Roman Catholicism in the Nineteenth Century

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

The nineteenth century posed a number of unique challenges to the Roman Catholic Church, among them the continued rise of Protestantism, the increasing influence of modernism, the development of historical and biblical criticisms, and the rise in understanding of numerous world religions. Roman Catholicism developed a number of responses to these challenges, most notably through Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors and the canons of the First Vatican Council. In these writings, Rome affirmed the veracity of the tradition of the Church in opposition to the world, dogmatically affirming the accuracy and infallibility of the teachings of the Church and Pope. Continue reading

PRV2: Protestant-Catholic Dialogue

This post is part of our ongoing series examining Protestant Reactions to Vatican II.

VaticanAnother facet of the Second Vatican Council that has garnered a variety of responses from Protestant Christians involves those documents discussing the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian Churches. While not universally affirmed, the general perspective of Protestant scholars on this issue has affirmed the position taken by Vatican II. Clearly the council gave special attention to Eastern Orthodox churches, which until Vatican II were summarily ignored or feuded with by Rome, as in Orientalium Ecclesiarum the Eastern Church was acknowledged to have an antiquity, continuity, and ecclesial validity rivaling Rome itself.[1] Regarding Protestant-Catholic relations, Lindbeck argues that, despite of reports concerning numerous unintended consequences of Vatican II, the renewal of Protestant-Catholic relations remains very much an intended consequence of the council.[2] Indeed, he argues that the placement of Marian dogma within the constitution on the Church was an important step along the road of ecumenical Protestant engagement and an important step away from pre-Vatican II Marian maximalism.[3] Continue reading

PRV2: Divine Revelation and the Church

This post is part of our ongoing series examining Protestant Reactions to Vatican II.

DeiVerbum_web-754736Dei verbum and Lumen gentium, the constitutions on Divine Revelation and the Church, respectively, remain two of the most discussed documents among Protestants responding to Vatican II. Historically such interest follows from the concerns of the Protestant Reformation, where early reformers often took issue with the Medieval Catholic Church’s conceptions of scripture and tradition as well the hierarchy and order of the church. Several Protestant scholars have affirmed Vatican II’s position on these issues. Writing on the Constitution of the Church, Patterson notes that the “Church is defined primarily as the People of God composed of various groups and including Bishops and laity. Historically the tendency has been to emphasize the hierarchical conception of the Church….”[1] Continue reading