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What Happens at the Eucharist

Posted by Remy on May 7, 2009

This is another brief foray into the benefits of eating with Jesus (spun from this post).

Because our God is a consuming fire when He draws near we are set afire and our impurities are removed.

To sit at the table is a call to be judged and we need to remember that not all judgements are bad. Our judgement in Jesus is “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

However, to cling to sin while eating and drinking in the presence of the Consuming Fire is to eat and drink damnation.

But what about those sins and errors which we do not know of or those vices we think are virtues? Just as the Spirit perfects our prayers so to the Spirit perfects our confessing and in the eating of the Body and drinking the Blood those sins are dealt with as leaven through a loaf. 

This is why the body of Christ should always eat. Eating in faith is how we are strengthened, how we are renewed. There is no half-way covenant, no secondclass Christians.

It is in this unity we have in Christ Jesus that we start with to pursue likemindedness in the rest of the world. Any attempt to achieve unity circumventing this unity in Christ is stupid, wrongheaded, and will ultimately fail. Maybe someday I’ll have the guts to really tell you how I feel about this.

38 Responses to “What Happens at the Eucharist”

  1. Matt Yonke said

    Your “impurities are removed” in the Eucharist?

    I mean seriously, at this point our disagreement over whether or not one needs sacramental confession for mortal sin to come to communion is largely boiling down to semantics. If you believe the Eucharist takes away your sins, what still keeps you from coming home?

    You don’t believe you are saved by faith alone apart from works, your doctrine of the Eucharist is almost identical to the blasphemous Romish Mass, you believe in the salvific power of baptism. You’ve renounced, like, all of the doctrines your forbears left Rome over. Let’s call a truce already. This schism is unbecoming.

  2. Remy said

    There is no home but Jesus. I am laboring in the body of believers the Lord has placed me among. I am best equipped to work here for the reformation and not else where.

    I still have loads of disagreement with Rome, but yes the division among us is unbecoming.

    As for the Reformers, they were just that, they weren’t innovators, they recovered the faith of the ancient church against the innovations of Rome. And I think by “left Rome” you mean “driven out by greed, envy, and threats of murder”.

  3. Josh said

    Remy-

    If the Eucharist does all of these heavenly spiritual works, where is the visible fruit of this on earth?

  4. Remy said

    I don’t follow.

    What if I say these heavenly spiritual works are the visible fruit on this earth? Is that cool?

  5. Yonke,

    From a Lutheran perspective the problem with Rome isn’t that they preach things like the Sacraments, but almost that they don’t preach them enough. That the Eucharist is received for the forgiveness of sins really wasn’t a point of contention. Thus Luther can say (In The Large Catechism no less):

    “Now examine further the efficacy and benefits on account of which really the Sacrament was instituted; which is also its most necessary part, that we may know what we should seek and obtain there. 21] Now this is plain and clear from the words just mentioned: This is My body and blood, given and shed for you, for the remission of sins. 22] Briefly that is as much as to say: For this reason we go to the Sacrament because there we receive such a treasure by and in which we obtain forgiveness of sins.”

    The heart of the Lutheran objection was to attempting to placate God by reciting a certain number of Hail Mary’s, or making a pilgrimage, etc. “I have gone to confession, do I have to now refrain from sex for seven years as a consequence of my sin?” “No. The Priest said ‘your sins are forgiven.’ Therefore your sins are forgiven.” “Should I refrain from the Eucharist (a very common practice, there were riots in England when they started giving communion to the people more than twice a year) because I am not worthy?” “No. The priest has said your sins are forgiven. And he speaks as Christ. Therefore your sins are forgiven. Come receive the Body and Blood of Christ.” “Must I go through the Theotokos–surely she loves me, even if Christ doesn’t?” “No. Christ loves you. See, I said ‘your sins are forgiven.’ Stop calling Christ a liar, and simply believe, which is to say, receive the Eucharist. Your faith is weak? You don’t believe well? Receive the Eucharist.”

    From the Lutheran perspective the Reformed Eucharist reintroduces works righteousness, in a far worse form than in Rome, by making faith a requirement for true reception. It is true that there is a tendency among Reformed to put a deadly “if” before the salvation in communion. Here you will find salvation, if you believe, if you have faith. I have serious objections to Remy’s position, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them.

