Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday Misc.

I've really been paying a lot of attention to the lament psalms lately. It's quite a rich tradition that, as iMonk has recently stated, a lot of Christians are ignorant of. It's a needed counterpoint to the happy-clappy brand of faith that you can pick up in any local Berean outlet. Psalms 13 and 22 have been favorites lately. It can be quite soothing and reassuring to read this tradition when only a bunch of platitudes are offered elsewhere.

Recently the Pope declared that only those in churches under apostolic succession are fully united in Christ. At least he has a point of view, I guess. Some laud this statement as "reaching out" to more conservative Roman Catholics. It sounds a little like circling the wagons to keep out postmodernism and us dirty Protestants. What irks me the most is how high an ecclesiology many people have (not just Catholics, mind you), which depends so much on theory and much less on experience. No one who has spent any time in a local church with their eyes open, let alone at other denominational levels, could possibly declare any church infallible. Christ transcends our institutions, including those that (disputably) come straight from his blessing. And thank God for that.

So after I wrote that piece about playing guitar, I picked up my bass and have started getting into that again. I've been trying to tell myself lately that I should really focus on one instrument, and that weird part of me that wants to be unique thinks that the bass is the best option because, as I've heard, it's "easy to learn and hard to master." Of course, since college, I haven't happened into a lot of opportunities to play regularly with others, aside from wedging my guitar into the Sunday service. And the bass, in particular, needs others around it. It's a supporting instrument. And don't ask why I feel the need to focus on one instrument because I don't have a good answer yet.

For the past two weeks or so, the message on our church sign has been, "God is the Real Transformer." I've seen at least two cars pull into the parking lot just to take a picture of it. To someone who thinks that church signs are one of humanity's sillier ideas, that's pretty cool.

This post has been modified.


Anonymous said...

Recently the Pope declared that we're actually meant to be united under bishops rather than in Christ.

Whoa now. That's incredibly uncharitable, bordering on bearing false witness against a brother in Christ.

That's not the Roman Catholic position, and that's not what the document says. Of course we're meant to be united in Christ. The Roman Catholic belief is that to be fully so, one also has to be under a bishop in the apostolic succession, which is something one can agree with or not, but be clear that you're disagreeing that unity in Christ is connected to unity under the apostolic priesthood. Don't simply accuse the Roman church of making idols of its bishops.

Jeff Nelson said...

Fair enough, Chris. I changed it. So while I eliminated the sarcasm (and I assure you that no false witness was meant), I tried to be more charitable in my complete disagreement.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for being so touchy. While I disagree with many of the specific claims made in that document (I'm emphatically not a Papalist and wouldn't go over to Rome even if they started ordaining women, LGBTs, and changed a bunch of other stuff), I think this Pope has a great deal of integrity and having watched him, I see him doing some fairly progressive things. So the negative commentary about him personally on this issue and the motu proprio about the old Mass has really gotten to me. Sorry if I was too harsh.

Timothy said...

Perhaps you are unaware that the doctrine of "outside the church there is no salvation" is an 1800 year-old Christian doctrine and was taught by the earliest Christians:


Jeff Nelson said...

That's fine, Chris. The Pope's statement made (makes) me just as touchy. On another blog (or someplace else...I forget exactly where now), it was suggested that this statement actually helps ecumenism because he's at least being up front and honest about his position. From that vantagepoint, I can't disagree since more and more I see ecumenical and interfaith relationships as being something other than apologizing for our more exclusive aspects.

Timothy, I am indeed aware of that doctrine. However, in your post you state that this position is based on John 15. The vine spoken of in this passage is Christ, not the Church. Apart from Christ, rather than the Church, we (disciples of Christ, not churches) can do nothing. Thus it remains to be argued why the recognition of apostolic succession is essential to fulfilling Christ's commandments. This passage includes no such notion.

Anonymous said...

Timothy --

Extra ecclesiam nulla salus does not mean that non-Roman Catholics go to hell, or even that non-Christians go to hell. In general, Christians have affirmed for a very long time that salvation is a mystery, even if we feel a strong impetus to evangelize.

In any case, the doctrine is now typically stated sine ecclesia nulla salus, to avoid precisely this misunderstanding of Christian doctrine. The Church helps mediate God's grace in the world. That work can touch even those who are not Christian or do not directly hear the Gospel from Christian mouths. You're using a rather simplistic reading of the patristic sources in your post, one that doesn't actually account for how "the ancient Churches" read those sources.

Incidentally, contrary to the assertions in your post, many, many Protestant theologians are now reading the Church Fathers and doing incredible work with those sources, work that Catholic theologians have found useful. Telling the truth about Catholic positions on the Church's work in salvation and other stuff is great, but, y'know, veritatem in caritate. Pretending Protestants don't read sources they're clearly reading isn't charitable.

Jeff Nelson said...

I get the feeling that I was just victim of a drive-by, Chris. But I could be wrong...

Anonymous said...

Oh well. The response is there for posterity, at least. :-P