Alan Baron has offered criticisms of three articles of mine published in AD2000 in answer to the question: Which Church did Jesus establish?
In the first article I set out the position of the Catholic Church as having the 'title deeds' of Christ's Church in that it dates back to Him and is united in doctrine and discipline. Then I summarised the position of the Orthodox Churches.
In two further articles I summarised the history, distinctive theology and organisation of six Protestant groupings of Churches. I noted that all hold to private interpretation of the Bible, resulting in endless disagreements between themselves and the rejection of the Catholic Church.
I wish Mr Baron had read my articles with more care, for he thinks I dwelt on the misdeeds of the reformers and failed to mention those of certain popes. In fact I never mentioned any moral failures of Protestant reformers and founders of Churches, except in the case of John Calvin who was notorious for his ruthless suppression of all, including Protestants, who defied him.
Mr Baron goes on to argue that all the Churches exhibit moral failures in their members. Seeing that I said nothing to the contrary, there is nothing to which I need reply. In fact, my agreement with him on this point is total.
His main complaint seems to be that I pointed to serious doctrinal differences between, on the one hand, the Catholic Church and Protestant Churches and, on the other hand, among different Protestant Churches. But that is the very reason why the Churches are not united. Members of Churches can be loving of each other, but that will not guarantee unity.
To test this I put the following questions: Given that Alan is a Baptist, does he believe that an infant who is baptised has received the gift of the Holy Spirit, has been incorporated into Christ's Church and is among the saved? Does he believe good works are necessary to salvation? Will he, a loving Christian, confess his sins to a Catholic priest, believing the priest possesses a divinely conferred power to forgive sins?
Jesus the Lord cared greatly that his disciples have true beliefs. St Paul laboured anxiously to prevent deviations from the faith he taught. Neither taught that being loving is all that matters to God.
FRANK MOBBS (DR)