"The liberal Protestant Traditions, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and moderate Baptist congregations, are hanging by a thread and have become completely irrelevant except to academics and 'The Church of the liberal media.'" --Fr. Allan J. McDonald
Dr. R. Kirby Godsey is the chancellor of Mercer University and has a very interesting op ed piece in this morning's Sunday Telegraph which you can read HERE by PRESSING this SENTENCE.
He no longer belongs to the Southern Baptist Convention version of the Baptist Church, but to the "Cooperative Fellowship" a more moderate coalition, yet another splinter group in the ever dividing and multiplying protestant tradition continually trying to reinvent itself. But that is the Protestant tradition and far be it from me, a Counter "Reformationist" to suggest to Dr. Godsey that Christian division is the greatest problem with Christianity, not some of the things he suggests are the Catholic Church's problems. Nothing has diluted the witness of the Baptist Church and other splintering offshoots of the Protestant tradition than their divisiveness and personal infallibility.
Dr. R. Kirby Godsey served as Mercer University's 17th president and CEO from July 1, 1979, until June 30, 2006. He served as president longer than any of his predecessors. Under Dr. Godsey's leadership, Mercer grew to be among the largest Baptist-affiliated universities in the world.
You can read his entire op ed piece by going to the link above. Overall it is very good and complimentary. Where I would take exception is the following:
However, I would suggest he hits the nail on the head and brilliantly so when he writes, "In the final analysis, the church will stand or fall, be vibrant or a shadow of irrelevance, gain confidence or lose allegiances by how effectively and persuasively and authentically the people who are the church are challenged to embody the ways of Jesus being in the world, to become bearers of grace and instruments of peace, to find the courage for unbridled compassion, becoming hope in flesh and blood for somebody with a face and a name." My Comment: I would suggest that is the pastoral theology of the Catholic Church and of Dr. Godsey's tradition too. We are in agreement there!
But then he adds: "We are often, and I think justifiably, frustrated by the pace and the reluctance of the church, especially the Roman Catholic Church, to face up to outmoded and destructive religious practices. The church is surely weaker and smaller in stature because the power and presence and insight of women is not embraced more fully. The “princes” of the church desperately need “princesses” alongside them.
The church is diminished by continuing to require that priests not marry. Because of the focus of Pope Francis on the priority of the ways of Jesus, some of these outworn and counterproductive practices may be successfully challenged. They will change. The issue is when and will it be in time to help restore the credibility and relevance of the church."
And then he adds this bombshell: "Perhaps some of these practices will be eroded by the people’s pope who is inclined to listen with the heart before and more often than he speaks ex cathedra. Neither should the church nor the pope become obsessed with protecting the sanctity of its doctrines. Doctrines are simply the residue of the religious experience and thoughts of those before us. Faith is rarely about believing the right things; it is about changing the center of gravity of people’s lives, not revising human language."
My Comments: Dr. Godsey fails to understand that apart from naming new saints "ex cathedra" no pope has used this tool of teaching more than twice by himself. The first time was by Pope Pius X in 1864 when he declared the already existing doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be dogma and then when Pope Pius XII in 1952 declared the already existing doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven to be dogma. Certainly popes together with the bishops in Ecumenical Councils have declared infallible dogmas, illustrated in the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the actual canon of the New Testament, which Dr. Godsey would not have except for that bit of infallibility. Certainly other Councils have defined certain teachings as dogmas too.
Dr. Godsey fails to understand that the Catholic Church does have married clergy, just like the Orthodox Churches do, in fact these are Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite. We also have married former Episcopal priests and Protestant clergy of other denominations who are married who have been ordained married priests. Will the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church's discipline regarding married men becoming priests be extended to the Latin Rite (Western Rite). That could happen. But you will not see priests being allowed to married once ordained and bishops will be chosen only from the celibate clergy as is the tradition of the Orthodox and the Eastern rite in union with Rome.
When it comes to the ordination of women as priests and bishops, Dr. Godsey does not realize that the pope has no authority whatsover to change this Tradition of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church. Pope John Paul II made that abundantly clear. He and no pope has that authority. Their authority is limited. The bishop and priest represent in a sacramental way in their ministry and in their role at Mass the icon of Jesus Christ the Bridegroom and the Church collectively (clergy and laity) is the Bride of Christ. We normally refer to the Church as "souls." In Latin the word soul is always feminine, "anima."
Could women be ordained deacons? I think the verdict is not complete on that and that it could come to pass. I'm not clairvoyant. And certainly women have held high places in the Church running hospitals, universities and in significant positions of authority on the parish level as pastoral assistants, principals and Directors of Religious Education and Youth Ministers.
Could a lay women be named a "cardinal?" A cardinal is an honorary title and one need not be a bishop to be named such. So that is in the realm of possibility. But in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of the Church of the Media, that would be tokenism.
Of course Dr. Godsey would be in favor I believe of same sex marriage, so gender neutrality is a part of his new infallibity in redefining marriage and ridding the Church of that pesky problem of gender, male and female, bride and groom as well as Natural Law.
In Dr. Godsey's infallible understanding of twisiting Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law, it makes perfect sense that a woman can be a bridegroom.
Of course, Dr. Godsey's Baptist tradition is non-sacramental so it really doesn't matter in their tradition about the deeper meanings of our sacramental theology and doctrine, not to mention dogma.
The liberal expressions of Protestantism which began in the late 1800's and of which Protestant fundamentalism evolved as a result of the liberal expression abandoning the core beliefs of the Church has be a castastrophe for the Church but a boon for the secularists who wish to undermine the truths of the Church in whatever way they can.
In the liberal Protestant Traditions, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and moderate Baptist congregations, are hanging by a thread and have entered complete irrelevance except by academics and the Church of the liberal media.
Dr. Godsey falls into what many Protestants believe about Catholics which isn't true, that Good works save us. If that were the case then anyone can be saved by themselves and their Good works as they interpret these. No we are save by God, through the Grace He gives us that enables us to have faith, hope and love. Faith and good works combined are a sign of us having embraced the gifts of Grace God gives us and thus His gift of salvation. We can't really judge another's good works, save God, but we can judge right faith, right practice. Orthodoxy is not the enemy of society or the Church.