PROTESTANT to CATHOLIC defections, a personal reflection
I have also been thinking about the Pope's recent declaration affirming what he believes is the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church and I have a few thoughts which I am writing in two posts.
I have noticed is that while "popular" Christianity, represented by some of the blogosphere stuff, keeps bashing other branches of Christianity that are different from what they believe to be right, several aspects of the theological outlooks between Catholics and Protestants, on the contrary, actually seem to be narrowing. Catholic theology is de-emphasizing some of its "strange doctrines" to the point that on the occasions that I read the Catholic Biblical Quarterly (CBQ; an academic Theological journal), it is quite similar to reading the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS; a US Evangelical academic journal). And several articles in the CBQ are written by evangelicals.
On the other hand, the changes in the theological outlooks of the some of the mainstream Protestant churches into liberal theology has driven several Evangelicals to side more with Catholic theology; at least parts of modern Catholicism, in my view, contains more obvious evangelical teaching you can find in some Anglican churches here in the UK.
I see two main effects of these changes on the Catholic Church. Firstly, there is continuing defection of some Evangelicals to Catholicism. On the Catholic Television channel, EWTN here in the UK, and there is a Sunday evening programme titled The Journey Home in which they parade ministers of Protestant churches who have defected to or returned to Roman Catholicism. The primary reason for their defection is always the same - the Catholic Church today, appears more evangelical than the liberal Protestant churches from which they are defecting.
Secondly, it is producing profound confidence in the Vatican about itself. And this is certainly reflected in what the Pope has done by penning his signature to this document. Certainly in Europe, the Catholic Church is feeling confident enough to make clear moral stand on several social and political issues where Protestant denominations continue to prevaricate and “umm” and “ahh”.
In the end, when we distil the faith of the true churches of Christ - it is truly all Evangelical - it is the same. One body with many parts, as Paul puts it - Unity in diversity. That unity only comes from recognizing and accepting the GOSPEL as it is. When any denomination gives up that Evangelical doctrine of the Gospel, it can call itself what it likes, but sooner or later it will whittle away. I think it is because many parts of the Catholic Church are going back to the Protestant Evangelical faith that they are attracting many people back.
This is a worldwide phenomenon and I think the Charismatic movement is playing a central role in this; because certain aspects of Charismatism by nature need to always emphasize the power of the gospel. Methodism was like that when John Wesley came on the scene, and one can say that it was the Charismatic movement of its day. I will comment further on this in my next post. In Ghana today, many of the established or "Orthodox" churches have learnt this lesson and some are going back to old time religion, so to speak.