One Unified Church??? Scattered Protestants and the Central Institution of Catholicism

Erasmus in 1523, by Hans Holbein

Image via Wikipedia

The High Kirk of Glasgow by Night
Image by Ben Christian Photos via Flickr

There are probably just as many differences between the Catholic and Protestant tradition than there are similarities.  There aren’t so much in matters of basic understanding of Jesus’ identity, but more in how the identity and institution of the church is supposed to play itself out.

It’s a sad statement full of truth when we realize that all the sad divisions within Protestant Christianity have their roots in the Reformation when a single, historic and unified church authority was abandoned.  Each new division produces a smaller and more extreme group, and each new extreme group is one step further from the mainstream of historic, fundamental Christianity.[1]  What was the cost of Luther’s risk in the 15th Century?  The poor results of the Protestant Reformation were a plethora of erroneous interpretations that led to sects galore.  Now people separate and start new denominations over things like mode of baptism, predestination vs. freewill, and other things that Christians should simply not divide over but rather be able to have intelligent, gracious discussion about.

But Catholicism gives no solution by insisting that an objective, historical and universal interpretive authority is still required in order to correctly ascertain God’s truth…no doubt all 20,000 Protestant denominations all claim the Holy Spirit’s work, and yet they all disagree,[2] but the institution of the Catholic Church, which once was a direct air of many of the apostolic teachings, has marred its understanding of what it means to be the church in many ways.  It may be true that there are many crazy, whacko cults that have come out of Protestantism, and even many more silly divisions amongst well meaning followers of Jesus.  But the Catholic church does not provide the sole authority and solution to this dilemma that all of Christendom finds itself in.


[1] Ibid., xxix

[2] Ibid., 7

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