Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
On True Unity
11/24/2009 - James White
I was directed to some comments made regarding the concept of unity and Rome's constant attack upon the Scriptures and the doctrine of sola scriptura. Someone had made mention of my home church, which is partly what drew my attention. A comment was left by Joey, who said,
Your comparison is not well structured. First, you are comparing a single “organization”, i.e. the Roman Catholic Church, with “Protestantism” in claiming that the Catholic Church is more unified in doctrine. I think this is a false comparison since “protestantism” is not a single “organization”. In my opinion, the more accurate comparison is that of “Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church” against the “Roman Catholic Church”. If we allow comparing apples to apples, you will notice that unity in doctrine and teaching that doctrine to its catechumen in the “Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church“ is no different from the unity claimed by the “Roman Catholic Church”. In fact, there are more churches that are more united in their beliefs and stance than the RC Church. What I mean is that, if we look at the individual members of a particular church and asked them their beliefs, we will get a more united stance. However, ask Roman Catholic members and you will get a more diverse stance or understanding of a particular doctrine. The point is that, the problem of disunity within the Roman Catholic Church can be seen outright when individual members are examined.
This comment clearly reflects points I have made in the past, as well as Eric Svendsen and many others. I would only change the specific local body (PRBC) to Reformed Baptists in general, across the US and the world. I know those folks pretty well, having preached in their midst in the US, the UK, Italy, Brazil, and now Australia. A Roman Catholic, however, took umbrage:
Joey – you are treating Protestantism’s fragmentation and lack of unity as a strength and Catholicism’s institutional unity as a weakness. Because the First (second, or third) Reformed Baptist Church of Phoenix has repeatedly schismed from other Protestants until it formed itself into a small homogeneous group, is it then comparable to the universal Church in terms of unity? Far from it. The Catholic Church was not formed out of schism, and it is not a country club of homogeneous Christian saints, but rather a universal hospital for all of the sinners of the world. Yet in spite of this Catholic mission, she retains her unity and hierarchical structure.
I'm afraid Tim has missed the point, one that would have been a little clearer had my suggested emendation been included in the original statement. As I watch Nancy Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, promoting homosexuality and abortion as the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, I ask myself a question: what would a Reformed Baptist Church do if she claimed membership? And I can answer that one easily. The first time she promoted such godlessness the elders would have met with her and sought to bring correction. If she refused to repent, she would have been excommunicated. Period. Yes, that's why the world thinks we are so narrow minded, just like it thinks Paul was narrow minded and the Jesus of the New Testament was narrow minded. That is to be expected. But all Nancy Pelosi, or the Kennedys, or any of the rest of the Roman Catholic abortion promoters in politics have to do is go on down the road a ways to find a good liberal bishop who will assure them that all they need to do is keep dropping something in the plate and all will be well.
It is an indisputable fact that Reformed Baptists worldwide are far, far, FAR more united in doctrine, practice, piety and worldview, than Roman Catholics are. In fact, it is an indisputable fact that Reformed Baptists and Orthodox Presbyterians, for an example, are far, far more united in doctrine, practice, piety and worldview, than Roman Catholics are. Now how can this be, given the constant mantra that sola scriptura is the blueprint for anarchy? How could our common commitment to the Scriptures result in such unity in the gospel, such unity in worldview? Yet, we find a massively wide range of views expressed under the banner of Roman Catholicism, and, it seems, Rome lacks the spine, the simple intestinal fortitude, to do almost anything about it. It is very hard to give much credence to Rome's oft made claims of unity and infallibility when you know what is being taught at Boston College or any number of other such places, and how it is light years away from the confident assertions being broadcast over Catholic Answers Live. So how is it that our focus upon the Scriptures produces unity, while Rome's focus upon her traditions, her "living magisterium," etc., produces Nancy Pelosi, the Society of Pius V, Boston College, Gerry Matatics, and Catholics for Choice?