What Sort of Kinship?

In the discussion following an earlier post, a friend asked me how close a kinship I see myself having with the present-day Roman church.

Answering that question prompted me to reflect a little on how my perspective has shifted over the last few years. Five years ago, I would have had a very easy time answering that question: I would have just laid out my beliefs next to the Roman Catechism, and compared. “We agree here, and here, not there, here’s okay…whoa! Not on that one…,” and so on.

Kinship, in other words, was a matter of common belief.  We were as closely related as our doctrinal statements.

This has the handy effect of making kinship an entirely at-will relationship.  Change your doctrinal statement, and we’re not relatives anymore — or maybe we just go from being brothers to being distant cousins.

And it’s just as foolish as that analogy.  You can’t write something on a piece of paper that will make your brother no longer your brother, and instead a third cousin or something.  You may, of course, change the nature of your legal relationship under certain circumstances.  However, no matter what it says on the legal paperwork, he is your brother; this is a fact of history and biology and it can’t be changed by fiat, or by anything else, for that matter.

Likewise, those who share a saving relationship with Jesus Christ are fellow children of the Father, and we are all brothers, no matter what our differences might be.

I am not suggesting that common belief is unimportant — far from it!  But common belief is not the whole picture.  There are other forces at work here.  Each of us is born into a certain family, and we are also part of a certain stream of tradition within our common faith.  These things place us in relationship with all sorts of people that we might not have chosen, but we didn’t do the choosing — God did.  I am Protestant by birth.  More narrowly, I am a part of the independent, nondenominational Bible church tradition.  More narrowly yet, I was born into the Florida Bible College tradition — both parents are alumni, and FBC was a major formative influence for them.  Through my parents I have a certain relationship with Ray Stanford, whom I never met, and Mark Cambron, whom I only met once.  They were instrumental in founding FBC, and taught my parents there.  Even though I did later choose to study under his tutelage, I have the same sort of relationship with Dick Seymour, because much of what my parents taught me, they learned from him.

In an important way, I could sever all these connections by converting to a different strand of the Christian tradition: Lutheranism, or the Roman or Eastern churches, for example.  Furthermore, most of the people in my past would agree that by converting, I had severed my connections with the Protestant, Bible-church, FBC tradition.  They’d be half right.  But they’d also be half wrong.

Again, there is that pesky saving relationship with Jesus to consider, and it doesn’t just go away when my doctrinal statement changes.  If I suddenly run off and join the Oriental Orthodox churches (not gonna happen, but just to talk about it), I do not sever my connection to Christ.  I am still a member of the Body.  And–not to put too fine a point on it–when the Oriental Orthodox churches gather on the morning of the Lord’s Day to pray and worship, they worship and pray to Yahweh, the Maker of heaven and earth, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob–which is to say, the true God.  Weird as we may find their worship, filled with bells and smells and strange pictures, they are nonetheless in communion with the same God we serve.*  If I were to join them, I’d be joining a group of people who love, serve and pray to the same God I do, and I’d be continuing to love, serve and pray to Him, not to some other god.

Second, and just at a practical level: How would I convert?  By changing my present beliefs and practice, correct?  But that won’t change the past, and so there’s also an important way in which my connection to my heritage can never be severed.  It is a fact of history, and I can’t change it.

The modernist response to this is to shrug and say, “So what?  I didn’t pick to be born into this tradition; I don’t owe it anything.”  But we know that this kind of thinking is not in tune with the way God made the world.  I didn’t pick my parents, but I must honor them nonetheless.  I didn’t pick the country where I was born, but Jesus still tells me to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  So here’s the question: what sort of honor is due to our ecclesiastical heritage?  And how do we give due honor while still holding that heritage up to biblical critique, which we most certainly must do?

I’m not sure I have a well-rounded, wise answer to that question yet, but I’m pretty sure that pretending my heritage doesn’t exist isn’t it–and that heritage goes all the way back through the Reformers, through the medieval Roman church, through the (relatively) undivided church of the seven-ish ecumenical councils, through the early persecuted church to the apostles.  All of it.

