"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

20 July 2006

Response to Comments - Catholicism

As promised, I want to address two of Beth’s comments on my Dialogue with a Catholic post and my Can Christian Women Not Debate post.

For brevity I am just going to post some excerpts that I wanted to respond to - you can see the full comments in the comments sections of those posts:

“I am perplexed why you put Catholics in the same boat as Mormons.”

That’s a fair statement. I wouldn’t place Catholics and Mormons in the same boat overall, but they do share a few extra-biblical similarities (see this chart) and they would both disagree with sola scriptura. The extra-biblical teachings are where I have a problem.

“Why do you focus on your doctrinal differences with Catholics and not differences you have with other Christian denominations?”

Because I grew up Catholic and most of my family is still Catholic, so I am just sticking with what I know and what I encounter in my everyday life. There are some Protestant denominations I would never join, but usually the core biblical doctrines are in place (at least on paper) so the differences are minor.

“Can we agree that you and I both embrace the Nicene Creed as the core of our Christian faith? or do you not accept this?”

Well, this one made me think. I do agree with the Nicene Creed but I certainly would not call it the core of my faith. The core of my faith is God’s Word (The Bible) and God’s Word alone. I guess I am not a big fan of creeds, even though they are a nice summary of the basic belief system. However, although we may agree on the Nicene creed, we do not agree on the Bible alone as our authority and that is where we diverge.

“I find too often with Christians of your perspective who have already decided that a Catholic can not be a Christian that there is not much listening going on.”

I am trying to listen and to be perfectly honest, our interactions do give me hope that salvation can occur through the Catholic church (remember, I have family there). And I don’t want to say that a Catholic can’t be a Christian, I just find it hard to understand how a saved person could remain in the Catholic church. Being a Christian is being a follower of Jesus, but the sacraments, the Pope, the priests, exaltation of Mary, praying to saints, “the one true church” idea– they all get in the way of a sole reliance on Jesus. I don’t agree that tradition is on par with God’s Word and I think the tradition is distracting from the core message of the Gospel.

“And in fact many of you feel that any Christian who recognizes the presence of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church has sold out to something false.”

There seems to be a trend in some religious circles to accept everyone in a liberal sort of mindset. I think that is a cultural problem nowadays and I don’t agree with it.

“I also think at times we do need to set aside our doctrinal differences and try to "just get along", not because they are not important but because we fail to take a moment to recognize the presence of God in one another on our quest to filter out those who hold onto false doctrines.”

I agree, we should all try to get along. But I don’t think we can squelch the truth in such a process. If someone is holding to a false gospel, then what they have is not the presence of God, but something else. There is only one God, with one set of characteristics and one set of expectations of his children. I believe that the only way that we come to know the one true God is by the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Anything extra is distracting at a minimum, and damning at a maximum.

Along the way someone else commented that we shouldn’t judge other people’s salvation status. I disagree with that and was glad to read this article recently. Here's a quote from the post by Mark Dever:

"Sometimes I get the feeling that people think there's something wrong with questioning the reality of a profession of faith. It's legalistic, or judging, or holier than thou. Or something.

But if evangelists want to see lost sinners saved, and if evangelists know that we sinners can deceive ourselves, then it's not surprising that we want to try to make sure (with all appropriate qualifications about our limitedness) that conversions professed are conversions possessed."


I have a story to go along with that idea, but I’ll share that another time. I’m hoping to tackle my views on sola scriptura and some of the objections made by a Mormon commenter next.

Thanks again to Beth for all of her insightful comments!

53 comments:

Annette said...

I like comments too. I just don't have that many readers I think. :)

You sound much like my hubbie. He tends to think that if you are a true believer, a person can't stick to the Catholic church. That the doctrines, practices and teachings of the Catholic church would make it untenable.

My thoughts, (based on observations), is that true Christians can be found in any church. I have met some. Now granted, i'm looking at the outward, only God sees the heart. But I have met some God-fearing catholics who go to bible studies, that struggle with some of the teachings of the Catholic church BUT find solace in telling someone else their sins and struggles in life.

I still remember an arguement with a person who was very against the catholic church, who said we MUST evangelize to them. I asked why...."they don't know God". I still don't quite get it. I know that many catholics are catholics because it's "what they are". That it (being catholic) doesn't really impact their lives, and they do need to know who God is, and be evangelized...but not because they are catholics...but because they are people who need to know God.

It's a hard subject for many people. And I"m not a "us or them" type of person for the most part. Anyways, you have a comment now. :) And know a bit more of my thoughts on the subject.

Reformed Mama said...

can i be middle of the road here?

i think there are some true christians who are catholic, but i fail to understand how they stay a part of the catholic church.

that said, i also agree with annette that people should be evangelized because they are lost not because they are catholic.

my understanding of catholicism is limited to what i learned in seminary and a few encounters with nominal catholics. i am intrigued by the way some are so devout and the way some are catholic in name only.

however, i am sure catholics could say the same about us protestants.;)

Elena said...

