Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Factions, ecumenical, Papacy etc

Hans Kung bravely (for a Catholic) has a go at the whole office of the Pope in the Roman Catholic church. Perhaps, says Kung, if the Papal office were more about serving the church and less about securing power, protestants and the Orthodox would rejoice. He lists Peter three temptations as those that tempt those in the Petrine office: the temptation to pull Jesus aside and tell him better (papal infallibility), the temptation to assert unfailing devotion to Jesus, the very moment the denials come, and the temptation to look at the task and of others (in John), instead of loving Jesus and caring for his sheep.

"In this respect, it must be pointed out finally that each Church in virtue of its history has its own peculiarities which are not accepted in the same way by others: each has, so to speak, it's "speciality". These "specialities" however are of varying importance. The Catholic "speciality" of course is the Pope. But Catholics are not alone in this. The Eastern Orthodox also have their "Pope": this is the "tradition". For Protestants it is the "Bible". And finally "freedom" for the Free Churches. But as the "papacy" of the Catholics is not simply the Petrine ministry of the New Testament, neither is the "tradition" of the Orthodox simply the apostolic tradition, not the "Bible" of the Protestants simplt the Gospel, nor the "freedom" of the Free churches simply the freedom of the children of God. Even the best password is misused if it becomes a party program with which men march out to fight for power in the Church. A party program that is often linked with the name of a leader. A party program which necessarily excludes others from their own church....... If we were to permit ourselves an anachronism here, we should undoubtedly indentify the Catholics with the party of Cephas, which would any case be right as against all the rest in virtue of his primacy, his power over the keys and his pastoral power. The Eastern Orthodox would be the party of Apollos, explaining revelation in light of the great tradition of Greek thought more spiritually, more thoughtfully, more profoundly and even 'more correctly' than all the others. The Protestants would certainly be the party of Paul, who is in fact the Father of their community, the apostle par excellence, the unique preacher of the cross of Christ, who laboured more than all the apostles. Finally the Free Churches would be the party of Christ himself, free from the constraints of all the other Churches, their authorities and confessions, relying solely on Christ as the one Lord and Master and in the light of this developing the fraternal life of their congregation"
Hans Kung "On Being a Christian" pp502

What is Paul's answer in Corinthians? All things are your in Christ Jesus. All the gifts of God belong to all of God's church. To guard the gospel is not to assume that you 'own' it.


alison said...

I like this post.

Mike W said...

thanks Ali,
what do you like best?