Raniero Cantalamessa 3a
Church of England

Pope's preacher lauds the "great theological and spiritual enrichment" of the Reformation

 

When Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, was invited to speak in Westminster Abbey at the inauguration of the 10th General Synod of the Church of England, there was never any doubt that his theme would be ecumenism and his message would be that of Christian unity. But this was no ordinary proclamation of generic charismatic blessings or exhortation to evangelisation in the spirit of Alpha. In the presence of the Queen and Supreme Governor, the Pope’s preacher invoked the names of Luther and Cranmer, and even lauded the theological and spiritual virtues of the Reformation. Considering Westminster Cathedral still lists the name of Thomas Cranmer as “deprived for heresy” (despite the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham drawing substantially on the Book of Common Prayer), this is a hermeneutic rapprochement indeed. Fr Cantalamessa said:

We need to go back to the time of the Apostles: they faced a pre-Christian world, and we are facing a largely post-Christian world. When Paul wants to summarise the essence of the Christian message in one sentence, he does not say, “I proclaim this or that doctrine to you.” He says, “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:23), and “We preach… Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor 4:5). This is the real “articulus stantis et cadentis Ecclesiae”, the article by which the Church stands or falls.

This does not mean ignoring the great theological and spiritual enrichment that came
from the Reformation or desiring to go back to the time before it. It means instead
allowing all of Christianity to benefit from its achievements, once they are freed from
certain distortions due to the heated atmosphere of the time and of later controversies.

Justification by faith, for example, ought to be preached by the whole Church — and with more vigour than ever. Not in opposition to good works – the issue is already settled – but rather in opposition to the claim of people today that they can save themselves thanks to their science, technology or their man – made spirituality, without the need for a redeemer coming from outside humanity. Self-justification! I am convinced that if they were alive today this is the way Martin Luther and Thomas Cranmer would preach justification through faith!

Unity is not a simple matter. One has to start with the big Churches, those that are well structured, putting together that which unites them, which is vastly more important than what divides them; not imposing uniformity but aiming at what pope Francis calls “reconciled diversities”. Nothing is more important than to fulfil Christ’s heart desire for unity expressed in today’s gospel. In many parts of the world people are killed and churches burned not because they are Catholic, or Anglican, or Pentecostals, but because they are Christians. In their eyes we are already one! Let us be one also in our eyes and in the eyes of God.

The Anglican Church has a special role in all of this. It has often defined itself as a “via media” (a Middle Way) between Roman Catholicism and Reformed Christianity. From being a “via media” in a static sense, it must now become more and more a via media in a dynamic sense, exercising an active function as a bridge between the Churches. The presence among you of a priest of the Catholic Church, in circumstances of such special significance, is a sign that something of the kind is already happening.

It is interesting to read his view that “The Anglican Church has a special role” under Pope Francis, considering that Pope Benedict XVI was of the view that the the Church of England is not “not a church in the proper sense”, but rather an “ecclesial community”.

It is interesting, too, that he believes Christian unity does not begin in and with the hearts of individuals, but “with the big Churches” (upper-case ‘c’), because they are “well structured”. If theological, doctrinal, pastoral and ecclesial diversities are to be reconciled without imposing uniformity, we are, as the friar says, left with preaching Christ crucified, and Him alone. In an age where Christians are increasingly persecuted and united in the ecumenism of blood, it is imperative that denominational wrangles do not hinder our apprehension and proclamation of Jesus.

If the Pope’s preacher – his personal minister of the Word – can bring the church that calls itself Catholic to talk of celebrating the fifth centenary of the Reformation, it is important, as he exhorts, not to waste this opportunity by remaining “prisoners of the past, trying to establish each other’s rights and wrongs:

The situation has dramatically changed since then. We need to start again with the person of Jesus, humbly helping our contemporaries to experience a personal encounter with Him. “All things were created through him and for him”; Christ is the light of the world, the one who gives meaning and hope to every human life – and the majority of people around us live and die as if He had never existed! How can we be unconcerned, and each remain “in the comfort of our own panelled houses”? We should never allow a moral issue like that of sexuality divide us more than love for Jesus Christ unites us.

Ay, there’s the rub.

  • Anton

    Hierarchs find unity harder than lay Christians, because they lose their control. But we may hope for more statements like this from fine men like Fr Cantalamessa in all church hierarchies.

  • Martin

    It is justification by faith alone through grace alone without any work of the sinner, not even repentance.

    Repentance follows, as do good works, but they are the result of salvation, not in any way contributions.

    And the Church, capital c, is the congregation of all believers, of whatever denomination or church, be it in Rome or Canterbury. Indeed I would imagine that there is a true church in Rome that does not bow the knee to the pope. (there is, I’ve checked)

    That church that for many years denied the gospel to the people, promotes idolatry and opposes the gospel can offer nothing to the Christian. Indeed, unity with it would be to deny our Saviour.

    • dannybhoy

      Well said Martin. All you gotta do now is straighten out your theology….. :0)

      • CliveM

        Curious which part do you think is well said?

        • dannybhoy

          “It is justification by faith alone through grace alone …”
          (the rest is imo wrong)

          “Repentance follows, as do good works, but they are the result of salvation, not in any way contributions.”

          “And the Church, capital c, is the congregation of all believers, of whatever denomination or church, be it in Rome or Canterbury. Indeed I would imagine that there is a true church in Rome that does not bow the knee to the pope. (there is, I’ve checked)”

          (Which I take to mean true Christians in the Catholic Church)
          The last paragraph I ignored..

      • Martin

        Danny

        You think the sinner has any input into their salvation? If they did, they’d have grounds for boating, and Paul tells us we have no such grounds.

        • dannybhoy

          No one has grounds for boasting Martin. But accepting God’s grace pronouncement and remedy for our condition is not boasting.

          God says, “Come, let us reason together…”

          What does that mean Martin, “Reason together..”?

          Could it possibly mean that God wants us to respond to Him, because He holds us accountable for our actions?

          In another place Isaiah 65 He says,

          “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
          I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
          I said, “Here am I, here am I”,
          to a nation that was not called by[a] my name.
          2 I spread out my hands all the day
          to a rebellious people,
          who walk in a way that is not good,
          following their own devices;
          3 a people who provoke me
          to my face continually…”

          Why would God condemn people who cannot help but do evil? Your theology negates chapters like this, where God pleads with His Covenant people to turn from their wicked ways and return to Him.

          • Martin

            Danny

            Didn’t you realise that ‘accepting’ is grounds for boasting? As soon as you say you accepted you place yourself above those who did not.

            God calls but men do not respond, as your quote from Isaiah says. Indeed as Jesus say:

            O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
            (Matthew 23:37-39 [ESV]

            In the parable of the Great Feast we are told that those who were invited would not come and so those in the streets and byways were compelled to. Jesus talks of those the Father has given Him, Paul talks of us being chosen before the foundation of the Earth in Ephesians 1. Can there be any doubt as to how salvation works?

            We are all condemned, condemned by our deeds. The difference between those unsaved and us is that God has had mercy on us. God pleaded with Cain, gave Pharaoh the opportunity to let Israel leave, invites sinners to mercy, just as the guests were invited to the feast. It doesn’t mean that they have the will to do so.