Hi Carrie,

I am a Christian. I am a Catholic. I checked out the chart you linked to and it had some major errors on it. In fact it was rather biased.

Given the time, I could go down your list of objections (Pope, the priests, exaltation of Mary, praying to saints, “the one true church” idea) and argue them from a biblical perspective. I would also object to your comment that " they all get in the way of a sole reliance on Jesus." Quite the contrary, they point directly to Jesus. I could explain that too.

I don't want to take up your valuable comment space to do so, but rather just wanted to let you know it was possible! If you want to take me up on it let me know and I'll write something lengthier on my blog and send it to you.

Carrie said...

Sure Elena, I would love to see what you have to say.

My biggest issue is the reliance on tradition in addition to scripture. So maybe you could tackle that first. Then go for the biblical support of the Pope, Exaltation of Mary, Purgatory, Praying to Saints, and the Sacraments. However, I have seem some of verses linked to these ideas before on Catholic.com and I wasn't convinced but maybe you will have something better to add.

But please, stick with the OT & NT and not the apocrypha books. I don't accept those as scripture.

BTW Elena, we have discussed this a bit before. I am not saying whether you are a Christian or not, what I have been saying all along is that I have trouble understanding how a true follower of Christ could be in the Catholic church b/c of they doctrines they hold. I am not saying that all Catholics are unsaved.

Carrie said...

I left a comment earlier saying I would like to adress some things said here in another post, but I changed my mind. So I'll just say a few things here.

Annette: I agree. Evangelism really is about the lost and not necessarily a particular type of person. But it is helpful to understand other faiths to know who may or may not be lost. The Catholic Church has some doctrinal issues and in my personal experience, some practical issues.

I personally worry about the salvation of any Catholic because I believe that a saved person who reads and understands their Bible would have issues with the Catholic system. I may be wrong in that type of thinking, but that is what I currently believe.

But I want to make clear that this isn't about judging who is right or who is wrong, or who is more spiritual, or who doesn't believe what I believe. I have a heart for the lost and I believe that the Catholic Church is misleading people. And that bothers me.

Elena said...

My biggest issue is the reliance on tradition in addition to scripture. So maybe you could tackle that first.

Actually we have a reliance on Scripture IN ADDITION to the Tradition. The historical reality is that before the canon of the bible was collected and closed, the truths of Christianity were passed down ORALLY and the practices of Christians were done out of tradition. This is simple historical fact. The idea of sola scriptura, in comparison, is a relatively new idea, introduced by Martin Luther. Historical Christianity is based on Scipture AND Tradition. It seems to me if you have a problem with that, you have a problem with the history of Christianity and there's really not much anyone can do about that. It is, what it is.

I think that's enough to start with. : )

Ellen said...

There you go...Tradition comes first, and then Scripture.

;-)

Ellen said...

Questions:

Exactly where in the Scripture are we given directions to rely on tradition before Scripture?

Exactly what traditions were being refered to by the Biblical writer at that time? (In other words, what traditions were we given directions to follow instead of Scripture, as opposed to all of the others that came later?)

Carrie said...

Okay, I am certainly no expert on church history, but from my reading, Sola Scriptura is an idea that was held by the early church fathers (around 150 AD). Those men who were alive in the century just after the Apostolic age stressed the importance of applying to scriptures for all truth. If there was a tradition to hold on to, they certainly would have known about it.

So I disagree with the idea that Sola Scriptura is a Luther idea. In fact, the case can be made from scripture for Sola Scriptura, it's just not spelled out in one verse.

Is that true Elena about tradition before scripture? I thought that tradition and the Bible were on the same playing field for the CC. Are you saying tradition is more important than the Bible?

Certainly you must concede that tradition is fallible. At Luther's time the Catholic Church was allowing people to pre-pay to commit a sin (an indulgence). The CC doesn't do that anymore (along with many other things) and I would assume any Christian would agree that it is not a practice consistent with the Bible or with God's grace. So if "tradition" veered off the path so badly at Luther's time, how can you have any faith in it today?

Elena said...

Ellen, Historically tradition did indeed exist before scripture. Catholics hold to both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

From the Catechism Catholic Church:
80 "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal." Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own "always, to the close of the age".

Elena said...

Okay, I am certainly no expert on church history, but from my reading, Sola Scriptura is an idea that was held by the early church fathers (around 150 AD). Those men who were alive in the century just after the Apostolic age stressed the importance of applying to scriptures for all truth.

The New Testament did not exist at 150 AD and there was discrepancy among the Jews regarding the Old Testament. In other words there was no codified scripture to be "sola" in 150 AD.



