Newman Membership in UiC

6 thoughts on “Newman Membership in UiC”

  1. Obviously, I wholeheartedly endorse Newman’s membership in UiC. As I have argued on this blog, their invitation to UiC is long overdue.

    I’d argue that the place of UiC is not to ensure doctrinal purity but rather to bring Christians together and prevent close-mindedness while reaching out together to the rest of campus. Surely Newman’s membership will facilitate those efforts.

    Nevertheless, I agree with you that certain pillars of Catholic thought, including the Church’s rigid hierarchical leadership structure, need to be rethought. But, as you say, it is “necessary for those of us who are not in the Church of Rome to reason with our brethren rather than practically disclaim connexion to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”

  2. John,

    What you name as the second limitation of Bears Breaking Bread seemed to apply, though to a lesser degree, to the Newman talks as well:

    A second limitation of the event was the intentional avoidance of any truly divisive subjects, and the needless repetition of platitudes reminding us that ‘each person’s beliefs are truth for [him/her].’ The problem with such a creed, aside from the fact that it is self-defeating, is that it prevents the very conversations that might lead to true understanding. If we are not able to wrestle with each other in loving argument, seeking to see what the other sees without being overly wary that we will offend, we will never understand each other.

    My sense was that Newman and the existing UiC members before the vote were not understanding each other enough to make informed choices. Thanks to the lack of clarity about the article on justification, I would have erred on the side of caution at the time of this vote and voted down the membership proposal in the hope that talk could continue more constructively, the more so because UiC representatives in the past had expressed concerns, perhaps from the Jesuit reputation for specious casuistry (see Pascal’s Provincial Letters, 1656–7), that Newman could subscribe to the UiC Statement of Faith only by being sloppy or disingenuous, concerns that will always remain without clear dialogue. Perhaps Newman should also have sent more theologically sophisticated delegates to explain their subscription in light of their prior doctrinal commitments. As a Protestant and not an Anabaptist, I would be very happy to know that Newman was able in fact to articulate robust and valid reasons for being able to subscribe.

  3. Dude, if it’s the Council of Trent they’re referring to, then maybe UiC should modify its statement to accommodate Newman – should be easier! Changing these sorts of statements and dogmas, though I don’t know how formal it gets at the Newman Center level, takes a looooot of time and grassroots campaigns from parishioners, and it would be a shame if more roadblocks were put in the way of Newman’s admission. I don’t meant a change that affirms certain Catholic doctrines and dogmas that are antithetical to Protestant beliefs, but rather a change that reflects a more flexible view of what unity in Christ means.

    But agreed, there should have been more checking. Great catch!

  4. I definitely favour an earlier proposal for Newman to have permanent guest status. To me, that level of cooperation, while not permanent (just as the existence of Protestant and Romanist identity should never be regarded as permanent), would’ve been at least something and also allowed for continued and sustained dialogue without the undue haste that marked the process last term.

    Practically speaking, I think most fellowships will not be willing to change the Statement of Faith, though I myself have no problem with the possibility itself. The three options I saw were (1) to be schismatic, (2) to override the due process of the law, and (3) to change the law. (1) is probably the easiest for fundamentalists, and (2) probably the easiest for liberals; depending on UiC’s exact purpose and the exact nature of the doctrinal speed bump, (3) may or may not be possible.

    Regarding (3), I think I really want to read all of Joseph Hall’s Roma irreconciliabilis and decide first whether I agree on the level of principles and second whether conditions have changed enough that the principles lead to a different course of action. But since the UiC Statement of Faith lacks an article denying transubstantiation, an article not at all uncommon in Protestant confessions of faith, I suspect that the article on justification really is a justified cause for separation. If so, perhaps Bp Hall’s proof still holds for the conclusion ‘that, as terms now stand, there can be no reconciliation of the Reformed Religion with the Romish’.

    I do see clericalism as accursed idolatry, and I do see the saint cults as accursed idolatry, and I do see Purgatory as accursed idolatry, and I do see Transubstantiation as accursed idolatry, but these should not be the essential sticking points that keep Protestants from uniting fully with Rome. The barriers to full union (which must happen!) are justification, the supremacy of Scripture and the proper authority of the Bishop of Rome.

  5. After hearing about this article, I feel compelled to join the discussion, as I am the Newman representative in UiC. I first want to clarify that Newman membership in UiC was by no means a hasty process. It began four years ago, when UiC reinvestigated their statement of faith and created a revised constitution. In the spring of 2008, the previous priest at Newman along with a few students expressed a desire to join. This led to a few meetings between UiC leaders and Newman discussing theological beliefs. UiC agreed to move forward and put Newman’s membership up to a vote. Three-fourths of UiC members were needed to vote in favor of Newman for membership into UiC, but Newman was one vote short of membership. That priest was reassigned to another parish as most priests have two to three year rotations, and many of the students involved graduated. As a result, Newman involvement was not seriously discussed again until the spring of 2010, when the current priest and I both expressed interest in joining UiC to better unify the Body of Christ on Berkeley’s campus. We set up a meeting with current UiC leaders as well as past leaders to discuss the possibility of Newman joining again. In this meeting, we learned about the history of UiC and explored its constitution. Most importantly, we went through the ten tenants of UiC’s Statement of Faith, in which the priest and I agreed with each one. UiC then decided to allow me to attend a UiC meeting as a guest where I was asked various questions to which Lue-Yee refers to in his blog post. After that meeting, each UiC member reflected on whether or not to allow Newman in UiC before voting took place at the next UiC meeting. During this time, I was available for any clarifications or additional questions. At the next meeting, Newman was accepted into UiC. In light of these proceedings, “procedural haste” was not a part of this situation.

