Friday, July 17, 2009

Reversing the Reformation

I grew up in the world of Evangelical Christianity…and were we ever glad that we weren’t Catholic! Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t personal hatred toward Catholics, just complete disdain for the Catholic Church—it was stuffy, ritualistic, arrogant, and missed the point on much theology. So call me confused when I graduated Bethel College and began seeing many young adults leave the world of Evangelical Christianity and align themselves more with the Catholic Church. How could this be? This is the church of excommunication, Papal authority, and *gasp* a view of salvation that includes the necessity to live it out.
What did they see? Over time, I have begun to understand…
You see, while we were over in our corner, hating on the Catholic church, they kept plugging away. We fought to enlighten people to the pitfalls of Catholicism, they kept serving the poor. We kept begging that people get theologically correct, they kept being the church.
As a result, the Evangelical Church, overtime, became known as an argumentative, divisive, political entity, while the Catholic church once again became just the Catholic Church—and that was greatly appealing. You see, while we were drawing walls, the Catholic church began asserting the position in the Catechism that we all are brothers in the faith:
817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame." The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism - do not occur without human sin:Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers. 818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church." 
…and people find that kind of unity appealing. For all of the faults that I grew up thinking the Catholic Church had, perhaps our rejection of them was equally harmful. In fact perhaps even more in that it distracted us from the mission we were called to.
So let me confess now that I repent. I still don’t agree on many theological issues, but I find myself experiencing a reversal of the separation that originated in the reformation. Let’s drop denominational walls and adopt the spirit of brotherhood the Catholic Church has put forth. Let’s reunite as the Church and see what God can do through a Church that is truly catholic. May our communities never be the same!