Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Catholicism HAS to be from God--No Human Could Have Invented It

It is hard to let go of what you think you know.

There is no real reason to study Catholicism as a Protestant, so why spend the time  attempting to see things through a Catholic perspective? It is a lot of trouble and time and nothing Catholics say ever really makes sense to most Protestants--at first anyway. Most Protestants are thrown a few pope's quotes, or do some cursory study, maybe even look at a couple of pages of the Catechism or know a priest and that is enough to convince them Catholicism is wrong. Why bother?

Well, for me, I just say.... because once you understand Catholicism, it will stretch your mind, your senses, your understanding of scripture to the point of exquisite exhaustion. You will see the supernatural, perhaps not in miracles of healing or fireballs from the sky, but in scripture and history. Catholicism is the best kept secret of all times, especially from Catholics, for rarely do I meet a Catholic who has studied their religion and jumped into its depths of theology. And the ocean of its theology is scary and deep, in fact bottomless.

Protestantism is wonderful. It is simple and sweet and secure. That is nothing like Catholicism. Catholicism is like that feeling you are being watched in the dead of night and a sudden fluttering sounds in the corner and a slight bluish wisp of a feather glistens in the moonlight. Then the next morning, there is a five foot white and blue luminescent feather found in the corner--and it is not from any known earthly creature. It is like a long, arduous hot journey and you find a cave. You walk in and you hear the rushing sound of water only to discover at your feet there is a pool of rubies and emeralds directly beneath the flowing stream. It's like a trip into outer space. Catholicism is brilliantly scholarly and tremblingly mysterious. It is frightening and yet comforting. It merges the matter of the earth, the black dirty dirty you can squeeze with your hands with the dancing of angels. It reaches my heart, my mind, my soul and my strength. It pushes me and it feeds me.

It makes me want to cover my head and fall at the feet of Jesus not looking up for fear that the goodness and mercy I see in His eyes will consume me. He is so much bigger and stranger than before. At the same time, now I know that I am in Him and He is in me. I am His Bride and He is my King. Terrifying, tremendous. Unearthly, magnificent.

There is nothing like Catholicism. But it is not easy and you will die if you understand it, die to yourself and to your selfishness. You will die and your pride will be torn from you. But you will rise again by the touch of His hand and the glory you will see will make even silence a prayer to Him.

Friday, August 13, 2010

How Dualism Makes Christianity Impotent

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness but denying its power. II Timothy 3:1-5

The northwest burgeons with people who reject Christianity. Living near Seattle, I am in constant contact with the ardent anti-theist. Admittedly, when lounging in a darkened Starbucks and the man sipping coffee behind me is engrossed in Christopher Hitchens’ The Portable Atheist or Richard Dawkins’, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, I have an irrepressible urge to ask him a question which inevitably brings on a passionate lecture about the enslavement, abusiveness and intolerance of religion. I am never offended, only fascinated.

More often, as I pause for a breath while hiking up Mt. Rainier, unexpected and enlightening conversations develop with others who have stopped to marvel at the view. Delighted to find someone intently interested in their opinion, they unburden their heart with surprising intimacy. Almost all claim a deep spirituality, yet divorced from the evils of corporate religion. They are often shocked that I sympathize with their rejections of Christianity for an individualistic, inclusive mother-earth-respecting, liberal metaphysical devotion. And I do get it--even if I disagree . When you look at Christianity today, it is tempting to dismiss it as empty zealousness.

These sincere, semi-agnostics don’t want ethereal, theological truths to argue, but a practical spirituality--a spirituality devoid of judgmentalism and elitism--one that brings peace and unity. They are looking for a remedy for their hangovers, their loneliness, their feelings of inadequacy and rejection--something to make sense of the chaotic confusion of the world. They want something real with results you can see, feel, touch.

Why did they rejected Christianity? Because we have nothing to offer the masses. Our faith seems to have no power to solve problems. Christians preach a better world through faith, but look at our lives. Christians are lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, Christian’s children are no more obedient than anyone else's, we are ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure. Statistically, Christians almost parallel “the world” in sex outside marriage, divorce and abortion rates. How are our lifestyles superior to faithful Jews or Muslims or Buddhists? Why become like a hypercritical, narrow-minded fundamentalist with a bunch of moral standards they promote but never keep? Yes, perhaps Christians offer free tickets to life after death, but most people aren’t really threatened by the idea of hell.

Who can blame those who reject Christianity for saying no thanks to our self-righteous badgerings that claim we hold the moral high ground? We may think that our personal-assurance-of-salvation-independent-of-how-we-act is a good sales point, but to others it just comes across hypocritically smug.

That cross-tatooed, porn-addicted, thrice-divorced deacon who greets at the church entryway may make you feel you have a cool place to worship, but unless some of the sinners are graduating into sainthood, I’d say its time to recall the gospel product for manufacturing defects.

I know what you are thinking. The beauty of the gospel is that Christ died for our salvation and it is not our good deeds that save us. And please note: I AGREE! Our works do not save us. Jesus’ works save us. What are we, ablaze with the incredible free gift of salvation, supposed to do now--start preaching works-righteousness? No!

Yet, think of what has become of Christianity? Where have we gone wrong that our lives cause a stumbling block to the cross? 

I am going to back up and give some context:

Dualism and Faith

An ancient philosophy called dualism underpins the worldview of 21st-century evangelicals. Dualism, the idea that there is a cosmic struggle between the material and the non-material world, is not in and of itself wrong. Christianity, however, has accepted the pagan solution to this problem. This is the reason we have lost the power to our gospel message. I will attempt an explanation, but I will have to begin in Genesis. The following may seem a bit too philosophically erudite, but please give me a chance to explain where I think the majority of westerners get it wrong:

The Material World is Still Good

God is spirit. What exactly His spiritness is we don’t know. However, we do know that within the realms of the unseen came the seen. Into His vast deep cosmos, He spoke and there was material. Before He introduced man onto this earth, He created matter by which man could interact with God. He looked upon the heavens, the earth, the seas and the creatures He had breathed into existence and He pronounced them good. The material world, matter, physicalness is good!

