From Jamie Smith’s essay “Lift Up Your Hearts”: John Calvin’s Catholic Faith.
“Are you Catholic or Protestant?” I sometimes get this question from evangelical folks who don’t know me very well, but have heard me talk about liturgy or St. Augustine or spiritual formation or Graham Greene, or what have you. I usually simply answer, “Yes.”
As you might imagine, this engenders furrowed brows of consternation: “Is this guy out to lunch?, they must ask themselves. I asked an either/or question. You can’t answer, ‘Yes.’ You have to choose.” But do I? Can’t I refuse this as a false dichotomy? Is it possible to reject this disjunctive or?
What if we don’t have to choose between being Protestant and Catholic? Indeed, what if being a (magisterial) Protestant is a way to be Catholic? Would that somehow denigrate the Reformation? Would this be a kind of cathedral-envy, making me a Protestant with a bad conscience, sort of a wannabe papist wolf who lurks about Calvin College in Kuyperian sheep’s clothing?
…for me, becoming Reformed was a way of becoming Catholic, because in my pilgrimage to the Reformed confessional tradition I was inducted into a communion self-consciously in continuity with the ancient creeds. To be a member of a church that says the Creed—and whose catechism expounds the Creed—is to be Catholic.
Smith goes on to make a case for a deeply “Catholic” reading of John Calvin and the broader project of the Reformation. You can read the rest here.