A Tradition of Authority: Why Catholic Arguments Were Convincing to Me, and Not Merely a Cure for Exegetical Paralysis

This is a bit heavier than my usual posts here, but it answers an important question that Protestant apologists have posed to me and other Catholic converts: Was I only drawn to the Catholic Church because its claims to authority offered an “easy out” to the difficulties of weighing Scripture and doctrine for myself?

Paralysis

A Catalogue of Sects

A Catalogue of the Severall Sects and Opinions in England and other Nations: With a briefe Rehearsall of their false and dangerous Tenents. Broadsheet. 1647.

I’ve been accused before, and I readily admit that it’s true, that as a Protestant, I never had a very thoroughgoing commitment to Protestant theological principles. It was not for lack of trying: for a number of years I had studied theology, prayed, and pored over the Scriptures in an earnest attempt to arrive at some apprehension of the truth. But no Protestant theology, despite the ardent, sometimes vehement assertions of each’s adherents, had a firm enough foundation to convince me. Each was based in subjective interpretations of the Scriptures that lacked either the context or the clarity to convey everything their doctrines demanded of them. Each’s interpretation conflicted with every other, and yet was based in the very same texts; and each had no greater claim to being the correct and sole interpretation of those texts than the rest. I had not the knowledge or the faculty to sort it all out, and even if I had, any conclusion I reached would be, I realized, my own subjective conclusion, based only on my own interpretation and whosever opinion happened to sway me at that time. I realized the inherent weakness, instability, and insufficiency of this position. Though I would never have articulated it this way then, it was clear that Scripture by itself could not teach me everything I needed to know about God and His salvation.

So as a Protestant, I resigned myself to uncertainty, to never being sure exactly what Scripture was trying to teach; to never knowing, in the sea of competing and conflicting doctrines, which ones were the true ones. Since I could not discern, from Scripture, the truth or falsehood of every doctrine and theology, I was lulled into a sense of complacency, what I called a thoroughgoing ecumenism: if I could discern no school of theology to be absolutely true, then each of them must be more or less acceptable and worthy of consideration. On one hand, I am glad for this: it made me tolerant and accepting of a wide diversity of Christian brothers and sisters, and open-minded enough to listen to and consider what they have to say. It was an open-mindedness that eventually made me willing to examine the Catholic Church and finally found welcome in her walls. It troubled me, and still does, the Protestants who could assume a stance of enough certainty to condemn and judge the doctrines of other believers, based on so unsteady a foundation as I perceived theirs to be. On the other hand, this ecumenism eventually reached a point of doctrinal relativism, agnosticism, or universalism: that not only could we not know the truth of doctrine, but that it didn’t really matter and that God loved and accepted us all anyway.

A Protestant apologist recently referred to this as the “paralysis” of the Protestant mind; apparently it is common enough to have its own name. This apologist also suggested, as I have heard other Protestant apologists charge against other Catholic converts, that the Catholic Church was attractive to me simply because it offered a way to break this “logjam”: that I accepted the Church’s claims only because they asserted a singular authority, because the Church could dictate the answer rather than leave me to muddle it out on my own, and not because there was anything compelling or convincing about the claims of themselves: in short, that the singular, magisterial authority of the Catholic Church was a crutch, an escape, a deus ex machina, an easy out of the Protestant conundrum of having to reason through the Scriptures.

There are several answers I’d like to make to this charge.

I resisted until I couldn’t

no

First, I wasn’t looking for such a crutch. I was well aware of the position of the Catholic Church in claiming to be the only authoritative interpreter of Scripture for years before I ever considered Catholicism — and rather than being an attractive prospect, it horrifed me more than almost anything else I knew about the Church. It seemed the perfect setup for the many doctrinal abuses I had heard about and believed existed in Catholicism: if the Church can dictate that some thing in Scripture means something different than what it says, and that doctrines don’t even have to have a biblical basis at all, then she can teach her followers anything, no matter how contrary to reason and truth, and compel them to accept and believe it. (Of course, these are all mischaracterizations of what the Church teaches.) As an academic, I cared about and was convinced by reason and evidence, and was suspicious of claims without solid factual foundation. The Catholic teaching authority, as I understood it, was a proposition that I strongly and vehemently resisted, not one that I readily embraced as a savior.

“Authority” in a Different Sense

http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/bnf/lat11641/6v/0/Sequence-204

Leaf from a manuscript of Augustine at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, dated c. 7th–8th century (e-codices.unifr.ch).

Once I examined her in earnest, the Catholic Church won me over, against my expectations or inclinations, because her arguments were compelling: not merely because they claimed to be authoritative, but because they were based on actual authority, on an authentic, continuous, and documented tradition of authoritative testimony. Protestants tend to think of “authority” only in terms of divine authority, the absolute, unquestionable authority of God, which they find solely in Scripture. In this regard — even if they acknowledge that Jesus granted authority to His Apostles — they find no essential connection between that authority and the Church, and so presume that the claims of the Catholic Church to be “authoritative” are based only on bald assertion. But to me as an historian, “authority” also has another meaning: the authority of support for a claim or argument. And rather than bald assertions or empty, unsupported claims, as I had been led to believe the Catholic Church stood on, I found, for every substantive point of Catholic doctrine, well-articulated, well-defined, and well-supported arguments based in a rich, academic, scholarly tradition and founded on a continuous and consistent corpus of authoritative documents and teachings spanning twenty centuries.

The Catholic Sense of Scripture

Monk at work in scriptorium

In most everyday matters, it is precisely this latter understanding of authority that is the substance of Catholic teaching, and not the sort of dictatorial pronouncements that Protestants presume. For example, Protestants commonly understand that the Catholic Church must dictate to the believer how to interpret every jot and tittle of every passage of Scripture, such that believers cannot read and interpret Scripture for themselves. But the truth is that the Church has given authoritative teachings on only a very small portion of the whole corpus of Scripture. The sense of the Catholic understanding of Scripture subsists not only in such pronouncements, but in the exegetical tradition of Church Fathers, bishops, teachers and theologians, whose mind and understanding is faithfully passed down and preserved in the Church — whose teaching is authoritative by its own merit, because of their great learning and holiness and their nearness in history to Christ’s revelation. Though not having divine authority on its own, this is more authoritative by bounds than the subjective, substantially unsupported interpretations of Protestants.* In exactly the same way, I accept the writings of past historians as having great knowledge and insight, as being authorities into their subject matter.†

* There are some Protestants, especially the great theologians, who do seek to support their exegetical arguments with appeals to the authority of the Church Fathers; but generally, I find, they do this selectively and unevenly, accepting a Father’s argument where it suits them but ignoring him where it does not, and looking to the Fathers only as a last recourse, designed to support their own subjective interpretation, and not as a primary means to discerning the meaning of the Scriptures in the first place.

† Of course, some historians are simply wrong; and Church Fathers can also be wrong. Here the consensus of the Church, the opinions of other Fathers and teachers and theologians, is important. If the consensus of later writers is that Augustine was a great and orthodox teacher, then that is the reputation and the authority he enjoys. If the consensus is that Tertullian strayed off track in his later life and expressed some opinions that are not in agreement with the Church’s teachings, then we read those opinions of Tertullian as dissenting and sometimes heterodox arguments. Nevertheless, because of his position in time, so close to the Apostles themselves, Tertullian’s authority as an historical witness to the doctrines believed and taught in his time is absolute.

Teaching from the Deposit of Faith

Burglechner, The Council of Trent

Matthias Burglechner, The Council of Trent, 16th century (Wikimedia Commons).

This is the raw material: Scripture and the generations of holy men and women who taught, prayed, and commented on it, preserving and passing on the teachings they had received, the inheritance of the faith delivered once unto the saints, and with it the teaching of Christ and the Apostles themselves. When the Catholic Church does make official pronouncements of doctrine — whether from a council of bishops or pastorally from the pope — these teachings are not invented from nothing, but are drawn from, based on, and supported by this raw material. Especially when the meaning of Scripture and doctrine is not completely clear from the sources themselves, and when there is uncertainty or dispute, it is the role of the Church’s Magisterium, her teaching authority, to weigh the body of evidence and discern the truth from it. Even then, the conclusion is not arbitrary: the Magisterium cannot declare something contrary to the evidence, contrary to Scripture or to the orthodox teachers of the faith; she cannot declare a circle square, or dictate something that revelation has not itself revealed, or compel her faithful to believe something not already contained in the deposit of faith. The Church teaches what she has received (1 Timothy 4:11): not anything more and not anything less.

A Well-Built Building

pyramid

Catholics believe that in such teachings, the Holy Spirit guides the Church into all truth (John 16:13) — and this is a simple matter to believe, because they are evidenced by the constant and unchanging course of that guidance, and founded in reasonable and well-supported arguments from authority. For example: the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the epitome of Catholic doctrine, is not a book of empty assertions, but bases its every sentence on several thousand citations to authority in Scripture, the Church Fathers, councils and popes. Every one of these citations can be followed to find the origin and basis of the Church’s teaching, like a well-built building, every element borne up by the support of another, until it reaches the ground of absolute authority in Christ’s revelation itself. Even the declarations of the most controversial doctrines to those outside the Church, such as the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in Pope Pius XII’s 1950 Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, rest not on bald assertion or any empty claim to papal privilege or authority, but on carefully constructed and well-reasoned arguments from the tradition of received authority.

