WHY I’M CATHOLIC: SOLA SCRIPTURA ISN’T SCRIPTURAL, PART I

When I began to look a the idea of sola scriptura, the most important question in the mind of this evangelical Protestant and Bible Christian was: What does scripture say about this?

Does the Bible teach sola scriptura? Does the New Testament actually teach us that the Bible is to function in our lives as our “sole” and “sufficient” infallible rule for deciding what we are to believe and how we are to live as Christians? Does the Bible teach us that “the Bible — nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else — is all that is necessary for faith and practice”?

After all, since sola scriptura says that a Christian should believe only what can be shown to be clearly taught in Scripture, surely the New Testament must clearly teach sola scriptura.

If it doesn’t, then wouldn’t the doctrine seem to refute itself?

New Testament Practice

Let’s start with the practice of Jesus, the apostles, and the earliest believers living during the time of the apostles. What did they take to be authoritative and binding in their lives?

When we look into the New Testament, what do we see?

1. We see firm faith in the authority of Sacred Scripture.

For Jesus, the apostles and the earliest Christians Scripture is the inspired and authoritative revelation of God. Three times Jesus responds to the temptations of the devil by quoting scripture as authoritative and final: “It is written, it is written, it is written!” He cites scripture constantly as binding.

The apostles do the same. For them Scripture is the inspired Word of God.

Paul tells us in 2 Tim 3:16,17 that

All Scripture is inspired by God (“God-breathed”) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good.

But of course there’s no dispute on this. Protestants and Catholics agree that Scripture is divinely inspired and authoritatively binding. So let’s move on.

2. When we look at the practice of those living during New Testament times we also see firm faith in the oral teaching of Jesus and the apostles.

This also is taken as binding.

Now, of course this would be true of our Lord. After all, Jesus didn’t always say, “It is written.” Sometimes he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you…” and when he did, his words carried the very authority of God speaking. As the Son of God, the spoken word of the Messiah was as binding on those who heard him as the written words of inspired Scripture.

And the same was true of the Apostles, with some clarification.

The apostles weren’t “inspired” in the sense that everything they said was word-for-word special revelation from God. But when Jesus sent them out, he gave them his Spirit and his authority and said to them, “The one who listens to you listens to Me…” (Luke 10:16). And it’s clear that the apostles taught with an awareness of divine authority, with an awareness that the substance of their teaching was as binding spoken as it was when written down.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood and addressed the crowds in Jerusalem, “Men of Israel, listen to these words…” He went on to announce to them authoritatively things that had never yet been written down in the pages of inspired Scripture and yet were to be received as God’s word to them.

Paul wrote to the believers in the Greek city of Thessalonica,

For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the Word of God (1 Thess 2:13)

Again in 2 Thessalonians 2:15,

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

Whether it was something Paul wrote in a letter to the Christians in Thessalonica or taught them when he was with them, it was to be received with docility as the Word of God.

When you think of it, wouldn’t it be a bit absurd to think that when Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess 4:16) his words were authoritative and binding, but when he was teaching in Thessalonica and he said the same thing, his words weren’t necessarily authoritative and binding on those who heard him?

No. The oral teaching of Christ and the Apostles is viewed in the New Testament as authoritative.

So, we see faith in Scripture as authoritative. We see faith in the oral teaching of Jesus and the apostles as authoritative. But there’s another aspect to this issue of authority.

3.  We also see faith in an authoritative Church.

In Acts 15 we read about the first serious theological dispute in the early church. I’m going to quote from this passage at some length because of how much light it sheds on our subject.

Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.’ This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.

The chapter goes on to describe the first council of the Christian Church, referred to ever since as the Council of Jerusalem. At this council, what do we see? We see the apostles and elders meeting to discuss and debate the issue. In the end we see a decree issued, a letter sent out to all the churches informing the believers of the ruling that had been reached. And (this is important!) we see this “letter” — this “decree” — described as the decision of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements…

And how was the letter received by the churches scattered throughout Antioch and Syria and Cilicia?  Do we see them responding, “Thank you for your guidance on this matter. Give us some time to study the issue and we’ll let you know what position we take”?

The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message

Again, we’re doing nothing more at this point than describing what we actually see in the practice of those believers living during the time of our Lord and his apostles. And at least at this point, we emphatically do not see sola scriptura. We do not see what Protestant Anthony Lane has described as being “the heart of sola scriptura” — the idea that for the individual Christian “Scripture remains the final authority, to which one can appeal against all ecclesiastical authority.”

Not at this point, at least.

As a matter of simple fact, in terms of a basic pattern of practice, what we see in the New Testament is what we see throughout church history and to this day in the Catholic Church: (1) the authority of sacred scripture, (2) the authority of apostolic tradition, and (3) the authority of the church, especially when it’s leaders meet in council to settle disputes and decide important matters relating to doctrine and morals.

Objection, Your Honor!

At this point the thoughtful Protestant will respond:

May I approach the bench? With all due respect to my Catholic brother, this proves absolutely nothing! Obviously Christians weren’t practicing sola scriptura at that early time in the church’s existence. How could they when the New Testament was still in the process of being written and the apostles were still in their midst, possessing the ability to speak with the authority of Christ himself?

The question that needs to be asked, therefore, is not, What was the practice of believers living during the time in which revelation was still being given? but rather, What should the practice of believers be now that revelation is no longer being given?  

What should the practice of believers be now that there are no longer inspired apostles and prophets possessing divine authority to author and infallibly interpret inspired Scripture, now that there are no longer apostles who can meet in council and decide issues and issue letters that begin with words such as ”It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us”?

That’s the question we need to ask!

Objection Sustained

So let’s ask that question. And in good sola scriptura fashion, let’s examine the New Testament to see how Jesus and the apostles themselves answer it.

And as we think this through, it’s important that we have clarity on what exactly is being proposed by Protestantism. What Protestantism proposes is that the rule of faith and practice for Christians fundamentally and radically changed with the death of the apostles.

While the apostles were still on earth, authority within the church was not the Bible alone. Instead it involved (1) Scripture, (2) the oral teaching of the apostles, and (3) the ability of the church’s leadership, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to meet in council when needed and authoritatively decide issues of faith and practice, to settle disputes and issue decrees that were binding on all believers.

After the apostles died, binding authority resided in the Bible alone.

This is what Protestantism proposes.

What Catholicism proposes (keeping it simple at this point) is that the basic pattern of practice we see while the apostles were alive didn’t radically change once they died — that Christians continued to look to (1) Scripture, (2) the apostolic tradition, and (3) the ability of the church’s leadership, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to meet in council when needed and authoritatively decide issues of faith and practice, to settle disputes and issue decrees binding on all believers.

(Here it’s important to remember that apostolic tradition is not conceived in Catholicism as some word-for-word transcription or recording of the apostle’s oral teaching but rather as the substance of what the apostles taught as it was preserved in the belief, practice and worship of the early church.)

With this in mind: In our next lesson: from the data of the New Testament, what do Jesus and the apostles lead us to believe would be the Christian’s rule of faith and practice once they were no longer on earth, after the apostolic age, once revelation was no longer being given?

Are there any direct statements to the effect that with the death of the apostles scripture will become the sole and sufficient infallible rule of faith and practice for each believer? Are there hints in the New Testament writings that the apostles understood that once they had departed the scene, authority would reside in scripture alone?  Do we see the apostles preparing the churches they established for such a fundamental change in how Christian doctrine would be determined and how disputes would be settled?

What do we actually see in the inspired writings of Paul and Peter and John and the others?

*****

For the next post in this series, go here!

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47 Comments

  • Ron Roberson says:

    Actually sola scriptura is an appeal to apostolic succession and the original church.

