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Thursday, August 21, 2008

The difference between Protestant and Catholic Christians

I thought this article gave a very good summation of the two paradigms. Be sure to read the whole article!

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.

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.

Catholic Symbols

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.

Protestant Systems

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.
Original posting is here.
Since we've already been there, done that, comments on this one are closed.

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16 comments:

Sue Bee said...

I think his understanding of protestants is limited to the Baptists. He ignores the many protestant sects that recognize God's grace through sacraments - Lutherans, Methodists, Prebyterians, Reformed, Episcopalians and others.

The backbone of Lutheran theology is that we are saved by Grace through Faith - not by "man's response."

Laura said...

So basically your Candy, but instead of being against Catholics your against Protestants, or just Baptists? You two are the opposite and the same at the same time. Even if Candy is dead wrong though, at least her ideas are well though out and tend to have some reasoning behind them.

Kelly said...

Sue, I do acknowledge that it is a bad Catholic habit to lump almost all denominations under the heading of "Protestant." Usually we remember to except the Orthodox, and on a good day, someone might remember the Anglicans.

That used to drive my husband crazy, but a short year after he converted, I heard him refer to "Protestant theology," a phrase he swore would never pass his lips.

Anyway, we tend to post things which represent Candy's theological worldview, or our understanding of it. I'm sure that was the case with this article.

Laura,

Intelligent people can acknowledge theological differences without spreading lies about the beliefs of other denominations. Now, if we start posting that Johnny Hunt is the anti-Christ, you might have a leg to stand on.

Feel free to visit again, if you'd like to have an actual conversation.

Sue Bee said...

Kelly - Clearly, if we've learned anything here :-), protestant theology comes in all different shapes and sizes. Articles such as this one from Catholics Online, which lump all protestants together, should be read with a critical eye. Does he honestly not know that millions of protestants believe in sacraments or does he assume his readers are ignorant?

Laura, do you mean me or Elena?

BTW Kelly, how are you doing healthwise. Still praying for you!

Clare said...

Hi, somewhat off topic here, but you may be interested to know that a new blog is opening up. I read about it on 'the other site'. It seems that it's aim is to provide a place where people can write their stories about how they "came out of the church of Candy, or simply how you came to understand the truth behind Keeping the Home".

The blog author is anymommy and she says
"Then I investigated Chick and the Babylon book. That was eye-opening. I can't believe I was hoodwinked by so many lies.

I am now re-examining my religious beliefs. I am seriously considering returning to the Catholic Church, from which I have been seperated for almost 20 years. The falsehoods Candy has published caused me to investigate the truth, and I am discovering it, day by day, in my Bible, without her twisted interpretation. My faith now is not based on stereotypes and superstitions and rumors. It is grounded in the truth, and it has set me free."
The name of the blog is inspired in my opinion. It's called 'Come Out Of Her'
You can read it here:
http://truthaboutcandy.blogspot.com/

Just passing it on for anyone interested (it's not my blog by the way!)

Elena said...

So basically your Candy, but instead of being against Catholics your against Protestants, or just Baptists?

I'm not against anybody and neither was this article. This was an attempt by the author to examine the different paradigms and ways that Catholics and some Protestants approach things. It was an attempt at understanding the other side, not bashing it. Did you even take 2 minutes to read the article?


You two are the opposite and the same at the same time.


I doubt it.

Even if Candy is dead wrong though, at least her ideas are well though out and tend to have some reasoning behind them.

OK, I'll bite - can you give me an example of one of her well thought out ideas against Catholicism with the reasoning, that we have not already rebutted?

Elena said...

Sue,

Please, let's not do the "what about the Lutherans" discussion again. Kelly is right, this blog is focused on Protestantism through the lens of Candyland. When I see articles like this, I think of how they would be good for THIS blog with THAT specific focus.

E

Sal said...

I still say we need a big fat disclaimer at the top of the home page:
"If the Protestant shoe described in any post doesn't fit you, then please DON'T put it on! We are not, in this case, referring to you. NO offense is intended."

Because, seriously, we're busy women. We don't have time to run through all the combinations and permutations of the various Protestant theologies, even though we know they exist. And as Elena pointed out, we're usually not discussing the mainstream.

As a general comparison of the two mindsets, I think this was a good article.

Unashamed said...

Elena: Please, let's not do the "what about the Lutherans" discussion again. Kelly is right, this blog is focused on Protestantism through the lens of Candyland. When I see articles like this, I think of how they would be good for THIS blog with THAT specific focus.

Even if what is being presented is untruth about the majority of Protestantism? It's ok because it rebuts Candy? That, frankly, lacks integrity.