So I disagree with the idea that Sola Scriptura is a Luther idea.

Nonetheless, that is historically accurate.

In fact, the case can be made from scripture for Sola Scriptura, it's just not spelled out in one verse.

Sola Scriptura is not in scripture. I can make an equally strong case for that.


Is that true Elena about tradition before scripture?

It is true that tradition existed before the scriptures did.


I thought that tradition and the Bible were on the same playing field for the CC.

They do.


Are you saying tradition is more important than the Bible?

Nope. And I posted Paragraph 80 from the catechism to show exactly what the church teaches on that.

Certainly you must concede that tradition is fallible. At Luther's time the Catholic Church was allowing people to pre-pay to commit a sin (an indulgence).

The Catholic church still has indulgences. What was corrupt was the sale of indulgences which was a misuse by certain individuals. Individuals acting on their own are not infallible.


The CC doesn't do that anymore

Well that will be news to Pope Benedict. He offered an indulgence to the world just this month!


I would assume any Christian would agree that it is not a practice consistent with the Bible or with God's grace.

I could give you a scriptural backing for it. : )

So if "tradition" veered off the path so badly at Luther's time, how can you have any faith in it today?

Individual men veered off the path during Luther'stime. They still do because they do not hold to the Sacred Traditions passed on to them, or to the SacredScriptures. When men do that, they veer!

Anonymous said...

"The historical reality is that before the canon of the bible was collected and closed, the truths of Christianity were passed down ORALLY and the practices of Christians were done out of tradition."

Sorry Elena but this is not an accurate statement. You are correct that tradition (or the same greek word can also be translated as teaching)was performed orally during the establishment of the church due to the lack of writings. However, Pauls letters were passed around to the different churchs as they were received. As of ~125 AD, all but 11 verses of the New Testament were in use in the church in various ways. Paul mentions tradition in 2Thes 2:15 to reorient the Thessalonians to Paul's teachings. From this one verse, teachings, practices, and intermediaries that detract from the uniqueness and centrality of Christ have been made into a religion.

"The idea of sola scriptura, in comparison, is a relatively new idea, introduced by Martin Luther."

Sorry again. In the 5th century, St. Augustine said

"This mediator [Jesus Christ], first through the Prophets, then by his own lips, afterwards through the Apostles, revealed whatever he considered necessary. He also inspired Scripture, which is regarded as canonical and of supreme authority and to which we give credence concerning all those truths we ought to know and yet, of ourselves, are unable to learn."

So scripture, according to St. Augustine, is the supreme authority and reveals all truths we should know.

I hope this helps.

Elena said...

However, Pauls letters were passed around to the different churchs as they were received. As of ~125 AD, all but 11 verses of the New Testament were in use in the church in various ways.

You could not, however, walk into your local 1st century bookstore and pick up the latest edition of Paul's Letters! Even if you could, it would be doubtful that you would be able to read them!! The truth is that while Paul did write his letters (Thank God!) the contents of the letter were primarily transmitted orally.



Paul mentions tradition in 2Thes 2:15 to reorient the Thessalonians to Paul's teachings. From this one verse, teachings, practices, and intermediaries that detract from the uniqueness and centrality of Christ have been made into a religion.

Purely your opinion.



Sorry again. In the 5th century, St. Augustine said

"This mediator [Jesus Christ], first through the Prophets, then by his own lips, afterwards through the Apostles,


We call it Apostolic Tradition. This supports my position actually.



So scripture, according to St. Augustine, is the supreme authority and reveals all truths we should know.


Augustine also said: "Rome has spoken; the case is closed"

"If the lineal succession of bishops is to be considered with how much more benefit to the Church do we reckon from Peter himself,to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: Upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of hell shall not conquer it!"

"Carthage was also near the countries over the sea, and distinguished by illustrious renown,so that it had a bishop of more than ordinary influence, who could afford to disregard a number of conspiring enemies because he saw himself joined by letters of communion to the Roman Church, in which the supremacy of an apostolic chair has always flourished""

Ellen said...

Elena, I asked for an answer from Scripture, but you answered from the catechism. So here are the questions again:


Exactly where in the Scripture are we given directions to rely on tradition before Scripture?

Exactly what traditions were being refered to by the Biblical writer at that time? (In other words, what traditions were we given directions to follow instead of Scripture, as opposed to all of the others that came later?)

Elena said...

Exactly where in the Scripture are we given directions to rely on tradition before Scripture?


Because it's a faulty question. Catholics don't believe in Scripture over Tradition or vise versa. That's why I put out the catechism verse. Not sure what you're getting at but it certainly isn't what the Catholic church really teaches.

Ellen said...

