I just had to chuckle this afternoon as I noted that just before Mr. Patton posted his reply to me (noted below), Ruth Tucker (whose participation on this blog utterly mystifies me, I must admit) posted a brief article, also in response to the Vatican document cited below, titled, “The Catholic Church is a Cult.” And I’m the “anti-Catholic?”
Now, may I be very blunt here? If you are surprised by the contents of the Vatican document, this only proves how little you know about Roman Catholic ecclesiology and theology in general. And if you are “disappointed” by it, then all that proves is that you have an idealized picture of what you would like Rome to be that is a far cry from the reality of the Roman Magisterium.
Folks, there is nothing new in the document released by Rome. Nothing. In fact, there isn’t anything even surprising about it. It is fully consistent with Roman Catholic theology and ecclesiology. Protestant churches that lack constitutive beliefs relating to apostolic authority and the sacraments, and in particular regarding the Eucharist, cannot, by Roman definitions, be considered true churches. Anyone who has the most basic training in first-hand documents representing the Roman Church can only yawn at such things. Nothing new. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt level stuff.
Now, allow me to be perfectly clear. I reject everything the Pope says here as being true. I accept his authority to define these things for those who follow him. I simply reject that he is an authority for Christians, anywhere (including Rome). He is not the Holy Father (a term used by Jesus of God, the Father, alone), he is not the Vicar of Christ (a term describing the Holy Spirit), and he is not the successor of Peter. I reject the Papacy in its entirety and its particulars; I reject Rome’s pretensions to define Christ’s body, and her wicked usurpation of the ultimate authority of God’s Word in matters of faith and morals. I knowingly, purposefully, and with all my heart, reject his teachings and his heresies. As such, again, I happen to be standing firmly in the middle of the historical stream marked “Reformed Baptists.”
Finally, I have to note, again with a bit of irony, the words of C. Michael Patton:
The Pope’s declaration yesterday, ironically, did demonstrate that what I had said about the progress and attitude of modern Catholic scholarship was true. This perceived disagreement and change in the Catholic church is the exact reason why the Pope felt it necessary to sign this document yesterday. He is more hard-line than John Paul II was and demonstrated this yesterday.
I am sorry, but this only shows once again the “wishful thinking” attitude of those who are promoting the idea that Rome is defined by their local liberal Catholic professor rather than the Bishop of Rome and the Cardinals along with the dogmatic decrees of Rome. There is no question of Ratzinger’s “Roman orthodoxy,” but the fact of the matter is, there is likewise nothing in this brief document that wasn’t already stated by John Paul II in Ut Unum Sint! It is wishful thinking to project onto JPII views that he specifically repudiated in his own encyclicals. More on this on the DL tomorrow.