Halden has a very productive discussion going on his blog titled “On Remaining Protestant.” Here is a paragraph from one of his comments:
“Apostolic succession is obviously the linchpin issue on which the ecumenical question turns (and within that of course is the question of the sacrament of orders). If apostolic succession is viable, then the onus is definitely on protestants and the ecumenical dice is loaded in favor of Rome. If apostolic succession is not part of the esse of the church, then the playing field is somewhat more leveled and perhaps there are modes of communion that could be established to bring about Christian unity that are more complex and diverse than simply a structural integration of protestants into the Roman Catholic church. “
I was driving my daughter home from school this afternoon, thinking about this discussion, and I came up with the following regarding Protestantism as a Sign and Promise:
If Protestantism is a sign, it is an indicator both of the Church’s poverty and riches at the same time. The Church is poor in that it does not possess the things it promises. It is forever giving away what it possesses. It cannot possibly contain the Holy Spirit in order to monopolize it. It cannot possibly prove by its history or experience that its wealth is rightfully owned. All that it has is a gift.
Protestantism is a promise that the Church, as she is, has yet to be realized. God’s message in us is that the Spirit of God moves where it wishes—now in judgment, now in blessing. The realization of this promise will come not by our effort, but as a gift.