Schismatic Bubba

Yesterday we managed to skate perilously close to the Reformation at Hypatia’s post, which was about the latest remarks from Pope Francis that exhibited his brinkmanship; tippy-toeing as close to the line as possible. With today being the celebration of Reformation Day, I am crashing in to those troubled waters.

It is unfortunate that Christians are divided, but that is our circumstance. Since we need each other in order to pull together to save western civilization, we need to find an understanding in which we acknowledge our differences even as we take up the struggle against the Left in good spirits and brotherhood.

As part of understanding, we ought to pursue clear communications. It is really bad to have extremists on both the Protestant side and the Catholic side who deliberately mischaracterize the positions of their opponents. I am writing this post to clarify an issue that has come up many times in my debates with Catholics. Before that, I want to make a note about the calendar.

Liturgical Calendar

Today is Reformation Day, in commemoration of the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the community bulletin board, which happened to be the big church door. That was on October 31, 503 years ago. So, if it was October 31, why is Reformation Day today? First, we want to schedule this commemoration on a Sunday, and, second, next Sunday is All Saints Day, which is a more ancient, and more important, festival of the church.

This discussion about the liturgical calendar is just a brief digression. There are, of course, many Protestant churches that do not use a liturgical calendar. They miss much by taking a non-liturgical approach to worship. But, that is a topic for a different day.

Hurt feelings

This discussion tends to raise old grievances, and I undertake to write on this topic with some trepidation.

My own view of the body of Christ is that my own denomination has the clearest and most direct explanations of the teachings found in Scripture. This does not mean that I think we are the only “True Faith,” but that I think we are nearest the target.

But my view of the target is relatively broad, and I think of all orthodox, traditionalist Christians as brothers or sisters in Christ. This is a “small-“c” catholic view. There are some well-known heretical branches of Christianity that are distinctive for thinking that only they will be found in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Church of Rome is the largest of all Christian denominations, by far. All Christians who wish to undertake any ecumenical effort must come to grips with the Church of Rome.

Unfortunately, the division of the Reformation is still very current. Members of Catholic families sometimes drop out of the Church of Rome and take up membership in Protestant denominations. Members of Protestant denominations sometimes “swim the Tiber” and convert to “Roman Catholic.”

Both Catholic and Protestant churches have their partisans who take up a very hostile posture towards the other. If you have tender feelings on account of some episode of hostility in your past, or some friction with a member of your family, please understand that I mean no hostility.

I am just striving to understand. I am going to characterize a position as I understand it. This is a position of the Church of Rome. If I have it wrong, I expect to be corrected by some Catholic Ratburgher.

In fact, I would be pleased to discover that I have this particular teaching in error.

Schism

In the discussion at J.J.’s post last year in November, I said that the Church of Rome teaches that I am eternally damned. I got push-back on this statement from my Catholic friends here. This had come up before, years ago at R>, and very few Catholics will let that statement pass without objection. Catholics typically do not like to pronounce a sentence of damnation on a fellow Christian. Though I have seen very hostile writings of anti-Protestant activist priests and laypersons, my experience of typical Catholic laypersons and priests is very different and much more laid back. They are generally genial people and I have many Catholic friends.

Nevertheless, I have read what the Catholic Church has to say, and it is clear to me that the Church of Rome declares me to be eternally damned.

I don’t like that, and in fact I do not accept it as a true statement of the condition of my eternal soul. But clarity is my object here, and it does no good to pretend that the fellowship that we have is different than what the Church of Rome teaches about my situation.

However much I may wish to have a closer fellowship with my Catholic brothers in Christ, division exists, and we should discuss this division with clarity, and with charity. In this case the need for accuracy is to make clear what the Church of Rome teaches regarding non-Catholic Christians.

