Friday, April 21, 2006

What can Baptists learn from Catholics?

This article from the Associated Baptist Press talks about Baylor and several of its professors addressing Baptist relations with the Catholic Church, as well as the idea that Baylor should model itself after Notre Dame. These (Baptist) professors are arguing that Baptists need to do a better job of learning from the traditions of Rome. Some of the interesting passages are:

1) "The time for remedy is now, for free-church Protestants stand at grave risk of bondage to the spirit of the modern age. Christians of the sort described herein, and Baptists such as I am, seem to face a limited range of options. Amidst the changing cultural conditions precipitated by modernity and now postmodernity, we may: (a) allow our practice of faith -- untethered to a rich tradition and without the resources of a functional magisterium -- to die the death of continued accommodation to culture; (b) convert to Roman Catholicism; or (c) begin a journey toward Rome that, without giving rise to full communion, nonetheless involves a critical engagement with Roman Catholicism as a touchstone of vital tradition and teaching authority about Christian faith and practice.”

2) "To talk with other Christians -- including Catholics -- to seek to understand better the longer and larger Catholic tradition out of which our Baptist heritage grows as a dissenting expression of Christianity, and to try to learn how to think intelligently as a Christian by looking for help from Catholics -- in none of these efforts is one required to abandon one’s Baptist identity and convictions.”

3) Baptists are “inescapably marked by 1,500 years of Catholic doctrine, history and practice and yet unwilling to embrace Catholic ways uncritically,” he asserted. Many central Baptist beliefs -- such as the full deity and humanity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity -- grow out of “the root stock of Catholicism.”

4) “If Baptists want to think sensitively about the grace-filled beauty of creative and artistic expression, or the possibilities and limits of faithful citizenship, or the relation between faith and reason or nature and grace, or the ways in which human language is and is not capable of describing God, or the basis for human confidence in science as a means of understanding the world -- all of these and so many other issues have a long history of thoughtful and articulate treatment within the Catholic tradition.”


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