Daily Archives: February 8, 2008

Pentecostalism closer to Catholicism than any other form of Protestantism?

It’s an intriguing idea. Recall that Louis Bouyer concluded, in his book “Spirit and forms of Protestantism“, concluded that (as I summarised in an earlier blog):

That the best hope Protestantism has of rediscovering true Christianity is to pay attention to the elements of “revivalism” in its history; and that correspondingly these “revivalist”, “pietistic” and “mystical” elements (which keep cropping up in Protestantism) might also become bridges back to authentic Catholic Christianity.

Now here is a lengthy reflection on the phenomena of Pentecostalism from John L. Allen. Bouyer wrote his book before the Pentecostal “explosion”, but I think what he calls “revivalism” surely finds its clearest expression today in the Pentecostal (and Charismatic) movement. Allen concludes his essay like this (and I quote him in full, because it is all important):

Yet on some key issues that formed the fault lines of the Protestant Reformation, Pentecostals are arguably closer to Catholics than to the Evangelicals. While classical Protestants stress the doctrine of sola scriptura, that the Bible alone is the only guide to faith, Pentecostals believe in on-going revelation through the Spirit [okay, Catholics don’t actually believe this as such, but we do believe in the ongoing deepening of understanding of the once-for all revelation in Christ]. Similarly, classical Protestantism believes in salvation through faith alone, while many strains of Pentecostalism believe in a faith manifested in holy living and the fruits of the spirit – in other words, both faith and works. Pentecostals and Catholics also tend to see grace and nature as complementary, unlike classic Reformation theology which sees a radical discontinuity. Pentecostalism has a sensual, earthy spirituality similar to some forms of popular Catholic devotion.

For these reasons, Harvey Cox has dubbed Pentecostalism “Catholicism without priests,” meaning an expression of folk spirituality without the Roman juridical system or complicated scholastic theology. Despite strong tensions between Pentecostals and Catholics, these structural parallels suggest a basis for long-term dialogue. They also may help explain why so many Catholics in various parts of the world have found Pentecostalism congenial, since it’s not entirely foreign to their own religious instincts.

And there is an intriguing comment submitted by Matthew Del Nevo, who says he is “a Catholic philosopher and theologian who also teaches in the Pentecostal National College here in Sydney” (anybody know him?). He says:

I know both Catholicism and Pentecostalism well from the inside. One important thing Pentes have in common with Catholics is a belief in the real presence of the Holy Spirit. The real presence of the Holy Spirit for both experiential, not just a cerebral belief. An experience of real relation with God. All Protestantism by contrast is based on ‘right belief’. Protestentism is confessionally based. Pentecostalism is experientially based. John Allen’s insights are correct. I have a forthcoming book the thesis of which is that Pentecostalism is as different from Protestantism as Protestantim is from Catholicism. One more note: this is harder to see in the North American context where Evangelical ‘belief-based’ theology dominates Pentecostalism, but the best Pentecostal theologians like Velli-Matti Karkkainen (Fuller) agree with me.

Worthy of some further exploration, I think.


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Giving up blogging for Lent?

No, not me, but the afore-mentioned Marco. He has announced that he is giving up blogging for Lent. Fraser Pearce is doing this too.

This is a silly idea. This is why:


1) Catholic Blogging is a form of evangelisation
2) Catholic Blogging (or even Lutheran or Anglican or Orthodox blogging–let’s get ecumenical here) is (again, as the Lutherans say) a form of “mutual consolation of the brethren”
3) Blogging for the sake of the gospel is a way of using a spiritual gift (did not St Paul say “…and to some it is given to be bloggers”?)

So all up, that makes blogging a “work of mercy” doesn’t it? What sense is there in giving up such a worthy causes for Lent?

Of course, blogging can be done out of a motivation of pride. But hate the sin and love the blog, I say.

And in any case, where in canon law does it say Lent has to be boring?

Give up blogging for Lent? Not this little black duck.


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Canonical supervision of "Individual Intiatives"

A while back, Marco asked a question about this canon:

Can. 216 Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.

Today, catching up on back reading, I found this in John Allen:

The bishop, the principle of unity in his diocese, with due respect for the necessary autonomy, has a duty of supervision over the initiatives of single individuals and of Catholic organizations in the charitable arena,” said German Archbishop Paul-Josef Cordes, President of the Vatican’s main charitable office, “Cor Unum.”

He’s talking about Catholic Charities, of course, but it must apply to Catholic blogs to, no?

I wonder who will be the first to get an “imprimatur” for their blogsite?


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