The Protestant Dilemna

Here is something from the combox in reply to the departure of Anglican bishops for Rome:

Obviously this Bishop hasn’t a clue as to what authentic Anglicanism is. “Swimming the Tiber” is about as far away from Anglicanism as one can get. For those unaware of what this might be here are some guidelines:

1. First and foremost is Holy Scripture:

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation:so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be
believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

2. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer and other national BCPs based on it, for example the current Book of Common Prayer used by the Reformed Episcopal Church.

3. The 39 Articles of Religion of the Anglican Church

4. The two “Books of Homilies” which explain the 39 Articles.

These are the “Gold Standards” of what being Anglican is. And by those standards “Anglo-Catholics” and “Liberal Broad Church” types are not Anglicans.

So to this Bishop and others in the UK and US who depart for the Roman “Ordinariates” I say you went out from among among us but you were never a part of us.

BTW I am a recovering ex-Roman Catholic who is now worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth as a conservative “orthodox” Anglican in the ACNA/Reformed Episcopal Church and I ain’t swimming the Tiber, been there done that.

The only reply we can give is to pose the same question we pose for all Protestants–a question that has yet to be answered: Why should your version of the Christian faith–in this case your version of Anglicanism–be the correct one?

The writer has outlined some ‘gold standards’ for Anglicans. But why should those ‘gold standards’ be the correct ones? There are many good, sincere, prayerful Anglicans who heartily resist his definitions. The liberals would smile at his quaint definitions. “The Book of Homilies? No one reads that anymore?–the 39 Articles of Religion? An interesting sixteenth century document. Irrelevant for today. The Book of Common Prayer? Very nice as a museum piece.”

The Anglo Catholics would similarly dispute his “Gold Standard”.

All particular disputes aside, the commenter must tell us what authority declares that his preferred version of Anglicanism is the correct one. Why should this version of Anglicanism be right and all the others wrong?  Because he says so? Because he likes that one best?

He will argue that this is ‘historic’ Catholicism. The Anglo Catholics argue strongly that their interpretation of Anglicanism is the historic one and his is a sixteenth century aberration. The liberals will say their interpretation is the modern revision of his. Who is right and why?

Note the last paragraph. Here is a lapsed Catholic who says he now ‘worships in Spirit and in Truth.’ Let me explain the code here. First of all, the implication is that as a Catholic he never worshipped in Spirit and in Truth and the further implication is that there are no Catholics who worship in Spirit and in Truth. Secondly, the ‘Spirit’ here usually means the individualistic, subjective sentimentalism of Protestantism. “This worship makes me feel good so it is worship ‘in the Spirit.’” Finally worship in ‘the Truth’ usually means for the Protestant that they read the Bible a lot. Of course I am not opposed to reading the Bible a lot, but the Bible is always read within the teaching of the Church’s magisterium. This is not what the writer means by ‘worshiping in Truth.’

Finally, it saddens me whenever I  hear of Catholics falling away from the Church. Sometimes it it their own fault. There is a broken marriage or moral matter that causes them to fall away, or they just become lured away be the attractions of other religions. However, too often the sad truth is that we have failed them. Through poor example, scandal, lousy catechesis, poor liturgy and all the rest, the Catholic Church on the ground is too often pretty awful.

So the sheep wander.

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  • priest’s wife

    - I love your explanation of his interpretation of Spirit and truth- let's take FEELINGS out of the equation- feelings come as a result of faith and logic

  • RJ

    Would this not be a self-refuting argument by your correspondent? Where does it say in the Bible: "whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby" is not to be required of any man?

