Sorry for the silence as of late. School is busy and I’m preparing to return to Seattle for Thanksgiving and the installation of Seattle’s new pastor, J. Peter Sartain. Rather than give you a post, I will give you something Beautiful that I appreciate and enjoy very much.
On October 31, Mars Hill Church celebrated the day that Christianity became a bunch of different denominations. This is strange considering that Jesus never intended his Church to be divided. He intended his Church to be unified in belief and worship (1Cor 1:10), to which the reformation provided the single biggest blow since the split of East and West in 1054. Why a group of modern disciples of Jesus would celebrate this day is absolutely beyond me, but Mars Hill Church tweeted it proudly.
Granted, there was much that the reformation did to benefit the Catholic Church; the very Church that Luther formally rebelled from when he posted his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. An example of this benefit is that as a result of Luther’s protest the Catholic Church put an end to the unfortunate practice of selling indulgences and defined its teaching on the Treasury of Merit in clearer terms to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Catholic Church held this great truth: That salvation is made possible by the Grace of God alone through the salvific work of Jesus Christ alone.
As a faithful Catholic, I recognize the positive results of Martin Luther’s protest and I’m thankful that he had the courage to stand up to authorities to end a harmful and misleading custom of my Church. But my admiration for Martin Luther does not extend much further than that. I am not thankful that he divided Christianity and began his own Church. The reality of denominations is a scandal to the world and it should not be celebrated. It should be regretted.
Unfortunately, this scandal is made worse by statements that Mark Driscoll and other Mars Hill Church leaders make regarding the Catholic Church. Rather than publicly misrepresenting the Catholic Church through use of various straw men arguments and falsely judging its motives, Mark Driscoll would do the Body of Christ a much greater service by examining how the Catholic Church explains its doctrine at this point in time, rather than how it explained the doctrine five hundred years ago. If he did that, he might arrive at some shocking conclusions that many other evangelicals have made.
These shocking conclusions might begin by recognizing that three of the reformation’s five solas are clearly taught by the Catholic Church. In addition to salvation by God’s Grace Alone through Christ Alone, the Catholic Church believes that all worship is rightly given to God alone, which is evident by the fact that we pray the Gloria at the beginning of Sunday Mass and all major feast days. Thus, the modern evangelical remains in protest of the Catholic Faith over two marks of the reformation. These last two are more difficult to reconcile because the Catholic Church has already considered them and rejects them. In addition to the fact that neither doctrine was taught prior to the 16th century, the Catholic Church rejects Sola Scriptura because it is internally irrational and it rejects Sola Fide because it is contrary to divine revelation.
And it is with that that I encourage the reader to consider a couple of articles published online at Called to Communion. The first is a sermon from Methodist Theologian Stanley Hauerwas, who laments the attempts that many modern protestants make at turning Catholics into Pharisees. The second is a discussion of whether or not the protestant reformation is finished. The points raised in both of these articles deserve serious and prayerful consideration from any Christian that is truly interested in fulfilling Jesus’ prayer that all his disciples be united in belief and worship.
As a Catholic, I am sad that Mars Hill members are not in Communion with the Catholic Church. God is doing so many good things there and in the lives of its members. I invite all Catholics and all members of Mars Hill to pray that one day our Churches will be united in the way that Jesus Christ intended us to be united.