Creating us to enjoy and interrelate with matter, God gifted us with eyes to see the colors, shapes, textures, shadows and light. He gave us hearing to understand depth and balance, to delight in music and voices, wind and waves. We can taste, touch and smell the physical realm. The material world allows us to interact with ourselves, others and God. Imagine trying to know God without senses. Yet, we also know there is much more than what our senses can identify. There is the spiritual world that is experienced beyond matter. Both the physical and the spiritual are integral to knowing God.

The effects of disobeying our Creator was the tearing apart of perfect unity--the oneness--of spiritual and material. Isolation infiltrated our existence and we began our irreversible drift from God. Human interrelationships deteriorated, and our beings, both our souls and our bodies began decomposing until finally--death--the material disappears. The world grew fragmented on the spiritual level and worked its way down to the microscopic level. The immaculate and spotless system collapsed. 

Then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus, Son of God, stepped into the world of matter and began the process of reunifying what had shattered. We still breathlessly await the final restoration of both the physical and spiritual when Christ comes again.

The earliest Greek philosophers understood the problem of this disintegration. Body and spirit seemed in ceaseless tortured competition. They felt the soulful urge to transcend the physical and reach out for a spiritual experience that matter simply could not satisfy. They mistakenly took the physical nature as embodying the sin or the evil of man. The material world seemed to restrict a human’s ability to capture and reside in the divine. All that was good; beauty, love, justice, compassion, truth was unreachable for imprisoned flesh. The senses could only barely perceive these higher, purer elements. They did not recognize the it was their sinful hearts that needed to repent and be made clean. There was no power to change the terrible weight of sin.

So, the early pagan philosophers, most famously Socrates (in Plato’s Phaedo), believed the person must strive to disassociate one’s soul from the physical world in order to see the unseeable, encounter the invisible higher truths. Virtue and truth could only be discovered by struggling against physical body. You can see dualism take shape in the polar opposites of hedonism (the physical is worthless, so it irrelevant what the body does) and asceticism (excessive discipline and self-denial bring physical into submission of spiritual.) Suicide by hemlock, Plato recorded, liberated Socrates from the evil physical world. Only in death could one come to the fullness of truth and see clearly. This world held no hope, no power to release one’s body from evil.

Dualism in Faith

A fracturing of body and soul happened in Eden, we as Christians agree. Paul speaks of dualism of body and soul, the fight between body and spirit.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Romans 7:21-24,

But Protestants have incorporated the presupposition of dualism into their concept of faith. They have done to faith what the Greek philosophers did with the body and spirit. They split faith into two parts--the spiritual and the physical and pitted what should have been a perfect unity against each other.

Most Evangelicals teach that faith is born purely in an intellectual/emotional spiritual realm that may or may not then move into the physical realm. Faith is reality without form or movement. Indeed some Protestants will demand that sincere, authentic faith will prove itself in the material world. Even so, it is also essential for the fundamentalist that a living, salvific faith remains distinct from any work. It must or their Protestantism implodes. For them, the power of faith is the power to raise one from the dead, not a power to conquer the sins Christ saved us from while we live.

As a Protestant, I knew many who were just thrilled to death that sin in no way impeded their relationship with Christ. Anything they did to “try and be good” or in any way modify their behavior was as filthy rags and unacceptable to God. Some Protestants are comfortable with their self-centered characters and have no plans to walk in the path of righteousness. Their seats to heaven are padded, so they sit back and rest in the arms of Christ casually acknowledging the sinfulness of sin, but not realizing there was abundant grace given to us by God to overcome the forces of evil that hold our natures' hostage. 

This faith may save you, but it will never convince the unbeliever. Christians have become a huge stumbling block for those who don’t believe because today’s Christianity has no power within the lives of the believer. Faith is a trophy rather than a power tool for your life. Faith has no effects. Christians have the form of godliness but deny the power.

Here are a few texts that describe the power of our faith:

Power Texts:

Luke 24: 49, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

Acts 1: 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Acts 19: 20, “In this way the word of the LORD spread widely and grew in power.”
Romans 15: 13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
I Corinthians 4: 20, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” 
I Corinthians 2: 4, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power.” 
II Corinthians 6:7, “in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.” 
II Corinthians 10: 4, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 
II Corinthians 12: 9, “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” 
II Corinthians 13: 4, “For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you.” 
Colossians 1: 11 “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully...” 
I Thessalonians 1: 5, 9, 11, “ because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake....They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the LORD and from the majesty of his power.... With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.”

II Timothy 1: 7, 8 “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our LORD, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”

This power of God is not just miracles, not just a zealous way of preaching, but a power to change the person into the likeness of God. This is a transformative power, a power that crushes the head of the serpent and the demonic forces that have held us in slavery. It is the power to slay sin.

Christ not only died so that we would be saved from eternal hell, but that unity may be achieved again--the chaos and shattering of sin in our lives could be healed. His blood purchased the unity of oneness of both the seen and unseen and that our faith would shine in both the physical and spiritual realms. This is the power unbelievers need to see. This is what the world is searching for. Our gospel should not only speak it but live it.

James 2: 14-26, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Catholicism: An Introduction to Their Worldview Part I

Catholicism has been around for 2,000 years and has been the faith of billions. It has spanned the globe and entered every culture, and prayers of the faithful have risen to God in hundreds of languages. This is a massive, deep religion. As a second religion (for Protestants trying to understand Catholicism), it's as easy to understand as a second language (such as Japanese) for an American. But if you are born and raised into it, it is second nature.

Before a Protestant can enter the world of Catholicism, he must take a little trip far back into the past, before the rights of man, before individualism, before equality, before almost everything our western thoughts have been formed upon. We must see the world with new eyes.

