The Conservative Evangelical Problem

In the present fuss over homosexualism and women bishops the conservative Evangelicals are upset because the liberal Protestants are overturning Scripture and traditional Christian morality. I’m on their side of course, but the conservative Evangelicals have a more fundamental philosophical problem:

They were initially founded by a group of people who, in their day, were just as radical in their revisionism as the present day liberals. The revolutionary aims of the Protestant reformation were just as radical (for their time and place) as the present day radicals. 
In the sixteenth century the Protestants wanted to get rid of the Pope, sacraments, devotion to Mary, images in church, bishops etc. etc. etc. They were radical revisionists doctrinally, liturgically and morally for they advocated married clergy and justified remarriage after divorce. They were revolutionary revisionists like the church had never seen.
Evangelicals should attempt to put themselves back into the shoes of their forebears and they will see that the radical, revisionist position is actually one they should be comfortable with. The liberals are the true heirs of the Protestant reformation. The Reformers saw themselves as getting rid of the traditions of men and going back to a pure gospel of love and freedom from hierarchical institutions and hide bound traditions of men. To do this they devised totally new theologies and interpretations of Scripture. They interpreted Scripture as it had never been interpreted before.
Furthermore, they were men of their day because they thought the Church had to keep up with the times. They thought that the traditions and interpretations had to be updated. In other words, they believed that they knew more about the world than their forefathers and those who had written and interpreted the Bible before them.
This is the same argument we also hear from present day charismatic protestants. They say, “We don’t need those old hide bound denominational churches with all their dead traditions. We have the Holy Spirit! We don’t need all their rules and regulations. We have the Holy Spirit! We don’t need their man made customs and Biblical interpretations and dogmas and worship of Mary and sacramental systems. We have the Holy Spirit! We will interpret the Bible the way we see fit because we have the Holy Spirit! We have come with the new wine, and it will burst the old wine skins! Jesus says the truth will overturn the traditions of men. Remember how the Holy Spirit told Peter to ‘rise and eat’ the unclean thing? This was radical, but the Spirit led him into totally new territory. You have to be brave enough to go where the Spirit leads!”
Philosophically these are the same arguments and the methods of the feminists and homosexualists: they too want to overturn bigoted human invented traditions and Biblical interpretations, but they want to do so in favor of compassion, justice and love. Furthermore, they too claim to have the Holy Spirit on their side. They are prayerful people. They go to church. They love each other. They tithe. Like their Protestant forebears, they also believe they know more now than all those benighted people who lived before them. They also think they have been given a new revelation. Just like the rest of the Protestants, this leads them to introduce radical new interpretations of the Bible and advocate hitherto unheard of doctrinal and moral positions. Should you demur they cry with the same enthusiasm of the Evangelicals and Charismatics, “But you need to step out in faith! Trust the leading of the Spirit! Don’t be bound by your old traditions and joyless legalism! Don’t you see the joy and the love and the acceptance and the justice that will come from accepting homosexualism and feminism? Can’t you see that the Spirit is leading the Church into a brave new era of love and unity?”
Philosophically the conservative Protestants, the charismatic Protestants and the Liberal Protestants spring from the same radical revisionist roots. They simply come to different conclusions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Ha Ha! This is hilarious, Dwight.As none of your fellow cult Catholics (as opposed to real Roman Catholics like Pope Benedict, Mother Teresa, Fr Groschel, etc) will challenge you, let me say a few words.You are like the man who puts forward an argument that, technically according to the laws of physics, an elephant could hang from a daisy by its tail at the edge of a cliff. But it just doesn’t happen.Likewise, you put forward theological arguments that, technically, could happen but simply don’t. And never have.Perhaps you just need the applause of your fellow cult Catholics; perhaps you are trying to show the alleged English bishops you so dislike, that you are carrying the true Faith torch; or maybe its just that you have too much time on your hands.Go paint a fence; it worked for Tom Sawyer.Ha, Ha,James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02937909444925394325 Paul

