:15) So, the answer to your Protestant friend should have been, “Yes.”

    2 • Reply•Share ›
    Avatar
    Adam Hovey Kyle Doc Howard • 3 months ago
    Why would you be Orthodox? There is so much chaos wth bishop amongst equals it doesn’t make any sense because no one has final say. This is why you will find some bishops in the Eastern Orthodox communion that will say that contraceptives are on in other ones that will say they are all right. I’m sorry but that’s a self refuting view only one of those can be right. Then what happens though? The bishop that is right would have more authority over the one that isn’t. now whether you recognize that authority or not is up to you.

    • Reply•Share ›
    Avatar
    Kyle Doc Howard Adam Hovey • 3 months ago
    I became Orthodox because it’s the truth.
    2 • Reply•Share ›

    Avatar
    Adam Hovey Kyle Doc Howard • 3 months ago
    Based on what your feelings? With that indication you should become Mormon. Orthodoxy is a beautiful thing but Eastern Orthodoxy especially has so many flaws you cannot have one Bishop contradicting another and calling it official Church teaching. Bishop among equals doesn’t work and it can’t work because it is self refuting logic. My advice to you mate is to take a look into the Eastern Catholic churches you know the ones that cave in on contraceptives. Orthodoxy is beautiful I have no problem admitting that but I can find Byzantine worship while still being in communion with the Bishop of Rome. And the oft repeated lame reason I hear from the Orthodox about why they won’t rejoin the church is either the accusations that we Latins broke communion which is historically False or they bring up the sack of Constantinople which I think was wrong but how often do you hear about the massacre of the Latins? Look man I know that my church’s history is not spotless but neither is the Orthodox in this is something that needs to be discussed instead of blaming the Latins all the time y’all need to look at your own faults and I’m not saying you specifically so don’t blame me for that but ask your bishops to stop blaming the west on every problem. Orthodoxy is beautiful but without the Pope as the head of the Church on earth it cannot be true

    Jeff: Looks like the CtC apologetic is multi-use.

    Like

  7. Joe,

    Should RC’s and the type of Evangelicals/Evangelicalism begin using a ‘heart healthy’ label for their products? Great post…….it’s amazing how merch of all this relates to the supermarket (Pork, Lima Beans, Night-Train, and Saran-Wrap in moderation).

    Like

  8. Dr. Hart,

    If it’s a post V2 world then I am assuming you think that fear of schism and being in the wrong Church is no longer an issue?

    I’ll ask you the same question I ask my little NeoCatholic brothers from time to time. They can never answer it, but maybe you can.

    Ready?

    Let’s say I wanted to live my life as if Vatican 2 never took place. Let’s say I chose to ignore it all together. What exactly would I NOT be able to believe post V2?
    Anything?

    Answer is always the same. *crickets*

    Everything has changed, but nothing has really changed at all. V2 is the great facade

    Like

  9. Kenneth, you wouldn’t be able to read de Lubac or Congar without permission of your bishop. You wouldn’t be able to believe in religious freedom. You’d believe I am a heretic. That’s not crickets or a squirrel.

    You may say, well, no dogma changed. But why was something sinful before Vatican 2 that isn’t any longer? Maybe it’s because the church doesn’t talk about sin any more:

    What kind of life, and how is that a departure from the way we understood it in the past?
    We’re going to have a universe that is great and beautiful and enjoyable. Look at Revelation: this Kingdom coming down from God. It’s not up in heaven. It’s down here. And God lives among his people. He’s there. The people can see him. So we have the Beatific Vision. But that’s not all we get: We have this wonderful, real world to live in: the New Jerusalem.
    In Gaudium et Spes, it says, “For after we have obeyed the Lord, and in his Spirit nurtured on earth the values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, and indeed all the good fruits of our nature and enterprise, we will find them again, but freed of stain, burnished and transfigured” (39).
    We’re to look forward to everything human, which is going to be available to us in some kind of transformed and perfected way. Resurrection is not just the resurrection of the body, but of the world. Vatican II suggests this, but doesn’t develop it.