Elena, your correction was telling - you made a point of correcting Carrie when she said, "My biggest issue is the reliance on tradition in addition to scripture, saying that "Actually we have a reliance on Scripture IN ADDITION to the Tradition."

Generally, theologically speaking, additions are "afterthoughts", the "fleshing out" of doctrine.

Carrie, I believe, was saying that Romans rely on tradition to clarify Scripture. Your correction would say that the Roman church relies on Scripture to clarify tradition.

The reality is, the only authority followers of the Roman church has, is the church.

Ellen said...

Not sure what you're getting at but it certainly isn't what the Catholic church really teaches.

Does the Bible teach us to pray to Mary? Does the Bible teach us that Mary's body ascended to heaven?

How much of what the Roman Church teach relies solely on tradition?

This is why I'd like to see answers from the Bible, not tradition or catechism.

Ellen said...

Carrie, back to your original thought...on the judging of salvation. The article that you referenced was also used to support Tim Challies and his assertion that his children are lost until they prove otherwise (one of them is 6 months old and the older ones "love God, sing praises, pray and love hearing God's truths").

I believe that we can and should measure/judge one another. New believers and children I tend to give a pass to (although in the case of adults, not very long). There is a difference between a new/immature believer and an "old" believer who doesn't show fruits or one who claims salvation but who believes unbiblical things.

I prefer the term "being a fruit inspector", rather than judging salvation.

;-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reply Elena. In reference to Pauls letters, copies of his letters have been found all over Asia minor, which gives strong support for the reliablity of the scriptures and that written doctrine was getting passed around.

In reference to the Augustine quote I presented, you used it for suppporting tradition but never commented on it as proof that sola scriptura was recognized as early as the 5th century, which was the point of the quote. Additionally, I am puzzle by your inclusion of the other Augustine quotes.

One more comment about tradition. Jesus stated in Matt 15:7b that the Pharisees had invalidated the word of God for the sake of tradition. Moreover, the bible makes it crystal clear that man is depraved (e.g. Romans 3:9-18). Why would God now trust man with traditions of the Gospel while man was simultaneously perverting traditions of the Law? It makes no sense. If these traditions are so important, why are they not mentioned in the Bible? Why are there blatant contradictions to doctrine in the scriptures (e.g. baptism required for salvation)?
-PhD4Jesus

Carrie said...

Yipes, I'm a bit behind.

Elena, I think you missed the point by anonymous - that Augustine in the 5th century supported Sola Scriptura. So did the writings of other men in Church history (before Augustine). So Sola Scriptura was not an idea spawned by Luther, he just revived it after the CC had gotten so far away from the Word of God.

As far as the NT not being around in 150AD, well that's a topic I plan to cover in a future post about Sola Scriptura. All I will say here is that God's Word was God's Word when it hit the paper (or papyrus or whatever they wrote on) and it was recognized as such since then. The binding of God's Word into a nice book was not when scripture became scripture.

Okay, I'm going to pass on the indulgence stuff for now.

Now, how do you know that when men veered off of the proper path at Luther's time that the church was able to get back on track. How do you know that the traditions set up around 100AD are the same today? Are there some documents that for tradition that can be referred to for accuracy?

Finally, I'm still confused about the Catholic stance on the Bible b/c I have heard other Catholics online say things differently:

Which has higher authority, scripture or tradition? If the two are in disagreement, which wins?

Do you consider scripture to be God's infallible Word?

Thanks Elena for taking the time to answer everyone's questions.

Elena said...

Does the Bible teach us to pray to Mary?

Well from the scriptures Catholics do believe in the doctrine of the communion of saints, those on earth and those already in heaven. When it comes to Mary and the saints prayer does not mean worship. It's intercessory prayer much as if I asked the sisters in Christ on this blog for prayer.


Does the Bible teach us that Mary's body ascended to heaven?

No, that would be Tradition.

How much of what the Roman Church teach relies solely on tradition?

Well I'm not a mathmetician but judging from the paragraph I gave you from the catechism I think it's clear that Tradition (large T) and Scripture are of equal value.

Elena said...

Thank you for the reply Elena. In reference to Pauls letters, copies of his letters have been found all over Asia minor, which gives strong support for the reliablity of the scriptures and that written doctrine was getting passed around.

No doubt. But it wasn't like a newspaper or periodical as we know it today. Only learned men could read and write. Everyone else received this news orally from someone else.

In reference to the Augustine quote I presented, you used it for suppporting tradition but never commented on it as proof that sola scriptura was recognized as early as the 5th century,

Because it wasn't. The other quote I provided clearly indicated that Augustine saw the supremacy of the papacy as well.



One more comment about tradition. Jesus stated in Matt 15:7b that the Pharisees had invalidated the word of God for the sake of tradition. Moreover, the bible makes it crystal clear that man is depraved (e.g. Romans 3:9-18). Why would God now trust man with traditions of the Gospel while man was simultaneously perverting traditions of the Law? It makes no sense.