    Excellent essay, Father! Very interesting and valid points. And regarding the previous comment, I frankly am in the dark as to what Mr. Hastings is talking about regarding “cult Catholics.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07632714882132276803 George Weis

    Hello Again!Father D,What do you have to say about Claud of Turin’s short apology written in the ninth century? This guy seemed stunned that there were people at the church there in Turin with icons and statues and so forth?I have been continuing to read your book, which is at times very convincing. At one moment I think I might hop down to St. Anthony’s and get into it, the next my heart is far from that. Part of me would like it to be the truth, the other half screams “Heresy!”. Sorry if that offends… I’m just having alot of honest moments.May Christ richly bless you for the sake of His Name!-g-

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Hello George. Thank you for your serious and honest inquiry after the fullness of Christ’s truth. I understand your situation completely and will pray for you in the midst of it.The controversy over images in worship is one which the church debated at various times and in various places. The most comprehensive controversy over this matter was in the 5-6 centuries, and was resolved in both East and West with an acceptance of iconography in Christianity.Check out the life and work of St John Damascene in this respect. He was gave the most convincing arguments. You might also like to research on the Catholic Answers website about the use of images and read the Catholic arguments there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Paul,Dwight is a classic example of ‘cult Catholicism.’He journeyed from the Evangelicals to the Anglicans to Roman Catholicism. Not liking anything he found in any of the above, but attracted by Oxford’s misty spires and the Oratory incense, he has moved, with a worrying number of people, into their own cult brand of Catholicism. This is a parasitic church within the real and marvellous Roman Catholic Church.Cult Catholics acknowledges Pope Benedict, reluctantly, as head, but there’s a strong distrust (see Dwight’s earlier nasty comments on the English bishops) about the alleged sell-out by Bishops Conferences of the ‘Real True Faith.’ (Dwight is particularly angry because the English bishops declined him for ordination) Just this week, I interviewed a Catholic priest, a Mgr no less, who now holds a senior post in Westminster Diocese in London. He told me he spent 22 years in cult Catholicism but is now in communion with Rome – even though he believed he was for those two decades.He said cult Catholicism is attractive to the spiritually immature, for those who like emotionalism and show and to be told what to do. Some key words are medieval, uniforms and suffering.Hope that helpsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00466358101255792250 Robert Sheehan

    I find this talk of “cult Catholicism” interesting. I have almost always enjoyed Fr Dwight’s essays and earlier writings but I do detect a growing edge of ultra-conservatism in the comments of people here, and in a way in the essays themselves, particularly with regard to liturgical tradition. In the same way that many writers here have a loathing of guitars in Mass and a love of expensive vestments I have a genuine liking of some guitar hymns and a dislike of Medieval vestments. The important thing we all have to remember is that the love of Christ rises above all such likes and dislikes and in Christian charity we all have to bear with externals we don’t like. Like most writers here I consider myself faithful to the teaching office of the Church and to Pope Benedict, but in the same way that scripture can be interpreted differently, so can many Vatican pronouncements. Compassion and understanding the other perspective are always good starting points.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    James, thank you for your contributionAllow me to correct a few details:1. Rather than ‘not liking anything’ within Evangelicalism and Anglicanism, I have consistently made it clear that I love and value much from both traditions and still do. In fact, I love and value much from within the renewal movement too. My ascent to Catholicism was not a denial of what was before, but an addition to it.2. I don’t usually go into detail about why i was not ordained as a Catholic priest in England, but in fact I was never refused ordination. Indeed, I have letters from a Catholic prelates from the Cardinal to an Archbishop and four other bishops saying I should be ordained. It just never happened for other reasons, which I will not go into because it would reveal more unsightly details about English bishops and I try as much as possible to keep my mouth closed about their failings.3. I am not at all reluctant in my admiration and support for Pope Benedict. He’s great and I’m behind him 100%4. While there are many traditionalists who believe Bishop’s Conferences have sold out wholesale, I am not one of them. I believe in apostolic succession. I believe the Spirit speaks through the bishops of the church. I would never criticize the formal statements of any bishop of the Catholic Church. However, I have from time to time criticized their human failings when they have proved tyrannical, ignorant, incompetent or corrupt.5. Your implication is that I am one of a band of traditionalist Catholics who disapprove of the second Vatican Council and would like to excommunicate all liberals, charismatics etc. from the Catholic Church. This is untrue, and my posts criticizing extreme traditionalists are proof that this is not my position. In fact, I value the breadth of opinions and styles within Catholicism and consider it one of the marks of our tolerance and our universality. Not for us the narrow, exclusiveness of Protestant sects.Finally, on this blog it would be so encouraging if you could sometimes address the points I make seriously. You used to make a good contribution here, but increasingly your posts evidence a bitterness and reluctance to engage with the real questions I raise.Instead of ridiculing my points about the philosophical weaknesses of Protestantism, why not try to answer them intelligently? If you think them so stupid as not worth your trouble, I understand that too. That’s ok.But when all you do is ridicule the post and cope with me and my posts by cramming me into a new cubbyhole you’ve thought up you simply reveal yourself to be afraid or unable to think through and defend your position, and unwilling to take the time to really understand both me or my position on issues.In the end I fear it reveals far more about James than about me or this blog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12520325224585096747 Éstiel