*Point of clarification: this is not to say that everything about this worship is God-honoring.  In fact, there are elements of the worship in the Eastern churches in which I could not participate in good conscience.  That’s a separate debate.  The point I’m making here is that the worship is, in fact, addressed to Yahweh, the Triune God of Scripture, which is to say, the same God.

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14 Responses to What Sort of Kinship?

  1. Greg says:

    Great blog thank you for having it. I really appreciate what you have posted so far and look forward to reading more from you soon. We need more sites like this on the internet. Good, Christian sites proclaiming the word of the Lord. I have a Bible blog @ http://www.gottb.com that I hope you will check out and let me know what you think. God’s Peace!

  2. Duane Watts says:

    Hi Tim!
    I’ve read you over at Jim’s and other places, decided to drop in to see what you’re writing,
    Interesting article.
    I was surprised that you are offspring of FBC. I am also, with a blend of MBI as one grafted in you might say. I just happened to mention that last night at Jim’s or Sanc’s, I forget which. My cross country buddy in high school had gained a reputation as a witness for Christ, not in so many words, so I talked to him after school (1978). He shared John 3:16 with me, and the rest is HIStory. (Boy that sounded simple didn’t it!)
    I was curious that you refer to diverse denominations e.g. eastern rite churches as brothers. Most of free grace would not think of anyone who mixes leaven with their grace as brothers. I for one, know the depth of God’s Grace: absolutely free forever! I am interested to know, as I think is Jim and Sanc (Michele) has expressed some interest to know the breadth of God’s Grace: how much variation in “Believing only in Jesus Christ only for eternal life eternally secure” is allowed for Eternal God to account it as “[he] believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness”.

    I met Dick Seymour in my former church here in E. PA.
    about 9 years ago. He signed my book.

    Anyhow, glad your Here.

    Your Brother, IN Jesus Christ,

    Duane

  3. Duane Watts says:

    I just came back and saw I did not say what “book”:
    My “PE” book (PERSONAL EVANGELISM).

    Duane

  4. Gary says:

    Hi Tim:

    Read your post. Thought you may have been referring to my previous post. Thanks for the helpful confirming link to verify.

    Let me begin this with a simple foundation, the only foundation which is Christ, as one Apostle said. As you said, the “pesky saving relationship with Jesus” we must consider.

    Now the same Apostle made a very emphatic statement about proclamations of false versions of The Good News.

    So let’s just keep on topic of this pesky relationship we must all consider and go no further for now, irrespective of history, your’s, my pagan beginnings, or anyone elses personal beginnings. Let’s just set history aside for the time being.

    And let’s stay with one group for the moment, RC, since my question to you had to do with your perceived kinship with this group.

    Being much better versed than I on groups, what is your thinking on the current day RC version of The Good News?

    Do we truly have a pesky relationship to consider here?

    Please do not consider my question to be rhetorical. Your thinking is valued by this “friend.”

  5. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Sorry to be so long getting back to you — been recovering from the things that accrued whilst I was out of the country.
    The answer to your first question is that, thank God, the Roman church is not monolithic. Measured by the Catechism, there are enormous problems with their version of the gospel, the sort of problems created when God raises up reformers in a church and the church expels them instead of hearing them — which is, of course, exactly what happened. But I’ve yet to encounter two adherents of Rome that believed the same things, and this is in no small measure due to the fact that the Catechism is self-contradictory. It maintains that saving grace is all of God, on the one hand, and then that human works matter in such a way that the person who does not work will not be saved, on the other. I have heard a learned Roman priest maintain that suicide was a mortal sin, but then be unwilling to say that a person who jumped off a skyscraper had gone to hell — what if he repented on the way down? My own thought, in response: what if he didn’t think of repenting, but just cried out to Christ to save him, for the first time in his life? I’ve met a number in the Roman church who would say, “Then we’ll see him in heaven.”

