Archive for the ‘Ecumenicism’ Category

Contrasting Ecumenism

September 24, 2011

“For this reason”, the Pope added, “I am very grateful to our Protestant brothers and sisters who have made it possible to hold this highly significant meeting in the convent where Luther began his theological journey, to pray … and talk together about our responsibility as Christians today. I am delighted to be able to express our fundamental unity as brothers and sisters who work together for the good of humankind, announcing the joyful message of Christ, of God Who has a human face and Who speaks to us”.

(Benedict XVI, Vatican Information Service, 23 September 2011)

In virtue of our pastoral office committed to us by the divine favor we can under no circumstances tolerate or overlook any longer the pernicious poison of the above errors without disgrace to the Christian religion and injury to orthodox faith. Some of these errors we have decided to include in the present document; their substance is as follows:

25. The Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, is not the vicar of Christ over all the churches of the entire world, instituted by Christ Himself in blessed Peter.

28. If the pope with a great part of the Church thought so and so, he would not err; still it is not a sin or heresy to think the contrary, especially in a matter not necessary for salvation, until one alternative is condemned and another approved by a general Council.

33. That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.

37. Purgatory cannot be proved from Sacred Scripture which is in the canon.

No one of sound mind is ignorant how destructive, pernicious, scandalous, and seductive to pious and simple minds these various errors are, how opposed they are to all charity and reverence for the holy Roman Church who is the mother of all the faithful and teacher of the faith; how destructive they are of the vigor of ecclesiastical discipline, namely obedience. This virtue is the font and origin of all virtues and without it anyone is readily convicted of being unfaithful.

(Leo X, Ex Surge Domine, 15 June 152)

In addition to the contrast between Benedict XVI and Leo X in general, I selected a few of the alleged “errors” of the Reformation that Leo X singled out. Papal supremacy, of course, made the last. But so did the idea that it is ok to disagree with the pope and the majority of the church, even when the matter has not been defined. According to Leo X, capital punishment of heretics is not just ok, it’s “the will of the Spirit.” And Leo X actually thought one could prove purgatory from the canonical Scriptures.

One might say that in some ways there has been substantial progress between the time of Leo X and the time of Benedict XVI. But Rome has not officially repudiated its own earlier teachings – it has not said it was wrong, even after nearly half a millenium of demonstration of those errors.


Let Hans Kung Explain …

October 31, 2009

… why the papal attempt to cause schism within Anglicanism is likely to undermine Rome’s ecumenical attempts (link). I don’t endorse or even like Kung. He’s a Roman Catholic priest, whose authority to teach theology has been revoked by the Vatican (as of 1979, I believe). Back in the 60’s he used to work with Joseph Ratzinger, who is now the pope of Rome, though plainly the two have parted ways in certain respects. Kung is considered a theological “liberal” in Roman Catholicism today. His area of specialty: ecumenical theology.

His view of Christianity is far too broad. Christianity is to be defined by the gospel as preached by Jesus and the apostles: a gospel of repentance from sin and trust for salvation in Christ alone.

Kung’s complaints are somewhat revealing, however. They demonstrate the fact that, for Rome, unity with those she considers “other Christians” must always be subservient to her goal of maintaining primacy over the church.

Kung states: “Evidently, the papal primacy – which Pope Paul VI admitted was the greatest stumbling block to the unity of the churches – does not function as the ‘rock of unity’.”


False Ecumenicism

April 22, 2009

In this discussion, our undercover correspondent discusses false ecumenicism with someone who tries, initially, to claim that he is not interested in making converts.

(direct link to video)

Plunder the Philistines or Join them?

April 14, 2009

Benedict XVI used (N.B. Benedict XVI was the one whose meditations these were, yet he did not write them, nor did he actually read the aloud – for more details about this situation – see the letter from the Vatican, explaining – link) the following line in his “Good Friday” meditations: “Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.” That line is apparently taken from Brahadaranyakopanishad an Hindu writing. He also used a line from Tagore’s Gitanjali: “Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.” Furthermore, he made reference to Mahatma Ghandi. (source) None of this is wrong in itself, as long as we are plundering the Philistines, not joining them.

But the Hindu leaders praised Benedict XVI for this, rather than criticizing him for taking their scriptures in another sense than they were intended. Will we see clarification from the Vatican? I am guessing not. The zeitgeist of Vatican II is of meta-ecumenicism, which would avoid noting the fact that Catholicism must take these lines in a different sense, while promoting a semblance of unity.

I should note that Paul the Apostle plundered from the Greek poets, but when he did so he made clear that he was using these things either in the same or a different sense, depending on the context. He was not promoting ecumenicism with the Greek pagans, he was trying to convert them.

The reader can decide for themselves whether Benedict XVI was following in Paul’s footsteps or departing from them.


UPDATE: Reginald di Piperno (Roman Catholic) has provided some factual corrections to the article linked above. (link to RdP’s post) The basic point remains, as apparently it is not disputed that the various lines were spoken and that the references were welcomed by the Hindus. I’m also not sure whether RdP got the idea that plundering the Philistines is a good thing, whereas joining them is a bad thing.

