Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Musings

A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

As I mentioned last Monday, the Feast of the Assumption was celebrated on August 15. I read an interesting observation later in the week concerning this holy day:

The feast of the Assumption is rejected by Protestants and in this rejection they point to the fact that the Orthodox and Catholics are unable to explain the details of the event. Did Mary die or was she assumed before death? Was she buried? And if so, for how long? What exactly is the difference between the Orthodox “Dormition” and the Catholic “Assumption”? The whole event is rather sketchy.

But these questions only distract from an important truth at the core of this ancient feast. The fact is that Catholics and Orthodox agree that SOMETHING happened! Mary did not just die and was buried like most every other human in history. Her remains are nowhere to be found, and the two major branches of ancient Christianity agree that some event, some unusual incident occurred which caused the end of Mary’s life to be unique and memorable. This is a fact that cannot be ignored and it bears closer examination by Protestants.

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On Sunday the Gospel reading was from Matthew 16, the giving of the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” to Peter. Over the years, I’ve had many conversations about this verse, and of course I always point to the Catholic interpretation as a support for the papacy. Non-Catholics usually respond by telling me why it is the wrong interpretation. But I have never had anyone tell me what other interpretation could work and still make sense given what we know about the biblical symbolism of the “keys” and Peter’s role among the Apostles. If Jesus gave “keys” to Peter, then what else could it mean? And where are those “keys” now?

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I was listening in on a conversation between Protestant ministers, and I was struck by the lack of theological consensus among them, even among those who were of the same denomination. They were all of the same "family" of Protestants, but there seemed to be no agreement on basic beliefs. Questions like: What is ordination? What happens to the bread and wine at consecration? What is the role of a bishop? Should the church even have bishops?

It's not just that these men had different views on these issues, it is that their churches have no defined theology regarding these things. There is simply a huge vacuum where their ought to be a laid-out, systematic theology for these core beliefs. I am amazed that they can stand in the pulpit and preach when they have no sure theological footing on which to stand.

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