Thus, the charge that I was drawn to the Catholic Church solely because her claims to authority were a cure for my exegetical paralysis, a crutch and an escape from having to discern and decide for myself, is completely false. The Catholic Church did cure my exegetical paralysis, but I was not seeking and did not believe there could be a cure: I was taken by surprise, and thoroughly convinced, by something I was not expecting at all, something I never imagined could exist: a Christian body who based its arguments not on subjective interpretations of Scripture, not on concepts and constructs of theology with no other basis than such interpretations, not on vitriolic polemics against other sects — but on the very concepts of authority, evidence, and tradition I had been taught to embrace and accept as an academic; on a sturdy and unshakeable foundation of such authority reaching back through the ages to the Apostles themselves, evincing and confirming the origin of all authority, Christ Himself.

30 thoughts on “A Tradition of Authority: Why Catholic Arguments Were Convincing to Me, and Not Merely a Cure for Exegetical Paralysis

  1. Well done and well said, Joseph. Not being an academic myself, I approached from the mystical side of the faith and the spiritual writings of the saints. But that is not to say that we are not confronted by the same objections once we have entered the Church and all of your arguments I have heard and encountered since by own conversion. It is a joy that for every objection that an authoritative answer is available and a Catholic Sense is created in us that seems to quietly steers us around many obstacles that thrown our way. Many a saint was made of men and women of very modest intellect but a good sense of Christ and God’s plan for the salvation of men.

    • Thanks, Servus! One of the most beautiful things about the Church to me is that she does have something for all people: an unmatched intellectual rigor and depth, an inexhaustible well of learning and thought, for the intellectual, but the simplicity and plain sense to appeal to, instruct, and save anyone not interested in all that. God bless you!

  2. Hi Joseph,

    I am personally, and genuinely sorry that you have been taken in by Roman arguments that have not been in currency for decades. Today’s Roman Catholic scholars are far more likely to run away from Rome’s claims to authority precisely because they are so arbitrary, capricious, contradictory and non-Scriptural. I’ll try to provide Catholic reference material on my blog but here are some comments for now:

    Joseph writes:

    When the Catholic Church does make official pronouncements of doctrine — whether from a council of bishops or pastorally from the pope — these teachings are not invented from nothing, but are drawn from, based on, and supported by this raw material.
    Question: what happens when councils and popes contradict each other. How does one know what the true “authority” of the church is?

    Joseph, again:

    Especially when the meaning of Scripture and doctrine is not completely clear from the sources themselves, and when there is uncertainty or dispute, it is the role of the Church’s Magisterium, her teaching authority, to weigh the body of evidence and discern the truth from it.

    Question: What happens when doctrine is completely clear for centuries and then Rome does an about face? With regard to authority per se, the Roman Catholic position from the 15th century to the 19th century was that a council was the supreme authority in the church. The First Vatican council declared this “Tradition” erroneous and made the pope the ultimate authority. Were all the saints of the church wrong to believe the former “authority” for those 4 centuries? Were previous councils wrong in deposing several popes or was this one pope wrong in declaring himself more authoritative? To what authority can we appeal to resolve this dilemma? (BTW: Rome has never resolved this problem and apparently hopes that nobody will notice.)

    Joseph, once more:

    Even then, the conclusion is not arbitrary: the Magisterium cannot declare something contrary to the evidence….

    Observation: Rome’s authoritative pronouncements are nearly always arbitrary. Think, for example, of the 19th century dispute within the Catholic church about the meaning of Matthew 16:18. The Tradition of the church was that there were at least 5 interpretations of this Scripture operative in the Roman church. However, Pope Pius IX, over the objections of the bishops who realized this as the official Catholic “Tradition” chose only one interpretation – the one that buttressed his illegitimate claims to authority. That was completely arbitrary.

    Think also, Joseph, of the current stance of Rome that life begins at conception. That is another entirely arbitrary pronouncement. Here’s why… Previous papal documents allowed for abortion before “quickening”. More damning for Rome’s authority than even papal documents is the fact that Leo XIII made Thomism the “official teaching” of the Catholic church. Further, Thomas is described as a “doctor” of the church which means his writings have been found “free from error”. Thomas taught that a human soul does not enter a developing body until near the end of gestation.

    Which is the true “authority”, Joseph? The one that says “life begins at conception” or St. Thomas? Popes Pius IX, John Paul II or Innocent III? Who is the authority that can decide between these competing Roman authorities?

    Joseph, again:

    the Magisterium cannot declare something …contrary to Scripture or to the orthodox teachers of the faith; she cannot declare a circle square, or dictate something that revelation has not itself revealed, or compel her faithful to believe something not already contained in the deposit of faith.

    Observation:

    The Roman church has a long and rich history of teaching to contrary to Scripture. Of the numerous obvious examples a simple one that makes the case in simplest terms is Matthew 23:9; Jesus, speaking to HIs followers in anticipation of His departure and told them, “Let no man call you “Father””. Of course, Rome has more than 400,000 people which they command to be called “Father”.

    But worse than that, Romes “authority” has bound the consciences of Catholics worldwide to accept contradictory and erroneous Scriptures. Trent did this in the 16th century.

    Here are a few examples:

    Tobit claims to have been alive when Jeroboam revolted (931 B.C.) and when Assyria conquered Israel (722 B.C.), despite the fact that his lifespan was only a total of 158 years (Tobit 1:3-5; 14:11)

    Judith mistakenly identifies Nebuchadnezzar as king of the Assyrians (1:1, 7)

    Tobit endorses the superstitious use of fish liver to ward off demons (6: 6,7)

    Wisdom of Solomon teaches the creation of the world from pre-existent matter (11:17) This by the way, is MORMON theology and is decidedly not Christian.

    Tobit teaches salvation by the good work of almsgiving (12:9) Is “works righteousness” the “authoritative” teaching of Rome?

    And worse still, Fr. Felix Just has done incredible work to show that Rome has exercised its “authority” to keep the majority of Scripture away from Roman Catholics. You can find that documentation on my blog or I can send it to you, if you like.

    Joseph, I will begin a series at my blog to give you some evidence from Catholic scholars, mostly, to help you with this topic. This is information that is readily available in the public domain and I hope that you, as a scholar, will avail yourself of them.

    Blessings,

    • Paul,

      I’m not sure if you actually read my post or not, but it has very little to do with the “claims to authority” you are arguing against. The entire point of the article is that, contrary to Protestant arguments, Catholic arguments are rooted in substantive arguments from authoritative historical sources. Even if the Catholic Church’s claims to authority were all a bunch of hooey as you maintain, Catholic arguments would nonetheless be superior in my view as an historian. 

      What happens when councils and popes contradict each other. How does one know what the true “authority” of the church is?

      Cite me some examples of that actually happening and I’ll let you know. 

      What happens when doctrine is completely clear for centuries and then Rome does an about face? With regard to authority per se, the Roman Catholic position from the 15th century to the 19th century was that a council was the supreme authority in the church. The First Vatican council declared this “Tradition” erroneous and made the pope the ultimate authority. Were all the saints of the church wrong to believe the former “authority” for those 4 centuries? Were previous councils wrong in deposing several popes or was this one pope wrong in declaring himself more authoritative? To what authority can we appeal to resolve this dilemma? (BTW: Rome has never resolved this problem and apparently hopes that nobody will notice.)

      I really am not quite sure what you’re talking about. There is no contradiction between a council being authoritative and a pope being authoritative, since an ecumenical council, by definition, meets in communion with the pope. The Vatican Council did no such thing as declare any prior council “erroneous.” Concerning councils deposing popes, see “Can a Council Depose the Pope?” in Wilhelm, “General Councils,” in the Catholic Encycopedia (1908).

      Rome’s authoritative pronouncements are nearly always arbitrary. Think, for example, of the 19th century dispute within the Catholic church about the meaning of Matthew 16:18. The Tradition of the church was that there were at least 5 interpretations of this Scripture operative in the Roman church. However, Pope Pius IX, over the objections of the bishops who realized this as the official Catholic “Tradition” chose only one interpretation – the one that buttressed his illegitimate claims to authority. That was completely arbitrary.

      The Church’s understandings of neither papal authority nor of papal infallibility are rooted solely in any one verse of Scripture. With regard to Matthew 16:18, the Church continues to affirm, with the Church Fathers, that there are varying senses in which the verse can be understood.

      Thomas is described as a “doctor” of the church which means his writings have been found “free from error”.

      Being declared a Doctor of the Church is not a declaration of infallibility.

      Which is the true “authority”, Joseph?

      When life begins has not actually been declared as a dogma by anybody. There is legitimate room for debate, though certainly the recent consensus among Catholics, in agreement with recent popes and with modern science, is that it begins at conception.

      No one supposes that the Scriptures, either the protocanon or the deuterocanon, are absolutely, factually, historically and scientifically correct in every minute detail, that they were dictated verbatim by the voice of God, or that they were ever intended to be used as history or science textbooks — only that they are inspired by God and contain divine truths. It is well acknowledged that Tobit is in the genre of “historical fiction.” The Council of Trent only reaffirmed the tradition of the Church since early centuries in accepting these books as Scripture. 

      Joseph, I will begin a series at my blog to give you some evidence from Catholic scholars, mostly, to help you with this topic. This is information that is readily available in the public domain and I hope that you, as a scholar, will avail yourself of them.

      I appreciate your kind help.

      Grace and peace be with you. 

  3. Hi Joseph,

    I’m sorry if I’ve misread your post and thank you for your correction.

    Let me begin anew, by stating my understanding of your position. From there, we might have some interesting dialogue.