The primary reason to seek clarity is to advance discussions in other spheres where Christians who are not Catholics wish to partner with Catholics in work to advance our mutual cause of spreading the Gospel of Jesus, or to partner in our joint efforts to preserve Western Civilization. In this I have a great need to partner with my Catholic friends, for the Catholics of America are, in several ways, my most reliable allies in several aspects of the culture wars that rage around us.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

PART 1, SECTION 2, CHAPTER 3, ARTICLE 9, PARAGRAPH 3, SUBSECTION 3

838 “The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.” 322 Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” 323 

855 The Church’s mission stimulates efforts  towards Christian unity. 357  Indeed, “divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects.” 358

https://www.kofc.org/en/catechism/index.html#

From this, the Catholic Church says that I might be a Christian, but my Christianity is defective and my theological defects hinder the expression of full catholic Christianity. The word “catholic” means universal, but in Catholic parlance, the universality of catholic Christianity is contained within the Church of Rome, and all Christians who are not in fellowship with the Church of Rome are believing and practicing defective expressions of Christianity. This is clarified in Canon Law Book III, Section 3:

§3. No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.

Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.

This says that a Christian must believe all the stuff taught by the Roman Catholic Magisterium.

§2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firmly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

This says you cannot disbelieve the stuff taught by the Roman Catholic Magisterium.

Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

This says that if you continue to disbelieve any of the stuff taught by the Roman Catholic Magisterium even though you have been baptized, then you are either an apostate or a schismatic, and both of those conditions amount to heresy.

Can. 752 Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid things which do not agree with it.

This simply enlarges the big long list of teachings they include when they refer to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Magisterium.

Can. 753 Although the bishops who are in communion with the head and members of the college, whether individually or joined together in conferences of bishops or in particular councils, do not possess infallibility in teaching, they are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the Christian faithful entrusted to their care; the Christian faithful are bound to adhere with religious submission of mind to the authentic magisterium of their bishops.

This says the full teachings of the Roman Catholic Magisterium are whatever your bishop tells you they are.

Can. 754 All the Christian faithful are obliged to observe the constitutions and decrees which the legitimate authority of the Church issues in order to propose doctrine and to proscribe erroneous opinions, particularly those which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops puts forth.

This says that all right Christians are obedient to the Roman Catholic Magisterium.

Can. 755 §1. It is above all for the entire college of bishops and the Apostolic See to foster and direct among Catholics the ecumenical movement whose purpose is the restoration among all Christians of the unity which the Church is bound to promote by the will of Christ.

PART II: PENALTIES FOR PARTICULAR OFFENCES

TITLE I: OFFENCES AGAINST RELIGION AND THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH (Cann. 13641369)

Can. 1364 §1 An apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication, without prejudice to the provision of Can. 194 §1, n. 2.

That says that by persisting in my schism, I am equivalent to a heretic and am in an automatic state of eternal excommunication.

So, why do Catholics keep telling me that the Church of Rome does not teach that I am damned? Isn’t that an interesting question?

I find traditionalist Catholics to be nice people, solid Americans and usually politically conservative. They are generous, genial, family people. We have lots of common ground. Their confusion on this point hangs on a technicality.

See, all the above that I cited from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and from the Catholic book of Canon Law applies only to a particular class of schismatic.

Ignorance is an Excuse

Catholic teaching says that most schismatic Protestant Christians are schismatic because they have a defective understanding of what the Church of Rome teaches. The idea is that ignorance is an excuse. Protestant Christians who have been taught false things about Church of Rome teachings get a spiritual pass on account of the bad teachings that they have been raised with, or embraced because of Protestant “false teachers.” So ordinary ignorant Protestants do not get a pronouncement of damnation. They are not excommunicated with the damned; rather, communion is withheld from them until they recognize the error of their ways and fully embrace the Church of Rome. Of course, that is likely to be many eons of Purgatory later, but the Church of Rome teaches that, eventually, the souls of ordinary schismatic Protestant Christians will be belatedly admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Catholic laypeople who express grave concern for non-Catholic family and friends get routine reassurance from their priests that their non-Catholic loved ones are not eternally damned.

Damned

However, I am not ignorant of the teachings of the Church of Rome. I have read the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church, more than once, and also the Baltimore Catechism, and I have also read many selections from Canon Law, many articles and sermons by Catholic teachers and priests, and articles by Catholic theologians. I find much there that is helpful and true, pastoral and loving and careful.

But, in my knowledge, I find the case for the Church of Rome to be unpersuasive. Catholics blithely state that the Holy Spirit will not permit the Church of Rome to persist in error, because the Church must persist until the Last Day. But that confuses the Church of Rome with the universal body of Christian believers described in the New Testament. This is a dangerous conflation. It is entirely possible that the entire edifice of the Church of Rome will lurch off into Error, and that a remnant will re-form to continue the worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, that possibility appears to be more and more likely each day.