  • Susan Shelko says:

    Let’s say we were to go along with Sacred Scripture plus Sacred Tradition plus Sacred Authority. Let’s say we reject scripture alone. A most cursory read of the early Church fathers and disciples of the apostles shows that there are many, many things that no one — neither Catholic nor Protestant — are doing as an expression of the Christian faith. Is the goal to be true and consistent to early Christianity? If that is the goal, then no one is doing it — not even the Catholic Church. Or can the Church change what was given to them by the apostles and the early Church? The Catholic Church may come closer than the Protestant church, but if the early Christians were to visit our modern day worship services (including the Catholic mass), I truly believe they would think they had stumbled into a pagan ceremony.

    • Susan Shelko says:

      English grammar correction: “is doing” not “are doing”. Singular not plural. My bad.

    • mark anderson says:

      Justin Martyr in the year AD 150 wrote a very detailed account of what christians did at mass in the first generation after the apostles. In fact, it is exactly what happens in catholic mass today. Take a look.

      “No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

      We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

      The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

      On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

      On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen”. The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

      The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

      We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.“

    • Ken Hensley says:

      Yes to Mark’s comments. I was going to say, Susan, that while the Catholic Church “looks” different in the sense that church architecture has changed and clothing and the order of the liturgy has become more organized, I don’t believe the essence has changed in terms confessions, Scripture readings, preaching, the celebration of the Eucharist, the singing of hymns. In fact, I have read that the very words of the Mass prayers are extremely ancient, going back to the earliest centuries. What exactly is the “pagan” part you imagine an ancient Christian would see?

      • Susan Shelko says:

        Mark and Ken, in answer to how the church of today would look pagan to the ancient Christians, I would suggest the following areas. I will do this as multiple posts; otherwise one single post will be too long.

        (1) The early church excluded women from roles of teaching and oversight in the Church

        In some Protestant denominations, women are clergy and pastors of churches. In the Catholic faith and in some conservative reformed Protestant denominations, only men can be priests or pastors/ clergy. However, in both Catholic and Protestant faiths, women are abundantly represented in the role of teaching and oversight.

        For example, in the Catholic faith women as “teachers” would include Catholic schools, RCIA, PSR, Bible studies, Spiritual Life Committees and the like. That would not have happened with the ancient Christians. And that is identical to what would have happened with the Roman (pagan) religions.

        This is a quote from Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, 3rd Edition by David W. Bercot (pp. 36-37)

        “Paul had told the Corinthians, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” (I Cor. 14: 34,35). And he told Timothy, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission, and I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” (I Tim. 2: 11, 12) …..

        In Roman religions, women served the same roles as men. Female high priestesses governed many temples. In the pagan temples, women were high priestess who governed many temples. Mark Felix, a Christian lawyer, described Roman religion this way: “There is a certain place where a man may not go. Others are restricted from women. It is a crime for a slave even to be present at some religious ceremonies. Some temples are governed by a woman with one husband and others by a woman with many husbands.” (M. Felix Octavius, chap. 41) In fact, the leading religious figure in the ancient Mediterranean world was an oracle (or prophetess of Delphi. And this oracle was always a woman. “

      • Susan Shelko says:

        (2) The next area where the ancient church would view the church of today as “pagan” would be in the area of fashion and dress – high fashion meant low modesty in the pagan culture. Roman women (and many of the Roman men) wore cosmetics and dressed lavishly. These luxurious dresses were often transparent and clung sensuously to a woman’s figure.

        Clement remarked, “Luxurious clothing that cannot conceal the shape of the body is no covering at all. Such clothing, clinging close to the body, takes the body’s shape and adheres to the flesh. It outlines a woman’s figure, so that the whole shape of her body is visible to spectators, even though they cannot actually see the body itself … Such clothing is meant for looking, not covering.” Ibid, p. 29.

        In contrast, the early Church encouraged simple clothing and discouraged the use of cosmetics. For scriptural support, refer to I Peter 3: 3 and I Timothy 2: 9, 10. There are many other verses that define modest dress, but for the sake of simplicity and brevity I list these two.

        Disclaimer: I am not the fashion police. I have no intention of becoming the fashion police. I am not interested in measuring hem lines and banning certain styles. I am not saying that women should not wear cosmetics. And I am not saying that women should not have their hair stylishly cut and arranged.

        The point I am trying to convey is this: Skin tight tights, exposed cleavage, bend over and it all hangs out, dress like a hooker or a streetwalker, and dress like you are going out to the bars and nightclubs is the modern day equivalent of pagan culture. Go to mass and look at what the women and teens wear! How is this any different than what happened in Roman pagan culture?

        • AJ says:

          In regards to #2: You are directly attributing individuals as the Catholic Church. While it is true that individuals make up the universal church, they are no the mass or the focus. You don’t see priests, deacons, bishops running around in skinny jeans and revealing clothing

          • Susan Shelko says:

            AJ,
            What does the word “church” mean? Does not the original Greek/ Hebrew translate “church” as “gathering of believers”? If the church isn’t the people, then what is it? A book? A set of doctrines? A creed? The pastor?

            I agree, the clergy and deacons dress appropriately. I’ll tell you what: you come to the suburban Catholic church that I attend and see for yourself whether the immodesty in dress is a rare (or a more generalized) occurrence!

            If you come, then you have the credibility to tell me that I am exaggerating (or not). If you don’t, then on what basis are you judging my experience?
            Susan

      • Susan Shelko says:

        (3) Mark, you quoted Justin Martyr from 150 AD: “The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings.”

        Let’s look at what happens in the priests’ homilies. The examples I am giving are real life actual homilies and reflect a variety of Catholic churches in a large urban (mid-west) community. We have:

        SNL (Saturday night live) comedy at Sunday morning mass – an 80 something year old priest gives an absolutely hilarious recount of his escapades as a teenager, but basically ignores the gospel and the scripture that was read. The Protestant version: a stand-up comedy weekly message by a local pastor.

        A River Runs Through It – the priest gives a complete review of the movie as his homily. This can also be done as a “book review” (one priest actually gave a book report on a book he was reading). The Protestant version is the “book of the month club” inspirational, motivational, life coach series.

        Flight of Ideas or Stream of Conscious Speaking – the priest begins his homily talking about derivatives and unfunded liabilities, then he moves on to talk about Facebook, then he rambles a little bit about a recent news story, then talks about statistics, then says just a few words about the gospel.

        Father Repeats a Lot – literally every other sentence the priest speaks is repeated. Yes, every other sentence the priest speaks is repeated. To say the least, it is maddening. To say the least, it is maddening. After every single mass, I found myself needing to go to confession (seriously).

        Scripture as Window Dressing – this is the Protestant version of a therapy based, inspirational, psychology based message where there are just a handful of scripture cited. Basically, the scripture could be left out entirely and the message would not change in the least.

        Catholic Trivia – do you know how they make holy water? Do you know that there are different formulations of holy water? The version with blessed salt and blessed ashes works better when doing an exorcism than the version that does not contain these two additives. Absolutely serious!

        The Fundraising Plea – the entire homily is a plea for money and an explanation of diocesan programs and finance. Not one single scripture was cited or referenced. It was all about money. Fill out your pledge cards and deposit them in the offering or mail them back into the church office.

        I have other examples, but I will stop here because I think I have made my point. How does any of what I have described above (and I would swear on a stack of Bibles that all of these things actually happened) comport with early Christianity and the early Church as described by Justin Martyr? Not so much! In fact, this is the exact opposite of what is described by the early Church Fathers. I truly believe the early Christians would be shocked – as in stunned disbelief – if they were to walk into a church service and experience these things.

        • AJ says:

          Once again, you are using very rare occurrences from individuals and spreading them out as a universal practice. You are splitting hairs here

          • Susan Shelko says:

            Are you so very sure of that, AJ? What if I gave you a listing of churches, priests, and homily style in a 20 mile radius from my home? Then you go visit each of these churches and tell me that I am describing a very rare occurrence! Please. I would love to be proven wrong about this. I dare you.