    Your explanation to me,

    “The entire point of the article is that, contrary to Protestant arguments, Catholic arguments are rooted in substantive arguments from authoritative historical sources.”

    I think I’ve got this now. You believe that the Catholic Church’s case rests on historical material that is both “substantive”, as you say and, ” authoritative.”

    You further explain,

    “Even if the Catholic Church’s claims to authority were all a bunch of hooey as you (Paul) maintain, Catholic arguments would nonetheless be superior in my view as an historian.”

    I think i’ve got this, too.

    Your emphasis and approach is that of an historian. That is, if history shows something to be true then that is good enough. Although, maybe you can help me understand the distinction betwee an “argument” and a “claim” in your thinking. In my thinking, as an example, Rome would claim that the pope is the ultimate authority for the church. Their “argument(s)”, historically speaking, would be their interpretation of the New Testament, the continuation of the papacy through time, some selected writings of popes and other authorities in support of that case, etc.. I’d lke to have a better understanding in order to be more precise in my response since the two terms seem synonymous to me.

    And I think the foregoing is captured in the conclusion to your original post.

    ” …but on the very concepts of authority, evidence, and tradition I had been taught to embrace and accept as an academic; on a sturdy and unshakeable foundation of such authority reaching back through the ages to the Apostles themselves, evincing and confirming the origin of all authority, Christ Himself.”

    What convinced you of the truth of Rome, is your belief that Rome’s authority rests on such a foundation (i.e. sturdy and unshakeable) such that a reasonable historian as yourself could be convinced on the merits. Further, in your experience, those historical claims are superior to what you had experienced in your past life as a Protestant.

    Again, I apologize if I was too “quick on the draw” previously. Please let me know if I’m on the right track and then I look forward to a “substantive” exchange
    .
    Please enjoy your long weekend, Joseph.

    I look forward to your response.

    Blessings,

    • Paul,

      Thanks. Yes, I think you essentially understand. I am not making extravagant claims in this article: the intent of this post is merely to respond to the brother at Ref500 who alleged (as I’ve often heard other Protestant apologists allege) that Catholic claims are attractive to converts not because they are convincing in themselves, but more because they resolve, by absolute dictation, ambiguity and uncertainty; they offer an “easy out” to the problem of reasoning through the Scriptures. This was not the case for me. Even before I became convinced that the authority of the Catholic Church has divine foundation and sanction, I found her arguments persuasive: because they are rooted in and founded on historical foundations. I am speaking to the nature of the argumentation here less than any belief in absolute or divine authority.

      (A claim, as I use the terms, is any statement or assertion. An argument can be one or more claims, especially when support or evidence is provided, and the pieces are fit together to direct toward a logical conclusion. So yes, the Catholic Church makes claims about the authority of the pope, and makes arguments in support of those claims.)

      For example: When I read Protestant arguments before, the pattern was essentially, “We believe this because this is contained in Scripture.” A well-constructed argument might be based in a whole array of Scriptures; and if the author were really good, he might cite as support the writings of other well-known theologians: usually other Protestants such as Calvin but occasionally, and briefly, Augustine. But the whole foundation of the argument was Scripture. Every point of the argument rested on a particular interpretation of particular Scriptures; other sources were cited only to affirm that interpretation. Thus, the argument was only as convincing as my agreement with the author’s interpretation of the Scriptures. And that’s well and good, until I read the next author, who makes a completely different argument from the very same Scriptures…

      But a Catholic argument is immediately, fundamentally different on its face. Claims are also rooted in Scripture, but not the bald interpretation of the present author: indeed, claims without support are immediately suspect. Prior authors, especially the Church Fathers, are cited not merely because they agree with the present author’s interpretation, but because they themselves are evidence that the interpretation held is one that has been held in the Church since early centuries. A well-constructed argument shows a continuity of the position being argued in both the understanding of exegetes and in the practice and teaching of the Church. The argument rests not on Scripture alone (or interpretation of Scripture alone), but on historical evidence and practice and continuity. And yes, such an argument is not absolute: a reader is free to dispute the evidence or the interpretation or the conclusion. But it certainly stands on more than one foot.

      Even the promulgations of Church doctrine you malign most are based in this sort of argumentation. Pastor aeternus at the Vatican Council is not a string of bald assertions, but a carefully constructed argument that appeals for support to Scripture, the Church Fathers, prior teachings of the Church, and historical precedent. Whether or not you agree with the evidence or the conclusion, the argument is clear and based in more than the mere subjective interpretation of a single source by one or a few present authors.

      I hope this clarifies what I’m talking about.

      Have a blessed holiday, and the peace and grace of the Lord be with you.

  4. Hi Joseph,

    Thanks for the response.

    And without the slightest intent of being “disagreeable” I must, for the sake of the truth of history and Catholic doctrine, completely disagree.

    The claims and arguments used by Vatican I are almost entirely without merit based on Catholic teaching, alone. The Council violated the Catholic standard for interpreting and using Scripture which had been in effect since 1564. And since it did, it cannot claim Scriptural support for any of its assertions. And that solely on Catholic grounds! (A point made by Catholic theologians at that time but which went unheeded.)

    And the claims regarding the nature, jurisdiction and authority of the pope made in Pastor aeternus are likewise a direct contradiction to previous, authoritative Catholic teaching. In what has to be seen as the ultimate Catholic irony, Joseph, Pius IX promulgated doctrines at Vatican I that, if true, negated his very authority as pope to make them! And if they are not true, well, then there’s no authority, either. So the very rich irony is this: based on historic Catholic teachings, and Tradition, the dogmas of Vatican I are contradictory and self-defeating. They don’t even need input from the outside world to be shown to be false!

    We must conclude, Joseph, that Vatican I was in a very real sense, a set of “bald assertions”. Although dressed up in pretty language, the proclamations of the Council violated in a fundamental way, the authoritative Catholic teachings up to that time with regard to the interpretation of Scripture and the locus of authority in the Church. It placed pope against pope and council against council in a way that introduced contradiction into history that is irreconcilable. It therefore violated Catholic Tradition and introduced a dispute so deep in the Catholic psyche, that no one taking an honest look at the historical evidence could fail to see it.

    What that means, Joseph, is that there is no credible, honest, historical basis for any claim to authority by the Catholic Church on the grounds of its own teaching. Catholic authority is shown to be capricious and arbitrary.

    That’s what Catholic Tradition teaches.

    I’m very happy to provide verification for any of what I’ve written and provide you with any supporting information that you want.

    Blessings,

    • So Paul, again — you completely ignore the rest of what I wrote and attack my example? Clearly papal infallibility is a sore spot for you, I think perhaps the sorest, since you bring it up in nearly every message to me. Once again: this post and my comments are about basic principles of argumentation, not about any specific doctrine, claim, or position. I brought that promulgation up as an example of its argumentative style — whatever you claim, it does in fact make an argument based on evidence, even if you think it a poor and contradictory one.

  5. Hi Joseph,

    I think you’ve missed my point.

    I am only responding to your claim that Roman Catholic authority is, 1. compelling, 2. authoritative, 3. continuous and 4. documented. The papacy is merely one of many examples that shows that Rome’s authority – to which you are so attracted – is none of those things by Catholic standards! If you don’t like that example we could look for another. Scripture, say, or transubstantiation, or myriad other things.

    The major point is that Roman Catholic authority – as defined and executed by Rome from time immemorial – has none of the characteristics which you find alluring.

    So, in the absence of specifics, how may I build the case for you?

    Blessings,

    • Paul,

      Your conception of “Catholic standards,” in every argument you’ve ever made to me, has been problematic. You tend to misrepresent (intentionally, I often think) Catholic doctrinal statements and positions and then swing them like a club back at the Church. You seize the criticism of Catholic dissenters and hail them too as “Catholic standards.” Your comments in the thread above continue to reflect such misapprehensions.

      If you think you have a compelling argument to make, then go for it. But rather than scattering your shot around a dozen different issues, why don’t you pursue a single one, be it papal infallibility or transubstantiation or what have you. I will read.

      Peace be with you.

  6. Hi Joseph,

    I’d love to know what you think is “problematic” about my use of Catholic standards. I do try to be very careful to use authoritative Catholic sources – the catechism, papal encyclicals, writing of the Doctors of the Church, etc.- compilations of authentic Catholic doctrines, the writings of Catholic scholars and church history that is both widely acceptedand generally available. And further, I quote them for your use or link to them so that you can verify what I claim except in some cases where a Google search will find the information without them. As an historian, that should be helpful to you.

    And, Joseph, I’ve made several – maybe too many – compelling arguments for you to consider. What I struggle with is what is that one issue which, like dozens of other like issues, will help you see that Rome’s claim to authority is vacuous? I’ve tried to illustrate that with the papacy – but you haven’t engaged that discussion. I’ve tried, again, with how Vatican I contradicted three hundred years of Catholic dogma – but that didn’t seem to get your attention. I hoped to excite your showing how the authoritative doctrinal teachings about the beginning of life are contradictory and self-defeating.
    It may well be that you need to ponder what may seem like an avalanche to you. If it does I’m sorry.

    At this point, it may be best for me to recommend just a couple of books for your to ponder at your leisure that will make the case without me being involved.

