Roman Catholics and Evangelicals
Fri Mar 23 19:03:55 EST 2001
There is very little disagreement between Catholics and orthodox
Protestants on the fate of individuals.
- The reality of death. This would seem to be obvious, but while
Protestants and Catholics agree, many cults (Christian Scientists) and
religions (where "reality" is a dream from which one awakes when elightened)
- The nature of death. The Bible distinguishes physical and spiritual
death. "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."
[Mat 10:28] Eternal death is irrevocable spiritual death.
- Reincarnation. Christians deny the idea of may lifetimes as the
Scripture clearly says, "It is appointed unto man once to die, but after
this the judgement." [Heb 9:27]
- Is death natural? There is some disagreement over whether death is
natural - i.e. would Adam and Eve have died had they not sinned? It seems
clear from Scripture that immortality required eating the fruit of the
tree of life. Therefore, death is unnatural, but a possibility contingent
on Adam's and Eve's obedience.
- The effect of death. While death is the last enemy, for the believer
it is also the door to complete freedom from sin and ushers in an eternity in
communion with God.
- Soul sleep.
Catholics and orthodox Protestants affirm a conscious existance after
physical death, but before the bodily resurrection. Some groups deny this.
(E.g. old line 7th day Adventists).
For Catholics, this conscious existance can be in
- Bodily resurrection. "On no point does the Christian faith
encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body. It is
very commonly accepted that the life of the human person continues in
a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so
clearly mortal, could rise to everlasting life?" CCC 996
A surprising number of Christians, Catholic and Protestant, including some
at Truro, do not believe in a bodily resurrection.
"But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." [1 Cor 15:13]
- Hades is distinct from Gehenna.
General Eschatology - the Second Coming
There are many variations on the second coming among Protestants. There are,
however six elements clearly taught in Scripture which all orthodox
Protestants must deal with. The Catholic position also affirms these
biblical elements. What is not so clear from Scripture is the order in
which these elements occur - and whether the millenium is literal or
The best way to organize the many Protestant positions is to classify them
by which element comes first. We all agree that the New Heavens and New Earth
- The Tribulation.
- The Rapture.
- The Second Coming of Christ. The Second Coming is "imminent". It
could happen at any time - no man knows the day nor hour.
- The Millenium.
- The Final Judgement.
- The New Heavens and the New Earth.
Pick one of the above, and mix with one of the following:
- Pre-trib - the rapture before the tribulation.
- Mid-trib - the rapture in the middle of the tribulation.
- Post-trib - the rapture after the tribulation. The Catholic view.
- Pre-mil - the second coming occurs before the millenium.
- Post-mil - the second coming occurs after the millenium. We are in the
millenium now: isn't this obvious?
The millenium must be spiritual for this view to match history.
- A-mil - the millenium is spiritual and refers to the New Heavens and
the new Earth. The Catholic view.
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse,
let him take it , and likewise his scrip:
and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. [Luke 22:36]
Christian ethics were largely developed before the Reformation, and
Protestants agree with Catholics on almost everything. I will present
several ethical issues where many (but not all) Protestants disagree
Just War theory
defines when it is right to wage war. It is based on "natural law".
The right to wage war stems from the natural rights of its citizens
- because it is
often necessary to use force to secure those rights. It is in fact
the duty of civil government to use force to secure those rights.
Conditions (title) of a Just War to preserve the rights of a state:
Secondary titles may come to a state:
- Only a state may wage war.
"For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.
Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good,
and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good.
But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid;
for he beareth not the sword in vain:
for he is the minister of God,
a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." [Rom 13:3,4]
- The state's right (either directly or indirectly
through those of its citizens) are menaced by foreign aggression not otherwise
to be prevented than by war.
- The fact of actual violation of right not otherwise reparable;
- The need of punishing the threatening or infringing power for the
security of the future.
- There must be a reasonable prospect of success.
Many anabaptists have always taught that War is always wrong - this seems to
completely deny Just War theory. However, they were persecuted by Catholic and
Reformed states alike. There was no Anabaptist state, because their
understanding of the Church precluded such. They
were also powerless. So the behaviour of the Anabaptists was actually
consistent with Just War theory in regard to their own persecution.
- From the request of another state in peril (or of a people who
happen themselves to be in possession of the right);
- From the fact of the oppression of the innocent, whose unjust
suffering is proportionate to the gravity of war and whom it is
impossible to rescue in any other way; in this latter case the
innocent have the right to resist, charity calls for assistance, and the
intervening state may justly assume the communication of the right of the
innocent to exercise extreme coercion in their behalf.
They will also not serve in the military even to defend to innocent -
so this is the central point of their disagreement.
In class, we will also discuss Birth Control, Capital Punishment, and some
This work by Stuart David Gathman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.