  • Andreas Kjernald

    The very question you raised about authority is a very hard question to answer for non-Catholics. My problem is this. As I look around and I see Protestant churches, especially my own, falling prey to liberal and progressive ideas. I don't seem to fit in anywhere. So I look to Rome. Is there a solution in Rome? Is true religion found in Rome?Well, I must admit that I sometimes think "yes". For instance, I think that Scripture has to be above tradition since tradition is not inspired by God. The Fathers surely didn't claim divine inspiration in their letters and tomes, for starters.Then, the Mary thing. I have read what the Fathers said about Mary and it's pretty scanty (to say nothing about Mary in the Bible). Not much there, compared to the co-rededemptrix stuff heard in our day. I think they would be horrified to hear that Jesus AND Mary redeem us. That is blasphemy to me. Sure, very special lady. Sure, she carried the God-man Jesus in her womb. Sure, she was blessed. Sure, we can ask her to pray for us just like I ask my buddies to pray for me on earth. But come on!Then, the Eucharist. I currently admit that Christ is present Spiritually in the bread and the wine. What is lost by not going all out TS, except some Aristotelian metaphysics? I don't get the Mass. Does it offer a sacrifice every Sunday? Wasn't Christ a sacrifice once and for all, and for all?The Pope thing is not a big deal to me. Surely a dogma that recent can't be a matter of salvation, and it is a little "iffy" to claim infallability for a human even if by a council.But there is a lot to like. I love the way you guys fit everything together and how life fits into the life of the Church/faith instead of vice versa. I like the structure of the church. My favorite author is Catholic (Peter Kreeft). In all my dealings with Catholics I have been blessed and impressed. And on and on…Thomas Aquainas said once that it is a mortal sin for someone to remain in the (Catholic) church if he or she believes that the Church is in grave error, since it goes against their conscience (the voice of God). It is only a venial sin to leave the Church in such a state. So, should I remain on the outside since I believe that the Catholic church is in error here and there or should I join since all other denominations are in error too. Thanks,Andreas

  • romishgraffiti

    On the off chance that someone wants to throw the Catholic-converts-use-illicit-private-judgment card, it's been covered dude: Catholic vs. Protestant Conceptions of the Meaning and Consequences of Private Judgment

  • Fr Longenecker

    Andreas, there are good answers for your questions. You have to ask yourself, "Why have so many Evangelical Christians become Catholics?" They must have had all these same questions too, right? We studied and looked and found the answers.I suggest you get a copy of the catechism of the CAtholic Church if you do not already have one. All the answers are there. There are also very many books out there which will help.Why not look on my own website? My book–Mary a Catholic-Evangelical Debate will answer the Mary questions, and my book More Christianity will cover the others.Happy Hunting!

  • crazy

    Andreas,Not much there, compared to the co-rededemptrix stuff heard in our day. I think they would be horrified to hear that Jesus AND Mary redeem us.Head on over to Called to Communion to check out a recently published and very thorough article on Mary as co-redemptrix. There's some healthy discussion going on, and I'm sure the author would be glad to answer some questions on the topic.The sacrifice offered in the mass is the eternally efficacious sacrifice of Christ. Just as Jesus, in the Incarnation, was a meeting of the eternal and the temporal, so His crucifixion was one event temporally but has eternal signficance. Thus, in the mass, the church offers back that one time but eternal sacrifice.Where is the reference for that quote from Aquinas? I only ask because sometimes these sorts of things can get passed on and the real meaning can get lost in translation or without the proper context. Of course, Aquinas also denied the immaculate conception, so he wasn't right about everything. ; )

  • Marija

    For the last 10 years I have been leaving the "Protestant Church" and, like Andreas, I asked the very same questions. I have attended Mass regularly now for over a year and currently am taking RCIA classes at my local parish and Lord willing I will "cross the Tiber" at the Easter vigil. What attracted me at first? The reverence. Over the years having been in various Protestant denominations searching for the "right church" I was tired of the hee-haw atmosphere in many churches, the conference-like atmosphere and the people-centered worship services.Years ago, a German friend visited us and we took her to our great big people/entertainment-friendly church and I asked her how she liked it, hoping she would convert from her Catholic background (ha) and she said she did not like the church service, as it was too much like a "theater." Oh my. That got me thinking as well as a number of ideas over the last 10 years, gently pushing me toward Rome. I could have written Andreas's commentary a couple years ago. Anyone reading this and in the same place as Andreas, I would suggest to take just one of those issues at a time and read all you can about it. Wishing you all a blessed Advent time.

  • kkollwitz

    Per my post at Called to Communion:I tell my 6th-graders:Mary is co-redemptrix as parents are co-creators: they play a subordinate, but indispensable role.

