Saturday, July 16, 2005

Shouldn't we be past Cain and Abel already?

Apparently not in Mississippi. Detroit Free Press carries this headline: Christian adoption agency rejects Roman Catholic couples, saying faiths are in conflict Here are the essentials:
The Mississippi branch of Bethany Christian Services of Grand Rapids, Mich., told a Jackson couple this month that the Catholic religion conflicts with the agency's "Statement of Faith," and another Mississippi couple said they were rejected for the same reason last year.

The agency's policy has come under scrutiny in part because the group gets money from fees from Mississippi's Choose Life license plates.

"It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith," Bethany's state director Karen Stewart wrote. "Our practice to not accept applications from Catholics was an effort to be good stewards of an adoptive applicant's time, money and emotional energy."

The organization that parcels out proceeds raised from the sale of the Choose Life plates has asked to review the policy of a private adoption agency after learning the group will not consider Catholics as adoptive parents.
Isn't that interesting, now? Roman Catholicism does not agree with independently operated Bethany Christian Services of Jackson, Mississippi's Statement of Faith. What might this statement be? The Jackson, MI office does not have an independent website. The National office site must be swamped; it's processing pages slower than a snail's burp. While I was there, I saw no link to a Statement of Faith of any kind.

A priest has assured the rejected applicants that nothing in Catholicism violates the Statement of Faith. BCS in Jackson is affiliated with Presbyterian Church inAmerica (MSM said "of", getting religion once again.) A summary of their beliefs can be found here. Observe the following:
We believe that salvation is by God alone as He sovereignly chooses those He will save. We believe His choice is based on His grace, not on any human individual merit, or foreseen faith.
Now, perhaps I'm wrong, but haven't protestant denominations such as PCIA criticizes the Roman Catholic Church for being a religion "of works"? If this is true, could this belief also be present in some way in the affiliated Bethany Christian Services of Jackson, Mississippi's Statement of Faith?

I hope not. Look, I'm just back from vacation. I'm not up to a whole comprehensive debate on why Catholicism is not the "works-based" Faith that certain Protestant doctrine claims it is. Faith is what saves humanity; Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the only decision a person can make that will save him or her. How is that decision lived, however? Is Faith just that affirmation declared? Or is it that fundamental belief that informs every dimension of a person? Catholicism takes incarnation seriously. It takes the whole person seriously, too. Thus, when a person says they believe something, a faithful Catholic expects that person to consistently act on that belief. In other words, the action a person takes (Works) expresses the belief a person holds (Faith). Mark Shea once said that what Catholics call meriting Grace, Protestants call bearing Fruit. We may talk past each other in our own religious-cultural jargon.

That's what is so distressing about this situation. BCS of Jackson and the Roman Catholic Church may fundamentally talk past each other. The sad fruit of this miscommunication is a victory for the enemy. Once again, the Body of Christ suffers a blow of division. A couple nourished in Faith is denied by those professed disciples of our Master, all in his name and for Faith in him. Meanwhile, the secularists that thrive on our division now have ample opportunity to exploit the difference. How long will it be before the ACLU or some such front of secularism begins to attack the Choose Life of Mississippi on account of its contribution to Bethany Christian Services, on account of the latter's discrimination against Catholics and misappropriation of State funds. They'll have a field day pushing the "separation of Church and State" argument like a chainsaw against Choose Life. Not to mention that at least one child will not find a home with loving, Christian parents!

Fools can't afford to go tribal on one another when the Truth does not fundamentally divide us. The Enemy we face longs for such consolation.

Update: Via commentor Victor Morton at Open Book comes the Bethany Christian Service's Statement of Faith. Mr. Mortan's take on the passage that may lead BCS to exclude Catholics:
I believe that in all matters of faith and life, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the final authority. The Scriptures point us with full reliability to Jesus, God’s Son. The Scriptures tell us that we receive forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ, and that God provides salvation by grace alone for those who repent and believe. ... I believe that the Christian Church, as the community of believers ...
I hate being right all the time!