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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:01 pm 
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I split this from the thread about the Pope's resignation. If anyone thinks their post is in the wrong thread, or has a suggestion for a better name of this thread, let me know. VtF


yovargas wrote:
I gotta say.....I don't understand what it means to believe this and yet still call yourself a Catholic. I mean, if you believe the Pope and the Church are all just normal men in political offices, well, uh, doesn't that pretty much make you a Protestant?


That's a bit like saying "Well, you're circumcised, you must be Jewish"

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:33 am 
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From wiki:
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Protestantism ... has been defined as "any of several church denominations denying the universal authority of the Pope...


It's the first and central part of the definition of Protestantism. It goes on to say:

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...and affirming the Reformation principles of justification by faith alone, the priesthood of all believers, and the primacy of the Bible as the only source of revealed truth"


While those don't automatically follow the denial of the universal authority of the Pope, if you deny the Pope and those things, I don't know what, if any, category you actually fall into.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:00 am 
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I wouldn't say the denial of the authority of the Pope is "first and central." Luther, for example, tried for years to influence the Church from within toward the principles you list. After long argument with various Papal envoys, he was ordered to withdraw some of his writings, and he refused. He ended up being excommunicated, and probably it was only the protection of various German princes that kept him from being killed. Defying the Pope's authority was toward the end of the process and grew out of his belief that he needed to keep teaching those principles, and Christians needed to be free to live in accordance with them.

(And yes, I know Luther was a piece of work—grotesquely vulgar and anti-Semitic in some of his writings.)

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:18 am 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
I wouldn't say the denial of the authority of the Pope is "first and central." Luther, for example, tried for years to influence the Church from within toward the principles you list. After long argument with various Papal envoys, he was ordered to withdraw some of his writings, and he refused. He ended up being excommunicated, and probably it was only the protection of various German princes that kept him from being killed. Defying the Pope's authority was toward the end of the process and grew out of his belief that he needed to keep teaching those principles, and Christians needed to be free to live in accordance with them.


Well, yes, but wasn't he was in essence trying to turn the Catholic church into a Protestant church (though I imagine that turn didn't quite exist yet)?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 5:46 am 
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From Luther's point of view, he was trying to turn it back into a Christian church that was more true to the Bible as he understood it (he was a professor of Biblical studies at Wittenburg University for most of his life). In other words, he believed initially that his reforms would return the Church to its true self.

Scholars in the Catholic Church disagreed, naturally.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:55 am 
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I should probably elaborate. Being Catholic is an identity for me, not a belief system. If I was to be completely honest, I'm what they call an "a la carte Catholic". However, even if everything I believed or didn't believe matched exactly with what Protestants believe, that wouldn't make me a Protestant. Its a huge difference in mindset and community.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:35 pm 
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Prim wrote:
From Luther's point of view, he was trying to turn it back into a Christian church that was more true to the Bible as he understood it..In other words, he believed initially that his reforms would return the Church to its true self.


Which was what Jesus was trying to do with Judaism....instead, he ended up starting a whole new religion. Kind of ironic, really.

Alatar wrote:
I'm what they call an "a la carte Catholic".


So is just about everyone who is Catholic, although many don't want to admit it.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:38 pm 
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Alatar wrote:
However, even if everything I believed or didn't believe matched exactly with what Protestants believe, that wouldn't make me a Protestant. Its a huge difference in mindset and community.


I don't really understand that statement...how could one believe everything Protestants believe and still have a huge difference in mindset?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:51 pm 
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I think I get what Alatar is saying.

Mindsets operate at a deeper layer than any specific belief. They're the framework into which we place things, beliefs included, to make sense of them, a fundamental notion of what the world is like (and what our place is in that world). They are more cultural than theological constructs (but they have personal, idiosyncratic elements as well).

They're like the bookshelves we file our beliefs in. When the shelves and the books are a good match, it's librarian-orderly. When the shelves are arranged in a less than optimal way for the books, we slip them in sideways or stack them on top, but they're still there.

Or I could be totally misinterpreting. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:56 pm 
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Well, there are some sacraments in catholic faith which do not exist in Protestant faith, like confession, the whole lithurgy is different. You can be attached to those without being attached to papacy. In Europe, you can tell by the architecture of church if it's catholic or Protestant, you can tell if you are in a catholic region by many details, like holidays, sometimes even by the food and by the expressions people use in every day life. I fully understand that someone like Alatar, born and raised in a very catholic region, feels that the religion is almost a part of his national identity and not mainly based on questions of faith.

