Friday, June 3, 2016

Catholic vs. Protestant -- why is there so much animosity? (Also published on Cathapol)

I found an article on gotquestions?.org. I thought this site was a neutral site on religion, but boy was I ever wrong. It is a Protestant site that holds nothing back. In the article "Catholic vs. Protestant -- why is there so much animosity?", I detected a lot of animosity toward Catholics.

That was the question. The author's answer and some of my comments.

This is a simple question with a complicated answer, because there are varying degrees of, and reasons for, animosity between the two religious groups.
Let's start there. What two religious groups? Technically speaking, both Protestants and Catholics are Christians, so we are actually the same religion. We just have doctrinal differences. And yes, some are doozies. Can we at least agree that we are all Christians? 
This particular battle is rooted in history. Degrees of reaction have ranged from friendly disagreement (as reflected in numerous ecumenical dialogues produced between the two groups), to outright persecution and murder of Protestants at the hands of Rome.
Yes, much of the animosity between the two groups of Christians in rooted in history. However, spreading the fictional propaganda that Catholics persecuted and murdered Protestants is not going to help ease such animosity. Neither Catholics, nor the Catholic Church persecuted or murdered Protestants wholesale. Did the Catholic Church believe Protestants did not receive salvation at one time in its history?--yes. Has there been a battle between Protestant rulers and Catholic ones?--yes. Has the Catholic Church ever advocated a war against Protestants in general?--no. Obviously, this author did not study actual history but a revisionist version with propaganda mixed in. He's probably heard this balderdash so many times, he really believes it to be true.

From the history I learned (I went to a public high school and a Baptist College), Catholics were not the aggressors in Protestant (Calvinist) Switzerland, nor in Henry VIII's, Edward VI's, or Elizabeth I's England, nor Northern France. Calvin was a lawyer turned "theologian" who left France during the Protestant uprising there. He went to Switzerland where he was instrumental in helping Protestants take over the government and the church there. It was a very restrictive society under the Protestants.

Voltaire wrote: "If they condemned celibacy in the priests, and opened the gates of the convents, it was only to turn all society into a convent. Shows and entertainments were expressly forbidden by their religion; and for more than two hundred years there was not a single musical instrument allowed in the city of Geneva. They condemned auricular confession, but they enjoined a public one; and in Switzerland, Scotland, and Geneva it was performed the same as penance." [This was my addition, not included in the gotquestions?.org article]

Neither society, nor Christianity was improved by Calvin, Luther, Zwingli and their ilk. There was no "reformation" only a deformation of the Church.
Reformation teachings that identify the Pope as the Beast of Revelation and / or Roman Catholicism as Mystery Babylon are still common among Protestants. Clearly, anyone with this view is not going to "warm up" to Rome any time soon.
It is the other way around, sir. Catholics are not going to warm up to Protestants who say such nonsense.  The Catholic Church, though its leader is in Rome, is not Rome. The pope is chosen by the Holy Spirit. Have there been terrible popes? Of course, they're human. Was the Catholic Church founded in the 16th century or later? No, but all modern Protestant churches have been. What does that tell you? The the Catholic Church has its foundation in Christ's teaching from 33AD to the present. The 16th + century churches were made from hole cloth by their founders (who were certainly not Jesus Christ). No, Catholics are not going to "warm up" to people who call them the beast or accuse them of murder.
For the most part, today at least, the animosity comes from basic human nature when dealing with fundamental disagreement over eternal truths.
I whole-heartedly agree. The problem that Protestants don't seem to see is that there can only be one truth. You can't have hundreds of different truths--as there are in Protestantism. Every preacher is his own pope, his own authority on "truth"; he is the one who interprets the Scriptures and preaches his own gospel in a church he figuratively or actually built.
Passions are sure to ignite in the more weighty matters of life, and one's faith is (or at least should be) at the top of the heap. Many Protestants think Roman Catholics teach a works-gospel that cannot save, while Roman Catholics think Protestants teach easy-believism that requires nothing more than an emotional outburst brought on by manipulative preaching.
1) Paul, the Protestant's favorite writer, says that he is working out his salvation, trembling. There are certain things we do need to do to be saved. The first work of salvation is FAITH. "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (Jn 6:29 KJV) We must believe, not as the demons do ("Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2:19 KJV)), but as the saints in Heaven ("The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne (Rev. 4:10 KJV).

