Monday, November 29, 2010

Catholics and the Written Word

My grandfather, James J. Ling was the founder of Ling-Tempco-Vought (LTV) which was a pretty big deal in Dallas as I grew up. My uncle Rob, as a collegiate getting his CPA, took a business class about my grandfather’s rise to multi-millionaire as a titan conglomerate genius. The professor was unaware that Rob was Ling’s son, so when the final grades were passed out and he received a “C” it ruffled my uncle’s feathers. As he exited the classroom for the final time, he let the professor in on the secret and indignantly insisted that he’d know more about his own father than the professor would ever know--no matter how many books he’d studied.
Since a little girl, dutifully enjoying my daily worship, I have worn out several bibles with notes and highlights. In college, I thought, “the lips that ‘boy, that Teresa knows her Bible’ rolled off of just didn’t realize they were making the understatement of their lives.” 

Through the years I have felt incredibly grateful that the Lord placed a passion in my heart for His written Word. Because knowing it better than anyone else around me, placed me in a position where I could clearly see that the church I grew up in, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, taught heretical doctrines. I knew my Bible and later, when I began looking into Catholicism I made sure the priests felt intimidated by my knowledge. They couldn’t trip me up, those wily papists.
Once I really began studying Catholicism intensely.... the phrase “rude awakening” comes to mind. As God opened up for me just how He had infused the Catholic church with two thousand years of spiritual giants, of men and women who, well, made my knowledge of scriptures look like Crayola-scribbled refrigerator art next to The Louvre-- or my adding and subtracting next to their quantum-mechanics-theoretical-astro-physicism. I now think the lips that say, “boy, that Teresa was humbled” don’t realize they are making the understatement of their lives. Eventually I was grateful that the Lord placed such a passion in my heart for His written Word, that I could clearly see that the church I was studying was teaching me orthodox doctrines.
It’s hard... hard... for us Bible-believing Protestants to humble ourselves and realize that all our study, all our scholarship melts in light of Catholicism. It confusing when most of them get a “C” when we test them on our Bible knowledge. 
What I have learned is that Catholics have a different understanding of the Word of God. They have more of a perspective of my uncle in a classroom situation with that professor. The Catholic worldview is from inside. They do not completely understand Protestants placing a book as the final authority, when they believe knowing God is about being in a covenant relationship with God--your Father. To Catholics, studying a written word is a good thing and nothing written in scripture is false. But there is also what He has said to the church that was not written down--family traditions. These hold just as much weight because they came straight from the mouth of God--their family heard Him say it. To a Catholic, Christ’s body is still on earth with His church and that is where we go to get the fullness of understanding of our Father.