    What was the result of not developing that more fully?
    Since Vatican II, the kingdom of God is hardly mentioned, and no one is talking about what you need to do to get into the Kingdom.
    What do we have instead? A kind of almost-universalism: Everyone gets into to heaven. If everyone gets into the Kingdom, you don’t have to think about it anymore. The general assumption is no one’s going to hell. When do you remember any pope or bishop talking about hell as a real thing?
    So there’s a problem: Vatican II left hell out. Since then, hell has been omitted from preaching and teaching, even by John Paul II. John XXIII wanted to present the faith in an attractive way, and that was understood to mean that we don’t want to talk about these bad or discouraging things.
    After Vatican II, you get people like [Hans Urs] von Balthasar saying, “We have to hope that everyone is saved.” Well, we have to hope that each individual is saved, but you don’t have to hope that everybody — collectively — is going to be saved, because you don’t deal with people collectively. You don’t love them collectively. When Jesus says many people will want to enter the Kingdom but won’t be able to, we have to believe he was telling the truth.

    I could go on.

    Why is it that no one on your side ever recognizes that the PCUSA didn’t change doctrine when it became liberal? Talk about crickets.

    Like

  10. Dr. Hart,

    Im not asking what people are doing now that wasnt done before V2. Nor am I asking what kind of sermons priests are delivering. Im asking you whats stopping me today from just continuing to live as if the second vatican council never took place. May i no longer affirm hell? Must I participate in ecumenism? Can i no longer have a latin mass? Must I affirm that all dogs go to heaven? What is it exactly that I may not believe any longer? What new thing MUST I affirm? The answer is “absolutely nothing”. There is no new binding content on the faithful. We have alot of new pastoral programs. We have some new liturgies and some new ideas floating about. Yet, none of these are binding upon me. None of these are binding upon anyone at all.

    Isnt it the case that if you are in the PCUSA you affirm that marriage is between “two persons” and not a man and women? Thats in their constitution isnt it? If so, then there is a vast difference between the split Ps and post V2 RCC. Our side hasn’t yet lost the war. Or if it has, you need to tell me why I cant just ignore V2 and go my merry way.

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  11. Kenneth,

    Isnt it the case that if you are in the PCUSA you affirm that marriage is between “two persons” and not a man and women? Thats in their constitution isnt it? If so, then there is a vast difference between the split Ps and post V2 RCC. Our side hasn’t yet lost the war. Or if it has, you need to tell me why I cant just ignore V2 and go my merry way.

    Actually, the PCUSA doesn’t care if you want to deny that as long as you don’t make too much noise or try and leave and take your property.

    Just like Francis doesn’t care if you’re conservative as long as you don’t make much noise about it. If you do, well, you get lectured for being a fundamentalist.

    But if you think that you can live as if V2 didn’t happen, that’s nice. But then you’re acting like a Protestant with that private judgment thingy.

    Like

  12. Robert,

    Actually, the PCUSA doesn’t care if you want to deny that as long as you don’t make too much noise or try and leave and take your property.

    Just like Francis doesn’t care if you’re conservative as long as you don’t make much noise about it. If you do, well, you get lectured for being a fundamentalist.

    So you can be in good standing with the PCUSA even while denying your own denominations constitution? Is this true *in pirnciple* or is it true because the denomination has a habbit of looking the other way? I dont know what a constitution means in your world but I assumed it sort of determined what the body believed and taught. Can a preacher in the PCUSA just go on living as though that decision never took place? And by that I mean, can he go on teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman and that same sex marriage is sinful etc? If so, whats the point of having a constitution? If not, then something has pretty big has changed. Pope Francis lectures do not hold any doctrinal weight.

    But if you think that you can live as if V2 didn’t happen, that’s nice. But then you’re acting like a Protestant with that private judgment thingy.

    If im not free to do that Im open to change. Just explain what exactly Im not allowed to believe or name something new that I MUST affirm or practice. You cant. Which exposes how retarded these convos are. You guys are just repeating traditionalist Catholic arguments as if they were arguments against catholicism itself. You realize most of this ammo is coming from Roman Catholics?