      • Susan Shelko says:

        Finally example: (4) The next areas of “pagan practices” would revolve around attitudes and behaviors with respect to marriage, divorce, abortion, contraception, homosexuality and sexuality. On average, I think the Catholic Church does better in these areas (i.e., teachings comport with scripture) as compared to the various Protestant denominations, but the Catholic faith does have its issues. The sexual abuse scandal, cover-ups and lawsuits have greatly damaged the image and public perception of the Catholic faith.

        I could give you multiple quotes and further explanation (if you wish), but I think this is readily apparent.

        If I had to summarize my thoughts, I would say that the early Christians lived in such a way as to come out of and apart from the world. They were counter-cultural in how they lived. Today, many times the only difference between “a Christian” (a Catholic) and “a non-Christian” (a non-Catholic) is that the Christian (the Catholic) goes to church/ mass on Sunday and the non-Christian (the non-Catholic) doesn’t. The early Church and early Christians were a sharp contrast from their pagan neighbors.

        If there is little, if any, difference between a Christian and a non-Christian ….. what does that imply?

        Finally, you have not lived if you haven’t been to a Protestant service where the service consists of a Christian rock band with ear splitting music and multi-colored lights, a Frisbee throw for the newcomers in the middle of the sanctuary and an inspirational, motivational, therapy based (downright hilarious!) speaker (the pastor). For Christmas they had the entire Star Wars cast, including Princess Leigh, and an Apple watch give-away at each service. For Easter they had the Easter bunny and the Minions.

        Do you not think the early Christians would think they had walked into a pagan worship? ‘Nuff said.

        • AJ says:

          Rinse and repeat

          There are bad catholics. That doesn’t make the catholic church bad.

          Another thing you fail to be connecting is that, yes The Church has changed over the times (language, particulars on mass rituals, etc) but the key components of the mass are the same AND the church was given the authority to make these subtle changes by Jesus himself.

  • mark anderson says:

    Susan-

    Sounds like you have 4 buckets of issues.

    1. How people dress
    2. Priests giving bad homilies
    3. women’s roles
    4.marriage divorce abortion contraception, moral teaching

    1 and 2 seem to be about what people do
    3 and 4 seem to be about teaching and doctrine

    It seems to me you are claiming that if everyone in church isn’t perfect that the church itself isn’t adequate. I would agree with you on how some people dress and how some priests preach could be improved, however let us not forget that Paul himself was writing letters too various churches to stop the people from doing certain things during mass. He didn’t write and tell people how to dress and behave because they were already doing things correctly. Also, each priest has his own gifts, not all have the gift of being a great homilist. I can say that I have heard many more good homilies than bad ones. In the end, when you put a bunch of sinners in a room, it is often times messy. That was true of the apostles, their successors, and every generation of christians for 2000 years. The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints, so why would you ever expect perfection? How would this in someway, invalidate the teachings of the church?

    On your points concerning women’s roles and all of the various moral issues, I think that you will find that the catholic church of today is the last bastion of hope and sound teaching against all of these issues. When the entire protestant community caved to society on the issue of birth control, and now call good what they once called bad, the Catholic Church has been the constant voice of christian morality. same with abortion, same with marriage, and on and on. Furthermore, women have always played an integral part in the Church. They did in the early church and they do today. The church would cease to exist without women. That doesn’t mean they are called in exactly the same way men are called, or that they are called to serve in the same way as men are called, in fact, they simply don’t have the ability, but the serve in their own way, equal in dignity and importance, but wholly different. In the same way that you can’t be a Dad, and I can’t be a Mom, no matter how hard we might try. In fact, the greatest saint, the first believer, the greatest example of a christian in the history of the Church is woman named Mary. No other church gives more honor to women that the Catholic Church. The church was way way ahead of its time in understanding the intrinsic equality of men and women (read Paul, completely counter cultural in his time), while also understanding the plain differences in men and women. Different, but equal so to speak.

    I agree with you that there are all kinds of variations in the protestant communities, and obviously I agree that the apostles would find many of their shenanigans to be foreign, but I believe if an apostle walked into Catholic mass today they would be right at home, and if they read the catechism of the catholic church today, they would not find any teachings that contradict the faith they handed down. In fact, they would most likely be thrilled and praise God for preserving the faith, in spite of centuries of us sinners trying to mess things up for the the last 2000 years, and that in the Church, Jesus has kept his promise and the gates of hell have never prevailed against the church. The Church is Holy because of Jesus, not because of us sinners, and any holiness we bring to the Church is simply Jesus himself working in and through us.

    I think the apostles would see the Eucharist, the heirarcy and authority, baptism, the sacraments, the Bible, the traditions they taught, the honor paid to the great saints, and a Christ centered ministry and recognize it all and be very pleased.

    They would likely hear bad homilies and see immodest dress as you pointed out, and think to themselves “some things never change!” and hope that it could be addressed.

    The church has always had sinners, thanks be to God, or they wouldn’t let me in. And, for this reason the church has always been a little messy. Kind of like a family. Our families are never perfect, but they continually strive to do better and forgive and love, and move on. I think you have seen the family of God, in spite of its messiness, continue to persevere through every century and every generation and pass on the faith of the apostles. Not because the priests are good preachers or the people in the pews wore the right clothes, but because the Church is the Body of Christ, and He is it’s head.

  • Susan Shelko says:

    Mark, when I die and if I find myself in heaven (no presumption and no despair), I am going to find St. Peter and St. Paul, hand them a copy of the Catholic Catechism and ask them what they think about it. Is there anything they disagree with? Was the Christian faith preserved to their satisfaction? Then we will know for certain an answer — a final and incontrovertible answer. Meanwhile here on earth, I am beyond frustrated with Christianity and the institution of the Church for a whole host of reasons. Yes, I know we are all sinners. Yes, I know we are all far from perfect. And I fear the church of today has become dangerously lukewarm and far from the ideal Christ has called it to. Susan

    • mark anderson says:

      We already know the answer. Jesus promised the gates of hell would not prevail against his church and that he would guide it into all truth. I simply believe his promise.

      As for lukewarmness, that has always been and will always be an issue with the church. Jesus himself taught about it. I have found in my experience that if I want something in the church to change, the answer isn’t to whine and complain the thing to do is look in the mirror and try to change myself. Certainly, I want more reverence to be shown at mass, and I want people to be more on fire, and I want to hear the best homilies, and I want the church to not make mistakes, but at the end of the day, I can rest assured that the doctrines I am being taught are true and gaurenteed by Jesus himself, and that we as a church body have to always strive for renewal, and the renewal needs to start with me.

      You are right we fall short of the ideal Christ calls us too. He calls us to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. However, just because we fail doesn’t mean we just quit striving.

    • Ken Hensley says:

      Susan, I relate to your frustration with the lukewarmness of much of Christianity. But this conversation is a bit confusing. The post you are responding to tried to demonstrate that during the time in which the apostles were alive authority (capital A) did not rest with Scripture alone but with Scripture, the Oral Teaching of the Apostles and with the Church, in particular as the leadership met in Council to decide things. That’s all the post covered. In your response, you haven’t said a word to contradict the thesis. I take it you agree with the thesis – at least so far?

      From what you say about handing St Peter a copy of the Catechism and then we will “know,” it’s pretty clear that you do at this point hold that Scripture is the Christian’s sole infallible rule. All I can ask is that you keep an open mind as further posts appear.

