Friday, May 07, 2004

A Church of Scripture 

And there are also many other things that Jesus did,
which if they were written one by one, I suppose that
even the world itself could not contain the books that
would be written. Amen.

-- John 21:25

There is a Proposal to split the United Methodist Church on the table at the 2004 general conference in Pittsburgh. I don't think the split will happen, but the pendulum is swinging in that direction because this year, as in each past conference, the votes on homosexuality were closer than before.

As a Methodist, I never paid much attention to the ecumenical movement, the promotion of Christian unity, the combining of all the Christian churches once again into the One True Church. But as a Catholic wanna-be, I find I want those disenfranchised Methodists to consider becoming Catholic, as I am.

I read statements like this:

"We are a church of Scripture,” Bishop Oden told reporters during a press conference after Dr. Hinson’s surprise resolution started floating around the legislative body. “We have affirmed the primacy of Scripture. There may be a few persons who feel we don’t adhere to Scripture, but throughout the church we are a people of Scripture."

and I wonder why Methodists don't ever seem to consider John 21:25, the opening quote up top. Methodists have only the Bible. They don't have much in the way of past teachings or Tradition and what they do have from their short past they don't feel they need to adhere to, because, as Bishop Oden goes on

“We’re a mainstream church and like all mainstream churches, we have different theological positions."

I get from this that 1) Bishop Oden believes The Catholic Church is not mainstream and 2) One church with differing theological positions will splinter. I get from this that what I once thought ecumenical meant, that all the Christian churches might work out their differences and combine, is never going to happen. I think now that the ecumenical movement is not combining churches, but rather the disintegration of all but the One True Church.

I know, and I don't consider myself naive, that the Catholic Church has plenty of internal, theological battles. But if I picture the roaring river of the Christian Faith, rushing downstream, I see the Catholic Church flowing in the center, I see the Catholic Church as the mainstream Christian church and all the others swirling in the eddies of its wake. Which of the other Christian churches can be intellectually honest and see it otherwise? Our challenge then, my challenge, is to offer a hand up to those swirling at the edges, to let them know Catholics really are Christians, just like them... we just have a Tradition that isn't completely written down in Scripture because even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

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