Catholic family synod & liberal Protestantism?

The first document from the Catholic synod on the family–which is considering divorce, cohabitation, homosexuality, etc.–says that the church should tone down its application of doctrine, advocates “gradualism” in salvation, affirms that sanctification can take place apart from the church and its sacraments, says that the church should tailor its teachings to “people’s real problems,” and calls for “courageous pastoral choices.”  (What do you think that means?  Aren’t these formulations based on existentialism rather than Thomistic natural law?)

Without simply proclaiming Christ’s forgiveness–apparently, those outside the church’s blessing are not even allowed to confess their sins and receive absolution!–the document tries to establish a new “tone.”  My question:  How is this any different from liberal Protestantism? [Read more...]

Attraction, not argument

Michael Brendan Dougherty discusses the doom and gloom many Christians feel about the church’s prospects in contemporary culture.  He disagrees that things are that bad and says that there are two ways the church grows:  by biology and by “attraction, not argument.”  He goes on to quote Pope Benedict XVI who said that “The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely, the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb.”

Would that the church today would grow some art in her womb that would have elements of attraction!  Is this just more theology of glory wishful thinking?  Won’t a period of cultural exile, weakness, and humiliation under the Cross do the church some good?  Or does the author make a good point?  If he does, what should change in the way the church goes about its business? [Read more...]

The Catholic debate over liberal society

Rod Dreher describes what happened at a conference sponsored by First Things on the future of religion in the public square.  In the course of doing so, he describes a current controversy among conservative Catholics:  The “Murrayites” believe that Catholicism is compatible with American-style political and economic liberalism.  (Not so much liberalism as left-wing ideology, but the ideals of liberty, democracy, and free-enterprise economics.)  Against this view are the “radical Catholics” who believe that this liberalism is incompatible with Christianity.

Read the remarks after the jump and click on the link to Patrick Deneen’s article on the conflict.  Substitute “Christian” for “Catholic.”  Do the points still hold for Christianity in general, or does the debate hinge on specific tenets of Catholicism?  Can there be a “Murrayite” Protestantism vs. a “radical” Protestantism?  Or is Protestantism intrinsically connected to liberalism?  How about “Lutheranism,” or does the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms work for any society?

I’m curious too what the alternative is for the “radicals.”  Some kind of authoritarian regime?  The Pope at the head of an Emperor, as in the Middle Ages?

[Read more...]

Resenting Christian compassion

Ross Douthat has a rather brilliant essay in which he considers whether the church is facing a new pagan society, as in the first century.  He thinks not, but he notices that some of the hostility against Christianity is very similar to the resentment against the faith expressed by pagan Romans.  He cites a recent rant in Slate complaining that so many of the doctors battling Ebola are Christians and missionaries, and calling for a separation of religion and health care.  Douthat said  this is like Julian the Apostate’s frustration that “all men see that our people lack aid” from pagan sources, even as “the impious Galilaeans support not only their own poor but ours as well.” [Read more...]

Catholics begin synod on marriage & sexual morality

The Extraordinary Synod on the Family is underway at the Vatican.  Two hundred bishops of the Roman Catholic Church summoned by the Pope will discuss the church’s teachings about marriage, divorce, contraceptives, annullments, and sexual morality.  In particular, the bishops will study the pastoral issues such teachings raise, such as whether divorced Catholics should receive be allowed to Communion and the fact that most Catholics ignore the church’s teachings about birth control, among other teachings on sex and family. [Read more...]

Protestant monasticism?

Some Protestants are calling for a “new monasticism,” the establishment of communities and religious orders devoted to prayer and the spiritual life. [Read more...]


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