One reflection from all the fuss in the Catholic Church strikes me forcibly. It seems there are some Catholics who feel free to discard the teachings of their Church when they conflict with their lifestyle. I would guess there have always been, but what is new(ish) is the number who feel emboldened to say so, knowing, they think, that under this Pope they will not be slapped down. In what practical way these folk differ from some Anglicans, who can tell? They are, as Chalcedon commented here the other day, on the same spectrum – those who think the duty of the church is to adapt to our times. They are relativist on everything until it comes to their own views, when they are not; they will criticise as authoritarian those who quote the teaching of the Church, but their own relativism is a form of authoritarianism which allows them to exclude as ‘haters’ those who fail to comply with their own relativism. I suppose it must make a form of sense to them, although to me it looks like a form of cognitive dissonance.
I was struck, also, by a comment from David Monier-Williams who, in addition to managing to be even older than I am, is also (I think) the one cradle Catholic on this blog, and he wrote:
As a “Cradle Catholic,” I guess I put my head down, receive Holy Communion daily, say my Rosary do my meditation etc. etc. and leave Rome to the Romans. I have faith that it’ll all come out in the wash.
Which set me to thinking (or whatever wobbling with the brain is my substitute for it). Isn’t something similar what most sensible Christians do? As a humble Baptist elder, I can;t say I pay any attention whatsoever to what the Grace Union or whatever it is called says about anything. We are an autonomous Church and we busy ourselves with ministering to those here, spreading the Gospel word, welcoming folk to our chapel, and doing our best to cultivate a fellowship which helps all of us, and which is welcoming to everyone. We don’t mince our words, we preach on Saturdays with a banner which proclaims that ‘the wages of sin is death’ – as they are.
I wonder how meaningful the old denominational labels are now? I’m the last one to downplay doctrine – it matters and those who think it don’t have little fellowship with me. But I think I have more in common with an orthodox Catholic and an orthodox Anglican than I do with a liberal Christian of any persuasion, and here I find myself about 95% of the time in agreement with my Catholic colleagues, as, I notice, does Neo. Neither of us (and Neo will correct me if I speak out of turn) have any desire to join the Church of Rome (least of all under this Pope), but what repels us is not the age-old Catholic faith, it is the liberals who infest that Church – and we encounter enough of them, I am sure, in our own denomination.
For my part, because we are a small local church, I confess to not being terribly worried about things that are too high for me. Enough to worship the God who made all things and whose Son died that I should live. To all those who believe the same, I feel a fellowship.