  • shadowlands

    AndreasI myself as a cradle catholic faced all the issues you mention during my walk with the God of my understanding (ie: my personal relationship with Jesus Christ). I also had Baptist influences whilst growing up and am thoroughly grateful I did, by the way.I find, whenever I get into doubts about some theological matter these days, I kneel down and ask God the Father, if it is His will, that I may understand something more fully. I especially did this regarding Mary's position within Catholicism. Boy, did I find out!But be warned, praying to the Father in this way brings serious results, at least it has in my experience. Francis Hogan the Catholic author also advises re this. He doesn't muck about, if we mean the prayer, He sends the answer dramatically! Hebrews 10:31God bless you and bring you serenity.

  • Arnold Conrad

    Andreas, I used to think that the "co" in coredemptrix meant equal with Christ. However, it means "with" Christ. Mary cooperated in the Incarnation. Without her yes to God, it would not have happened. Having said that, I think it is an unfortunate terminology and likely to confuse and alienate many. We already have the understanding of what it means. The term is not necessary in my opinion. Arnold

  • john

    I have been over all that. You see 5 years ago I was a staunch Roman Catholic. I own and have read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I started out wanting to be a Catholic apologist cause I got "fed up" with Evangelicals bashing the Catholic Church. I read a great deal and you know what? If one puts down the axe they want to grind, be honest in prayer and simply ask in faith for the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth and have an open mind and be willing to see things honestly and simply trusting the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you and be willing to follow the Truth NO MATTER where it leads then I can say that in all honesty neither History looked at objectively or Holy Scripture honestly studied backs up Roman claims, objective unbiased study of both History and Scripture refute Rome and shows that her claims are false.

  • john

    BTW I would also like to comment on some of what you wrote Fr."Finally, it saddens me whenever I hear of Catholics falling away from the Church. Sometimes it it their own fault."No Fr. Its not my fault I was lied to by Catholic Apologists who distort and twist the truth"There is a broken marriage or moral matter that causes them to fall away,"Ah, the ole "moral excuse" reason, every Catholic Apologist pulls this one out when talking about an ex-Catholic.IE they wanted to remarry, couldn't get an annullment,or they have some "besetting sin"(mortal) that they find difficult to overcome so they join an Evangelical Church or liberal Protestant Church. Maybe in some cases this is true, but for myself and all the ex-Catholics I know (and there are quite a few) was over DOCTRINE that contradicts God's Word written. "or they just become lured away be the attractions of other religions."Yep heard this one before Mass is boooooring so they go to an Evangelical Church with lots of upbeat music, inspiring preaching and "infotainment". Again for myself and most other ex-Catholics I know it was for good solid Bible teaching and to be immersed in the Worship of God and to Glorify Him and HIM ALONE. "However, too often the sad truth isthat we have failed them. Through poor example, scandal, lousy catechesis, poor liturgy and all the rest, the Catholic Church on the ground is too often pretty awful.So the sheep wander."Which brings out another reason Catholic apologists say Catholics leave the Church, poor catechesis, if they really understood and knew what the Church REALLY teaches then they wouldn't have left.Again in my case and many other ex-Catholics I know and have talked with, we knew very well and understood what the Catholic Church teaches,we just disagree with it and say that based on Historical facts and objective History Rome's calims are false and her Dogmas contradict the Holy Scriptures.

  • Joel

    Talk about going round in circles. The Catholic Church gave you the bible. Bit rich trying to tell us how to interpret it.Protestants are the religious equivalent of Milli Vanilli.

  • Fr Longenecker

    John, thank you for your comments and for visiting this blog. You haven't said exactly which Catholic beliefs you have discovered to be 'lies' and 'distortions of the truth' so I'll let that rest.My question for you is the same I ask all Protestants. You have now, presumably, become a particular kind of Protestant. Tell me, how do you know that your particular brand of Protestantism is the right one?You claim that simple, objective study and a Spirit-led, honest reading of Scripture brings you to your present position. But this is what all the Protestants claim.Why should your particular "simple, honest, spirit-led' interpretation of the Scriptures be the correct one and the Mormons, Methodists, Moonies or the Baptists, Pentecostals or Episcoplians be the wrong ones?

