Why I am a Catholic: the Short Version

This came out of the blue, off the cuff, just as you read it, when a friend on Facebook asked me to sum up in one point why I converted to Catholicism. This is probably the most succinct account you’ll ever read from me.

It’s hard to narrow down to just one. But I’ll give you three: The authority of the teachings, the catholicity and universality of the Church, and the historical continuity with all ages.

St. Gregory the Great

St. Gregory the Great.

The first point, authority: Protestants believe in sola scriptura, that one’s doctrine and authority come from Scripture alone. But that means that ultimately understanding God’s Word is dependent on the individual conscience. It’s up to you to read it and decide what it means. Which left me constantly in the place of feeling lost and unworthy to come to any conclusion. Who was I to say one denomination was right and another wrong, when so many wise and intelligent people had been arguing over it for centuries? How could I have any certainty at all, about anything?

And I really don’t think Jesus would have left us in that pickle. There’s nothing in Scripture to suggest that anyone ever intended that. All through the Old Testament, God anointed priests and prophets and judges and kings to lead and instruct and guide His people. The prophets promised that He would send us shepherds after His own heart. And then, God Incarnate Himself comes! To reveal to us the fullness of divine Truth! And then — we’re left with a book? That we have to muddle through ourselves? It has no continuity with the rest of revelation. It seems completely out of character with God and anti-climactic to the history of salvation.

St. Paul

But from the very first century, even suggested in Scripture, the Church has believed in apostolic succession — the idea that Christian teachings, and the authority to teach them, were passed down from the Apostles to the bishops and down through the ages. That seems entirely more in character, after the succession of Aaronic priests and the Davidic line of kings. Christ told the Apostles that when they spoke, their word would be as His, with all the same authority. And the whole foundation of Catholic teaching is that that authority never went away. There’s still an authoritative Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, with the authority to teach us.

And the second one, the universality: “Catholic” means “universal.” And in Scripture Paul talks repeatedly about us being the Body of Christ, one through our Baptism and through the sharing of the One Bread. And the Catholic Church is spread worldwide, and in any place I could go, it would be the same liturgy, the same belief, the same doctrine — the same One Bread. And there would be brothers and sisters who would welcome me and embrace me. And it’s not just universal around the world — it’s universal through the ages. With all the believers who’ve ever lived. United by that One Bread.

And the Protestant churches have no concept at all of that. There are 40,000+ Protestant denominations, and that’s not even counting “nondenominational” churches. It’s hip not to be affiliated with anybody, just to be a splinter with no attachments to anything bigger and no accountability to any authority.

The Four Doctors of the Western Church

The Four Doctors of the Western Church: Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome.

And the third one, you get: Historical continuity. Both in terms of events and in terms of doctrine. Everything the first century Church believed, we believe today. Everything we believe today, the first century Church had at least some notion of. And all the events, all the developments, all the heroes and saints and brothers and sisters, are connected. Whereas for most Protestants, history began from nothing in 1517. They can’t explain where their faith came from, other than point to the Bible. But how did the Bible come to them?

I was thinking yesterday: Protestantism is the ultimate reboot. Like with Batman or Superman or Star Trek, they decided they didn’t like how the story was going, so they took the original source material and started over, re-reading it all in a new light and re-inventing it how they wanted it. With no connection at all to anything that had happened before.

67 thoughts on “Why I am a Catholic: the Short Version

  1. The RCC has no teaching authority,simply because iits teachings,so called,are not based on Scripture.
    The idea of apostolic succesion is a lie,..Peter was never pope..mt23:9
    I genuinely believe that you should make some attempt at comparing Scripture with catholic dogmas,and hopefully you will see they are not founded on sound Biblical teaching.
    Catholicism is not christian.

    • Hi, Spook. This is a much more polite comment and I appreciate it. I’ll un-ban you for the time being. It is fine to disagree, but if you return to being abusive and offering nothing constructive, I will ban you again.

      I have examined and exposited Catholic teachings through Scripture quite extensively. Have you? Asserting and misapplying a few verses taken out of context, while ignoring all the rest of Scripture, is not valid exegesis.

      For example, you cite Matthew 23:9, “Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven,” as evidence that Peter was never pope. But what does this have to do with anything?

      The “pope” is the bishop of Rome. The term “pope” was not even applied strictly to the bishop of Rome until near the end of the first millennium. So Matthew 23:9 is not relevant at all to whether Peter was ever “pope.” The more appropriate question to ask is whether Peter was ever bishop of Rome.

