Monday, June 20, 2005
Here Today, Split Tomorrow  

I recently read a post on a blog, which I had never read before, that perked my interest because it described a man's negative reaction to the Journey Home program on EWTN. Now, I am a great fan of this program on which the host, Marcus Grodi, talks with his guests about their journey into the Catholic Church. Part of the reason that I like the show is because, like many people, I enjoy hearing conversion stories. Of course, the topic of the show also appeals to me because I, too, am a convert to the Catholic Church.

The guests on the show have come from diverse spiritual backgrounds that include high Anglican, mainline Protestant, Buddhist, evangelical Protestant, atheist, or even no spiritual affiliation. Consequently, during the show, the guest will talk a bit about how the theological views that he used to hold as a member of some previous religion, Christian denomination, or philosophical school of thought. This is the area that rubbed the viewer the wrong way. My understanding is that he is Catholic and his wife is not. The guest on the show he watched was from the same denominational background as his wife. I think I remember the denomination, but for the sake of this post I will say the guest had a Methodist background. The viewer turned off the television in disgust when he perceived that the guest was not correctly portraying the theology of Methodists.

Now it is commendable that the viewer was being sensitive for his wife's sake (who may have been watching the show or not, I do not remember). However, in terms of his problem with the guest on the show, his concern is almost absurd. In the first place, it is ridiculous to get upset that someone is not accurately portraying the correct Methodist theology. The fact is the person is simply conveying his understanding of Methodist theology. After all, it is the guest's journey which is the focus of the show. It is not a question of whether the guest would be able to pass a quiz on theology either Methodist or Catholic.

However, the real problem with the viewer's issue is much more troubling. The fact is that it is almost impossible for someone to say that this or that is Methodist theology. (Now I have picked Methodist, but you can substitute any Protestant denomination such as Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, etc.) The fact is there is no way to really make such a statement. There are so many branches of every single one of the major denominations of Protestantism which have vastly different theological positions. Why are there so many branches? Primarily because when a disagreement over a doctrinal issue occurred, the result was one party in the disagreement left and started another branch of the denomination. Yet, they may all claim to be the "real" branch of Methodism. (Of course, this applies not just to Methodist, but Presbyterians, Baptists, etc.) Consequently there are tens of thousands of Protestant denominations.

Without a central authority who is responsible for maintaining the deposit of faith, there really is no way to keep together a denomination. It is too easy for the disgruntled party to leave in a huff, head down the street a few blocks, and start up a new branch of Methodism. For all the viewer knew, the guest on the show was correctly espousing the theological positions of his branch of Methodism. It may not be the same as the viewer's wife's branch of Methodism, but that is the nature of the Protestant denominations. Each is its own separate entity which can define its own doctrine based on its interpretation of Scripture. Given human nature, the result is multiplication by division.

Posted by David at 8:30 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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