One has to delineate between tradition and Sacred Tradition. It is Tradition (capital T) as handed down to us from the apostles that is revered and that Catholics believe came from God, not man.



If these traditions are so important, why are they not mentioned in the Bible?

Because the Bible was never meant to be a proof text of everything Christians were to believe. The pillar of truth is the church, not the bible. The bible exists because the church put it together, not the other way around.


Why are there blatant contradictions to doctrine in the scriptures (e.g. baptism required for salvation)?

Jesus commanded to baptize. I see no contradiction there.

Elena said...

Carrie this is a good article to rebutt the idea that the early church fathers held to Sola Scriptura.


http://www.chnetwork.org/journals/sola/sola11.htm


All I will say here is that God's Word was God's Word when it hit the paper (or papyrus or whatever they wrote on) and it was recognized as such since then. The binding of God's Word into a nice book was not when scripture became scripture.

They became sacred codified scripture only after they were gathered together, approved and then closed by the Pope. Before that there was much discrepancy over what was inspired and what was not. Historically the modern bible would not exist had it not been codified by the Catholic Church.


How do you know that the traditions set up around 100AD are the same today? Are there some documents that for tradition that can be referred to for accuracy?

Sacred Tradition, was handed to us from the apostles. The readings from saints and Christians of the times have verified that for us. The writings of Justin Martyr regarding the mass for example, are as true then as they are today.

Which has higher authority, scripture or tradition? If the two are in disagreement, which wins?

I posted this earlier from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the "sure norm" of what the Catholic Church teaches.

80 "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal." Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own "always, to the close of the age".

Do you consider scripture to be God's infallible Word?

You can read the entire section from the catechism on sacred scripture here.

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a3.htm#111

Ellen said...

Elena: Define "tradition", please.

Ellen said...

Historically the modern bible would not exist had it not been codified by the Catholic Church.

Interestingly, it was at the councils of Hippo and Carthage (both under what is now the Greek Orthodox church) where the councils agreed to formalize what the churches were currently using as Scripture. Perhaps we should be thanking the Greek Orthodox church.

Elena said...

Well you could I guess Ellen, except they didn't exist then.

Carrie said...

Because the Bible was never meant to be a proof text of everything Christians were to believe. The pillar of truth is the church, not the bible. The bible exists because the church put it together, not the other way around.

Well, not only do I strongly disagree with that statement but I think this is a very dangerous statement. The Bible exists because of God. Every word in the Bible is from God and he is the one that preserved his Word and inspired/caused the church to put the books together at a later date.

The pillar of truth is the church and not the Bible? What is your proof of that? I would like to hear why you personally, Elena, believe that and not some quote from the catechism.

I know that you had already posted the catechism on the relationship of Tradition and Scripture, but from that it was still unclear to me which was the final authority. There has to be a final authority. So, I'm guessing from your quote above that it would have to be Tradition?

From your link on whether the Bible is God's Infallible Word:
But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written."

I'm still confused. Is it God's infallible Word or not? Or does it somehow cease to be God's Word if not interpreted correctly? Or is only infallible when the church interprets it but fallible other wise?

And this quote also from the link:
"Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture"

Does this mean that you, Elena, can not read and interpret the Bible on your own? Do you need the church to read and interpret it for you? I'm not sure I follow that.

Sorry to keep peppering you with questions Elena, but it seems like the more answers you give the more questions I have. I really would like to hear your own logical/personal reasons why you believe all of this to be true along with some biblical support which I thought you said you had.

And thank you Elena for taking the time to answer all of these questions. I know it must be difficult to keep answering questions from more than one person - thanks for sticking with us.

Elena said...

Well, not only do I strongly disagree with that statement but I think this is a very dangerous statement.

Nonetheless it is scriptural. The pillar and foundation of truth is the church. (1 Tim. 3:15).

The Bible exists because of God. Every word in the Bible is from God and he is the one that preserved his Word and inspired/caused the church to put the books together at a later date.

Exactly! The CHURCH was the instrument God used to put the bible together. It didn't drop out of the skin with leather binding and gold gilded pages.


So, I'm guessing from your quote above that it would have to be Tradition?

Well that would be a stretch Carrie. My comment was regarding how the bible came into existence, not about what was authoritative.


I'm still confused. Is it God's infallible Word or not? Or does it somehow cease to be God's Word if not interpreted correctly? Or is only infallible when the church interprets it but fallible other wise?

Well obviously it has to be interpreted. That is why the church exists. Without the authority of the church to interpret scripture you end up with the 30,000+ divisions that is the Protestant branch of Christianity all disagereeing with each other over what everything means. That is not what Christ intended.


And thank you Elena for taking the time to answer all of these questions.