    John Noonan is an exemplary scholar and Roman Catholic. He got his Ph.D at the Catholic University and has been honored by Notre Dame and other Catholic institutions for his dedication to the Church. You would like him because, like you, he is an historian. I recommend this book which may be available in a local library:

    http://www.amazon.com/Contraception-Treatment-Catholic-Theologians-Canonists/dp/0674168526/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1433020528&sr=8-5&keywords=John+T.+Noonan

    I further recommend this collection of essays written by Catholic scholars. You will like it for two reasons: it’s Catholic and it presents information on a broad array of Catholic issues.

    http://www.amazon.com/Crisis-Authority-Catholic-Modernity/dp/0199778787/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433020733&sr=8-1&keywords=Crisis+of+Authority+in+Catholic+Modernity

    The first essay alone makes the case I am trying to present – and undoubtedly in a more effective manner.

    I was traveling the past two days and got back early this morning. Please forgive the delay.

    I wish you every blessing in Christ, Joseph!

    • Paul:

      What I said, to clarify, was that your use of “Catholic standards” is problematic, i.e. you problematically misinterpret and misapply official teachings of the teaching, or else you cite the writings and voices of dissidents and critics as “Catholic standards” when in fact they are outliers. Merely citing sources does not make for a convincing argument. I have disagreed with your interpretation and application of sources on many points in the past. So no, you have not made any argument that I’ve found compelling. It is not a matter, as you suggest, of being overwhelmed by all the contradictory evidence: I find your evidence and your arguments thoroughly unconvincing.

      You address me as if you have all the undeniable facts and that, if I only saw what you saw, I would be convinced. Your self-assurance is admirable, but it may be that we simply disagree. I am not at all alone in my disagreement with you. If you mean to argue that all the rest of the world’s Catholic scholars and teachers and historians are ignorant and misled also, then I think you have a much larger undertaking before you than convincing only me.

      I will read the books you cite, though I have a rather large stack of other things I need to read first. Reading reviews of the books, though, especially the Noonan book, I am not sure what you expect it to prove to me.

      Peace and grace to you.

  7. Hi Joseph,

    If you have any examples of how I’ve misinterpreted some Catholic teaching, I’m very glad to know about them, Joseph. I’ve been a student of Catholic teaching for many years and will always appreciate a genuine correction.

    And the fact that I’ve recommended John Noonan to you should be sufficient to disprove my alleged use of dissidents. You will never find anyone with better scholarly or Catholic bona fides – anywhere. But, if you feel I have used people that you think don’t accurately represent the Catholic position, I hope you would feel comfortable enough to let me know. (As I think about it, I’ve often used either conflicting papal directives or those of accepted ecumenical councils, so I’m not sure in that context who would be the “dissident”.)

    What I hope you will find in the Noonan book (and any of his others, if you so choose) is simply that Roman Catholic authority is entirely dependent upon external factors that change over time such that a later Roman authority frequently contradicts an early authority. I was very interested to see Noonan’s example of how every Pope since about Paul VI has contradicted Pope Innocent III’s teaching which previously held for centuries on whether abortion was a sin. I was also fascinated to read Noonan’s description of how Pope Pius XII capriciously overturned St. Augustine on a matter that the Church had held since the 5th century to be a grave sin. All in all, it’s information that is critical to you understanding of Roman authority.

    And more than Noonan, I’d hope you get to the Lacey book. There you will find – again from Catholic scholars – that not only is Roman authority contradictory, but it actually damages the mission of the church. That’s something that should get everyone’s attention because it is so serious.

    Good luck with your reading, Joseph and again, blessings in Christ.

    • On multiple occasions you’ve cited Garry Wills to me as a “leading Catholic voice,” and Archbishop Kenrick, George Tyrrell, and other critics of papal infallibility. These are “dissidents” and not “standard” Catholic opinions. We have spent several lengthy threads arguing in circles about your misinterpretation of Trent that I am somehow as a Catholic not permitted to read and interpret Scripture for myself. And even in this thread alone, you’ve presented several misinterpretations or misstatements of Catholic doctrine: e.g. that declaring a teacher a “Doctor of the Church” is somehow equivalent to declaring their doctrine infallible; that Thomism is an “official teaching” of the Church somehow to the exclusion of any other teaching; that the Vatican Council declared any prior teaching “erroneous.” These are not “standard” interpretations of Catholic doctrine. I am just going from the examples at hand and from memory; I am sure even skimming the surface of your blog or your other comments to me would yield ample other examples.

      I will withhold more detailed comment until I’ve read the books you’ve cited, but I am sure you are very well aware that no responsible Catholic today claims that either the Church or her teaching is absolutely unchanging or undeveloping. The revelation and the message of Christ does not change: but how we bring that message to the world must change as the world and our mission changes. The Catholic Church stands between two extremes: the Orthodox, so bound by tradition as to be completely unprepared to confront modern problems and issues, and the Protestants, lacking any firm foundation at all and swayed by whatever prevailing wind. You are wont to tear down the claims of the Catholic Church, but I have never heard you offer any alternative or seek to support your own position. 

      Peace be with you.

  8. Hi Joseph

    By commenting, I hope I don’t place a bulls-eye on my head for the anti-Catholics to aim at. (Fresh meat….) I am not Catholic (yet) but still pondering and processing things.

    I have found this conversation between you and Paul very interesting. It closely mirrors some of my own back-and-forths with Protestants and I’m seeing some similarities.

    One similarity is the use of “good” scholars. It seems when a Catholic says something that is useful to a Protestant he is a “good” scholar, whereas all the other Catholic scholars are not good scholars. (Once I was even told that a particular scholar was a “pop apologist” which seemed a convenient dodge to actual deal with the arguments.) Another interesting facet of the appeal to scholars is that we’re still trusting someone to give us the truth. Catholics have a Magisterium and we Protestants have scholars (or at least the scholars we choose to accept as “good” which really seems to mean they say stuff we like.)

    Another similarity is the misuse of sources. Now, I have not read the sources posted here, but I recently bought a book because someone told me this Catholic claimed the canon was “well in use” by the end of the second century. Well, it turns out the book said no such thing. It said the “main questions appear” to have been settled by the end of the second century but it was not until the end of the fourth century that councils began to seek complete uniformity. The Protestant apparently saw the phrase about the second century and thought this was a “gotcha!” moment. (Needless to say, his ability to understand source material, coupled with his subsequent refusal to admit his error, lost credibility with me.)

    Another similarity is the misunderstandings of Catholic dogma. I groaned when I saw the statement that declaring someone a “Doctor” of the Church meant their writings were infallible. (Such errors do not help the Protestant case at all.)

    Obviously I have a lot more to learn, but noticing the similarities in argumentation is part of my processing. It only frustrates me because once someone makes such blatant errors (and subsequently not fessing up to them once pointed out) I’m left questioning the use of any source or analysis given by that person. Having a full-time and a part-time job, I’ve only got so much time to dedicate to study so it doesn’t help when I literally have to start from square-one with someone just to ensure their use of sources is even correct, much less whether I accept the conclusions.

    This comment got longer than I planned. Maybe I should just make a blog post about it.

    God bless!

    • Hi! Welcome, and thanks so much for the comment! What should I call you? mustfollowifican is a mouthful. 🙂 God bless you for your journey so far! I started my Catholic journey in earnest, attending Mass and examining the Church’s claims, almost a year before I could begin RCIA, so I can understand where you are writing from.

      I don’t think you have much to worry about from anti-Catholics here. Paul here is one of the few who comes around with any regularity, and he is a pretty nice guy usually.

      Yes, I’ve seen the same attitudes toward “good Catholic scholars” from Protestants — and really, the Protestant idea toward scholarship and tradition altogether. It’s very selective and subjective, and it goes back to the attitudes of the Reformers. John Calvin is often cited by tradition-leaning Protestants as having a great respect for the Church Fathers, and it’s true, he did — when they agreed with his own interpretations. But when they disagreed with him, he was quick to denounce them as “most grievously and perniciously in error”.

      I don’t know how many times that’s happened to me, that some Protestant has referred me to a source with some supposedly damning argument for the Catholic Church — only to get a hold of it and find that it says nothing of the sort, that the referer took whatever was said grossly out of context. I do my best to give full and lengthy quotations where possible to avoid this sort of problem.

      I’m glad to help in your journey in any way I can! I am working now too and in school for another degree, but if you have any questions you would like me to explore with you, I would be honored.

      God bless you and guide you, and His peace be with you!

      • Most people tend to shorten the name to “Must” or “MustFollow.” But you can call me Daniel if you like, since that is my name. I started an anonymous blog because conversations with family got very heated very early on. Certain ones were shocked that I would even consider looking into the Catholic Church. Since a rift in the family was potentially coming I decided not to push conversations with them nor get any other friends involved for fear of alienating them too. So I started a blog to get my thoughts out there and get some conversations and alternate opinions without the fear of pushing away loved ones.

        Thanks for your offer to help. I may hit you up with some questions. 🙂

  9. Hi Joseph,

    While I might understand your disdain for Garry Wills, the fact is that he is a Catholic in good standing and educated in Catholic institutions. Its best not to smear someone of his standing, Joseph. But if you have some specifics with which you disagree, please share them. They will make for an interesting discussion, I’m sure.

    But to call Archbishop Kenrick a dissident strains credulity and has to be seen as completely baseless. If true, then any claim you make to Roman authority evaporates since Kenrick owed his entire career to the decisions of the pope! Did the pope choose a dissident to lead a seminary and later an archdiocese? Hardly.

    But since we are engaged on the topic of authority, Joseph, who gets to decide who is a dissident and who toes the line in the Catholic church? If your new denomination has the authority with which it attracted you, then perhaps we can look there to answer this fundamental quesiton.