    Regarding your comments to James, Father: He also condemned me for a comment I’d made that he did not agree with. Ad hominem is the habitual response of anger from those who cannot identify the actual source of their own discomfort and tend to blame the messenger instead of the message. But it needs to be said that this kind of anger is almost always the initial response to interior conversion. It has no other real cause.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dwight,Come on! Have you been painting the spare room and the fumes gone to your head?You are the king of debate evasion. I have answered your theological dabblings numerous times, but you simply ignore them and retreat further into your own private version of Catholicism.You also love dishing out ridicule. Hence the time you posted a picture of the heavily bearded Archbishop of Canterbury and suggested someone might paint a turban on his head! That’s hardly intellectual debate.Your recent remarks about the English bishops went way beyond pointing to their human failings; your remarks were born in bitterness, nurtured through years of anger and spewed out in a torrent of abuse. Robert made a good point about compassion and understanding the other’s point. Just this week I am moving house to a beautiful, large dwelling. The same week I got the house, I got a writing contract which pays the rent. God is full of blessings – even to us Evangelicals.God blessJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    James, congratulations on your new house and writing contract!You forgot to comment on:1. my corrections to your earlier comment2. the blog post on the philosophical weaknesses of Protestantism.If you would like to address the matters at hand (not to mention our longstanding invitation for you to explain the foundations of authority for the charismatic church you belong to) we’d be glad to hear from you.I am tempted to delete future ad hominem attacks on me, but I’ll let them stand because I value the open ness of comboxes, and because they actually say more about the person writing them than the person being written about.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17490367338505806906 Irenaeus

    Better man than I am, Fr Longenecker. Since you value open discussion in the comboxes, I’ll say my initial response was, “WTF???”Hang in there, Fr L. I think you’re great, balanced, thoughtful, charitable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16174993361157022746 nathansward