In my knowledge, I see how the Church of Rome has added to the Scriptures according to their Sacred Tradition and the opinions of their great thinkers. But Scripture clearly prohibits adding things to the Word. And the Church of Rome is not putting the opinions of the Church Fathers or Catholic theologians forward as Holy Writ, so how is it that they add to the Word yet claim to be true to the Scriptures?

In my knowledge, I see teachings of the Church of Rome that contradict the clear words of Scripture.

Therefore, I am “obstinate” in my rejection of the Church of Rome.

Here I stand. I can do no other. May God help me. Amen.”

__________

Though it saddens me because it makes our division greater instead of less, in honesty and clarity, I must acknowledge that the Church of Rome considers me to be damned as a schismatic; eternally excommunicated and without hope.

I do not believe that this is a true characterization of my eternal soul. I pray that I am right on this point, even though I may have other points of doctrine wrong.

As I have noted before in other posts, the consequences are eternal.

LORD, have mercy.

8+
avataravataravataravataravataravataravataravatar

33 thoughts on “Schismatic Bubba”

  1. From Mark, chapter 9:

    38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

    39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

    2+
    avataravatar
  2. Europe endured 1000 years of Vatican world-class penury, disease, famine, selling indulgences…and portly greasy tipsy insubordinate spamming Martin Luther.  Luther’s folk eventually abandoned bleeding wheezing kneeling Europe to upright inflict themselves upon North America and mightily amplify its abundant riches.

    THERE SHALL BE NO TRUE REPENTANCE ABSENT VISIBLE MORTIFICATION OF THE FLESH!

    Oh you guys!  So like. what, nose rings?  It’s still a good trade for having porcelain plumbing and toilet paper

    Meanwhile, the poorest county in America, Kiryas Joel, NY, with average eight kids/family (and a father!) is living high on the hog, ah, brisket under Brobdingnagian Social Welfare and healthcare subsidies – your money.  Massive population growth is flooding out the indigenous English-speaking population, It will be tsitsis, tallis, and tefillin for all of you!  Bwa ha ha!

    Or maybe the Black Madonna and loud tinny music.  Worry less about heaven and more about Earth.  Nobody has ever complained about Heaven

    [caption id="attachment_44439" align="alignnone" width="397"]Ethics Social justice Santa Claus.[/caption]

    0

  3. What is the Protestant position on Catholics regarding damnation? My brother is a Calvinist and believes I am going to hell.
    Also that my beloved mother is in hell. I don’t believe that, but he does. What I know from the teaching of the church is there is no salvation outside of the church. However God is the ultimate judge. I don’t get worked up about these things because this is known, and I can tell you and you can accept it or not, and pray god is merciful to all of us wretched creatures.

    4+
    avataravataravataravatar
  4. Mate De:
    What is the Protestant position on Catholics regarding damnation? My brother is a Calvinist and believes I am going to hell.

    Well, there are all sorts of Protestants.  Robert McR. gets that, and has some fun with it at our expense.

    My own Lutheran (Missouri Synod) says that the Church of Rome is orthodox as to the chief essentials, with lots of heterodoxy tacked on.  The Church of Rome is positioned within the Body of Christ; Christians in fellowship with Rome do not lose salvation even though they place too much trust in men.

    I think over half of Protestantism shares this view, and many adherents of churches that officially call the Pope “AntiChrist” don’t actually believe that.

    Also that my beloved mother is in hell. I don’t believe that, but he does. What I know from the teaching of the church is there is no salvation outside of the church. However God is the ultimate judge. I don’t get worked up about these things because this is known, and I can tell you and you can accept it or not, and pray god is merciful to all of us wretched creatures.

    God loves and blesses your mother, whom you recently lost.  Be consoled with His word of comfort.  You have this Lutheran’s prayers for peace and consolation.

    He does not like our divisions, and wishes for all of us to be reconciled with each other.

    How can we ever approach reconciliation if we cannot talk honestly with each other about our divisions?

    4+
    avataravataravataravatar
  5. MJBubba:
    Well, there are all sorts of Protestants.

    Also, Catholics do not speak with one voice.  Many Protestants do not understand this.

    Unwarranted conflations on both sides make this conversation extra difficult.