    Second, I believe the question about salvation was appropriately addressed in the context of the meeting. Although Lue-Yee feels that I did not address the question “whether the Christian believer is reckoned righteous on the sole grounds of Christ’s righteousness outside the believer, a righteousness received through the believer’s faith,” this was in fact not specifically asked at the meeting. In regard to this question, though, I do personally believe this statement of salvation is correct. As I stated in the meeting, acts of charity and kindness will necessarily result from having faith in Jesus, such that both concepts are intertwined with one another. James 2 highlights this connection, stating, “Faith without deeds is dead” and “a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone” [1]. As a result of this expressed connection between faith and acts, I believe that each aspect cannot be independently labeled as “requirements” for salvation.

    Finally, this is my view and may not reflect the view of others at Newman, let alone the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church encompasses a diversity of people within the Body of Christ, such that each may have a nuanced view on the subject. While specific Catholic dogma exists stating formal beliefs of the church, not everyone in the church adheres to those beliefs. For example, some Catholics advocate for female or married priests, even though this is not in accordance with the formal Catechism of the church. Whereas the church continually changes and evolves, the actual dogma of the church changes only at discrete points in history. That said, the official catholic church’s stance is that “By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works2” Thus, “through Christ alone are we justified” and good works are its “fruits” [2]. While I feel this clears up any misconceptions regarding the Catholic stance on Salvation, I would be happy to meet up with you in person to further discuss the issue.

    Riley Reese

    [1] James 2:14-26 (New International Version, ©2011)
    [2] Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. .

  6. Riley:

    First, thanks for your engagement. Second, apologies for a delayed reply.

    By no means do I intend to imply that the process of Newman’s admission into UiC was limited to a few weeks: it certainly was underway well before the 2010 vote. Even after the first vote on admitting Newman into UiC, the representatives considered a proposal the following year to give Newman a (non-voting) permanent guest status, a proposal that failed to pass. My contention is that, even with this apparent length of consideration, the discussion in 2010 was inadequate to the needs. I do not consider one week, the time between your meeting with the UiC representatives and the vote on Newman’s membership, sufficient for any UiC member to have weighed the theological difficulties with any due care, much less to have reached a practically definitive conclusion. While acknowledging that some or even many of the UiC members failed to make use of your availability during that week, I press the point nevertheless that one week was not a reasonable span of time for UiC member groups to have properly discerned the complex matters at hand.

    The crux of the matter was whether Newman, without conflicting with the authority of Rome’s discipline, could officially subscribe to the UiC Statement of Faith, especially the article on justification. Even though both you and Newman’s priest were able in good conscience to voice their agreement with this article, I remain unconvinced that such agreement could constitute public subscription on Newman’s behalf. Personal beliefs are not at issue here, any more than a president may act on his private beliefs against the law of the land. As you rightly say, people come and go, whether priests or students. To leave such a matter as UiC membership at the mercy of anyone’s personal views, therefore, is irregular at best, if not an outright breach of protocol. It is not my concern whether many or even most Christians under Rome’s discipline affirm or seek to reverse the official Roman teaching: in such a setting as UiC, regardless of anyone’s private views, what we must deal with are official positions. The question, then, remains whether the article on justification in the UiC Statement of Faith is compatible with the catechism and the canons of the Roman church, including those put forth by the Council of Trent, which have not been rescinded.

    While the questions posed in the meeting were less rigorous than the UiC constitution’s carefully worded article on justification, the very fact that these questions were not rigorous supports my previous point that UiC’s member groups, some of them very concerned with doctrine, had too little time to prepare for and respond to their representatives’ meeting with you as the Newman delegate. This was the reason that I wrote on this blog about the doctrinal issues, hoping to elicit clarity that the meeting, whatever the reason, did not.

    This is the issue, then: ‘God’s mercy is only because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to humankind, and this justification is received by faith alone.’ It is upon the definition of imputation that I identified the question: ‘whether the Christian believer is reckoned righteous on the sole grounds of Christ’s righteousness outside the believer, a righteousness received through the believer’s faith’. My question is simply whether Newman can lawfully uphold the doctrine of imputed righteousness without repudiating Rome’s official positions.

    It is to God’s glory that the Roman Curia has been able to confess, in spite of Trent, ‘By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.’ Nevertheless, one of two things must happen for Newman to have been well-admitted: (1) Newman must lawfully affirm imputation without contradicting any of Rome’s official teachings, or (2) UiC must revise its article on justification.

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