    Excellent post. Allow me to make an objection, though, for the sake of rigor.Your argument, as you developed it, seems to rest upon the premise that protestants were not advocating a creed, i.e. that they were merely ‘protesting’ and rebelling.But they do have a creed. They are advocating a system of beliefs. Certain beliefs are Lutheran. Certain beliefs are Calvanist. It may betray naive confidence that they know the true interpretation of Scripture without the Pillar of Truth. But they do have a system of beliefs. There is a content.If members within their community stray from the beliefs that have formed the identity of their community, they should be expected to object.I am thinking of Newman’s journey, where he was first concerned with the purity of his own tradition. Eventually, he questioned the very foundations of that tradition and it led him to Rome. But that is a different issue, formally speaking.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    Much of what you say rings true to me, some of it does not. I suppose I am with Anne Rice on these issues. I am obedient to Rome but I suspect we will grow into a more mature understanding of homosexuality and the role of women in our churches. I’ve been re-reading St. Paul to mark the new year, and I am struck by his is sermon in Romans. First he builds his audience to a frenzy condemning those crazy pagan gays and all their weird ceremonies. Then in the next paragraph, as their nodding along like hindu cows to his invectives gainst the gentiles he brings it all crashing down on their heads. He tells thim that they are judging others and surely condemning themselves.Fr L, paste Romans into microsoft word, and do a find/replace of gentiles with ‘protestants’, curcumscribed for ‘confirmed’ et cetera. See what you get. We’re indeed called to charitable witness of love and mutual understanding, to invoke the Holy Spirit in the hopes of receiving the gift of Wisdom.I will rely on Holy Mother church to decide these things rather than the experimentations of an episcopal bishop’s conference. But I am open to the Holy Spirit acting through our bishops and through our Magisterium and that we just might be wrong about the roles we’ve offered women, who are clearly the majority of the faithful, as well as gays, who often have a strong faith regardless of their orientation.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dwight,OK, lets be serious and not go round in circles. I’ve answered all your questions – check your blog to see.Perhaps it would serve better to look at the different Christian denominations today and how they are living up to the Gospel.Let’s take attendance.A recent report, which I think you highlighted on your blog, showed that in Scotland, Catholics now outnumber Protestants.Closer inspection shows this rise is only, and I stress only, due to the large number of immigrants arriving in the country due to the relaxing of UK immigration rules. Most of these immigrants are from Catholic nations like Lithuania and Poland.But there has been no significant increase in numbers to the Catholic church, from indiginous Scots.On Sunday, the Polish church in Glasgow, Scotland is so full, the congregation spills out to the sidewalk. Other Catholic churches across the city are so empty, you could stage a football game and no-one would notice.By contrast, Evangelical churches in Scotland are increasing, not just from the immigrant population but from indiginous Scots. The Baptist church has recorded the highest increase.In Scotland, Catholic schools are free – paid for by the State. Yet, every priest I know laments about the lack of young people at Mass, the Sacraments etc. Oh, I’ve no doubt a plane load or two of young Catholic Scots will fly out to Sydney in a great fanfare for the World Youth Day, but the reality in the parishes is they are as empty as a Bill Clinton pro-life meeting.This pattern is, I believe, reflected across other nations, certainly across the UK – and let’s not forget the huge drift from Catholicism to Evangelicals that is happening in South America.I’m not playing a numbers game, but it is significant the Catholic church is static (after removing the immigrant influx) while the Evangelical churches such as Baptists, Pentecostals, AoG, Elim etc are flourishing.James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Marcus, there is much in what you say, however my post was not primarily about the issue of homosexuality or women priest. It was about the philosophical foundations of Protestantism.Regarding the issue of homosexuality and women priests, I do not presume to hold any opinion different from, or more than the formal teaching of the Catholic church on these matters.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    You’ve changed the subject James.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    Fr L.,I just finished reading ‘Burning to Read’ by Simpson, on the reformation in England. I really think the church has been unfairly calumniated by historians and Simpson brings it all home. What protestants truly even believe in faith alone anymore? Sure Rome was wrong to resist vernacular scripture. But they were right to fear the bloodbath that would ensue once the self-proclaimed leaders of the vernacular gospel emerged.I agree with you that rebellion against authority and tradition, whether by puritans or by liberals, comes from the same source. Protestants are inherently schismatic; and both ultra conservative and ultra liberals are simply schismatics. Some catholics, it is true, are tempted to schism from within the church. Others are listening to the Holy Spirit and their conscience and making up the body of the church. Where the dividing line is between schism and simply being a dynamic and living member of the body of Christ I am not sure.In other words, I agree with you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    In fact, Rome was not necessarily against the Scriptures being in the vernacular. The Scriptures had been translated into the vernacular for centuries.What Rome was opposed to was the Protestant bias of the translations which were not only inaccurate, but intentionally inaccurate in order to promote Protestant heresy.In addition, the Protestant translations removed the apocryphal books, and added ‘notes’ to the text which were not only Protestant in content, but rabidly anti-Catholic.They resisted the vernacular translations in the same way that we would resist a Jehovah’s Witness ‘translation’ that blatantly changes the Scripture to fit their doctrinal bias, or as we would resist the extra Biblical writings of Mary Baker Eddy etc etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dwight,We had reached deadlock – I believe I have answered your questions regarding the source of Evangelical authority, you say I haven’t.I was trying to move the subject from history to the present.My question is, if the Catholic denomination is fulfilling the Gospel, why is attendance so low and conversions so few in America/Europe compared to the Evangelicals.James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    James. You never even attempted an answer to my questions.However, this recent question is a good one, and deserves a full post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08110341406524333073 chimakuni

