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The series of articles by Dr Frank Mobbs, on the Foundations of Faith, 'Protestant Reformation' (AD2000, December to March) was too defensive. As a Baptist, I would like to have seen a more relaxed stance.
There is much one can say about history - it's like art, one can view it in any way one chooses. Certainly the reformers were not perfect, neither were the Medici Popes. Remember the three Popes of the 14th century Western schism? So it's a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. Besides, both Protestants and Catholics persecuted us Baptists (Anabaptists) because at that time, we did not fit into either camp.
The history of the church universal (I use the term inclusively) contains a litany of moral failures, wars, both religious and political, constant doctrinal squabblings and the like. No one particular branch of Christendom has been immune. So I have to conclude no one church is any better than the other, despite the claims made by various denominations - and that includes the Catholic Church.
Dr Mobbs had a wonderful opportunity to build rapprochement between Catholics and Protestants. Adopting a defensive approach to history which sees 'us' as the 'good guys' and 'them' as the 'bad guys' is unfortunate.
The Council of Trent was a disaster for church unity. Its hostile and rather dogmatic approach not only reinforced a narrow view of traditional Catholicism but also alienated the Protestant movement with its failure to engage in open dialogue.
Rather than seeking rapprochement, it drove a deep wedge into the flock, causing much resentment through to the present day. And to be fair there was much dogmatism on the Protestant side too.
Both Catholics and Protestants have to move on, and if possible, to put aside the Council of Trent. What defines the congregation of the faithful is its ability to demonstrate love, and unity, despite doctrinal differ- ences. This is how the world knows that God is love, because those calling themselves 'Christian' love one another. Constantly arguing over doctrine and traditions is not helping unity or working co-operatively in a spirit of concord to further the Kingdom of God.
I'm sure Dr Mobbs would want Christians to work together and seek to enhance Christian unity and concord. We can do this without driving the Council of Trent wedge deeper.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 22 No 3 (April 2009), p. 15
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