Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Who Are our Brethren?
I believe that the Roman Catholic Church, as a denomination, has very serious and dangerous errors in its doctrines and practice. If I did not believe this I would be a Roman Catholic today. Some Protestants believe that the Roman Catholic Church is completely apostate and not a “Church” of Jesus Christ at all. I do not believe this to be so.

Some Protestants believe that a Church cannot have doctrinal error and still be “Christian” Church. Of course these very same Protestants bleong to denominations that have their own errors, this is so because every church and every Christian is in error at some point. I think it is important to look at the Scriptures to find the biblical pattern of what is a (the?) true Church. Every church and every denomination today, every denomination in the past and in the future will err in doctrine and practice at some point(s). This does not necessarily make any of them apostate.

I have a broader understanding of what a true Church is than many (most) Reformed Christians. I believe the ancient creeds are a good measure and limit of what can be considered a “true” church. The Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Creed of Saint Athanasius and the statement of Chalcedon dealing with dual nature Christ, are the limits that we can go to in considering what is a Christian Church. Those outside these statements are no Christian Churches.

The Roman Catholic Church falls well within those broad parameters. I was baptised in the RCC and I received true, Trinitarian, Christian baptism.

When Paul was on his missionary journeys he went to the synagogues in each city that he visited. These synagogues were not the place to find the whole truth. They did not preach Christ and Him crucified; yet they were formerly true houses of worship. Paul did not shun them but went there to bring the truth.

If you read the epistles of Paul, you will find that most of them are written to churches that have grave doctrinal errors, yet in almost every case he greets the members of these churches as “brethren.” For example The Corinthian Church had serious problems, on many fronts. Some of its problems were moral, another problem was it’s was division into camps and there were doctrinal errors, yet in spite of this Paul writes and calls them “brethren.”

To the church of the Colossians he says, “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse.” Yet we know these believers had very serious errors in doctrine. They even prayed through intermediaries other than Christ, and Paul had to reprove them for this serious error.

To the churches of Galatia Paul admits these churches to be “true” churches. Notice also, that even to these most of erring of believers, after some very harsh words, Paul still refers to them as “brethren.” Remember these are “brethren” who are receiving “another” gospel, which is not a Gospel at all. Still Paul deals with these churches as Christian churches and with these people as Christian brethren.

I would also invite you to look at the seven Churches addressed in the book of Revelation. Here we have the Lord himself addressing these churches in Asia Minor. Some are solid and others are horribly in error, yet they are all addressed as churches of Jesus Christ.

I am Reformed. I hold to Covenant theology and paedobaptism and worship our covenant keeping God in that light. I believe that religious syncretism is sin and we should shun it. I do believe that the Roman Catholic Church has not done this at all points, but this does not mean that they are not a true church, nor does it mean that I cannot go there with my grandfather, who is a Roman Catholic and a man who loves Christ.

I do those Christians who disagree with me on this point will look carefully at the churches in the New Testament. They have, at times, serious and dangerous errors, and these errors are dealt with by the Apostles or Christ, sometimes they are dealt with severally, yet these same churches are considered real churches and the members of these churches are addressed as brethren.

I strongly believe that the Bible gives a broader view of what constitutes a “true” church then many modern Christians will admit. I also believe that the Word of God shows who we are to consider “brethren” is broader than many church members today will agree with.

Coram Deo,


GumboFilé said...

I don't know that the Roman situation is analogized by Paul. It was the Roman church that anathematized the reformers, and continues to anathematize their spritual descendants. In my mind this is the main thing that continues to divide us.

Cajun Huguenot said...

Rome did take the initiative and did excommunicate the Reformers and then at Trent they anathematised many of the core Protestant doctrines.

I wish more Protestants had a better understanding of these things. They should not be forgotten or ignored. The Roman Pontiffs of the 16th and 17th centuries gave their blessings to the slaughter of countless thousands of Protestants. This too should not be forgotten.

But I do believe we need look around and take a look at where things stand today. The gulf between us is still very wide. I don;t thing we should ignore or discount those differences. I've written about a number of them on earlier blogs.

Still, I think it is important to look at the limits of the faith and say who, braodly speaking, can I consider to fall under the umbrella of what is the Christian faith.

It think The early Creeds (Nicea, Apostles, etc...) meet this need.

Those are just my thoughts,
Ps. Thanks for the comments and glad to see you are now on Christian Forums (http://www.christianforums.com/f366-semper-reformanda-reformed.html)