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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why Ecumenism Is Solemn Nonsense: Part II Featured

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This continues our reprint of the article, "Reunion or Submission" penned by Arthur Featherstone Marshall in The American Catholic Quarterly Review of 1893.

Click HERE for Part I)

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism

That “ The disclaimer of Divine Authority by all the sects is proof positive that not one of them can possess it," we may take to be a sort of Christian postulate. Where one Church, and only one, says “ I can teach because I possess divine authority” ; and where all the other churches, sects, denominations, say “ I cannot teach because I have no divine authority," we see the hopeless ness of “ reuniting " what was never united, what always was, always must be, antagonistic. Yet not more inaccurate is the popular word “ reunion " than is the popular word “ churches " in Protestant sense. There cannot be churches." In the sense used in the New Testament, and in the sense used by Catholic nations, we may speak of“ The Church in Italy," " The Church in France"; but the word so used, so far from meaning different Churches, means national parts of one and the same Catholic Church. The sense in which non-Catholics use the word—-as when they say the Greek Church, or the Anglican Church—is the sense of perfectly distinct, inimical bodies; having some doctrines in common, but no authority in common, indeed protesting against each other‘s assumed authority. In this sense there cannot be churches. If there could be, there could be also Christianities ; and therefore, it would follow, there could be Christs. One God, one faith, one baptism, imply necessarily one Catholic Church —one in Divine authority, and therefore one in Divine faith; one in allegiance, devotion and sentiment. So that when men talk of reunion of the churches, they use a phrase, which is painfully in accurate. There never was but one Church; all schismatics, all heretics being outside that one Church-unless they are baptized and in good faith. In this latter case, though they would be out side the Visible Church, yet they would be, spiritually, its members; for all baptized Christians are baptized into the Roman Church, and remain inside till they put themselves outside. The High Church idea about being "baptized into the Anglican faith” is transparently absurd and even impious; for it presupposes that Almighty God will care to please all Protestant parents by baptizing their children into the parental faith. In this case it would be the parents—it would not be Almighty God—who would decide upon the faith given in baptism. The natural reason suffices to tell us that, if there be one Sacrament of Baptism, that Sacrament must be the same for all the baptized; every child must be baptized into the same faith; so that if one child be baptized into the Anglican faith, all children must-be baptized into the Anglican faith; or if one child be baptized into the Roman faith, all children must be baptized into the Roman faith. The non-Catholic idea of adapting a Divine Sacrament to the private views of every member of every sect is so fantastic that it can scarcely be treated gravely. That a parent should choose a special baptism for his own child—choose the faith “into which he should be baptized ”—is putting the parent into the place of Almighty God. Yet it is the commonest thing in England to hear people use such expressions as " baptized into the Protestant faith," or “ baptized into the faith of the Greek Church." To a Catholic, who apprehends that the Divine unity does not admit of such painfully human variableness, such expressions are irreverent-they are shocking.

As then there is one baptism into one faith—not a hundred different baptisms into a hundred faiths—it must follow that he who (willfully) quits the one faith is no longer a Catholic but a heretic. Happily the immense majority of those who are born out of the Visible Church are not heretics, but are only in “ heresy "; and the majority being baptized they remain members of the Catholic Church until they willfully place themselves outside it. Of all baptized Protestants it would therefore be true to say that they could be “reunited ” to the Catholic Roman Church; but this is very different from saying that the heresy which they may have cherished can be re-united to the Catholic Roman Faith. The baptized Christian is one thing; his heresy is another. He can be re united “ to the faith of this baptism ; " his heresy was never united, never could be. Yet many persons talk of "the re-union of Anglicanism with the possibly-to-be-deformed Roman Faith." Here is where the great mistake comes in. Falsehood cannot be re-united with truth; because the two never had any previous union; but penitents can be re-united with the Catholic Church, by the door of the Sacrament of Penance.

So that we come back to submission as the only rational substitute for the fictitious "Reunion of the Churches." They who have tried submission know what it is-the embrace of the most tender of mothers. They who have not tried it think it must be "humiliating "—as though the kiss of peace from an angel could be humiliating.

If it be true there are no “ churches "—in the Protestant sense of the word; and if it be true that, accurately speaking, there can be no reunion ; it remains that we try to find some more reason able solution of the state of warfare into which Christendom is plunged. “A house divided against itself," is not the Christian idea of Christendom; and one of the horrors of this division is that the heathen world is kept Waiting for that “ reunion " which can alone convert them. For their sakes, as well as for our own, we should all strive to be united; for there can be no question that the reason why the whole world is not Christian is because the scandal of divisions makes it impossible. In addition to the huge schisms of Czarodoxy and Anglicanism, America and England between them count nearly five hundred Christianities, each one holding aloof from every other. Well may the heathen say to Protestant missionaries, “Go home, and settle among yourselves what Christianity is, and then come and teach us.”

(To Be Continued…)

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