About being a Protestant Christian in Cincinnati: be familiar with what's going on in the Catholic Church. First, let me state that I hate calling myself a Protestant because I'm not currently protesting the Catholic Church; that was the name given to those who split from the Catholic church after Luther's Reformation in the early 1500's. I'd rather be known for what I'm for instead of what I'm against, but I really have no choice. Living in this city demands that I differentiate between my faith and that of practicing Catholics who are now too use the simplistic "Christian" title. So if I tell someone around here that I'm a Christian, they ask, "Protestant or Catholic." So I don't like it, but I accept it because the argument isn't worth it; I've got bigger fish to fry.
Now that I have that out of the way, let me get to what I wanted to deal with.
One of the things I appreciate about being a Protestant, and more specifically a non-denominational Protestant, is that I don't have to fear a decision coming down from above that will rock my theological world.
Quick non-Catholic example of this: this past week was the Southern Baptist Convention, where they vote on a bunch of junk for the next year. Apparently they had their own "hanging chad" controversy where a Vice President lost an election he should've won. I find this laughable. I'm sure God would've preferred electronic voting machines, or casting lots, or something like that.
But back to the Catholic Church. Yesterday in Los Angeles, America's bishops voted to revise the English translation of mass that our country's Catholic churches use. While some people think the change is miniscule, others contend that the new change is earth shattering. The LA Times describes possible changes:
"For instance, at present, when the priest says, 'The Lord be with you,' the congregation responds, 'And also with you.' Under the new translation, the response will be, 'And also with your spirit.'"
An important distinction there, huh?
This move by the bishops was made in order to adhere to new Vatican rules "designed to make liturgy more accurately reflect the original Latin of the Roman Missal." The focus is on making worldwide masses as identical as possible. But what it's really going to do is confuse people who, throughout their entire lives, were told that the old liturgy was God-ordained. And the last thing the Catholic Church needs right now is additional confusion among its followers. In my humble, non-Catholic opinion, it's not a good move.
Even though I appreciate the deep history of the Catholic Church, I find my contentment in Sola Scriptura [the rule of "Scripture alone"]. True, it's not as cut and dry as liturgy, and it requires sound interpretation and more involved pastoral leadership, but that's what the Holy Spirit is for [guidance from God in our efforts]. Also, we can still use any liturgical elements/readings we find relevant while not being chained to those parts we care to ignore.
I guess what I'm saying is it's unfortunate that so many people feel chained to a system that is extra-Biblical. It's the same environment that Jesus came to destroy.
One local Catholic bookstore owner, when asked about the confusion the liturgical changes will being, offered, "If we trip over our words, I'm sure God will understand as we try to muddle through somehow."
I think He will.