Monday, May 09, 2005

Hobgoblins & Escape Hatches

Sometimes I blog and post myself into some pretty situations.

Some weeks ago, I was posting to the IMonk comments sections against those who throw blanket condemnations on Roman Catholics because of their views on justification, Mary, ad infinitum. Now, at Coffee Conversations, I find myself posting against the idea (mooted by N. T. Wright) that justification in and of itself is an ecumenical doctrine that can unite Protestant and Catholic.

One quote I've heard oft-used is Emerson's "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds". Whenever I heard it, I thought to myself that those who use it were just shielding themselves from their own slapdash thinking. My (unspoken) reply was "An unthinking inconsistency is the escape hatch of lazy minds".

I want to think I'm being consistent here. I draw a line between dealing with Catholics *as individuals* and with *the institutional Catholic Church*. As individuals, I have no doubts that some are saved, by faith in Christ. Especially here in America, where Catholicism has been effectivey "Protestantized" by the cultual environment. Why should I not extend friendship with such people?

On the other hand, I could never join a Catholic Church, or participate in a Catholic Mass, because I cannot subscribe to their theology of justification and their interpetation of the Eucharist. Until they sort out (according to their own "inerrant" magisterium ;-} ) whether we are condemned apostates (Council of Trent) or "separated brothers" (Vatican II), I see no reason for Protestants to even consider ecumenical union with the institutional Catholic church.

Try as I might to be a "kinder, gentler" theologian, I have to draw some lines somewhere...


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