    And I’m sorry Joseph, that you misunderstood my comment about the office of “Doctor” of the church. I never stated or implied anything close to infallibility. The Church’s stance is that one who achieves that status has their works declared “free from error.” (That is closer to the meaning of “inerrant” than “infallible”.) And, for our topic, that means that Thomas’s teaching about the origins of life which are, by definition, “free from error” contradict the official teaching of the current Roman church of today. All of which nullifies any claim Rome has to authority.

    And who said anything about Thomism excluding any other teaching? It wasn’t me! My assertion is that Pope Leo made Thomism the official philosophy of Rome. Read Aeterni Patris for yourself, Joseph. It’s how the pope instructed the Magisterium:

    “While, therefore, We hold that every word of wisdom, every useful thing by whomsoever discovered or planned, ought to be received with a willing and grateful mind, We exhort you, venerable brethren, in all earnestness to restore the golden wisdom of St. Thomas, and to spread it far and wide for the defense and beauty of the Catholic faith, for the good of society, and for the advantage of all the sciences…Let the universities already founded or to be founded by you illustrate and defend this doctrine, and use it for the refutation of prevailing errors. But, lest the false for the true or the corrupt for the pure be drunk in, be ye watchful that the doctrine of Thomas be drawn from his own fountains, or at least from those rivulets which, derived from the very fount, have thus far flowed, according to the established agreement of learned men, pure and clear; be careful to guard the minds of youth from those which are said to flow thence, but in reality are gathered from strange and unwholesome streams.” http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13cph.htm

    And I think you are getting closer to my position all the time when you write,

    “I am sure you are very well aware that no responsible Catholic today claims that either the Church or her teaching is absolutely unchanging or undeveloping.”

    As true as that may be oday, Joseph, that’s not what the first Vatican said, at all. The Council said, explicitly, with regard to the papacy as an example, that these teachings were “absolutely manifest…and (had) always been understood by the catholic church.” I think that means unchanging and undeveloping. And I think that means “authority” has changed from then until now.

    As far as “supporting my own position”, Joseph at this point I’d rather stay on topic – your claims about Roman authority. In the future, I’d be very happy to engage another topic but we’ve had difficulty meandering as it is.

    I hope I’ve clarified some of the misunderstandings you seem to have had.

    Continued blessings to you and yours,

    • It is best not to smear someone of [Garry Wills’] standing, Joseph.
      But to call Archbishop Kenrick a dissident strains credulity and has to be seen as completely baseless.

      A “dissident” is someone who “disagrees” with a larger body. Calling someone a “dissident” is not a “smear” and it is not an aspersion on their character, merely a statement that at some point in his career (generally the one you want to cite to me), he disagreed with the Catholic Church. (Kenrick, of course, eventually did support the Church in the matter of papal infallibility — in which event he was no longer a “dissident,” i.e. no longer disagreeing.)

      But since we are engaged on the topic of authority, Joseph, who gets to decide who is a dissident and who toes the line in the Catholic Church?

      The teachings of the Catholic Church are evident in the promulgations of the Magisterium, of ecumenical councils, popes, and bishops. By definition (at least, the way I am using the word), a “dissident” is someone who disagrees with some aspect of these teachings.

      I’m sorry Joseph, that you misunderstood my comment about the office of “Doctor” of the church. I never stated or implied anything close to infallibility. The Church’s stance is that one who achieves that status has their works declared “free from error.” (That is closer to the meaning of “inerrant” than “infallible”.)

      You are quibbling over words. A text is inerrant; a teacher is infallible, but the effect is the same. But in either case, you are mistaken: there is nothing about the declaration that a person is a “Doctor of the Church” that declares their works “free from error,” or in any sense that they are inerrant. Concerning Doctors of the Church:

      Three things, says Benedict XIV, are required to make a Doctor of the Church. First, he must have had learning so eminent that it fitted him to be a doctor not only in the Church but of the Church (“doctor ipsius ecclesiæ”) so that through him “the darkness of error was scattered, dark things were made clear, doubts resolved, the difficulties of Scripture opened.” Next, he must have shown heroic sanctity. Thirdly—though, as we shall see presently, this last condition has not always been insisted on—the title of “Doctor of the Church” must be conferred by a declaration of the Pope or of a General Council (“Doctor of the Church,” in William E. Addis and Thomas Arnold, A Catholic Dictionary [New York: Catholic Publication Society Co., 1887], 269).

      All of which nullifies any claim Rome has to authority.

      Interesting. You think one person being wrong nullifies any claim of a whole institution?

      And I think you are getting closer to my position all the time…

      I’m glad we agree! 🙂

      The [first Vatican Council] said, explicitly, with regard to the papacy as an example, that these teachings were “absolutely manifest…and (had) always been understood by the catholic church.”

      I could not find this quote. Could you give a full citation?

      I think that means [the Church’s understanding of] “authority” has changed from then until now.

      So, in what way do you think this invalidates the whole tradition?

      Peace be with you.

  10. Hey mustfollow,

    I hope you are well.

    As I just noted to Joseph – and in an effort to stop your groaning! – I never said the office of a “Doctor”of the church was dogma, nor did I say that and Doctors'” writings were “infallible”. I hope you will read my recent response and understand the difference.

    If you are accusing me of “blatant errors” I would be grateful to have you enumerate the particulars.

    Blessings,

  11. Your statement that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the epitome of Catholic doctrine, which bases its every sentence on several thousand citations to authority in Scripture…is offensive to the TRUE Christian who has knowledge of both the catechism and the BIble. One example will do, although 100 errors could easily be mentioned.
    We read that we must, “entrust ALL our cares and petitions to Mary” (#2677).
    ALL????
    THAT, sir, is not based on ANYTHING we might find in Holy Writ, but in fact, categorically contradicts it. Open your Bible and read Phil 4:6-7 and 1 Peter 5:7 which states that “ALL” our cares must go to the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

    Consequently, when you conclude that,
    “the charge that I was drawn to the Catholic Church solely because her claims to authority were a cure for my exegetical paralysis, a crutch and an escape from having to discern and decide for myself, is completely false”, we conclude rather that it is indeed COMPLETELY TRUE— because you have jettisoned the word of God in favor of the traditions of men.

    • Hi, Gigi. Welcome, and thanks so much for the comment.

      Your statement … is offensive to the TRUE Christian who has knowledge of both the catechism and the Bible.

      I am not sure I understand this sentence. I certainly do not mean to cause offense to anyone. On one hand, to say that you have knowledge of both the Catechism and Scripture implies that consider both to be valid sources of knowledge — but the rest of your comment seems to contradict that. On the other, your statement implies that you think (or you think Catholics think) that the Catechism is an equal source of knowledge on the same footing as Scripture — but this is not what Catholics believe at all.

      One example [of an error] will do, although 100 errors could easily be mentioned.

      The point I am making in this post has nothing to do with whether or not you agree with the Catechism or Catholic teaching or even whether you consider it erroneous. My point is about the sources of Catholic doctrine and especially of authority. These teachings are not pulled from thin air, but are founded first and foremost on the word of Scripture. Whether you agree with the Catholic interpretation of Scripture or not, that is where the doctrine comes from, as indicated by the ample scriptural appeals and citations (there are three, for example, in just the paragraph you name).

      We read that we must, “entrust ALL our cares and petitions to Mary” (#2677). ALL????

      I think you are misquoting this passage as well as taking it out of context. What it actually says, in context:

      2677. Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43). Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: “Thy will be done.” (495; 1020)

      The key difference is that it says we can (not “we must”) entrust our cares and petitions to her, that is, to her prayer — because she is our mother, who gave us Jesus and whom Jesus gave to us (John 19:27). The context, then, is clearly Mary’s role in praying for us as an intercessor. Asking Mary, or any other Christian brother or sister, to pray for us does not at all mean that our cares and concerns are not being lifted to God — quite the contrary. Our Christian brothers and sisters share our burdens as we lift our cares to God together, just as St. Paul urges us to intercede for one another (cf. 1 Timothy 2:1, 1 Corinthians 12:25-26).

      THAT, sir, is not based on ANYTHING we might find in Holy Writ, but in fact, categorically contradicts it. Open your Bible and read Phil 4:6-7 and 1 Peter 5:7 which states that “ALL” our cares must go to the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

      In fact, these passages don’t contradict the idea of intercessory prayer at all. Asking another person to pray for us in no way detracts from God being the object of all our petitions. And in fact, the principles of intercessory prayer are quite firmly rooted in Scripture, and even most Protestants practice it.

      Consequently, when you conclude that “[the charge that I was drawn to the Church solely because her claims were an exegetical crutch] is completely false”, we conclude rather that it is indeed COMPLETELY TRUE— because you have jettisoned the word of God in favor of the traditions of men.

      Excuse me, but your conclusion doesn’t even engage my argument, let alone contradict it. My article is about exegesis and argument and sources of doctrine — answering the idea that I accepted the claims of the Catholic Church solely because I was tired of thinking for myself. You haven’t even addressed that, but are instead arguing something completely different. Yes, you clearly disagree with the Catholic Church and Catholic doctrine, etc. But the manifest fact is that Catholic doctrine is founded on Scripture, the Word of God, and is strongly argued from that position. I have not “jettisoned the Word of God” or any other such.

      God bless you, and His peace be with you!

  12. J: I certainly do not mean to cause offense to anyone.

    G: Well as a matter of fact, we are told that the gospel will indeed be an offense and a stumbling block to all those who are not ordained to salvation. No where in Scripture are we commanded to make sure that we don’t offend anybody. Needless to say, Jesus offended many and was unconcerned about ruffling the feathers of those who opposed Him.

