Let us imagine that a Protestant Christian were to sit down and read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and study for years the doctrinal differences between the Church of Rome and those of the East, and of the Reformation, and finally come to a place where he agreed with all of Rome's doctines, and finally joined the Roman Church.
That Christian would still be a Protestant.
As I see it, the central issue in Roman Catholic Christianity is not how its many particular teachings square with Scripture - for indeed, this is a Protestant concern - but whether God has given to the church the charism whereby it may pronounce infallibly upon matters of faith and morals, and whether the Bishop of Rome serves as a lynchpin for this divine economy.
This occurred to me when I was talking to a friend, and he related a question he'd asked of his parish priest: 'What are the essential Christian teachings?' The priest responded that this was a very Protestant question. Protestantism takes for granted that it is right and godly and proper for individuals armed with Bibles to continually second-guess the teachings of the broader church. See, for example, Michael Spencer's review of McGrath's new Christianity's Dangerous Idea.
Either the Church in council has the authority to pronounce in this way, or it does not. Councils doth err, or they do not.
My friend asked me why Anglicanism isn't just a stopover on my way to Roman Catholicism. I suppose that I can't know that it will never be, but I do know why it isn't now: councils doth err.
More to follow...
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