    The decrees of Trent are an act of high rebellion against God. While Rome has not repudiated Trent — and she should have, long since — she did effectively contradict a number of its decrees in Vatican II. The present Roman version of the good news, taken whole, as for example in the Catechism, is at best, muddled, more likely confusing to the point of blasphemy, and at worst a continuation of Trent.

    But then there’s your second question. I know people in the Roman church who are indisputably believers. I know others who are horribly confused, who talk like believers one minute and like straightforward Pelagians the next. Don’t know what they are, but since we believe in eternal security, we have to consider the possibility that they are also believers. For example, consider a fellow who, taken with desperation at the depth of his own sins, sees the worthlessness of all his righteous acts in comparison and flings himself on Christ’s mercy alone, momentarily convinced that all his works don’t matter worth a darn. The priest may have comforted this distressed lamb and set him back to saying his rosary, but that guy is saved nonetheless, and saved eternally. From the folks I know, actually, I suspect that this is the case rather often.

    Of course there are others who hold up their prayers and righteous acts as a club with which they hope to fend off the judgment of God. This has always been their hope, and if they hold fast to it until they die, they are doomed. But then we have some who seem to think that passing a soteriology exam correctly is the price of admission to heaven. They don’t really believe that God will save them by grace; they believe that God will save those who can answer the questions right — which is trying to fend off God’s judgment with a different stick. If this person has always clung to this hope, and continues until death, damnation awaits him just as certainly as the one who depends on other, more visible works, and I suspect there are more of these than we think.

    All that to say yes, in a great number of cases, I think there is a pesky personal relationship with Christ to consider. And in the case of the institution, it is analogous perhaps to the Yahweh cult in the northern kingdom in the days of Jeroboam the son of Nebat — worship in the name of Yahweh rather than Moloch or Ba’al, but by way of a golden calf, which is to say, right God, blasphemously wrong worship. Here too, I would say that evangelicals frequently have their own version of the same thing.

    So in the spectrum of Christian churches that desperately need to repent, Rome is way out at the far end, poor, wretched, blind and naked, reeking of brimstone. Just next to the ELCA and the more pharisaical independent Baptist churches.

  6. Tim Nichols says:

    Duane,

    Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I’ve been out of the country, and then recovering from same.

    I have an old PE book myself, one of the old green ones — inherited it from my grandmother, I think. Still a very useful tool. Speaking of Dr. Seymour and books, if you haven’t read Fishing for Men, you should. It’s a treasure–a lifetime of study and obedient application distilled to about two hundred pages.

    I understand your surprise at some of the folk I would reckon brothers, and you’re right that most free grace folk would not. I believe that most free grace folk have their own favored mix of leaven and grace, in which they begin to act as though the price of admission to heaven is a good score on a soteriology exam. My reply is that I believe in eternal security and they do not.

    Oh, they say they do. They do believe in eternal security for the little kid that believes the gospel at age eight at a church camp, then grows up to be the next Ted Bundy. But upon meeting a lifelong member of the Eastern or Roman churches, they blithely assume that he could not be saved, and this reveals a wicked dependence on theology exam scores for salvation.

    Probe a Roman or Eastern Christian’s relationship with God, and you often find that at some point in the person’s life, he felt the crushing weight of his sins and the inadequacy of all his works and prayers, and casting them all aside flung himself on the grace of Christ alone. As I read the church fathers and the writings of the saints, I find this to be the case more often than not, and I find it in the people I meet as well. Such a person may then go back to lighting candles, saying the rosary, or kissing icons, but we believe in eternal security, do we not?

    So — brothers, albeit confused ones. Thanks be to God for the depths of His mercy, and may He sanctify them from their errors and me from mine.

  7. Gary says:

    Tim:

    Didn’t know you were out of the Country. Welcome back. No problem on delays, busy here too.

