Here is an excerpt.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Inside Catholic) - My niece's husband is a trainee Baptist pastor. Jimbo's hip, friendly, and fun to be with.Original posting is here.
He's smart and theologically savvy. I like him. He loves Jesus and believes the Bible, and on most moral and doctrinal issues I can affirm what he affirms. We agree on a lot.
But even when we agree, we don't see eye to eye.
Somehow we seem to have reached our religious conclusions from different starting points and through different routes. A chapter in Mark Massa's book Anti-Catholicism in America illuminated the problem for me.
Massa quotes an important theological work by David Tracy, The Analogical Imagination, in which he argues that, underneath our religious language, customs, liturgies, rules, and rubrics, there exist more fundamental ways of seeing.
Tracy says that Catholics have a basic concept of religion that is analogical. 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.
The Catholic imagination and the Catholic soul are nurtured in a multitude of different sacraments, sacramentals, signs, and symbols. As a result, all physical things are part of God's plan of salvation.
Life in all its fullness abounds with the mystery of God's life and love working through the world. This analogical way of seeing is dependent on, and comes from, the basic fact of God's revelation -- the Incarnation of His son, Jesus Christ.
In contrast, my nephew-in-law Jimbo, as a good Baptist, shares a radically different perspective on the whole shooting match. Jimbo, like every Protestant, has grown up within a basic religious paradigm that is more systematic. Tracy calls this "dialectical language."
He says 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.
The linear thought process is like any other dialectic process: "Thesis = we sin; antithesis = God says 'no' to our attempts to save ourselves; synthesis = God saves us when we confess the truth and justice of God's 'no' to our sin."
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.
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.
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