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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Why do I change so often

Those unfortunate persons who have taken the trouble to follow my posts on various Internet message boards over the past few years have noticed (and sometimes gently remarked on) my frequent flip-flops with regard to Catholicism. This instability of mind cannot be more painful to others than it is to myself, but it seems to be incurable. When the fit is on, it seems clear to me that it is my duty to become Catholic and everything else is a cowardly evasion. Then, often in a matter of days or even hours, I find myself strongly inclined to believe that it's my duty to remain Protestant and work for a deeper appropriation of Christian tradition within Protestantism. Some convictions don't change--that we are called to work for unity, that Christian tradition as a whole is authoritative, that the papacy has a divinely ordained part to play in maintaining the unity and orthodoxy of the Church; or, on the other hand, that the papacy has taken on far too much power in the past millenium, that Protestants are in some sense part of the Church, and that wherever I'm called to be I will always try to preserve many elements of my Wesleyan heritage.

My blogs so far have mostly expressed my more "Catholic" moods. In the past couple of weeks I've swung in a more "Protestant" direction yet again. In the following days and weeks I will try to explain on this blog just why I find it so difficult to leave Protestantism (theologically speaking, that is--there are also personal issues that I don't necessarily want to discuss here), and what kind of Protestantism I am willing to defend. I welcome comments.

My old cyber-acquaintance "Secret Agent Man," whose views I have always found thoughtful and stimulating, has done me the honor of noticing my blog and commending it to his own readers. He has also encouraged me to post more often. I will endeavor to comply. Meanwhile, I wish everyone a blessed Feast of the Epiphany and a very happy New Year.


cparks said...

I look forward to your posts. Many write that they made a change (to this or that) out of a fear that the inspiration to do so might never return again. I think this is the wrong reason for making any change. I believe that God grants peace in the midst of uncertainty. If we don't have that peace, then maybe that's God's way of saying that it's not time to do anything yet.

For some, the "failures" of Protestantism are enough. For me, they were. If I hadn't found Orthodoxy, I'd still be a member of the Church of the NFL, as I retain the belief that the Reformation rightly observed some problems in Rome that exist to this day. Others approach it differently. So, again, I look forward to your posts. I've benefited greatly from getting the view from where you sit.



Dale said...

I, too, look forward to more posts. Although we haven't always agreed (the discovery/recovery of collegiality in Catholic ecclesiology comes immediately to mind), I have always found your positions well-reasoned, thoughtful and (more often than not) formidable.

SecretAgentMan said...

Thanks, Edwin! Looking forward to reading more from you.

Don't look at it as swaying. Think of it as calisthenics.

I. Shawn McElhinney said...

I was alerted to your weblog by TheSecretOne earlier today Edwin. 'Tis been a long time since we spoke and it is good to see you joining the blogosphere. :)

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Edwin,

I hope you do post more often. I've been waiting three years, I think, to resume our discussion on development, which I remember as one of the most enjoyable and challenging of my now almost 300 posted dialogues (definitely in the "top 5" if not #1). I'll gladly wait three more!

Your words reminded me a bit of a passage I wrote in my conversion story in Surprised by Truth, where I referred to "alternately questioning my sanity and arriving at immensely exciting new plateaus of discovery."

I think such "flip-flops" as you call them bear witness far more to an admirable fair-mindedness and intellectual and theological humility, than to weakness of mind or "instability" in the negative sense of that word. I, too, encourage you to take your time and let things flow naturally, with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Obviously, I believe you would be most fulfilled in the Catholic Church, but it is your journey. Everyone must be allowed to follow their own path with a minimum of judgmentalism from others who (for good or bad reasons) are currently not undergoing such struggles.

Hope all is well with you lately, and I wish you and yours a blessed new year,

Dave Armstrong

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Edwin,

I, too, have posted a recommendation of your blog:

Hope it generates some traffic for you and gets you to write s'more! If not, you're always welcome on my blog, and I eagerly look forward to any future discussions we might engage in.

God bless,

Dave Armstrong

William Putnam said...

Following Dave's lead, I come also to see what is going on!

Do I know you? Your name is very familiar...

God bless,



Regina Angelorum, ora pro nobis!

RandyGritter said...

Great to read someone who is genuinely on the fence at least at the moment. I was for a long time before becoming Catholic but I never admitted it.
There is something humiliating about questioning everything you have ever believed.

RandyGritter said...

Great to read someone who is genuinely on the fence at least at the moment. I was for a long time before becoming Catholic but I never admitted it.
There is something humiliating about questioning everything you have ever believed.