Corinth – Is the Past Prologue?

by | Aug 3, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

In “The Tempest,” Shakespeare wrote, “What’s past is prologue!” Antonio is rationalizing the past as setting the stage for their next act, as a prologue does in a play.

I thought of this when reading the following in “More Catholic Than the Pope”.

The truth is most Catholics are cafeteria Catholics. Conservative Catholics were quite willing to ignore John Paul’s and Benedict’s strong statements on justice and peace. Progressive Catholics are happy to ignore Francis’ opposition to women priests.

These criticisms of Pope Francis put progressive Catholics in an awkward position. Progressives are big fans of Francis, but it would be somewhat hypocritical of them to suddenly become papal absolutists when they clearly had disagreements with Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. On the other hand, conservatives who are now critical of Francis accused progressives of being “cafeteria Catholics” when they disagreed with John Paul or Benedict.

In this Vincentian Mindwalk, I explore whether the church in Corinth 2000 years ago images the church of today and tomorrow.

The Church in Corinth

The Church in Corinth has been described as a “cult of me-ism” There was a  tendency for each member to line up behind his favorite leader in competition with all others. The author explains.

There seemed to be four types of Christians in the Corinthian Church who were creating division.


First, there were know-it-alls. Certain people thought it was more important to be right than to be loving. They were so puffed up and arrogant that they couldn’t see the people they were alienating and destroying with their knowledge.

Unrealistic idealists

Then there were unrealistic idealists. Certain people had such high standards that not even the apostles could live up to them. Perhaps not even Jesus Christ himself could live up to them! These unrealistic idealists loved setting rules for others, but when it came to their own lives, they were exempt.

Freedom loving liberals

Lovers of freedom believe you must tolerate everything I do and not be offended. Who cares if my behavior is destroying me or my family? Who cares if it offends, demeans, or destroys others (even an unborn child)? Who cares if my behavior grieves or offends a holy God? I am practicing my freedom!

Rebellious non-conformists

Last, there were rebellious non-conformists who didn’t respect their leaders, citizens, their public servants (police officers), or civilians in their government.

The core problem

The core problem in all four of these examples seems rooted in a philosophy of “Me-first.” I advance at the expense of others’ views and the elements of truth in another’s views.

Paul’s response to the Corinthians

When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.

So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Then, Peter, in response to Paul, called together the first council or Synod. They journeyed together and listened to the Spirit.

Isn’t that precisely what Pope Francis is calling us together for… to listen together to the Spirit rather than play “win-lose” games.

To what degree do I see these tendencies in myself??

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk



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