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July 28, 2007 / Daniel

NT Wright on church unity

NT Wright at Park Street Church

Image by Rachel Ford James via Flickr

Here’s an article by Wright that I thought that some of you might be interested in.  Wright addresses relations between the Catholic church and others (i.e. the Anglican church and the Eastern Orthodox).  What do you think of it?



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  1. Michael Awbrey / Jul 28 2007 7:20 pm

    I think he is right on with the analogy of a caste system within Christianity with the Pope’s re-emphasis on the RCC’s singularity. Thankfully, I think he is right in his final analysis as well- that it will make little or no difference for most Catholics. From what I’ve seen so far, Benedict is a dying breed, trying to hold on to pre-VII practices as everyone moves forward.

  2. Dennis / Jul 29 2007 7:19 pm

    I’m not too familiar with Anglicanism as a whole or the “act of succession.” I do know that the Pope has received a lot of criticism for his last statement.

    This is a very complicated subject which could take some time to explain the Catholic view.

    1. Jesus Christ established one Church. That Church today is evident within the Catholic Church.

    2. The Council of Nicea defined the Church to have four marks: One, Holy, Catholic (i.e. universal), and Apostolic.

    3. When the Schism occurred, it occurred more for political reasons than doctrinal differences and the Church was split into two. Although they are no longer One church, the Orthodox Church was still holy, catholic and apostolic. Pope JPII referred to the Orthodox Church as the other lung of the Church.

    4. The Anglican Church broke off due to political reasons (actually more because of the selfish reasons of one king) in the 16th century and although initially were apostolic, under Elizabeth, the apostolic succession was broken. (I think she changed over all the Bishops invalidly…) Thus not making the Anglican church a valid church.

    5. The Protestant reformation was a rejection of Catholic doctrine and the churches established there after were not apostolic which would also not make them valid.

    Also, the Catholic Church claimed–and still claims–that Salvation is only through the Catholic Church. Why? Well, because Christ only instituted one Church and that one Church is the mystical Body of Christ that is referred to in Scripture. The only way to be saved is to be a member of His Body (per Scripture).

    Does that mean that all who are not Catholic are not saved? No!!!! What that means is that whether a Protestant Christian likes it or not, they are still recognized as Catholic (albeit separated brethren). What they hold as true which is in line with Catholicism (e.g. Trinity, Divinity of Christ, etc.) makes them members of the Church.

    Becoming Catholic means that you are in the fullness of the faith. A Protestant or an Orthodox may adhere to 60% or 90% of the Truth (or whatever %). The Catholic Church holds 100% of it.

    First off, when the Anglican church broke off from the Catholic Church, somehow, the apostolic succession was broken. (I can’t remember why). Anyhow, without the Apostolic Succession, their Church became invalid.

    In order to better understand, by the Council of Nicea, the Church is defined as “one, holy, catholic (i.e. universal), and apostolic. When the Church split due to political differences between East and West, the two churches were essentially the same except for the recognition of Pope as head.

  3. Levi Michael / Jul 30 2007 2:31 pm

    I am not surprised by Pope Benedict’s statement. Of course, anyone who knows anything about the RC faith knows that he is only stating that which has always been true of the RC faith.

    Being Orthodox I absolutely disagree with his statement that the Orthodox Church is a ‘church’ but flawed. Wright points out that His Holiness says the Orthodox Church is objectively longing for union with the See of Peter.
    Two things: first, of course we pray every day for the union of all who call themselves Christians, no matter how much heresy or delusion they have embraced 🙂 . Second, if the Orthodox Church and the RCC reunite it will have to be in the context of the ancient pre-schism faith, that is, without Papal Supremacy, Papal Infallibility, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Theotokos, and the unilateral addition of the filioque clause to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.
    With all those conditions met the Orthodox would gladly accept the Pope of Rome as the first-among-equals of all the world’s bishops. As the spiritual father of us all, but not as an authoritarian ruler.
    In the ancient eastern Church the Bishops of major cities were seen as highest in honor: thus, at the council of Nicea four cities’ bishops were singled out as Patriarchs: Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria. Because of the political reality and the importance of Rome, Rome was the first of these patriarchal sees.
    The eastern Church has always seen these as honorific titles, not reflecting one bishop’s right to interfere in the affairs of another bishop’s diocese. The governance was essentially conciliar. You have four venerable patriarchates and all the other bishops and when they (and the Holy Spirit) agree on something, you have dogma.
    Later, when Constantine moved the Roman capital to Constantinople it was added as the second of the Patriarchal Sees.
    Here’s an interesting discussion on an Orthodox internet radio show about RC/EO relations.

  4. Levi Michael / Jul 30 2007 2:47 pm

    Click here to read a 1957 Orthodox on the basis of Christian Unity

  5. weus / Jul 14 2010 9:46 pm

    All efforts to establish Church unity and world peace will not happen until we UNIFY THE DATES OF EASTER.

    We must allow the Holy Spirit to invade our minds and hearts so that He is able to direct us to complete unity and peace. Until we UNIFY THE DATES OF EASTER, we hinder the Holy Spirit’s action to come upon us in full force to give us the next step for complete unity and peace. We must first UNIFY THE DATES OF EASTER.

    Unity and peace can and will only come by the action of the Holy Spirit.

    Let us pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit to inflame our hearts with the fire of His love to UNIFY THE DATES OF EASTER.

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