    So, if I understand you correctly, through all the history and detail, at the end of the day it boils down to foundation checking of each individual as best we can (1Cor 3:11) for this pesky relationship with Jesus you so appropriately highlighted. If this is a correct understanding of what you are saying, I am in agreement and I can proceed.

    From there your question is “what sort of honor is due to our ecclesiastical heritage. And how do we give due honor while still holding that heritage up to biblical critique?”

    As I previously inferred, I have no close personal ecclesiastical heritage based upon family upbringing. If I go back a couple generations I find some RC. I have spoken to my one living relative of that generation and I am comfortable with her foundation, although I’m not certain I understood exactly how she came to it through her RC ecclesiastical heritage. It seems it may be through some somewhat rebellious members of the heritage who are still functioning to some degree within the system for whatever reasons. It may also have to do with her age and thus her exposure over 8-9 decades.

    Your questions are indeed good ones and knowing you to the somewhat limited degree I do, I know the questions are meaningful.

    From a perspective of current day traditions and divisions rather than distant heritage that has lead to them, as one with no real ties to any denomination or group, I have found myself to be troubled within most all traditions I have attended.

    One of the reasons I met you in Seminary was my discontent with what traditions have become by my day and my desire to just want to know the Truth, or the Person as you have said elsewhere.

    As you have also basically said, this is not really about doctrinal statements. Biblically, I see this to be about relationships, both vertical and horizontal. And as I understand mainly Jesus, Paul, and John, the horizontal relationship is paramount because it is a determining proof of the vertical one.

    I guess for me at this point of my growth, which certainly has a ways to go, I have found most of the heritages and traditions greatly wanting. Among the most wanting for me has been RC as I remember the short experience of attendance.

    You mention the love for God that different groups have as they worship in their various ways. I may or may not agree with you. And the main reason for this is I’m not certain that we all well know what it means to love God or neighbor or one another these days. And I say this because I have doubts that we know what love itself means today.

    I have asked many in christendom to give me their best shot at defining this overused term and I’ve yet to get much of a pointed definition or explanation from any of them. I’ve studied it relatively extensively and I am well into the process of having some thoughts on it that I believe most of the traditionalized and unknowingly secularized within christendom will reject. But that’s not an issue for me at this point because the only heritage I’m really concerned about, rightly or wrongly, is the one that begins at the pesky relationship, based upon the only Foundation, and based upon the building on that Foundation with lasting quality materials.

    I guess, Tim, I’m thinking your question may cause us to try to walk through a minefield for which I’m not certain I see end or value. Can you explain what you’re seeking to establish? Can one explain how traditions, and heritage, and worship routines, and so on, and so on, are really meaningful to men and to God if they are not stated by God to be important to Him and still a part of this time?

    Jesus Christ boiled the entire OT down to two commands and He added the 2nd as like/equal in force to the 1st when really just asked about a commandment. John later explained that if we’re not keeping the 2nd, then we’re not keeping the first. Paul does an amazing dissertation on the topic that I hear little about (not that I read enough of the works of men in the various traditions).

    I guess to summarize, I am currently positioned as one who cares little about heritages unless they help me and others to know the Truth/Jesus and what our Father would have of us. And ultimately this seems to be summarized in one simple little overused word that few, if any, can comprehensively define.

  8. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Yes, you understand me correctly. We don’t get to say that if you go to The Free Grace Church Of Justification By Faith Alone, then you’re going to heaven. Likewise, we don’t get to say that if you go to a Roman church, or a Kingdom Hall for that matter, you’re going to hell. In the end, we go to heaven and hell by ones, and so we have to look for an individual relationship with Christ.

    (For the rest here, upon re-reading it, I worry that it may sound condescending. Please don’t take it that way; I am not departing from my high respect for you — just trying to make a couple of points strongly and clearly.)