UPDATE: In view of an amusing post at Ichabod, I’ve updated the post above a bit further (link).

Think of a Better Headline – Ecumenical Patriarch and Pope

August 22, 2008

The real headline was something about the two leaders of their respective religions (Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism) kissing. I’m sure this sort of thing gives ecumenicists the warm fuzzies.

One cannot fail to notice, however, the EP’s enormous, highly ornate, crown. Especially in view of the pope’s choice of going with much more low-key garb for the event (though one assumes that the mitre shown worn here by John 23rd is still kicking around the Vatican somewhere), the EP’s regalia stands out.

So, since humor is so rarely expressed on this blog, I thought it might be nice to have a little fun with recaptioning the image shown above.

My proposals:

1) “This really was not a mitre-optional event, Ben.”

2) “I’d have worn a zucchetto too, but it would not cover my enormous brain.”

Any thoughts from my readers?


Heresy in the Guise of Charity

January 23, 2008

James Jordon, in a recent post at “Biblical Horizons,” has thoughts on this thesis: “it has been my observation that in every group there are those with a healthy catholic attitude toward other Christians and also those with a proud and condescending attitude toward others who call themselves Christians.”

James really ought to have capitalized that “c” in “catholic.”

Look at James’ examples:

– Lutherans … supposedly have better music.

Jordan pompously insists that instruments in worship are a “must” and goes on to complain that Lutherans have the best congregational song. There’s no accounting for taste, as the saying goes. I still love the sound of the voices of the congregation singing, unaccompanied, the Psalms of David.

– Baptists … supposedly are better at evangelism.

Perhaps Reformed Baptists are (though, frankly, I have not seen evidence to back that claim up). Non-reformed Baptists claim many proselytes, but most present a gospel message that is wildly distorted! One cannot be a “good evangelist” unless one has the gospel. Besides all that, Jordan is distinguishing between Calvinists and Baptists, which presumes he has overlooked the Reformed Baptists in the process.

– Roman Catholics … are supposedly better than “other Christians” at setting up hospitals and mercy missions.

Frankly, I have no way to evaluate the claim that he makes. I’m aware of plenty of non-Catholic medical (and the like) missions. Nevertheless, Catholics make up a large fraction of the population in some parts, so perhaps they have some edge in Jordan’s perception. The bigger problem is with Jordan’s blanket classification of Roman Catholics as Christians. While individual Roman Catholics (in the sense of adhering to an RC congregation) may be saved, just as anyone is saved, namely by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, Roman Catholicism is apostate: it is outside the visible church, because of its rejection of salvation by grace alone, and its rejection of justification through faith alone, as well as other things. Anyone who seeks salvation the way that Rome invites, will be lost. Nevertheless, God’s word is able to work even through corrupt means. Consequently, just because someone is affiliated with the Roman Catholic church does not mean he is lost.

– Methodists … supposedly “outdid” us in America.

What does Jordan mean? Jordan means that Methodists gained more adherants. Jordan rails against an “educated clergy,” claiming that this “eliminated vast numbers of men with pastoral gifts in favor of a scholarly elite.” Jordan’s an anti-intellectualism is natural, for those with sound thinking will see through his position. Nevertheless, it’s important to note why “Calvinists” insisted on trained preachers, rather than novices, in the pulpit. Not only does the Bible insist that elders not be novices (which would be cause enough), but practically this helps to stem the flow of heresy. It is easier for an uneducated man to be buffetted about from untenable position to untenable position, until his ego alights on a position that renders unassailable through force of dogmatism, without justification.

– Episcopalians … supposedly have been able best to work with “the halls of secular power.”

Presumably Jordan means “the civil magistrate,” or “the national/state/local goverment.” It seems to me that the Quakers outdid the Episcopaleans, but how does one measure such things. Jordan even goes further and asserts that, “Episcopal church government is closer to the Bible,” a statement that goes so far beyond supportable, that one wonders what Bible Jordan has been reading!

– The Pentacostals … are supposedly more enthusiastic.

Well, this is mostly true, but enthusiasm is only good when balanced. The Reformed tradition balances enthusiasm with order, discipline, and most crucially, with truth! Irrational exuberance is what leads to stock market crashes and disorder of every kind, including heresy.

Jordan’s thesis is not completely wrong. There are ways in which other Christians “outdo” us. The verse in question, though speaks to us as individuals, not the Christian church as a whole. Jordan is misapplying the verse as a platform to speak against sound doctrine and practice, and to blur the lines between Christian and heretic. This truly is a grave error, and one hopes that Jordan will repent from it. For those interested to confirm my representation of what JBJ said: (link).

May God give us wisdom to remove the beams from our own eyes,


UPDATE: Meanwhile, his fellow Federal Visionist, Douglas Wilson has post similarly perpetuating negative stereotypes of Calvinists (“Some die-hard Calvinists may have glanced at the title of this message–friendship evangelism–and asked, “What’s evangelism?” Or, if they are really die-hard Calvinists, perhaps they asked, “What’s friendship?””) here (link).

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