    • Joe Brinson says:

      Susan, you make a strong argument. I am a Protestant; but am pretty well convinced that most Protestant Churches have shifted so far from the Truth that I have a difficult time calling them “Christian”. The Sola Scripture theory has led to confusion.
      I think I understand that you are less concerned with the behaviors of individuals than with the faI lures of leadership to call it out and raise the bar for Christian behavior. I think Protestant Churches which become more worldly in order to attract members are missing the point (that you made so well). I don’t understand why the Catholic Church does not discipline those who profess publicly to be Catholic but who take positions against Church teachings (pro-abortion politicians, for example).
      Yet, I find myself drawn to the Catholic Church (after a lifetime as a Baptist and Lutheran) because it is apparent, based on the last 500 years, that Sola Scripture is not keeping the faith intact.

      • Susan Shelko says:

        Joe,
        Thank you so very much. You get it. It isn’t that there are problems/ issues; these are to be expected. It isn’t about individuals per se. The real problem is the lack of oversight and/or church discipline. The problems/ issues in the Church are not appropriately addressed or resolved. (That has been my experience and it may not be others’ experience.) I have not left the Catholic Church because I still value the liturgy/ the mass and the sacraments (despite the immodest dress and badly done homilies). The homily/ teaching at the mass is literally hit or miss. Sometimes excellent, sometimes mediocre. The Lord led me to a new church plant (Baptist) where the pastor does expositional verse by verse teaching from the scripture — it is as well done as Jeff Cavins’ materials from Ascension Press (and that is a high compliment for this Baptist pastor). There is no other Protestant service of this type in my suburban community (30,000) which is part of a greater sprawling urban area. I go to Saturday afternoon Catholic mass and Sunday Protestant worship service. That is how I am fed spiritually. If you are Protestant, you might check out Bob Dewaay’s book, Redefining Christianity: Understanding the Purpose Driven Movement and his other book on the emergent church. The church growth movement, the emerging church movement and the purpose driven approach have created an entire set of unintended consequences. I understand. Susan

  • Susan Shelko says:

    I have no doubt the early Christians relied upon the scripture (written word of God) and the oral teaching that had been passed down from Jesus to the disciples to their disciples and so on. I have no doubt the early Christians consulted both scripture and the church (the gathering of believers). What I have serious doubts about is whether doctrinal purity (100% accuracy) has been preserved over 2000 years.

    So what exactly did Christ mean when he said the gates of hell would not prevail against his church? Did he mean the church itself would be forever infallible and forever without error? Or did he mean the church would be tried and tested and in the end persevere?

    I don’t think the Catholic church has its doctrine entirely entirely accurate and I don’t think the various Protestant faiths have their doctrine entirely accurate either. To be fair, I would hand Saints Peter and Paul copies of the various Protestant confessions and ask how accurate these were as well. If that makes me a Protestant, then so be it. Who knew: I have been a closet Protestant and not even known it.

    The reason I do not rest assured that the doctrines being taught in the Catholic Church are true and guaranteed is because a number of priests have taught error. When I have raised questions and cited documents contrary to what had been taught, there was a very reluctant admission of the error. These were not minor matters but issues central to the gospel message. How many experiences of this sort does it take before one no longer trusts the doctrinal teaching coming from the pulpit? (That is not a rhetorical question.)

    I took a Catechism class for catechists this past year. The woman who taught it has a master’s degree in theology. She did her thesis on the mass/ the liturgy and out of that thesis came a published book. At one of the masses, the priest made some serious errors with the liturgy. She went up to him afterward to talk to him about it and he totally blew her off. He had no idea who she was and he had no idea what he was doing wrong/ improper or that he even was doing anything wrong/ improper. Even worse, he didn’t want to know.

    Actually my problem is that renewal has started with me. I am a burning log in a fireplace that is smoldering and without additional dry kindling. This really is a problem. Fire needs fire and you don’t keep a coal in a dying fireplace and expect it to keep burning. I am hungry and I am thirsty. My solution: I listen to and watch internet videos from Protestant pastors to make up for cotton candy Catholic homilies. My further solution is that I have found a rock solid Protestant church and I now go to both Catholic Mass and Protestant worship.

    I have not whined and complained but instead I have sought to be part of the solution. This past year I taught a Catechism class, I facilitated a Bible study, and I wrote an article for the parish newsletter. I have offered to help establish programs such as the Living Christ Retreat and Alpha for Catholics. The response was “lukewarm” to say the least. I realize my words are not politically correct. I am sorry.

    Believe it or not, I am keeping an open mind. It may be that I am a Protestant who attends and is a member of a Catholic Church. Or it may be that I am part Catholic and part Protestant. What matters most to me is that I am His no matter the denomination that is attached.

    • Mark anderson says:

      Nobody said that ever priest was going to teach accurately. Obviously for lots of reasons not every priest is going to do his job perfectly. What we are saying is that if your priest teaches in error you can appeal to the church go to the bishop or even to Rome. If a Protestant pastor teaches in error you can’t appeal it because the local pastor is his own authority on what scripture means. Not ever priest is infallible, but the teachings of the entire church are protected from error. You are holding the church to standard that is impossible to achieve. You expect 100 percent of the priests to be perfect and that is never going to happen. Not even 100 percent of the 12 apostles Jesus hand picked were perfect, in fact one was named Judas.

      What does all this have to do with sola scriptura?

      And if you don’t believe the church teaches the truth then why do you trust that the 27 books of the New Testament that the church declared were the inspired word of God are actually inspired? Can you even appeal to the New Testament at all if you believe the church that defined which books were in and which books were out is clearly wrong and has no authority? It seems to me you can’t trust the New Testament itself without trusting the church who tells you what the New Testament is to start with? Unless of course you decided for yourself which books of the hundreds that were written in the first century about Jesus, were actually inspired.

  • Susan Shelko says:

    Mark,
    I did go to the Bishop. A six page single spaced typed letter outlining in detail my issues and concerns in the parish. Without going into detail, these were long-standing and legitimate matters that needed to be addressed and resolved. In fact my letter was prophetic in that I asked rhetorically what it would take for something to be done. I asked if there needed to be a viral video and an embarrassing media situation that could not be swept under the rug. Six months later that exact thing happened. A local news channel got hold of the videotape via a FOIA request of the local police department and the video went viral. Even then nothing was done. The Bishop never even gave me the courtesy of responding to my letter — not even a form letter. No acknowledgement whatsoever. So in effect it was the same situation as in the Protestant denominations with no authority beyond the local pastor and no meaningful appeal or redress.

    That is the answer to your question. Please know that you opened the door to the topic and I only relate the situation because you seem to be under the impression that the system and the hierarchy actually works and/or has credibility. These were lacking in my experience.

    Back to scripture alone. I not only accept the 27 books of the New Testament; I also accept the 7 books of the Catholic canon of the Old Testamernt — you know, Judith, Tobit, Sirach, Wisdom, Macabees, etc. I don’t see that authority has to be an all or nothing proposition. An individual, group or institution can be right say 80% of the time and off base 20% of the time. You say I am unrealistic and expect the clergy to be perfect 100% of the time. (I actually don’t expect that.). The problem is that is exactly what is being asked of Catholics in insisting upon blind unquestioning acceptance of the Church’s supposed 100% perfect authority — nothing less than 100% acceptance all the time.

    So the clergy are imperfect and fallible but the magisterium which is composed of imperfect and fallible clergy is perfect and infallible? This makes as much sense as RC Sproul’s fallible collection of infallible books. Can you see where I am having a problem with the logic? And when my experience is coloured with the consequences/ results of abuse and neglect of authority, that makes it all the harder to unquestioningly accept the church’s teaching. Unquestioned and unaccountable authority is a set up for abuse. The other problem is that stated (written) beliefs or doctrines may not bear any relation to what is actually practiced. Are we now at the point of “as long as it looks good on paper” then all is well? Where is the tipping point? 5%, 15%, 30%, 51%, 75% What was Christ’s teaching about a little leaven infecting the whole loaf of bread? And no, i wouldn’t make the review book by book but rather doctrine by doctrine.