Although from a spiritual point of view, I am clearly an atheist, culturally, I am Protestant (and Prussian) and this ethics of duty that goes with me is crucial. I imagine it the same for Alatar, but he may correct me.

Geneva has a catholic majority for more than 100 years now - and yet it is a Protestant city in every sense of the word.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:39 pm 
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I agree with both Ax and Nin. If I lost my religious faith entirely, I would still be Scandinavian Lutheran in so many cultural ways (and I would miss my church desperately!). If you grow up immersed in a particular religion and still live within it as an adult, some marks remain even if you ultimately leave. A person's religion is much more than just their theology.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:05 pm 
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As an evangelical, I'm trying to understand how someone can be a Protestant culturally and an atheist at the same time. :confused: Seems like an oxymoron. ;). Do you mean the legacy of dissent, individualism and humanism that Protestantism helped to usher in, Nin? :)

This idea of cultural identity being intertwined with a religious identity is something I can see pertaining to Judaism, Catholicism and Islam, but much less so in my own spiritual heritage. My own Christian beliefs have absolutely nothing to do with my being English. I don't mean that I'm unaware that all Christians inevitably have a cultural filter and that the way we express our faith is inevitably coloured by our personalities, including aspects of our nationality. Even less am I implying that Protestantism is somehow 'superior' because it's not exclusively tied to any particular culture. But I do mean that I never, ever think of my nationality being so closely tied to my religious beliefs. If I were ever to lose my faith and become an atheist, I wouldn't feel less English. :confused: I would miss aspects of Anglican liturgy, to be sure - but again that has very little to do with being English. ;). Most Anglicans these days are African! :)

Faith is, on one level, a choice. Not necessarily something one is born into. That's how I've experienced it, any way.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:12 pm 
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No, Di, I am not so convinced that humanism is indeed a protestant value... but that's a different question. (I have recently been working on the deep roots of the Nazi ideology - and there is a lot about Luther.)

Anyway, I rather see a sense of work and duty what is called often called by historian the puritan work ethics and one of the factors of the Industrial Revolution. In protestantism, work becomes a way to accomplish your way towards God. Wealth and privilieges are no longer God-given (as is power - the monarch as the representant of God is a catholic conception) and thus it is a more egalitarian conception than in the catholic church. It leeds to seeing work as a way of personal accomplishment and not only a way of sustaining to your life. In this sens, I am deeply protestant. Also, an austerity in taste (no gold decoration, no baroque for me, thank you very much) which comes from the very scarcely decorated protestant churches, the general reluctance of substitute idols, like saints or any form of adoration of images....

Baroque catholic churches are like a display of bad taste to me and when I am in the catholic German speaking part of the world, it seems culturally far away - especially Bavaria and Austria.

Culturally, I am protestant. I like visual austerity in black and white, I work - according to everybody too much - and I have extreme professional ethos of work. I enjoy doubt and disobedience- which is the base of protestantism.

In many senses, I'd also say culturally I am Prussian - although the country no longer existed long before I was born.

I just don't believe in God.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:28 pm 
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The cultural identity thing is perhaps more common in American Lutheran denominations than elsewhere. The church I belong to is called "United Lutheran Church" because in 1924 a bunch of troublemakers from other local Lutheran churches took the radical, highly controversial step of forming a church where services and Sunday School were in English.

Before then there had been a Swedish Lutheran church and a Danish one and a Norwegian one (all of which evolved into English speaking in a decade or two). And there were German Lutherans, of course, but at least in this part of the country, they were much more conservative than the Scandinavians—some of their descendants formed the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, which is very conservative theologically.

But even at United the church culture remained Scandinavian, even if the language was English, and there's still a strong flavor of that. More in the jokes than anywhere else, and we have many members who aren't remotely Scandinavian, but it's still a cultural identity.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:29 pm 
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Prim - :)

Nin - OK, I understand what you mean now. 8)

I don't have a strong work ethic, myself, I have to be honest. :oops:

Also, I am an evangelical Christian who is fascinated by the best of Catholic art and iconography, which can seem so colourful, rich and even sensuous, in contrast to the severity and austereness, even drabness, of the more extreme and puritanical forms of Protestantism. My appreciation of Catholic aesthetics is purely emotional and romantic - not doctrinal.

