Tuesday, July 17, 2007

One True Church?

The conversation seems to be going something like this:

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF): Only the Roman Catholic church is a church, the rest of y'all are not really churches.

Protestants (P): Say what, now?

CDF: Don't get all upset, we are just articulating our official doctrines.

P: Yeah, we understand that. That's not the point. The point is the official doctrines you are articulating are arrogant, demeaning, unreasonable, and unscriptural.

CDF: No, no, no - you must have misunderstood the situation here. All we are trying to do is clear up a few questions that came up after Vatican II. That's all.

P: Actually, we're pretty sure that we understand you perfectly well. And thank you for nodding in our direction with that cute little "ecclesial communities" quip. It makes us feel oh so special.

CDF: Maybe you missed the part about how important ecumenical dialogue is to us...?

P: No, we read that, too. And as long as you define "ecumenical dialogue" to mean "convince everyone to join us because we are right and they are wrong," we're not really all that interested!

Anyway, that's how I'm interpreting things. Really, I don't think this document will have any impact on the people in the pews. I don't think this document will affect the good things that truly progressive, ecumenically minded congregations are doing together in the world. And of course this document is not going to have any bearing whatsoever upon ultimate concerns such as the realization of the reign of God on earth.

I worry more about the impact of this document on the unchurched/dechurched/non-Christian/seekers/whatever group of people, because it provides yet one more reason to not look for ultimate meaning in life from within the church. Why would I want to participate in that kind of "my pop is bigger than your pop" bickering? How is that going to make my life better?

Christians are called to be evangelists, and the self-centered attitudes expressed in this document are one of the biggest stumbling blocks to accopmlishing that task.

Here's a summary of the document.
Here's a news story about it.
Here's a thoughtful commentary in response.
Here's a hopeful article on the topic.

cross-posted here


CARYL said...

I like your interpretation of the conversation between Polly Protestant and the Pope. It is really disheartening that he issued such a decree. And now the back-peddling is worse than our politicians after they commit a verbal faux pas. cb

John said...

I'm just not offended by the Pope's statement. He's asserting what he sees as correct theology. It's nothing personal. So as long as he's not burning Protestants at the stake, what's the big deal?

steveh said...

My dictionary says “ecumenical” means: concerned with promoting unity among churches or religions. Note the “s” making churches plural. Since Catholic is the only church, and the rest of us are a church-want-to-be, then how can you have “ecumenical” with only one church. It’s like having a party with one person there. Sounds like double-speak to me.

Adam Caldwell said...

I'm gonna go with John on this one.

Michael said...

Consider the Church's position from a strictly evangelical position. How can the Church function as she was designed to by running in several different directions? From my perspective, as long as there are prohibitions that restrict our ability to sup at a common table of communion, how can there be unity?

The pope has reiterated what John Paul said long ago: there exists among Christians a certain brokenness. We cannot dress that up nor can we ignore it. Honestly, the UM Council of Bishops has issued statements that upset me far more than this one.