Catholics and Protestants Unified

A self proclaimed Catholic, and professor of Philosophy at Boston College, Peter Kreeft spoke to Gordon College students on what unity looks like and how it can be achieved between the long divided systems of Catholicism and Protestantism. A converted Catholic raised as a Protestant, Kreeft utilized his unique perspective of understanding for both sides in his speech at Gordon recently to flesh out the issues, obstacles, and solutions as he saw them in order to reach unity. Ultimately Kreeft said a “Unified Christian church would be fully Catholic and fully reformed, fully authoritative and fully free, fully sacramental and fully evangelical, fully institutional and fully charismatic” determining that both sides would have to stomach truths, admit faults and address failures accumulated over the years.

Kreeft established six obstacles to this unity: the problem of nature and grace, and the objective religion versus the subjective religion as two theological issues, the sources of authority, and the faith versus works argument as two underlying doctrinal issues, and finally the issue of sin, and the illusion that unity is absent as the two deepest obstacles that stand as the root of all the others.

Kreeft began with the theological issues insisting that the solutions to both issues was through affirmation of both sides of each issue. There is a need for both sides and there is legitimacy in both sides, truth is not mutually exclusive between one or the other. Kreeft continued with the doctrinal issues tackling essentially the very topics which have separated Catholicism and Protestantism. Again he found the middle ground with the church as the “rider and interpreter” of the theoretical horse that is the bible with ultimate authority. With Faith and works Kreeft did the same saying that “the Catholic Church needs to catch up to Luther” yet insisting that its failing is in practice not in belief. At its heart he sees the Catholic Church as often failing in its teaching, but not at the heart of what it truly believes.

Finally Kreeft addressed the largest and most obvious obstacles, human sin. Human sin is what most clearly separates us, for “we will be one in mind with each other when we are one in mind with God.” Further Kreeft suggested that the lack of unity is only an illusion. The Church is one and always will be, and “a body must be one to be a body.” Instead, Kreeft said what Christianity lacks is visible unity.

And what is the way to unity according to Kreeft? Christ. Kreeft says that it is through the life of Jesus unity can be accomplished although at the expense of both parties. For a “unified Christian church would be fully Catholic, and fully reformed, fully authoritative and fully free, fully sacramental and fully evangelical, fully institutional and fully charismatic.” Kreeft says the way to unity is through swallowing the hard truths and pursuing Christ allowing yourself to be humbled in the process.