Thursday, July 12, 2007

On the Catholic Church -- 2

Alan Creech posted a germane clarifying comment on my last post. He writes,

Of course now I've found my way back into the Catholic Church, I'm going to say, I have no basic problem with the concept of the Papacy. It's certainly not what some characterize it to be.I'm sure it developed into what it is today over time. I'm not sure that many would say, though, Fader Pete, with just as much confidence, that the present view of the Papacy isn't altogether some other thing than what it was in the early Church. Again, it surely developed, like almost everything else. It's just a matter of how one sees the that development happening I suppose.

Good point. My view that the current way the papacy is understood is different than the role of the Bishop of Rome in the early centuries of Christianity is a view that Roman Catholics would hold to as well. The RCC holds to an understanding of doctrinal development that sees the current papacy as the proper outflow of the role of the Bishop of Rome had in the early centuries. Though I, in the end, disagree with this view, I do not think it is an ignorant or unintelligent view.

John Henry Newman's An Essay On The Development of Christian Doctrine is the book to read on this issue. His arguments are strong and to many convincing. I read most of the book with a sympathetic posture, but found myself not being fully convinced of his argument.

Let me be clear that I do not reject the idea of doctrinal development. Every Sunday I recite the Nicene Creed. The Trinitarian language in the creed is not explicitly biblical. But I am convinced that the extra-biblical language is needed to properly preserve the biblical doctrine of God. Regarding the development that led to the papacy, I think the Petrine language can be understood in other terms than that of the modern papacy. Therefore I do not think the modern papacy is a necessary development of doctrine.

This is getting longer than I planned it to be!

Let me reiterate again -- though I do not hold the Roman view, I am not RCC hater. I draw deeply from the Roman well. I even pray for a re-union with Rome. As an Anglican I would like to see the doctrine of papal infallibility and ultramontanism set aside so that the Bishop of Rome might become (again) the Patriarch of the western Catholic Church in similar role that the Archbishop of Canterbury has in the Anglican Communion.


+ Alan said...

Man, I think everything I post ends up "longer than I intended it to be" - haa! You know it's true.

And you know, I'm sure there are a few thoughts about what the papacy is and/or could/should be even floating around inside the Catholic Communion I would think. Gets down to a little submission with a big side of trust thrown in there.

+ simonas said...

Good post. Smart guy that Alan is. :-)

Anyway, if you have moderation, erase the whole comment or at least this part. It's for you only. I could not find an email link, so I resort to this medium. Here is your picture. I retouched it and removed the lamps in the background. I thought they were distracting. Consider replacing. Here is the link:

Dennis said...


Good to see you on the web.

A few comments...

First, in terms of unity and theological stability the Papacy is a historical necessity. This is especially made clear when one looks at the state of affairs within your own Communion. What started out as an attempt at Reform has blossomed into theological confusion. With no true authority to curtail or reign in deviant opinions, heterodoxy has taken hold. On the other hand, the Roman Church under the authority of the Pope maintains theological uniformity. If any bishop declared, as Spong has done, that Jesus did not rise from the dead, he would be removed from his office immediately. In a world full of relativism and death, the Papacy in a bulwark against an enemy determined to sow seeds of doubt and chaos.