Sitting in the Charlotte Airport, reading some Tillich, watching folks as they move through their busy days…
“According to Irenaeus the saving power is the divine Spirit who dwells in the church and renews the members out of what is old into the newness of Christ. Christ gives them life (phos); and he gives them the new reality. This is Gods work in man, accepted by faith. Therefore, no law is needed, since we love God and the neighbor. That is the Pauline element, but it is not strong enough to overcome the anti-Pauline elements. Ultimately, the new being is mystical and ethical. In this sense Irenaeus‘ conception is the highest form of early Catholicism, but it is not Protestant. In Protestantism, the renewal takes place through justification through faith. Irenaeus thinks of the process of salvation in terms of a mystical regeneration into immortality.”
So, from this description, I may have become Catholic in the Irenaeic sense. far, I don’t see anything I disagree with in this statement, other than that I appear to be more catholic than I first believed. Maybe I need to read Irenaeus, I think I like him already. Tillich goes on later to say that the mystical union of God and man in the Eucharist is is one of the early markings of the Roman Catholic Church. And that because of these doctrines (baptism, eucharist) the Protestant church cannot be seen as a remaking of the early years of the church because it does not embody or recognize many of these features in the classic Roman sense. He also says the Via Media of the Anglican Communion cannot work as it is intended, because to be aligned and in agreement with the church of the first 5 centuries is to be essentially RC. And being “catholic” in his definition is not only to do with the beliefs surrounding the Lords Supper, but also of Church hierarchy, administration, authority, etc. These other Roman Catholic elements are incompatible with the Reformed tradition. I need to read more of his development along these lines, because I surely have bitten off on the Anglican message, and have the hook firmly in my mouth. I have been reading some of the Ante-Nicene Fathers as well, and have seen exactly what he is talking about, the early church was VERY catholic in its treatment of the sacraments, etc. But it also was not a stranger to the Spirit, so it may have been more like Evangelical Anglicanism than we realize.
We make things so difficult sometimes, when all that is required is to love God and to love our neighbor. Through the Spirit.