      We know from Scripture that bishops (ἐπίσποκοι) and presbyters (πρεσβύτεροι) were roughly the same office in apostolic times. Paul instructs Titus to “appoint presbyters in every town as I directed you, if any man is blameless; … for a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless” (Titus 1:5–7). Peter at the same time tells us that he was a presbyter: “I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter” (1 Peter 5:1). We also know that Peter was living in “Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13), which even Protestant scholars acknowledge certainly meant Rome. Therefore, it seems that Peter was presbyter in Rome — that is, bishop.

      • Quoting you “I have examined and exposited Catholic teachings through Scripture quite extensively. Have you? ”
        It is not my purpose, and neither is it necessary for me to read or study catholic teachings, to comprehend that they are false. teachings..

          • You have me wrong joseph.
            If you want to be expert at detecting the fake, you must first be aquainted with the genuine.

            I am very familiar with Gods word, and therefore am well attuned to discerning the fake.

            the fake being roman catholic dogma’s of course.

            when i became a christian, i studied Scripture a great deal….and actually got reasonably adequate in both hebrew and greek.
            though i have done neither hebrew/greek for years now, but can still find my way around as it were.

            No, there is no necessity at all, to study every catholic catechism, dogma, to know that it is indeed of the devil and satan….
            I just need Gods word, and spiritual discernment.
            Discernment, by the way, that is comletely lacking in catholicism.

            I have seen a lot of postings of ivarfjeld, of you roman catholics, dragging out dead bejewelled bodies, and dressing them up, and kneeling in front of them..
            Its obscene.!!!

            wake up Joseph please.!!
            I would love to see you get saved…then we can perhaps not argue anymore….
            You would be happy with that, whereas i wouldnt really. lol

        • I’ve been a Christian for a lot longer than you have, Mr. Spook. I’m well familiar with both the “genuine” and the “fake.” Calling something “fake” does not make it fake. One most prove that it is fake, with evidence and exegesis. As many have pointed out over at the Watchtower, you can only provide empty assertions.

          • I haven’t ever stopped being a Christian. I was raised in church, taught the Bible, prayed the “sinner’s prayer” a dozen or so times, starting around the age of three years, and many more times afterward — when I was ten, when I was sixteen, etc.

            Then I learned the truth and became Catholic.

            What about you? What made you stop being a Christian?

          • I have never stopped being a christian since i got Converted to faith in jesus christ in 1992.
            before becoming a christian, I was an unbeliever, atheist, just had no interest in whether there was a god etc….

            Do you think that you will ever become a christian joseph, at some point in the future ??

          • You are not behaving like a Christian. Jesus said that the world will know we are Christians by our love, but you are only spewing prejudice and hate, and saying rude things to and about people.

          • and you are always twisting peoples words..
            are you training to be a jesuit or something ??
            Im not perfect of course..but I am certainly Christian…
            I shall pray for your conversion to true faith in Christ….and that you will leave satans dominion, and come into the light….

          • You keep saying I am twisting your words, but how am I twisting your words? I have only responded to the words you have said and the arguments you have made. Please point out some way in which I’ve twisted or misconstrued what you have said.

          • its the way you respond to what i have said,…ie…how you incorrectly make assumptions about what i am saying..
            when i say something to you, i assume you know certain things, and then you snot me off for not mentioning them…
            of course i know paul witnessed to jews out side of israel, and peter witnessed to gentiles in israel…

            anyway….I am hopeful that you will become christian at some point in the future…
            bye

          • I have not “twisted your words” or “snotted you off.” If I have reminded you of things you already know, then I’m glad we agree about these things. If we agree on them, then how does that amount to my “twisting your words”? And how does it make the things I am saying any less true?