    J: I am not sure I understand [your first] sentence.

    G: I simply meant that if you’re going to speak out against anything, one ought to know your opponent’s arguments and see how they line up with the Bible. As a former Catholic, I am certainly well aware of yours. That is how we must discern wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing, and as Isaiah records, “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them”.

    J: My point is about the sources of Catholic doctrine and especially of authority. These teachings are not pulled from thin air, but are founded first and foremost on the word of Scripture.

    G: To keep this brief, I tried to use the most simplistic example to demonstrate that your arguments do not stand up under the flashlight of God’s word. Thus, as I told you, the instruction to take our cares to Mary is categorically heretical in light of the verses I cited.

    J: [The catechism] says we CAN (not “we must”) entrust our cares and petitions to her, that is, to her prayer

    G: No! The word “CAN” does not make a difference. The Creator of the universe is perfectly able to handle all prayers lifted up to Him which do not need to be funneled through “the prayer of Mary” before they make it to the Throne. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, you know very well that neither there, or anywhere else in Holy Writ, are we instructed to make someone who has DIED, our intercessor.

    J: Asking Mary, or any other Christian brother or sister, to pray for us does not at all mean that our cares and concerns are not being lifted to God — quite the contrary.

    G: Asking a person who is alive here on earth to pray for us is PERFECTLY biblical. Praying to those who have gone on before us, IS NOT. That is your fatal flaw. You assume dead saints have all been given the gift of omnipresence, but this is out of order as this type of thinking has been, as you say, pulled out of thin air.

    J: These teachings are not pulled from thin air,

    G: I say they are. As another example, the N.T. does not mention one word about a sacerdotal priesthood. Hence, when Christ said to “Do this in remembrance of me”, where does the RCC get the idea that only a priest is allowed to “do this?”
    Answer: They pulled it out of thin air!

    J: But the manifest fact is that Catholic doctrine is founded on Scripture, the Word of God, and is strongly argued from that position.

    G: Fiddlesticks. First of all, the RCC has split her authority into three evenly divided pieces: The Magisterium, Tradition and the Bible. So you certainly cannot say that RC doctrine is “founded” on the Bible when those other two are rearing their ugly heads into the picture. Need it be said that there is no mention of a priesthood, confessions to a priest, repetitious rosaries, the unbloody sacrifice of the mass, “transubstantiation”, prayers to saints, beatifications, purgatory, “grace-produced works for salvation”, indulgences, or that comical trick called an “annulment” — a term pulled out of thin air to reclassify a DIVORCE (now let’s be honest!) but renamed, so it may not go on record AS a “divorce”, so the records will not show the huge number of failed marriages. Cute.
    Alert: Jesus Christ is not fooled by such trickery.

    J: The Church teaches what she has received (1 Timothy 4:11): not anything more and not anything less.

    G: On the contrary, as another example which flies in the face of your statement, Jesus said to partake of both bread and wine. He did not leave it optional to take either one as Rome ignominiously asserts. And do spare me the excuse that it doesn’t matter since (allegedly) His body and BLOOD are in both elements…. (during the UNBLOODY sacrifice of the mass???) Now please. RC doctrine is convoluted and contradictory. Hence, You are doing MORE than God said, by inventing the doctrines shown above, and you are doing LESS, in disobeying Christ by the horrific mutilation of the Lord’s Supper.

    • Well as a matter of fact, we are told that the gospel will indeed be an offense and a stumbling block to all those who are not ordained to salvation. No where in Scripture are we commanded to make sure that we don’t offend anybody. Needless to say, Jesus offended many and was unconcerned about ruffling the feathers of those who opposed Him.

      My understanding is that we are both believers in the Lord, and I have no wish to offend a sister in Christ.

      I simply meant that if you’re going to speak out against anything, one ought to know your opponent’s arguments and see how they line up with the Bible. As a former Catholic, I am certainly well aware of yours.

      I don’t consider you an opponent, and it saddens me that you think me one. As far as I’m concerned, we both serve the same Lord and are seeking the same thing, His love and salvation. (For what it’s worth, though, I have found “former” Catholics to be far more ignorant and misinformed about Catholic teaching than the general public.)

      Asking a person who is alive here on earth to pray for us is PERFECTLY biblical. Praying to those who have gone on before us, IS NOT. That is your fatal flaw. You assume dead saints have all been given the gift of omnipresence, but this is out of order as this type of thinking has been, as you say, pulled out of thin air.

      Wait, who said anything about “omnipresence”? And who said the saints were “dead,” in the spiritual sense? Did Jesus Himself not make the argument that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive in God, He being the God of the living and not the dead (Matthew 22:32)? Are our brothers and sisters in the Lord not “the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, … [and] the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23)? They are alive in Christ, and more alive than they ever have been before. Why should we presume that those who are in the Lord with us are somehow separated from us? How is this not an assumption contradictory to Scripture?

      Thus, as I told you, the instruction to take our cares to Mary is categorically heretical in light of the verses I cited. … The Creator of the universe is perfectly able to handle all prayers lifted up to Him which do not need to be funneled through “the prayer of Mary” before they make it to the Throne.

      You acknowledge that asking a brother or sister in the Lord to pray for us is biblical and recommendable. Asking another to pray for us, then, plainly cannot be construed to contradict the verses you cite about presenting our petitions to God. By the argument you are making, however, this would. Is asking a fellow believer to pray for us not “funneling our prayers” through someone else?

      When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, you know very well that neither there, or anywhere else in Holy Writ, are we instructed to make someone who has DIED, our intercessor.

      Where does it say in Scripture either that the dead in Christ are separated from us, or that they no longer have concern for us? In fact, I find Scripture plainly testifying to the fact that the holy ones in heaven have great care for us enduring on earth (throughout the Book of Revelation), and even that they offer our prayers up as incense to the throne of God (Revelation 5:8).

      As another example, the N.T. does not mention one word about a sacerdotal priesthood. Hence, when Christ said to “Do this in remembrance of me”, where does the RCC get the idea that only a priest is allowed to “do this?” Answer: They pulled it out of thin air!

      Actually, no. The concept of the priesthood is evident throughout the New Testament. St. Paul is quite clear about the offices of presbyter and bishop and the duties carried out by those ministers (e.g. 1 Timothy 3). Scripture is clear that these were the ministers the Apostles appointed to carry on their work (cf. Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5, Acts 1:20) — and in fact, “presbyter” is the root of our word “priest.” When Jesus gave to us the Lord’s Supper, it was His Apostles that he instructed to “do this”; why would you presume that this was an authorization given to all believers? From the very earliest evidences of the Early Church (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, A.D. 107), we find that Christians understood presiding over Communion to be the prerogative of authorized ministers only, not of any lay believer.

      Fiddlesticks. First of all, the RCC has split her authority into three evenly divided pieces: The Magisterium, Tradition and the Bible. So you certainly cannot say that RC doctrine is “founded” on the Bible when those other two are rearing their ugly heads into the picture.

      Whoever said that the sources of authority were “evenly divided,” or even divided at all? All three are founded solely on the Word of God, the most absolute form of which is the written word in Scripture. Tradition, being the Word handed down through less perfect means, informs us and teaches us, but cannot contradict Scripture. The Magisterium is a servant of the Word, its interpreter and teacher, and by no means stands above it.

      Need it be said that there is no mention of a priesthood, confessions to a priest, repetitious rosaries, the unbloody sacrifice of the mass, “transubstantiation”, prayers to saints, beatifications, purgatory, “grace-produced works for salvation”, indulgences, or that comical trick called an “annulment”…

      Actually, all of these concepts are found either explicitly in Scripture or are necessarily supported by it. Again, just because you disagree with Catholic interpretation of Scripture does not mean that it is not Scripture that Catholics are basing these things on.

      Now please. RC doctrine is convoluted and contradictory. Hence, You are doing MORE than God said, by inventing the doctrines shown above, and you are doing LESS, in disobeying Christ by the horrific mutilation of the Lord’s Supper.

      Actually, no. Nothing is “invented” that hasn’t been handed down to us. And “horrific mutilation,” eh? You mean, like the Crucifixion?

      Alert: Jesus Christ is not fooled by such trickery.

      And yet He continues to stand with and in His Church, give His people life and grace and healing, and save our souls. Funny about that, huh?

      I’m glad to continue this discussion, but I’m not sure it’s going to be productive along the lines we are pursuing. If you don’t like Catholic doctrine, fine. I don’t like your doctrine, either. But I have faith that our love of God and of neighbor, especially of each other as fellow believers, will triumph over our human divisions. If you are trying to convince me that I am wrong, I think you can safely save your breath. I am utterly convinced by the truth I’ve found. If you are coming here just to argue with me, then I think there are far better uses of your time and mine. You don’t seem like you are open to my answers any more than I am open to yours.

      May God bless you, and His grace and peace be with you, sister!

      • J: I am utterly convinced by the truth I’ve found. If you are coming here just to argue with me, then I think there are far better uses of your time and mine.

        G: You have made yourself open to public criticism by making known your opinions on this website. I did not see any prohibitions that those disagreeing with you will be banned. Moreover, Scripture indicates that my objections may be valid:
        “The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” (Prov 18:17).
        Readers wmay judge who has the better argument (1 Cor 11:19).

        J: My understanding is that we are both believers in the Lord, and I have no wish to offend a sister in Christ.