          • dannybhoy

            Who were the invited guests?
            The Jews. They were the intended guests.
            Who were those compelled to come in?
            The Gentiles.
            But if those originally invited cried off for various reasons, does that not imply that those ‘compelled’ could not do the same?
            Following your logic when Jesus was talking to the scribe in Mark 12 and says he is ‘not far from the kingdom of God, could He not have ‘compelled’ him in?
            Or the rich young man in Matthew 19, could the Lord not have forced him to give up his riches?

            Your theology takes you away from the clear teaching of the Scriptures. Namely that God loves and wants to forgive, but we have to individually respond. He won’t force us.

          • Martin

            Danny

            “Who were the invited guests? The Jews. They were the intended guests.
            Who were those compelled to come in?
            The Gentiles”

            Where does the text say that?

            “But if those originally invited cried off for various reasons, does that not imply that those ‘compelled’ could not do the same?”

            They were compelled.

            Of course Jesus could have compelled, perhaps the Spirit was moving him, and of course Jesus could have taken away his love of his riches. After all, was that not what happened to Saul, the persecutor of the Church?

            “Your theology takes you away from the clear teaching of the Scriptures. Namely that God loves and wants to forgive, but we have to individually respond. He won’t force us.”

            And there you give grounds for boasting again, “I responded, the sinner didn’t”.

          • dannybhoy

            Where does the text say that?
            “He came to His own and His own received Him not..”
            “He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

            Who on earth do you think He was talking about Martin?!

            For Goodness Sakes!

            Romans 11:11>
            ” Again I ask: Did they (Israel) stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles (you and me) to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!

            You argue for the clear teaching of Scripture Martin, but like all of us you include your own rationalisations in interpreting the meaning.
            The thing is that the clear teaching of Scripture across all the books of the Bible teach man’s free will and man’s accountability to God. The few verses you present to back up your claim of irresistible grace run against the evidence, and under closer scrutiny show only that God can raise up people for a specific purpose or mission, but not salvation. That is a personal choice.

            Quite why you think that responding to God’s gift of salvation provides grounds for boasting is beyond me. I would appreciate hearing how you got to that conclusion.
            God bless you!

          • Martin

            Danny

            So are you saying that God’s intention was to save only the Jews and because they refused He then decided to save the Gentiles?

            Would you not say that all mankind receives the invitation to repent?

            Did God choose Israel or did Israel choose God? How about Noah, or Abraham, David or Solomon? Did any of them choose God or did God choose them?

            Can the dead choose to follow God, for that is what every one of us is, by nature, dead in our sin. Of course we are accountable to God, but we have no way to put right what we have done wrong.

            Every saved sinner is raised up for a special purpose, the glory of God.

            So where does this passage say that those Paul was writing to, the whole church at Ephesus, were raised up for a specific purpose?

            And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
            (Ephesians 2:1-10 [ESV])

            You talk nonsense because you, in your pride, want to say that you chose to follow Jesus. You want your share in God’s glory for your salvation. You want to say that you did your bit.

            Well, that paragraph probably isn’t so, indeed I hope it isn’t, but there is where the grounds of boasting lie in your doctrine. So now do you see why there can be none of us in God’s work of salvation?

          • dannybhoy

            The promise was to Israel, and through them to the whole world
            (“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel;

            Gensis 12:3
            “I will bless those who bless you,
            And I will curse him who curses you;
            And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

            “I will make you as a light for the nations,
            that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
            Isaiah 49

            The Jews would have carried the Gospel to the Gentiles Martin; which actually they did, as of course all the Apostles were Jewish.

            Noah, Genesis 6>
            8 “But Noah found grace in the eyes of theLord.
            9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.”

            Not a hint of coercion there Martin..!

            Before the Law, there were righteous men such as Abraham, Noah, Jacob and Joseph, But they weren’t righteous because they were sinless, they were righteous because they sought God, believed in Him and were obedient to His will. (And they made sacrifices and offerings to Him)

            “Every saved sinner is raised up for a special purpose, the glory of God.”

            You read that wrong Martin. I didn’t say “every saved sinner.”
            I said,
            “show only that God can raise up people for a specific purpose or mission.”

            Thus Pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus were all used by God to achierve His purposes in human history..
            But they themselves weren’t saved or born again because God used them. The Bible doesn’t say whether they were ultimately reconciled to God or not.

            I still don’t get your “boastful prideful” stuff Martin.
            You don’t know me. You know nothing of my own sense of shame over sins committed, or flaws in my character. You don’t know what I struggle with or what only God my Saviour knows. You don’t know my attitude to other people and how I treat them.
            It’s quite a ridiculous thing to accuse people of, purely on the basis of faulty theology.

          • Martin

            Danny

            I wonder what coercion you expected to find in Noah’s salvation. One wonders too how you can ignore such passages as:

            The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
            to see if there are any who understand,
            who seek after God.
            They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
            there is none who does good,
            not even one.
            (Psalms 14:2-3 [ESV])

            God looks down from heaven
            on the children of man
            to see if there are any who understand,
            who seek after God.
            They have all fallen away;
            together they have become corrupt;
            there is none who does good,
            not even one.
            (Psalms 53:2-3 [ESV]

            Which Paul expands on:

            as it is written:
            None is righteous, no, not one;
            no one understands;
            no one seeks for God.
            All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
            no one does good,
            not even one.
            (Romans 3:10-12 [ESV]

            Not one single child of Adam has ever done good, and that includes turning to God, until God has changed them.

            Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, that means that Noah had nothing of his own, it was God who made him righteous, not any act of turning to God. That is what the word grace means.

            Abraham, Noah, Jacob and Joseph weren’t righteous before the Law, indeed their sins are revealed to us, they were righteous because Christ bore their sins on the cross.

            No, I didn’t read you wrong, I corrected you. Every saved sinner is raised up for a specific purpose by God!

            God can also use the wicked for His purposes, but they’re used in such a way as to bring further judgement on them

            My point is that saying “I chose to follow Jesus” is a statement of pride, it places you above those who didn’t so choose when they were given the same opportunity. Mine isn’t the faulty theology.

          • dannybhoy

            Martin,

            I think our discussions illustrate the fact that there are passages of Scripture that appear to back up your position

            and ditto for my position.

            I think the preponderance of Scripture backs my belief in man’s accountability to God (one can’t be accountable if one has no choice).

            That though man has a bias towards sin and selfishness, he still recognises what is good, and is able to seek after God –

            (else why would our Lord say he was sent not for the righteous, but for sinners, and the fact that people were recognised as being righteous.. Luke 2:25; and hunger and thirst after righteousness; Matthew 5:6)

            Whilst not doubting your faith, my problem with your position is that it presents man as totally evil, unable to do good, and condemned to Hell for all eternity.

            That God chooses to arbitrarily save some of them whether they want to be saved or not, I find neither reassuring nor worthy of the God of the Bible.

            To say that accepting my understanding of salvation leads one to being open to the charge of boasting because I have responded to God’s grace seems nonsensical. After all, it was through the preaching of the Gospel, and the witness and prayers of Christians that I gradually became aware of my own sinfulness and lostness.

            Romans 3>
            22 ..”the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.,?i> This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

            If God inspires Scripture – which we both believe He does, then God says quite clearly,

            ” Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
            Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
            on the day of testing in the wilderness,
            9 where your fathers put me to the test
            and saw my works for forty years.”
            Hebrews 3>
            Who is doing the hardening? Is it God or the men of that generation?

