My friend Matt Redmond(no, not the singer) recently wrote a blog addressing this question. You can find it here.
I attempted to comment on his blog, but for some reason his blog ate the comment, so I figured I’d just write a short post here…I think it is an interesting discussion to say the least, and would love to hear what some of my friends have to say about it.
I really do think there is something to what Matt has said. I think there are many reasons, but I will give a few of my opinions.
First, I do believe that Catholics seem to have more imagination as it relates to their faith. Folks in the Protestant/Baptist/Reformed circles seem to be a bit more wooden in our faith. Of course this isn’t true across the board, but I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we can acknowledge there is some truth to that statement. We seem to think we have God all figured out, in theory…We have placed God in our Systematic Theological boxes, and in many cases have lost our Awe of God. I think our Catholic friends and Brethren tend to be much better in regards to this. We have tried our best to take the mystery out of our faith, the sense of mysticism….But the truth is, that is still there. Sure God has revealed Himself, and we can have much understanding of God as the Spirit illuminates who Christ is…But there is still mystery there…there is still discovery.
Second, Catholics seem to place far more emphasis on the experience of God. I think this goes back to my last point as well. Folks in my tradition of Christendom, though I think it is unintentional, focus so much on the ‘What God has DONE through Christ’ that we lose site that God is still DOING things through Christ. The Spirit is active here and now. The Spirit is still at work. We can experience God…It’s okay, it really is.
Third, I think Catholics view much of the world, their lives, and their work Sacramentally. Again, this isn’t something that is true across the board, but I know certainly reading Catholic authors, they seem to view their writing through this lense. So much value is placed on their words, as each one is an effort to point someone to this experience of God. Folks in my camp, certainly do this to some degree, but we call it being missional, or intentional…but even in that it seems more about just getting the Truth out there, with little regards to how beautiful you are telling the story. (Note, this is dangerous territory…Don’t tell a story in an effort to be beautiful at the expense of the truth…I know a certain Christian author whose name rhymes with ‘Hell’ that has made this tragic mistake.) I have to say too though, that the Puritans were much better at this than our modern writers…They were able to communicate the truths of God’s Word and the truths of who He is in such a beautiful way…We need more guys who can write like Puritans.
So are Catholics better writers that Baptists? Or Presbyterians?(excluding Eugene Peterson of course, but he does have a certain Catholicity to him doesn’t he?) You can really insert any Protestant/Reformed branch of Christendom you’d like….I don’t know if they are…but it should certainly cause us to ask the question, and seek the answers…Our words have power, and they ought to be conveying the beauty of God in a way that helps others experience that beauty. Just my 2 cents…Maybe 3…Still it’s worth a ponder.
Hmmm…Now I’m wondering how many angry comments I have solicited. We shall see…