A Breather

Marc Chagall - David, climbing Mount of Olives

Chassé de Jérusalem par Absalon de nouveau révolté, David, pieds nus, gravit la colline des Oliviers (Driven from Jerusalem by Absalom having revolted again, David, on foot, climbed the Mount of Olives), by Marc Chagall (1956).

Whew. That last post wore me out.

I am feeling very troubled and worn at the polemic tone my blog has taken the last week or two. It has never been my aim to attack Protestants or evangelicals. I was one for so long, and still share in that heritage, and most of the Christians I know are evangelicals. And I love them as my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

I just, in the fast few weeks, have encountered so much rejection and misunderstanding and prejudice of Protestants toward Catholics — denials that we are even Christians. I knew there was such sentiment out there in the world, but I thought it only existed at the extreme fringes. I had no idea such thoughts were so prevalent among Christians of Reformed stripes. I feel very tired.

My aim was to challenge these people, gently, to present a straightforward case that we are Christians, too. It comes down to grace — we believe in God’s salvation by grace alone, too. We love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves. We do not teach “works’ salvation” or “Pelagianism.” We do not “worship” Mary. But my gentle suggestions have only been met with violent response. And I have reacted violently and defensively in turn. I am very sorry.

I would not have chosen this path if I thought for a moment I was leaving behind the Gospel of Christ. I only made this decision after years of searching and praying and studying. I am not an idiot or a rube or a mindless sheep who does not understand the teachings of my own Church. Yet I am insulted again and again by people who think they know better than I do, who regurgitate lies they have been fed and are not open to any challenge.

It’s a tide I can’t turn back. I was naïve to think I could. People’s prejudices are too entrenched. If I could change just one person’s mind, I said, my efforts would not be in vain. But I feel I’m only ranting at deaf statues. They label me the enemy, just for speaking out, and they shut out my words. I guess this is what Jesus was talking about when He said some would not receive us. But it shouldn’t be this hard to speak to fellow Christians.

I’m not sure I’m going to finish this book. Not right now, anyway. I need a breather. I will try to post some light, happy, hopeful things, to you, my beloved friends. Thank you for sticking with me.

23 thoughts on “A Breather

  1. First, my friend, let me say I didn’t regard your last one as polemical. You were simply doing good apologetics – answering misconceptions and presenting what another wrote. Second, yes, it is sad to see the state of ignorance out there in some places – but you bring light to those who wish to see 🙂

      • You’re more than welcome – your blog is a great source of inspiration. I can see how discouraging it is to find others saying Catholics aren’t even Christians – but if they’d actually read what you write, they’d at least have to think a bit 🙂

  2. I think arguments such as you described are the unfortunate norm for the internet. I’ve usually had better conversations with people of different denominations when we’re face-to-face. It can be very easy to forget that there is the image of God behind the words we write on the internet. I’ve had to remove myself from some online forums because I realized I had reached a point where I cared more about arguing my side than listening to the other person. It’s especially tough when what we’re talking about is really the most valuable thing we have.

    • Thank you for your kind words. You’re right that it’s the most valuable thing we have — and I wish Catholics and Protestants could love each other for having it. The problem with discussing in person is, for one thing, it seems hard to discuss anything in very much depth. And my mind, though it may seem otherwise here, is not very quick when it comes to making arguments. It’s easier to sit back and ponder and research before making a response.

      • That’s a good point. I tend to express myself better in writing than talking too. Perhaps that’s a calling to the spiritual discipline of silence and thoughtfulness…

  3. Don’t despair just yet – you haven’t changed MY mind, but it sure is a great conversation!! I’m having super good cnversations with some other friends about theology of the protestant type, but still an off shoot from your blog. Don’t stop – just rest and recharge if that is neccessary. we are discussing ordination of women in my denomination -Christian and missionary alliance – and it has been very intersting too. We need this discussion about hot buttons etc. – we also need to reflect on why we believe the things we do, not just knee jerk -follow-the-leader beliefs. Again, – come back soon – I don’t totally agree with everything you say, but hey – its good to read and chat with other brothers and sisters.
    stay strong, blessings! brenda

    • Thank you for the kind words. I am glad you at least believe that Catholics are Christians, too — that’s my aim more than anything. I do think I’ll probably step back and think about my tone before I take on another chapter of this book — it is pretty exhausting handling this guy! I am thinking about giving a lot more focus to art and music, and to my personal story also. 🙂

  4. Never have I ever doubted or believed that Roman Catholicism was not Christianity. Anyone who believes such does not understand their own arguments nor the history of their faith. Every child of the Reformation is a child of the Roman Catholic Church and a child of the Apostolic Church, just as the Orthodox churches are children of the Apostolic Church. We are all branches of the same vine, and none of us are the roots.

    You are my brother in Christ, baptized with the same Holy Spirit and called to be a voice crying out in the wilderness. Though we believe it happens in (slightly) different ways, the same body and blood of the Christ feeds us. You are neither heretic nor apostate, but alive by the breath of God moving in you, the same breath that animates all life on this planet and whips over the waters.

    • Thank you, Jessica. I seem to have a knack for finding and getting stuck in the craw of those who think that way. I’m not sure yet if it’s a calling or a vice. 😀

      • I guess you are in some way a threat to their way of thinking. You were where they are and know how they think – they are not where you are, and from their point of view that must, at some level, for some of them, seem like a threat. It isn’t, but it makes them uneasy, I’d guess.

  5. Hello, Joseph, thanks for following my blog. I’ve been reading the comments on this post and can honestly say that I know how you feel. I’m a cradle Catholic so I’ve heard the same comments most of my life. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t get defensive. By your light, you will shine. Remember that. Over time, you’ll find that more people of other Christian denominations will see the beliefs we have in common; the ones who don’t see this are fewer in number than you think.

  6. “Every child of the Reformation is a child of the Roman Catholic Church and a child of the Apostolic Church, just as the Orthodox churches are children of the Apostolic Church. We are all branches of the same vine, and none of us are the roots.”

    Whisch is an exact definition of what I as a Lutheran believe. We have far more opposition to Christianity in this world to go around making enemies of each other over what are in rality minor difference in our paths.

  7. My heart is heavy for you.You have chosen a difficult path with this topic but I hope you don’t give up because you have been in their shoes so you are the right person to do this. I think you never know what words will make a difference and to who, you just have to follow your mission. Do you know you are a living example of what the Gospel Reading for today was about? Your post actually made me understand it’s meaning more clearly-

    7 Then he summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs, giving them authority over unclean spirits.

    8 And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff — no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses.

    9 They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Don’t take a spare tunic.’

    10 And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district.

    11 And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust under your feet as evidence to them.’

    12 So they set off to proclaim repentance;

    13 and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

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