Elena said...

Sigh... you know... I'm just trying to understand the difference in the paradigms. This article seemed a benign, sincere attempt to understand where each side is coming from and as the pastor-to-be in this article is mentioned several times to be BAPTIST I'm not sure why that's a problem.


I liked Sal's disclaimer and though I kinda wonder why I have to put it up for longtime readers like you and Sue Bee, I will for the sake of any newbies.

I hope that settles it. Otherwise, I may in the future continue to post articles I find interesting or informative and just close comments. I didn't write the article, I'm just sharing it.

Unashamed said...

Well Elena, you know that just as you rightly find it upsetting when Candy (or whoever) paints a false picture of the RC church, so do I get upset when someone paints a false picture of Lutheranism. I'm sorry, but the paradigm that the author attributes to "protestants" doesn't even apply to the majority of Protestantism! That majority would identify with the sacramental paradigm but the author of this article would make it seem as if ALL of protestantism has a basis in decision theology. That is patently false and misleading.

I know you didn't write the article, but you published it and you seem perfectly ok with publishing false and misleading information if it furthers your cause. Why shouldn't I call you to account for that?

Anna said...

I stopped reading when I got to where the writer claimed to know the mind of "every" Protestant.

Telling a Protestant not the "put the shoe on if it doesn't fit" is disengenous when refering to an article that lumps EVERY Protestant together.

It's stuff like this, which presumes to tell people what "all" others believe, that creates hard feelings and divisions. Can't we do better?

Elena said...

Well Elena, you know that just as you rightly find it upsetting when Candy (or whoever) paints a false picture of the RC church, so do I get upset when someone paints a false picture of Lutheranism.

But I don't write about Lutheranism. I wasn't thinking about Lutheranism. My kids have their piano recitals in a Lutheran church from a Lutheran piano teacher. I have no problem with Lutherans!! In fact the aforementioned church has had great community outreach and use to turn their entire church building into Bethlehem and everyone was dressed in Biblical clothing and welcomed the public to come and Journey to Bethlehem. I have had absolutely nothing but good experiences in real life with Lutherans. I don't know how to make it any clearer!!!

I'm sorry, but the paradigm that the author attributes to "protestants" doesn't even apply to the majority of Protestantism!

I understand that. Maybe the author or the editor should have changed the title to be a little more precise. What I found interesting was that Candy recommends finding a Baptist church and this comparison was made with a relative who is a Baptist.

That majority would identify with the sacramental paradigm but the author of this article would make it seem as if ALL of protestantism has a basis in decision theology. That is patently false and misleading.

Well I don't know that the sacramental paradigm is the majority but be that as it may I was presenting it on this blog because of it's Baptist leanings looking at it as a way to understand Candy's Paradigm. I'm trying to understand what it is that generates so much hate within her for Catholics.

I know you didn't write the article, but you published it and you seem perfectly ok with publishing false and misleading information if it furthers your cause. Why shouldn't I call you to account for that?

Because you're a Christian and you are to assume the best about a fellow Christian unless proven otherwise. I believe the biblical model would have been a private e-mail with your concerns instead of automatically assuming (as you have done before) that I was in some way acting without integrity.

Kelly said...

I know you didn't write the article, but you published it and you seem perfectly ok with publishing false and misleading information if it furthers your cause.

Well, the other day I posted a link to a website with a bunch of pictures and information about Japanese Christians, even though it said that statues were used to worship Mary, when that was false and misleading.

When I read this article, I mentally cross out "all Protestants" and write in "fundamentalist Christians." Clearly, it bothers you a lot more that we understand, because we don't fall under the umbrella of "protestant." (Hey, I thought Lutherans were reforming instead of protesting, anyway.)

I agree that the article is over simplistic, and should have been more specific in what theology he was describing. It actually reminds me of a guy I knew in college, who was in a pre-seminary program. We were discussing an assignment I had to attend church at three different denominations. He said, "I've never been to a Protestant Mass, but someone told me that some of their priests are married."

As a former Episcopalian, Fr. Longenecker really does know better. But I also feel that he does a good job of explaining the difference between the Catholic and fundamentalist worldview (as far as my understanding goes), and that is why I believe I posted the article myself a while back, which prompted your initial protests.

Elena said...

Oh Kelly, I'm sorry - you posted this back in March! I thought it was familiar!

Maybe I should just delete this one.

Kelly said...

I didn't realize it myself until we ended up discussing it to death. When I saw the author, I realized that it was the same author.

I don't have a memory that great, either. March was a long time ago!