          • Martin

            Danny

            So where have I said that Man is not accountable to God? They choose to sin, they choose to reject God’s offer of mercy, God chooses to save some despite their refusal to accept His offer.

            Sorry, you are wrong, no one seeks God:

            no one understands; no one seeks for God.
            (Romans 3:11 [ESV])

            Those that hunger and thirst after righteousness are those that God has first worked in the heart of. Your problem is not with my position, it is with what the Bible says about Man:

            as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one;
            (Romans 3:10 [ESV])

            And if you aren’t righteous you are wicked,

            Did not God arbitrarily choose Israel?

            You became aware and chose to respond – there in lies the problem, God will not share His glory and you are asking Him to share His glory in the salvation of souls with you. That grace has to have your willingness to be saved added to it.

            Initially Man does the hardening, every man, but God then either confirms it or, in the case of the saved, defeats it.

          • dannybhoy

            You have made it clear that man is incapable of doing good, and incapable of choosing what is right.

            That goes right against the overall teaching of the Bible and God’s expectation of man.

            So we can agree for example that there have been times when man completely gave in to his selfishness and the evil that came in through Satan.

            There have been times when people have repented (God’s Covenant people the Jews, and even the Goyim (Nineveh).

            Even Naaman the leper.

            People can and have repented individually and collectively and God has withheld His judgement.

            “Did not God arbitrarily choose Israel?”

            No He didn’t. He made a promise to their ancestor Abraham.

            It took a long time coming in human terms, and I’m sure that there were times when many Jews might have wished that He would have chosen somebody else…

            “You became aware and chose to respond – there in lies the problem, God will not share His glory and you are asking Him to share His glory in the salvation of souls with you.”

            That makes no sense to me at all. I had a childish belief in God, I refused to be confirmed because I knew I wouldn’t keep the promises I would make. As a young man I went on to become a confirmed sinner and hypocrite.
            It was God’s love which pursued me, the witness of faithful Christians that (often) badgered and annoyed me, and finally I believe it was the prayers of the Saints which God heard and used to open my eyes to my state.

            Martin, I must say that I really appreciate the way you have conducted yourself in all our discussions. I look forward to meeting you one day.

          • Martin

            Danny

            There is nothing in what I have said that goes against what the Bible teaches. Men will not repent unless God causes them to. That does not mean that they are without guilt for their choice. When men have repented it is because God has caused them to.

            God chose Abraham, just as He chose Israel, of His own free will.

            Everyone knows God exists, most suppress that knowledge so they can live as they please. God saved you in spite of yourself.

          • dannybhoy

            “God saved you in spite of yourself.”
            No! God always wanted to save me and you, but He had to get through to us that we needed saving..

          • Martin

            Danny

            You are saying that the all powerful creator of all things is dependant upon you.

          • dannybhoy

            Dependent on me responding to Him yes.

          • Martin

            Danny

            If you can say that you responded and another didn’t, because you responded you have grounds for boasting. That doesn’t mean you will boast, just that there are grounds and that God will not allow.

            Revelation 3:20 was written to believers and is an invitation to believers, not unbelievers.

          • Martin

            Danny

            How do you respond to this verse:

            The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. (Revelation of John 17:8 [ESV])

            Who are these whose names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the Earth?

  • carl jacobs

    That’s the trouble with Liberals. Because they empty words of meaning, they can always sound like they are playing the correct doctrinal notes. If you aren’t careful, you will hear what you want to hear, instead of what they are saying. But eventually the infinitely malleable concepts of doctrine will give way to something hard and immutable.

    We should never allow a moral issue like that of sexuality divide us more than love for Jesus Christ unites us.

    It all sounds so reasonable. We have these great theological truths to proclaim (whatever they might be) so why bother with secondary issues like human sexuality? What that too-convenient-by-half formulation suggests is that we divorce Christian truth from Christian life. It offers a Gnostic split between the spiritual truth of divine redemption and the physical reality of human behavior. Salvation becomes ethereal and may be discussed without any reference to sin in the particular. But of course the Ten Commandments are all very particular. They aren’t secondary issues at all, They form the basis for God’s judgment of man – the individual bill of indictment that hangs over each man.

    For the Christian, this bill of indictment was nailed to the Cross. That Great truth connects the Cross to the life of each believer. It explains what was done on our behalf, and why. It establishes our own personal culpability before God in that very realm of human behavior – all those secondary issues that some would sweep under the table for the sake of a proposed unity. What they really want is a Cross without that bill of indictment; a Savoir who provides Salvation not in a tangible world, but only in the ethereal mist. It is a proffer of Salvation without the prospect of divine judgment that motivated it in the first place.

    but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    It only takes a small edit.

    • Nigel Cundy

      We should never allow a moral issue like that of sexuality divide us more than love for Jesus Christ unites us.

      I have always believed that the various variants of the false dichotomy are the favourite logical fallacy of the theological liberal: I see so many of them in liberal writings. This is yet another example.

      On the other hand, Jesus himself said (the Aramaic equivalent of)

      If you love me, then you will obey my commandments.

      In other worlds, following Christian moral principles in general (and sexual morality in particular) is part of what it means to love Jesus. If you are divided by moral issues, you are not united in genuine love of Jesus.

      I also liked this phrase:

      Justification by faith, for example, ought to be preached by the whole Church — and with more vigour than ever. Not in opposition to good works – the issue is already settled – but rather in …

      Settled? As far as I know, unless the Roman Church has changed its doctrine without telling me, the reformation debate of whether all good works are a necessary consequence of a justifying faith or whether some good works are a second cause of justification alongside faith is still very much unsettled. But the context of that expression is nicely ambiguous, so he can imply that its settled but still leave himself with a get out clause saying `That’s not what I meant.’

  • Inspector General

    When you wish to consider the ‘benefits’ of the Reformation, it would be prudent not to mention the vast volume of blood spilled during and after. It would never do to mention that, what! Surely the goodly Luther would have kept his vociferous opinions to himself if he had any inkling of the slaughter he was to start. Of course he would, and maybe his quiet line of thinking would have become a spirit of purism in the (peaceful) church. A movement for improvement, if you will.

    One does not blame Luther for the excesses that followed. It was the rulers of states in Christendom who saw the chance to escape the influence of the Pope. It was these people for whom temporal power over their subjects was not enough. They wanted authority over their souls as well. Not quite, actually – they didn’t want their subjects to act against or think badly of them because the Pope was upset.

    The Roman papacy at the time was a unique institution. Bold enough to act as a temporal power in its own right from the see that is Rome, and all over Western Christendom at that, and there to command the hearts of those often unwilling aforementioned rulers within. But such are the ways of man, it was inevitable that the papacy would become like this, as inevitable as it was that it should one day lose its influence so dramatically.

    So today, the papacy stays out of politics as much as it can, for it still hurts from the days when it threw itself into the fore and lost so much eventually. Still hurts, you know, as it should.

    • dannybhoy

      Well said that man.

  • dannybhoy

    Off Topic I know, but the case of Nissar Hussein and his family is very much on my mind, and I think we should all prayerfully consider what we can do. I reprint therefore a comment I just posted on the recent thread regarding his beating. I hope you will respond with courage and Christian concern..

    ,I have contacted one Christian organisation mentioned in this case, and they told me they do not get involved in domestic discrimination against Christians.
    My second attempt is to approach the office of the Archbishop.

