Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Anti-Catholicism and the (Campbellite) Churches of Christ

Recent developments on the ex-CoC* Support board have me thinking about anti-Catholicism in the (Campbellite*) Churches of Christ.

Here's my theory--anti-Catholicism is so ingrained in the churches of Christ that even after they leave, many people still do not realize how much of a hold the anti-Catholic rhetoric holds over them.

I grew up in a CoC where regular sermons were preached regarding the evils of Catholicism: praying to statues, worshipping Mary, believing you can work your way into Heaven, you can sin all week and go to confession on Saturday and it's all good, etc. I'm sure others can add to the list, but those are the biggies. I know I believed it all when i was still CoC. After study and meditation though I realized that I had been horribly mislead by the CoC preachers and Sunday school teachers. I'm sure they meant well and thought they were saving me from certain sinfulness, but it delayed my conversion for a long time because I didn't want to be Catholic. I didn't want to believe that all those awful things I'd heard about Catholics weren't really true.

What I've observed on the ex-CoC board is that even among those who have left, there is still an underlying anti-Catholicism. There's an attitude of "I don't know what I believe, but it's not anything like Catholicism" (thanks Stephanie!) I don't even think some realize they're doing it. Others though, are deliberately baiting Catholics. Even among the ex-ers, it's still not okay to be Catholic. The comments on the board have ranged from telling us we're sheep who can't think for ourselves and who couldn't hack it in the real world to calling our belief in tradition "unbiblical garbage."

I would ask all CoC members and ex-members to think about their attitudes. Why do you get upset that Catholics don't believe in Sola Scriptura? Why do you feel the need to make a barbed comment when the question/comment could easily be phrased in non-inflammatory terms?

I'm not really surprised that there is anti-Catholicism in the CoC. After all, Alexander Campbell himself wasn't a big fan of Catholics. See here.

*I use the terms Campbellite and CoC to distinguish the particular branch of restoration movement church of Christ. This is done purely for clarity purposes as the Catholic Church also refers to herself as the Church of Christ.


jdavidb said...

I think many people both inside and outside the Churches of Christ are unaware of the larger historical context of Protestantism that the Church of Christ sits in.

Cherished doctrines of the Restoration Movement existed before the movement itself. Congregational church government, a capella singing, and of course things for which Protestantism is still known including Sola Scriptura and a belief that the Catholic Church is the apostasy foretold in Scripture (although that one is fading).

But in the Church of Christ we are often very myopic and, especially if we were raised in that movement and this is all we ever knew, we tend to think we invented it. :) (I actually think it gives us much more credibility if we did not in fact invent any of it, but I digress.)

So as people exit the Church of Christ into general Protestantism, they are still often going to be very much at home at their new church with many of the same ideas, including Sola Scriptura and a belief that even if all the other churches are okay the Catholic Church definitely is not.

You could support the entire case of the Church of Christ against Catholicism with books written by authors from other churches, and no actual members. As a matter of fact, the bitterest anti-Catholic hysteria I've seen comes from outside the Church of Christ. While my grandfather owned some rather bigoted anti-Catholic books in his library, he didn't share their sentiments, and many of the folks I know within the church see Catholicism as just another wrong denomination -- no better, no worse.

Erik said...

Why aren't Bishops out debating people nowadays?