Essay on Contrast Between Catholic and Baptist Religion
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Ask most people today if they have heard of Baptist and Catholic religion and most would say yes. In many ways the two are very similar. For instance, both are based on the Christian faith, belief in the trinity, and that God is the one true God. The two religions agree that Jesus died on the cross and rose again to atone for our sins. They share a 27 book New Testament and insist that salvation comes from Christ alone. On the other hand, while the Baptist and Catholic religions do have similarities, they also have differences, such as their services, communion, and views regarding salvation. The first difference between the two religions is their services. Roman Catholic services are held in sanctuaries that are richly decorated…show more content…
Baptists offer prayer to God through Christ during the service and reject the practice of praying to Mary and the saints. The services are not nearly as laid out and ordered, with much less participation by the church members during the service. . The second difference evident between the religions is the partaking of Communion. In the Catholic Church, Communion is a very sacred act, and the members are encouraged to receive it frequently. Communion is offered at each service and is always presided over by the priest. The members believe that they are consuming the actual body and blood of Christ during Communion, and are required to fast at least one hour prior to receiving it out of respect. Communion is believed to be the most important of the seven sacraments by the church and required to obtain salvation. On the other hand, Baptists rarely partake of Communion, and is usually reserved for special occasions like Easter and Christmas. Some Baptist churches may partake every few months or quarterly. Although, the pastor of the church normally presides over Communion, any member designated by the church can do so. Baptist religion does not support the rule of fasting prior to Communion, and believe it to be a symbolic reverence to Christ. It is not believed that the actual body and blood of Christ are consumed during Communion. The
Post-Reformation England, jittery with fears of a Catholic revival, presented a John le Carré-like world of cloak and dagger intrigue, double dealing and “spiery” (as the Elizabethans called it). Moles were planted in Catholic seminaries abroad, and Tudor diplomacy created a looking-glass war in which priest was turned against priest, informant against informant.
The split between Catholics and Protestants is easily parodied as “the warm south versus the cold north, wine drinkers versus beer drinkers, and so on”, says Eamon Duffy. Ultimately, however, Catholics and Protestants in Tudor England saw in each other the same heretic infidel. The brutal and insistent Protestant dogma under Elizabeth had much in common with the anti-Protestant Inquisition in Catholic Spain. Each extracted confessions by means of “enhanced interrogations” involving the rack and burning tongs. Their methods of intimidation and control were designed chiefly to spread fear.
Reformation Divided, a collection of essays by Professor Duffy on English recusant Catholicism, is published to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther’s campaign to “restore” biblical Christianity to 16th-century Germany had spread across Europe as a violent attack on Marian veneration and papal infallibility. Within two generations, writes Duffy, “England’s Catholic past was obliterated”. The Reformation nevertheless helped to usher in capitalism and modern secularism, and was therefore, in the words of 1066 and All That, a “Good Thing”. In the Catholic view, however, it destroyed the mystery of the sacraments and the magic and pageantry of the Mass. Moreover, priceless ecclesiastical treasures were lost in the drive to uproot “Mass-mongers” and other traitors from the English body politic.
Duffy’s essay on Thomas More (Saint Thomas More to Roman Catholics) wonders if the Renaissance humanist-philosopher really was the vile master-torturer of Hilary Mantel’s Booker prize winner Wolf Hall. Unfortunately, Mantel’s has become very much the authorised portrait. Certainly More loathed heretics, and viewed the Protestant reformer William Tyndale in particular as a meddlesome devil. Why? Tyndale’s vernacular translation of the New Testament loaded and vivified our language with coinages still in use (“my brother’s keeper”, “signs of the times”). Yet, by translating the Greek ekklesia as “congregation” rather than “church”, Tyndale had deliberately deprived the Church of its resonance as a holy assembly, and undermined the priesthood’s sacramental function. This was no mere biblical inerrancy, it was heretical. From the mid-1520s onwards, More became the arch “pursuivant” of heretics.
Nevertheless, in Robert Bolt’s 1954 play A Man for All Seasons, More is portrayed as a martyr for liberal individualism. Wretchedly, he was executed by his patron, Henry VIII, once the King’s Great Matter (his need for divorce) militated against Catholicism. In thrall to a notion of late medieval Christian asceticism, More was grievously disturbed by Luther’s liturgical revolution, which threatened to sweep all before it. The truth about More no doubt lies somewhere in between the Bolt-Mantel extremes.
Cardinal Pole Preaching, a bravura essay, considers the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, Reginald Pole, who held office from 1556 to 1558 under Mary Tudor’s Counter Reformation. A decade after Mary’s half-sister Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1558, Catholics were once more smoked out of hiding, and on occasion publicly disembowelled and dismembered. All the same, it is doubtful how anti-Catholic Queen Elizabeth really was. She was known to keep a crucifix, candles and other crypto-Catholic ornaments by her bedside cabinet, and did not see papal purple as a sign of dangerous recusancy.
The essays, superbly written, range across themes of Catholic eschatology and anti-Protestant devotional publications to appreciations of 17th-century Quakerism. Duffy, a Cambridge history professor, brilliantly recreates a world of heroism and holiness in 16th-century England.
• Reformation Divided by Eamon Duffy is published by Bloomsbury (£30). To order a copy go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99