    • AJ says:

      I’m pretty confused by this whole discussion.

      I do not think you will ever find what you are looking for because it seems you are expecting every member of the Catholic church to be perfect and if they aren’t, then the Catholic Church isn’t what we say it is

  • mark anderson says:

    Your story is confusing. I don’t need all the details about the local police etc etc. It’s not the issue. We have already agreed that we have sinners in the church, and not every priest or even bishop or even the Pope lives up to their calling perfectly. In my life I have been blessed with great priests and bishops who respond to my letters. My experience is just totally foreign to yours. If your experience is not like mine I am sorry, and pray that the situation improves.

    That being said, your logic on the canon of scripture is totally illogical. You accept the church’s authority on the canon, but then you turn around and deny their authority to correctly interpret it. Why would you trust their canon at all if they might have gotten it all wrong? How did you determine that the canon of scripture wasn’t one of the 20% where they got it all wrong? Do you accept it simply because you like it? I am not seeing any logic, other than you determine when the church is right and when it is wrong, based on your opinion alone. It sounds to me like you have become your own authority, and you are the final authority on what the canon is, what the Bible means, who is “righteous” enough to be in the church who isn’t. You, personally have the authority to determine which doctrines are right and which ones are wrong, and you have the ability to determine when the church teaching is right and when the church teaching is wrong. If you say they are wrong 20% of the time, please do tell how you determine when the church is wrong, and why on earth would you believe that the very same church is right 80% of the time? It sounds like you have made yourself the arbitrator of all truth. Perhaps you should start your own church where by you are the final authority and your doctrines are taught and your litmus test for each members actions and morality is strictly enforced. if every person doesn’t meet your standard in word and deed you can just throw them out of your church. You wouldn’t be the first or the thousandth.

    You are mixing up infallibility and impeccability. The accuracy of the church’s teachings have nothing to do with the relative holiness of the members of the church. You are trying to make a connection that just doesn’t exist. Jesus promised to lead his church into all truth. He chose 12 uneducated and sinful men to build his church and he sent them out with his authority to teach. He overcame their sinfulness and still worked through them in spite of their sinfulness. If the first christian converts had of only accepted the gospel on account of the apostles perfect actions, then there would be no church today. The apostles were not perfect, they made mistakes, they sinned, they struggled, but Jesus protected them from teaching untruth. If they had a disagreement they met together in council with Peter and defined doctrine. Jesus uses sinful men to spread his gospel. He is bigger than our collective issues. I simply trust that he is in control. We aren’t called to accept the church’s authority 100% of the time on anything other than its teachings on faith and morals. we dont have to accept anything else, certainly not every single persons actions or even their individual opinions.

    It is funny to me that in all of your posts you have done nothing but point fingers at everybody else, your priests, your bishops, your fellow parishoners, on and on, and how they have failed to live up to the standards of Jesus. That is very telling.

    • Ken Hensley says:

      I would like to second Mark’s very good comments. I was about the respond in a similar way. As bright and articulate as you obviously are, Sheila, I see this logical slippage in your statements. Mark challenges you on WHY to accept the canon decided on by the Church and you just respond that you do! You refer to Sproul’s fallible collection as an absurdity and yet this is precisely the position you must hold if you do not say that the Church’s decision was binding and authoritative and led by the Spirit (i.e. infallible). Then you say that you don’t have to decide book by book but rather doctrine by doctrine and you are exactly where Mark is saying you are — in this black hole of (apparently) deciding for yourself each and every teaching of Christianity. Then you switch over to talking about individual priests teaching or acting falsely — as though that had anything to do with the Catholic teaching that the formal doctrinal and moral teachings of Church (like the decision on the canon) are led by the Spirit and true. I will step aside because Mark is carrying on this conversation so well, but I would love to hear you really answer Mark’s challenges.

      • Susan Shelko says:

        Fair enough, Ken – a bare assertion is not adequate. I can and I will do much, much better than that. By the way, I give you a lot of credit. I figured you would probably “kick me off” and “ban me from the forum” for holding a non-company approved, non-PC viewpoint. I promise to be respectful and dignified. And it’s Susan, not Sheila. It’s okay, just don’t call me late for dinner.

        Okay, Mark, here is a very direct answer as to why I accept the Catholic canon of scripture (along with the authority of the early Church to decide that canon). The men who were closest to the apostles – the disciples of the apostles and the disciples of the disciples of the apostles – were “first on the scene”, so to speak, and these are some of the things that (I believe) give these men credibility and authority.

        First hand understanding of the Language and Culture and Context
        First hand understanding of both the Christian and the Jewish faiths
        Depth of knowledge of the scriptures — especially the Old Testament writings
        Closeness in time to the time of Christ
        Closeness in relationship to Christ and to the apostles/ first disciples
        Absence of motive to eliminate books that would serve or promote their own agenda(s)
        The final decisions were argued/ debated among these learned and knowledgeable men.

        Whereas the Protestant canon of scripture has a 1500 year gap in time, the lack of any first-hand (or second or third hand) connection to language, culture and context and a very significant credibility problem of choosing books based upon agenda. Luther wanted to eliminate James, Hebrews, Jude and Revelation because the content of these books did not agree with his personal theology/ doctrines.

        As between the Catholic canon and the Protestant canon, the Catholic canon comes out as the winner.

        Is it possible that the Catholic canon of scripture is wrong (i.e., is part of my “proverbial 20%” that may be unsound in terms of doctrine)? Is it possible that there are books that should have been included and weren’t or that there were books that should not have been included that were? Yes, I suppose it is possible – I suppose anything is possible — but I think that possibility is unlikely given the above factors and analysis. I have a foundational confidence the Catholic canon falls within the 80% truth.

        Am I 100% confident? No. I am 90% confident and the remaining 10% is faith. Let’s say the evidence satisfies the standard of “clear and convincing”. The standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is purely a matter of faith.

        Mark and Ken, you both assume that I plan to rely upon my own authority in deciding what is true and what is not true in terms of Christian teaching, doctrines and beliefs. Please know: I am not a scholar or an expert in the scriptures, in Church history or in the writings of the early church fathers. If I need to find a verse or a passage in the Bible my go to help is “google”. And finally, I have taken exactly one college level religion course in my entire life and that was from Indiana Wesleyan University in the midst of an accounting degree. I have a far better plan than to rely upon myself and my own whimsy.

        There are lots of folks who do have master level and doctoral level degrees in these areas of Christian study. There are published doctrines and beliefs from both the Catholic Church as well as from the various Protestant denominations. What I am doing is treating the various churches with their various creeds, catechisms and doctrines as the authority and treating those educated in these areas of study as my expert witnesses. I am not the authority; but these churches and these experts are. What I am looking for is a clear explanation of the teaching and the basis upon which the teaching is founded.

        In other words: what do you believe and why do you believe it? What scripture are you relying upon? Are there scriptures that are being conveniently left out or omitted? What did the early Church fathers say? What is the history? What are the arguments for and against the position? Are there agendas that are being advanced? What are they? What is the motivation and intent? What is in keeping with common sense? What is practical, reasonable and logical? Who is coming across as the more credible witness? And probably the most important question: Lord, what would you have me believe? Doctrine by doctrine. Perhaps it is and it will be painstaking and tedious process — but Ken, is this not exactly what you, yourself, did?

        I will call a spade a spade – whether it is a Catholic spade or a Protestant spade. If I am wrong, then I am wrong and I will admit that I am wrong and I will change my belief, my attitude and/or my behavior. (How do I know when I am wrong? Typically I am so convicted/ so miserable that I can’t stand myself. The Holy Spirit has a way of speaking to me that I cannot ignore.) If something is truth, it will stand. If it is not truth, it will not stand and it should not stand. I have put the various doctrines and denominations on the table; I will believe and I will be whatever He wants me to. My prayer: Lord, Just show me what you want.