    If you feel strongly about the persecution of a fellow Christian from Bradford of Muslim background, please use the contact details below to ask your questions and express your concern for this family’s safety.

    http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/pages/contact.html

    Matthew 25:35-40 English Standard Version Anglicised
    35″For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”

  • Albert

    the great theological and spiritual enrichment

    I think that cradle Catholics, especially those who have not lived here, don’t really understand how Anglicans will always maximise any gesture or saying. I don’t know what the theological and spiritual enrichment of the Protestant Reformation is, unless one is simply talking about people discovering Christ in ways which although already present in Catholicism, were not found by them, in Catholicism.

    The Anglican Church has a special role in all of this. It has often defined itself as a “via media” (a Middle Way) between Roman Catholicism and Reformed Christianity.

    This is classic of the kind of thing. Of course Anglicanism had a special role of via media, not just between Catholic and Protestant, but between East and West. But the CofE decided to ditch that to ordain women and generally embrace liberalism. So although on paper, one can speak of such a via media, it isn’t the case any more and the ecumenical movement has largely run out of steam as a result.

    • Inspector General

      Good point, Albert. Let’s max it, and say what a grand thing we (the CoE) are doing. Nothing like a bit of shouting to drown out the harm, what!

      It’s called coping with the shame of division, that man. If you can’t crow about your perceived achievements, then everything was a bloody disgrace that happened. Which it was…

  • preacher

    With the best intentions professed by this gentleman, I can not see ecumenicism ever working. There simply exists too much history & current disagreement between both parties to bridge the chasm that divides.
    The desire to cosy up together is irrelevant. If the church simply concentrated on the essential need to get it’s own respective houses in order, then focused entirely on the basic issue of preaching the gospel to a lost & perishing World, irrespective of any party loyalties or titles except ‘Christian’.
    The church as it stands is fractured in so many areas. From dead Orthodoxy to wildly crazy Charismatic meetings that focus on paranormal experiences to satisfy their search for ‘truth’. We all need to get back to basics & ask as one young man did prior to the Lewes revival ” Are my hands clean ? Is my heart pure ? ” ( From Psalm 24 ), he asked & God answered with a mighty revival. It starts with us, & this one is known to the Father & is not subdivided by men.

    • Inspector General

      The Catholics do it best, Preacher. The worship of God.

      Tempted ?

      • preacher

        No, Sorry Inspector, I’ll remain just as a Christian.

        • Inspector General

          Oh well. At least you have Cranmer’s site to whine on…

          • preacher

            As have we all sir !.

  • chiefofsinners

    Those who love Jesus keep His commandments. The closer we are to Him, the more united we will be. It’s good to see anyone focus on Him rather than centuries old doctrinal tribalism.

  • Cressida de Nova

    I agree with Bishop Athanasius Schneider who claims the Church is going through its ‘fourth crisis’ . Statements made by Cardinal Raniero lauding the benefits of the Reformation is an example. I find it interesting that he does not wish for a Catholic Christian world pre Reformation. I wonder if it would be inappropriate to throw a cabbage in the face of this anti Catholic.There is a great deal of pressure to liberalise the Catholic Church by’ liberal’ Catholics. It would be interesting to crunch the numbers to know how powerful they are.Catholic doctrine however does not allow for liberalism. In essence there can be no such thing as a liberal Catholic, even if he is a Cardinal or a Pope.

  • IanCad

    When nodding in agreement with this hairy persuader we should remember that he is the Pope’s representative in Westminster Abbey.

    That same pope who, nearly two years ago, sent a video of himself addressed to the Charismatic Evangelical Leadership Conference. In which he portrayed himself as Joseph; and the brothers, of course, as those separated churches who, with tears of joy and hope, return to the fold.

    “Come Home To Rome” is the message behind all the blandishments, the platitudes, and apparent compromises uttered by the Catholic ecumenists.

    The late “Father” Tony Palmer appears to have been replaced by Father Cantalamessa.

    .

    • Ian, needless to say, Jack agrees with you that the purpose of Ecumenism, from the Catholic position, is to re-establish one Church sharing one understanding of God and His plan for man’s redemption.

      On a personal note, many thanks for you recent kind gesture – it cheered me up no end. Blessings to you and your family.

      • IanCad

        Keep strong Jack!

  • Anna

    As a cradle Orthodox – and now an evangelical Christian- I feel very grateful for the Reformation movement in Europe. The Orthodox Christians, unwittingly, practise a burdensome form of OT Christianity with an emphasis on outward respectability, rituals and works. The realisation that Christ has ‘done it all’ and I could be saved by trusting in His finished work came as a relief.

    The reformers’ uncompromising zeal for scriptural truth remains an example to us. Yet, if their objective was to restore the church to its pure and uncorrupted form as established by the apostles, they only had partial success. The leadership structures were not modelled on the biblical pattern – but based on the Roman Catholic (as in the Anglican Church, for example) or, non-existent (as with the Quakers and Brethren); and the churches were too prone to fragmentation. Too much emphasis on the individual and too little on the community proved to be another fault line, and there are others.

    And today, how low the protestant churches have fallen! So blind, so ready to compromise with the world and to promote its lies – abortion, SSM, euthanasia, etc. We are now in another ‘dark age’ and in need of a new awakening. How much we all need to pray that God may send a revival in our age and pour out a spirit of grace, supplication, and unity on the churches. Daniel 9:3-19

    • chiefofsinners

      What do you consider to be the biblical pattern for leadership structure?

      • Anna

        The biblical pattern for church leadership is discussed in:
        1. 1Timothy 3 (elders and deacons for local churches)
        2. Ephesians 4:11 (the five-fold ascension ministries within the Church).

        An interesting book on the topic of five-fold ministries in the church today: ‘Hands of Jesus: Five-Fold Ascension Ministries’ by Philip Mohabir (available with Amazon).

        • Albert

          You think the modern church should have apostles? How?

          • chiefofsinners

            Ah, you are 2 minutes ahead of me, Albert!

          • Anna

            Ephesians 4:11-14 (NIV)

            I am not an expert on the topic, but my understanding is that Paul means that the ministries will continue, “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (vs. 13). The perfect unity and maturity envisaged here has not been achieved.

            The purpose for which these ministries were instituted – “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (vs. 12) – will not be accomplished till
            Christ returns. It is an ongoing need.

            Instead we are still “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (vs.14). We have a weakened Christian leadership structure where the ministries are not in operation, and this is a reason for the fragility.

            Concerning apostles, I agree that we will no longer have apostles in the manner of the twelve disciples who were actual eyewitnesses of Christ’s ministry. But the idea that ministry itself will be phased out is not scriptural. There have been men such as John Wesley or Francis of Assissi (called by Christ to “go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins”), who were not labeled apostles, but nevertheless, were acknowledged in their generation to have a special level of anointing and authority, and whose oversight and influence extended over huge swathes of the church. Their ministries do not really fit into the other 4 categories.

            The author of the book I suggested makes a strong case for the continuation of the ministries. You might care to have a look, if you can spare the time.

            BTW what is a ‘modern church’?

          • Albert

            Thank you.

            what is a ‘modern church’?

            TBH for the purpose of my question, I just meant post-apostolic Church as “modern”! but did not want to be begging the question.

