Luma Simms is an Associate Fellow at The Philos Project. Her essays and articles have appeared in First Things, Public Discourse, The Federalist, Institute for Family Studies, and other publications.

Catholic Integral Complementarity

Note: Dear reader,  In light of the recent discussion on complementarity, the Nicene understanding of the Trinity, and the Eternal Subordination of the Son, I write here a simple description of Catholic integral complementarity. This is not a theological treatise with philosophical and theological proofs. Nor should this essay be taken as an aim at proselytizing the reader. I write it in good will, as your sister in Christ and as a Catholic convert from Protestantism, and from these very circles in particular. My hope is that this basic description of Catholic integral complementarity will help inform the intra-Protestant discourse on the topic. I ask that you read it charitably with an eye to glean understanding of this viewpoint and not only to refute. It is one thing to claim on paper or teach that women have equal dignity with men, it is another to build a culture which makes that gospel truth thrive; and yet another to read me, a woman, through that respectful lens—as you would respectfully read a male author. Lastly, please note that when I write Church in this essay, I am referring to the Roman Catholic Church and her Magisterium.

The first, and most helpful thing to understand about the Roman Catholic Christian faith is that the theory of integral complementarity, is predicated on a foundational idea about man and the world God created. From this foundational idea others spring forth. Without understanding this “Catholic difference” nothing Catholic makes sense. George Weigel has written, “while Catholicism is a body of beliefs and a way of life, Catholicism is also an optic, a way of seeing things, a distinctive perception of reality.” Although it can be described in a variety of ways, I have found Weigel's the most helpful.

He writes:

You can call it the 'Catholic both/and': nature and grace, faith and works, Jerusalem and Athens, faith and reason, charismatic and institutional, visible and invisible. You can call it the “sacramental imagination”... You can call it a taste for the analogical, as distinguished from some Protestants' taste for the dialectical.” [Emphasis in the original]

Therefore, in order to grasp how Catholics think about biblical complementarity and the complementarity even within the natural world God created, one must get this Catholic both/and thing. The Catholic both/and, in turn, rests on a fundamental Catholic understanding, one of the pillars of Catholicism: It is that grace does not destroy nature, but perfects and elevates it—transforming it, even in the here and now.

Read the rest of the essay at Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

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