    Excellent thinking and writing, Father Dwight. Thank you -

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02937909444925394325 Paul

    James,Thanks for your explanation regarding “cult Catholicism.” But I have to say that I honestly still don’t understand. I’m still in the dark as to the reasoning behind identifying such a division between real Catholics and “cult” Catholics. (I’m not asking for an explanation necessarily, just saying that this division doesn’t ring true to me.)But there is obviously some history here between you and Fr. Longenecker that I am not aware of, so maybe if I knew more of the history, I would better understand where you are coming from.One final point: I notice that you refer to Fr. Longenecker simply as “Dwight.” In my humble opinion, this form of address comes across to Catholic readers as rather rude. One need not agree with someone to use their title in addressing them. For example, I can think that President Clinton was a national embarrassment and a terrible president, yet still refer to him as “President Clinton.” Or I don’t have to believe that a Mormon bishop is really a validly ordained bishop in order to address him as “Bishop.” (And if you have a theological problem with calling him Father, you could still address him as Reverend.) Just something to consider.Paul

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06692665750427668367 tdunbar

    Regarding using the growth of an ecclesial body as a measure of vitality, the time scale is important. After all, Jn 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” In my own location (southwest Virginia), the Catholic parishes are growing at a healthy rate (tho very much in the minority) and, on the other hand, on a very broad scale the growth of the Catholic Church within spacetime can not be matched by any Protestant ecclesial body.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Paul,I have stated on Dwight’s blog before that I prefer addressing people by their Christian names. I am not trying to be awkward, disrespectful or make a theological point. I honestly prefer using Christian names as opposed to titles when I speak to someone – anyone!Sometimes Jesus was called Rabbi, sometimes Teacher but mostly he was called Jesus. Have you ever prayed to Rabbi Jesus or Teacher Jesus? No, you pray to Jesus!Maybe people are assuming titles Jesus never assumed?? But here’s a point. At no time have you refered to me as Mr Hastings. Why not? That is my official title. Do you call your postman or garbage collector Mr Jones or Mr Smith, or even Postman Jones and Garbage Man Smith? If not why not?I don’t call my own pastor, Pastor Chris Stone. I call him Chris. You might be amazed how many Catholic priests, nuns and brothers prefer being called by their Christian names.My uncle was a Marist Brother. His baptism name was David. His full name was David McKell. When he was professed in the 1940s, he was given the name Brother Germanus. He always hated it. When the rule was relaxed in the 1960s, he was initially called Brother David but in his later years (he died aged 82) he preferred being called just Davey. He was a great Marist Brother, a holy man and a wonderful Catholic. He was also Davey.I agree with your description of Bill Clinton. If anyone does not deserve the title Mr President, if it him. And thankfully his wife will not get that title either!James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I don’t mind being called by my first name, but I’m going to refer to James from now on by his honorific title of ‘The Captain’