        G: On the other hand, “my understanding” according to all the evidence I have examined, is that we are NOT brothers and sisters in the Lord, but one of us is greatly deceived, following, “another jesus and another gospel” per 2 Cor 11:4. If you consider ME a sister in Christ–and not Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, you would have to explain what makes meeee special; for after all, the others also believe in “Jesus” and…correct me if I’m wrong…you believe they are on their way to hell?

        J: I don’t consider you an opponent, and it saddens me that you think me one. As far as I’m concerned, we both serve the same Lord…

        G: I have no choice BUT to believe you are an opponent. CCC #1821 states that the joy of heaven is obtained by good works accomplished with the grace of God. However, that is the not the gospel that Jesus shed His blood for (!!!) but an apostate and counterfeit form of Christianity wherein God supposedly dispenses an energizing power through the sacraments so we would all run around doing good deeds to merit heaven. Frankly, it is Satan’s masterpiece of deceit and true Christians will have none of it. The problem with you, is that you seem to think anyone who mentions Jesus is saved. But I would remind you that those 5 foolish virgins were ever so nice and were worshipping and associating with all the right people (the 5 wise), and were looking forward to the coming of the Bridegroom. Yet they were LOST.

        J: who said anything about “omnipresence”?

        G: If you are going to posit that saints in heaven have the ability to hear your prayers at a moment’s notice, omnipresence must be factored into the equation whether you like it or not. It is only logical.

        J: Did Jesus Himself not make the argument that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive in God, He being the God of the living and not the dead (Matthew 22:32)?

        G: Yes, but He said nothing about PRAYING to them!
        Let me reiterate that through Jesus Christ, we have “boldness and confident access” to the throne of grace (Eph 3:11-12; 2:17-18; Phil 4:6-7, Heb 10:19-21).

        J: Is asking a fellow believer to pray for us not “funneling our prayers” through someone else?

        G: The Lord urges us not only to pray and commit our burdens to Him, but to seek out others (here on earth!) who will help us carry our burdens by their prayers. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
        Furthermore, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:11).
        Did you catch that? Paul wants the Corinthians to pray for he and Timothy so that more people will give thanks to God whenever God answers their prayers.

        Yet….the RCC would encourage us to pray to others in heaven. But in order to ask someone to pray for us, there must be someone to ask. This presents an insurmountable problem for Rome. How many of those who die are guaranteed to be in heaven by Rome’s reckoning? How do ***THEY KNOW*** that those they beseech are actually there? Answer? They can’t know for sure since this is knowledge beyond our control. Therefore, prayers to the “dead”, not to mention the ludicrous beatification ceremonies, should be abandoned.

        J: they offer our prayers up as incense to the throne of God (Revelation 5:8).

        G: Briefly, though they handled the prayers, there is no suggestion that they presented them to God or had any part in answering them. Do some research and find out what others smarter than you have said about that verse.

        J: Whoever said that the sources of authority were “evenly divided,” or even divided at all? All three are founded solely on the Word of God,

        G: The RCC says all three must be esteemed equally! Look it up in your official documents. Obviously, I dispute that the magisterium and tradition are founded on the word of God as indicators of authority. For example, when the Holy Spirit gave us a list of the offices in the church, no mention was made of a papacy (1 Cor 12:28-29, Eph 4:10-11). Case closed.

        As for “tradition” being on the same level as the word of God, Psalm 138:2 refutes you, as well as all 176 verses of Psalm 119. I will belabor the point by saying that Scripture is described as being pure, perfect, eternal, sure, truth, forever settled in heaven; it sanctifies, causes spiritual growth, is God-breathed, authoritative, it gives wisdom unto salvation, makes wise the simple, is living and active, is a guide, a fire, a hammer, a seed, the sword of the Spirit; it gives knowledge of God, is a lamp to our feet, a light to our path, produces reverence for God, heals, makes free, illuminates, produces faith, regenerates, converts the soul, brings conviction of sin, restrains from sin, is spiritual food, is infallible, inerrant, irrevocable, searches the heart and mind, produces life, defeats Satan, proves truth, refutes error, is holy, equips for every good work, and is the final judge of all tradition (Heb. 4:12, Pss. 119: 9-11, 38, 105, 130, 133, 160; 19:7-11; 111:7-8; Is. 40:8; Eph. 5:26; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Jer. 5:14; 23:29; Matt. 13:18-23; Eph. 6:17; Ps. 107:20; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 1:23; 2:2; Acts 20:32; John 8:32, 10:35, 17:17; Matt. 15:2-9).
        Where are we told these things about tradition?

        J: Tradition, being the Word handed down through less perfect means, informs us and teaches us, but cannot contradict Scripture.

        G: Let me end this discussion (so as not become a burden) by responding to that by using one example (in conjunction with our previous talk of “pulling things out of hat). From the Mass, we hear, “We pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven in the sight of your divine majesty” (CCC #1383).
        Huh???
        Rome’s “traditional” error is that they have Christ offering His sacrifice to God in a way that Scripture says He did not do it (i.e., by offering Himself at the Last Supper before the going to Calvary, and then offering Himself repeatedly in the Mass, via a “mystery angel”, when the book of Hebrews says it was once and for all. We read that, “there is now no longer any offering for sin” (without any exception for the Mass)… otherwise Christ would have to offer Himself often, says the author, and hence, the Mass is blasphemy. The idea of the mystery angel only compounds the error. Who, pray tell, in antiquity, was responsible for coming up with that little trick? No one knows! It just sounds so fuzzy and pious, doesn’t it? Not one Catholic in a hundred, including you I’m sure, has never even stopped to think about it. But whoever started the ball rolling with that bogus nonsense will be judged accordingly on that final day. It certainly does not have any Scriptural basis and ON ITS FACE, is impossible to believe it was “handed down” by the apostles or by any other “less perfect means” as you call it. At the end of the day, the perfection of Christ’s work does not need to be offered repeatedly, whether by an angel or a priest, as were the O.T. sacrifices.

        It is irrefutable that the scope and breath of the book of Hebrews is adamantly against repetitive sacrifice of any sort, yet those following the pied-piper of Rome, vainly imagine that Divine Providence has ordained offering a repeated sacrifice until Kingdom come!
        Hebrews amply shows that repetition demonstrates imperfection, insufficiency and weakness. The imperfection of the old sacrifices is highlighted by their being repeated over and over again. We are strictly and unambiguously told that if they had been effective and accomplished their goal, they would have stopped being offered (10:1-4). But since they went on and on, they are a witness to their own inadequacy and imperfection.
        It is therefore impossible that God Almighty would institute a “mass” to be repeated over and over again, having Christ “GET UP” by the command of a priest, to play hide and seek in the Eucharist, when we are plainly told He has officially SAT DOWN (10:12).
        Count on it: The propitiation for our sins has already been accomplished in ONE sacrifice, and not in the
        “re-presentation” ***OF*** that sacrifice in an “unbloody” fashion on Catholic altars 24/7 by a sacerdotal, sacrificing priesthood that is not even mentioned in the N.T.!

        • Thanks again for the comment, Gigi. Yes, my blog is public and I welcome comments and even debates. No, I will not ban you, unless your attacks become personal against me or others (I do have a comment policy). My only concern is that I have a lot on my plate right now (I have final exams next week), and I don’t have a lot of time to spend replying right now. I also wonder about your intentions. Do you make it a habit to go around making unprovoked attacks on other people’s faith, on blog posts that are not even relevant to your arguments? If you wanted to talk about priests or bishops or the Eucharist, there were plenty of other posts apropos to those topics, but instead you are swinging everything you can muster at the most recent post, which doesn’t even have anything to do with those things. Are you objecting because you read something and disagreed, or merely because I am Catholic? In case you didn’t notice, I am a former Protestant. I know your arguments and have already rejected them.

          On the other hand, “my understanding” according to all the evidence I have examined, is that we are NOT brothers and sisters in the Lord, but one of us is greatly deceived, following, “another jesus and another gospel” per 2 Cor 11:4. If you consider ME a sister in Christ–and not Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, you would have to explain what makes meeee special; for after all, the others also believe in “Jesus” and…correct me if I’m wrong…you believe they are on their way to hell?

          If you claim to know the Lord, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, since I cannot discern your heart or relationship with Him. But He said that the world will know we are Christians by our love for one another (John 13:35), and I certainly want to show you love both as a sister and a neighbor.

          I believe that none of the differences between us — though I yet know very little about what you believe, only that you don’t like the Catholic Church — amount to either of us following “another Jesus and another gospel.” He is the Lord, the Son of God, and His gospel is love and grace and salvation; I follow that Lord and that gospel and I presume you do, too.

          Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the Trinity and many other essential elements of Christian doctrine and tradition that have historically divided “Christian” from “non-Christian.” You, presumably, do not (though that may be too much to presume; please correct me if I am wrong). I nonetheless want to show those groups charity, even if that sometimes means opposing their doctrines. And no, it is not my place to judge or declare whether anybody is “on their way to hell.”

          I have no choice BUT to believe you are an opponent.

          I should remind you that you are the aggressor in my blog. Do you go around looking for “opponents”? Are you engaged in warfare, or evangelism?

          CCC #1821 states that the joy of heaven is obtained by good works accomplished with the grace of God.

          Actually, no, that’s not what it says. It says that the joy of heaven is God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ — which is entirely consistent with Scripture (Romans 2:6-8; Luke 6:35; Matthew 25:31-46; Colossians 3:24, 2 John 8, etc.).