        Is my acceptance of a doctrine/ teaching a matter of what I like or not OR what I agree with or disagree with? No, my like/dislike and my agreement/disagreement are completely irrelevant. I believe that I am to be submitted to and changed by God’s truth – no matter my personal feelings or perspective.

        For example: I happen to think women should be admitted and ordained as priests and clergy. I think it is in keeping with our modern day societal and cultural norms; a number of Protestant denominations read scripture consistent with that point of view. These groups would say that women were excluded in Jesus’ day because of that day’s culture and society but that prohibition in the early Church no longer applies to our modern world. I don’t particularly like it, but based upon my limited understanding of scripture and the early Church, I believe the priesthood Jesus Christ established was male only.

        I don’t like it, but I truly believe God has spoken (and spoken clearly) – and the answer is “No, women are not to be priests/ clergy.” I accept a doctrine/ teaching I don’t like and don’t agree with because it is what I believe God has decreed. I am sure there will be many more examples along these lines.

        Next up will be a very direct answer as to why I am highly skeptical of the Catholic Church’s claim to absolute authority and infallibility in interpreting scripture. (I need to take the dogs out to the dog park for some exercise first.)

        • Mark anderson says:

          Looking forward to your next post to continue your thought, however you do understand that the canon of scripture wasn’t defined until the late 4th century. So the men who declared which books made up the New Testament did so some 360 years after Jesus and were generations and generations removed Jesus and the apostles. The church flourished and spread around the known world of the time with no New Testament even written for decades after Jesus ascended and no defined canon for 350 years before the New Testament was defined by catholic bishops. These Catholic bishops were farther away in time from Jesus than you and I are away from George Washington. They were equivalent to you and I compared to Shakespeare. Think about that for a moment before all of your arguments hinge on the “closeness of these “men” to Jesus and the apostles”

          Isn’t it amazing that the church flourished without a New Testament canon for 350 years? And after the canon was defined most folks couldn’t read and not even the 1 percent, even if they could read, could afford a copy of the bible they were so expensive and valuable. Just think, a vast majority of Christians to ever live couldn’t even read the bible. How blessed are we that we can read and can own a bible!

          Nevertheless carry on….

        • Ken Hensley says:

          “Doctrine by doctrine. Perhaps it is and it will be painstaking and tedious process — but Ken, is this not exactly what you, yourself, did?” This is a good question, Susan. (Where did I get Sheila?) The answer is yes and no.

          Yes, in the since that there is no way to avoid the reality that we all think and evaluate and choose. Even those who met Jesus face to face had to listen to him and watch him and determine whether to trust him or not. However, once someone decided that Jesus was special — a prophet, the Messiah, the Son of God, God in the flesh — it wouldn’t make any sense for that person to then judge each of Jesus’s teachings one my one, evaluating each thing he taught and deciding to agree or disagree.

          In a similar way, yes, I have to think through the issue and decided whether I believed the Catholic Church was to be trusted as having preserved the apostolic teaching. But once I made that decision, it wouldn’t make sense for me to then test every formal decision one by one, deciding whether or not to agree with it.

          Same with the Bible. Once you come to believe the Bible is inspired you accept what it intends to teach. You don’t raise the question of authority with each verse you read.

          So this is what I mean by answering you with a yes and a no.

          For me, a huge issue was being confronted with the canon problem and being faced with the question: Do I believe the Holy Spirit led those councils to an authoritative decision? If I answered Yes then I would have to face the fact that they same people who decided the canon held all these other Catholic beliefs. Upon what basis would I say “Well, they were right about the canon but wrong about the rest, or half of the rest”? If I reject the notion that the Holy Spirit led them like in Acts 15, then we’re back to each man figuring everything out for himself. Some will reason as you have and determine that the decision of the councils was “probably” solid. Others, will decide to toss Hebrews or the pastoral epistles (as many more liberal scholars do).

          I know you don’t like to think of your position as a free-for-all, but in the end either there is an authority on earth established by our Lord to preserve and hand down and decide and teach the people of God or its each Christian consulting and examining the expert witnesses you mention from every denomination, looking at Scripture and history and common sense and deciding each and every doctrine one by one. This can logically only lead to the continual fragmentation of Christianity, as it has since the Reformation.

          Finally, you mention praying that God would lead you. But Susan, there are sincere Christians in every sect and denomination and independent church on earth reading their Bibles and reading various scholars and saying, “Lord, please lead me to the truth.” If you don’t trust when all the Catholic bishops in the world meet in council and ask the Holy Spirit to lead and come to a decision, why would you trust that you are being led?

          • Susan Shelko says:

            I want to respond to something before I continue re: authority and infallibility. I agree that my comments and criticism are “telling” – but not in the way one might think they are (i.e., I understood an earlier comment as implying that I am being judgmental and that I am lacking in self-awareness).

            My comments are telling in that they point to the utter lack of awareness and discernment among folks in the church and in the world. “Judge not lest ye be judged” has been twisted to mean we never speak of any negative observation – only positive is spoken. We ignore the fruit from the tree of a man’s life.

            We live in a simply awesome world. Everyone is awesome. Everything is awesome. We are all so very politically correct. Criticism is a crime. Truth is not tolerated. We have “safe-spaces” and “free speech zones” and “micro-aggressions.” Only happy, optimistic, encouraging and upbeat talk is acceptable. (Not so much!)

            We live in a world of relativity. I have my truth. You have your truth. These truths may be 180 degree opposite but they are both truths. You do you and I’ll do me. We believe. What do we believe? We don’t really know but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we believe. (Not so much!)

            Believe it or not, I do not expect perfection of any church, any pastor, or any parishioner. I certainly am not perfect. If I somehow find “the perfect church” I will not join it because I will ruin it. What I expect is that when there are issues and problems, they will be dealt with and responded to appropriately.

            Unfortunately, that has not been my experience – contrary to what Mark has experienced in the diocese where he lives. What is ”telling” is when the secular authorities (i.e., the police and prosecutor) deal appropriately with a situation and the church and its hierarchy ignore, deny, and try to make it go away.

            Okay, now back to the discussion of authority and infallibility. Mark, if I do the math correctly, even 400 years away from the death of Christ (i.e., the Councils that decided the canon of scripture) is 1,100 years closer than the Protestant reformation (i.e., where the “offending books” were removed). And your point is well-taken. I will stand on the Catholic canon even if closeness in time/relationship is eliminated as a factor. No, I do not go back and constantly reaffirm reliability of scripture (verse by verse) after I accepted it as truth.

            Ken, I actually do see where my logic is slipping after you pointed it out to me. You are right: I do have the exact same quagmire/ problem as R.C. Sproul in his “fallible collection of infallible books” if I accept that the Holy Spirit allowed these early Christians to get it right in choosing the books of the Bible but then did not also allow these same men to get it right in the interpretation of those same scriptures. But I am not so sure just because they got it right in the beginning they continued to get it right later on.

            Again, what does “the gates of hell shall not prevail” mean? Does it mean infallible authority, teaching and doctrines? Or does it mean that the Church will persevere and triumph in the face of trials, troubles and tribulation? Or perhaps it means both of these things? Or does it mean something else entirely?

            David W. Bercot in his book, Will the Real Heretic Please Stand Up, explains exactly how the early Christians safeguarded and maintained clear and consistent teaching in the face of persecution, lack of a literate population, heresies and geographical distance. The transmission of teaching and doctrines was not “scripture alone” – the early Christians relied upon the oral teaching/ tradition of the apostles and the church as a being an authority. By the way, David W. Bercot is a Protestant and he is an attorney.

