New Religions for the New Conditions

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“The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age. I have compared it with the New Religions; but this is exactly where it differs from the New Religions. The New Religions are in many ways suited to the new conditions; but they are only suited to the new conditions. When those conditions shall have changed in only a century or so, the points upon which alone they insist at present will have become almost pointless.” – G. K. Chesterton (The Catholic Church and Conversion, 1926)

Sadly, we’ve seen this run rampant in Protestantism and other pop-culture religious trends. Their beliefs continue to shift and change over the decades to suit the culture – to suit us. They do a lot of things right and they’re effective on many levels at dealing with current conditions. But that’s much easier to do when you’re content with creating new religions suited only for the new conditions. When your new religion only needs to survive longer than the short memory of a single generation. When you only need to cater to the needs of a bunch of enslaved children of this age…you’re a bit more free to suit the new conditions at the expense of the old.

And I’m not speaking here about the need to meet people where they’re at or to utilize the good things in current culture to effectively evangelize. I’m speaking about a morality that shifts to suit the current climate and about a theology that shifts to answer only the current theological questions but no longer the old ones.

Religion seeks a truth that transcends any conditions – new or old. It’s there to guide us through the constantly changing conditions…not to simply bend to the most immediate ones. It recognizes the Democracy of the Dead. Its morality and theology – if true – must work in both the new and the old conditions. A religion that changes its beliefs to suit the latest conditions is both a useless guide and a useless religion.

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J E Friesen June 12, 2011 at 1:25 am

OK Matt, I have found your blog site to be very interesting but somewhat frustrating at the same time. You hit some great topics and shed some light in some great ways. I have read several of your past posts and left my comments on one – ‘not just another denomination part 2’.

And – I have learned something that I did not know (which doesn’t take much)- but I am puzzled. The frustrating part is that there is so much antagonistic rhetoric expressed by both you and your Catholic commenters towards non-Catholic Christian perspectives. Some comments and commenters sound more like chest-beating cheerleaders than people interested in a meaningful dialogue. When the antagonistic rhetoric is absent, the language and claims strongly imply (by the absence of any recognition of other perspectives) that the Roman Catholic church lies within the circle of ‘authentic Christianity’ and non-Catholic Christian perspectives lie outside that circle. Having been brought up in a non-Catholic Christian setting, that is how it comes across to me. Reading many of the responses from others with non-Catholic Christian perspectives, it appears to me that they take it the same way.

Some of this is in the language I believe – which is unfortunate. When terms like ‘the Catholic religion/faith’, or ‘brand-X Protestant religion/faith’ are used, religion status is implied on that ‘body’. I think most would agree that the religion/faith we are all discussing here is the ‘Christian’ religion/faith. To me, there is no such thing as the ‘Baptist religion’, ‘Methodist religion’, ‘Evangelical religion’…or ‘Catholic Religion’ (unless you really mean ‘universal Christian’). To speak of the ‘Methodist religion’ vs. the ‘Baptist religion’ vs. the ‘Catholic religion’ implies to some that the gaps which define and separate are as significant as comparing the ‘Christian religion’ with the ‘Islamic religion’ or the ‘Hindu religion’…which makes it feel like the gaps between the Christian denominations cannot be bridged….which incites/provokes others and the cycle continues. Also, the confusion with Catholic and catholic (universal) always leaves me wondering – do they mean the Roman Catholic Church or catholic in the universal Christian sense?

Now – through your blog I have found links to the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. In that Catechism is the Roman Catholic Church’s official positions on non-Catholic Christian perspectives, including thoughts like: “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 also “832 The Church of Christ is really present in all legitimately organized local groups of the faithful, which, in so far as they are united to their pastors, are also quite appropriately called Churches in the New Testament. . . . In them the faithful are gathered together through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and the mystery of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated. . . . In these communities, though they may often be small and poor, or existing in the diaspora, Christ is present, through whose power and influence the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is constituted.”

Statements like these in the Catechism –the official position of the Catholic Church – to me seem reasoned, constructive and hopeful. It would appear from the Catechism that the Church’s official position on other Christian denominations is that they are recognized as part of the circle of ‘authentic Christianity’ – and a part of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church – or at least the Catechism makes room for that possibility. As a ‘non-Catholic Christian who attends the Catholic Church’, I can accept the Church’s official position if I am interpreting it correctly.