I had more of a prejudice towards Baroque/Counter-Reformation art (which often seemed brash and showy-offy) but there was a very interesting documentary on the Baroque a few weeks ago on BBC4, which made me revise my opinion.

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Last edited by Pearly Di on Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:12 am 
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I am another atheist who identifies as a cultural protestant (as is, I believe, atheist evangelist Richard Dawkins). It is, I suppose, part of my Anglo-Australian identity. Religion is too deeply entwined with culture to be ignored.

Traditionally Australians came in two broad varieties. The majority were pro-Empire Anglo-Protestants, generally English Anglicans but also Cornish Methodists and, to a lesser extent, Scottish Presbyterians, Welsh of various stripes and other non-conformists. The minority, about a quarter of the total population, were Irish Catholics, usually working-class people from the cities and provincial towns. The two groups tended to bind together and didn’t always get on. As was (and, I suppose, is) still common for people who come from the former group I was baptised as an Anglican, and I won a scholarship to a small Anglican private school. Certainly if I was somehow compelled to join a church I would be an Anglican.

I suppose it manifests itself in several ways. Some are, I suppose, theological, philosophical or simply aesthetic. To this day I tend to find Catholic churches too ornate and their liturgy too elaborate. I have never related to the idea of church infallibility and Priests who claim to have the ability to speak Latin words and turn bread and wine into flesh and blood. I have a preference for dark, solid pews, unadorned walls, married clergy, English liturgy, the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. I prefer the protestant model of coming to understand religion through personal Bible study guided by a minister who is learned but otherwise holds no spiritual authority. It is also part of my social or political identity as an Anglo-Saxon. For example, I think that the right side won the Battle of the Boyne ;). More seriously, modern democracy and capitalism were invented by the Protestant and Germanic nations of northern Europe, and I feel that they are part of my cultural heritage. Even today they (and their former colonies overseas) comprise most of the world’s wealthiest and most successful countries.

I can relate to the Protestant work ethic but I’ve never felt comfortable using that term – I always felt it was coined to imply that Catholics and Jews were lazy. There are obviously things about the Catholic Church, such as the long preservation of knowledge throughout the Middle Ages or the patronage of art like the Sistine Chapel, that are a critical part of Western Civilisation. And there are also, I think, parts of my identity that are somehow rooted in Germanic paganism. These are, I suppose, the layers that make us up.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:34 am 
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This is a very interesting discussion for me.

British evangelicals don't mesh their nationality with their faith in the way that other groups seem to. Also, I grew up in a church that was strongly Nonconformist and 'anti-Establishment' in some ways. We regarded the Church of England as a deeply suspect, almost apostate, institution. :P Not an entirely wrong observation. :D :blackeye: I've been worshipping in Anglican churches now for about 30 years, by the way. ;) :)


Two years ago, I met an evangelical Presbyterian minister from Northern Ireland. We were both attending different meetings at a theological college in Cambridge. We got chatting over lunch, as you do, and he told me that since the Troubles ended, church-going in the Province has dropped sharply. In both communities, Catholic and Protestant. I asked him why that was, and he said, "Well, it just goes to show how much all of that was cultural, and nothing more."

His church was doing well, though. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:52 pm 
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Nin wrote:
Well, there are some sacraments in catholic faith which do not exist in Protestant faith, like confession


Quote:
One obvious example - Catholics confess to their priests, Protestants confess directly to God. If the priests and such weren't in some way special, Catholics could skip the "middle men" which would make them Protestants as far as I can see.


When I first read Nin's statement above, I was all "huh?"... I've been a Protestant my whole life, and I sure have experienced pretty regular confessions! But when I re-read it, I saw Nin wrote "sacraments". I'm not really familiar with how sacraments are defined. Is this what you meant, Nin? That confession is defined as a "sacrament" in the Catholic church, and not defined as a sacrament elsewhere?




As to being defined culturally by your religion... this is a concept I have learned here on this board. I think I have always felt that I had a choice about my religion (well, actually, I do), and that that choice... that faith... is how I was then defined. (Boy that's a terrible sentence... oy...)

For example, how can you be a Christian and not believe in Christ? How can you be a Jew and not believe in the God of Abraham?

:help:



But that is because I live in the USA, I think. Those of us who are the children and grandchildren of immigrants just don't have the time as a coherent group and the history that other people do, and that history... as a PEOPLE... is what is getting tied into religion in other places. I tend to see religion and culture as being more loosely connected, but I have learned in other places it is very tightly associated indeed.

