Earlier today a friend shared this image on Facebook:
The image of Blessed John Henry Newman, a convert from Anglicanism, contains one of my favorite quotes and reminds of a conversation I had when I did my Clinical Pastoral Education, a form of observed chaplaincy, at BroMenn Hospital in Bloomington, Illinois.
For the program, I joined four other students: a young man with the Disciples of Christ who sought to be a youth ministry; an assistant pastor with the Methodist ecclesial community (who didn't believe taught by the Methodist tradition); a female seminarian with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; and a woman studying to be a pastor in the United Church of Christ. We got along very well and respected and loved each other; it was a very good experience.
Now to the conversation. One day I was sitting in the conference room working on something when the Methodist man came in and sat down. After a while he said to me, "Daren (I wasn't a priest yet), if you weren't Catholic what would you be?" His question was straight forward and sincere.
After a moment's pause, I answered, "I guess I'd have to be Orthodox."
"No," he replied. "I mean, if you had to be a Protestant, which one would you be?"
Without a moment's pause, "None," I said. "From my study of history alone I could not be Protestant." I went on to explain that Protestantism began in the 1500s yet claims to be the Church established by Jesus, a claim history can't defend. It seems logical enough to me.
"Huh," he answered, and that was the end of the conversation; he never brought it up again.
Cardinal Newman is right: To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.