    Regarding heritage: As you say, you don’t have familial heritage like I do. I don’t have a word for the sort of heritage you have, but I can describe it thus: whoever taught you the basics of the Trinity was standing on the shoulders of the fathers of Nicea and First Constantinople. Whoever taught you about the hypostatic union was standing on the shoulders of the fathers of Chalcedon. Whoever taught you about justification by faith was standing on the shoulders of the Reformers. Whoever taught you about the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture was standing on the shoulders of J. Gresham Machen and his compatriots. You have no formal confessional allegiances in the way that I do, but you have a heritage nonetheless. Phrases like “Trinity,” “hypostatic union,” “faith alone in Christ alone,” and “verbal, plenary inspiration” are in your vocabulary, and those phrases are not found in the Bible; they are irrefutable evidence of a debt to these men.

    Of course, in a certain way, all these men were just passing down what the Bible said, and what they had to say was so good because they were rephrasing inspired source material. Most evangelicals would conclude on that basis that allegiance is owed only to the Scriptures and not to the fathers. But this rephrasing of timeless truth exposed post-apostolic heresies for what they were. This was (and is) a real contribution to the church, one which continues to yield fruit, and is part of our training and discipleship to this day. In terms of the two commandments, maybe we could say that it’s not okay to stop loving your brothers or honoring your fathers just because they’ve fallen asleep.

    You said “Can one explain how traditions, and heritage, and worship routines, and so on, and so on, are really meaningful to men and to God if they are not stated by God to be important to Him and still a part of this time?” I don’t agree with the premise; God did say tradition was important to Him. Paul commended the Corinthians for keeping the traditions as he had transmitted them (including at least one that they didn’t understand, but still were obeying). On the other hand, he blasted the Colossians for bowing to ideas according to the traditions of men and not according to Christ. It is not whether we will have traditions but which ones we will have, and those we want are according to Christ and not just human invention. But traditions in accord with Christ didn’t just start happening last week; we have 2000 years of God’s people developing philosophy and tradition according to Christ (see above re. “hypostatic union.”)
    Refusal to engage with our history is dishonest (since we are beneficiaries, whether we admit it or not) and foolish. In a multitude of counselors is safety, Proverbs says, and when we refuse to listen to any counsel outside our century, we are cutting ourselves off from two millennia of counselors that God has given us.

    We often think that whatever is of value in the traditions is in the Bible anyway, so why sweat it? If it’s in the Bible, we’ll find it; if not, why worry about it? We all recognize this as dangerous error when an individual commits it, and consequently refuses to hear any teaching. Why would we fail to recognize the same error when an entire generation does it, and sweepingly dismisses the faith and obedience of two millennia of dead guys as irrelevant to today? Cultures and generations have collective blind spots just as individual people do, and they need biblical critique from others — other cultures, other times — just as individuals do.

    The common response I encounter at this point in the conversation is that Proverbs is talking about wise counselors, and the Church Fathers are anything but. I don’t really know how to meet this answer except to say that teenagers think the same thing of their parents, for the same reasons. They don’t see things the way I do. (Yeah — isn’t that wonderful?) They’re fallible. (Well, sure. Your point?) God can speak to me on my own, without them. (Yup–but He also speaks through them. Ignore them at your peril.)
    These teenagers usually find that by the time they’ve turned 25 or so, Mom and Dad have “become” much wiser — Of course the wisdom was there all along, but now the teenagers have begun to listen.
    Similarly, the people who think the Fathers have nothing to offer just haven’t read them with serious attention, understanding, and Christian charity.

    You wrote, “I am currently positioned as one who cares little about heritages unless they help me and others to know the Truth/Jesus and what our Father would have of us.” Indeed. What is it that you think Christ’s church has been singing, praying, and writing about for the last twenty centuries? Why is it that you think God’s people have preserved many of these songs, prayers and writings, if not for this very purpose? Not to put too fine a point on it, but what is it that you think I find so useful in our heritage, if not its assistance in walking with God and growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ?

