Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Response To Jacob Allee's "It's Time For Protestants To Remember Why They Are Protestants" By A Concerned Protestant, P. I

Jacob Allee published an article called “It’s Time For Protestants To Remember Why They Are Protestants” on November 29th, 2006. His main point was not so much a recapitulation of Protestant distinctives but an outright lampooning of the Roman Catholic Church. I say, lampooning because it’s really a fit description for the lack of ecclesiastical, even academic integrity one would hope to expect from a person in his position; that is, a pastor and teacher.

So saying, Mr. Allee begins his article by letting the reader know that he was at a funeral with a brace of other Christians. In particular, he identifies the preacher for the occasion as a “self proclaimed evangelical.” He then moves on to note the preacher’s appreciation for the variety of Christians and ministers gathered together for a common focus. In itself, none of this would really pose much of a problem, but in the context of the rest of Jacob’s paper, his descriptor “self proclaimed” intimates a snide estimation of the preacher, and his intentions.

You see, Mr. Allee assumes a voice for Protestants everywhere (evident by the title of his paper), and makes himself their spokesman in a long-standing disagreement with the Roman Catholic Church. That a fellow-Protestant would happily receive Catholics as labourers in a common cause irks Mr. Allee’s doctrinal securities, and gives the Baptist minister reason to doubt the preacher’s evangelicalism. Thus he throws in the modifier “self proclaimed” (without the proper hyphen, I might add) in an effort to discredit the man. At the same time he allows the title “evangelical” to stand, perhaps with the notion in mind that the preacher will eventually recognize his error and return to ‘true’ Protestantism.

What follows is an interesting, if not revealing digression. Mr. Allee admits, “I consider myself an evangelical too” but fails to first, set out a definition for what that means, and second, aligns himself thereby with the preacher he just finished discrediting. So by an act of self-proclamation, Mr. Allee is an evangelical because he protests the Catholic Church. But by the same act of self-proclamation, the preacher for the funeral (another evangelical) is discredited because he enjoys harmonious causes, joint labour, and over-looking differences for the sake of peace, and common charity.

Given Mr. Allee’s concern for the preacher who appreciates Christians of other stripes, even Roman Catholics, one could really develop a concern for what this important title “evangelical” actually means. Doubtless Mr. Allee is familiar with the Greek root ευαγγέλιον (euangelion) meaning “promise,” “gospel,” or “good news,” making the extension “evangelical” take on the definition “one who brings the ‘promise’ or ‘good news’ of the ‘gospel’.” Surely Jacob didn’t overlook that! If so, then we should wonder whether Mr. Allee has identified himself with a catch-word, or means something more substantial by making such an explicit identification of himself. And further, by taking difference with someone else proclaiming the same pedigree.

Still, after making it a point to name names, Mr. Allee, in an awkward twist of logic, states, “But nevermind that.” It’s quite likely that Jacob was simply intending to create a casual tone in his writing by dismissing out of hand a point he seems so eager to hold on to. Or should we just view Mr. Allee’s condescending remark, “self proclaimed evangelical,” and his subsequent “I consider myself an evangelical too” as points that are largely irrelevant to him? If so, then why draw so much attention to the issue? If it doesn’t matter so much that we can simply “nevermind that” then why mention, or emphasize the title ‘evangelical’ three times in the first seven lines of his paper?

Well perhaps, dear reader, we should follow along Jacob’s digression for now, and see where it leads us. I can assure you that the scenery throughout the rest of his paper is depressing. I can assure you equally well, however, that the method we use to view the scenery – simple logic – will bring some light, and humour to Jacob’s otherwise moribund theological landscape.

To Be Continued…

(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations.)


Gregory said...

Hey Chris. I love the direction you've chosen to take here. I'm looking foreward to more. It's been too long since we've heard your distinctive voice around here.

CJFreeman said...

Thank you very much, Gregory. More will come very soon. I intend to write more tonight.