The first few generations of Christians worshipped in many ways like the Hebrews had always worshipped, because the first disciples were Jewish! So the early church looks very Jewish in its theology and worship. Also remember that they were deeply influenced by Greek culture, even speaking and read OT scriptures as well as wrote NT scriptures in its language. The early church not only had pagan religions attempting to infiltrate its thinking, the culture was seeped in a Greek philosophical worldview, and that will become VERY important in understanding the early Christians. Add to the mix, that they were under the rulership of the Roman Empire, so the Roman culture also permeated Christianity.

It didn’t know about freedom or rights--master could kill anyone in his household including his wife, child or slave. Unwanted children who were not aborted, were left out in the street to either die of exposure or be taken to be raised as a slave or prostitute. Virtue had nothing to do with a good god’s expectations for the gods themselves go into sexual and moral peccadilloes all the time. A good citizen was one who lived for the state--that was the standard of virtue. Prostitution and child sex slavery was part of religion. It could not conceive of religion and state being separated. 

The state leader was a priest god, and there was no idea of equality. Justice and mercy were for only the most influential. There were many gods of many ranks and as long as you worshipped the caesar as god, you were free to follow the gods of your personal conscience. Truth was relative and individualistic. Rome was completely tolerant and inclusive of all religions. As if that wasn’t enough, by the fourth century, the Germanic culture came in and took charge. This is the environment in which a new religion developed.

We will now begin our tour of understanding Catholics insight into scripture and bring it to life the way Catholicism teaches. We will actually begin before the first word.

The Triune God

God is a covenanted family that is one in substance, mind, goals. Yet, the mystery of the Trinity is that there are three distinct in One God. God is unity. It is His very make up and fabric. There are many ways in which man was created in His image, and one is that man was made for unity. Man and his wife were to be one flesh and through that oneness man could do just what God Himself did, create a likeness of his own image.

This idea of the covenant unity will play out in many Catholic beliefs such as the indissoluble marriage covenant, the unity of believers, the Mystery of the Incarnation and Salvation bringing humanity back into unity with God. The isolation of hell is one of the painful results of breaking this unity with God. Unity forms some of the basis of the Church Militant, the Suffering Church and the Triumphant church and their interconnections.

The Fall and Redemption of Man In Genesis

When mankind sinned, the curse did not fall upon him but upon the serpent and the soil. Yet, unlike Protestants, Catholics believe that the stain of sin did not wipe out all goodness from man’s soul. Although he is now naturally prone to sin, he has always remained capable of making a free choice to do good. Man is now under the domination of Satan’s kingdom, but man can freely accept the Holy Spirit’s call to him and be saved into the Kingdom of God.

While the ground was cursed by God, Catholics do not believe that the intrinsic value of the matter became evil, the broccoli that emerges from the soil was not evil. The soil simply would no longer produce food effortlessly. Fruit trees would no longer spring up naturally and in plenty. Man would have to purposefully plow, plant, irrigate, and harvest to feed himself. Famine from crop failure and the percentage of unproductive land was greater.

Throughout the Old Testament God is constantly using the material to bring the spiritual as a way of showing us Himself and drawing us to Him. The sacrifices that foretold of Christ’s physical sacrifice, the rock that gave forth water, the ark, manna, Ten Commandments, the bronze serpent, Moses and Aaron’s staff, Elijah’s mantle, the bones of prophets. In the New Testament, handkerchiefs were used, even shadows! The material, the physical, God used as a sacrament to reach out and teach us, touch us and heal us.

When Christ came, he released the earth from the curse, famine is less common. Yet an ever deeper understanding is watching Christ as he heals with spittle and clay. In this he is symbolizing the curse being lifted from the ground and added with the material of God it is used for healing.

Today, most Christians pray and ask a blessing on the food. In the ancient world, meals themselves were sacred. Because of the curse of sin, food preparation was more time-consuming and the fact that one could eat was itself a blessing. Their prayer response was an act of thanksgiving over food that was already considered a blessing. There was an intimate understanding and thankfulness when you knew that God’s creature had to be killed for you and your family’s survival. That is why most meals included a thanksgiving offering to the Divine.

Sharing a meal with someone was to include them inside those you were protecting. Covenants were made by sharing in the ritualistic unity of the meal. Each time your family ate, it was a reaffirmation of your covenant with God/or as time went on, gods. This is one of the reasons the early church converts had such a difficult time eating meat sacrificed to idols. They knew what eating a meal with a demon meant. For Catholics, our New Covenant Eucharist with God is sealed and renewed upon each sacrificial “meal” in the mass. We remember the Cross by offering the one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ himself as a perpetual renewal of the New Covenant.

This is a very important thing to bridge the understanding between Catholics and Protestants. To a Catholic matter is good. God never, even under the curse, did He nullify His pronouncement that His creation was good.

God gave us senses: hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, seeing. These senses interact with nature in order for us to know God. How could we know God without reading the Bible, or seeing nature, or hearing His Word? God created all material to draw us to Him. Using things of nature to draw us to worship Him was part of His plan. Water is used to cleanse us in Baptism. In Catholic mass, creation is used to invite and engage ALL our sense into worship--the incense recalls the fragrance of our prayer sacrifice in Revelation. The flowers, the beauty of the cathedral or chapel, the stained glass windows, all draw our eyes to the mysterious Father in thanksgiving. The sound of the choir chants, and the taste of the bread and wine and the touch of the rosary beads or the kiss of peace. These are God’s gifts to us to use for His glory.

One of the most influential prehistoric philosophies, that haunted the people of God from the Hebrews to the Christians and continues to do so until today, is dualism. Ancient pagan cultures believed that the physical/material world is so intrinsically corrupt that it must be rejected and separated from the spiritual (and authentic reality) which was intrinsically good. Polarized groups formed some became complete asceticism who mortified their bodies to achieve an alternate spiritual consciousness. Others took the radically hedonistic approach that assumed if all that mattered was the spiritual, allow the body free reign to follow its urges. Both of these systems tried to incorporate into Christianity early on. Catholics taught against both. We were created both body and spirit and both are holy and good.