You are welcome!

Ellen said...

Elena, are you saying that all followers of Rome are in lock-step theologically?

Ellen said...

Carrie, the Bible does say that the body of Christ (ekklesia) is the foundation and pillar of truth.

For many centuries, men have been claiming the "right" to define "ekklesia".

The bishop of Rome says that the church of Rome "church", the Greek Orthodox church says that they do.

The Bible says that "ekklesia" (the church) is the foundation and pillar of His truth.

The plain reading of this is that body of Christ that is all believers; the bride of Christ, those congregations that meet together to worship;

We, the believers, together in unity (in Christ) and diversity (in non-essentials), are the foundation and pillar of truth.

This is the beauty of the church invisible. As different as we are, together we are the same.

The body of believers, the church, is not defined by one man, one governing body, one Roman.

The body of believers is defined by Christ.

Elena said...

Elena, are you saying that all followers of Rome are in lock-step theologically?


Catholics who consider themselves to be practicing, orthodox Catholics are in lock-step on faith and moral issues.

Elena said...

The Catholic church and the Orthodox church are doing a lot of fence mending. We even consider communion in each church to be valid.

Church has more than one meaning Ellen. The authoritative church is not the individual members. It's a bizarre perspective to believe that is.

Ellen said...

The authority doesn't come from man (it's a bizarre perspective to believe that it is).

The authority comes from Christ and His Word.

Elena said...

and that authority Ellen, was given by Christ to Peter, the first pope and handed on via apostolic succession to the present day. That authority lies in the chruch and her Magesterium, the popes and the bishops.

Ellen said...

Elena, the same logic is applied by the Greek Orthodox church.

Ellen said...

At any rate, the rock was laid - the Bible says that.

What it does not say is that there will be a papacy that will rule the church.

"Upon this rock" - I've been through "Falling Water", a house built on a rock. Once the house gets beyond the beginning stages, the rock is the foundation - the starting point.

I can see using Peter's teachings (and all apostolic teaching) as the continuing of Peter's foundation - the house that is built on the foundation.

There is no Biblical foundation for a pope, otherwise there would have been no need for the apostles to elect a twelth, Peter simply would have appointed him.

Ellen said...

Elena, if Peter was the "pope", why did he not take that authority over Paul?

Why was Paul the one to tell the churches how to set up elders and deacons?

Elena said...

There is no Biblical foundation for a pope,


http://www.catholic-pages.com/pope/hahn.asp

Ellen said...

Elena, you posted a link a while ago to "The Rebelution" - on debating. They said:
NUMBER SEVEN: Do your own research.
Remember that your opponents are busy people who are taking time out of their day to discuss relevant issues with you. Do not place an excessive burden on them by requiring them to go “off-site” to read lengthy articles or study ancient philosophers, scientists, etc. If Aristotle makes “your” point then “you” should be able to make the argument. Your opponent certainly will not (and shouldn’t have to) make it for you.


So, again, from the Bible, Elena, if Peter was the "pope", why did he not take that authority over Paul?

Why was Paul the one to tell the churches how to set up elders and deacons?

Elena said...

Wow, Ellen. That wasn't very gracious. I posted you an indepth, scholarly article, written in an engaging style that I thought you would appreciate. Guess not.

Ellen said...

what you are doing is proving Rome by using Roman sources. I would debate Calvinism by using Scripture, not by using "Calvin's Institutes". I'm asking for Biblical references, that's all.

I was actually sort of surprised at your continuing posting of off-site links, considering that you've posted the Harris twins' guidelines in full on your own blog.

I'm sorry you see that observation as "not very gracious", I just thought that since you post in your sidebar that your blog adheres to the guidelines, that you would give other blogs the same benefit.

But that's an aside, since your accusation of my "ungraciousness" could be seen as an attempt to dodge the issue of Biblical basis.

Elena said...

I use the Harris guidelines mainly to advise against ad hominem and other unkind comments against me or my guests.

I'm not going to insult you by spoonfeeding a scholar such as yourself with information that you are more than able to glean for yourself from an article that was chock full of the information you were requesting.

Bottom line is that what Catholics believe is biblical. You simply disagree with the intepretation. I'm not intereted in going off into tangents like why didn't Peter micromanage the early church.

Ellen said...

There are a few things that you haven't addressed, but ok.

I'm sure that what you've presented falls right into line with what Rome teaches.

Carrie said...

Wow, I've missed alot again.

In all fairness Elena, your first comment here said that you could provide biblical support for all the issues I raised with the Catholic church in my post, and I don't think you have really done that.

Elena: Bottom line is that what Catholics believe is biblical. You simply disagree with the intepretation.

But you must agree Elena that ultimately there is only one right interpretation. God knows what the right interpretation is, correct? What we are trying to do here is be open to finding the most logical interpretation based on the whole bible message, not just a few verses here or there.

