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Monday, 2 December 2013

Protestant vs. Catholic Thinking

Because either some Protestants have made comments on this blog, or because some Catholics are thinking like Protestants, I am going to outline a few points of confusion. I apologize for the length of this. There will be more later.

Years ago, when I was taking theology and philosophy courses for degrees, I was blessed with some superb teachers, for whom I am eternally grateful.

One teacher in Protestant Theology class made a great point that the Protestant mind-set was basically one of utilitarianism. What he explained was that Protestants in the 20th century, beginning in the 19th century with liberal Scripture criticism, watered down the Gospel message and the call to holiness to the lowest common denominator.

For example, Henry VIII wanted a divorce and so ruined the Church in England.

That is a type of utilitarianism and tyranny.

I never forgot this distinction and have referred to it briefly on this blog.

The Protestant mind-set holds these ideals as listed below, which are contrary to Catholic teaching. I shall place the Protestant and Catholic ideals side by side.

Protestant side first....

Point One: poverty and difficulties in life are a direct result of sin in the person or family. Therefore, poverty or a lack of success means the person is a grave sinner. The Protestant Work Ethic demands that success is a sign of election by God. God's material blessings are a sign of God's spiritual blessings.

A person can, therefore, judge those who are unsuccessful as grave sinners and not help them as they are under the wrath of God.  Those in the middle-class, therefore, are God's elect.

Catholic side second...

We are to love and serve the poor, as Christ commanded, who are "always with us".  We are, as Blessed John Paul II stated, to give preferential treatment to the poor. The poor are Christ in disguise and our business.

To serve the poor is to directly serve the hidden God, who made Himself poor for our sake. Sometimes the poor are hidden in our society, especially if they are old.

Philippians 2

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of charity, if any society of the spirit, if any bowels of commiseration:
Fulfill ye my joy, that you may be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment.
Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vain glory: but in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves:
Each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men's.
For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.
He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.
For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names:
10 That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
11 And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
12 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.
13 For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.
Point Two: Protestant thinking looks at what is and compromises. 
Examples, contraception and abortion, divorce and remarriage and, now, ssm are to be accepted as people can only be sinners and not saints. The acceptance of a lower standard of morality is a direct result of the compromising Protestant attitude of finding a middle-ground or lowest ground. Suffering is to be avoided at all costs.
Catholic side: We are called to be saints and become perfect, even as our Heavenly Father is perfect. We are called to suffer in order to be purified of all sin and the tendency to sin. The call to holiness is hard and strenuous. And, the Church Militant must approach this route in a military fashion of discipline and courage.

Matthew 16:24

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Point Three: The Protestant mind-set looks for a utopia on earth, confusing the Kingdom of God within with a material Kingdom. Suffering is to be avoided at all costs.
This ideal is behind the American Dream, which is not a Catholic dream per se. That one can find happiness on earth is a symptom of this millennialist thinking. Think of the fact that the Calvinists and others wanted to establish a society based on Protestant ideals which would have led to a perfect commonwealth. The people could decide how that commonwealth works based not on the long Judeo-Christian philosophy of natural law, but only on the Scriptures-sola Scriptura.
Catholic side: we know that the City of God and the City of Man grow up side by side. We also know that perfection in social and governmental organizations needs the protection and Teaching of the Catholic Church, the long history of Tradition and the Catholic Teaching on the roles of the State and the Church.
The Church does not idolize democracy and has condemned socialism again and again and again. The Catholic Church does not teach that there is a utopia on this side of heaven.
The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes can bring about some social peace and harmony, but that is not the goal. The goal is holiness and oneness with God for all people, the rich, the middle class, the poor. Read the entire passage and realize that the Catholic position is one of holiness, then harmony.

Matthew 5

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him.
And opening his mouth, he taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake:
12 Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.
13 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.
14 You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.
16 So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
17 Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
18 For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
21 You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.
22 But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee;
24 Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.
25 Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.
27 You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
28 But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29 And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell.
31 And it hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a bill of divorce.
32 But I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.
33 Again you have heard that it was said to them of old, Thou shalt not forswear thyself: but thou shalt perform thy oaths to the Lord.
34 But I say to you not to swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God:
35 Nor by the earth, for it is his footstool: nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king:
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.
38 You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
39 But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other:
40 And if a man will contend with thee in judgment, and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him.
41 And whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two,
42 Give to him that asketh of thee and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away.
43 You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy.
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you:
45 That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.
46 For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this?
47 And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this?
48 Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.
Point Four: as men and women are saved, there is no need for the sacramental life, especially Confession. 
Catholic view: The Protestant idea that all men and women have their sins forgive without the daily work of conversion has weakened the Protestant communities. Only a commitment to daily prayer, daily repentance, daily adoration and the awareness of sin and the need for sanctifying grace can lead a person to heaven. The acceptance of sin in the world is a huge compromise, which has led to the acceptance of evil, and even to the point of calling evil good and good evil.

Isaiah 5:20

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
20 Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.
A priest said to me last week that "there is no such thing as an Obama Catholic". 
Those who support him are thinking like Protestants and compromising Truth, Who Is a Person for either money or comfort or status.
For those readers who accept sin and concupiscence, I point them to read what God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity states about holiness. I point them to the series on the Doctors of the Church on this blog. I point them to the long series on perfection, based on the great Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange.
To accept less than personal holiness, which is a gift of grace and the cooperation with grace, is giving in to a life of sin.
To accept anything less than putting on the Mind of Christ is actually an act of rebellion.
Someone said to me once that human weakness is beautiful. Yes and no. It is beautiful as it is shared in humility with the suffering Christ. It is not beautiful if it is not called out of weakness into strength in God.
We glory in our failures and infirmities in so far as these give glory to God, if He is working in us. Grace and weakness go together, but we must not confuse weakness without grace as a good. When we are truly humbled and in grace, then God works through us. Not all people are in grace. Not all weakness is a good; we do not glory in sin. Some weakness is the giving in to sin and the giving up of the life of Christ within us. And, that is another discussion.

2 Corinthians 12:9-11

And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
10 For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful.
11 I am become foolish: you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you: for I have no way come short of them that are above measure apostles, although I be nothing.

To be continued.....