Friday, July 1, 2016

Understanding the Catholic Perspective (for Debating Purposes)

For over fifteen years I have been reading and listening to debates between Catholics and Protestants. I have been on both sides of the discussion in that time. 

What I have discovered is that every single discussion, every single one without exception, comes down to the authority issue. Who or what is God's authority: Is it a church or a book? Upon this question hinges all theological disagreement. If you don't believe me, have a debate on any topic that causes division between us and take it to its logical conclusion. 

Protestants believe scripture is God's final authority. 
Catholics believe the church is God's final authority. 

So, in order for us to respect each other and listen without hearts open, instead of with our minds closed, we need to understand each other's sincerely-held perspective. 

When a Protestant wants to dialogue with a Catholic, they must first and foremost understand that Catholics have been convinced that Christ started the Catholic Church. 

We don't believe in in the doctrines of sola scriptura or in sola fide because we believe Christ started a church.

We remain faithful to the pope, not because we like him or think he is infallible or pray to him or think he is God. We remain faithful to the bishop in Rome because we believe Christ started a church.

We are horrified by the priestly scandal and the witch trials and the inquisition and all other things the people in the church have done over its 20 centuries. We understand Judases infiltrate us and people fail God but God will not fail Catholicism because we believe Christ started a church.

IF Christ started a Church and He gave it His authority, we will be a part of that church and obey her.... because of our love for Christ. Just as we obey our biological fathers because Christ told us to. It is about obedience. Because Christ started a church. 

Now on the other hand:

Catholics need to understand that Protestants do not accept Marian Dogmas, the Councils, the rosary, the sacraments, the sacrifice of the mass,  the pope, the saints, purgatory. They do not believe Christ started the Catholic Church. They believe Christ gave us a Bible.

We must respectfully engage in dialogue understanding the other's perspective. All the demands of a Protestant that Catholics "show them in scripture" that a belief is true, is only attempting to bolster the Protestant position in the Protestant mind, because it does nothing to impress a Catholic. 

That is like a stranger coming upon a couple named Mr. and Mrs. Smith and demanding proof they are married. Then assuming if they can't produce a certificate right then and there it means they aren't married.Then the stranger walks off believing he has really shown them how unmarried they are. That type of encounter means nothing to the couple who were at their own marriage. 

For us to ever really accept each other as Christians--which may not be some Protestants objective when they discuss things with us--we need to be gracious and respectful when we dialogue. We need to know enough about with whom we are discussing to have a logical and fruitful debate. Blessings. 

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