            I agree with your post, but think that therefore, that there needs to be some kind of ministry in the Church that fills the space that the apostles left empty at their deaths. The ministry of the NT Church is not simply a load of episkopoi and presbyeroi and the other ministries mentioned in Ephesians and 1 Tim.3. There is also the wider ministry of the apostle who maintains unity between different local congregations.

            Who does that when the apostles are dead?

            My point would be that when the apostles die, if you don’t put someone in that position (bishops in other words) you lose the shape found in the NT, and thus are not really following the NT pattern.

            In a sense, we cannot have the NT pattern ever again, because we will never have apostles again. The question of what we do once the apostles die is never directly addressed in the NT (almost by definition). All we can say is that to have the NT pattern without the apostles, is not the NT pattern.

          • Anna

            “..that when the apostles die, if you don’t put someone in that position (bishops in other words) you lose the shape”

            Bishops are elders of local churches.

            The church leadership as described in the scripture was never intended to resemble either a feudal aristocracy or a modern democracy. It was more in the form of a family government with fathers and elders guiding, protecting and exercising authority over those at lower levels of maturity.

            Some were called to specific ministries and some had special gifts, but the purpose that the whole body may be ‘built up’ and thrive.

          • Albert

            It depends on what you mean by “local churches”. If you mean “congregations” (which is what I think the NT means), then when the apostles die you don’t have that wider oversight and so lose the NT shape of local congregations joined by a wider ministry of apostles.

            The church leadership as described in the scripture was never intended to resemble either a feudal aristocracy or a modern democracy.

            Indeed not, but neither does it resemble modern congregationalism – the apostle’s ministry prevented that. It’s probably not best to begin with secular models (aristocracy and modern democracy). It’s probably best to see what was going on.

        • chiefofsinners

          Yes. But 1 Cor. chapters 9 and 15 indicate strongly that the apostles were only those who had ‘seen the Lord’ and received His commission. For those who do not accept that apostolic authority continues today, how is an authority beyond the local church established from scripture? The other four ministries in Eph 4:11 are exercised within the local church.

          • Anna

            Could you specify the verses which state that apostolic ministry will be phased out, please?

            “The other four ministries in Eph 4:11 are exercised within the local church.”

            I agree, but the ministries (with the exception of the pastoral) were rarely acknowledged or nurtured for much of christian history.

          • chiefofsinners

            No verses state that apostolic ministry will be phased out. 1 Cor 9:1 taken with 1 Cor 15:4-9 indicate that an apostle is one who has seen and been sent by the risen Lord. This is supported by the meaning of ‘Apostle’ : one who is sent. Also by the fact that we have in scripture detailed person specs for elders and deacons, but nothing for apostles.

          • Anna

            Paul includes others in the category of apostles besides the Twelve:
            Barnabas (Acts 14:14; 1Cor 9:1-6).
            Apollos – (1 Cor 4:9)
            Silas & Timothy (1 Thess 2:7)
            Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7).

            It is very unlikely that Timothy was an eyewitness of Christ’s ministry.

          • Albert

            I don’t think that helps – there are lots of categories of apostle. The word “apostle” is clearly used in many ways and not always in the relevant sense of (say) Peter and Paul. Consider 2 Cor.8.23:

            Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

            The word for “messengers” here is ἀπόστολοι. But no one translates it as “apostles” because the context makes it implausible. Thus the word used particularly for Timothy (assuming Paul means to include him in 1 Thess. 2.6 which is uncertain. The key thing is though that there just is a ministry of apostles which required seeing the risen Christ. Others may be called by this word, but they did not have that ministry. It seems particularly implausible of Rom.16.7.

          • chiefofsinners

            Over 500 people at once saw the risen Lord and might be considered apostles. Paul describes himself as ‘last of all, like one abnormally born’ in this context, referring to the Damascus road. Timothy was unlikely to have been an apostle but was part of Paul and Silas’ group at Philippi, hence the use of “we” in 1 Thess 2.

          • Anna

            I thought you suggested that “the apostles were only those who had ‘seen the Lord’”. I meant to say this was not always a criterion.

            I doubt that I can make myself clearer, but I hope you will read the book.

          • Albert

            The point is that not all of those who get referred to as “apostles” are apostles in the relevant sense.

          • Anna

            What is the relevant sense?

            Eyewitnesses
            In my earlier reply to you, I did clarify that we will not have apostles like the ‘Twelve’ who were eyewitnesses of Christ.

            or

            Pioneers, trailblazers, church planters – who go ahead to break new ground and re-establish old truths. The need is ongoing and so is the ministry. Examples: John Wesley and Francis of Assissi

          • Albert

            The relevant sense is the one off ministry that the apostles had. They are not ministers like others, but unique, and the foundation of the Church. They also held a role as unifiers between local communities. When they die they cannot be replaced as apostles, but what then happens to the local churches? Do they become independent of each other? That isn’t the NT pattern and nothing in the NT says it should or even can be that way. Far more likely is that the role of unifier, exercised in the NT by apostles, was carried on by others. We can see this developing with people like Timothy, even before they die. But this means a more episcopal structure is the closest to the NT model.

          • Anna

            I agree that they cannot be replaced (especially in their role as eyewitnesses), but can they be succeeded by men who perform a similar function in terms of being, as Philip Mohabir suggests, ‘pioneers, trailblazers and church planters’?

          • Albert

            Yes, in a sense. But my point would be ecclesiological. You made a claim about the NT ministry. That ministry included ministers who were clearly over local congregations and united those congregations. Now if the role of the apostle can be passed on in some sense, doesn’t it make sense to say that that ministry of oversight and unity can also be passed on? And what do we call such ministers, if not bishops?

            But your original post was to complain about that episcopal structure in favour of a NT one. And yet your argument seems to me to point precisely to an episcopal structure.

          • Anna

            I admit that it is difficult to visualise the leadership structure described in the NT as most of us have never seen it in operation. But that is because the churches departed from the teachings of the apostles and absorbed the prevailing heathen practices, until the reformation brought about a partial restoration of scriptural truth.

            I could not quite follow what you meant (in your first paragraph).

            Coming to your second paragraph, by ‘episcopal structure’ I expect you mean the Anglican structure which is based on the Catholic model? If so, I have to disagree. These churches have made everything unnecessarily formal, bureaucratic and ineffective. The simplicity is lost. The hierarchical structure goes beyond what is scriptural, while the distinction between ministries has been blurred. Where do you hear of teachers, evangelists, prophets in these churches, for example?

            In the Catholic church, (I hope you won’t be offended as a Catholic), the Bishop is not a local church elder serving a small congregation, but a more statesman like figure. You would rarely find Bishops interacting with the local church members in the way that Paul did, for example. They have roles and privileges never intended in the scripture, as well as fancy garments. None of this is particularly sinful, but they will not achieve the objectives for church leadership as stated in Ephesians 4. The pope is more like an absolute emperor and has titles that the Apostle Peter might never have dreamt of holding – holy father, supreme pontiff, etc.

          • Albert

            I admit that it is difficult to visualise the leadership structure described in the NT as most of us have never seen it in operation. But that is because the churches departed from the teachings of the apostles and absorbed the prevailing heathen practices, until the reformation brought about a partial restoration of scriptural truth.

            I don’t get this paragraph. On the one hand, you admit that we don’t really know what was going on (at least, I think that’s what you are saying!), but then on the other hand, you do know because you know that churches have departed from it.