            Ken, you asked on what basis would I say, “They were right about the canon but wrong about the rest or half of the rest”? Here is my very direct answer: I think that at some point the Church became corrupted (morally and spiritually) – intentional or not – and went off the rail in terms of teaching and doctrine. Was it with the Protestant reformation? Was it earlier than that? I don’t know. Both you and Mark have argued that character and sinfulness is of little importance; God works through and uses sinners.

            That’s great. I want to give you a little hypothetical example: Let’s say you decide to set up a trust for your children and you hire the services of an accountant, an attorney and an investment adviser. Each of these individuals is highly respected and well-regarded – experts in their fields. These are people of character. The trust is set up in compliance with the law and in accord to your wishes. It all goes well – both “on paper” and “in practice.” Reliability, confidence and dependability! Now imagine a very different set of circumstances.

            You want to set up the same trust for your kids. Only this time, the accountant had, in the past, been convicted of income tax evasion and did not change his ways; the attorney had, in the past, been suspended from the bar for unethical practice and is still known in the community to be on the shady side; and the investment adviser had, in the past, spent time in prison for stealing client funds and he still somehow manages to live well-beyond his stated income level.

            Are you even going to hire these individuals in the first place? If you do hire them, are you going to have trust/ confidence in their advice, their ethical and moral foundation, or the success of their work? What would your wife say? Does she trust them? What about your best friend? Would he trust them? Do I hear a chorus of “judge not lest ye be judged” and “don’t be critical” and “we are all sinners and God uses sinners”? Are you going to tell me that as long as the paperwork is correct it doesn’t matter if the funds themselves are pilfered?

            Tell me again how character doesn’t matter. Exactly how corrupt was the Church during the time of the Martin Luther and the Protestant reformation? Don’t get me wrong: I think that the Protestant reformation as the solution to the egregious and pervasive corruption in the Catholic Church ended up creating far more problems than it actually solved. That is evident from the state of the Church today. The splintering of the Christian faith into thousands upon thousands of denominations has absolutely not been a positive thing.

            But then again, the observations I am making are with 500 years of history and example. Given my stance on women as pastors/ clergy, it is unlikely that I am going to rush out and begin a brand new Christian denomination. At the same time, I would like some confidence in my beliefs. Doctrine by doctrine.

  • Susan Shelko says:

    Ken, This is how I know the Holy Spirit will lead me. I pray, at times I fast, and I ask for guidance and direction. And “strange things” happen. To be more exact, “statistically impossible strange things” happen.

    For example: I asked the Lord how I was to reconcile a message that seemed at odds with what the gospel teaches. A few days later, I order a book from Amazon. It was Scott Hahn’s book, Evangelizing Catholics. I check the box that I want a preview chapter for my Kindle. A chapter appears in my Kindle — twenty pages on a call to repentance. It is an absolutely remarkable chapter and I can’t wait to get the entire book in the mail. I think nothing more about it. Scott Hahn’s book arrives in the mail, and the chapter that appeared on my Kindle about repentance is nowhere to be found. I go back to my Kindle, which by now has reset itself and I find an entirely different chapter — the one that actually did belong to Scott Hahn’s book.

    Basically, Amazon sent me a chapter that belonged to a totally different book. I am disappointed (because it was a great chapter) and I am curious. So using google and the Amazon look inside feature, I find the chapter to which the book belongs. The chapter is part of a book called The Gospel Call and True Conversion. It is written by Paul David Washer. You’ll appreciate this Ken: Paul Washer is a Baptist pastor, he was a missionary to Peru and he is director of HeartCry Missions. That book is part of a three book series called Reclaiming the Gospel. I view “the mistake” as an answer to my original prayer (How do I reconcile the deacon’s homily with the gospel message?) So I order the three books that go together as a series. No, I did not call Amazon and complain. Events like these happen to me all the time. That is how I am guided.

    As to your question about the Bishops and the Council of Bishops: I have no idea how the Bishops — as individuals or as a group — are guided by God’s Holy Spirit. I can’t speak for the Bishops. I’m sure if you asked, they would tell you.

    • Mark anderson says:

      Once again, we all agree there are sinners in the church and we all agree the secular society is a mess.

      I am just not following you at all. You say you believe in sacred tradition, then you don’t. You believe in the church then you don’t.

      The entire point you continue to miss is that Jesus very directly said “I will lead you into all truth” you will never be satisfied if your faith is in the men in the church. We trust that church doesn’t teach error because Jesus himself told us to obey the church he founded and he promised it wouldn’t fail and it would be lead into all truth.

      You either trust That Jesus can accomplish what he said or you don’t.

      You accept the canon of scripture based on the authority of the church which is good, but what teachings of the church do you disagree with. The trinity was defined in the 4th century. We have clear evidence from the early church that they shared all of the same doctrines we do today, all the sacraments, justification, sanctification salvation. Everything we believe today as Catholics was all taught in the earliest church.

      You act as if the early church was immaculate and perfect and it was all roses. What I don’t think you realize is that early church faced all
      Kinds of heresies. Do you realize that at one point half of the bishops in the church denied the divinity of Christ? In the second and third centuries. If you think some bishops are nutty now check the out during the Arian controversy. Guess what, the church met in council and defined and affirmed on their own authority thendivinity of Jesus.. You have yet to mention any doctrine you don’t believe but yet you keep saying you don’t believe then doctrines, which is it? With all due respect and charity, you are not making much sense.

      I think you are hung up with sinners in the church and all I can tell you is this. You should follow and obey Jesus church because of Jesus . The church has always been, is now, and will always be in need of constant renewal, reform, and constant reflection on each member and how they can be more like Christ. As long as you worry about people and let your faith hinge on people yo will never be satisfied, no matter what, people will never satisfy you.. So, trust in Jesus, trust in his promises, pray for others and focus on Jesus not people.

    • Ken Hensley says:

      Just wanted you to know that I intend to catch up, read carefully and respond in some way. You and Mark are carrying on such an interesting conversation and I have been too busy to stick with you. But God bless you both.

  • Susan Shelko says:

    Mark, I was trying not to get too far off topic by mentioning specific doctrines in a thread that deals with scripture alone. Specifically, I am having serious difficult with these Catholic teachings/ beliefs which the Pope has spoken to:

    In order to be a good Catholic Christian, I would need to divest any stock or investment in gun and ammunition manufacturers and if I owned a weapon I would need to have it destroyed.
    The belief that a vast majority of marriages are invalid because of improper formation/ preparation in the early childhood years of the respective spouses — that would mean annulment of just about any marriage that ended in divorce.
    The expectation that we (as a church and as individuals) should apologize to our gay family and friends for lack of understanding, lack of tolerance, etc. (Should I and the church apologize to my friend’s husband who had an affair with his secretary at work too?)
    In order to be a good Catholic Christian I need to believe in and support open and unlimited immigration, to welcome any and all to our country — which basically means the dissolving of national boarders and a one world country.

    There is more, much more, involving everything from social justice, wealth inequality/ poverty, ecumenical initiatives that treat all religions as equally valid, climate change, embracing socialist and Communist political systems (I.e., the gift of the crucifix on the hammer and sickle from the president of Ecuador and the Pope’s comments that followed). These are just a few examples out of approximately one hundred thirty four examples. If these teachings and doctrines coming directly from the Pope are ones which I need to accept and believe then I know in my heart that I cannot be Catholic! I truly think the Catholic church has gone off the rails. I don’t know how to say any of this in a politically correct manner. Is this what Jesus had in mind with respect to leading us into all truth? It seems to me that these are the sorts of things that will lead us into a one world government and a one world church and to the fulfillment of multiple prophesies

    And probably I am confusing you because I am not speaking in black or white, all or nothing type of language. Also, I am part Catholic and part Protestant in my beliefs. Like I said earlier, I attend Catholic Mass on Saturday afternoon and Protestant worship on Sunday. If you read my post on the “mistaken” Kindle chapter from Amazon, you will understand exactly how the Holy Spirit guides and directs me.