2) We do not believe that good works ALONE save us. This is what Protestants believe that we believe. No, Catholics do not believe that; do not preach that; do not advocate that. However, Catholics do believe that you must work out your salvation in the sense that Paul meant (" out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Phil. 2:12 KJV) -by the Sacraments (especially the Eucharist) and much prayer.  If Protestants don't believe that prayer is important in the plan of salvation (it is a "work" after all), why would they be doing it in the first place?

3) Many, many Protestant churches and individuals do believe in "easy-believism." When a church advocates the "sinners prayer" is all you need to be saved--what do you call that? Many Protestant churches don't believe there is any salvific merit in the "Lord's Supper" or baptism. Things that Jesus commanded us to do. "Do this in memory of Me." "Go into all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Both from memory) I, as a Catholic, don't understand why Jesus Christ's commands are not important to Protestants.
Protestants blame Catholics for worshipping Mary,...
Blaming Catholics for what? Accusing them you mean? This accusation started after the "Reformation", as all the leading "reformers" did respect and honor Mary.

Luther said, "The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart."
(Sermon, September 1, 1522)

And, "One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God's grace . . . Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ . . . Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God. (Explanation of the Magnificat, 1521)

We honor Mary, ironically as Luther said, not for her sake, "but for the sake of Christ." We do not "worship" Mary. We worship God, in Holy Trinity, alone.
...and Catholics think Protestants are apparently too dull to understand the distinctions Rome has made in this regard.
I don't believe that to be true. Catholics, in my opinion, get tired of explaining the difference between honoring someone and worshipping them. Protestants aren't too dull, just too stubborn to see another side to the honoring of Mary but the erroneous opinion they believe it to be.
These caricatures are often difficult to overcome.
An "answer" like yours to this question, certainly will not help in overcoming the difficulties of this question, either.
Behind the particular disagreements over the role of faith and works, the sacraments (sic), the canon of Scripture, the role of the priesthood, prayer to saints, and all the issues surrounding Mary and the Pope, etc., lies the biggest rift between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism: the issue of authority. How one answers the authority question will generally inform all the other issues.
Again, I would whole-heartedly agree. The issue is authority, not any of those petty things Protestants gripe about. Our authority is Jesus Christ and His Apostles. Every point of dogma and doctrine is based in those two authorities. All the councils, all the popes, every Father and Doctor of the Church, every theologian, down to the priests today studied, prayed over, discussed debated, and argued over doctrine. Jesus promised His apostles that He would send someone (the Holy Spirit) Who would guide them into "all truth." He kept His promise--the result is the Body of Christ present in the Catholic Church today.

The fact that Protestants think that they know better than 2,000 years of Holy Spirit-guided Catholic theologians seems more like arrogance than truth. 
When it comes down to deciding a theological issue about defined Catholic dogma, there isn't really much to discuss on the Catholic's side because once Rome speaks it is settled. This is a problem when trying to debate a Roman Catholic -- reason and Scripture are not the Catholic's final authority; they can always retreat into the "safe zone" of Roman Catholic authority.
This statement is a little insulting. In my opinion, he is calling us too dull to debate--what he accuses us of thinking of Protestants. Catholics are too stupid to debate Protestants because they can always "retreat" to Catholic authority and not reason. Really? You really believe that all Protestants who debate Catholics debate more reasonably? All, and I do mean each and every, Catholic dogma has its basis in Scripture, and, yes, all "defined" Catholic dogma must be believed by Catholics. Otherwise, we would be Protestants believing any old opinion we happen to agree with.

All dogma, if not found explicitly in Scripture, it is found implicitly and became a dogma after much prayer, interpretation and study by theologians (many dogmas for centuries). All of Catholic dogma is reasoned and is Scriptural. All Catholic dogma has been debated for almost two millenia. The reason Catholics "fall back" on Catholic authority is because it is inspired, proven Truth.

