Saturday, January 03, 2009

Can Papists Properly Call Reformed Churches, Churches?

Mr. Paul Hoffer referred to Reformed churches by the rather modernist/pluralist terminology of "faith communities. Mr. Mike Burgess has come to Mr. Hoffer's aid by suggesting that Mr. Hoffer is just being proper, and that properly Reformed churches cannot be said to be churches because they are not part of the true Church. We deny.

In opposition to this error, I present several arguments:

1. Pius XI, even while distinguishing them from the "true" church, referred to the reformed churches as such.
24. In his Controversies, although the holy Doctor made large use of the polemical literature of the past, he exhibits nevertheless a controversial method quite peculiarly his own. In the first place, he proves that no authority can be said to exist in the Church of Christ unless it had been bestowed on her by an authoritative mandate, which mandate the ministers of heretical beliefs in no way can be said to possess. After having pointed out the errors of these latter concerning the nature of the Church, he outlines the notes of the true Church and proves that they are not to be found in the reformed churches, but in the Catholic Church alone. He also explains in a sound manner the Rule of Faith and demonstrates that it is broken by heretics, while on the other hand it is kept in its entirety by Catholics. In conclusion, he discusses several special topics, but only those leaflets which treat of the Sacraments and of Purgatory are not extant. In truth, the many explanations of doctrine and the arguments which he has marshaled in orderly array, are worthy of all praise. With these arguments, to which must be added a subtle and polished irony that characterizes his controversial manner, he easily met his adversaries and defeated all their lies and fallacies.

2. "Faith Communities" appears to be a term born out of attempted ecumenical dialog with Judaism. Example (link) (Cardinal Kasper states: "I am committed to work together with you for the reconciliation of our two faith communities, on the basis of a total mutual respect for our respective traditions and convictions.") While it may be viewed as a valid super-category for Church and Synagogue, it is not a "more proper" term for "heretical" and/or "schismatic" churches. If I were a betting man, I'd bet that no one could find a pope using the expression "faith communities" before Vatican II.

3. Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 speak of the "synagogue of Satan." If "false Jews" can be said to be of a synagogue (even Satan's synagogue), then "false Christians" could be said to be of a church. Moreover, as Mr. Burgess admits, the claim today is not even that the Reformed churches are full of false Christians, just separated brethren.

On these three points, I'd respectfully disagree with Mr. Burgess' attempted buttressing of Mr. Hoffer on this issue of nomenclature. I can appreciate that Mr. Hoffer's choice of words may have been made with total innocence of any derogatory ring, aiming instead to use the language of ecumenicism (it should be noted that the Vatican now uses "faith communities" to refer not only to Jewish synagogues and the church of Rome, but also to "Protestant" churches, such as the Methodists).

To that, however, I'd add that the Reformed churches are part of the true church, while the Vatican is not. What are the marks of a true church?

See the Real Turretin's comments on this subject.


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