Of course there are differences between the ‘perspectives’ – but the majority of the core Christian beliefs are shared or the differences seem subtle or semantic to me. As evidence of this, consider that the Nicene Creed is recited as a statement of faith in some non-Catholic denominations – I have heard it – in its entirety including ‘we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.’ There will also always be some Protestant who has read too many Chick tracts (which are garbage as far as I am concerned) or their Catholic equivalent who want to argue about who’s right – they are missing the point and will never get anywhere because they are not willing to listen. You don’t have to condone that rhetoric in your blog.

All this to say – I have a suggestion for your next topic – titled “Are Protestant Church’s catholic (universal)?” I really want your perspective on this.

Respectfully in Christ,

James Friesen

Aric June 12, 2011 at 5:44 pm

James,

I understand your concern in some of the language used in the blog toward non-Catholic Christians. I even sometimes feel a little uneasy when I read or say things about Protestant denominations in that way.

My comment is towards the reference to CCC 832. When the (Roman Catholic) Church refers to other Christian groups as “churches,” she does so in reference only to those churches that are in union with the Pope and have apostolic succession. That’s why she calls them, for example, the Russian Orthodox or the Egyptian Coptic Churches. They are in union with the Pope, they have apostolic succession, and therefore they have valid sacraments.

When referring to other Christian groups, such as Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, etc., the Church doesn’t actually refer to them as “churches,” but rather “ecclesial communities.” She does this not to demean other Christians. Indeed, she does see these Christian groups as brothers and sisters in Christ. However, these groups do not have union with the Pope, they don’t have apostolic succession, and they do not have valid sacraments, save for Baptism (when done in the proper form) and sometimes Marriage. Therefore the Church calls them ecclesial communities to show that they are not in union with the Church, but still strive to follow Christ.

Perhaps Matt could take up your suggested topic next to expand more on this.

Kevin in Texas June 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Hi James,

I can’t speak for anyone else on this blog, but I wanted to respond to your fair comments, as well, and perhaps give you another angle through which to view the language that Catholics sometimes use when speaking of our Protestant brethren. Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m headed for seminary studies myself very soon with a Catholic religious order, and my closest friend (and one of the finest Christians I’ve ever known) is a Calvinist Presbyterian. Nevertheless, he is my brother in Christ, and I have more faith in his eternal salvation than I do in my own. We disagree on some doctrinal issues, and those should not be ignored or glossed over, but I do not doubt the depth of his faith or that he is my brother in Christ.

If one looks at what the Catholic Church claims to be, some of the rhetoric used may make more sense logically, even if it still sounds strident emotionally. The Catholic Church claims to be THE church founded by Christ Himself when He gave St. Peter the keys to the kingdom in the Gospels and commanded him to “feed my sheep.” To my knowledge, no (major?) Protestant denomination makes such a claim, but instead recognizes that the Reformation represented new denominations aiming to “get back to the original form of the Church” (as I understand their take on things.) Catholics who practice faithfully believe that we actually receive Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist–body, blood, soul and divinity, not simply as a remembrance or representation of Christ, but Christ physically present. We believe that the Catholic Church, with all of its sinners, scandals, bad popes and priests, etc., remains the guardian of the fullness of the Christian faith, protected especially from doctrinal error by the Holy Spirit Himself as transmitted to the Apostles (the first Catholic bishops) at the Pentecost. With this in mind, we see the Protestant denominations as possessing part of the Christian faith and the Truth (indeed enough to allow for eternal salvation if the individual is so disposed), but not the fullness of the Catholic faith.

I often think of the analogy of seeing my Protestant friends and family living off of cheeseburgers and sodas and sitting at a side table while faithful Catholics sit at the banquet table, with Christ at the head of the table, feasting on the finest food and drink imaginable. I know my friends will survive on their diet, but I long for them (a profound longing) to come to join us at the banquet table and leave the side table and the cheeseburgers behind. They will be so much more fulfilled at that banquet table, where Christ feeds Catholic believers with the fullness of the Faith.

So James, I can see why some rhetoric from Catholics can be hurtful, and I try to avoid that rhetoric myself for that very reason, but with all of my heart, I desire that my Protestant friends and loved ones receive the grace from God to embrace the fullness of the Catholic faith, and indeed I find myself praying fervently that my fallen-away Catholic friends and loved ones also return to the fullness of our Catholic faith for the same reason.

