Thursday, July 12, 2007

Spanish Evangelicals Respond to Catholic Document on "the Church"

From a missiological point of view, I believe it is interesting to be aware of how our national brethren on the “mission field” respond to current events. I myself heartily endorse the following statement from the Spanish Evangelical Alliance, which I have translated from the original Spanish

With respect to the recent document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on “aspects of church doctrine” which reaffirms that the Church of Christ is one and that it subsists in the Roman Catholic Church, we believe that it treats Protestant Christians as third-class believers. This bothers or worries us very little inasmuch as, for us, the figure of the Pope and the Vatican has a value that does not go beyond that of mere human opinion.

However, with the intent to clarify, we believe it is convenient, as the Spanish Evangelical Alliance, to make the following comments:

1.- This is a repetition of the
Vatican declaration "Dominus Iesus" from the year 2000, with perhaps the only shade of difference being a greater doctrinal clarity.

2.- With this document, as we have already mentioned in previous occasions, the monopolizing character of the religious institution that comprises the Church of Rome—for whom the only way that leads to the unity of Christians is not authentic dialogue and the search for truth in the Bible, but rather forming part of the Roman Catholic Church—becomes more evident than ever before.

3.- It is very significant that the document only considers the orthodox churches as “churches,” while it calls those that have sprung forth from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century simply “Christian communities.” This difference in treatment, which does not surprise us at all, constitutes an evident disdain towards Protestantism that now becomes “official”, being included in a public Vatican document.

4.- We reiterate that, from our perspective, there is only one Christian Church, the one made up of those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life, and the Gospel as a maximum reference point of faith and conduct.

This integral experience (faith and reason) is not the monopoly of any Christian church as a human institution (neither of the evangelical or protestant church), since the Church—just as the Bible says—is a living spiritual body whose head is Christ, not the Pope, nor the religious hierarchy, nor any determined dogmas or traditions.

5.- On the other hand, we offer our maximum respect to an institution such as the Roman Catholic Church, of which we are not a part, and for whom we recognize the right to establish the definitions, norms and doctrines that it considers, according to its understanding, to be correct.

This is not an obstacle for adding, by way of conclusion, that we have always seen so-called ecumenical dialogue as staging based more on gestures directed towards the gallery than a dialogue of true reconciliation. Could it not be that, with this document, even the stage lights themselves are turned off?

Signed: Pablo Martínez Vila (President of the Spanish Evangelical
Alliance); José de Segovia (President of the Theology Commission of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance); and Pedro Tarquis (Spokesperson of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance)

3 comments:

Bart Barber said...

David,

You might find of interest Wes Kenney's reaction to the same document.

David Rogers said...

BArt,

Thanks for the link. I have now read Wes's post.

My reaction is captured perfectly by C.B. Scott's comment on the same post (with only difference being that I would also say about "evangelicals" in general what C.B. says about "Baptists")...

"Now Wes, “There has always been a line of clear Baptist identity” just does not hold to the “line of clear” history. We have always struggled with identity simply because we are a people that seek to follow the Scripture. That in itself makes us far different than the Catholic church.

Due to our fallen nature we (and any group that makes an effort to be biblical will) as Baptist have struggled with identity. Why do you think there are so many different groupings of Baptist on this planet? There are more kinds of Baptist than there are brands of pocket knives. It is because of the constant struggle of an imperfect people to more purify our lives before a perfect God in light of His perfect Word.

The Catholics have historically drawn their “lines in the sand” as has conveniently adhered to papal whims of the moment. Baptist, on the other hand, have historically struggled to live by the Book. There is a big difference."

blampp said...

David,
AMEN! Unfortunately, even when we've tried to "live by the book".... there are regular instances of "isigesis" where we decide to speak or interpret based on our culture, training and even personal opinion..... when there is actually Biblical "silence" on many of those "pet" theological precepts!