          • Hi Joseph,
            Unfortunately you are giving bad information to your readers when you write….
            “The first point, authority: Protestants believe in sola scriptura, that one’s doctrine and authority come from Scripture alone.”
            That’s not even close and I’m surprised in your past you weren’t taught better. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura asserts that that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the sole, “infallible” authority by which God rules His Kindgom. Surely you are aware of the Confessions of the many Reformed churches which are clearly declared to be authorities. In fact, the decisions of local sessions, presbyteries and synods are authoritative in some sense. And pastors also have biblical authority. So your claim misses the mark and I hope you won’t make that errant assertion to your friends in the future.
            And of course your following comment –
            “But that means that ultimately understanding God’s Word is dependent on the individual conscience. It’s up to you to read it and decide what it means.”
            – is a mischaracterization as well.
            The message of the Gospel is clearly that God provides for the faithful teaching of His word AND for the faithful reception of His Word in His people. Nowhere did Christ or the Apostles ever teach that God’s meaning in Scripture was up to an individual on his own. Now it is true, according to Peter (2 Peter 3:16) that “unstable” people distort the message. But God doesn’t build His church on unstable people.
            And of course, that is why you had that “feeling” of uncertainty. You misunderstood God’s method in propagating His message to His people.
            But you are right when you say that Jesus did not leave us in a “pickle”. The certainty of Christ’s message was proclaimed by Peter in Acts 2:36. What Jesus makes known to His followers is a certainty. And that is precisely why He “left us a book”.
            And your statement – “Everything the first century Church believed, we believe today” – is simply breathtaking. When Peter and Paul taught God’s sovereignty in election (Ephesians 1, Romans 9, 1 Peter 1) the modern Roman church dismisses as a sin! When Jesus forbade His follower to be called by the title “Father” (Matthew 23:9) modern Rome has 400,000 “Fathers” roaming the planet! And the first century church understood Jesus’ prohibition against hierarchy (Mark 9:33-35; Matt. 19:30, etc.) yet Rome persists in it’s “hierarchical” structure. What can you possible say to these, Joseph? Rome is a complete and total departure from the first century church!
            I have to ask you to please stop your ill-informed swipes at Protestantism, Joseph. You obviously don’t understand it and your continued misrepresentations are a very poor witness to Christ.
            I pray that you will grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus.

          • How is it plagiarizing….i just thought i would copy/paste…..why would i try and pass it off as my own, when obvious it was pauls…and youd already read it…

            anyway, i thought i had blocked your blog.

          • Hi Joseph,

            Let me reiterate your points to help me stay focused.

            You wrote:

            “I do recognize the difference in sola scriptura as Luther proposed it and sola scriptura as it’s come to be applied by many evangelicals. But I don’t think there is ultimately (note that term) any principled difference between the Lutheran or Reformed formulations and how the idea is practiced, especially when compared to the Catholic model of authority.”

            Reply:

            Your language sounds eerily like the folks at Called to Communion. But however errantly the doctrine of Sola Scriptura may be practiced in some places doesn’t affect the doctrine, per se. The doctrine still holds that God’s word is the only infallible rule in faith and practice. And that is the doctrine properly taught in the church. As for the “Catholic model of authority” your criticism would apply there as well. You, as a Catholic, still have to choose the Roman Communion based on your own private interpretation.

            You wrote, again:

            “The individual believer reads Scripture on his own and based upon that reading, chooses to adhere to and be a member of a church whose doctrine he agrees with, or else he leaves that church, or even founds his own.”

            My reply:

            This misunderstanding, Joseph, arises from the non-Scriptural view of God and man that Rome holds. I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but the ramifications – as you can imagine – are far reaching indeed. Because God gives wisdom to the wise (Daniel 2:21) and promises His Holy Spirit to His followers (Luke 12:12; John 14:26, 16:13, Acts 5:32, etc.) He cannot fail which means His people cannot fail. So the people who come to an incorrect (i.e. uninspired) understanding of God’s Word are, as Peter refers to them, “unstable” (2 Peter 3:16). So we don’t build doctrine on unstable people, Joseph, but on the inerrant word of God. The proper understanding of God’s word is the result of the promise He made – whether we understand or agree with that or not.

            You wrote, once more:

            “Yes, and He provided for that faithful teaching through the apostles and preachers and teachers whom He appointed in the Church (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28).”

            My response:

            He did, indeed. And you might notice that in the sequence that Paul mentions (i.e. “first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues) there is not one priest, bishop, cardinal or pope. In fact, 1 Corinthians 12 is a great affirmation of Christ’s own dictate in John 3 that we do not know where the Spirit is from or where it proceeds. The Church of Rome maintains that the Spirit emanates from Rome and only through the geographical locations under its control on the earth. That’s a fundamental difference, Joseph and one I hope resonates with you.

            Joseph asks, “On what do you base your certainty, Paul?”