One last thing, and I don’t have the exact quotes from the Vatican II document “Gaudium et Spes”, but the Catholic Church holds that our separated Protestant brethren absolutely do hold parts of the fullness of the Truth of the Catholic faith (or else they could not receive eternal salvation), but that even those truths they do hold onto in the different Protestant denominations arose directly FROM the fullness of the Catholic faith, which once again, we believe that Christ founded with St. Peter at the shores of Galilee nearly 2,000 years ago. In other words, we reject those teachings or doctrines of our Protestant brethren that do not accord fully with the Catholic Faith, our Tradition, and Scripture, but we accept and agree with all of those doctrines you hold that DO accord with the Catholic faith.

I hope this helps to show you a different perspective from a Catholic who loves and celebrates joyfully those aspects of the faith that we do share together, while also longing for you to come to the fullness of the Catholic faith founded by Christ. I have a sense that many faithful Catholics feel similarly, but perhaps we don’t express it very charitably or lovingly to our Protestant brethren. I certainly feel much more affinity for my non-Catholic Christian brethren than I could ever feel for someone holding to a different faith altogether, e.g., Islam, Buddhism, or Judaism, although there again I have friends holding to those faiths whom I fervently wish would receive God’s grace to understand and accept the Catholic faith, as well!

J E Friesen June 13, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Kevin,

Thank you for your reasoned response. I can’t help but to think that we today, approximately 20 generations removed from the events of the Protestant Reformation, are still stubbornly ‘arguing’ about these respective Christian perspectives yet most people lack a really good understanding of the events of the time which lead to the separation. I know that my own knowledge could be classified as a ‘reader’s digest condensed’ version of the purported facts of those events. And generally, the crux of the different perspectives as I understand it are summarized as “but we are The Church founded by Christ through the Apostle Peter” vs. “but you suffered mission drift and we are attempting to get back to Christ Jesus’s original intent”. I think that the greater truths of Christ’s message we can all agree on – our ‘three in one’ God-maker of heaven and earth, the deity of Jesus Christ, his virgin birth and sinless life, his death for our salvation and his resurrection from death on the third day, his ascention to heaven and his future return to establish a new kingdom on earth, the Holy Spirit, baptism, that the Bible is the word of God, that Christians are called to the celebration of the Lord’s supper, and that we are called to serve one another, the poor, oppressed, to feed the hungry and to love one another. Yep- I believe in one Church family, despite the hair-splitting. You know what they say – you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your relatives – you just have to learn to tolerate some of them.

I have heard plenty about “what the Catholics believe” in my Protestant upbringing, and have found most of these claims to be either incomplete understandings, true but not important, or outright misrepresentations. The kingpin bible verse in my Protestant upbringing was John 3:16 – ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life’ – and I have heard two of the best sermons on John 3:16 from two different Catholic priests – all of which completely aligned with the teachings of my youth. And consider the whole ‘faith vs. works’ discussion. I was taught – “we believe we are saved by faith and God’s grace – period. But – in deference to ‘faith without works is dead’, if you don’t feel a compulsion to serve others (work), you might be good to question the depth of your faith.” Now really – how different is that from the Catholic perspective that both faith and works are important?? From both perspectives you end up with faithful people serving others. There are some uniquely Catholic perspectives which I will likely never completely understand, but I am convinced that these issues are relatively minor compared to the many things we all agree on, and I pray that I am always respectful of everyone’s unique perspective on our shared faith. I believe that no matter what Christian perspective we come from or are aligned with currently, we are all on our own individual Christian faith journey. I have met both people who are truly and inspiringly on Christ’s path and people who have the superficial trappings of Christianity but seem to have nothing underneath – in both Protestant and Catholic congregations. I – am somewhere in between. Cautious, respectful, non-arrogant dialogue is helpful in this journey. Statements which declare 500 year-old Christian perspectives to be ‘pop-culture religions trends’ are demeaning, inciting and distracting to the journey. I might humbly suggest that such statements may do more to serve the writer than the reader.

In Christ’s love,
James

Matthew Warner June 14, 2011 at 12:33 am

Thanks everyone for the comments. And thank you, James, for your sincere and thoughtful questions. Kevin answered much of it and very well.