    1+
    avatar
  6. Robert A. McReynolds:
    Bubba all that you quote pertains to Puritans. You have nothing to fear my friend. It’s New Englanders God seeks to damn, unless they see the light and become Catholic.

    Thanks for a laugh.

    New Englanders damn themselves by their apostasy.  There are no Puritans remaining in New England.

    I worked in Boston for more than a year (1995-6).  I found many worthy Christians, both Catholic and Protestant.  They were all extraordinarily pleased to encounter someone with whom they could discuss their church.  Boston has made religion a taboo subject to an extreme extent.  The Christians there are mostly in hiding.

    4+
    avataravataravataravatar
  7. MJBubba:

    MJBubba:
    Well, there are all sorts of Protestants.

    Also, Catholics do not speak with one voice.  Many Protestants do not understand this.

    This is true. It’s funny when I talk to Protestants, many of them don’t actually know this. They believe we speak with one voice but we don’t. This is the thing, church teaching (ie: what the church says on paper. Through the Catechism, magisterium, sacred scripture, ie…) doesn’t change but all sorts of Catholics interpret it differently, or want to ignore it completely or worse, subvert it. Where have we seen this show before. However, what I know is human beings are flawed, and when faced with really difficult moral questions sometimes would rather take the wider, easier path than the narrower one. Which causes a lot of problems.

    3+
    avataravataravatar
  8. MJBubba:

    God loves and blesses your mother, whom you recently lost.  Be consoled with His word of comfort.  You have this Lutheran’s prayers for peace and consolation.

    Don’t get me wrong my brother is struggling to square his theology with my mother’s passing, so keep him in your prayers.

    5+
    avataravataravataravataravatar
  9. Hi Schismatic MJB, Practical Pencil here! You’re much more the student of theology than I am, but I’ll give you my view of this, as a Catholic who is admittedly not as up on the Magisterium as you: the Catholic rules you are quoting are for Catholics.

    I’m not trying to be flip – I think they are written to keep Roman Catholics from straying from the faith, not to be used to judge people who are outside our Church.

    I’d bet the vast majority of Catholics have never considered that their Protestant friends will be denied salvation – too many of my friends follow Christ’s teaching better than some Catholics. I think your quote from Mark 9 rings true.

    3+
    avataravataravatar
  10. Pencilvania:
    Hi Schismatic MJB, Practical Pencil here! You’re much more the student of theology than I am, but I’ll give you my view of this, as a Catholic who is admittedly not as up on the Magisterium as you: the Catholic rules you are quoting are for Catholics.

    I’m not trying to be flip – I think they are written to keep Roman Catholics from straying from the faith, not to be used to judge people who are outside our Church.

    But the Church of Rome teaches that there is no right Body of Christ outside of fellowship with the Pope.

    I’d bet the vast majority of Catholics have never considered that their Protestant friends will be denied salvation – too many of my friends follow Christ’s teaching better than some Catholics. I think your quote from Mark 9 rings true.

    Yeah, as I said, they are placated by priests who say that Protestants will eventually enter the Kingdom.   The priests are counting on those Protestants being ignorant.

    Ordinary lay Catholics seem not to really believe what the Church of Rome teaches about Purgatory.  I hear Catholics joke all the time (I have Catholics in extended family) about how many hundreds of thousands of years one or the other of the guys will spend in Purgatory to atone for some slip.  It is a laugh line.

    1+
    avatar
  11. The Reformation for Dummies:

    Catholics:  it all happened just because Martin Luther wanted to get married!  Billions have been set on the path to perdition because he couldn’t keep his robes closed!

    Protestants: it all happened because the Church was peddling salvation to get the money to build St. Peter’s basilica in Rome!  “No sooner coin in coffer  rings/Than soul from Purgatory springs!” ?!? Salvation has to be merited, and freely given: you can’t BUY it!  Talk about corruption, talk about taking advantage of the poor and ignorant!

    4+
    avataravataravataravatar
  12. Hypatia:
    The Reformation for Dummies:

    Catholics:  it all happened just because Martin Luther wanted to get married!  Billions have been set on the path to perdition because he couldn’t keep his robes closed!