Today some Protestant theology, beginning with Luther, has unintentionally ripped faith into two components--the material/physical realm and the spiritual/philosophical realm. It seems like a ubiquitous idea among Protestant thought that faith is relegated exclusively to the non-material, where it means a good, etherial feeling of hope unrelated in any way to actions. It is a heart/mind thing. Yet, this has never been the case for the vast majority of Christian history. The word faith MEANT both a spiritual and physical manifestation. The word was pregnant with growing life. Faith, Hope and Charity were so interconnected that to have any faith it would result in hope and charity, walking in charity birthed faith and hope, etc. To have one would result in the formation of the other. Catholics teach that there is little spiritual difference in the physical and non-physical, both are sanctified, holy and set apart.

Dr. Scott Hahn quote from EWTN Live. “There is a physical side to being spiritual. That was true in the old, but truer in the new because of the incarnation.” (Book Signs of Life)

St. John of Damascus, “I don’t worship matter like the idolaters but I worship the God who made matter who then assumed matter and uses matter to redeem us.”

This belief will affect the rituals in worship, the collection of relics of the martyrs and burial practices of Christians, their belief in miracles, regenerative baptism, original sin as well as the seriousness of sin, sanctification and the Eucharist.

In Genesis 3, God gave the serpent a prophecy, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

Catholics believe that the word “woman” here is a symbol for the church. Jesus will use the church to crush Satan on earth just as He used Michael the archangel (see Rev. 12) and the angels to throw Satan and his angels out of heaven. God uses His creation to to His bidding. Since the church is His Bride, His body, it is the agency by which He communicates, speaks the gospel, wrote the scripture and is intimately involved with the salvation of the world. It is His love for us to honor His Beloved Bride by involving her in the actual overthrow of the Devil. After all, it was through the woman that sin entered the world and God reinstates her to the position by giving her the duty to slay the dragon.

This belief is part of the understanding of Mary as the New Eve as well as her other titles, understanding in the interpretation of the book of Revelation, how our merits of faith and obedience and suffering help save others and the church Triumphant.

In Praise of Authority

A benevolent, God-appointed authority is a very difficult concept for those of us who have grown up hearing the 19th century quote by Lord Acton “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Western culture distrusts if not disdains the person in charge, the one who may have power over us. It is bred into us to love the equality-minded, independent, self-reliant, self-made autonomous individualist. Our movies denigrate fatherhood and America’s fictitious heroes are always the David to the authoritarian Goliath. America was built upon the sentiment that we should be free to do what we wish without any interference from any religious or secular power. Western culture so demonized and scorned those in charge that now men discard their God-ordained positions of authority, not wanting the responsibility nor consequences.

Catholicism did not spring from that western tradition, but flourished and encompassed many cultures in which equality was unheard of. For Catholics, Christian history does not record a Jesus who died to give us the right of self-determination and individualism, but His spilt blood bought for us the right to become holy. Within God’s Kingdom there is a hierarchy of leaders:

I Corinthians 12: 28, 29, “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?”
Ephesians 4:11, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.”
The New Testament is clear in that children must obey their parents, wives submit to their husbands and men submit to the church and civic authorities. Catholics strongly believe that honor we give to His appointed authorities is honor given to Him. Religious positions, even when their leaders do not live up to their calling, are not seen as oppressors, but as shepherds. Because of the importance of the position, Catholicism recognizes that much is required of God’s appointed authority, mainly a life of sacrificial, self-denying love.

Catholicism also recognizes that one of the tragic consequences of sin, is that many times when a God-appointed authority, such as a father, mother or priest either has an error in judgement or acts in a selfish way that the people under them suffer. When our first parents sinned, it was their domain, the earth and their offspring that innocently had to bear their sins. Fathers and mothers often neglect or abuse their children. The more under the authority, the more damage can be done. Look at King David for an example. When he killed Uriah the Hittite and slept with Bathsheba, he was not made to carry the tragic consequences, his son was. Another time, David disobeyed, the Lord punished Israel.

II Sam. 24:12, 17 The Lord says to David, “I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.'.... Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land?....These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall upon me and my family."
We may not think this is just in our western mindset, but God is attempting to show us, to teach us that as a unity, we all suffer together, we all rejoice together. We do not live as an island no matter how individualistic we try to be. We all must learn that when our leader fails, we all suffer the consequences because one day, in heaven, we will all be leaders. When Cain asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He was expressing (albeit a red herring) the newly created idea that we are independent of one another and he was throwing off responsibility for his sibling.

To begin to understand Catholicism, you must understand their ideas about authority.

Kingdom of David to Kingdom of Heaven

Although it is an obscure basis that rarely anyone speaks of, yet it is a vital basis for many of its most controversial doctrines, directly relating to Mary. Catholics believe Jesus came not to just fulfill a general Old Testament Messiah, but also become the direct fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to keep David’s line upon the throne forever. He was merging the Davidic Kingdom into the Kingdom of God. (It is interesting to note David was unusual that he was a priest king and so is Jesus, tying the two kingdom’s together.)
“They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD. 2 Sam. 6: 17
The following are some of the texts that Jesus will build on as fulfilling His promise to David:
II Sam.7:16 [To David] " Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.' (see also I Kings 8:25, Jeremiah 33:17)
Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore.
Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, you who sit on David's throne. Jer. 22: 2
The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. Jer. 23: 5
Amos 9: 11 "In that day I will restore David's fallen tent.”
Ezekiel 34:24, “I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them.” (See also Hosea 3:5; Zechariah 12:7, 8)
Again, this is vital to understand, Catholicism bases many of its doctrines and set up of the church hierarchy on the idea of a Davidic Kingdom transformed transmitted into the New Covenant Kingdom. That is why he spent so much time speaking parables of the kingdom. To explain to Israel why he had come, to bring a different kind of kingdom. It is his first title in the New Testament-- introducing to Israel who Jesus was and his position as Messiah and King.
Matthew 1:1, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David...” 
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The LORD God will give him the throne of his father David.” Luke 1: 32
See how often Jesus is titled “Son of David.”

