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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Baptist Delegation Meets With The Holy See

A delegation of Baptists representing the Baptist World Alliance recently met the Pope for the second round of Baptist-Catholic dialogue.

Check it out.

VATICAN CITY (CNA) - Baptists leaders from around the world met with Pope Benedict XVI this morning at the Vatican as the second round of Baptist-Catholic talks continued. Saying that the lack of unity among Christians contradicts Christ’s will, Benedict XVI told the Baptist delegation that the world needs “our common witness to Christ and to the hope brought by the Gospel.”

This meeting in Rome is the second round of ongoing discussions that Members of the Baptist World Alliance are holding with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The theme for this meeting is: "The Word of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition and Koinonia."
American Baptists participating or observing these conversations include Steve Harmon, Campbell Divinity School, Timothy George, Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Wallace Charles Smith, President, Palmer Seminary, Johnny Hill, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, Forrest Harris, American Baptist College, and Curtis Frereman of Duke Divinity School.

Full text from the Pope's remarks to the BWA Delegation can be found here.
Today, as ever, the world needs our common witness to Christ and to the hope brought by the Gospel. Obedience to the Lord’s will should constantly spur us, then, to strive for that unity so movingly expressed in his priestly prayer: "that they may all be one… so that the world may believe" (Jn 17:21). For the lack of unity between Christians "openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and harms the most holy cause of proclaiming the good news to every creature" (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1).
I'm curious as to how the Pope would define "Unity."

Over the summer, I was a groomsman in a Catholic wedding. During the service, the priest stated that it was his belief that within our lifetime Protestants and Catholics would reunite and we, being the predominantly Baptist/Methodist crowd, would return to The Church.

Does the Pope believe that his dream of Unity between Baptists and Catholics can be fulfilled without us Baptists making the trek back to Rome?

And another question. I know its not cool to do so anymore - but why do Baptists of all stripes no longer get offended when the President appoints an ambassador to the Vatican? The Vatican is a Church after all. Why do we as a nation attempt to influence the policy decisions of a Church? Just twenty years ago moderate Baptists and Southern Baptist fundamentalists were pitching a fit each time a new President established formal diplomatic relations with The Roman Catholic Church. So much for real separation of church and state.

9 Comments:

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Wasn't this a Kennedy era debate? The thing is, the Vatican is also a city-state. Not a normal city-state, true, but I do think there's a substantial difference between having an ambassador to the Holy See as opposed to, say, Nashville. They do issue stamps...

1:23 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Actually, it was a big debate during the Reagan Era and goes all the way back to Truman.

Everyone from strict Baptist separationists like William Wallace Finlator (pastor of Pullen Memorial and then National VP of ACLU) to Buzz Thomas of the BJC to Jimmy Draper of the SBC fought to block Reagan's appointment of an ambassador to the Vatican in 1984-1985. Baptists weren't alone. The NCC participated in that fight as well.

The Vatican is a city-state. But it is the Holy See and not the State of Vatican City which maintains formal diplomatic relations with the United States.

1:53 PM

 
Anonymous barely a prof said...

I coulda picked a much better lists of "Baptists" than that one, including weave jr. AND/OR sr.

Those guys were probably salivating over the Pope's telling them that the Papal See is the only legitimate telos of their journeying.

I bet they just had a GRAND time talking about "Baptist Catholicity"

ssadler (aka barely a prof)

4:55 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:18 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

My question would be:

When meeting the "Most Holy Father," is it more proper for a Bapto-Catholic to kneel and kiss His Holiness' ring or simply extend the right hand of Christian fellowship?

Perhaps I should consult the Bapto-Catholic Dress Code published by The Wittenburg Door for a little etiquette insight.

5:19 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

I know Reagan was the first to finally appoint an ambassador to the Vatican, but it was one of many issues surrounding Kennedy's run, right? Do you honestly have a problem with it? Seems to me that clearly the Catholic church has had a major role in diplomatic history and as such might warrant such representation. Is our mission really there to influence policy, or is it more to monitor what the Holy See is up to?

SSadler, if you're barely a prof then the rest of us are in real trouble.

5:19 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Not sure how much of an issue that was with JFK. Truman and JM Dawson knocked heads over the issue, Dawson prevailed, and due to their pissing match Truman stopped attending FBC Washington where Dawson was a deacon.

Opposition to diplomatic relations with the Vatican is not high on my priority list. But I do believe (despite the religio-political nature of the Holy See) that assigning an American ambassador to the Vatican constitutes government favortism toward religion. First Amendment scholars on both sides of the aisle made arguments against relations for almost 50 years. But I guess the issue has died now that religious liberty advocates lost the rounds with Reagan and Bush I.

Still, The Roman Catholic Church continues to be one of the most important threats to the separation principle in the 21st Century. Some may see that as an anti-Catholic statement. But, the fact remains that the RCC continues to spend millions to influence state governments and DC to obtain public monies for their voucher schemes. They don't need a special favored relationship with the government to continue influencing American public policy.

7:58 PM

 
Blogger Easter Dates said...

For the lack of unity between Christians "openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and harms the most holy cause of proclaiming the good news to every creature" (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1)

As an individual you can take a small step towards Christian Unity at www.onedate.org.

It is an on line petition to unite the date of Easter that Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox would celebrate this Feast of Feasts all on One Date.

2:18 AM

 
Blogger Arnie Adkison said...

BDW,

One Texas Baptist rep you didn't mention was Baptist University of the Americas' Dr. Nora Lozano. Not only does she bring the historic Baptist perspective to these dialogues (which as you have noted provide plenty of angst in itself) she is a Mexican woman. The position of power of the RC church in Mexico (and many other places) is certainly not lost on her, and I can guarantee you that she is approaching this dialogue with a great balance of both hope for the (eventual) unity of all followers of Jesus and the skepticism that comes from centuries of poor doctrine, oppression, and the mingling of church and state.

8:23 AM

 

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