Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

St. Francis de Sales on the Unity of the Church

Catholics often refer to the Nicean Creed in 325 AD which established the four marks of the Church: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. In this look at Catholic Controversies, St Francis illustrates the lack of unity or "oneness of doctrine" that existed among the reformers and their adherents in that very early post-reformation era. Catholic apologists often bring up the "thirty thousand" or more sects that have developed 500 years since the reformation. They are accused of exaggerating this statistic but just a scant 80 years after the echoes of the hammer on Wittenberg's church door fell silent, you can see how many divisions, disagreements and denunciations had already developed. (This is something Dr. Luther feared and at the same time predicted.) If indeed the "new True Church of Christ" was the God-ordained fruit of the reformers' mission, why was there such a marked disunity of practice and belief that rose so rapidly as a result? If anything, this fresh, new reformed church of believers should have been one. We can see from the writings of St. Francis this was not the case.

"Are you not aware that one of your greatest ministers teaches that the body of our Lord is as far from the Lord's Supper as heaven is from earth, and are you not likewise aware that this is held to be false by many others? Has not one of your ministers lately confessed the reality of Christ's body in the Supper, and do not the rest deny it? Can you deny me that as regards Justification you are as much divided against one another as you are against us:-witness that anonymous controversialist. In a word, each man has his own language, and out of as many Huguenots as I have spoken to I have never found two of the same belief.

But the worst is, you are not able to come to an agreement:-for where will you find a trusted arbitrator? You have no head upon earth to address yourselves to in your difficulties; you believe that the very Church can err herself and lead others into error: you would not put your soul into such unsafe hands; indeed, you hold her in small account. The Scripture cannot be your arbiter, for it is concerning the Scripture that you are in litigation, some of you being determined to have it understood in one way, some in another. Your discords and your disputes are interminable, unless you give in to the authority of the Church. Witness the Colloquies of Lunehourg, of Malbron, of Montbeliard, and that of Berne recently. Witness Titman, Heshusius and Erastus, to whom I add Brenz and Bullinger. Take the great division there is amongst you about the number of the Sacraments. Now, and ordinarily amongst you, only two are taught; Calvin made three, adding to Baptism and the Supper, Order; Luther here puts Penance for the third, then says there is but one : in the end, the Protestants, at the Colloquy of Ratisbonne, at which Calvin assisted, as Beza testifies in his life, confessed that there were seven Sacraments. How is it you are divided about the article of the almightiness of God? -one party denying that a body can by the divine power be in two places, others denying absolute almightiness; others make no such denials. But if I would show you the great contradictions amongst those whom Beza acknowledges to be glorious reformers of the Church, namely, Jerome of Prague, John Hus, Wycliff, Luther, Bucer, Cecolampadius, Zuingle(Zwingli), Pomeranius and the rest, I should never come to an end Luther can sufficiently inform you as to the good harmony there is amongst them, in the lamentation which he makes against the Zwinglians and Sacramentarians, whom he calls Absaloms and Judases, and fanatic spirits (in the year 1527)."



Blogger TheGodFearinFiddler said...

I just can't understand why Protestants don't get it.

They even view disunity as progress citing the "ever reforming church". That's a nice way of saying 35,000 disagreements or if we're exaggerating 20,000 or hell even if it's only TWO - that's one too many.

The true Church is one.

They act as if their own disagreements are subtle. This fantasy is such a stretch it's mind boggling. As St Francis pointed out, they disagree on the nature of salvation/justification, baptism, the Eucharist, grace etc.. etc...

In fact they all agree on just one thing: the Catholic Church is wrong. Their confidence against such an obviously strong position (the proposition that the Catholic Church is true - perhaps false it's strong regardless) and their lack thereof on far less certain things is itself yet one more testimony against the frailty of the Protestant experiment.

August 15, 2007 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mean to bring attention to anyone and make them feel uncomfortable, but I noticed that Pilgrimsarbor has not been responding to any of your St. Francis de Sales posts.

August 15, 2007 8:37 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

I am getting very little responses from anyone on these posts,they are long and if you are not into history, somewhat boring. For me it is interesting to see the tact that a 16th century catholic apologist and Saint used, (before he had access to the internet and 2 minute apologetic websites.)

August 15, 2007 8:54 PM  
Blogger tara said...

tiber jumper:
I very much like your St. Francis de Sales posts--It is very interesting learning about this saint.

sheesh annoy-mous--not everyone needs to comment on every post.

August 15, 2007 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright, alright. I admit it. I'm being a jerk and shoving my elbows everywhere. I apologize.

August 16, 2007 8:13 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks Tara!

August 16, 2007 8:26 AM  

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