On a possible declaration between Evangelicals and Catholics

In Austin Ivereigh’s profile of CEEC Bishop Tony Palmer, he writes about this, which I thought merited a separate discussion:

Palmer told me the draft Declaration has three elements: the Nicean-Constantinople Creed, which Catholics and evangelicals share; the core of the Catholic-Lutheran declaration of 1999 making clear there is no disagreement over justification by faith; as well as a final section asserting that Catholics and evangelicals are now “united in mission because we are declaring the same Gospel.”

-snip-

Last Wednesday, in Bath, Palmer’s funeral was a Catholic Requiem Mass at which most of the congregation were evangelicals. He was buried in a Catholic cemetery, united at last with the Church he felt at home in.

Pope Francis sent a message, which was tearfully read out by Emiliana Palmer. In it he said he and Palmer were close friends, and like father and son, “Many times we prayed in the same Spirit.” He praised Palmer as a brave, passionate and pure-hearted man in love with Jesus, who left a precious legacy in his passion for Christian unity.

Francis created the strong impression that the work he and Palmer had begun would continue.

“We must be encouraged by his zeal,” the pope said.

 

The Nicean-Constantinople Creed, which Catholics and evangelicals share.

However, do they?

The big, big problem is ecclesiology and how the Catholic Church understands herself.   Do evangelicals mean one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church the way Catholics understand it?  I don’t think so.  To borrow from a popular meme:  “Church” doesn’t mean  what you think it means; “Apostolic” doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Are these secondary issues?   Should the Catholic Church change its teaching on Holy Orders?  On Apostolic Succession?

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5 Responses to On a possible declaration between Evangelicals and Catholics

  1. Will Roper says:

    We in the Ordinariates have a serious responsibility to be involved in these talks.

    We have the same heart for unity and the same understanding that Catholics don’t preach the “false gospel” that they are accused of, but we also have the conviction of Lumen Gentium 14.

  2. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    You wrote: The big, big problem is ecclesiology and how the Catholic Church understands herself. Do evangelicals mean one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church the way Catholics understand it? I don’t think so. To borrow from a popular meme: “Church” doesn’t mean what you think it means; “Apostolic” doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    There are a couple nuances to this. In the official translations of the Nicene Creed in the Catholic liturgical books, the phrase “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church” is lower case — meaning that it is not a proper name of an identifiable body. An Evangelical Christian has no problem with professing belief in a church that is “one” (consisting of all believers), “holy” (founded by God and seeking Godly ways), “catholic” (universal), and “apostolic” (founded on the teaching of the apostles) — which is what the creed, taken at face value, means. We all would like to think that this “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church” is the organization called the Catholic Church, but that interpretation is problematic: recent scandals have exposed, beyond all doubt, the painful reality that the organization called the Catholic Church has far too many members in good standing who are far from holy — and if Christian baptism makes one a member of the “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church,” what of those who receive Christian baptism in other denominations? Thus, the Second Vatican Council chose its language to explain the connection very carefully, saying that “the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic… subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure” (dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium; emphasis added, internal citations removed) — carefully nuanced language that does not exclude either of the aforementioned realities.

    Norm.

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