I had thought I’d be prolific and come up with 40 reasons for coming home to the Catholic Church, one for each day of Lent. Well, Lent is over and you can see I haven’t quite finished (but will!). And I experienced more humility when I found this:
150 Reasons Why I am Catholic (and you should be too)
So here I am left in the dust! If you visit the site the author, Dave Armstrong, lists all these many reasons. They are primarily in an apologetical vein distinguishing Catholicism from Protestantism. That is related to my work here but a little more doctrinally specific that I have chosen to be. Nevertheless, a hat tip to Dave Armstrong for his work!
3 Replies to “Humble Pie”
Whew! What a list.
I’m sure this doesn’t apply to all protestant religions, but I must agree with Fr. Robert Barron when he said, Protestants (or baptized believers) have some of the gifts and doctrine but the Catholic Church has it ALL. Can’t we all just get along. Amen.
Lawrence E. Harrison, an academic who specializes in human development, once studied the relationship between religion and human progress and found compelling evidence that some religions did a better job than others in promoting goals of democratic politics, social justice, and prosperity. One of his conclusions was that Protestantism was more conducive to modernization than Catholicism. Nordic countries, whose evolution was profoundly influenced by Lutheranism got high marks across the board in terms of political rights, civil liberties, and equitable distribution of income. They have the least corrupt governments. On the other hand, Latin America suffered from inequitable distribution of wealth, high levels of corruption, and high levels of crime (witness the recent surge of drug violence in Mexico). While the author acknowledged that other cultural factors were in play (violent American pop culture), he faulted a too elastic moral code and failure to inculcate the Golden Rule. Hence, the conversion of large numbers of Latin Americans, poor and female, to Protestantism because they not only identified it with prosperity, but also because they believed that it would keep their men out of bars and bordellos and provide family stability in which children will have a chance for a better life (for details read The Central Liberal Truth – Oxford University Press).
So what’s my point? I think that you can’t necessarily “prove” that one religion is better than the other through lists compiled by their respective adherents. They all have strengths and weaknesses that are reflected at various points of history. Maybe the Catholic church in Latin America actually needs some competition from Protestant churches if the area is expected to climb out of poverty and political corruption. I’m sure at some other point, Protestant churches may be able to use the gifts of the Catholic church. But I don’t think either branch is going away soon.
I think you are right that neither branch is going away soon. Further, I think that Protestant and other Christian though non-Roman Catholic traditions offer a rich diversity. I serve in an African American Catholic Parish and have personally benefitted from the rich preaching tradition in the Black Baptist, AME and Methodist denominations. I owe my own growth in preaching to many pages I have taken from those traditions. Further, we draw heavily from the musical traditions (Gospel Spirituals and hymnody) largely nurtured in those traditions. Catholic preachers and musicians would all do well to draw from this rich font even as we also draw from our own traditions. And yes, both branches also have their weaknesses neither of which need to be set forth here. Now a few differences I have with your observations would be there: 1. I am not sure it is the job of any Church to promote “modernization.” I don’t suppose we’re called to stifle it all either but it seems closer to home to say that we exist to promote holiness and a kind of moral stability in an ever changing world. 2. The Nordic Countries which got high praise in your quotation are, along with most western democracies, going out of existence. That is they are depopulating at an alarming rate through abortion, contraception and Euthanasia. 3. I agree with you that the genius of our western political systems owes largely to a Judeo-Christian heritage and would add that both Catholics and Protestants have added to that great heritage. 4. Further I admit that there are moral issues particuarly pertiant to Catholic parts of the world. 5. But my observations on the overall situation of Liberal Democracies are pretty grave at this moment and Catholic Countries of Europe are not exempt: the fact is Liberal Deomcracies will largely be replaced by Moslem populations which are unlikely to retain those traditions. Unless we learn to love life more we will forfeit it. A final point. 6. The list that I linked to is a long list and I don’t claim to agree with every point or the tone he sometimes uses. 7. In the end, while I think there is diversity that we can appreciate in the Chirstian denominations and traditions I still note that Jesus did not found a myriad of Church but intended for all to be one (I pray Father that they be one, that the World my know that you sent me). So I guess I have this zeal to find that unity restored. But how to do it? I think and honest discussion of our differences is a place to begin. For the ultimate point and the mist crucial point is the question of authority. If I am going to go into a Church and listen to someone preach, teach or administer Sacraments I want to know how he got the authority to do that. I resolve my questions around the issue of authority. WIthout it, opinions proliferate and there is no way to resolve them. But if there is a teaching authority then those differences can be resolved. As for me I think it is clear that this authority resides in Bishops in union with Peter (the Pope). WIthout a recognition that Jesus gave authority and to whom, I think you are right, branches aren’t going away soon and in fact will multiply. Sorry for the long and perhaps reambling post. My brain got going.
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