            Thank you for asking! I base my certainty on the promise of God who is sovereign over His creation and who is able to do what He says (Isaiah 46:10). And He has said through his Apostles that He has chosen His children “before the foundation of the earth to be holy and blameless in His sight.” (Eph. 1:4; see also 5-11) And He has said through another Apostle that this “inheritance” (which cannot be earned by me) will never – never “perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4) so that all glory is His in redemption for doing for me what I cannot do for my self. Alternatively, I do not have any certainty in the doubts I experience from time to time or the fact that sometimes I can’t understand the means God uses. But I have absolute certainty in the ends He has ordained and in His ability and Will to complete them. And that certainty rests of His promises to lead His people into all truth. (John 16:13)

            Joseph then entered a long response which contained this:” None of this sounds very much like a “prohibition against hierarchy” to me — quite the opposite.”

            My response: And I think that is, Joseph, because of your modern Catholic paradigm. The presbyters held a different function (as per 1 Corinthians 12, which you cite) but not an authority over others. To understand that better, let me share with you the work of the Roman Catholic scholar, Fr. Klaus Schatz:

            “If one had asked a Christian in the 100, 200, or even 300 whether the bishop of Rome was the head of all Christians, or whether there was a supreme bishop over all the other bishops and having the last word in questions affecting the whole church, he or she would certainly have said no.”

            (Schatz, Klaus. Papal primacy: from its origins to the present. Trans. John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney. Collegeville, Minnesota. The Liturgical Press, 1996. Trans. of Der Päpstliche Primat: Seine Geschichte von den Ursprungen bis zur Gegenwart. Germany, 1990; p. 3)

            This notion of hierarchy is not Christian and came into Rome long after Christ and His apostles were gone.

            Joseph continues:

            “What is more, in the earliest extra-scriptural writings of the Church (cf. Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch), we find hierarchical leadership already firmly in place, having been established by the Apostles, and exhortations to submit to it.”

            My reply:

            First of all extra-scriptural writings are not Scripture. Secondly, I believe you are engaging in anachronism by applying your 21st century worldview to institutions of the first century. Roman Catholic scholars like Fr. Schatz are well aware of the the extra-scriptural writings and still come to a different conclusion. And that is because as a professional historian, they look at the first century in its own context. And how could the Apostles have possibly exhorted their followers to submit to an authority that Christ forbade? One of the many things the Reformation recovered was Peter’s idea that God’s people are all a “holy priesthood”. (1 Peter 2:9).

            I enjoy your enthusiasm Joseph and am grateful for your hospitality. Unlike “Spook”, this is serious for me – and I know it is for you. Lastly, you may want to get Fr. Schatz’s book. He got his doctorate in Rome and taught at a Catholic university in Germany – maintaining good standing with his bishop throughout his life.

            Blessings to you in your work, Joseph!

            Peace.

        • Really, Mr. Spook? So, I guess, Peter never preached to the Gentiles? And Paul never preached to the Jews?

          Not quite. Peter’s primary calling was to the Jews, just as Paul’s primary calling was to the Gentiles. But Peter’s ministry was not limited or restricted to the Jews, any more than Paul’s was restricted to the Gentiles: In fact Paul preached to Jews everywhere he went; his first stop was always the local synagogue (Acts 13, 14, 17, 18, etc.). Peter likewise ministered to the Gentiles: in fact it was to Peter, not Paul, that Christ gave the definitive vision that salvation was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews, and Peter is responsible for the first prominent Gentile converts in the family of Cornelius (Acts 10). To quote Peter himself at the Council of Jerusalem:

          “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.” (Acts 15:7)

          This is not even to mention that there was a large and prominent population of Jews in Rome which Peter pastored: as many as the first ten popes are believed to have been Jewish Christians.

          I have shown you scriptural evidence that Peter was in Rome, acknowledged even by most Protestant scholars. You are free to ignore it if you’d like, but then it would be you ignoring the teachings of Scripture, not me.

          • no dont say that..I am sure there were gentiles in israel, the romans etc, anyone not jewish…peters mission field was israel…
            And of course paul preached to jews, afetr he was converted, but then he went to leave israel and preach to the gentiles, whereas PETER CONTINUED IN HIS MISSION FIELD iSRAEL..
            bUT I do know that paul witnessed to jews in Rome and other areas outside israel/Judea etc…

            Please dont put words in my mouth Joseph..its not nice.

            My main point is, is that Peter never went to Rome, and there is No evidence of it…

            thank You.