It seems to me that the Catholic Church has some non-biblically based traditions that as an afterthought (and with their loss of popularity)they have tried to justify with pulling a few random verses (often out of context). And it seems to me like the CC knows they should be biblical by this behavior, otherwise why not just thumb your nose at everyone and say it's Tradition, plain and simple, we don't care what the Bible says. Instead they try to come up with biblical support and those of us who know our Bible well are mystified by it.

So why the minor points of these arguements may seem tangential, I don't think they are. If you want to say Peter was the first Pope then you need to look at the whole NT and see if that makes sense. You cannot just take two verses out of the whole NT and build a doctrine around it ignoring the rest of the text that doesn't jive with that doctrine.

Now, you said some specific things over the last few comments that I would like to address but I'll have to come back. If you are tired of dicussing this I can understand, but I would still like to make a few comments about what you have said, even if you have moved on.

Carrie said...

Okay, I actually don't have much more to say here because I think we have exhausted the topic for now.

I did just want to say that the 30,000 Protestant denominations is quite an exaggeration. And I see it used by some as a support that Sola Scriptura is false because of the disunity that it causes (ie so many Protestant denominations).

That's a weak arguement. If we are going to use that kind of an argument then we would have to completely nullify Scripture everytime some nut kills an abortion doctor, the KKK quotes some verses for their atrocities, etc. It just doesn't work that way.

Elena said...

In all fairness Elena, your first comment here said that you could provide biblical support for all the issues I raised with the Catholic church in my post, and I don't think you have really done that.

Actually in fairness what I said was:
"I don't want to take up your valuable comment space to do so, but rather just wanted to let you know it was possible! If you want to take me up on it let me know and I'll write something lengthier on my blog and send it to you."

It is very difficult to do justice to this topic within the confines of a comment box with limited HTML tag capabilities. I supplied at least two outside sources that heavily referenced scipture. I think I absolutely did what I said that I could do.


It seems to me that the Catholic Church has some non-biblically based traditions that as an afterthought

In all fairness Carrie, you are probably of my vintage or a bit younger. We really got the short end of the deal after Vatican II as far as really learning our Catholic faith. I'd venture to bet that everything you know about Cathlicism you've learned from anti-Catholic sources. Your comment illustrates that.



I did just want to say that the 30,000 Protestant denominations is quite an exaggeration.

Fine. How many times has the Protestant branch of Christianity splintered since the Reformation? Just in my little neighborhood alone I see three little splinter churches, each teaching something different and all claiming the bible as their reference book. The one behind me is particularly interesting as they are open to Gay marriage and lifestyles. They say the bible supports it. How many times does the branch have to splinter until it's an exageration?

And I see it used by some as a support that Sola Scriptura is false because of the disunity that it causes (ie so many Protestant denominations).

Well the disunity amongst Protestants certainly doesn't help any appeal to sola scriptura! It weakens it.

That's a weak arguement. If we are going to use that kind of an argument then we would have to completely nullify Scripture everytime some nut kills an abortion doctor, the KKK quotes some verses for their atrocities, etc. It just doesn't work that way.

Actually it does. Everytime some nut case commits some atrocity in and backs it with a bible verse, it nullifies it in the hearts and minds of the nonbelievers and skeptics who hear it.

Carrie said...

I won’t lie Elena, I am leery of the Catholic Church based on my upbringing and based on the lack of fruit I see in every Catholic family member and friend I have. And I have read apologetics sites that you may consider “anti-Catholic”. But most of my arguments come from my own thinking on the subject – I have tried in this comments section not to post links to what other people say, but use my own reasoning from the scriptures to oppose the Catholic doctrines.

I have read through some of the articles at Catholic.com, looked through the Catechism for the Mary stuff (in the other post), and looked at some of the articles you have posted here. I really am trying to be fair and be sure that I am arguing against Catholic doctrine as it exists today. Since it seems to change so much over time, it is easy to get confused. And while I think the obvious errors in history (like paying for indulgences) highlight a lack of credibility on a church system that considers itself a pillar of truth, I have tried to ignore the historical stuff for these discussions.

But what I am not doing is just reading anti-Catholic propaganda and regurgitating it. I am not the kind of person that does that. I read my Bible myself and while I do listen and read opinions/interpretations by others, I always weigh those things against the scriptures using the logic that God gave me. Perhaps that is a foreign idea for a Catholic since the church does the thinking and interpreting for them, but I promise you, that is my way.

You are right, you did say you would support the Catholic doctrines in a post on your own blog and I said that would be great. But then you started answering here so I thought you changed your mind. If you would prefer to write your own post, that would be great. I would much rather hear your own reasoning through the biblical basis of Catholic doctrines than read other people’s stuff.