    You continue: “And ultimately this seems to be summarized in one simple little overused word that few, if any, can comprehensively define.”
    You’ll find no shortage of fragrant saints who have wrestled with the issue–many of them no longer alive. You’ve had no qualms about inquiring of various folks in the minority of God’s people that are still on the planet; what about the rest of them? (Maybe start with the last portion of Augustine’s Enchiridion, (section 117 to the end), or search CCEL for “love.”)

  9. Gary says:

    Tim:

    Thanks for the “condescending” disclaimer. In my view, these types of chats are not the best to maintain understanding of attitudes. Condescending is not what I’ve known to expect from you, and no issue here with strong and clear communication.

    Firstly, in regards to the exegetical forms of heritage you describe, I concur with you completely and relish standing on the shoulders of those who have done the hard work and fought the hard battles to pass on truth to us. It is not this form of heritage in regards to progressive revelation I understood you to be questioning. Maybe I have misunderstood you.

    In regards to traditions, I would agree that they are important to God, and I would agree that Paul indeed had something to say about them in both a positive and a negative light. On the other hand, I would question what traditions Paul actually spoke of and I would question your statement about only 2000 years of development. I’m not so certain we should be taking in so much of Rome and simply denying the several millennia of heritage of our Lord and those our God inspired to write for Him. So your concern about refusing to listen to any counsel outside of our century is probably a misunderstanding of my meaning.

    In regards to the faith and obedience of two millennia of dead guys, I think this may be a very important statement for me, and maybe for our discussion. Faith and obedience is probably a main point for me in possibly any biblical discussion I have. Through studies on both topics, I find no credible way to not view them as 2 sides of the same coin. (As an aside, you mentioned obedience in regards to the Good News in a past posting. I was quite pleased to see that. If ever the Good News topic is tackled again, I will be watching closely to see what you have to say, and will most certainly have some things to discuss). So when we discuss something like traditions, faith and obedience is most certainly a concern. Paul probably had this in mind when he had something negative and something positive to say about traditions.

    Now, your “indeed” question concerning what I think Christ’s Church has been singing, praying, and writing about for the past twenty centuries is probably one where your disclaimer becomes pertinent. I have not in my mind attempted to discredit what you find useful in your walk. I have read what you have written about liturgy, and music, and such things, and, frankly, I’ve been refreshed by it. I am not comfortable in the least with most of the contemporary forms of supposed worship. I find your search interesting and informative or I would not read what you have to say.

    In regards to “love” or any other important topic so prevalent in the Text, I have and do venture far outside of my contemporaries. But I will admit to using most of the time I have to study in the Bible itself. I find that God pretty much explains how He uses words if we persevere and He reveals during detailed studies.

    I guess at this point I should just ask you to pinpoint your use of the phrase “ecclesiastical heritage” that you have asked a question about giving due honor to. You speak of tradition, worship, doctrines, songs, prayer, and possibly more if I were to go back and check again. Maybe my answer is in my question – are you asking about every aspect of your thinking and practice in regards to The Faith? If so, it’s quite a question in this late portion of the 2nd millennia since the departure of our Lord. With 2000 years of the workings of men’s hearts within Christendom to sort through, who is up to the task? Now add in some Messianic thinking and interpretation, and…

    My original question that you began this post with had to do with your kinship with current day Rome. As I recall, I was asking the question within the perspective of your thinking on current day RC practices. Do you find their Gospel to be accurate? Do you find their communion practice to be proper, or their confessionals, or their hail Mary’s, or the authority of the so-called “Holy Father” over Scripture, or supposed sainthood concepts, or……? I think my question really had to do with your perceived kinship with apostate religion.

    I would agree that there is much to be gained from faithful and obedient men through time and that it is foolish to think otherwise as if God were going to give to me many millennia of revelation apart from those before me. I don’t think my original question was that deep and it certainly carried no demeaning intent other than against apostasy. I get a bit guarded around conversation that touches on apostate religion and I like to have some level of clarity about personal positions on such things under discussion.