          • I am only quoting you. You said yourself, “Peter was Apostle to the Jews; Paul was Apostle to the Gentiles,” as if these were restrictive designations that prove Peter never went to Rome. Now you say that Peter never left Israel? But we know that Mark was with him in “Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13). And Mark was also with Paul while he was in prison in Rome (Colossians 4:10, Philemon 24). So we know that Mark was in Rome, and he was with Peter in “Babylon,” and “Babylon” was Rome (e.g. Revelation 14:8)… But there’s no evidence that Peter was in Rome, you say? What about the historical and archaeological evidence?

          • you are twisting my words, trying to make me sound as though im saying something, or intending to mean something that i am not.
            Dont take me for a fool Mister !!!

          • you are twisting my words and you know it..
            I say Paul was apostle to the gentiles….but of course i know from reading Acts, that Paul went into the synagogue wherever he went also……do I need to state every detail, in order to make a point….???

  2. Good post! I think a lot of people get stung by the wishy-washy theology of some independent churches. I feel like I need to defend my Protestantism, but I’ll do that in anther forum 🙂

  3. Pingback: Why the Catholic Church was never Universal | The Outlaw Monk

  4. Hi Joseph,

    Unfortunately you are giving bad information to your readers when you write….
    “The first point, authority: Protestants believe in sola scriptura, that one’s doctrine and authority come from Scripture alone.”

    That’s not even close and I’m surprised in your past you weren’t taught better. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura asserts that that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the sole, “infallible” authority by which God rules His Kindgom. Surely you are aware of the Confessions of the many Reformed churches which are clearly declared to be authorities. In fact, the decisions of local sessions, presbyteries and synods are authoritative in some sense. And pastors also have biblical authority. So your claim misses the mark and I hope you won’t make that errant assertion to your friends in the future.

    And of course your following comment –

    “But that means that ultimately understanding God’s Word is dependent on the individual conscience. It’s up to you to read it and decide what it means.”

    – is a mischaracterization as well.

    The message of the Gospel is clearly that God provides for the faithful teaching of His word AND for the faithful reception of His Word in His people. Nowhere did Christ or the Apostles ever teach that God’s meaning in Scripture was up to an individual on his own. Now it is true, according to Peter (2 Peter 3:16) that “unstable” people distort the message. But God doesn’t build His church on unstable people.

    And of course, that is why you had that “feeling” of uncertainty. You misunderstood God’s method in propagating His message to His people.

    But you are right when you say that Jesus did not leave us in a “pickle”. The certainty of Christ’s message was proclaimed by Peter in Acts 2:36. What Jesus makes known to His followers is a certainty. And that is precisely why He “left us a book”.

    And your statement – “Everything the first century Church believed, we believe today” – is simply breathtaking. When Peter and Paul taught God’s sovereignty in election (Ephesians 1, Romans 9, 1 Peter 1) the modern Roman church dismisses as a sin! When Jesus forbade His follower to be called by the title “Father” (Matthew 23:9) modern Rome has 400,000 “Fathers” roaming the planet! And the first century church understood Jesus’ prohibition against hierarchy (Mark 9:33-35; Matt. 19:30, etc.) yet Rome persists in it’s “hierarchical” structure. What can you possible say to these, Joseph? Rome is a complete and total departure from the first century church!

    I have to ask you to please stop your ill-informed swipes at Protestantism, Joseph. You obviously don’t understand it and your continued misrepresentations are a very poor witness to Christ.

    I pray that you will grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus.

    • Hi, Paul.

      I do recognize the difference in sola scriptura as Luther proposed it and sola scriptura as it’s come to be applied by many evangelicals. But I don’t think there is ultimately (note that term) any principled difference between the Lutheran or Reformed formulations and how the idea is practiced, especially when compared to the Catholic model of authority. The individual believer reads Scripture on his own and based upon that reading, chooses to adhere to and be a member of a church whose doctrine he agrees with, or else he leaves that church, or even founds his own. Local sessions and presbyteries and synods may be “authoritative in some sense,” but if the believer disagrees, based on his own private interpretation and conscience, that authority (in whatever sense) is not authority at all, and he is free to reject it and walk away. I’m not sure what kind of authority you mean when you say pastors have “biblical authority,” but in the same way, the believer, based on his private interpretation, chooses and follows the pastor he agrees with and rejects another. No matter what lip service you give to ecclesial authority, the true authority, the true onus of interpretation, is with the individual believer.

      Nowhere did Christ or the Apostles ever teach that God’s meaning in Scripture was up to an individual on his own.

      You’re absolutely right. I couldn’t agree with you more. Perhaps Luther should have considered that?