But first, let me apologize if any of my past posts ever came off as “chest beating” or arrogant. I’m quite fallible (as the title of my blog admits) and have certainly not always represented my faith well and more often than not fallen very short, I’m quite sure. So I’m very sorry for any negative impression I may have given you about my Catholic Faith in the process. I’m doing my best – which is not always very good! If I said something “hurtful” in a post, I’d appreciate it if you could let me know what that was so that I can address it properly and reconcile ourselves properly? I certainly meant no harm.

Second, in this post I’m using “religion” in a more general sense (as in a set of ideas or system of beliefs about metaphysical ideas). So I’m not specifically trying to classify various denominations as their own “religions” in the sense you are suggesting. I’m simply recognizing many of them as, at least partially, their own set of ideas. And I wasn’t classifying all protestant denominations as “pop-culture religious trends” at all. So please don’t misunderstand me. I’m simply acknowledging that there is such a trend within protestantism as well as (as I also said) other popular religious trends (read new age, reiki, etc. even new-atheism in this sense).

But your question you posed to me in the end actually reveals precisely the problem with the subject:

“Are Protestant Church’s catholic (universal)?”

This is impossible to answer precisely or even generally because “protestant” in general doesn’t mean anything in terms of a uniform body of beliefs. I would say that some protestant denominations are more a part of the “Church” than others. But the most popular and growing parts of protestantism these days look almost nothing like the “500 year old Christian perspectives” you are referring to. They are very, very different. And in many ways they are “new religions” in the sense that they try to answer all of the questions of today while ignoring the past – so much so that they look almost nothing like the early Church did either.

It’s difficult to generalize about “protestantism” because it varies so much from one group to the next. That’s exactly the symptom of the deeper problem though.

The Catechism addresses it this way:

“The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.” Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” (CCC 838)

So it’s not as black and white as being “inside a circle” or outside of it as you asked. And I’ve never said one way or the other – for the record. It’s an imperfect communion. And they are “inside the circle” in as much as they adhere to the teachings of the Church Christ founded. I’ve never attacked everything an entire denomination believes. But I do think it’s worth discussing where those denominations teach something that is significantly in contradiction with the teachings of Christ’s Church.

Either what Christ taught is important, or it’s not. Either His Church that He founded is important, or it’s not. If it is, then it’s worth discussing and having hard conversations on how to reconcile ourselves into a more perfect communion. I’m sure I could do better at my attempts at doing that and continually try to do so.

So it’s not as simple as throwing our hands up and saying, “why do we have to bicker and argue about such things when we all agree on the basics” or the “essentials” or the “major” issues. For who decided what the basics are? Or what is “primary” or major doctrine? Or what is “essential”? What is so minor that we can ignore it?

Many denominations can’t even decide on if baptism is effectual or only symbolic? And therefore is it actually necessary for salvation? Or can you just pray the “sinners prayer” and be done? I would classify “salvation” as a major issue – not a minor one. And yet there is complete confusion on the topic within protestantism. That’s just one example of many.

Many protestants think that Catholics are damned, idol worshipers and the Pope the anti-Christ and the Catholic Church the beast. Certainly these are not reconcilable dogma. What kind of “communion” is that?

Additionally, in John 6, Jesus says that we must eat His flesh and drink his blood in order to have life in us. This seems like a major issue – not a minor one. Most protestant denominations don’t even believe in any kind of Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the first place. This is not a minor issue. It’s a major, fundamental one.

So yes, we have a lot in common and we can agree on a lot. We can work together on a lot, too. Which I very often do. I have many friends who are of all beliefs and I love them. Many of them are holier than I. It’s very important to build on our relationships together and our shared love of God and Christ. But we also must recognize the important differences and work for real communion. Any effort I make to “argue” such points is solely for that purpose. Glossing over them will not bring about unity. It brings further disunity. It’s the hard part about being siblings in a loving and imperfect family…working out our conflicts in a charitable way. We don’t do it perfectly. And, yes, it’s often frustrating. That’s for sure. I feel ya.

