Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Four Major Shortcomings of Historical Evangelical Protestant Theology [From one catholic’s point-of-view]

(1) Speculative Theology: The rejection of philosophy as a science independent of faith and yet capable of contributing to the understanding of faith has placed upon the sacred text the impossible task of alone answering speculative inquiries into the sacred mysteries. This explains why contemporary Evangelical Theology has little in common with the subject matter of Patristic Theology.

(2) Dogmatic Theology: The exclusively forensic understanding of the nature of salvation results in an embellished and imbalanced emphasis on this particular aspect of the economical role of the Redeemer at the expense of the more important mystery of his God-revealing and communicating personality as expressed in the Nicene and Chalcedonian dogmas.

(3) Spiritual Theology: The idea of imputed righteousness undermines Apostolical and Patristic soteriology which is grounded in the indwelling of the Holy Trinity and the corresponding real communication of the divine nature. If the distinguishing mark of justification (which signifies the bond of peace and friendship between God and humans) is its total externality, then the Petrine doctrine of “partaking of the divine nature” and the Athanasian doctrine of the Incarnation must be reckoned a different Gospel.

(4) Moral Theology: A purely passive participation in salvation is not a human participation since it is not according to properly human acts. Minus free and rational participation, salvation becomes an impersonal process that must ignore the human person qua person in order to accomplish its end. Similarly, its end cannot be the perfection of the human person as the Image of God in Christ for such an image could not but be free.


Lobo said...

Congratulations - Welcome! You've traveled quite a road. I'm sure you have a lot to help many of us understand about our own faith.

You'r right - Many protestant especially evangelicals don't have very developed thinking in the areas you mentioned. The bible is the basis, even for Catholics (look at all of the bible quotes we use in our ceremonies and prayers) though many of us do not know or pay attention to this. I hope you can appreciate the Catholic system - sacraments, sacramentals, devotions, prayers, hierarchy, sources (bible, tradition, magisterium), religious orders, clergy, sisters, nuns, monks, brothers, laity, saints, organizations and clubs, etc. Lots to choose from to structure your life. Help other Catholics to appreciate what they have. Some of the best learning I did was from a convert to the Catholic church who taught an 8 week course on the Fathers of the church. Blessings!

dmartin said...

I believe that these are all valid points. These are the very things that keep us seperated from union. And there is one thing that strings these pearls together... ignorance of history or at least the disdain for it.

Shawn said...

Hey, great post. As a former Evangelical, I've got one more to add - an unreasonable denial of Tradition as a source of Revelation. Since the New Testment canon was not definitively accepted until the Synods of the late 4th Century, belief in the validity of that canon presupposes a divinely led Tradition, lest the canon be a mere work of men. So then, it is very unreasonable to adamantly declare devotion to the New Testament as the Word of God and not also declare devotion to the Tradition that discerned whether or not those books were inspired.

This was actually one of the primary points that led me to the Catholic Church, and your other points hit home too.

I concur with dmartin, but I do know of a growing movement of Evangelicals who have an appreciation for the Fathers (mostly because they've discovered Luther's appreciation of Augustine). Although, I'd have to say that I see only one place that an honest study of the Fathers will lead a person, and it's not the same pews they're sitting in now.

AH said...

great post