  6. But I believe that at that time a practical consequence of the preaching (though, even I believe from a Lutheran perspective, not of the doctrine per se) was that there are indeed some unworthy Christians. You have sinned, and are contaminated by the world. Before you can receive, you must do such and such. And the content of that “such and such” (unless of course it is “confess your sins–perhaps even oracularly confess your sins”) is, of course, something in me that I must do before God will come to me, and is therefore works righteousness. The objection wasn’t to the forgiveness of sins in the Eucharist, but to the necessity to have your sins forgiven by doing something (aside from confessing them) before receiving the Eucharist. Receiving the Eucharist isn’t a work, it is to hear the Word of God, and faith in His Word implies reception. He said “This is my body given for you“, and “Take this and drink of it, all of you, this is my blood shed for the remission of sins.” Believe him, which is to say, receive. It shall be for you, and it shall remit your sins. Don’t worry if you are worthy. God has spoken to you telling you it is for you. Trust Him. It is.

  7. Interesting how Yonke immediately assumes that God “draws near” in the Eucharist.

    The Reformed view is that he draws near at the call to worship.

    Thus the appropriate time to have the impurities burned away is *before* the Thanksgiving offering. Our sins are taken away with confession and absolution, two things that all of the Magisterial Reformers (most definitely the Germans and the English) supported.

    Indeed, a case can be made that the medieval catholics were not sacramental enough, they certainly did not extent the appropriate sacraments to the people of God. The Reformers were all promoters of sacramental grace.

  8. Matt Yonke said

    Wedge,

    I’m not sure where I said what you attributed to me. I might have said it, but I don’t think I did in my comment above.

    I certainly believe that God is present in our worship from the moment we invoke the Triune name. My bad if I stated otherwise elsewhere.

    Rems,

    Ok, so how do we fix this thing. I do understand your ethos of working where you are, and that’s all well and good. But let’s start thinking bigger.

    If we’re going to really heal this schism, how is it going to happen?

    Serious question.

    Of course I would advocate all you lot coming back from whence you came (or from whence you were driven, depending on your perspective). But how would you see it happening?

    Of course the Lord moves in mysterious ways and everything, but if everyone said, “Remy, you chair the reunion committee. Tell us how it’s going to get done.” How would you see the whole thing going down? What’s the path forward?

  9. Matt,

    I was pushing your reading of Remy to a consistent end. Your comment stated that he claimed that our impurities are removed in the Eucharist (Thanksgiving offering). However, if you review his post, you can see that he wrote:

    Because our God is a consuming fire when He draws near we are set afire and our impurities are removed.

    Now this post is title “What Happens at the Eucharist,” so it is easy to understand why you read Remy this way, but I do not think that is the immediate meaning of his sentence, nor do I think that it is correct to say that our impurities are removed in the Eucharist (not even liturgically). That’s simply not the function of the Eucharist in the worship. We are cleansed in baptism, but more regularly at confession and absolution.

    The Eucharist is different. The name means “thanksgiving,” as you no doubt know, and it corresponds to the offering of thanksgiving and the offering of peace (shalom) in the Levitical system.

    The Supper also prefigures the eschatological kingdom feasts, as well as recapitulating the communal meals of Israel and 2nd Temple Judaism. I would highly recommend Wainwright on this issue: http://tinyurl.com/pwtj2l

    You shouldn’t be surprised with anything Remy has said either. It is all pretty classically Protestant. As Petersen has explained, this is definitely Luther, and I’d add Bucer, Calvin, and a whole host of French and English Reformed.

  10. Steven,

    Couldn’t Matt just have been replying to this paragraph:

    But what about those sins and errors which we do not know of or those vices we think are virtues? Just as the Spirit perfects our prayers so to the Spirit perfects our confessing and in the eating of the Body and drinking the Blood those sins are dealt with as leaven through a loaf.</blockquote

  11. He could have been, had it not been for the fact that he quoted the other line.

    Nevertheless, Remy’s understanding of “dealt with,” if he’s evangelical (which I believe is the case), will be vastly different than Matt’s understanding of “impurities removed,” if he’s roman (which I believe is the case). Thus I think it important to clarify what happens and when.

    As Karl Barth can tell you, the Protestants do all of their “dealing with” sin after God’s gracious acceptance. Justification precedes sanctification.

  12. Remy said

    I agree with what Steven has said and apologize for the sloppy framing, but the particular point with the Eucharist is that this is Judgment time, it should be happy judgment (the “well done”), but at times it is the condemnation, which is also, in its way, a blessing.