One final point. It’s hard to get a bloggers perspective sometimes when writing a post. My experiences have been different than yours. So what may seem like “antagonistic” to you because it may seem to come form nowhere, may actually be me defending myself from another antagonist. And indeed, I’ve been in a fair number of circles where it is we Catholics who are attacked, criticized and mocked. It doesn’t justify an uncharitable response on my part, but it may help you understand my perspective a bit. But again, if there is something I said that was hurtful, I’m sorry. There’s no excuse for that. But if you can tell me what it was, I’d be happy to try and explain more clearly and charitably.

Thank you for reading and for your comments/questions! I hope you’ll stick around. There are some great readers here and insightful comments and conversations. God bless you on your journey.

J E Friesen June 19, 2011 at 8:47 am

Matt,

This is a good discussion. My point about using the term ‘religion’ by applying it to denominations is – to say for example ‘the Methodist Religion’ has a profound subliminal effect. You don’t have to say any more – the direct implication is that Methodistism has religion status – which I would argue that it does not. Methodistism, Baptistism, and Catholicism are all interpretations of the Christian religion – which certainly has religion status. The typical absence of objection to the use of the term ‘religion’ in this way implies consent by all – may seem like a small point, but I really think this is the subtle but very effective work of Satan. He is a sneaky devil (pardon the pun) and is at work in ways we don’t always think about. The same argument applies to the use of the term ‘faith’ in the same fashion. Because of the common use of these two terms in this way, the implication is that the depth of the difference between Christian perspectives is significant enough that the perspectives qualify as distinct religions – which they do not. But this implication is not conducive to efforts towards Christian unity. It would be like using the term ‘species’ to talk about different ethnicities – i.e. how would you feel to be described as one of the White European species or African American species or Hispanic species?

Just as I recognized there are many misunderstandings and misrepresentations about the Catholic Church which have been promoted within various protestant denominations, there are also misunderstandings and misrepresentations about the various protestant churches within the Catholic community. Yes, there are certainly doctrinal differences between the various protestant denominations. However, there are really a few general bodies of protestant thought within which are many specific denominations. Some denominations are really quite similar and even generally accepted as equivalent to each other by their leaders and membership. Some of the denominational separations are really more about the larger governmental structure and management of the ‘business side’ of the denomination than they are about doctrinal differences. There are few protestant denominations which insist their own denominational perspective is ‘the right one’ and everyone else is ‘wrong.’ Some hold that position regarding the Catholic perspective but many do not. Some hold that position regarding other Protestant perspectives.

As far as confusion about salvation within protestant denominations, I don’t see any more confusion about the salvation question among Protestants than I do among Catholics. Truthfully, my observation (and I could really be missing something here) is that Catholics are generally less certain about the issue of salvation than most Protestants. Frankly, in the Catholic churches I have attended, not much time is devoted to talking specifically about salvation. In some protestant Churches I have attended, salvation is the topic every week (to the point where you say – isn’t there something else we can talk about??). I know Catholics hate this question (because usually the asker has an agenda and is really trying to set them up) but when asked ‘How do you know you have salvation?’ the answers tend to ramble on about being a good person and attending Church regularly and participating in communion and various other things but don’t tend to be specific or very certain. For the record I hate the question too because of the assumptions behind it – not fair. I also agree with you that the assumptions behind some protestant perspectives about Catholics being ‘idol worshipers’ etc are not fair and are from people who don’t have an open mind. No progress can be made with them, but they do not represent all of Protestantism.

Regarding communion – it is true that most protestant denominations reject the doctrine of transubstantiation. But not all Protestants would. Quite frankly, I consider the issue one of the mysteries of our faith that I don’t expect to understand here. The Gospels are consistent in the instruction Christ gave – “This is my body…This is my blood.” This aspect of attending the Catholic Church makes me personally sad. I am not invited to share in Communion. Christ calls Christians to ‘do this in remembrance of me’, yet here I stand completely accepting the Catholic Church’s profession of faith (Nicene Creed) and I am not invited to share. I wonder who Christ would be more disappointed in – me for not ‘jumping through the hoops’ to make myself acceptable to the Catholic Church, or the Catholic hierarchy for barring a fellow Christian from joining in the feast – yet their Catechism officially recognizes me as deserving of the title Christian and recognizes me as a brother in Christ.