            My first paragraph is simply this: if one follows a Protestant Reformation model of the type in which perhaps a congregation has certain ministers as named in the NT, but is independent of other congregations, then one is not following the NT. The NT had ministers looking after congregations, but they were not independent of each other, for there was a ministry above them, that united them with the rest of the Church. This was the ministry of the apostle. Where is that ministry in such Protestant Churches as do not have bishops?

            These churches have made everything unnecessarily formal, bureaucratic and ineffective.

            I’m not sure that that’s true. The Catholic Church has had enormous mission in the world. It’s hardly ineffective. Naturally, all human institutions can get bogged down in bureacracy, but that’s not because they are episcopal, it is because they are human institutions. So I don’t see your argument following at the moment, I’m afraid.

            The simplicity is lost. The hierarchical structure goes beyond what is scriptural, while the distinction between ministries has been blurred.

            But the NT Church is profoundly hierarchical. Look at the authority Paul wields over his congregations. Where is that NT pattern in your congregation?

            Where do you hear of teachers, evangelists, prophets in these churches, for example?

            Are you kidding me?!

            In the Catholic church, (I hope you won’t be offended as a Catholic), the Bishop is not a local church elder serving a small congregation, but a more statesman like figure.

            No, the bishop has a place akin to that of the apostle – he presides over several congregations and provides them with unity.

            You would rarely find Bishops interacting with the local church members in the way that Paul did, for example.

            That just isn’t true. Our bishops are in parishes all the time.

            They have roles and privileges never intended in the scripture, as well as fancy garments.

            How do you know these thing are not intended in scripture?

            None of this is particularly sinful, but they will not achieve the objectives for church leadership as stated in Ephesians 4

            That just isn’t true either. Scripture tells us to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Consider the worship described in the last book of scripture. It’s beautiful. It’s not a bunch of people in suits or casuals.

            The pope is more like an absolute emperor and has titles that the Apostle Peter might never have dreamt of holding – holy father, supreme pontiff, etc.

            How do you know?

          • Anna

            A final comment from me on the subject.

            What I meant in my first paragraph is: we know something of what was intended from reading the scripture, but as we do not see anything like it either in the Catholic or Protestant churches, we tend to base our arguments on existing models which are inadequate.

            There is much in what you say wrt to the need for unity between churches, and possibly a central unifying leadership body, but what you find in the Catholic churches would appear (to a neutral observer) very different from the biblical model. The erroneous teaching that various popes have come up with – purgatory, veneration of saints, celibacy for the clergy, indulgences, papal infallibility, etc – would negate their claims for special authority.

            The authority that Paul wielded over the churches was akin to a father’s; and he suggested nothing weird or contrary to other parts of the scripture. He carried out his role with great humility and self-sacrifice.

            I think we are going round in circles and unfortunately I don’t think I can make myself clearer on the topic. Perhaps
            if you do get hold of the book, ‘The Hands of Jesus’ by Philip Mohabir (who was an expert on the subject), the five-fold ascension ministries are discussed in some detail.

          • Albert

            Anna,

            Thank you – but I don’t think that Catholic teaching is contrary to scripture. I was a Protestant (Anglican) for most of my life. I know all the arguments for Protestant doctrine or opposition to Catholicism. I find them weak. One of the weakest is the central Protestant claims of sola scriptura and the perspicuity of scripture. I find neither claim in scripture. I find both claims contradicted by scripture (and indeed experience).

            The authority that Paul wielded over the churches was akin to a father’

            It’s more fierce than that at times.

            He carried out his role with great humility and self-sacrifice.

            Certainly Paul was one of our greatest saints. The fact that few follow Christ as well as he did, does not invalidate their office though.

            if you do get hold of the book, ‘The Hands of Jesus’ by Philip Mohabir

            Thank you, but if I get hold of another book, I will find the opposite being argued. This is one of the reasons why Protestantism doesn’t work. It rests on human arguments about scripture. But the Church is His body, the fulness of him who fills all in all. It can’t be reduced to or deduced from archaeological study.

          • dannybhoy

            I agree. There are no apostles today, but there are anointed ministries of teaching and preaching. I don’t know about healing ministries – I think healing and miracles are connected with proclaiming the Gospel. The American evangelist Todd White has some interesting things to say on the subject.
            Overall though I think godly men and women serving as Elders and Deacons with one person accepted as senior elder is as close as we can get to a healthy structure.

          • chiefofsinners

            How do you derive the office of a senior elder? Are there also junior elders? It seems a contradiction in terms.

          • dannybhoy

            I don’t think there is an actual Biblical title, (at least I haven’t found one yet!) but if you look at any church leadership structure, you will see there are people or a person regarded by the other elders and congregation as being especially godly, prayerful, wise and anointed.
            It doesn’t mean they are a leader in a dominant/domineering sense, simply that people hold them in respect and esteem.
            Likewise a young man or woman may have been called to serve as an elder, but usually won’t have the wisdom and experience of the older elders!

          • chiefofsinners

            You know what that sounds like, don’t you…?
            Primus inter pares.
            You might fit into the Catholic church more easily than you think…

          • dannybhoy

            Geddoutofit!

            I have no time for that kind of structure. As Bill Clinton evidently said, KISS!

            ps I found this link pretty useful..
            http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/christian-elders-in-the-new-testament

          • chiefofsinners

            Har har. I enjoyed that.
            But seriously, if there’s a biblical structure, then there’s a tendency of human nature to add something to it, should we go with human nature or scripture?

          • Anna

            …if there’s a biblical structure, then there’s a tendency of human nature to add something to it..

            Exactly. Much has been added to the biblical structure, mostly borrowed from the surrounding heathen cultures (a rigid hierarchical structure for example), and much has been subtracted as well (the five-fold ministries).

            We should, of course, follow the scripture; but only God can restore the ‘fallen tent’.

          • chiefofsinners

            Amen again (possibly four-fold ministries)

          • dannybhoy

            Human beings will always mess up, and even the most well intentioned and godly of men will fall out occasionally

            One of the great blessings of my time in YWAM was the emphasis on being reconciled to one another, speaking the truth in love, and serving one another.

            It’s so much harder in a church setting because you tend not to get to know each other well enough. But it can be taught and practiced if the will is there.
            (YWAM bases are run as communities).

            I am a believer in house groups where people in a locality can meet together regularly.
            Apart from prayer and bible study (and arguing over words and positions), they can have meals together, go out to a film or ten pin bowling and invite non Christian friends.
            That I think is how you build fellowship and discipleship and a healthy church.

          • chiefofsinners

            Amen

    • Albert

      practise a burdensome form of OT Christianity

      All those icons are OT?

      The leadership structures were not modelled on the biblical pattern – but based on the Roman Catholic (as in the Anglican Church, for example)

      Which leadership structure is the biblical pattern?

      how low the protestant churches have fallen! So blind, so ready to compromise with the world and to promote its lies – abortion, SSM, euthanasia, etc. We are now in another ‘dark age’ and in need of a new awakening. How much we all need to pray that God may send a revival in our age and pour out a spirit of grace, supplication, and unity on the churches.

      That’s partly just the working out of Protestantism’s inadequate leadership structure.

      • Anna

        Icons … OT?