      The message of the Gospel is clearly that God provides for the faithful teaching of His word AND for the faithful reception of His Word in His people.

      Yes, and He provided for that faithful teaching through the apostles and preachers and teachers whom He appointed in the Church (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28).

      The certainty of Christ’s message was proclaimed by Peter in Acts 2:36. What Jesus makes known to His followers is a certainty. And that is precisely why He “left us a book”.

      On what do you base your certainty, Paul?

      When Peter and Paul taught God’s sovereignty in election (Ephesians 1, Romans 9, 1 Peter 1) the modern Roman church dismisses as a sin!

      I don’t know what you’re talking about.

      When Jesus forbade His follower to be called by the title “Father” (Matthew 23:9) modern Rome has 400,000 “Fathers” roaming the planet!

      We’ve talked about this before, two or three times, and I am not going to repeat myself again.

      And the first century church understood Jesus’ prohibition against hierarchy (Mark 9:33-35; Matt. 19:30, etc.) yet Rome persists in it’s “hierarchical” structure.

      Jesus says plainly, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). And this after he had “appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons” (Mark 3:14–15). To them He said, “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:29–30). God “appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28). Paul instructed Titus to “appoint presbyters in every town” (Titus 1:5), and instructs Timothy in the appointment of bishops and deacons (1 Timothy 3), and the author of the Letter to the Hebrews exhorts us to “obey [our] leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over [our] souls, as men who will have to give account” (Hebrews 13:17). None of this sounds very much like a “prohibition against hierarchy” to me — quite the opposite. What is more, in the earliest extrascriptural writings of the Church (cf. Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch), we find hierarchical leadership already firmly in place, having been established by the Apostles, and exhortations to submit to it.

      What can you possible say to these, Joseph? Rome is a complete and total departure from the first century church!

      Perhaps you can demonstrate to me clearly some way in which the first century Church differed. All you’ve offered above is your interpretation of a few words of Christ taken out of context.

      May the truth of Christ and of His Church dawn on you.

  5. Joseph is brainwashed with his catechism..
    he is afraid to step away from it, in case the nuns come and spank him, or hes afraid that he might end up in that ” CASH COW” place called purgatory..
    if he goes there the vatican will make some Dosh….£££££££££’s out of him..

    • I have not even mentioned the Catechism. If you’re going to argue with me, please answer the things I am saying and do not accuse me of saying and doing things I am not doing. And do not say abusive things about me or my friends. You will be banned.

  6. Hi, Paul. I’m responding below because it is getting kind of crowded up there above.

    Your language sounds eerily like the folks at Called to Communion. But however errantly the doctrine of Sola Scriptura may be practiced in some places doesn’t affect the doctrine, per se. The doctrine still holds that God’s word is the only infallible rule in faith and practice. And that is the doctrine properly taught in the church. As for the “Catholic model of authority” your criticism would apply there as well. You, as a Catholic, still have to choose the Roman Communion based on your own private interpretation.

    I do read Called to Communion and I think that argument was solid and compelling. You acknowledge by your response, pointing to my “private interpretation,” that my critique regarding Protestants and “private interpretation” has hit home. My “private interpretation” only ever had to play a role because of the state of affairs created by Protestants. In the first 1,500 years of Christianity, the teaching of Truth was rightly left to those in whom God invested the authority to teach it. My question to you: If the Protestant model of authority — sola scriptura, based on the private interpretation of the individual believer — were the “right” way for the Christian people to be taught and shepherded, why do we find no evidence of it either in Scripture itself or in other early writings of the Church?

    He cannot fail which means His people cannot fail. So the people who come to an incorrect (i.e. uninspired) understanding of God’s Word are, as Peter refers to them, “unstable” (2 Peter 3:16). So we don’t build doctrine on unstable people, Joseph, but on the inerrant word of God. The proper understanding of God’s word is the result of the promise He made – whether we understand or agree with that or not.

    That’s astounding, Paul. Do you not consider the total disintegration of Christian unity “failure”? The fact that fewer and fewer Christians are “united in the same mind and judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10) than ever before in history? That there are now some 40,000 distinct Protestant denominations, not even to mention “nondenominational” churches? Do you really mean to propose that all of these but your own sect and its followers are “unstable”? Is yours the only sect that the Holy Spirit has “led into all truth”? On what grounds do you so firmly base the conclusion that your sect’s interpretation of the inerrant word of God is the only true and proper one, and all others are “unstable”?

    You might notice that in the sequence that Paul mentions (i.e. “first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues) there is not one priest, bishop, cardinal or pope.