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02937909444925394325 Paul

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02937909444925394325 Paul

    I have stated on Dwight’s blog before that I prefer addressing people by their Christian names. I am not trying to be awkward, disrespectful or make a theological point. I honestly prefer using Christian names as opposed to titles when I speak to someone – anyone!OK, well I appreciate the explanation, and I’m glad to know that you aren’t singling anyone out. I was just letting you know how it sounds, to a Catholic reader who is not aware of your policy.But here’s a point. At no time have you refered to me as Mr Hastings. Why not? That is my official title.But actually I *have* referred to you as Mr. Hastings. I did so in the my first comment, immediately following your first comment. Only after you addressed me as Paul (which, admittedly I didn’t give you much option on, since my last name isn’t published here) did I then address you as James.I agree with your description of Bill Clinton. If anyone does not deserve the title Mr President, if it him. And thankfully his wife will not get that title either!On this, we do indeed agree! :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Paul,Yes, thank God (yes, God) the American people had enough sense not to vote for Mrs Clinton.I don’t want to be pedantic but if your parish priest calls you by your Christian name, you would still use his title. If I call you by your Christian name, you drop my title. Why?I should add that my oldest sister, Margaret, is a Daughter of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. Everyone calls her Margaret, at her insistence. Some people call her a nun; she points out she is a religious sister. Nuns are those living in enclosed convents.See the problem with titles, Paul? Or should that be Mr?Blessings from the UKJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02937909444925394325 Paul

    I don’t want to be pedantic but if your parish priest calls you by your Christian name, you would still use his title. If I call you by your Christian name, you drop my title. Why?Because that’s generally accepted standard etiquette. And referring to priests as “Father” even if they call you by your first name is also generally accepted standard etiquette, at least among Catholics (and this is a Catholic blog, where I assume that most of the readers are Catholic). Now, if you think that the standard doesn’t make sense, and you want to use your own version of etiquette in which you never use titles, that is fine with me. (Honestly it is; I’m not just being facetious.) But in choosing to deviate from the standard, I think that you have to expect that some people will misunderstand your words, and assume a lack of respect, when no lack of respect may have been intended.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Paul,A fair point. That is why if a pastor of any denomination requestes I use their title, then that is what I would do.I might think it unecessary but I respect his/her wishes.Etiquette does reveal a great deal about how we treat/regard people. If you call your postman by his first name but your priest by the title Father, does that mean one is of greater worth than the other?When the shepherds were called first to the stable in Bethlehem ahead of the priests or even the Wise Men, what did that say about the supposed values of society’s etiquette?James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06624317806947588259 Rachel Gray

    Commenting on the original post: Louis Bouyer wrote about this. I forget his exact wording, but it was something like: in pitting the Bible against the Church, the Reformers were actually refusing to submit to a view of things in which their individual conscience was not the highest authority. That opened the door to every liberal doctrine we’ve got today. They thought they were upholding the Bible, but they were destroying the one thing– Church authority– that ensured the Bible would retain its high place.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03323230728742636397 schiavolin

    Your post reminded me of Karl Barth’s apologia for F. Schleiermacher…”He must not have realized what he was doing…he could not have known what he was doing…he could not have meant what we took him to mean…”Barth perhaps recognized something similar and felt agitated by it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12520325224585096747 Éstiel

    “I should add that my oldest sister, Margaret, is a Daughter of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. Everyone calls her Margaret, at her insistence. Some people call her a nun; she points out she is a religious sister. Nuns are those living in enclosed convents.”I’m sorry, but this is incorrect. I asked one of our decidedly un-enclosed sisters about this. There is no distinction between a “sister” and a “nun.” They are both nuns. Perhaps the confusion stems from the fact that some men in monasteries are priests and some are not; the latter are called “Brother.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12520325224585096747 Éstiel