    As for your serious question, Matt, I’d like to take that up in another post.

  13. Matt Yonke said

    Wedge,

    I do think Remy means it in an entirely different way, which was really the crux of my first comment.

    The Sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins that is the Catholic Eucharist is a very different conception than the protestant supper.

    That said, I’m Catholic, but not Roman. In union with the Pope of Rome, to be sure, but Romanian Catholic, if you want to get technical.

    Rems,

    Look forward to that post.

  14. Steven,

    There are certainly differences between the Catholic and Reformed understandings of how justification relates to sanctification, but I’m relatively confident Catholics think that we are justified because God has, in Christ, accepted us–or at the very least that God loves us, and is welcoming with love. I’m relatively sure something in St. Therese could be found more or less to this point, and I’m relatively sure that’s the point of the Divine Mercy devotion. And I have a delightful little book by my computer here The Pain of Christ and the Sorrow of God that I believe more or less works under the assumption that on the Cross God has and is graciously accepting us. I believe God’s acceptance of us on the Cross is also the point of the Sacred Heart devotion, and likewise of the Immaculate Heart devotion. Here in the Dioceses of Boise, it is against the rubrics to kneel when the priest says “This is Jesus the Lamb of God” because we have already confessed our sins at the beginning, and so should not have a penitent posture. I could probably go on, but the point has probably been sufficiently made: Were a Calvinist to unite justification and sanctification, he would be saying that we are good and therefore God accepts us, but though Catholics unite them, they mean something completely different thereby.

  15. Remy,

    I’m a little confused. It seems like Steven is saying that God cleanses us in Baptism and confession, not the Eucharist. To which you reply “yeah I agree, part of what Christ does in the Eucharist is to cleanse us.”

    Matt,

    Be a little careful there. At least as I understand it, Vatican II theology is that the Eucharist is a sacrifice for sins precisely by being a meal. Which is pretty close to the Protestant position–or if not Steven’s and the Reformed view, at least the Lutheran view.

  16. Josh said

    Rems,

    No, not exactly. If God is accomplishing this good thing to our souls, where is the fruit of that good work? I don’t buy, “We’re unified in Christ even though there’s no evidence or fruit of that supposed unity on Earth.” That’s not faith. That’s gnostic. It’s gnostic when you do it, it’s gnostic when I do it.

    Again and again, you skirt around this idea that if we’d all just give each other the Lord’s Supper, everything would get better. “Feed my sheep” doesn’t mean, “Give everyone communion.” Look at the whole of Jesus teaching. Jesus disciples preach “the Gospel” (St. Luke’s words, not mine) before they know that Jesus is the Son of God, before they understand what Jesus came to do.

    In one sense you can say there’s unity in the Eucharist, sure. At the same time, the Eucharist is a means of becoming unified. “Unity” isn’t some pie-in-the-sky-Eschatological pipe dream. Unity is love for your neighbor, and if you haven’t love, then you haven’t the Eucharist.

  17. Remy said

    Petersen, I believe I can say that I agree with Steven because the covenant renewal is the whole service, not just bits and pieces. You can’t break the confession from the the word of God, the absolution from the table.

    So above, when I was speaking about the nature of God, what happens when He draws near, is true of the whole service. Leastways, that’s how I’ve understood it.

    Josh,
    No evidence? Gracious. I think the only way you can say no evidence if you are solely looking at the blueprints. I would say that to view unity as “where our blueprints agree” is gnostic.

    And I don’t skirt around the issue, I jump on top of it. No question, if we would obey the words of the Lord Jesus to feed His sheep everything would get better. Now, obviously that’s not the only thing, that’s just the first thing. And certainly “feed my sheep” doesn’t only mean “give everyone communion” (which is not what I’ve been arguing, by the way), but the Eucharist is the capstone of the covenant renewal service.

    We have unity in Jesus, if you want to think of Him as pie-in-the-sky that’s your business. But our unity is in Him, that’s the only place to begin. Any other starting point is gnostic.

  18. Matt,

    I don’t think we can really get into this discussion here and now, but the RC definition of justification is and has historically been that it means “to make righteous.” Sanctification is a subset of justification for their position. Check out McGrath’s Iustitia Dei for more sources than anyone would normally care to read.

  19. Steven,

    I Catholics unite Justification and Sanctification.