    Protestants: it all happened because the Church was peddling salvation to get the money to build St. Peter’s basilica in Rome!  “No sooner coin in coffer  rings/Than soul from Purgatory springs!” ?!? Salvation has to be merited, and freely given: you can’t BUY it!  Talk about corruption, talk about taking advantage of the poor and ignorant!

    These are shallow talking points used by partisans on both sides to limit engagement.

    0

  13. You guys!

    1) Eastern Orthodox.  Everybody goes to heaven – poof! – without exception, to be suffused with God’s radiant love.  The worthy glory in it for all eternity.  The unworthy burn in to for all eternity.  One suspects, after a year or two, the worthy may envy the damned.

    2) Judaism.  No Heaven, no Hell; retribution unto the seventh generation.  Think of it as North Korea without the good parts.

    0

  14. OK Uncle, this is one a friend of mine and I came up with:

    Judaism: There is a lot of Suck, but We Suck less than you.

    Islam: Everyone Sucks! Infidels Suck more!

    Shintoism: Things will Suck if you don’t show respect to Granddad, no matter how nice he was when he was alive.

    Hinduism: If things Suck, is Karma.

    Christianity: Everyone Sucks, but God Loves you anyway.

    Buddhism: There is no Suck.

    2+
    avataravatar
  15. Hypatia:
    I resent that characterization. I think the burden of Luther’s Theses  was, precisely, objection to the sale of indulgences.

    The sale of Indulgences is still a valid criticism, but it takes quite a bit of explaining.  Lots of people, including even many Catholics, think that the Church of Rome is no longer peddling Indulgences, and, therefore, many people think it is a cheap shot.

    And, to my way of thinking, it is not nearly the best shot.  It is far more critical to point out that the Church of Rome teaches that there is something else needed for Sanctification beyond the Grace and Mercy given by Jesus.

    From Ephesians, chapter 2:

    But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    And here is Paul, relating the Word that God laid on him to be missionary to the gentiles, in Acts chapter 26:

    18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

    From Hebrews chapter 2:

    11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.

    And Hebrews chapter 10:

    When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    1+
    avatar
  16. Hypatia:
    I resent that characterization. I think the burden of Luther’s Theses  was, precisely, objection to the sale of indulgences.

    That was where it started.

    But Indulgences is based on a teaching that goes deep, and it is only the first quarter of the 95 Theses that directly relate to Indulgences.  As Luther dove into the rationalizations, he saw more and more how far the Church of Rome had drifted away from Scripture.

    1+
    avatar
  17. Mate De:
    This may help in understanding the teaching of indulgences and some misconceptions many have on the teaching. Obviously it’s from Catholic Answers so they are coming from a Catholic perspective.

    https://www.catholic.com/tract/myths-about-indulgences

    Yes.

    It’s complicated.

    Your linked tract “Myths about Indulgences” assumes that we have common definitions for terms such as “temporal,” “penance,” and “authority.”  Also, it presumes underlying Catholic dogmas such as The Office of the Keys, Purgatory, the Treasury of Merit, and the Doctrine of Sanctification.

    It is clearly written for Catholic laypersons and is not intended to be persuasive to Protestants.

    It links through to a longer article about Indulgences.

    You win major props for linking to articles that feature an Imprimatur.  That helps a lot.  It also helps that it is short and clearly written.  But it presents a doctrinal thicket as if it were simple.

    1+
    avatar
  18. Hey Bubba,

    The Code of Canon Law is not a guide for daily living. It is the legal resource that is used in Catholic legal matters regarding Catholics and the administration of the Church. As Fr. Z says, ” The Pope can only excommunicate and then lift the excommunication from his own subjects…” Catholic canon law does not apply to non-Catholics.

    Heretic, schismatic, etc., are Catholic legal terms and are used accurately when a Catholic person has been tried and found guilty of them in a Catholic tribunal. Protestants are not under the jurisdiction of Catholic canon law.

    If you want to say that they are, then you need to explain why Protestant marriages (between two baptized Protestants) are recognized as valid sacraments, when Catholic marriages (between two baptized Catholics) are not unless witnessed by a Catholic priest or deacon per the canon law.

    3+
    avataravataravatar
  19. We’ve been round this before. I feel sure that I’ve explained that the Church does not condemn anybody. It is not the Church’s job to condemn. That is between the person and God after the person has died. I am quite sure we’ve covered this ground before.

    3+
    avataravataravatar

Leave a Reply