Here is my take on why John Wesley was not Roman Catholic.
First, he was Anglican in a country that had bloody history between Catholics and non-Catholics.
Second, he thought Roman Catholic teaching was anti- or extra-biblical on many points. And Wesley was devoted to being biblical in all things.
Third, he thought Roman Catholic practice was contrary to scriptural holiness. Ordinary Roman Catholics and many of the priests did not reflect any particular interest in the holiness that Wesley believed was essential to Christianity.
I muse on this because I am wondering how the bulk of the United Methodist Church today explains why we are not Roman Catholic. Judging from my Facebook and Twitter feed, a huge number of United Methodist clergy are big fans of Pope Francis. I know many United Methodists who quote and appreciate Catholic writers.
So, why the continuing divide?
Here is my friend Jeremiah Gibbs’ explanation about why Protestants and Roman Catholics are still divided.
I’m not aware of a Roman Catholic take on this same question, although I’m certain it is a topic of discussion. I’m just ignorant of most of it. My impression — and by this I mean watching EWTN on TV — is one strain of Catholic conversation on this is more along the lines of “Why haven’t those Protestants come back yet?” The notion that we are somehow prodigals lingers in the background.
I was at an ecumenical conference about the Eucharist in the last couple years . It had Protestants and Roman Catholics on the panel and in attendance. Appropriately enough, at the end of the conference we celebrated Holy Communion. But before we could, one of the Roman Catholic speakers expressed his regret that, of course, he could not join us in that celebration. He said he hoped one day that would not be the case.
So, I suppose, I would add that to Gibbs’ list. Sacramental theology still deeply divides us. Gibbs mentions that topic, but my experience is the depth of this issue is a fundamental rift between the branches of the church.
What do you think?