    Like

  13. V2 gives Catholics the Protestant priesthood of all believers?

    The idea of the universal call to holiness is there explicitly in Vatican II, but the implications of that [were not] drawn out very well. They didn’t draw the conclusion that needed to be drawn: It’s not what God calls you to do which decides how holy you are, but how well you respond to God’s call. In other words, you don’t have a better or worse calling depending upon what you’re called to do, but you can respond well or not so well to what God’s calling you to do. Holiness is, in a sense, a generalized and universalized calling.

    Consider a woman who got married and had two kids, but the guy she married was a drunk who beat her up. She has to leave him and goes to work to help bring up her kids. That woman is capable of living a much holier life than any priest or bishop or pope, so her vocation could be the opportunity for great holiness.

    That gives you a totally different picture of Christian life. It isn’t what you’re called to do that matters, but your willingness to respond to God’s calling. And everyone is given sufficient grace to respond well. There isn’t any preferential option to be holy.

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  14. Kenneth,

    So you can be in good standing with the PCUSA even while denying your own denominations constitution? Is this true *in pirnciple* or is it true because the denomination has a habbit of looking the other way? I dont know what a constitution means in your world but I assumed it sort of determined what the body believed and taught. Can a preacher in the PCUSA just go on living as though that decision never took place? And by that I mean, can he go on teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman and that same sex marriage is sinful etc? If so, whats the point of having a constitution? If not, then something has pretty big has changed.

    Yes and yes. And the last question, the point of the constitution, is what conservatives have been asking for decades. It’s what we’re asking about Roman Catholicism. What is the point of declared dogma when you can believe something else (like Tom does) and teach something else (like the nuns on the bus) and still get the Eucharist?

    Pope Francis lectures do not hold any doctrinal weight.

    Wait—that’s what Luther said back during the Reformation. How is he a heretic and you’re not?

    If im not free to do that Im open to change. Just explain what exactly Im not allowed to believe or name something new that I MUST affirm or practice. You cant. Which exposes how retarded these convos are. You guys are just repeating traditionalist Catholic arguments as if they were arguments against catholicism itself. You realize most of this ammo is coming from Roman Catholics?

    So as long as you don’t have to believe heresy all is well with your church when your church in fact tolerates and even promotes what earlier RCs would have considered heresy? This is the mentality of those orthodox in the PCUSA who continue to stay.

    Like

  15. Robert,

    Yes and yes. And the last question, the point of the constitution, is what conservatives have been asking for decades. It’s what we’re asking about Roman Catholicism. What is the point of declared dogma when you can believe something else (like Tom does) and teach something else (like the nuns on the bus) and still get the Eucharist?

    So is it true that presbyterians can deny their own constitution in principle or is it just that they turn the other way? I didnt understand your response. I don’t care either way, just curious.

    Whats the point of dogma if the Church isnt a perfect disciplinarian? I guess it comes down to which you would rather have doesnt it? Would you rather have no meaningful dogma what-so-ever with a super awesome disciplinarian enforcing arbitrary rules, or would you rather have dogma set in stone but go through periods of history when it wasnt enforced as well as others? I think its MUCH more useful the RC way. But perhaps you disagree. Go figure.

    So as long as you don’t have to believe heresy all is well with your church when your church in fact tolerates and even promotes what earlier RCs would have considered heresy? This is the mentality of those orthodox in the PCUSA who continue to stay.

    I wouldnt say “all is well”. But there has never been a time of glorious peace, tranquility, and universal doctrinal adherence in the Church. All through history there has been controversy. THE POINT ISNT TO AVOID CONTROVERSY, BUT TO HAVE A MECHANISM THAT RESOLVES IT DEFINITIVELY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. Rather than continue to deny the obvious you should take Seans more honest approach and give us a couple shrugs on paradigmic superiority.

