Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Catholic Catechism 4: Resurrection, Spirit, Church

Continuing my take-away from our Monday reading group going through the Roman Catholic Catechism to compare it with Wesleyan theology:

Week 1: Introduction and Revelation
Week 2: God the Father
Week 3: Jesus' Birth, Life, Death

This week's reading of the catechism was over Part 1, Section 2, chapter 2, articles 5-9.  This is over Jesus' resurrection, exaltation, as well as the beginning of the third part of the Apostle's Creed relating to the Spirit and the Church.
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1. Keith Drury remarked that if Wesleyans had a catechism this long and filled in all the blanks, we might be definite on a long of things that aren't very central. For example, you will not find any Wesleyan position on what Jesus did in between his death and resurrection.  I am fine with saying "he descended to the dead" in the Apostle's Creed, but would rather not say much more.

Of course I'm not too fond of the frequently heard Calvinist sense that he partook of the punishment of hell, "he descended to hell" in the punitive sense.  But I have no need, as the RC catechism does to distinguish between hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.  According to the catechism, it was apparently Paradise to which Christ descended, the place where the OT saints had gone.

This is a possible way of interpreting a few biblical texts, but not something I would be too concerned to spell out.

2. The catechism makes it clear that Christ's resurrection was literal and physical, not metaphorical or spiritual.

3. Jesus' literal return to earth at some point in the future is also declared.  It actually sounds like it teaches that ethnic Israel will turn to Christ at his return.  In fact, it almost sounds pre-millennial, with mention of an Antichrist and a final trial.  I'm very happy that the Wesleyan Church intentionally does not take a position on how the end will come, except for a general belief in the second coming.

4. Wesleyans often associate baptism with new birth but not in as close a way as RCatholics do.  A person might experience new birth before or after baptism.  Indeed, a person might never be baptized and experience new birth.  If a Wesleyan were to have a child baptized, it would appropriate the symbolism of inclusion without associating the baptism with new birth.  I should note that while I am using the language of symbolism, Wesleyans do consider baptism a sacrament and thus a means of grace, which is something more than a mere symbol.

5. Wesleyans do not associate the revelation of the Holy Spirit with the RCatholic Magisterium or in much of its sacramental liturgy, although we believe it is possible that the Spirit might speak at times through them, just as he can speak through anything.

6. Wesleyans generally do not think of Confirmation as a sacrament, although certainly we do not have a problem with catechetical discipleship or that God can use it as a means of grace.  This section at one point mentions the "seven" sacraments.  Wesleyans really only believe in two, although we believe God can use anything he wants as a means of grace, so he could use the other 5 if he wanted to on some occasion.

7. A lot of material on the way God works and then the anticipation of Christ in the OT that Wesleyans wouldn't have a problem with.  Wesleyans wouldn't have a problem with most of what the catechism says about the Holy Spirit.

8. Wesleyans don't have a problem with the Church being "one," "holy," and "apostolic."  There is almost nothing in this section on the church to which a Wesleyan would object, except perhaps one side comment on Mary, since Wesleyans would not consider Mary to be without sin.

So, out of 43 pages, there were two or three tangential comments we would disagree with.  The rest is pretty much common ground.

1 comment:

superrustyfly said...

I would add to point 1 that the descended into hell could also be viewed as an act of liberation. Just a thought.