        There are differences between the Orthodox churches. Not all Orthodox churches have icons; the Greek and Russians use icons; while the Syrian Orthodox church, until recently, was very opposed to the use of images.

        What I mean by ‘OT religion’ is: an overemphasis on fasting, seasons, lent, good works, charity, family honour, etc, all of which are not bad in themselves. The finished work of Christ on our behalf was taught, of course, but never presented clearly or sufficiently emphasised. We were taught to fear God (again important), rather than love Him.

        About leadership structure, please see my reply to chiefofsinners below.

        • Albert

          the Syriac Orthodox church, until recently, was very opposed to the use of images.

          I’d be interested to see the evidence of that.

          What I mean by ‘OT religion’ is: an overemphasis on fasting, seasons, lent, good works, charity, family honour, etc, all of which are not bad in themselves.

          How do you judge it to be an over emphasis? On what basis?

          The work of Christ on our behalf was taught, of course, but never presented clearly or sufficiently emphasised. We were taught to fear God (again important), rather than love Him.

          I’m not a member of the Orthodox Churches so I don’t have your experience as a member, but I do have a lot of experience of these Churches, and I simply do not recognize what you have said here. One of the most beautiful experiences I have ever seen of intimate encounter with Christ was in the Russian Orthodox Church. I’m just wondering if you can give details of what you mean.

          • Anna

            Evidence for the prohibition of icons in the Syriac Orthodox Church

            I grew up in this church and we were clearly taught that this was idolatry. We had no icons at all in the churches that we attended. Some bishops, on finding pictures of the Virgin Mary or saints in a church, were known to have angrily asked for these to be removed. From reading about it recently, I feel this is changing.

            Now, the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches have icons. I remember visiting Jerusalem and being horrified at the sight people prostrating themselves before such images.

            Overemphasis… when these things were given so much importance and many felt you needed to do all this to be accepted as a good Christian.

          • Albert

            I’m fascinated by that, because it’s easy to find examples of ancient Syriac iconography (at least, that’s how it appears!).

          • Anna

            I rarely go to these churches now except for family weddings and funerals.

  • David

    Because of our fallen nature splits are always a possibility. I see myself as primarily, a plain Christian in the C.S. Lewis sense, trying to live a Christian life, and following the faith as I believe the early Church, undivided, saw it. However for practical purposes, because every Christian needs to be attached to the vine, they must be located within one of the orthodox Churches. So as I’m most convinced by the approach of the Reformed section of global Anglicanism, which sits slightly uneasily now within the C of E, that’s where I’ll stay to witness, preach and teach others who are interested. But within the orthodox Trinitarian Churches, what unites us far exceeds what divides us, and that’s the crucial point revealed here I’d say.

  • steroflex

    As a convert, I find, to be honest, our local Catholic Church – and indeed the Catholic Churches abroad in Asia, Australia and Singapore – much more like the Anglican Church in which I was brought up than the current Anglican Church. So I am not at all surprised by this sermon.

  • Tutanekai

    Just remember that Cantalamessa’s idea of unity and togetherness involves you recanting all of your heretical beliefs and submitting unquestioningly to the authority of Rome.

    Unless your name is Ann Widdecombe, or you’ve been mugged recently in a Westminster lobby by a certain member with anachronistically posh diction, locked in a confessional and given the choice between conversion or listening to one of his speeches in favour of the Tridentine Mass, it’s unlikely you’ll be persuaded that Papal supremacy can ever be a good idea.

    So much for Christian unity.

  • len

    The biggest problem with the RCC is that it ‘says’ the same things as Christianity does but with entirely different meanings. Roman Catholicism is a religion which takes its ‘authority’ from Christianity but has added its own method of ‘salvation ‘to it.

    There are many warnings in scripture about adding to the finished work of Christ on the Cross and the dangers of doing so.

    The RCC has survived by either eradicating its enemies or assimilating them and this is the danger that Christians must be aware of if being courted by the RCC .

    Of course the accusations of being ‘divisive’ will be hurled at me but I would rather that than fall into the errors of the RCC.

    • Albert

      The biggest problem with Protestantism is that it ‘says’ the same things as Christianity does but with entirely different meanings. Protestantism is a religion which takes its ‘authority’ from Christianity but has removed Christianity’s own method of ‘salvation ‘from it.

      • len

        Firing off the hip today Albert ?
        LOL. Never ceases to amaze me you would rather sit in the hole you have dug that listen to reason?

        • Albert

          listen to reason?

          Listen to reason? I’ve got to hand it to you, I really didn’t expect you to appeal to fallen human faculties in that way.

          • len

            Are you saying that the Word of God departs from reason?

            Isaiah 1:18English Standard Version (ESV)

            18 “Come now, let us [reason] together, says the Lord.

          • Albert

            No of course not. I was picking up on a strain of Christian thought that is stronger in Protestants than Catholics: human reason is corrupt.

          • len

            Well no point in trying to reason with you then Albert?

          • Albert

            No point from your point of view if you accept a more Protestant than Catholic world-view: you will think the noetic damage done by sin is greater than I do, and therefore, you will have a lower view of human reason.

            Either view of course leaves God’s rationality entirely untouched, although clearly passages such as the one you cited would seem to be harder to interpret on the Protestant view.

  • ceige

    Is there anyone posting here who knows the reason for Fr Cantamalessa’s position or his passion for christian unity?

    Just in cae there is a bit of misunderstanding…. he was a professor teaching theology for a number of years before being persuaded by a female student to go and see a charasmatic house church. He then on an overseas trip – purely as an observerr of course he has stated with a smile – attended a pentecostal service.

    It was there he was inspired by unity in Christ. In his own words he says he was a Joshua whose walls had come crashing down.

    Some time later he had a personal experience where he felt Christ calling him to give up everything and follow him and that like the christians of old he would end up speaking all over the world. Something her remarks he felt like he was meant to have already done as a monk!! So next day he quite his job. That afternoon he got a call from the Pope and the rest as they say is history.

    If you question the motivation of this speech is to get all to return to rome, or the concept of christian unity is pie in the sky please do remember Fr Cantamelessa’s current activities and ideas are not his own but his Lord’s and ours.

    • Cressida de Nova

      The walls may have come crashing down but that is the sound of guilt
      Hopefully he knows that Protestants are not stupid believing all this hog wash.
      He needs a calling to bone up on Catholic doctrine and be more direct and honest in his communication.
      I am sure he would like Christianity unity but not from a Catholic ‘ Prisoner of the past’ perspective i e Catholics who have a knowledge of Catholic doctrine which means that one must accept the Pope as Christ’s vicar on earth (unless he is a bad Pope thus the reason Catholics used to be rigorously trained in understanding the doctrine in an event that someone like Raniero tries to undermine its teachings) . Catholics are not politically correct. They believe that the Catholic Church is the only true Christian Church and that unity can only be achieved by a return to Rome. There can be no compromises on doctrine.

      Raniero’s delusional soft pink approach may fool some Protestants but everyone should know that the Church stands fast on its teachings even if Fr Raniero personally believes in his own fantasy .

      He has stated that he has ‘no desiring to go back to the time before it ‘ ( referring to the Catholic Christian World before the Reformation) and that he recognises great theological and spiritual enrichment from the Reformation..Many of us would like to know what he means by that statement.That’s like the chief Rabbi addressing a German crowd saying that there was spiritual and theological enrichment from the Holocaust.