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  16. Ken, you do know when you talk like that, you are endorsing a salvation not by the church but by the dogma of the church, which, btw, still has no definite bounding but instead an alleged mechanism to bound it should it be necessary, but no modern pope or magisterium has any intention of ever engaging it. Wha’ happen’ to Jesus and faith(blessed are those who haven’t seen and believe)? It’s not even sola ecclesia now, it’s sola philosophical cohesion with an inflated(unsubstantiated) premise. If it makes you feel better, I’ll take some RC over much of modern evangelicalism(Word faith, Osteen, Hagee, theapuetic moralism) but now we’ve really lowered the bar. Faith in Christ alone and holiding to the original apostolic tradition(holy writ), though maybe lacking in your view of things, seems to be plenty. Try less(saints, Mary, pageantry, sacerdotalism) and get more.

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  17. Kenneth,

    So is it true that presbyterians can deny their own constitution in principle or is it just that they turn the other way? I didnt understand your response. I don’t care either way, just curious.

    The way it happened in the PCUSA is that first those who denied the constitution were disciplined. Then the liberals took over the seminaries and kept producing liberal theologians/pastors who, while keeping the constitution the same, began allowing individuals not to adhere to certain parts of it. The WCF, for instance, wasn’t changed in regard to its confession of biblical inerrancy, etc. It was just that other positions began to be accepted as equally valid.

    This, BTW, is what Benedict has said V2 wrought. Vague language intentionally used to keep both liberals and conservatives happy.

    Whats the point of dogma if the Church isnt a perfect disciplinarian? I guess it comes down to which you would rather have doesnt it? Would you rather have no meaningful dogma what-so-ever with a super awesome disciplinarian enforcing arbitrary rules, or would you rather have dogma set in stone but go through periods of history when it wasnt enforced as well as others? I think its MUCH more useful the RC way. But perhaps you disagree. Go figure.

    If the dogma is not meaningfully enforced, how set in stone is it? That’s the point. You can’t go all in on the STM triad and talk about how key an infallible M and Pope are and then shrug when the M is failing and teaching heresy or looking the other way.

    Or, you could hold to the dogma being set in stone and a failure of the Magisterium if you hold to the Reformation. The Reformation was a recovery of what was set in stone. And it was willing to go up against the M when necessary. The problem with you conservative RCs is that you sit around with your wishful thinking. Oh the dogma is set in stone, so who cares if the discipline sucks. It’ll all get better. That’s fatalism.

    I wouldnt say “all is well”. But there has never been a time of glorious peace, tranquility, and universal doctrinal adherence in the Church. All through history there has been controversy.

    Agreed.

    THE POINT ISNT TO AVOID CONTROVERSY, BUT TO HAVE A MECHANISM THAT RESOLVES IT DEFINITIVELY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.

    But if the mechanism won’t enforce the dogma, how in the world do you have any assurance that it has been definitively resolved for future generations? This is sheer naivete.

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  18. Kenneth, “So you can be in good standing with the PCUSA even while denying your own denominations constitution? Is this true *in pirnciple* or is it true because the denomination has a habbit of looking the other way?”

    Haven’t you heard that 70 percent of U.S. Roman Catholics practice mortal sin (contraception)? And you have an encyclical on that.

    Tell us where belonging to Roman Catholicism has any borders, where you can be excluded. Sort of like the PCUSA.

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  19. Kenneth, actually the liturgical reforms that came about at Vat II are binding upon you. You aren’t free to be an Vetus Ordo kind of RC. Actualization of the gospel in a modern context is not an option. It’s required. You aren’t free to ignore the pastoral reforms of Vat II. You must affirm the pastoral reforms of Vat II. You’re not free to follow god apart from the magisterial leading of the church. The magisterial leading of the church is a Vat II course since 1965. You MUST think in concert with your pope and bishops, including the pope and the german bishops you may not agree with. You are a people of god, the infallibilitus in credendo is a corporate engagement. You aren’t free to ignore Vat II’s dogmatic constitutions nor your pope’s interpretation(and he’s done a lot of interpreting) of it. Get on board.

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