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "LORD, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Matt. 15: 22

He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Luke 18:38 
(See also Luke 18:39; Luke 20:14; Acts 13:22, Romans 1:3.)
The kingdom of David held high its Queen Mother in Bathsheba honoring her as an intermediary to her son the king (I Kings 1:11, 2:18, 19--note how the King bows to his mother and places her throne on his right hand. This practice carried over into the Renaissance.) Catholics believe Mary, as the Queen Mother of the Kingdom of Heaven, deserves the same honor.

The Supernatural

There is a realm of evil and good in the supernatural. The one kingdom is of the Devil and the other Kingdom is ruled by the Lord. To seek this supernatural is good and right as long as you go through Jesus to the Kingdom of light. The Lord forbidding sorcery and magic does not mean all supernatural is wrong. It is wrong to get there via the Devil and finding it in his kingdom. If you will notice, much of the demonic is simply a mimic of the true path. Latin is often used for incantations. Demonic worship often has prophets, hymns, sermons, and an imitation of the Eucharist. Which leads to our next subject:

Paganism and Catholicism

Did paganism copy Catholicism or did Catholicism adopt paganism? Let’s look at the similarities:

Faith: Polytheistic religions used the phrase, "the fates" to describe how one placed the the future in the hands of the gods, but it is essentially the same as belief in, trust in the power of one's god. Although scholars today tend to imagine that the more technologically advanced civilizations discarded a real "heart belief" and simply followed worship to one's gods ritualistically, that theory is not backed up archeologically. There are thousands and thousands of prayers from these periods that show a deep sincerity of faith to their gods.

Prayer: Pagan prayers took both communal and personal characteristics much like Christian prayers today. They saw prayer as a pathway to contact with the gods. Each prayer not only included praise towards the deity, but requests and petitions as well as promises to perform acts to honor the gods.

Mystery: The idea of clashing supernatural forces of good and evil and that man has a place in this ultimate fight is also an age-old idea.

Visions and Prophecies: Dating back thousands of years before Christianity, oracles and supernatural ecstasies, very similar to Pentecostalism, were part of religion. The ancient Shrine at Delphi is a place where pagan prophecies and visions took place.

Healing: All religious systems had rituals and prayers that the adherents believed would cause the gods to heal them. They even held "healing" services and ancient records describe the miraculous healings.

Virtue: Honest and ethical behavior was expected from most ancient religions, although they may differ from our standards somewhat. Misbehavior was expected to bring bad luck or punishment from the gods. Pythagoreans and Epicureans had traditions that taught certain ways of life brought reward.

Scriptures: Not all religions had written laws and stories given from their gods, some did such as Hindu, Buddhism--but all had oral proscriptions and legends about how the gods formed the world and how they expect us to behave. These were considered sacred very much like Christians consider the Bible.

Divine Calling: Polytheistic religions believed certain people had a "divine" calling to teach others about their gods.

Sacredness: Pagan religions had places (churches), people (pastors, evangelists), things and times (holy days) they set aside as sacred.

Sacrifices: Pagan religions included sacrifices of unblemished animals that were taken to the temple and immolated after being anointed with salt and flour by the person giving the sacrifice.

The similarities are endless-- Pagans and Christians both have:

Conversion stories, Pagan Messianic prophecies that resembled Christianity: Virgin birth of deity who becomes savior of man, Born-again rituals, Heaven for the righteous, Hell for the sinner, Purgatory, Final--last day events--Armageddon, Creeds and doctrines, Certain cults in polytheism claimed they should be free to worship the gods as their conscience dictated, Predestination, Immortality of the soul (for certain people), Soul sleep (for other persons), Saints, Heretics, Holy wars, Inquisition, Marriage ceremonies with cake, lifting bride over threshold, wedding rings (many other similarities).

When King Solomon said millennia ago that there is nothing new under the sun, he was right. Being a Christian, I am certainly not saying that Christianity is the same. I am just saying Christian forms of worshipping and even some theology are very similar to paganism. So, when we realize that Christianity brought very little unique to religious rites and beliefs, we have a clear choice. Is Christianity a mere culling from the past? Are the critics correct when they say because Christianity brings relatively nothing new to religion and that it is similar to polytheism, that Christian roots are pagan?

Christians must acknowledge that arguments that point out the similarities are logical and that one can look at the facts and surmise that Christianity is simply a new form of paganism. However, it is just as logical to look at the similarities and suggest that Christianity fulfills paganism. That the ubiquitousness of religion and its cycles of mysteries and beliefs---rather than invalidate and disprove religion--does quite the opposite. These repeated similar beliefs, known in all languages, all geographical areas of the world, all time periods, all phases of evolution and development of civilization rather prove something... There is A TRUTH they are pointing to....

We can look at these facts and logically, reasonably surmise that these all came from an original source. And Christianity claims that original source. "In the fullness of time" Christ came and fulfilled it all. He was what these promises, recycled and corrupted as they were by different societies, were pointing to.

Please, be mindful of suggesting that Catholicism is wrong and erroneous because their rites and rituals look similar to paganism. If you use the logic that, "if it is similar to paganism" and predates Catholicism therefore, it is then evil or sinful, you have just cut your own throat. You certainly can say that because Christmas trees began in Druid homes, therefore it is evil to have Christmas trees, but then you must logically say that if Druids prayed then it must be evil to pray.

To have a clear and coherent argument you must prove the intrinsic evilness of an action rather than a comparative argument such "since jailbird Billy grew up reading The Hardy Boys series, therefore the Hardy Boys series are evil and we should not allow our children to read them." That is a lose-lose argument for the Christian.

Look at the above list. All of these religious beliefs and practices predated Christianity and all were used in polytheistic worship. So if Catholicism is evil for similar worship, anyone else's worship that looks similar is also. That logic can be used to prove Protestantism is ALSO based in paganism.