I think it's easier to separate the two (culture and religion) when you are hereditarily more of a "mutt", as many of us here in the USA are. For example, up until about a year ago, I believed I was part Irish (my grandfather always said he was Irish). He was a Catholic, but through the help of people on this board, I found out he was actually probably English. Not a big deal, but my cousins still define themselves as "Irish", because of this man, and attribute everything from their love of alcohol to their temper issues to their Irish roots. Which I know they don't have.

I think that those of us who have quite a mixed ancestry... and the jumble of cultures those mixture of bloodlines represent... might have an easier time of separating the inherited culture (which, as per my example above, is kinda what you choose it to be, for some of us) from your CHOICE, which is what I "see" religion as. (Again, ending with a preposition. Double Oy.)

And then there are groups like Di's British Evangelicals, whose beliefs and behaviors absolutely refute everything I just postulated. :) Which kinda brings me back to maybe there are things I just won't understand.


People are interesting. :sunny:

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:58 pm 
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Anthy, I had never heard about confessions in a reformed church before. No protestant church I have ever heard of pratices confession.

In Roman Catholic church, there are seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, eucharisty, matrimony, confession, last onction and holy orders. Reformers only kept two usually: baptism and eucharisty, in which God manifests his alliance towards men; whereas the others are considered as rituals.

I also want to add that my nationality has only little, even very little to do with that feeling of cultural identity. My nationality is Swiss.

As how to be a Jew without believing in God (or in the God of Abraham): most jews I know are only very mildly religious, if ever. Yet, they are deeply jewish: food, language, costums...

I don't believe in God, but celebrating christmas is highly important to me (and I love it!), because this is the culture that I am born in. It has nothing or little to do with faith. The music, the colours, the food, the perfumes around christmas will be the same if I believe in God or not and I can long for it and enjoy it, whatever my feelings on christian faith are.

How can religion not be about culture? I don't understand it... What is culture then? And what is religion? (But maybe we should open another thread for that)

One last remark to Lord M about the Puritan Work ethics: for me it never meant that catholics or jews or muslims work less. They work just as much. I'ts what you expect from your work, a kind of promise of personal fulfillment or a way of earning your life, which makes the difference for me.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:28 pm 
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Nin wrote:
Anthy, I had never heard about confessions in a reformed church before. No protestant church I have ever heard of pratices confession.


Well, I have. :help: I was raised in the Episcopal church, and we celebrated general confession and absolution. A lot. :) Even in our current very non-denominational Christian church, we confess our sins. Perhaps the absence of a booth is important in the concept of confession? I dunno. In my church, as yov pointed out above, you don't need a priest to intervene for you in talking to God. So I can make my confession right now, while typing this message, which is perhaps not a bad idea. :) But the concept of confession is quite strong in my undeniably Protestant faith.

Quote:
In Roman Catholic church, there are seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, eucharisty, matrimony, confession, last onction and holy orders. Reformers only kept two usually: baptism and eucharisty, in which God manifests his alliance towards men; whereas the others are considered as rituals.


I should have remembered all this. :oops: I kind of didn't pay a lot of attention to the structure of the church, as a kid, but I think the Episcopal church recognizes sacraments, too. I just don't know how they are defined, really.

Quote:
I also want to add that my nationality has only little, even very little to do with that feeling of cultural identity. My nationality is Swiss.


I understand. I wasn't trying to tie religion to a nationality, exactly (and I don't think I wrote that); more of a culture. A long-standing, or at least deeply ingrained, culture.


Quote:
As how to be a Jew without believing in God (or in the God of Abraham): most jews I know are only very mildly religious, if ever. Yet, they are deeply jewish: food, language, costums...


Yes. :) My sentences were meant to be rhetorical; I absolutely know this can be true.

Quote:
I don't believe in God, but celebrating christmas is highly important to me (and I love it!), because this is the culture that I am born in. It has nothing or little to do with faith. The music, the colours, the food, the perfumes around christmas will be the same if I believe in God or not and I can long for it and enjoy it, whatever my feelings on christian faith are.

How can religion not be about culture? I don't understand it... What is culture then? And what is religion? (But maybe we should open another thread for that)


You were one of the people who opened my eyes to the fact that SO many people feel just like you do. For me, to celebrate Christmas without believing in Christ is an oxymoron of the most befuddling type. But since you clearly DO feel this way, my oxymoron needs to move over for reality. :)

Like I said, people are interesting. :sunny:

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