    Like most Protestants, you seem to favor pitting Scripture against itself and reading one passage to the exclusion of others. Paul elsewhere instructs Timothy and Titus in the appointment of bishops, presbyters, and deacons (cf. 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1). The hierarchy of the Church evolved very rapidly, as the Holy Spirit led, such that while there is no mention of bishops or presbyters in Paul’s early letters (1 and 2 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans were all written in or prior to A.D. 57), by the end of Paul’s life, as evident in his pastoral epistles (ca. A.D. 65–67), these offices had become essential. Bishops and presbyters — which in Paul’s lifetime seem to have been roughly the same office (cf. Titus 1:5,7) — came to fill the roles of teacher and preacher (cf. 1 Timothy 5:17). You suggest that “the presbyters held a different function … but not an authority over others” (you note 1 Corinthians 12, interestingly — perhaps you acknowledge that presbyters came to fill these roles?). But the fact is evident that presbyters did exercise authority — especially when one considers that early presbyters were the same as bishops (“overseers”).

    Paul compares bishops to heads of households, certainly positions of authority, in 1 Timothy 3 (“for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church?,” 1 Timothy 3:5), and in Titus calls the bishop “God’s steward” — certainly a position of authority. Peter exhorts his “fellow presbyters” to “tend the flock of God that is in [their] charge” (1 Peter 5:2), they “exercising oversight” over their flock (ἐπισκοποῦντες [episkopountes], the participial form of ἐπίσκοπος [episkopos], “bishop”). That these presbyters had the power, by abusing their position, to exercise “constraint” upon their flock, to pursue “shameful gain,” or to “be domineering over those in [their] charge,” makes plain that this was a position of authority over the faithful. The verb Peter uses here is ποιμαίνω (poimaino) — to shepherd or pastor a flock of sheep, the same word Jesus used in John 21:16 when he directed Peter to “tend his sheep”; Peter here directs his “fellow presbyters” to do the same. A ποιμήν (poimēn), derived from this verb, is a shepherd or “pastor” (Ephesians 4:11). Certainly a pastor must exercise authority over his sheep, or else they wander!

    You proclaim your opposition to “hierarchy” but what you seem to actually be opposing is any form of authority vested in a man — to any man being in authority over any other man in the Church — while it is absolutely clear, by these verses and by the others I cited above, that Jesus placed his flock in the care of faithful shepherds (cf. Jeremiah 23:4), the Apostles and later those pastors whom they appointed (John 21:15–19, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 5:1–4). Of course, those in authority must be servants to their flocks (Matthew 20:26–28, Mark 9:35).

    The Church of Rome maintains that the Spirit emanates from Rome and only through the geographical locations under its control on the earth. That’s a fundamental difference, Joseph and one I hope resonates with you.

    That’s ridiculous. The Church teaches no such thing, and I challenge you to present anything that sounds even vaguely similar. The Church is the servant of God; she does not claim to be God Himself.

    Thank you for asking! I base my certainty on the promise of God who is sovereign over His creation and who is able to do what He says (Isaiah 46:10). And He has said through his Apostles that He has chosen His children “before the foundation of the earth to be holy and blameless in His sight.” (Eph. 1:4; see also 5-11) And He has said through another Apostle that this “inheritance” (which cannot be earned by me) will never – never “perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4) so that all glory is His in redemption for doing for me what I cannot do for my self. Alternatively, I do not have any certainty in the doubts I experience from time to time or the fact that sometimes I can’t understand the means God uses. But I have absolute certainty in the ends He has ordained and in His ability and Will to complete them. And that certainty rests of His promises to lead His people into all truth. (John 16:13)

    Sure, God promises those things, in which I have assurance also — but this is not even relevant to my question. We are talking about authority here. You apparently have absolute certainty in a set of scriptural interpretations and doctrines based upon them. You trumpet the absolute authority of Scripture — but on what do you base your certainty that your interpretation is the correct one, against all the myriad others? I am really curious about this.

    My response: And I think that is, Joseph, because of your modern Catholic paradigm. The presbyters held a different function … This notion of hierarchy is not Christian and came into Rome long after Christ and His apostles were gone.