  10. Gary says:

    Tim:

    A short follow-up.

    Thanks for the references to the CCEL material. The Augustine reference was a nice read but not what I’m looking for. And the CCEL search provided over 33000 references and I’m growing too old for such an endeavor.

    So, as I mentioned in my previous post, the persevering exegetical study of the Text is where I redeem most of my time while periodically venturing out into our ecclesistical exegetical heritage.

    Thanks again.

  11. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    You’re right that this isn’t the best medium. Oh, well. So if I’m hearing you correctly, I answered a question you weren’t asking. Thanks for your patience as we sort all this out. Let me take another run at it, and see if I can answer the question you were asking.

    The Roman church before the Reformation was confused and corrupt and badly in need of the Reformers that God raised up for exactly that reason. After the Council of Trent, the Roman church is what you get when God in His mercy brings reformers to a church, and instead of hearing them, the church throws them out and hardens its heart against future reform. At Trent, Rome officially and formally made herself apostate.

    (Lots of folks would point out that Tridentine doctrine is already extant in the Roman church before that time, and would therefore want to push the date of apostasy back much further. This is a perfectionistic and wicked tendency. Individually and corporately, all sorts of sin and nonsense accrues in our lives. I would hope that we would be charitable enough to think of one another in terms of what we do when it’s brought to our attention rather than just the fact that it’s there. Even David was counted a man after God’s own heart–but he repented and forsook his sin when confronted with it. At the Reformation, Rome was confronted with these issues, and I believe that by refusing to repent, she went from being a church that contained apostate believers to an apostate church.)

    My differences with the present Roman church include vital differences in doctrine, baptismal practice, liturgy, sacramentology generally, the Lord’s Table, and on we go. The discussion would range from justification by faith all the way to which way the priest faces when he blesses the bread, and include everything in between. Lots goes wrong when you harden your heart for five centuries.

    All of this does not, however, lead me to the conclusion that Rome is a different religion. It leads me to the conclusion that Rome is in a far worse position than if she were merely pagan–she is an apostate church of Jesus Christ; she names the name of Christ and offers blasphemous worship in that holy name, justifying this by twisting Scripture and (in practice) elevating the testimony of men above that of God. The corresponding judgment will be all the greater as a result. But she is a Christian church, albeit a fallen one, and I too am in a Christian church, which is a sort of kinship. We hold as our common heritage the Roman church from early days until the early 1500s, which is also a sort of kinship. When I quote Aquinas or Duns Scotus, and somebody says “Wasn’t he a Catholic?” the answer is “Yeah. Where was your church in 1250?” What comes before the split is common property, even if we don’t particularly like it or want it, and acknowledging this fact does not imply approval of what comes after the split.

    Am I closer here to answering what you actually were asking?

  12. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Sorry Enchiridion wasn’t helpful, and I certainly understand your reluctance to tackle 33k references in CCEL. If I might mention a feature you may have missed, when you run the CCEL search, there’s a “title” tab that will find your search term in titles. This knocks down the number of hits to something more manageable, as well as focusing on works that are particularly addressing the subject area in question. Might prove helpful. Then again, might not — just thought I’d mention it; it’s a strategy I’ve used to winnow CCEL search results before. In truth, I mostly use CCEL when I already know which book I want to look in.

    But the bulk of our time should be spent in Scripture, and I certainly have no quarrel with you devoting your time to that. I’d love to hear what you find out.

  13. Gary says:

    Tim:

    I guess when I saw your original question regarding ecclesiastical heritage, I oversimplified it in my thinking as basically a question as to, How do we do Church?

    I’m going to leave this discussion unfinished as I’ve just read your latest post on Liturgy. Let me just say that I find your search very refreshing and to be something we are in great need of, in my opinion, for whatever its worth. So, I’ll watch and learn as you keep us updated on how you determine to do Church.

    Thanks for the writing.

  14. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,
    Thanks for your kind words. I’ll look forward to your feedback.

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