Sincerely Elena, thank you for engaging in this discussion. While we still adamantly disagree with each other, it has been a great learning experience. Not many women would have stuck with this discussion for so long and I admire your tenacity. I just wish we could channel that tenacity to defending a Sola Scriptura stance ;)

Elena said...

Thanks Carrie.

Although I cringed at the "not use to thinking for yourself" line. I think if you check out my blog in depth you'll see that's probably not a true statement! : )

I do want to go back to the Catholics bearing fruit thing though and share a little bit. My Catholic in-laws raised 9 children. All 9 of those children grew up to love and serve the Lord. Oh, two of them broke away for a bit, but my sister-in-law, the rebel, came back to God and the church shortly before she died. Isn't that the goal of Christian parents? To get their children to God? All of my other brothers and sisters-in-laws love and serve the Lord and have raised their children that way. Aside from doctrinal differences, what could be better fruit?

My husband and I will be celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary next month. We have 7 children, 6 here and 1 in heaven. They are 17 to age 1. My older children serve at mass, participate with the choir, and have worked at the hunger center and for the elderly. They also protest abortion. Isn't that good fruit?

I would also like to point to some Catholics you may or may not be aware of. Mother Theresa of course helped the poorest of the poor in India. Father Damian is well known for ministering to the lepers in Molokai. There is Elizabeth Ann Seton and Mother Cabrini who set up Catholic schools that educated the poor. All of this is good fruit coming from Catholic sources.

There are good sources of Catholics bearing fruit out there Carrie. The Catholic church does much in the way of humanitarian work. The Catholic church also stands strong against abortion and for the family. Whatever you think of the doctrines I don't think you can deny that the fruit is good!

Carrie said...

I'm sorry, Elena. I didn't mean you couldn't think for yourself, obviously you can.

I meant as far as interpreting scripture, the Catholic view as I understand it it is that the Church thinks through and interprets scripture for you. You then work off of those interpretations while I work more off of my own interpretation - but maybe that is not a correct assessment on my part.

I'm not going to deny that there are Catholics throughout history who have done great humanitarian work, but there are also plenty of non-believers that do great humanitarian work. Mormons seem in general like very nice people with great family values, but what they believe is still a false gospel.

I guess I look at fruit as more than good works but I'm not sure how I would describe that (something around spiritual understanding, biblical truth, etc). Maybe I am looking for a greater variety of fruit. But I'm not saying that what you have or what you have described about others is bad fruit, but it's just not enough in my eyes to overcome the doctrinal problem areas.

Please remember, I am not trying to judge you, but the doctrines of your church. You have been very gracious in this discussion and I admire all the work you do for your church and your family. I don't mean to belittle the good (in the people) because of what I see as the bad (with the church). I guess I can't just sweep the bad under the rug :)

Tony said...

Well, not only do I strongly disagree with that statement but I think this is a very dangerous statement. The Bible exists because of God. Every word in the Bible is from God and he is the one that preserved his Word and inspired/caused the church to put the books together at a later date.

Hi Carrie!

First you have to define what "the Bible" is. Second, since the Bible didn't come down from heaven, leather bound with a table of contents and footnotes from God, you have to have made a decision of what men you were going to believe in reference to what Canon of the Bible you were going to use.

In an earlier comment you said:

But please, stick with the OT & NT and not the apocrypha books. I don't accept those as scripture.

I have to ask, why not? These are seven perfectly good books of the Bible that some men decided not to include in the Canon.

But that's neither here nor there. You choose what men to believe with regard to the assemblage of your Canon which if you are Sola Scriptura, is the foundation of your faith.

I freely admit that I believe "my guys", and since men chose the Canon you use as the foundation of your faith, you believe "your guys". I have no problem with that.

One of the reasons I believe "my guys" is the unbroken line of apostolic succession from Saint Peter. "My guys" include heavyweights like St Francis of Assisi, St. Augustine, St. Dominic and St. Thomas Aquinas.

"My guys" say that scripture is necessary, but not sufficient. "My guys" say that holy tradition is never counter to scripture (it may be in addition to scripture, but it will never be against scripture). So if you are looking for precedence on which is most important, that's it (but since "my guys" chose the canon, the deck is a little stacked ;))

Ellen said...

Carrie, I posted on the history of the Canon yesterday.

Carrie said...

Hi Tony,

This discussion thread is about to fall of the map. When I do my posts on Sola Scriptura I should cover alot of your points.

If you want to discuss anything else, I would move your comments up to the top post. Blogger almost never alerts me to new comments so I have to look around for them and sometimes I don't find them.

Also, I would go over and take a look at what Ellen has to say. She is a very smart cookie and better versed in church history than I am, so she probably has more to offer you.

Tony said...

Carrie,

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll be happy to do so.

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