One main question some people may have about my previous post on the Protestant-Catholic Connection is:
“What are Catholics doing?”
My pyramid appears to have not addressed Catholics’ role in promoting Christian unity. In fact, it appears to be a conversion flow chart with conversion being the top priority–not so. Although a pyramid structure is used, each level of support is equally important in promoting ecumenical unity among all Christians. In addition, the “top” triangle consists of both Catholics and converts. So if you were looking for the Catholics, they were already built in (sorry I didn’t clarify).
Catholics are also encouraged to take part in all of the other levels of support as well. In fact, the model would not work without both Protestants and Catholics participating. For the sake of a visual, Protestants typically will move up the pyramid while Catholics can either move down it or be present at multiple levels in no specific order. While the “top” of the triangle symbolizes conversion for Protestants, it also symbolizes knowledge of and devotion to the Church for Catholics (“Being a true Catholic” for the lack of better phrasing).
What does this mean? This “state of being” calls Catholics to read their catechism, know their faith, and embrace it. An educated Catholic laity is essential to the unity process since division is often affected by misconceptions and misinformation. The same is to be said for Protestants; it is important for Protestants to know where their beliefs come from and the history around their doctrine. Otherwise, an honest dialogue on unity cannot begin among Christians. It might be a good start to ask yourself, “Why am I ____________?”, “What does it mean to be __________?”, and “What doctrines do I believe that gives me this identity?”
Think knowing all the details and history is not important? Well consider the following verse:
2 Peter 1:5-9 “5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind...” NIV
Let me remind you that while God does not want us to be scholars without actions and love, the word theology means the study of the nature of God and religious belief. Essentially, it is one of the ways to gain knowledge of God with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. The point I am trying to make is KNOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN AND THE HISTORY OF IT. Satan uses our ignorance and misconceptions of each other to keep division among God’s people.
…Now Catholics, back to your defined responsibility/knowledge you should have in relation to unity…
My pyramid ripped straight from Alan Schreck’s (1999) The Essential Catholic Catechism pages 143-144 (directly quoted) :
1. Catholics bear a share of the blame for the division among Christians and ask for forgiveness of God and out fellow Christians for this sin.
2. The primary duty of Catholics in promoting ecumenism is to seek the renewal of the Catholic Church…
3. Catholics consider that all those who are baptized and believe in the Trinity and in Jesus Christ and Lord and Savior “have a right to be honored by the title of Christian, and are properly regarded as brothers in the Lord by the sons of the Catholic Church.” Thus the Catholic Church considers other Christians as “separated brother and sisters” in Christ, NOT AS HERETICS OR SCHISMATICS.
4. The Catholic Church recognizes other bodies of Christians as churches or ecclesiastical communities that “the Spirit of Christ…has not refrained from using as means of salvation…”
5. Catholics can genuinely learn and receive support from other Christians…Catholics are encouraged both to study the beliefs and backgrounds of other Christian Churches in order to understand them better and to meet individually or in groups to pray with other Christians. Catholics may attend the worship service of other Christians…
6. In discussing our beliefs with other Christians, Catholics should state the teaching of the Catholic Church clearly and nondefensively.
7. Finally, Catholics are encouraged to join with all Christians in professing to the whole world our “faith in God, one and three, in the incarnate Son of God, our Redeemer and Lord.”
[End of Quotation]
So there you have it.
Protestants and Catholics, let our brotherly love for one another grow strong as we begin to understand each other and share in our faith. Finally, let our prayers, actions, and the Holy Spirit bring us together in unity.
John 10:16 “I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd.”
Reformation of Unity
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