Protestant Impressions of Catholic Statements

By F, James | Shofar, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Protestant Impressions of Catholic Statements


F, James, Shofar


Some fascinating insights from Derrida

I have been asked to join this group of scholars at this Jewish studies conference as the lone Christian theologian in order to give a Protestant's perspectives on the recent statements from the Catholic church, most particularly Dominus Iesus. Now this invitation is, itself, a wonder since my presence at this conference and on this panel raises basic questions about who it is that does Jewish studies and what it is that constitutes Jewish studies. That we are together responding to statements from the Catholic church enhances those questions even more, for what I do can be construed by many to be Christian studies, and surely the statements of the church are strictly within the realm of the circle of Christians, particularly teachers of Catholic theology. I will return to these questions at the end of my reflections, but the issues remain in my mind as I shape my contribution to this discussion.

I begin my comments on the theological statement Dominus Iesus with an assertion. I believe it is quite clear that the intended audience of this document is the teaching leadership of the Catholic church. The intended audience may be especially the leadership of the Catholic church in America, including a number of people that we all have come to know. Thus, the statement does have a direct personal impact on many of us just in that fact. My claim is that the document is intended to restrict quite directly the scope of what these leading teachers can officially teach as Catholic theology. Of course, such efforts are not new, particularly coming from the particular Vatican congregation that issued this document over the signature of the Pope and mainly through the efforts of Cardinal Ratzinger. In fact, this document is quite dependent upon another fairly recent statement, Redemptoris Missio, and there are many references in this statement to the earlier document. It is also quite clear that this document is an attempt to clarify certain positions expressed in the critical conciliar document issued in the mid-sixties, Nostre Aetate. The point is that those in this Vatican congregation, especially Cardinal Ratzinger, view developments in Catholic teaching to be dangerous for the church, and they are hoping to create standards of judgment that can, in some cases, reverse the tide of development in the church. It is, in fact, an effort to control exactly what can be called "Catholic religious memory."

In that regard, we can suspect that this document is a companion piece to a number of other efforts to create an impression of the Catholic past. Why is it so important for the Vatican leadership to rush to beatify Pope Pius XII? There is a critical juncture in the development of Catholic memory which can shift the picture of the effectiveness of the church in the past century. Most especially, the church continues to bear the burden of a memory of failure, a failure that is represented to many by the figure Pius XII and the weakness of church leadership in providing the model for full and strong resistance to the Nazi onslaught.(1) That surely is the issue with the effort to paint a saintly picture of Pius XII, but it may also be a clue to the effort to shape the nature of Catholic teaching at the beginning of the twenty-first century. For this is a theology of the church, first and foremost, and the point is to set forth an image of the church that reinforces a theology that sees the church as the light of the world, the hope for all humanity. How is it possible for the church to do this if there is a lingering suspicion that the opposite is in fact true, the church is a model of the failure of humanity to respond to evil? Even more, we can understand that the leadership in Rome does not want dissidents in the teaching ranks who are prepared to challenge this image and open the door for seeing the church as one among many voices that humanity needs to listen to. It may be crass to say, but the document reads quite clearly as an effort to re-assert the oft-assumed principle that there is no salvation outside of the church, even as this must be set in post-Nostre Aetate terms. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Protestant Impressions of Catholic Statements
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.