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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Worldview Differences

Fr. Dwight Longenecker has written a really excellent article for Inside Catholic called Symbols and Systems: Why Catholics and Protestants Don't See Eye To Eye.

To put it simply, Catholics use things they know to try to understand the things they don't. Catholics seek to know God and His work in the world through material things: water, wine, bread, oil, incense, candles, images, and so on. For Catholics, some of these things are more than just symbols -- they are sacraments. They not only point to God, they convey His power and grace to us through the mystery of the Church.
For Catholics, this way of understanding the world, God, the cosmos, and everything is rich and multilayered. The Church is not only a symbol of the Body of Christ -- it is the Body of Christ. The bread brought forward by the members of the Body of Christ becomes itself the Body of Christ to feed the Body of Christ the Church. . .

Protestant theologians, rather than seeing how physical things and human culture connect us to God, emphasize the radical separation between God and the physical world. The Protestant focuses primarily on man's alienation from God, the fact of sin, the need for redemption, and the need for man's response. . .

Therefore, the idea that a visible church, a historic apostolic succession, a priesthood, and sacraments are necessary is -- at the very root of Protestant thinking -- alien and dangerous. For the typical Protestant, the Catholic Church is, by definition, worldly. Its very nature is materialistic and compromising with the world, the flesh, and the devil. For the Protestant there is therefore no relationship between Christ and culture. The faith is set up in dialectical opposition to the wisdom of man and the ways of the world.


It's great, go read it!

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6 comments:

Perplexity said...

Great read. I love, love, love this line:

The Protestant dialectical process means that Protestants emphasize the individual's existential inner response to God rather than the idea that God is "with us" working to save us in and through the physical and historical world.

It's not news that I am not Catholic; I am not "anything". But I have always believed this, above and beyond anything else when I think of God. This just put it into the words I could never formulate.

Kelly said...

He expands on the idea in his latest blog entry here:
http://dlongenecker.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/hubba-hubba/

Clearly, I'm a big Fr. Longenecker fan.

Unashamed said...

Um...ok. I guess that he's not aware that Lutherans also understand that God works through means for the forgiveness of sins. One of the things that I find frustrating (and ironic) is being lumped into the broad category of Protestant and then having generalizations - that are untrue in this case - made about my faith. Maybe I should start a blog about it? Just kidding :) But my point is, I don't care for it when generalizations and untruths are told about my faith any more than you like it told about yours. Just something to think about...

KitKat said...

Ah, Unashamed, I understand your pain. The LCMS almost seems to need a category of it's own because the catch-all phrase and modern definition of "Protestant" does not entirely fit. When most people think of Protestants they seem to think of Evangelicals, Methodists, Baptists, etc and they do not realise that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is different from the ELCA and from the whole common perception of what a Protestant is.

Unashamed said...

Oh Kitkat, I knew you'd "get it" *smile* And the distinctiveness of the LCMS is exactly what the current "war" in the LCMS is all about. It's about whether they're going to blend in and be "Protestant" (and lose that distinctiveness) or stand firm and remain "Lutheran". Sigh.

Kelly said...

Oh, I totally agree with you, unashamed. I remember when we were talking about sola scriptura and we had people say our definition wasn't right, but then we got three different definitions from three different people!

Generalizing is problematic, but at the same time, it is difficult to address each different theological variety.