I had claimed, and still do, that Rome’s anathemas needlessly divide the body of Christ; far more than sola scriptura does. For example, Rome (not scripture) anathematizes those who think indulgences are worthless. So Rome causes divisions that scripture alone does not.
This is not just in theory but in practice. Joseelcarpintero commented in a way that lumped me in with the unsaved false teachers in 1 John 2:19. And that’s not the only time people have tried to scare me into the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, Rome is not the only group to anathematize me. With everyone thinking they alone have found the one true way, the only thing I know to do is turn to Christ and put my trust in Him.
Now consider the reverse. I don’t consider joseelcarpintero a false teacher. I don’t know him but I hope that he is trusting in Christ for his salvation. So which is causing division, sola scriptura or Rome’s anathemas?
My friend tried to soften the blow of anathema by saying:
“Anathema is actually a very formal, fancy and public way of showing that X person incurred latae sententiae or automatic excommunication. The Anathema itself was done away with in 1983. Excommunication, however, remains. Keep in mind that excommunication does not damn one to hell - it is simply a formal state of being way out of communion with Rome and is very severe because if one is totally out of communion with Rome, one is out of communion with Christ.”
“this is not a judgment against the person's heart and mind. It is a judgment against the person's actions in relation to what the Church, under the guidance/protection of the Holy Spirit (God), has stated.”
But to cause division, one does not need to be God and condemn his opponents to hell. Rather, by not treating ones opponents as Christian, they cause division. So Rome’s anathemas do cause division. Think about it – Rome calls councils ecumenical, even if they don’t include Protestants and Eastern Orthodox. That’s division. Rome considers itself the one true church to the exclusion of all others. That’s division. Catholics threaten Protestants with hell. That’s division.
It should be clarified that Trent’s anathemas do not simply mean you can no longer attend mass but you can go across the street to an EoC or Protestant church and we will still consider you Christian. An anathema is a curse. Consider Paul’s use of anathema in Galatians 1:9:
If any one preach to you a gospel besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.
Consider the formula of Rome’s old anathema ceremony:
"Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive N-- himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate” (link)
Now perhaps modern Catholics have a new and softer understanding of anathema or have even layed down a power inherent to the apostolic office. That’s good but not relevant because it’s anachronistic to apply a novel understanding of anathema to either Paul or Trent.