A very good post on the differences in the Catholic and Protestant concepts of “Church unity”:

One of the most common conversations I have with Protestants has to do with unity. I am asked why Protestants are not permitted to receive the Eucharist in the Catholic Church, and why the Catholic Church does not allow Catholics to receive communion in Protestant services. I explain that the Eucharist is a sign of unity, and so because from the point of view of the Catholic Church, Protestants are in schism from the Church, therefore for Protestants to receive the Eucharist in the Catholic Church, or for Catholics to receive communion with Protestants, would be a lie. In response, the Protestant usually says that Protestants do not see themselves as being in schism or divided from Catholics, but that we are all united in Christ; we all love Jesus and share belief in the essentials of Christianity.

Go read the rest.  Althought the author is Catholic and believes the Protestant position (or positions) to be mistaken, I think his basic restatement of those positions is both perfectly fair and quite clear.   (A glass of wine with Taylor Marshall.)

I was reminded of this very idea again this past Sunday because of my peculiar double life.  As it was a day on which the middle gel’s youth choir was singing the Offeratory at RFEC, I had driven her over early for rehearsal as is my custom.  Sitting idly in one of the pews, I was approached by the newish associate rector and asked could I give a hand setting up the cross by the alter to be used for flowering by the children at the service.   Smiling quietly to myself, I of course jumped up and helped. 

This associate rector is one of those extremely eager types and also something of a chatterbox.  Also, because she’s new, I think she’s going out of her way to bond with as many of the parishioners as possible.  At any rate, as we talked, I let slip that I was, in fact, Catholic.  In response to her surprise, I gave her the penny-dreadful history of my conversion and the reasons for my still haunting RFEC. 

 At the end of my short and tactfully edited account, she put a bright, encouraging smile on her face and said, “Well, I think people’s personal faith journeys are just so very interesting!”

Now to be fair, I think I sandbagged the poor woman just a bit, which I really hadn’t meant to do, and she was in part just trying to come up with something nice to say.   But at the same time,  I could see what one might call the Protestant Unity wheels turning in her head:  To her, it didn’t especially matter what I called myself, on which “path” my “journey” took me or what form my worship takes, I’m still one of the family.

I don’t relate this in order to ridicule, but instead simply as my own illustration of the point made in the article about the wide gulf in understanding of the very concept of “unity” between Catholics and Protestants.

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