Seriously, how can Protestants have the Truth when they all disagree on so, so many things. How can there be many truths? ie, on what one must do to be saved, on baptism, on versions of the Bible, on communion, on what day of the week to worship on, on when or whether or not to celebrate Easter, etc, etc, etc. How can there be a truth to any of these things, if Protestants, all claiming the guidance of the Holy Spirit? I'm sorry but I don't see that as "reason"ed.
Thus, many of the arguments between a Protestant and a Catholic will revolve around one's "private interpretation" of Scripture as against "official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church."
Protestants have and do, continually, rely on their "private interpretation" of Scripture, many times with Scriptures either taken out of context or proof-texted in such a way as to be a veritable quilt of theology--patched together but not necessarily going together. They piece their theology together and step back and think, that is perfect. When, in reality, nothing goes together.
Catholics claim to successfully avoid the legitimate problems of private interpretation by their reliance on their tradition. But this merely pushes the question back a step.
Actually, what Catholics claim, again my opinion, that the issues that they argue with Protestants has been argued and argued for a millenia and a half. They get tired of the same old Protestant interpretations and prejudices. Catholic theologians much smarter than the author of that article or me argued the very same theological points long before any Protestant came along. It certainly does not take a step back, in point of fact, it is skipping an unnecessary step--reinterpreting for the thousandth times thousandth time any theological issue has been argued.
The truth is that both Roman Catholics and Protestants must, in the end, rely upon their reasoning abilities (to choose their authority) and their interpretive skills (to understand what that authority teaches) in order to determine what they will believe.
Ok. At least here the author, accidentally, admits that Catholics do reason and have some skill in arguing. All Catholic converts I know (I am a convert to Catholicism) have reasoned and interpreted "to determine what they will believe."  I know that I, personally, challenged the Holy Spirit to convince me, if the Catholic Church were true. He, personally, answered my every challenge, including issues about the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is why I became a member of the True Body of Christ.
Protestants are simply more willing to admit that this is the case.
Not true. If this is your idea of dissipating hostilities, you run short sir. Catholics do reason, and learn to do so in religious education, Catholic schools, and Catholic universities and seminaries. The picture you attempt to paint of unreasoning, ignorant, or mindless Catholics is defamatory. I don't know any Catholic that thinks Protestants are dull (your word). However, I do believe that the fact that the vocabulary of the Protestants differs from that of Catholics and thus the misunderstandings.
Both sides can also be fiercely loyal to their family's faith or the church they grew up in without much thought to doctrinal arguments.
I would agree with this statement with one caveat: Catholics do not preach anti-Protestantism in their churches; many a Protestant pulpit, however, is used to malign Catholics and their faith.
Obviously, there are a lot of possible reasons for the division between Catholicism and Protestantism, and while we should not divide over secondary issues, both sides agree that we must divide when it comes to primary issues.
What are secondary issues? Mary? Baptism? The Eucharist? What are the primary issues that Protestants hold dear? The only one I know common to all Protestants is "Scripture alone" or is it "by faith alone" or "God alone"? I hear so many versions of so-called "sola scriptura" or Scripture is the sole rule of faith for Christians, that I can't tell what this "truth" is either.
Beyond that, we can agree to disagree and worship where we find ourselves most in agreement. When it comes to Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, the differences are just too great to ignore.
But...but, you just said "we should not divide over secondary issues." Now the differences are "just too great to ignore." Huh? Why aren't the differences in the many, many sects of Protestantism "too great to ignore?" In my eyes, it seems that Protestants think, "We are not Catholic, therefore we are all united in truth." That is just not a reasoned argument for the unity of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is quite physically visible in the Catholic Church.
However, that does not give license for caricatures or ignorant judgments – both sides need to be honest in their assessments and try not to go beyond what God has revealed.
Yet, you give several caricatures and ignorant judgments of Catholics in this article.

"Go beyond what God has revealed?" Nothing in Catholic doctrine is "beyond what God has revealed." All of it, in fact, was revealed by God the Holy Spirit.

He goes on to recommend a book on Protestantism compared to Catholicism--of course, from a purely Protestant perspective, and I believe would include the propaganda and "caricatures" revealed in this article.