Matt, statements which are absolutes are difficult to cross. A former colleague of mine loved to say ‘never say never or always.’ When you use words like ‘useless’ to talk about Protestantism, you don’t leave much room for discussion. And since you recognized that you don’t direct your comments to any particular denomination, they apparently apply equally to all Protestant denominations. And really Matt – ‘useless’ says that there are no qualities which are ‘useful’ – yet the Catholic Church recognizes Protestants as deserving of being called Christian and as brothers and sisters in Christ –the Church’s official position does not use words like ‘useless.’ To do so is like waving the proverbial red flag in front of a bull. Readers are not listening to what you are saying after that.

I had a really good lesson on language that bears repeating. I work in financial services and we have a lot of rules within which we work. Customers occasionally ask us to do something that the rules preclude. I have instructed my employees to never use the word ‘can’t’ – rather find some way to say what you are going to say using the words ‘here is what I can do.’ One time a customer called with an impossible request. My employee started with “I can’t do that, but what I can do is…”, offering a solution which got the customer the result he wanted but not in the way he was asking for it. He blew up at her – asked to talk to the supervisor. I picked up the line and started with ‘Here is what I can do…’ and repeated exactly what my associate had said, expecting to get yelled at myself. The customer said something like ‘Perfect! That will work great – thank you for taking care of this.’ Matt—if you want people with differing perspectives to hear your message you need to remove the ‘red flag’ statements from your blog. Otherwise you will just be preaching to your choir.

I pray for unity in Christ’s church, and I pray that all are able to keep an open mind (myself especially) so that they can truly learn from each other and work towards the goal of unity.

One in Christ,
James Friesen

Matthew Warner June 19, 2011 at 10:52 am

James – thanks for the great suggestions! I will take them to heart.

Regarding “confusion about salvation” I’m referring to the official teachings of those denominations. You seem to be referring to people in the pew being confused as to what their own church actually teaches. These are two totally separate issues. As far as I can see, my original point still holds.

As for our assurance of salvation, I wrote more on that here that might help in understanding the differences in how Catholics tend to treat the subject.

As for communion, again, this comes down to whether there is actually communion or not. When you receive the Eucharist (communion) and say “Amen” you are saying 1) Amen, I believe this is the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ and 2) I believe what the Catholic Church teaches. So if you don’t believe those things, then why would you want to receive communion in the Catholic Church? I don’t understand this. And if you DO believe those things, then you should just officially become Catholic – since you already believe everything she teaches. If you don’t believe everything she teaches, well, then you are not in communion with her. So why would you want to make a public profession of being in communion with her when you are not?

Yes, the Church does recognize you as a Christian and a brother in Christ. But the Church also chooses to recognize reality – that you are not in full communion (rather, an imperfect one) with Jesus’ Church and what she teaches. So we shouldn’t allow, nor should someone want to, pretend or act or appear to be in full communion by receiving communion in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church takes the body and blood of Jesus Christ very seriously. Scripture demands that we do.

“Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Cor 11:27-29)

The Church has the restriction on who can receive, in addition to the reasons I mentioned above, but also to protect the person receiving them (lest they unknowingly “eat and drink judgment” upon themselves) and to give due respect to the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Knowingly giving the Eucharist to a person who would treat them as only bread and wine is disrespectful and irresponsible on the part of the Church. So she requires a certain level of understanding and “communion” to do so. I don’t think that’s something Jesus would be disappointed about.

I join you in praying for unity! God bless you!

David September 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm

James,

I would like to comment on your comments to Matthew. First I would like to confess that I am a Catholic who sometimes makes snide and snarky remarks online to Protestants in these type venues. It may not come out right, but what myself and Matthew (if I might speak for him) are trying to do is to challenge people to really think about something. And to think about something enough to actually motivate someone to actually do something. I was a Protestant most of my life. Then I was challenged by the Catholic teaching of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The reason I became Catholic is the Eucharist. All the other “Catholic stuff” fell in line after I joined the Church and began to participate fully in the sacraments.

I was “forced” to join the Catholic Church because I needed to have Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and the Catholic Church would not let me join the table without being one with them. And oh am I so much better for that!! The Church wants all her lost children to come home, and as a good parent she uses discipline to achieve what is healthy for her children. Children don’t get to take just the medicine they want to take, they take what their parents know is best for them.

So I want to challenge you. Do something radical. If you believe in transubstantiation, actually consider joining the Catholic Church. Start by doing two things. Read Peter Kreeft’s book Jesus Shock, and look at the website “Called to Communion”. The journey is hard and fantastic!

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