          However, that is the not the gospel that Jesus shed His blood for (!!!) but an apostate and counterfeit form of Christianity wherein God supposedly dispenses an energizing power through the sacraments so we would all run around doing good deeds to merit heaven. Frankly, it is Satan’s masterpiece of deceit and true Christians will have none of it.

          As I suggested you might (as a “former” Catholic), you have a profound misunderstanding of what the Catholic Church actually believes and teaches. Scripture, as I have shown, is clear enough that God rewards our good works done by His grace with our inheritance in heaven. This does not mean that we can in any way earn or merit His salvation, since apart from Him we cannot do anything at all (John 15:5), but any work we do is only by God working in us (Philippians 2:12-13). And no true Christian, Catholic or otherwise, “runs around doing good deeds to merit heaven.” Such is plainly against Christian teaching and the teaching of the Catholic Church.

          You seem to like the Catechism. If you haven’t, you should read sections 1996 through 2011, on grace and merit. It says that “Our justification comes from the grace of God, … the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God” (CCC 1996); “The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace” (CCC 2001); and that with regard to “merit,” “Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit” (CCC 2008). As St. Augustine famously wrote that “when God crowns our merits, He crowns nothing but His own gifts” (CCC 2006).

          The problem with you, is that you seem to think anyone who mentions Jesus is saved.

          No, I think anyone who claims to know the Lord, who has faith in Him and in His gospel, and who affirms the historic teachings of the Christian Church, has a right to call himself or herself a Christian, and is entitled to my fellowship and love and respect. It is not my place (or yours) to judge who is or who is not “saved.”

          If you are going to posit that saints in heaven have the ability to hear your prayers at a moment’s notice, omnipresence must be factored into the equation whether you like it or not. It is only logical.

          Only that is not what I posit. The saints don’t have any such “ability” at all. But they are in Christ and with Christ, and the Holy Spirit, in us and with us, hears all our prayers.

          Yes, [they are alive,] but He said nothing about PRAYING to [Abraham, etc.]!

          And yet per the Lord’s own illustration, the rich man in Hades was able to communicate and beseech (“pray to”) Abraham (Luke 16:19-31).

          Let me reiterate that through Jesus Christ, we have “boldness and confident access” to the throne of grace.

          Yes, of course we do.

          The Lord urges us not only to pray and commit our burdens to Him, but to seek out others (here on earth!) who will help us carry our burdens by their prayers. …

          I’m glad we agree!

          This presents an insurmountable problem for Rome. How many of those who die are guaranteed to be in heaven by Rome’s reckoning? How do they know that those they beseech are actually there? Answer? They can’t know for sure since this is knowledge beyond our control.

          This is not a problem limited to Catholics. Every Protestant funeral I have ever been to presumes that the person is “in a better place” and “with the Lord,” etc. How do they know? Arguably, Protestants have a much lower standard for this sort of thing than Catholics: someone merely going to church, claiming to be a Christian, or praying the “sinner’s prayer” is often enough to “guarantee” their salvation. Is this responsible?

          For Catholics, the standard is a consensus among everyone that knew the person that they were a Christian, they lived and practiced the life of faith and grace, and they demonstrated heroic sanctity in every way that can be observed. Only after years of rigorous investigation into these facts is a person even eligible to be considered as a possible “saint.” If prayers offered through the intercession of a departed brother or sister are then answered — resulting in not just one, but several verifiable miracles — then and only then can we conclude that the initial assumption, that the person might be in heaven, was correct.

          Yes, absolute certainty in the matter is impossible: just as absolute certainty of any of the facts of our faith is impossible. Do we stop believing in and worshiping God because we can’t be absolutely sure of His existence? No, of course not. The Christian life is a life of faith, and it is a communal life, each of us believers a member of each other (Romans 12:5, Ephesians 4:25). That being the case, our brothers and sisters in Christ who have passed on to be with Him are not separated from us. And their prayers availeth much (James 5:16). I would rather live in the faith that my beloved brothers and sisters are praying for me — a belief that has yielded so many blessings for so many people — than accept the bleak and barren and un-Christian premise that those who have died in Christ are eternally separated from us.

          Therefore, prayers to the “dead”, not to mention the ludicrous beatification ceremonies, should be abandoned.

          I suppose, then, Protestants should likewise stop presuming anyone is in heaven. And yet you seem sure enough of your doctrine to declare that I am bound for hell and you are “saved.” Do you not presume that someone who is, in your judgment, “saved,” passes on to heaven when they die? How can you be sure?

          (A helpful warning: Such insulting language as calling my beliefs “ludicrous” is not charitable, it does not strengthen your argument, and it makes me much less inclined to continue tolerating your comments. I’d appreciate it if you’d give me the same respect I give you.)

          Briefly, though they handled the prayers, there is no suggestion that they presented them to God or had any part in answering them. Do some research and find out what others smarter than you have said about that verse.

          Oh, so you now admit that the saints in heaven can receive (“handle”) our prayers? The imagery of raising a bowl of incense to the throne of God — an “pleasing aroma” to Him — certainly implies a “presentation” to Him.

          I have read quite a lot. Why don’t you share some of your “smarter” interpretations with me?

          The RCC says all three must be esteemed equally! Look it up in your official documents.

          I have read the official documents. They do not say this. “Accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion of reverence” (speaking of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, not “all three”) does not entail at all that Scripture and Tradition are equal in every way. The very same paragraph distinguishes between the two as having different qualities, but “both of them flowing from the same divine wellspring,” that is Christ the Lord. Scripture is the pure, written, unadulterated Word of God; Tradition is the Word of God, spoken by Christ Himself, passed down through men (Second Vatican Council [1965], Dei Verbum 9). We cannot have the same certainty about Tradition today as we have in Scripture, and consequently it is not “equal.” (See my post on common misconceptions about Tradition, especially point 5, “Sacred Tradition is just as much Divine Revelation as Sacred Scripture — but not the same.”)

          Obviously, I dispute that the magisterium and tradition are founded on the word of God as indicators of authority. For example, when the Holy Spirit gave us a list of the offices in the church, no mention was made of a papacy (1 Cor 11:28-29, Eph 4:10-11). Case closed.

          I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. Christ Himself is the incarnate Word of God (John 1). The Word of God we hold and preserve is every word spoken from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4). Scripture contains the Word of God, but the Word of God is not limited to Scripture — contrary to the way Protestants use that term. When Scripture speaks of the “word of God,” it almost invariably does not refer to written Scripture, but to the revelation of the Lord itself. So when I say “[Scripture and Tradition] are founded solely on the Word of God,” I do not mean “on Scripture alone,” a premise both Catholics today and every other Christian prior to the Protestant Reformation would have rejected. I mean that they are founded solely on the Word of God, the words spoken and taught by Christ as the incarnate Word of God. They are not “made up” or “pulled out of thin air,” but every element of Catholic teaching proceeds from what Christ Himself revealed. As I said, and will say again, Scripture is the most absolute and unadulterated record of the Word of God, God-breathed to us in written form. Every Catholic doctrine is either founded on Scripture or necessarily supported by it. It cannot and does not contradict it.

          To the argument you are making: 1 Corinthians 12:28-29 and Ephesians 4:10-11 also do not mention the offices of presbyter (“elder”), bishop (“overseer”), or deacon — as elsewhere in Scripture are plainly given to us (e.g. Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5, 7; Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3). Would you say, then, that Scripture contradicts itself? Of course not. The passages in 1 Corinthians and Ephesians are not meant to be rigid, exclusive, or legalistic lists of “only what offices should be permitted in the church”; they are statements of what the Holy Spirit calls believers to do. Both were written at earlier dates than especially 1 Timothy (among Paul’s last letters) — so the inclusion of presbyters, bishops, and deacons in those letters does not contradict the lists you name, but supersedes them. Regarding the papacy: The pope is the bishop of Rome, of the same rank as every other bishop; and thus his office is quite scriptural. “The papacy” is a primacy of honor, the pope being “first among equals” among his brother bishops — just as Jesus made Peter first among his brother Apostles (Matthew 16:18, John 22:15-18, Luke 22:31-32, etc.).

          As for “tradition” being on the same level as [Scripture]…

          But that’s not an argument that I am making.

          Where are we told [to hold to] tradition?

          “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

          “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:1–2)

          For starters.

          Rome’s “traditional” error is that they have Christ offering His sacrifice to God in a way that Scripture says He did not do it (i.e., by offering Himself at the Last Supper before the going to Calvary, and then offering Himself repeatedly in the Mass…

          But this isn’t what the Catholic Church teaches at all. There is no “repeated sacrifice”; only Christ’s one perfect sacrifice on Calvary, present to us for all time.

          Thanks for not being a burden. 🙂 God bless you and His peace be with you!

  13. Years ago, I spent my time defending the Church, arguing with the same people, much like you have in this thread. Then I wondered about scandal and if I actually affected any conversion. Sometimes the devil likes to distract us from what we should be doing by leading us believe something else is “the better good.” Please consider Christ’s call to the priesthood. Imagine the THOUSANDS of people you would impact through FACE TO FACE encounters that truly touch the soul. Imagine the THOUSANDS of people you could teach. Most importantly, imagine the THOUSANDS you could give Jesus to in the Eucharist. God bless, Joseph, I’m praying for you.

  14. Pingback: Grappling with Sola Scriptura, Part 2 | The Lonely Pilgrim

  15. Pingback: Grappling with Sola Scriptura, Part 3: An Authoritative Church | The Lonely Pilgrim

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