Paganism was the mimic a counterfeit, the distorted mirror of an ancient truth.... a truth that came to its climax, its actualization in Christ.

We do not let go of the doctrine, the rites because they have been fulfilled. They were NEVER wrong--but were corrupted by the evil one so that the form would be deflected into false worship. Now our worship--of prayers, holy days, prophecies, etc. are fully realized and made perfect through the Savior.

Catholicism: An Introduction to Their Worldview Part II


The teaching of salvation is probably the most misunderstood between Catholics and Protestants. Both use different “models” to understand how we are saved. Both of them believe basically the same things but emphasize different aspects. There are differences which I will attempt to explain.

Protestants, in general, teach Jesus came to conquer death and sin for us and now we by faith can accept this free gift and upon death enter eternal life. This is done as an individual. Emphasis of salvation is release from eternal damnation. Protestants believe a “born again” experience is the entry way into salvation, in which the Holy Spirit come to sinner as an accountable person and they have a supernatural experience in which they become “saved” from eternal damnation. They then are assured upon death that they will enter the Kingdom of heaven. From then on all their sins are covered by the blood of Christ and they will--until death--struggle with sin and though the will remain sinners stained with original sin, Jesus’ merits stand in their place and when called into Judgement, Christ’s life stands in place of their life. At some point after death, their characters will be miraculously transformed into perfection without any attempt of their own and without their realizing it. Hell are for those who did not have a faith experience and applied the blood of Jesus to their lives.

Catholicism teaches that a person enters the Kingdom of God when they are baptized either by the faith of their parents or their own faith. Faith is not only personal but community-based. A parent’s faith can save his child, a husband’s faith can sanctify his wife. There is a storehouse of faith within the Church which we can draw from. Christ allows us, as His Bride to be intimately involved in the saving of men’s souls. Angels and saints in heaven do his bidding to plant the seeds of faith, just as a preacher and all the Christians on earth do as witnesses for Him.

Upon baptism, a person is now inside the family covenant and have entered the Kingdom of God. Baptism cleanses the person of original sin and now, living the Kingdom, they are no longer enslaved by sin, but able, through God’s grace to become perfect. Within the Kingdom, sacraments are freely given to encourage, uplift and perfect the saint. At the second coming or death is judgement. If one is not perfect and remain attached to certain sins, they then go to purgatory to learn repentance. After that they are able to stand face to face with God in his glory as a perfected and beautiful bride. Emphasis of salvation is release from slavery of sin--transference from one kingdom to the next.  
While Protestants believe if you are not “saved” you go to hell, Catholics believe that God’s mercy is available for all and we cannot say who goes to hell, it is His judgement not ours. Hell is for those who reject all light of love, faith and hope until death.

The Bible

Premise: The formation of the Christian canon (Old and New Testament) as processed through the Roman Catholic church is reliable based on the faith-belief that God will protect His Word.

To defend the Christian Bible we must look well before Christ himself. During the Babylonian exile certain sacred scrolls were saved by the rabbis and taken with them, this formed a canon that was slightly different from the one that was brought to Jerusalem from Greek rabbis who had translated the Hebrew sacred scriptures for the Alexandrian library. This Greek translation, called the Septuagint, included several books that were not a part of the Babylonia canon. These books included Baruch, I and II Maccabees, Judith, Ben Sirah (Ecclesiasticus), Wisdom, Tobit and Judith. At that time, the people living in Jerusalem did not particularly require a set “canon” of sacred scrolls, so the differences caused little controversy.


Jesus and his Apostles and disciples were aware of the different canons, but because the majority of Hebrews living in Jerusalem in the first century spoke and read Greek, by in large they used the Greek Septuagint to read and quote from. Many Protestant scholars claim Jesus rejected the “extra” books in the Septuagint and never alluded nor quoted from them. These scholars are unaware that not only did Jesus allude to them, but his Apostles and the early church fathers quoted from them and considered the deuterocanonical (often called apocrypha) books sacred.

Paul’s first two chapters in Romans is taken from his studies of Wisdom. Also the author of Hebrews based his horrible accounts of martyrdom for the faith in Hebrews 11:35, 36 on II Maccabees 6:18--7:41. In the Protestant scholar, Lee Martin McDonald’s book, The Biblical Canon: Its Origen, Transmission and Authority (p. 452-464) it lists literally hundreds of places that Jesus and His Apostles cited or alluded to the deuterocanonical books. We know from the quotes of Christ and the apostles that Jesus preferred the Greek canon. Of the 350 quotes from scripture, 300 of them were from the Greek canon as opposed to the Palestinian or Babylonian (which were translated slightly differently). It is stunning to realize that 90% of the New Testament quotations of the Old Testament came from the Septuagint version (p. 35 McDonald).

Reading the complete Bible, these books rejected by the Protestant reformers enrich a study of the New Testament. For instance, in the book of Maccabees, the Greek leader Antiochus stood and publicly announced that He was GOD and would prove it by controlling the “wind and the waves.” He is then struck dead on the spot. This underscores what was meant by Jesus calming the winds and the waves. It was for the point of saying that He was GOD! It was a claim to divinity--he didn’t just say he was going to do it, but did it! Another is the book of Wisdom. Wisdom says come and eat from me and you will thirst and hunger again. Jesus claimed that if we come to Him we will be satisfied! The wording is almost identical. If you were a first century Jew, you would have been aware of these deuterocanonical passages and it would have been clear that Jesus was claiming divinity.

One last point. Right now there is a group of Harvard scholars in union with some archeologists who have decided to come out with an “authentic” Bible based on Historical critical methods of finding out what Jesus actually said. They are going to take out all the parts that are “uninspired.” That is sickening! Our Bible is being corrupted! But the problem is, if we give the Reformers the right to cut down the Bible to what they believe to be inspirational, what basis do we have in criticizing the Harvard elites?