    I was responding to this paragraph:

    As Karl Barth can tell you, the Protestants do all of their “dealing with” sin after God’s gracious acceptance. Justification precedes sanctification.

    Maybe you didn’t mean “Protestants do all their “dealing with sin” after God’s gracious acceptance, but for Catholics dealing with sin causes God’s acceptance” but given the context that would be a reasonable inference. But even though Catholics unite Sanctification and Justification in a way that would for a Protestant imply that dealing with sin causes God’s acceptance, on a Catholic understanding, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.

  20. Remy,

    The line that confuses me is “but the particular point with the Eucharist is that this is Judgment time” What is “with the Eucharist” doing (syntactically) in this sentence? Do you mean that the Eucharist is judgment time, which would seem to contradict Steven, whose point seems to be that it isn’t the Eucharist which is judgment time, but Confession and absolution? Or do you mean the whole service is judgment time, in which case I’m confused by “with the Eucharist” in the above quote?

  21. Remy said

    Part of me feels that too many words at some point start to infringe on the mystery, but let me draw back from my own words and rely on the words of Scripture to make my point understood. Perhaps judgment is the tricky word. Maybe declaration.

    How’s this: Christ Jesus pledges that we are receiving Him and all the blessings of his death, burial, and resurrection and that we are truly receiving salvation and forgiveness.

    But this is within the covenant renewal, this is within the framework of God’s nearness.

  22. Remy,

    I think were talking past each other. I don’t mind the word “judgment” or “declaration” or any such. That’s not my issue.

    Steven said “[I do not] think that it is correct to say that our impurities are removed in the Eucharist.” But now you say that we [presumably in the Eucharist] receive “all the blessings of [Christ’s] death, burial, and resurrection and that we are truly receiving salvation.” But presumably “all the benefits” would include our vices that we think are virtues removed, and again, presumably “salvation” though not limited to the destruction of our vices would include their destruction, and Steven seems to locate the destruction of our vices not in the Eucharist at the end of the liturgy, but with the confession and absolution, at the beginning.

    Maybe this gets back to the point about justification preceding sanctification, so Steven is saying “we aren’t justified by the Eucharist” and you are saying “we are sanctified by the Eucharist” but if we aren’t justified by the Eucharist, our sins aren’t forgiven by the Eucharist. Though maybe you mean “part of salvation is in the Eucharist, and part is earlier. Forgiveness for sins is earlier, life eternal is in the Eucharist.”

  23. Remy said

    I probably have a very nonscholarly perspective on this, but I’m not sure what we’re saying is necessarily in conflict. Baptism gives access to the table. The covenant renewal climaxes with the table. It is an ordered whole. One that we can distinguish but not separate.

    Perhaps this is just a manifestation of my fatigue toward the whole Ordo Salutis issue. I’ve never seen the value of it.

  24. As I see it (with of course inexact quotes throughout), you said “The Eucharist (perhaps meaning the whole liturgy, but also meaning the Eucharist) removes our impurities.” Matt said “Dude, that’s the Catholic position. If you believe the Eucharist removes impurities, why aren’t you Catholic.” Steven said “Actually, Remy didn’t say the Eucharist removes our impurities. In the liturgy it is the confession which removes impurities. The Eucharist doesn’t remove impurities.” You replied “Yeah, I agree with Stephen. Sorry i said the Eucharist removes our impurities. Confession removes our impurities, not the Eucharist. What the Eucharist does is remove our impurities.”

    Naturally, you can quibble with some of that terminology, but I’m trying to paint with a broad brush.

  25. Guys,

    A thousand years of history will testify that the disagreement isn’t simply one of professional theology, but actual real-life struggle. The Pope claims temporal political power, primacy over civil magistrates, and the ability to save or damn. Boniface VIII knew exactly how to give “acceptance,” as did Gregory IX and Innocent IV. Thousands of years in burning flames is required prior to acceptance, and those flames only got to be nice and friendly flames in the 20th century.

    Terminology is a tool for clarity. It isn’t the whole picture by a long shot.

  26. Steven

    I’m not sure what the point of your recent post is. No one is making a point about whether there were abuses of papal power, or anything like that, so perhaps that point relates, but a couple of steps are needed. And my point “Naturally, you can quibble with some of that terminology.” Wasn’t meant to say terminology is unimportant, to claim that I’m only trying to show briefly where my confusion lies, and not trying to be precise. If Remy wants to clarify the language “here this word should be this because…” I’d be more than happy. But again, your comment, aside from the last line doesn’t seem to be addressing that issue at all. I’m confused about what you’re trying to do.

