Tag: Christocentrism

Ecumenism without Compromise (part 5)

Why Not Now?

Well, if God can do this, if God can effect an ecumenical reunion, why not now?  Why does he delay?  God never delays.  Well then if the teachings of the Church are true, why doesn’t God convince Protestants of those truths?  I think the reason is spiritual and personal, more than theological.

Why should God let Protestants become Catholics when many Protestants, perhaps most, already know Christ more intimately and personally than many Catholics!  How can God lead Protestants home to the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church until the Catholic Church becomes that fullness that they knew as Protestants plus more, not any less!  When Catholics know Christ better than Protestants do, when Catholics are better Protestants than Protestants, then Protestants will become Catholics in order to become better Protestants!

When Catholics are evangelized, Protestants will be sacramentalized.  But not before!  Evangelizing comes first.

So I think we Catholics have to change first.  But that change involves not the slightest compromising with anything Catholic: no dumbing down of the faith and no addition from without, no paganization nor secularization nor negation not weakening.  Only a rediscovery of our own essence from within.  Frankly, it is the Protestants who are going to have to add to the doctrines they rejected by seeing them differently.  What we have to add, or rather, rediscover is something even more important then doctrines: namely the relationship that we have neglected.  A truer relationship with a person is even more important than a truer concept about him.  So that point will probably make many Protestants cheer.

But any good Protestant who is hearing this ought to protest one thing I said a few moments ago: namely that Protestantism is essentially a protest movement, essentially negative.  Protestants defend Protestantism as essentially positive.  Why?  Not because it doesn’t have a pope or Transubstantiation or purgatory or rosary, that is negative.  But because it knows Christ, because its essence is the absolute all-sufficiency of Christ.

But that means that good Protestants are Protestants for exactly the same good reason that good Catholics are Catholic: out of fidelity to Christ.  So if the Protestant and the Catholic are both totally sincere about this Christocentrism, If both sections of Christ’s orchestra want only to follow the baton of Christ the one conductor, and if they never yield on this holy fanaticism of love and loyalty to Christ, then they will play in harmony.  For we know that Christ’s will is harmony, and unity.  Look at that most intimate glimpse of the inner life of the Trinity that we have in Scripture: Christ’s high priestly prayer to His Father just before His death in John 17.  Unity is central to it.  Departure from Christ was the fundamental cause of the Church’s tragic divisions in the first place.  Another word for departure from Christ is “sin.”  Therefore, return to Christ will be the cause of the Church’s return to unity.  That is simple logic.  I could put that into a syllogism.  It is also simple sanity and sanctity.  Another word for “return to Christ” is “sanctity.”

When bishops and theologians become saints, then Catholics will become Evangelicals and Evangelicals will become Catholics.  When both Protestants and Catholics become saints they will become one.  For a saint means only an “alter Christos,” another Christ, a little Christ, and Christ is not divided.  Christ’s body is not divided.  When Christ comes at the end of the world to marry His Church, He will not be a polygamist.  The Church will not be His harem.

“Ecumenism without Compromise ” by Peter Kreeft

Ecumenism Without Compromise (part 4)

A Surprising Clue

But reunion without compromise between Catholics and Protestants still seems impossible.  Yet, here’s a surprising clue that it may be possible after all: the main point of what I said in the last few minutes “Jesus only,” “the all sufficiency of Christ,” that’s the essential Protestant point and it was just made by me, a Catholic.

That point seems to be an essential dividing point for Catholicism seems to Protestants to violate that point.  Catholicism seems to Protestants to be “Christ plus paganism,” “the Ark plus the barnacles,” or “Christ plus many human traditions and historical accretions,” “Christ plus the pope,” “Christ plus Mary,” whatever.  The most serious Protestant objection to Catholicism as a religion, not just as a theology, is that it violates the scriptural teaching of the all sufficiency of Christ, the teaching that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

To Protestants, Catholicism seems to add other mediaries, other intermediaries between man and Christ: Mary, the saints, the Church, Sacraments, priests, human traditions.

But I suggest that if Protestants make just one single adjustment in their vision, they will see the possibility of reunion.  Not just theologically, but more deeply religiously and spiritually, without any compromise at all.  And that one adjustment is not to see Christ in any different way at all, but to see the Church in a different way.  Not as an obstacle between us and Christ, not even as an intermediary between us and Christ, but as the very body of Christ Himself.

And why would they make that adjustment?  Well, which of these two concepts of the Church is the scriptural way of seeing it?  Come on, answer honestly.  You read the Bible and isn’t the Bible the supreme authority for any Protestant?  Once Protestants see the Church’s identity, they can love her instead of fearing her because the body of Christ is Christ as your body is you.  It’s not an alien, it’s not an obstacle.  How can your own body be an obstacle?  How Gnostic!  The body is not your prison house, or your coffin, or your punishment.  It’s not even your tool, or your clothing, or your house.  It’s not This Old House.  It’s you.  Although it’s not the whole you.  It’s not your head, or your soul.  The same is true of Christ’s body which is what the New Testament calls the Church.

It is Christ.  Though it’s not the whole Christ.  He is her head.  And the Holy Spirit is her soul.

Protestants will not and should not stop protesting against the Catholic Church until they see the totally Christocentric character of her and all her teachings.  Sometimes, the understanding of the Church’s Christocentrism can be the key to understanding the Christocentric nature of each of the Church’s teachings.  And sometimes, it works the other way around.  Doctrine by doctrine, yielding its Christocentric treasure at the heart as it is more deeply explored and understood.  As Christ the teacher appears at the heart of each of the Church’s teachings.  I know a number of Protestants who have read the Church’s new Catechism and had been amazed at how consistently Christocentric everything in it is.  And unless Protestants see this, how could they think of reunion with Catholics?  And how can they see this, unless Catholics show it to them?  And how can Catholics show it to them, unless they see it themselves?  And how can they see it, unless they have a teacher, a preacher?  As it is written, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that preach the good news.”

In this light, it seems to me, clearly Providential that God has raised up for our time, the time of the end of the second millennium, the millennium of Christian disunity, and the beginning of the third millennium, hopefully the millennium of Christian re-unity, has raised up John Paul the Great.  The most Christocentric pope of modern times, probably of all times.  The most ecumenical pope of all times, and yet one who is totally and traditionally and enthusiastically Catholic.  Is the pope Catholic?  There have been times in the Church’s dark history when that joke was not funny.  Today it’s funny.

Ecumenism without Compromise – Peter Kreeft