"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Protestant conception of the unity of the visible Church

By remaining a Protestant, a person is saying either that the visible Church is nothing more than the aggregate of all believers and their children, or that his own denomination is the visible Church.

5 comments:

Principium unitatis said...

I posted the following at Alastair's Advarsaria in the combox to his article "The Denominational Church":

"You look to a future reuniting of the Church into one institution. And you apparently also believe that no present institution is the original institution founded by Christ. This leads to a trilemma. If Christ did not found an institution, then why do you seek one? But if Christ did found an institution, then either the gates of hell prevailed against it (contrary to Christ’s promise), or one of the present institutions is the original institution founded by Christ."

http://alastair.adversaria.co.uk/?p=688#comments

The Scylding said...

Bryan,

Given our current debate over at Barlowfarms - if you ever come to The Great White North, and pass by Saskatoon, stop for a pint!

Principium unitatis said...

Thank you. I'll remember that. I've never been to Saskatoon. If you ever come through St. Louis, I extend the same offer to you.

peace,

- Bryan

contrarian 78 said...

I take it that by asking this question you are pointing to the fact that with out submission to one individual or tradition (or entity "x") there can be no ultimate unity in congregations of varying practices of faith and morals.

But the question I have is this: if churches throughout the planet simply viewed each other as Christians to a greater extent, without stepping into some sort of universalism, through an emphasis of what Christ instituted, wouldn't the net result be greater mutual submission?

Further, it seems that scholars of varying schools of thought (e.g. Prot., RC., and Ortho.) are reading, citing, and commending their people to consider spirituality from their angle, even without agreeing on matters such as the primacy of Pedro.

So the question is, is this far enough? What would be true unity? How would the Eastern Catholics, with their different practices but respect of the Pope, actually segregate from others such as the Greek Orthodox and Protestants?

Of course, this is operating under the premise that there is as much respect for the other parties as is seen in the Catholic catechism where it describes the Greeks and those Reformed folk living in ecclesial communities.

Principium unitatis said...

Contrarian,

Thanks for your comments. You wrote:

But the question I have is this: if churches throughout the planet simply viewed each other as Christians to a greater extent, without stepping into some sort of universalism, through an emphasis of what Christ instituted, wouldn't the net result be greater mutual submission?

Who decides what counts as a "church"? Implicit in your suggestion is the assumption that what counts as a church is self-defined and self-evident. But the various disagreements regarding these matters is evidence to the contrary.

What would be true unity? The three bonds of unity (Catholic catechism 815) are correlated to Christ's threefold office of priest, prophet and king. Those three bonds of unity are therefore sacraments, doctrine, and magisterial authority. If we agree on sacraments, doctrine, and magisterial authority, then we are truly one.

- Bryan