mardi, juin 20, 2006

The end of denominationalism?

I have had occasion recently to engage in a bit of dialogue with a Roman Catholic priest who has his own blog ( Fr. Martin is pastor to two parishes in Piqua, Ohio, and has a varied interesting background and point of view. As you know, the conventional wisdom in the Catholic church is that Anglican orders are not valid. Naturally, this outrages and offends many Anglicans, who claim apostolicity (there aren't many things on which we take a stand, but that is one of them) When I asked Fr. Martin why this was so, he referred me to Pope Leo (the fourteenth?) who apparently determined that something defective happened in the sixteenth century Rerformation to make our orders invalid. You scholars probably can tell me what it was. It seems rather strange to me that some of my brothers (fewer sisters) have this nostalgic longing to be accepted as "real" priests by the Roman Catholic church. Is there a more romantic and hopeless cause? As far as many Roman Catholic priests and laypeople are concerned, Protestants are just one large schismatic body. While we know we are not, and that we share, in various degrees a common doctrine and faith, it is still chastening to realize that others view us so differently. We cling to our distinctions as though they were a mark of honor, when they could be a mark of shame. I suspect that God looks at us and grieves for the various ways we separate ourselves from one another. If Catholics who feel alienated from the faith worship in my nominally Lutheran congregation, and if conservative Episcopalians go over to Rome or join a Vineyard fellowship, is that such a bad thing? I don't think so. It is more important that they have a sense of spiritual integrity than staying in a denomination which no longer feels like home. If denominationalism is beginning to fade in post millenial America, we may want to rejoice in its ebbing.

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