The ecumenical divide within the churches

An excellent piece from Eric Waugh on the widening rift in Ireland between the grassroots ecumenists and their spiritual leaders- both catholic and protestant.

  • English

    Anglicans receiving Communion in a Catholic Church is they way forward, and a sign of things to come in the future. The Anglican and Catholic Churches needs to get into further discussions on this subject, because they are making progress. To be realistic though, it is the Anglican Church that needs to do the moving towards Catholic ways of thought and belief, because the Catholic Church is not in a position to move because it does not change to suit the needs of society like other religions do.

  • Henry94

    But they care little or nothing for the finer stuff of dogma.

    That is true but it is not a good thing. You might get a one-generation feel-good factor but a Church will not survive without coherence. So the Bishops have to care and have to look at the bigger picture. For that they are portrayed as pantomime villains (not in Waugh’s piece) by a media which neither understands the issues nor cares that it doesn’t understand.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    English: “the Catholic Church is not in a position to move because it does not change to suit the needs of society like other religions do. ”

    Au contraire, English… its not that it can’t change and its not that it won’t change and its not even that it *doesn’t* change.

    It a matter of nimbleness. Chagne, in the RCC is glacial, partly because it is a rather broad church, from the borderline schismatics who want the Latin Mass and the old ways reinstated to American “cafeteria Catholics” who pick and choose what the care to believe to the “liberation theoologist,” who mix the Gosels of Marx and Mark.

    Its a wee bit like a supertanker — it don’t turn on a dime.

  • So Eric Waugh thinks that the different interpretations of the Lord’s Supper are the “finer stuff of dogma”? Actually they go to the heart of Christianity, because they concern whether Christ’s work is completed or not.

    I believe that any ecumenically-active Protestant ministers ought to be ashamed of themselves. Look through the Gospels and Epistles and see where believers are commanded to unite in worship with those who teach false doctrine. They are instructed to do the opposite.

    The CoI minister, if he was true to his calling, would warn his congregation to keep clear of Romanist worship and seek to evangelise the flock of the “Father”.

    Ecumenism is the spiritual equivalent of dry rot.

  • Occasional Commentator

    The Watchman said: “The CoI minister, if he was true to his calling, would warn his congregation to keep clear of Romanist worship

    That may be true, and vice versa for the RC priest, but should it go so far as to require his congregation to be ignorant of the other’s faith?

    Any ideology, religious or political, should be confident enough in itself that it can encourage curiousity in other ideas including even reading the writings and propaganda of the other side. If instead they rely on enforced ignorance then it’s a sure sign of intellectual failure.

    I think the best first steps would be in encouraging knowledge and civilised debate among the flock not just the theologians. This may already be the case with some faiths, can anyone enlighten me?

  • willis

    Watchman

    Surely both Protestants and Catholics can trace their doctrines back to the Gospels and Epistles.

    Equally the false doctrines referred to in the Gospels and Epistles were different to the divisions within the church.

    You may feel that you and your church can define false doctrine. Others may think you presumptious.

  • willis

    It is a good piece by Eric Waugh, just proves he can sometimes let go of his New Labour obsession.

  • willis

    Henry

    So the Bishops have to care and have to look at the bigger picture. For that they are portrayed as pantomime villains (not in Waugh’s piece) by a media which neither understands the issues nor cares that it doesn’t understand.

    Can you blame the media? Obviously you do.

    What is ok and not ok as far as the Bishops / Moderators are concerned?

    Inter-denominational Prayer?

    Attending someone elses Mass / Communion? Sacrements? Baptism? Funerals?

    Con-celebration of Mass? I think we are clear on this one.

  • Occasional Commentator:

    I have no problem with people acquainting themselves with the unbiblical doctrines of Rome. Indeed I’d encourage it. But that can be done without joint worship, because Protestant ministers who participate in it are automatically playing down the differences in search of a menaingless “unity”. It is also, more seriously, a betrayal of those in the Church of Rome who need to know that they are lost without faith in Christ’s finished work.

    We are commanded by God to worship Him in spirit and in truth. That is why no Protestant cleric should be participating in ecumenism.

    Willis:

    I take my stand against ecumenism on the basis of God’s Word, because God commands Christians to repudiate false doctrine. If that is presumptuous, so be it. As for Romanist doctrine being found in the Scriptures, please do point out where I can find Mariolatry, auricular confession, purgatory, transubstantiation, etc. in the Scriptures

  • willis

    Watchman

    You missed the point.

    Show me where the Gospel or Epistles specifically condemn Mariology, auricular confession, purgatory, transubstantiation, etc as false doctrine.

    I never said that “Romanist doctrine” is found in the scriptures.

    You are trying to make a straw man.

  • willis

    In case I was not completely clear.

    Straw Man

  • Willis,

    My point is not that Romanist doctrines are condemned directly in the Bible. Obviously they could not be, because the errors had not been formulated at the Apostles’ time of writing. Nevertheless, they can be recognised as another example of false doctrine in that they directly contradict what is written in God’s Word. For example, Hebrews 10 makes clear the futility of a priest offering a sacrifice for the remission of sins, following the death of Christ. Rome teaches that the sacrifice of Christ who died once for all must be repeated at every Mass. That is why the Romanist doctrines I mention above must be condemned.

  • willis

    Watchman

    Thanks for coming back.

    You see the problem.

    I am not a catholic and am not intent on defending someone elses understanding of the scriptures.

    It is completely reasonable for you to engage in debate with anyone who has that understanding.

    What I am saying is that you cannot use texts about false doctrine with impunity.

    When you refer to false doctrine in the scriptures you have to allow the scriptures to be your guide.I do not think it is acceptable to interpolate.