There is no place in scripture that would allow anyone to make personal or corporate decisions as to what is sacred or not. Would God allowed His Holy Word to be corrupted for thirteen centuries of Christians looking to it for guidance and doctrine? Surely God protected His word. The entire Old and New Testaments is the authoritative and inspired word of God. Paul states in II Timothy 3:16, "ALL scripture is meant for correction, God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Paul was specifically referring to the Greek scriptures that Mark would have been reading--the Septuagint--the complete Old Testament scrolls. He says all, not a portion. Paul could have easily corrected the canon if he had thought it corrupted by extra “apocryphal” books.


After the death of Jesus, the gospel was spreading like wildfire. In the late first century, the rabbis who had fled the AD 70 Jerusalem massacre formed a synagogue (a rabbinical school based on Rabbi Hillel) in under the leadership of Yohanan ben Zakkai in Jamnia. These scholars decided to fix the limits of the scriptures in reaction to persecutions. For centuries the OT sacred scroll collections had varied among the different Israel factions. There were several collections of scripture that we know of: Babylonian (Palestinian), The Essenes at Qumram’s version, the Samaritan scrolls and the Greek Septuagint.

The Rabbis chose the Babylonian/Palestinian collection for three major reasons. 1. As a defensive measure, to differentiate between themselves from the Christians as they Christians had adopted the Greek Septuagint. They also also sought to undermine the Messianic texts that the Christians were using to prove Jesus the Messiah. 2. To get rid of the Apocalyptic prophecies that they felt were threatening their very existence--no more looking for a specific messiah, only a “messianic” utopian age. They felt the Greek canon was much more "messianic" in its tone. 3. They accepted only scrolls originally written in Hebrew. (Later, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, several of the books such as Judith and Tobit were found to have been originally written in Hebrew.) So from the first century the Hebrew canon began to look different than the Christian canon. This was one of the arguments later posed by those who disagreed with how the Christian canon formed. They said it was NOT like the Hebrew canon.

How strange, indeed, to adopt the Hebrew canon--they who rejected Christ and chose their scriptures for the purpose of discrediting Jesus as the Messiah? Why should their authority usurp Christ and the Apostle’s choice for scripture? (The Hebrew version of Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah....the Lord’s mother is called a “maiden” instead of “a virgin will give birth to a child” found in the Septuagint.)

Some Protestants argue the Septuagint wasn’t “sacred” to Hebrews. Yet, the Hellenized Jews spoke Greek and most could not read Hebrew. “The scripture that the early Christians inherited [LXX] were considered sacred in the Synagogue” (p. 29 McDonald.) “The Septuagint had plowed the furrows of the gospel seed in the western world” (The Canon of Scripture, F.F. Bruce, p.50).

(Note of interest: the Hebrews before Christ called any books that exposed any priestly bad behavior “apocryphal” or hidden, not because they thought them inauthentic because they didn’t want the public to read them and find out their leaders had been less than perfect.....)


In the first through fourth century, there was no "official" Christian bible. Sacred writings were recorded on vellum or papyrus scrolls or on paper codices then circulated through the churches. Usually on a book, or couple of small books could fit on a single scroll. Since this was an expensive and time-consuming process, most churches only had a few scrolls or codices. Very few had the money to purchase a complete set of sacred scrolls. (Also, most people couldn't read, so church was where they heard scriptures.)

Also, because the there was no official New Testament, early church groups adopted different NT books as part of scripture. The Shepherd of Hermas, and the Epistle of Clement, the Apocalypse of Peter were read in certain churches as scripture and debates broke out as to what writings were really holy and God-breathed. This was important question because during persecution a Christian bishop or deacon were threatened with jail or worse if they didn’t hand over their sacred scrolls. Which books were worth defending and even dying over? Which could you hand over without hurting your conscience? Were Paul's letters sacred? What about the bishop Clement of Rome's letter or Bishop Ignatius of Antioch letters? Some leaders tried to clarify the books accepted as sacred and their lists are still extant.

The church really needed a a regulated canon of sacred scripture to be read in church. Finally, in the fourth century (Council of Hippo and another at Carthage, AD 397) a decision had to be made. They already used the Septuagint, but should there be a Christian set of sacred scripture? They decided that only the letters and gospels written by the apostles or by their scribes (Luke, Mark) would be accepted as equal to the Old Testament, creating what we know today as the Bible. This was not an easy undertaking. The bishops began researching which letters were authentically the words of an Apostle.

How did the fourth century leaders know which letters were actually written by the Apostles? After all, more time had passed in Christianity than America has been in existance! Around three hundred years and fifty years! Who could they trust to let them know which gospels were authentic, which letters of Paul were authentic? There was a III Corinthians going around that wasn’t the real 3rd Corinthians that Paul speaks about in his letters. The real one has been lost to history. The church looked to the writings of the early bishops to verity what books were apostolic as there were many books out there claiming that title. The church went to Polycarp and Ignatius, Tertullian, Origen that recorded which books Matthew actually wrote, Mark actually wrote. They even, when in doubt, compared the quotes these men made out of the gospels and letters of Paul to positively identify which letters were authentic.

The other letters and sermons (the Didache, Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement, Shepherd of Hermas) written by true Christians, were not discarded as erroneous, but they were used as "inspirational." The early church encouraged these other books to be read, just outside the church’s divine worship.

Other books were actual forgeries by heretics. There was a "gospel of Matthew" that had been rewritten by the Ebionites and it was forbidden to the Christians because they didn't want the two to get mixed up. There were a profusion of letters that claimed to be written by the apostles or Mary, but were falsified. (And believe me, many Christians believed they were real and fought to get them in the canon.)

Today, this puts us in a predicament about the Catholic Bible, we absolutely must believe these early fathers (Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Polycarp) were inspired by God in their letters or we cannot trust them to point out which gospels or Paul’s letters were authentic. The church leaders of the fourth century looked back and believed what the first and second century leaders wrote in order to choose the New Testament books.