    Dear Rachel, I suppose every convert is familiar with this particular threshold on entering the Church. All of us are heirs of the “Englightenment” and humanism and anti-hierarchical political ideologies, a mindset that has caused the irrational point of view that the Middle Ages were “dark,” when, in fact, that age is the greatest in human history. It also caused the deaths of millions in the twentieth century and onwards while it reigns supreme and unchallenged.It requires humility to say, “Perhaps I was wrong….” Yet that is the only door to salvation. “Repent and be saved.” It was the message of our Lord, his only message. If you believe, you will repent; it must follow as the night follows day. There is no more peaceful human being than the one who is just leaving the confessional, having surrendered to the authority of Christ on earth. Anyone who has not experienced this cannot understand it: it is your pride that is causing you all your anxiety, all your suffering, and in your fierce defense of it, it is causing all your sin.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    estiel,I’m sorry but you are incorrect. There is a very distinct difference – even wikipedia explains the difference quite well:”In modern English, the word “nun” is commonly used for all women religious and this term is acceptable in most informal situations, however, to be technically correct, in the Roman Catholic Church, the terms “nun” and “religious sister” have distinct meanings. Women belonging to communities like the Sisters of Charity, or Third Order Franciscans or Dominicans are religious sisters, not nuns. Nuns and sisters are distinguished by the type of vows they take (solemn vows vs. simple vows) and the focus of their good works. The type of vows that are taken are dependent on the Constitutions and/or rule of each community, which are submitted for approval to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, a body of the Roman Curia. The religious community of a nun is referred to as a “religious order” while the religious community of a sister is referred to as an “institute” or “congregation”. Hence, all nuns are religious sisters, but not all religious sisters are, properly speaking, nuns.”Hope that helps!Captain My Captain

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12520325224585096747 Éstiel

    Dear James,Wikipedia is not recognized as authoritative on this issue, or most others, for that matter. However, it confirms what I said, actually. Third-order communities are for laity; not religious, and they may indeed be institutes, but members are not addressed as “Sister.” Only nuns are addressed as sisters, and again, nuns may be cloistered or not cloistered, but they are all “sisters”–not so for religious institutes or third-order communities. All nuns are addressed as “Sister”; third-order organizations of any kind are not, even though many live consecrated lives. They are still laity. Vows in religious orders are more various than merely “simple” or “solemn,” depending on the stage of one’s vocation. But no third order that I know of requires of its members the communal life nor the poverty, chastity, and obedience of full-fledged religious houses. Although–it must be added–a great many laypersons, both men and women, consecrate themselves to chastity (no marriage), whether they are third-order members or not.Hope this helps. I never allow my students to cite Wikipedia, by the way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    estiel,I think we’d better leave it there, otherwise we’ll go round in circles.I can only relate my sister’s thoughts which are shared by the other members of her community. I also remember meeting an amazing woman who when aged 16 was out for a walk near Pluscarden, a Benedictine monastery in Scotland.This woman was a Catholic but had never heard Gregorian chant until that day as she passed Pluscarden and heard the monks.She knew instantly that was where God was calling her – only in a convent.Six months later, she had joined the nuns at Tyburn in London. That was 20 years ago and she is still there. I interviewed her and was struck by her holiness and her ordinariness.So, whether we call them religious sisters or nuns, they all (well mostly all) have a wonderful ministry for the Lord.God blessJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04116805584664907353 Elizabeth

    Thank you for this blog. I do appreciate the time and thought you put into your posts. Although I disagree with a lot, your entries are thought provoking and a good read. I think I could apply most of your descriptions of Protestants to Paul’s continual exhortations to the churches to stop obeying Jewish customs and when he rebukes Peter. What makes Paul’s break with tradition and controversies with church leaders right?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12520325224585096747 Éstiel

    Dear Elizabeth,Your questions are good ones and it’s easy to see that you are perhaps making a comparison between Paul’s disagreement with Peter and the disagreement that Protestants have with “papism” or Church authority. This is not addressed often, and it probably should be, since Protestants are so often recognized as “followers” of Paul. I think the comparison of certain Protestant positions with that portion of Scripture is inevitable. I hope Father will answer you on this one. Meanwhile, let’s look at the question a bit more contextually. First, Paul’s disagreement with the Church at Jerusalem (and with Peter) was not a “rebuke,” but a disagreement. Secondly, perhaps what makes Paul “right” for a Catholic is not so much that he disagreed with Peter but that Peter agreed with him.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02538161183912665994 Augustine

    I guess that cult-Catholics are those faithful, orthodox Catholics who are impermeable to the Captain’s arguments.It never fails to amuse me, though with an ounce of pity for their souls, that while the Evangelicals get Catholic defectors like the Captain, we get the likes of Fr. Dwight. Of course, we still accept returns any time.May Mother Mary pray for us.


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