A positive Adventist experience of Catholicism

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Icon of Christ Crucified, chapel of San Damiano, near Assisi

Icon of Christ Crucified, chapel of San Damiano, near Assisi

Maybe this is too progressive for some.  But the ProgressiveAdventism blog [now defunct] has taken a look at how Catholic practices are seen as positive experiences by some Adventists … all the way down to liturgical chants.

Besides showing some lovely icons, to which neither these Adventists nor Catholics pray, they give some insight into the beauty of Catholicism that is acceptable – and welcomed – by many Adventists.

This interest that younger Adventists are exhibiting is a “spiritual” one that seeks to incorporate ancient Christian spiritual traditions into daily life, many of which are retained in Catholicism.

I believe Catholicism (and the Orthodox Churches) retain a tremendous amount of spiritual traditions from the early Christian Church.  The Apostle Paul said we should follow their traditions – both those they wrote down, and those they taught verbally.  That applies certainly to their doctrinal teachings, but we do well to preserve their spiritual practices as well.  Adventism will only benefit from what we preserved for Christians that came originally from the Apostles and the early Christians.

Roman Catholicism … sees the world and everyone and everything in it as a God-given reflection of the Divine.

Now they notice.

The one thing that remains a constant in this form of Adventism is the ease felt in interacting with Catholicism and the respect preserved for ancient Christian traditions of worship, spirituality, and approaching God.

Yet our theology is closely tied in with that.  Not only do historical records show us that our theology is equally ancient, but a better understanding of the practices leads to a better understanding of the theology.  Adventism badly needs that.  Too many Adventists spend too much time attacking Catholicism – usually only demonstrating that they really don’t understand what Catholicism teaches.  If our practices bring us closer in worship, they may eventually come to realise that our teachings are actually not that far out, and quite biblically based … just understood with a different world view – described well in the words I quoted above:

Roman Catholicism … sees the world and everyone and everything in it as a God-given reflection of the Divine.

So we come to the question of whether or not this style of catholic Adventism is beneficial or detrimental to Adventism.

Oh, definitely beneficial.  Not only for the reasons I give above.

In order to allay any fears, I would like to point out that Adventists who are fascinated with Catholicism ARE NOT converting to Catholicism.

Hmmm … perhaps not all.  But some.  I know of Adventists who treasure their rosaries.  They don’t pray with them, of course.  Many Adventists have their pictures of Jesus.  We just call them icons.  None of us worship them.

It is not the dogmatic beliefs of Catholicism that they are attracted to. These Adventists appreciate and firmly believe in what Adventism confesses as doctrine (i.e., the fundamental beliefs).

Yet soon they will realise that the ancient Christian practices reflect the ancient Christian theology, and identify with it, and we’ll see anti-Catholic tensions within Adventism fade.  At least amongst some.  The Christian roots of Adventism should remain.  Its unique teachings … some could well become devout practices, such as the way the Sabbath was – and still is – kept as a pious tradition, but some will have to be abandoned in their journey back to ancient Christianity … such as their concept of an obligatory Sabbath as a law of God, something foreign to the Christians of the first few centuries.

Adventists are finding spiritual solace in the ancient customs of the early Christians, kept intact within Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy …

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit works through this trend (obviously He is already) and brings them a greater theological solace.

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