    Be very careful though. You have given a lot away.

  • Brian Boru

    While a staunch agnostic of Catholic upbringing, I think this interdenomination service was good in terms of promoting cross-community links. Their leaders just look backward-looking when opposing it.

  • English

    My point is not that Romanist doctrines are condemned directly in the Bible. Obviously they could not be, because the errors had not been formulated at the Apostles’ time of writing.

    Posted by The Watchman on Apr 22, 2006 @ 06:59 PM

    The Apostles are the founding fathers of the Catholic Church. How do you know that the Apostles did not practice confession and belief in transubstatiation? It is my understanding that the founding fathers of the Catholic Church practised such things as these, which you call false. Your foundation for them being false is that they are not stated in the Bible – a strange logic. Especially as many of them actually are!

    Protestant Churches have no sense of Apolistic history or practices, they have instead taken what they have written and interpreted it to suit the needs of European society. The Catholic Church is not just about the Papal Vulgate (The original Bible) it is about historical traditions handed down through the Apostles and the first Pope St Peter. Read into ancient Catholic history before you make such false allegations and ignorant modernistic assumptions!

  • TAFKABO

    I’d just like to point out that in all my years as an atheist, I’ve never had one single argument with another atheist over our beliefs.

    Carry on.

  • TAFKABO

    More seriously though.
    Whilst I can understand why some people think ecumenism is such a great idea, I think it’s a false economy.
    At it’s heart, ecumenism is homogenisation, and that’s not healthy.

    Surely what we need to be striving for is a situation where we can differ greatly, but agree not to kill each other over the differences, or to treat each other differently.
    If we can only live with each other when we all act in unison, then it doesn’t say much for any of us.

    Vive la difference

  • English

    Surely what we need to be striving for is a situation where we can differ greatly, but agree not to kill each other over the differences, or to treat each other differently.
    If we can only live with each other when we all act in unison, then it doesn’t say much for any of us.

    Vive la difference

    Posted by TAFKABO on Apr 22, 2006 @ 10:41 PM

    Yes, I would agree with these sentiments but only partly. The trouble with an individuals faith is that this invariably means that an individual thinks that their faith and with this their opinions are correct. This does not give them the right to hate, let alone kill another person because of their religious beliefs however.

    I would dislike certain religious beliefs, but I wouldn’t hate anyone for holding them – as this is a fundamental human right.

    The trouble with Northern Ireland is that too many people cast judgement to a point of hatred on others because of their beliefs – this is bigotry.

    On the matter of treating people differently, I also agree that people should be treated the same no matter what your religion. Unfortunately in Northern Ireland this can be difficult, especially if you have been subject to sectarian abuse – this would make you suspicious of other religions no doubt. It doesn’t make it a very happy place here, does it?

  • kensei

    “Surely what we need to be striving for is a situation where we can differ greatly, but agree not to kill each other over the differences, or to treat each other differently. ”

    Yes and no. Ecumneism should be a place where people of different faiths can come together and worship together in a way hat is acceptable to everyone. It should be in addition and ot instead of.

    By better understanding each other and our different traditions, we come to better understand God. That should be the goal.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Respecting differences means just that, respecting differences. It means respecting that some faiths have strict rules on what sort of ceremonies can be attended.

    But anyway, this whole ecumenical thing is not going to solve NI’s problems. Surely the basic messages of peace, charity and forgiveness are the important thing. Even if we do succeed in uniting Christianity in NI, instead the same evildoers who engage in sectarian violence will just turn elsewhere, perhaps racism or anti-semitism or God knows what.

    Arguing over who attends what ceremony is not going to help anything. It’s just ignoring the big issues. If everyone in NI belonged to a different Christian sect and refused to accept each other’s faith BUT lived by Christ’s message all the time, then N.I. would be a wonderful place to live.

    Pressurising everyone to follow a particular set of rules, even if it’s ecumenical, is just as tyrannical as using the law of the land to enforce Catholicism or Protestantism or Islam to the exclusion of other religions.

    Why should the religious leaders be blamed for the failure of people here in NI to live in peace together? And why should it be done by proxy via this argument about ecumenical services? As far as I can see they generally preach the right messages about peace and charity and so forth. So if some of their flock refuse to listen to the basic message of Christ, what the hell is going to be achieved by dragging them along to ecumenical services? i.e. If they don’t follow their religion, it doesn’t matter what religion they follow.

    Looking at countries where Catholics and Protestants live happily together (England for example), as far as I can see people are happy to go to their respective services on a Sunday morning and it doesn’t get in the way of them being friendly with all sorts of people for the rest of the week.

    The differences within Christianity built up over many centuries, and are not going to go away overnight. Those differences will be debated for centuries to come, and trying to tie it in with some localized conflict on this Earth is not going to help.

    (I’m not religious at all myself, but I always stick my oar into religious discussions)

  • Willis,

    I have not interpolated in regard to the Scriptures. Rather, I am quite content for them to be my guide. But, if so, then logially I have to judge teaching against them and any teaching that contravenes things that are clearly taught in the Scriptures has to be condemned. It is as simple as that.

    English,

    Normally it is difficult to prove negatives. However, I am quite confident that the apostles did not practise e.g. transubstantiation precisely because they would have heard Jesus say at the Lord’s Supper that they should take the bread and wine in remembrance of him, not to re-enact his death endlessly. If you think transubstantiation and confession to human priests are biblical doctrines, perhaps you could give your chapter and verse authority for them? I argue for them being false not just because they are not stated in the Bible, but because they contradict what IS clearly taught in the Bible.

    As for Apostolic history or practices, in so far as they add to or contradict the Bible, they mean nothing, because the Scriptures provide everything that is necessary for our salvation