Archive for the ‘Roman Catholicism’ Category

Here is a guest post by Dr. James Palmer, professor at CEP, the Anglican Seminary in Chile. He has a first class degree in Theology from Durham University and an MPhil and PhD from Cambridge. His interests include Biblical and Systematic Theology, Hermeneutics, Doctrinal Development and Roman Catholic Theology.

I hope you will find his thoughts as helpful and thought-provoking as I did. The emphases are his, and I’ve coloured the catechism citations brown, to distinguish from His own comments.


Protestants often have the same attitude to the Roman Catholic Church as the audience of a pantomime has towards the baddie: lots of booing and cries of “he’s behind you”. This is unfortunate. I´ve been reading the 1992 Catechism and am enjoying it a great deal, in fact the last thing I enjoyed this much was written by the Greek Orthodox priest John Behr (the three currently available volumes of his Formation of Christian Theology series). The majority of the objectionable parts of the catechism are unsurprisingly related to the doctrines of authority and salvation, but there is much which is really very good. Here are two interesting bits:

This on the meaning of the ascension

659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”531 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.532 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.533 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand .534 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.535

Sadly this is preceded by the horrible paragraph 645;

645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.508 Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm.509 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.510

This has the unspoken goal of allowing transubstantiation, but it seems a complete distortion of the biblical teaching to suggest that Jesus appeared “in the guise of a gardener”. It seems to fit better with the tenor of NT teaching that the resurrection body is somewhat different to the earthly body (1 Cor 15:35ff), but not unstable in the way the catechism suggests.

This on the life and work of Christ as being the work of the Spirit:

727 The entire mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of time, is contained in this: that the Son is the one anointed by the Father’s Spirit since his Incarnation – Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
Everything in the second chapter of the Creed is to be read in this light. Christ’s whole work is in fact a joint mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.



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From the News section in the CANA website. The following letter was sent to the Anglican District of Virginia in 2003, following the crisis in ECUSA sparked by the consecration of a practising homosexual bishop:

October 9, 2003

From Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

The Vatican, on behalf of Pope John Paul II

I hasten to assure you of my heartfelt prayers for all those taking part in this convocation.  The significance of your meeting is sensed far beyond Plano, and even in this City from which Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to confirm and strengthen the preaching of Christ¹s Gospel in England.  Nor can I fail to recall that barely 120 years later, Saint Boniface brought that same Christian faith from England to my own forebears in Germany.

The lives of these saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is a unity in truth and a communion of grace which transcend the borders of any nation.  With this in mind, I pray in particular that God¹s will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth, the gift of Christ himself.

With fraternal regards, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger


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Interesting quote on Reformed Catholicism, from Paul Avis’ new book: Beyond the Reformation? Authority, Primacy and Unity in the Conciliar Tradition.

The issue of catholic authority has recently become a growing interest for me (particularily as an Anglican), as it indeed seems like the earliest way of dealing with disputes across the wider church. It seems to me to be a wiser, more Biblical way of dealing with difficult issues, rather than the monarchical system in Roman Catholicism or the every-man-for-himself (or every local church for itself, or every charismatic leader for himself) tendency within evangelicalism.

Check it out here.

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Very good article in Christianity Today, by Fr. John Behr on Apostolic Succession. His point is right on, and touches upon one of the reasons why I believe the Roman Catholic Church isn’t truly “catholic” or “apostolic”. At the same time, however, it should remind protestants of the important role of the Church (and its internal authority) had (has) in preserving the apostolic witness about Jesus. Hopefully it reminds us that Apostolic succession wasn’t about internal institutional power but rather about hermeneutics and the way in which authority should be exercised within the Church body.

Some worthy quotes (emphasis mine):

Today we tend to think of apostolic succession in terms of the laying on of hands: The church confers an office on a consecrated bishop, who can thereby trace his authority back to the apostles. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican churches each claim their own unbroken line of ordained leaders. Most Protestants deny the importance of a continuous succession of bishops altogether.

But in the second century, apostolic succession meant something more simple. Two main concerns were at stake: What is the true faith? And how has it been passed on from the apostles to us?


Irenaeus pointed to the Christian communities in Rome (at that time there were many house churches, each with its own leaders, not one church with a single bishop), and in particular the community led by Eleutherius. He listed 12 successive leaders, from the apostles down to Eleutherius, to show that the apostolic teaching had been passed on continuously. He especially noted Clement, one of the first leaders, who had known the apostles and recorded their teaching in a letter that was earlier than any of the Gnostics’ texts. “By this succession,” Irenaeus wrote, “the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is the most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.”

In later centuries, some churches began trying to construct similar lists of succession to defend their own authenticity or authority, but this was not Irenaeus’s main concern. He was not defending the authority of particular people; he was trying to defend the true faith against heresy by showing that the apostles’ message about Jesus had been faithfully preserved in the churches, and therefore could be trusted. Succession for him did not primarily mean handing down an office; it was the public expression of the continuity of the true faith.


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I found this old article on “Baptism” by Peter Leithart. Its short and sweet, and very challenging to both the “catholic” AND “protestant” views on Baptism (although, I believe that he’s questioning the “popular protestant” view, not that of the Reformers themselves). He notes the serious problems both camps tend to have, in regards to their presuppositions concerning the “physical” and the “spiritual”. Click on the image below to go to the article.

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I am absolutely perplexed by this. It bothers me, especially taking into account that Anglican Liturgy, while fully Catholic, is not Roman catholic in any way, and this is particularly clear when it comes to the sacramental liturgy -where I believe, the BCP takes the Calvinist position (James help me here if I’m wrong).

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