  • Shaughn

    Fr. L,The troubling feature of Anglicanism is, I think, how many different sorts there are, and the range of beliefs that can comprise it. I myself am in what may be described as an Anglo-Catholic "wing" of it, and so I naturally find problematic a lot of what John has to say. I naturally won't turn it into a snipe fest here.For my part, the gaps between my church (the Anglican Catholic Church) and the Roman Catholic Church are much, much narrower than what you'll find in the REC/ACNA. The REC, for example, is now essentially in communion with a body that is ambivalent at best toward the ordination of women, while the REC itself has been ambiguous itself about apostolic succession in its own history. The Church (of which I think, based on the evidence before me, that I am a part, and you are a part) naturally sees that sort of association as problematic.The biggest areas where some Anglicans (that is, those of us in the ACC) and Rome would disagree are largely in a) areas where we've disagreed since Trent, and b) places of disagreement since Apostolicae Curae and Saepius Officio. That is, we disagree a bit about the language of Justification vs. Sanctification, which spills over into minor disagreements in teaching about venial and mortal sin and about the sacrament of Penance. And we disagree about the status of the BCP's ordinal.In my experience, the following usually happens: Without getting into too much inside baseball talk about sacramental theology, a Roman Catholic lay person or cleric will say, rather definitively, "Nothing happens at the Eucharist, sir. Your Orders are completely and utterly invalid." And the Anglican priest will smile charitably, reply, "No, they're not," and continue ministering efficaciously to his people. We're in a bit of a mess, of course, because the Anglo Catholic (and here I do not mean the Affirming Catholic sort which is, essentially, a Universalist in pretty clothes) and the REC sort of Anglican are both claiming to be Anglican. Ick.Some clergy in England have dealt with this problem largely by deciding to swallow Apostolicae Curae and go to Rome. Rome's been entirely consistent about insisting on ordinations ab initio here. I'm reasonably certain even Cardinal Newman underwent such an ordination.Those of us who either cannot or will not accept the arguments of Apostolicae Curae have to continue on elsewhere. It isn't always a matter of "Golly, look at the Protestants going on about feelings on this or private thoughts on that," but real, vibrant disagreements on theology as informed by Scripture and Tradition.

  • romishgraffiti

    As I've mentioned here before, as a former Lutheran, I always look back at my time there with appreciation. And every Catholic convert I met does the same or is at least not hostile to their past denomination. When they critique it, they usual stick to the content of the doctrines and theology and only briefly mention their past membership. The thing that in my experience comes up when listening to de-converts is that they are always giving me their Catholic résumé. I was born and raised Catholic, went to daily mass and was Chief whatchamacallit in the Knights of Columbus and so on. The desire to establish credibility on this point was always weird. And if they ever got to Catholic doctrines, it was usually the most caricatured straw-man versions of them. If there was such thing as spidey-sense, it would be tingling.

  • David

    Good points in this post. I'm a Presbyterian, but I hold no illusions that any denomination is the right one. (And I too have been very swayed by this very blog in the direction of Rome.)But one queston, you are obviously on solid ground to make this point to Protestants, as a Roman Catholic, what with the Protestant schism being relatively recent, but don't you need to be able to give a suitable answer as to why the Roman Catholic church is correct, and the many Eastern Orthodox churches are not? Also, what is the polite way for a non-Catholic to refer to a Catholic priest? I wouldn't imagine I should call you Father? Would it be Reverend?

  • Little Black Sambo

    Andreas: "tradition is not inspired by God."How can you be so sure about that?Tradition is the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church.As for the 39 Articles, etc, etc. Cranmer was avowedly trying to return the Church of England to a pristine state of purity. Let us take him at his word, and do the same. He got some things wrong, but if he were living today he would be better informed. The Anglican Churches should not regard themselves as tied to Cranmer as if he had founded them. We must look to the Rock from whence we were hewn.

  • veritas

    The recovering ex-Roman Catholic has missed one glaring fact in his diatribe against the Catholic Church.He states his reasons for becoming an authentic Anglican (whatever that is??)- Scripture alone, the Book of Common Prayer, the 39 Articles.He then misses the elephant in the room, a fact so obvious that it is screaming out for notice. The reasons he gives for becoming an authentic Anglican and leaving the Catholic Church ARE THE VERY THINGS ON WHICH THE NOW CATASTROPHIC ANGLICAN CHURCH WAS FOUNDED!They have failed! They have been proven to have been a disaster!What more evidence does he want than the fact that the church founded on just those three premises is now in total disarray.Without the God given authority of Peter and the Apostolic college there is no way men can interpret Holy Scripture properly and no way they can keep on the path God established.

