Although the next few weeks will be probably more enlightening and “interesting,” the past two have been incredibly refreshing. As much as we evangelical Protestants like to tout our breaking with “tradition” and “religious dogma,” putting down Catholics for their rigidity and archaisms, I realized that we too have our own “tradition” and “religious dogma.” And at the risk of being called a ‘heretic’ (which means less and less to me anyway, overused as it is) I found the unashamed religiosity of the Catholic Church soothing. Sure, I found it boring after about 30 minutes, but I loved that they weren’t there to “get ‘em saved,” they were there to meet as the Church. I loved that they didn’t try to impress anyone with modern day marketing schemes or advertisement, only a huge crucifix hanging from the ceiling. I don’t at all want to criticize the contemporary church, their intentions are pure enough (for the most part). I can only say what I felt, and I felt relieved. It felt good to worship next to brothers and sisters in Christ who had such a different way to worship that same Christ.
Since I grew up in the church, I heard lots of religious jargon. Probably 20-30 times since college have I heard something like the following:
“Do Catholics believe that too? I only thought Christians believed in that!”
“There were lots of religions there, Christians, Buddhists, Catholics, etc…”
As evangelical protestants I think we’ve done a poor job at encouraging fellowship with our Catholic brothers and sisters. Sure, they believe some things differently than us, but if we only and often emphasize those differences we raise up kids (and adults) who have cut off an important part of the body. Whether Protestant or Catholic, if we are Christian, Catholicism is our heritage, it is part of our roots, it is our grandfather in the faith. And just like our biological grandfather, I feel like we have to say, “sure we don’t always agree, sure I think he’s wrong about some things, but I love him anyway, and I respect him, and I have to, he’s family.”
Sorry, that was little rabbit trail. I did feel lost a few times in the service and that made me wonder how awkward it would have been for someone who had never been to a church before to have been in that building trying to follow along. Just a thought. Overall, the experience was great and it has really incited me to read much more Catholic theology, especially Aquinas.
“Calvin at least was accustomed to appeal to Thomas of Aquino (Aquinas). And I for my part am not ashamed to confess that on many points my views have been clarified through my study of the Romish theologians.” -Abraham Kuyper, a very Reformed Protestant in his Lectures on Calvinism