  27. But for those to be “abuses” of papal power, the pope’s theory would have to be wrong, and by implication, the papal system would have to be wrong. Boniface VIII, writing in a universal bull (and thus ex cathedra), clearly states that in order to be saved, all men must submit politically to the bishop of Rome. He was writing in the context of kingly authority and even taxation!

    The Roman doctrine of justification is one aspect of their foundational law system. To be accepted by God, you must submit to their polity.

  28. Steven,

    I’m relatively confident you’re demanding that the Catholic Church be more Catholic than the Pope. Which is, literally nonsense.

    Lots of Protestants like to say Unam Sanctam is infallible, but probably the only “Catholics” who would say so are sedevacantists.

    Also, in demanding that Christians be under the Pope, doctrinally, the Pope wasn’t (from a Catholic perspective) saying anything other than “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus means” which Protestants also believe. I doubt you would claim that St. Cyprian was implying that God doesn’t accept us till we are perfect.

    Nor if I were to claim that the Church is over the state, and that the state should submit to the Church would I be claiming that God only accepts us when we are perfect. I may be wrong, but I’m surely not claiming God doesn’t accept us. I know Presbyterians who believe the Church is over the state. So again, your point seems completely off-topic.

    We should probably also keep in mind, that Philip the Fair was a weasel, and Bonifice VIII was right to call him to task. Protestants may object to some of what Bonifice did, and say he was abusing his power, but then we’d probably say the same about Sts. Athanasius or Cyril. If someone was on the right side in the thirteenth century, must we side against them because they come out on the wrong side in the sixteenth? Surely we’re reading history wrong if we do that.

  29. I mean, it was also clear to the Covenanters that according to the English, for them to be accepted by God, they had to accept Laud’s Liturgy. But we wouldn’t want to condemn Anglicanism because of the Bishop’s War. Nor surely, to reject the Protestant distinction between justification and sanctification, or to claim that it implies God does not accept us till we are made perfect. (Also, the claim isn’t nearly so far fetched as it might sound. Surely MacDonald would claim Calvinism implies God doesn’t accept us till we are perfect, in say Unsopken Sermons or Donal Grant, and many many Evangelicals make that claim. They are perhaps wrong, but the misuse of Anglican Ecclesiastical policy does not imply that Anglican sotierology is false, or that Calvinists claim that God only loves us after he has dealt with sin.)

  30. Matt,

    I’m pretty sure all of Mexico is more Catholic than the Pope. It’s a real phenomena, depending on which Pope is in office. B16 is much more Catholic than JPII was. At one point in history the RCs would have had a problem with these sorts of shifts, but now they can fall back on “development” to explain why they look so different from the apostles.

    Unam Sanctum meets the requirements of Vatican I. It is meant to be universal (which is why it condemns the Greeks), it is intentional and authoritative, and it most certainly concerns faith and morals (it concerns eternal salvation). Philip the Fair was a weasel, but Boniface was no better. Charlemagne would have kicked his butt too. Any defender of Christendom would have.

    Your point about extra ecclesiam only validates my point that the Roman Catholics define the Church as a law institution. And you really can’t expect me to read medieval papal thoughts back into Cyril in order for the reductio to work. Cyril’s greatest hero existed extra ecclesiam by Roman standards.

    The perfection aspect comes in after purgatory of course, which is yet another pillar in the law-works system of justification. I’m not really saying anything controversial here.

  31. I also would say that Cyril, Laud, and the Covenanters were all in major error, though I could distinguish between misbehavior and false doctrine. Cyri’s doctrine was mostly correct, though his behavior was not. Laud and the Covenanters were incorrect in doctrine (and Laud himself was betraying the original Anglican position as exposited by Cranmer, Whitgift, and Hooker).

    But again, my reference to the medieval popes has nothing to do with their character (a point you keep missing) and everything to do with their doctrine (which is a coherent system tied to their soteriology). Their doctrine still exists today of course, and it is only the soft “Evangelical Catholics” who are scandalized by it.

  32. Is your objection really “The Roman polity implies that God only accepts us when we’re perfect”?

    It is ok to have an interpretation that is more Catholic than the Pope, but for a Protestant to insist that that one is the only really Catholic one is just silly.