Virtually all Christian scholars accept the Ante-Nicene Fathers' writings as authentic and historical. These bishop’s writings discerned truth from falsehood at a time when many people penned gospels under the name of an apostle. Even still, some anti-Catholic groups believe because the Roman Catholic church was in charge of choosing the Biblical canon, that it cannot be trusted. That the Bible has been compromised and cannot be the true Word of God. It is tempting to believe the Bible is not sacred when one reads the interesting twists and turns the canon of the Bible took through the centuries. But Catholics believe by faith that God cared for His Word. It as a miracle.


From the fourth to the sixteen centuries (over a millennia), the canon had been fixed and all Bibles had the same books in them. It was not until the Protestant Reformation that parts of scripture began to disappear.

personal note on the Septuagint and its deuterocanonical books): My husband and I visited several “Bible shrines” including the one at Bob Jones University and Pensacola Christian College. We also got permission to do research at the private Archives at the Library of Congress (Bible Manuscripts Department) and spent hours studying old Bible manuscripts, quizzing the curator. There is no disagreement anywhere. The facts are that these books Protestants denigrate as “apocryphal” were in ALL Bibles from the 4th century onward until some Reformers began to dismantle scriptures. It was truly explosive to my theological perspective when I saw manuscript after manuscript of scripture with these books included. The Bible, the Holy Word of God had been larger for the Christians for thirteen centuries. 

Evidently many of the reformers doubted God’s involvement with the Word of God. The The Westminster Confession was the first to officially tear scripture apart. Zwingli authorized his followers to rip Catholic books out of the Bibles. The Protestant Bible instantaneously inerrant and infallible at that point? Yet, Paul said "ALL scripture is meant for correction." If ALL scripture for over a thousand years was the Roman Catholic canon what do we do about those who decided to take several books out?

Protestants are usually not aware that the original printed versions of these translations were Catholic in their canon and not Protestant: Gutenberg, Wycliffe, Coverdale, Tyndale, Matthew’s, The Great Bible, Geneva, Bishops, KJV (authorized) and The first American Bible of 1782.

The abridged Protestant version only became ubiquitous in the 1830's when the American Bible Society decided to print on the incomplete Protestant Bibles. Today, though, many Protestant versions are going back to the original books--like the Millennium Bible.

Reformers who taught the only true authority was scripture (sola scriptura) felt free to toss out the books that did not agree with their doctrines. Who is the real authority here?


The Canon of Scripture by F. F. Bruce
The Old Testament: Its Formation and Development by Arthur Weiser
The Biblical Canon: Its Origen, Transmission and Authority by Lee Martin McDonald
Whose Bible Is It Anyway? A Short History of the Scriptures by Jaroslav Pelikan
The Book: A History of the Bible by Christopher De Hamel
The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible by John Rogerson
History of the Bible by Bart D. Erman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Story of the Bible by Luke Timothy Johnson, Emory University
and correspondence with Dr. J. I. Packer


For Catholics and Protestants to ever communicate, the Catholic and Protestant perception of how we received truth from God and who He ultimate put in charge is fundamental. Protestants view the Bible as a book God gave to His followers to lead people to Christ and define truth. Individuals interested in salvation read scripture, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and find truth independently.

The Catholic church accept God’s Word in totality. Jesus words to his Apostles are all authoritative. Only a portion of those were written down in the Bible. As a inerrant source of Jesus instructions, Catholics deeply respect and obey God’s words in scripture. But they also believe we must obey the Word of God that was spoken and never written down. [So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 2 Thess. 2: 15].

Jesus said himself that there was much more he wanted to tell his disciples but they were not ready for it yet. John in his last chapter says that there was much Jesus taught and did that was not written down. In Acts we learn that Jesus taught his discipline for forty days and none of this was written down. Why didn’t Jesus instruct his disciple to write down everything he said, nor does scripture tell us that it is an exhaustive compilation of Jesus words. (See John 16:12). The disciples were ordered by God to spread the gospel via spoken word--preaching and teaching The Catholic church believes it is because He deliberately wanted the church to look to His appointed leaders rather than a partial set of His words as the ultimate authority. Catholicism NEVER contradicts scripture but knows the Word of God that was spoken, and never written. When Protestants accuse Catholics of dismissing or having a doctrine that is in conflict in with scripture, it is not really a contradiction, but a matter of how scripture is interpreted.

Protestants see scripture as having the ultimate authority. II Tim. 3:16

Catholics see the church as having the ultimate authority. I Tim. 3:15

[Note: Paul writes Timothy giving authority to both scripture AND the church. So the question is which is preeminent when two people have different interpretations of scripture, the person’s opinion or the church’s opinion?]

When we speak to each other, Protestants constantly appeal to scripture and tell Catholics to “prove” what they believe by scripture. Catholics see that as odd, why should they have to when they see themselves as being the ones who wrote it and copied it, translated it, protected it? It is their writings. They absolutely believe the Bible supports their beliefs, to suggest that their interpretation is wrong, doesn’t compute. Catholics find it a little presumptuous to use the Bible against the group that it was given to. They believe God whispered truth into His Bride’s ear (Catholic Church) when He left and put her in charge. (By the way, that is exactly what scripture reveals also. Scriptures do not point to themselves as the final authority, but the church and its leaders.)

The church Christ left in charge recorded a part of the instructions to her, not all of His instructions, so it confuses a Catholic when you insist everything--all truths--MUST be found in scripture. Catholics see no discrepancies between having both the Bible as infallible nor the dogmas of the church. They see a perfect unity in the two, like to legs working in unison to walk. Protestants see Catholicism as ignoring the Bible.

Yet, Protestants accept the Trinity which is not clearly in scripture. Protestant’s accept that marriage is between one man and one woman--which can be confusing in scripture when the Old Testament has many of God’s chosen men having several to many wives.

[Remember Paul (II Tim., Titus) insists only church leaders have one wife, the assumption being that the lay people can do otherwise. It is Catholic tradition and authority that made the pronouncement that only one wife for each Christian man. c. 7th century.] Going to church on Sunday is a tradition the Catholics started--they claim by Apostolic authority--yet that is not found clearly in scripture.