  • Ismael

    @ JohnIn Truth I discovered the opposite of your claims By taking up the 'protestant' and 'anti-catholic' challenges I have learned a lot and I have learned that objective study of Scriptures, Tradition and indeed history SUPPORT the Catholic Faith.Also I have discovered that protestants in the past have gone great lengths to distort the truth and throw mud at the Catholic Church with lies and half-truths (anyone with a bit of historical knowledge will know that).In a way I am glad I was confronted with the anti-Catholic hate: it gave me a chance to grow and learn. God can really turn evil into good.—Again in my case and many other ex-Catholics I know and have talked with, we knew very well and understood what the Catholic Church teaches, we just disagree with it and say that based on Historical facts and objective History Rome's claims are false and her Dogmas contradict the Holy Scriptures.I think you think you understood what the Church teaches, perhaps at one time you did… but you do not anymore.Also the protestant interpretation of scriptures comes in 30.000 flavors nowadays…. So which one is correct? Logic and rationality dictate that they cannot all be correct.See the holes starting to form in your argument?but for myself and all the ex-Catholics I know (and there are quite a few) was over DOCTRINEThat is always what ex-catholic tell themselves. That is what all people who leave a certain group to join/form a new one tell themselves. “It was not about divorce it was about theology” “It was not about money it was about ideology”“It was not about having power but about truth”Etc…Yet… Who is fooling who? Usually ex-Catholics have poor understanding of the doctrine (no matter how hard they tell themselves they understood it) but even more they just wanted a 'make-it-yourself' religion’.Even if they understood the teachings of the Church, many of them did not accept them because they preferred to legalize their sins.So they step over to protestantism and say 'oh as long as I believe in Jesus I will be saved'… and then they get divorced, use contraceptives, accept sinful behavior (e.g. abortion like some protestant groups do), etc… Only afterwards, since they cannot believe they left because they did not want to follow the real teachings of Jesus, they try hard to fool themselves into thinking they left because of theological reasons… but really they are just fooling themselves.Again for myself and most other ex-Catholics I know it was for good solid Bible teaching and to be immersed in the Worship of God and to Glorify Him and HIM ALONE.This, I think, proves a very poor understanding of what the Catholic faith is all about.Q.E.D.

  • flyingvic

    veritas, I'm not sure I understand what point you're trying to make. To be honest, I'm not sure that you understand what point you're trying to make. He wanted to join a particular church because of that church's founding documents and principles? That would seem to me to be a not unreasonable path to follow.Ah, but then you shout 'CATASTROPHIC' with, unless I am much mistaken, unholy glee. May I ask, (just for clarity's sake, you understand,) which of the thirty-eight provinces of the worldwide Anglican Church – with some eighty million members – is currently 'failing' and a 'disaster' and 'in disarray'?Charity, my brother, charity.

  • Adeodatus49

    I suggest you get a copy of the catechism of the CAtholic Church if you do not already have one. All the answers are there. There are also very many books out there which will help.I am not trying to discourage the use of the CCC, but I would like to recommend the catechisms authored by the late, great Fr. John Hardon, S.J.:"The Catholic Catechism"–big book, very approachable, and understandable by someone with a decent high school education, and with an excellent history of the development and use of the sacraments, the Church's theology, etc. My principal recommendation."Pocket Catholic Catechism"–short, sweet, and easy to read, but packs a big wallop. It also merits re-reading and consulting from time to time. Lots there in a small package."Question & Answer Catechism–the Q&A; version of the "Pocket Catechism" on the order of something like the USCCB's "Compendium of the CCC" but much better in my opinion!Even if these catechisms do not lead to Tiber Swimming, at least the interested and motivated reader will understand what the Catholic Church is about instead of what too many non-Catholics think (erroneously) it is about. I might also add, sadly, what too many Catholics think (erroneously) it is about.