    Also, your comment “Roman Catholics define the Church as a law institution” is a little odd. Surely before Vatican II there was that tendency, but didn’t Vatican II emphasize that the Church is the Baptized?

    George MacDonald believed in Purgatory, but surely he didn’t believe in a “law-works” system of justification. Surely the Little Flower didn’t. And it is inescapable that she is a Doctor of the Catholic Church. And St. Thomas also believed in Purgatory, but similarly he didn’t believe God saves us because of our works, or that he only accepts us when we are justified. There are surely terminological issues–were a Protestant to say what Catholics do the Protestant would be saying God only accepts us when we do good, but that’s because Protestants believe God only accepts us when we are baptized (or worse when we “really believe” which is where the real works-righteousness lies)–but Catholics don’t (or at least shouldn’t) believe God only accepts them when they do good.

  33. Also, I didn’t say that Cyprian was Romanist. But that the difference between Cyprian and Rome is over the office of the Papacy, which though perhaps wrong, isn’t in itself works-righteous. If you want to say that Catholics believe in works-righteousness precisely because they believe that the Church has one government, and that one government is a Bishop, ok…but that seems like quite the stretch to me.

    Actually, it’s you who keeps switching between doctrine and practice. You want to say “disagreement isn’t simply one of professional theology, but actual real-life struggle.” Ok, sure. But if you say that, be open to a comment that says “the Catholic doctrine might be wrong, but it does not directly imply that real-life struggle. And the Catholic doctrine is no more invalidated by that struggle than Sts. Cyril’s or Athanasius’s doctrines are by theirs.”

  34. Matt,

    I really think that you want Roman Catholicism to work like Protestantism. You survey their best and most influential thinkers, read their most evangelical statements, and then close the distance between RCC and Luther’s notion of grace.

    But that’s not at all how it works. The RCC, as institution, is based on dogma and authority, found ultimately in the vicar of Christ. Pius IX summed it up nicely, “I am tradition!”

    None of the Reformers granted that Thomas was the authentic property of Rome, and as McGrath shows, Trent was no Thomist victory. Heiko Oberman has good work on the late medieval era as well in his The Harvest.

    Vatican II is difficult to interpret, and of course, the current Pope is largely opposed to it. The Church is still defined by its legal structure, but VII allows for, “many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines.” There’s also the convenient escape clause that was added after VII which states that no new dogma was meant to be taught by it and that nothing it states can contradict previous teaching on the church.

    Roman Catholics can be given the “benefit of the doubt” and the friendliest treatment only if Evangelical theology is basically true and RCC basically false. This by necessity strikes many as non-ecumenical, but ecumenicity has to be founded on truth and coherency or else we get things like the UCC and “multi-faith” movements.

  35. Also, it was not I but Richard Hooker who said that any divine right church polity implies works righteousness. The RCC system of govt. is def. works righteousness because it subordinates faith to law.

  36. We should also point out the Roman notion of “grace” as infused quality which may be added to or subtracted from. It is temporary, always, and no assurance can ever actually be given- the best one can hope for is outward submission.

  37. Steven,

    I think we more or less agree. I certainly believe that often Catholics have defined themselves in legalistic ways, and in ways that make the Church to in fact be the Hierarchy, not the Baptized, but I think I would want to say that such things are doctrinal abuses of Catholic dogma. I think the question I’d ask is “how much of Catholic doctrine is Catholic dogma, and how much of it is deeply entrenched Roman understandings of Catholic doctrine.” To what degree, for instance, do the Melkites fall prey to your criticisms? And if the Melkites do not, then the problem is one with the Roman application of Catholic dogma, not with Catholic dogma per se.

    I think I tend to work on a slightly different level than you do. When I think of Catholicism I don’t think of “the reasons they give for doctrines” but “the doctrines themselves.” So for instance, if there were a discussion of why the Immaculate Conception is necessary, I’d be against the Catholics. But if it is a discussion of whether she is free of sin, I’d be on the Catholic side. My objection isn’t to her sinlessness per se, (which I believe) but to Lourdes and the Catholic reasons for the Immaculate Conception.

    I think were I Catholic (which I am not) I would be free to make that sort of speculation. Otherwise someone like the Little Flower could never occur.

    I would be interested in seeing Hooker’s argument that the papacy is per se legalistic.

  38. Actually, I’ve remarked to several of my Catholic friends that it’s really frustrating for me, because I believe Catholic things, for Protestant reasons.

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