      • ceige

        I would take a great leap and say as a Franciscan monk who spent many years teaching at a Catholic theological college that he has more than a little knowledge of Catholic doctrine.

        I have no idea how he views the Pope’s position but you are most likely correct about the Catholic churches official position on this doctrine. However, it is naive to think all people believe as their officiating leaders do. The Anglican church would jump for joy if such a prospect was possible!

        For certain the bloodshed and violence historically by both the Catholic church and during the reformatioon is not anything ‘the Church’ in its widest sense or any christian should be proud of.

        His reference I believe was to Cramner and Luther and their theological and spiritual enrichment – personally I also find their theological teachings worthwhile albeit it seemed Luther lost the plot a little…. There is a difference between recognising teaching, and endorsing the method some used to proclaim it.

        Why don’t you ask him why he has no desire to go back to pre reformation times? Perhaps he adhere’s to some of the teaching that came from it? Perhaps he simply is looking for the churches to move forward rather than back in time and to stop focusing on past grievances?

    • preacher

      Hi ceige, I just had a thought. There seems to be a general opinion from many postings that this gentleman’s aim is to bring the Anglican, Protestant Church “Home” to Rome (Excuse the Rhyme) . But what if the reverse was true, & he was putting out feelers to bring Rome into the freedom wrought by the reformation ?. If as you say he has experienced a divine revelation from the Lord & even flirted with the Charismatic House Church movement, is it not possible that he has been sent by Rome to test the water of a return by the Church of Rome to the Bosom of the comparative freedom offered by the protestant Church ? Remember Luther was originally a Roman Catholic Monk. Now that would be a water into wine miracle that would blow most of the doubters & unbelievers away !.

      Blessings, P.

      • ceige

        Hey Preacher yes the assumption you mention re the general opinion was what prompted me to comment because the assmuption he was out to get others back to Rome seemed to be the antithesis ot what little I do know about him. I am not quite sure if ‘he has been sent by Rome’ : ) to do as you suggest – it appears more that he has been called by God to preach – the Holy Spirit is another of his passions. He is alongside the preacher to the pope the representative of the papal household who liaises with pentecostal churches. I have yet to read any of his books but they are on my list!

        • preacher

          Blessings on you ceige. tread carefully & watch, remember the scriptures teach that false prophets will arise & lead many astray, deceiving even the elect if it was possible & the many teachings of Wolves in sheep’s clothing.
          Watch & discern before you decide.
          God Bless you & keep you safe. P.

          • ceige

            Bless you too preacher. I do my best to use scripture to test what I read or hear, alongside of course to discern in my spirit ‘my sheep shall know my voice’. But we are all vulnerable and must strive to be as harmless and doves and as wise as serphents, aye : )

    • len

      Unity IN Christ and unity with Christ is the main aim of the Gospel and if Fr Cantamalessa has had a revelation of this then he certainly is on the right path ……even if it conflicts with his religion…..

      • ceige

        He gave a couple of talks at the Alpha leadership conference one was bibliographical where he was interviewed about his background, the other was about christian unity you can google and listen. He appears to have a wide knowledge of may of the different theological perspectives such as eastern orthodox etc.

    • Albert

      That’s a fascinating story, but I didn’t follow the logic at this point:

      please do remember Fr Cantamelessa’s current activities and ideas are not his own but his Lord’s and ours.

      • ceige

        He was led to where he is now and what he preaches now by Jesus – his Lord and ours – apologies not very clear..

        • Albert

          But how do you know that? Is it your view that when someone disagrees with him they are preaching against, or at least, not with, Jesus?

          • ceige

            This conclusion I come to because it was in common lingo ‘not in his game plan’ to either be a preacher nor did he have a passion for church unity, until his personal encounter with Jesus. In essence what he is now doing in service to God was not by his initiation or vision.

            It’s a bit like the bible verse, ‘man makes his plans but the Lord determines his steps’. Famous examples of course is Mother Theresa with her vision and resulting ministry, St Paul with his Damascus road experience, Jackie Pullinger with her experience of God telling her repeatedly to ‘go’, and then those like Fr Cantamellesa and other less well known saints such as the founder of Save the Children – it was God’s calling on their lives and their choice to obey that resulted in their ministries.

            As for your last question, no, ultimately as humans whether doctrinally or in our interpretation, we will always make errors and gratefully God still uses us. No doubt I get a lot wrong. I would advocate as Christians if we can come to accept this rather than focus on people’s or churches particular errors ‘as we see them’ using this energy towards the unity of the church and some to combat the more blantantly false teachings such as Jesusu never rose again it would be a good thing. I use the bible primarily as my benchmark for testing both teaching and prophecy.

            Note the unity of the church is biblically sound. Followers of Christ, Jesus, Isa … many parts, one body, one Lord.

          • Albert

            I agree with virtually all of that, but it sounded like you were speaking for God in assuring us that his message was undoubtedly true. But it might be erroneous.

            Note the unity of the church is biblically sound

            As a Catholic, I certainly believe that!

            Followers of Christ, Jesus, Isa … many parts, one body, one Lord.

            There’s truth in that too, but the Church, his body, is more than a collective known for those who self-identify as Christ’s followers. Scripture makes that abundantly clear.

          • ceige

            Hi Albert the Nazarene, apologies how I worded it could be read that way.

            Only because I enjoy with interest peoples perspectives, by the church being more than those who self-identify as Christ’s followers, do you mean it is impossible for all but God to know who confesses with his mouth and believes with his heart that Jesus Christ is Lord? Or is it something else say regarding the make-up or mission of the church…

            Blessings.

          • Albert

            Thank you ciege. No I don’t think that the church is invisible in that way. I say what I do because I think the Church is visible and visibly united. And yet, Christians are not visibly united.

          • ceige

            I agree the Church should be visible and visibly united (e.g. they shall know you are my disciples..; here is your brother, here is your sister… ; the body of one head). I am yet to be convinced it is at present but trusting that Jesus will build his church.

            I do believes God’s temple his Church is now manifest in and through people (..you are a temple of the living God.. living stones with Christ as the cornerstone) )as opposed to buildings or institutions,however, this may be my protestant upbringing : ) …

          • Albert

            Personally, I think Christ’s promises “work”. The Church is visibly one.

          • ceige

            A great visual and spiritual image and indeed a promise – you SHALL be one as I am one. Thank you.

    • dannybhoy

      There is no reason why Christians of all denominations and none should not find unity in Christ Jesus. Of course we will have our different understandings of doctrinal issues, but I think it should be our acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and rebellion that unites us at a fundamental level.
      Revelation 3:20-22
      “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

      It’s the relationship that counts.

      • preacher

        Hi Brother. The possible reason is that when mortal man tries to interfere with the plans of an Immortal, Holy, Perfect, Loving, Merciful, Gracious, Pure, All Powerful, etcetera, God. With the idea that he can improve on the said Divine Plan by introducing religion into the recipe. The results are the same as when man first doubted God’s word in the garden of Eden. The results we are still experiencing today.

        Bless you Brother. P.

        • dannybhoy

          Mortal man will always find a way to mess up!
          See the exchange below with that there “ChiefofSinners..”

          Thank you sincerely for the blessings, I really do appreciate it.

      • ceige

        I am right with you on that one dannybhoy! : )