Unintelligent Treatment Of Romanism -- By: Charles C. Starbuck

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 039:153 (Jan 1882)
Article: Unintelligent Treatment Of Romanism
Author: Charles C. Starbuck


Unintelligent Treatment Of Romanism

Charles C. Starbuck

Unintelligent conduct by a mighty state of a war with a petty one is foolish, but not fatal. But unintelligent conduct of a war with an equal in strength is terribly damaging, and only too apt to be deadly.

With Catholicism we might have controversy, but need not have war. Even with Roman Catholicism it is not absolutely necessary that we should be on hostile terms. Roman Catholicism is by no means identical with Romanism. A great number of excellent people,—laymen, priests, bishops, and even here and there a pope, — have been Catholics more than Roman Catholics, and have not, properly speaking, been Romanists at all. They have, it is true, as firmly believed the bishop of Rome to be by divine right the. chief governor of the church as others have believed the bishop in general to be by divine right chief governor of his diocese, or the elders or the brotherhood to be by divine right rulers of the particular congregation; and they are as much devoted to the doctrinal definitions of Trent as others are to the definitions of Westminster, or others, again, to those of Lambeth. But the papacy is with them a means, not an end. Though venerable, it is subordinate in their thoughts and in their feelings. They have a strong sense of national differences, of local rights, of episcopal as contradistinguished

from papal authority. They are more inclined to accommodate than to over-rule. They are not disposed to use high language even with little Utrecht, and would be very well content with a decision affirming the validity of Anglican orders. To regain the East they would be willing to reduce Rome to little more than a primacy in fact, provided only the Greeks would acknowledge her supremacy in form; and to regain their separated brethren in general they would be easily moved to lay the axe to abuses as unsparingly as would consist with the theoretical claims of the Roman obedience to be the ecumenical, infallible church.

This description, it is true, marks the extreme outer line of Roman Catholicism. There are many that would not fully come up to it who nevertheless might justly be styled Roman Catholics that are not Romanists. Of these may be mentioned, as an eminent living example, Archbishop Taschereau of Quebec; and of those not living, Lingard, Bishop Sailer, and the illustrious Clement XIV. Indeed, until lately whole schools and regions of the Catholic church answered largely to this description. But the Vatican Council closed a contest of centuries by the final condemnation as heresy of every school of Roman Catholicism which is not absolutely identical with Romanism. And if there should be a successful reaction against this it would pro...

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