    I am not even speaking of papal authority here, or the hierarchy of the modern Catholic Church. Yes, I wholeheartedly acknowledge that these evolved over time. But as I have shown above, Scripture is absolutely clear in establishing the office of a bishop/presbyter as shepherd over his flock, with deacons serving the bishop and the Church. I present this independent of any coloring from modern Catholic doctrine, and if you insist on ignoring it, you must present an alternate reading of the Scriptures I’ve cited and support it. Otherwise your “certainty,” in whatever it is rooted, must appear to be just as blind and baseless as you suppose mine is towards the Catholic Church.

    First of all extra-scriptural writings are not Scripture.

    I have not presented these extrascriptural writings with the authority of Scripture, but they nonetheless have authority as historical sources. If I present sources produced within decades of the lifetimes of the Apostles that show plainly the existence of a basic hierarchy in the Church, then to ignore this evidence you must suppose that the Church of Christ was so poorly founded and instructed by the Apostles that its followers would promptly abandon the truth for “un-Christian” heresy within living memory of Jesus Christ Himself. That does not speak very well for our Lord or for the Holy Spirit, especially given Jesus’s promise that “the gates of hades would not prevail” against His Church (Matthew 16:18). (There is strong support for dating 1 Clement as early as A.D. 70, but even by the long-held date of ca. A.D. 97, based on the supposed date for Clement’s service as bishop of Rome, this date is something to be reckoned with. The letters of Ignatius of Antioch are convincingly dated to ca. A.D. 107.)

    Secondly, I believe you are engaging in anachronism by applying your 21st century worldview to institutions of the first century. Roman Catholic scholars like Fr. Schatz are well aware of the the extra-scriptural writings and still come to a different conclusion. And that is because as a professional historian, they look at the first century in its own context.

    You believe so? I have a graduate education in history. I am not perfect, but I know how to read and analyze sources. I am not applying my 21st century worldview to the first century, and if you are going to charge me with thus, you had better be prepared to present some evidence of it.

    Clement tells us that the Apostles “appointed their first converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of the future believers; and this was no new method, for many years before had bishops and deacons been written of” (1 Clement 42). “Our Apostles also knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this cause, therefore, since they had received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have been already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions that if they should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministry” (1 Clement 44). Ignatius exhorts us to “all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as if it were the Apostles. And reverence the deacons as the command of God. Let no one do any of the things appertaining to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears let the congregation be present; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 8). I will withhold my analysis, since you have so little faith in it. Why don’t you explain to me how these offices were not positions of authority, or else how the very disciples of the Apostles, “guided into all truth” by the Holy Spirit, could have misunderstood so thoroughly.

    And how could the Apostles have possibly exhorted their followers to submit to an authority that Christ forbade?

    Please explain to me how Jesus, in entrusting his flock to shepherds — which, regardless of how you read John 21:15–19, he here gave to the Apostles — is forbidding them from exercising authority.

    One of the many things the Reformation recovered was Peter’s idea that God’s people are all a “holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).

    The Catholic Church has never denied that God’s people are a holy priesthood — for there it is, plainly in the book. But that doesn’t mean that every believer is individually his own priest. The Old Testament people of God were likewise “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6), but neither did that mean that every individual Israelite was his own priest; there were still a group of Israelites, the Levites, who were called and anointed to be priests in a special way. We all have the authority to stand directly before God, but as Scripture attests, the members of the Body of Christ fill different roles (1 Corinthians 12), and some are called to serve God’s people with their whole lives as pastors or preachers or teachers. That in no way diminishes the priesthood of all believers.

    I enjoy your enthusiasm Joseph and am grateful for your hospitality. Unlike “Spook”, this is serious for me – and I know it is for you. Lastly, you may want to get Fr. Schatz’s book. He got his doctorate in Rome and taught at a Catholic university in Germany – maintaining good standing with his bishop throughout his life.

    I enjoy talking to you, too, and I would like to read the book. The reviews I see for it look promising. Again, I don’t deny that the role of the papacy as we know it today has evolved; but Jesus plainly gave authority into the hands of His Apostles to teach and guide His flock. Thanks, take care, and peace to you.

  7. Joseph, thanks for inviting me to read your post. I’m glad you’re an earnest pursuer of truth. If you’re conscience leads you to embrace Catholicism, I urge you to be the best Catholic servant of Christ you can be. I think that makes you still, the ultimate interpreter of which group is right or wrong. There’s no escaping that for any of us.

    Like you, I am distraught over the division in the church–Protestantism being it’s own worst enemy here. But even then, honestly, the rise of western individualism and anti-intellectualism has more to do with our rampant divisions, than does the Reformation itself.

    God bless, Lon

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