    • Mark anderson says:

      Ahhh, now we are getting the heart of it. You don’t like the current Pope. I see now. Your list is guns, gay people, climate change, communists, other religions, immigration

      First of all none of these are doctrines of the church. This pope had not bound the faithful to an doctrines. In fact in his most recent encyclical he prefaced the entire thing specifically to say it wasn’t magisterial and was meant to start a dialogue and that his intention was precisely not to use his magisterial authority. it sounds like you are getting your papal news from the secular media and that is a horrible idea, because they have no clue about the church or how the church works or thinks.

      We are only bound to accept the teaching of the pope if he is intending to bind the universal church to a teaching. This is basic Catholic teaching and I would advise for your own peace of mind that you brush up on the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility.

      This pope has also said that what he says should be understood inside of of the long standing social teaching of the church.

      You also seem to try and read this popes words thru the lens of American politics. Once again, not wise. The pope isn’t interested in political sides right or left. And he doesn’t have any authority outside of faith and morals, so politics or science are outside his wheelhouse. What he does do is explain core catholic beliefs and reminds us of Christian faith and morality so that we can apply these truths the best we can in the world today. The pope isn’t telling us which political party to belong too or telling each country what policies they should put in place.

      Before I go thru each of your issues, I’ll say one last thing. Once again you are basing your faith on a man not on Jesus. Jesus will not allow his church to bind itself to something untrue. Focus on Jesus and trust him. Not everything a pope says will you agree with. Jesus never promised that you would agree with everything every person says even the pope. Popes are not always eloquent they don’t always say things the best way they don’t always do the right things or respond to situations the right way, they are humans and they make mistakes like anyone else. This pope is incredibly holy compared to some popes we have endured thru the centuries. We have had, amazingly few, but a few pipes who have been flat out scoundrels. However in spite of them being scoundrels none of them ever even attempted, let alone achieved in binding the faithful to an untrue doctrine. If your faith is based on the actions of the pope you should have ceased being Catholic 2000 years ago when Peter walked the earth and Paul himself rebuked him for not practicing what he himself was preaching, and definitely 1000 years ago when some of the scoundrels were making a mockery of the papacy. Thankfully Jesus has kept his promises and the church has endured through it all.

      Now to your specific issues. You are free to agree or disagree with the pope on the specifics of how this stuff works in the world, he isn’t setting doctrine, but it would be wise of you to try to understand why he is saying what he is saying and try to understand what he is saying in the broader context of Catholic understanding specifically it’s social teaching.

      You should apologize to the guy at work who had an affair if you have in anyway marginalized him or discriminated against him. All the pope said about gay people was we should love them, not discriminate against them, just like anyone else. If we have harmed a person or not treated them with the dignity they deserve we should apologize. That’s simple Christian stuff. That doesn’t mean that we call sin not sin or accept sin as good. The pope never said any such thing, but we should understand that we are all prone to sin, some in different ways than others, but we are to bring all sinners to Christ for his mercy and forgiveness. Again basic Christianity.

      Climate change. This is science not faith and morals. Christians have always been called to care for the environment as it is a gift from God and all the way back in genisis God told us to care for the earth when he put us over it and gave us dominion over it. So I think we all agree that we should take care of the environment

      Guns. There is nothing in Catholic teaching that says you can’t own a gun. He talked about those who profit from war and actually seek war for money. He wasn’t speaking about you or I owning a gun.

      Nowhere has the pope said that all religions are equal. That’s absurd and you have obviously picked that up from some source other than the pope himself. Should we respect the rights of people to worship however they want? Yes! Should we call good whatever amount of truth the particular religion might have? Sure. But never has the pope said that all religions are equal. That’s just plain silly. Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life, we should love and respect others but always with the hope of bringing them to Christ.

      Economic systems. The church has always and still opposes socialism and communism. The church also approved of free market systems so long as they respect the dignity of the individual and are fair to each person especially the poor. The poor need access to any market. This is long standing Catholic doctrine

      There are two underpinning core ideas that we have to balance when we think about Catholic social teaching. The first is subsidiarity, which means that all problems, issues, laws should be handled at the lowest level possible. Starting with the family, which is the core of the society. If a family needs help, the local community should act next, if the local government can’t help, then a state government should help, if they can’t the federal government should and so on. The second idea is solidarity, which is an understanding that what we do impacts others and that we are all in it together. In all things we should have preference for the poor.

      So these two ideas must be balanced. If you lean towards subsidiarity only then you end up with every man for himself and a Wild West mentality in the free market where people are valued only if they can add value to the economy and the poor are marginalized and nobody acts to help them. However if you lean toward solidarity only you end up with communism. so the church says no to communism and likes free markets so long as they protect the poor and are fair markets not just free markets.

      Jesus himself told us we should care for the poor for the immigrants. Jesus Mary and Joseph were all immigrants in Egypt. The church leaves up to individual countries how they will deal with issues but she lays out these Christian teachings so that we might come up with solutions that work inside of a Christian worldview. So you should care about immigrants and poor people and do everything you can to help them. It’s our obligation as Christians. However that doesn’t mean that countries have to have open borders and can’t protect themselves from crime and drugs and terrorism etc. the pope isn’t telling countries what to do only that whatever they do should treat the immigrant with dignity and respect. Whatever you do for the least of these you have done to me. Basic Christianity.

      Now you say you are half Catholic and half Protestant. That is an impossibility and makes no sense at all. If you go to mass on Saturday and Protestant church in Sunday, then are you not doing precisely what you accused the pope of doing and calling both churches equal? You can’t be both, as the Protestant church you attend on Sunday teaches doctrines that are exactly opposite of the Catholic Church. They both can’t be right so at least one is teaching untruth. We say that baptism actually infuses the Holy Spirit and washes away sins your Protestant church says that baptism does nothing. We teach that the Eucharist is the body blood soul and divinity of Jesus yet your Protestant church says no way and calls us idolotors, we believe in confession to a priests they teach the opposite , we teach that is good to ask the saints to pray for us and they say no way, on and on the list goes. So you can’t be half of one and half of the other, unless of course you want to be like your claim of the pope and claim that all churches are equal, which itself is illogical.

      This pope is challenging, and that is a good thing. I like to be challenged and to think outside my comfort zone. Didn’t Jesus do the same? He talked to a Samaritan woman while the Pharisees said you couldn’t even walk thru their country. He interacted with drunks prostitutes and every kind of sinner and the pharisees scolded him for it. They condemned him for doing such things, some even accused Jesus of being a drunk himself.

      This pope isn’t an American and doesn’t look at the world like you and I do as Americans. He grew up and lived his life among the poor and has seen first hand how the rich have abused the poor. He has a preference for the poor, but didn’t Jesus also? In each of the issues you raised is t he simply asking us to respect the dignity of every person and especially the poor? in all the instances you mention is he not simply advocating for the dignity of each person and especially the poor? It is up to us and our governments to make prudential judgements on the best way to do it and make it come to life in the world.

      Perhaps you should actually read what he writes and listen to what he says instead of getting your news from the secular media.

      In the end I’ll say again find your peace in Jesus not in men and you will never be disappointed.

      Jesus said point blank he would lead his church into all truth. What’s wrong with believing and trusting that he would do and has done exact that?

  • Susan Shelko says:

    Mark,
    Thank you for you well-considered reply. I realize that there are many, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who think that Pope Francis is the cat’s meow. You are correct. I do not like him, and I do not trust him. There! I said it. I can’t believe that what he is saying is what Jesus intends for the church to be. Surely what is happening in Pope Francis’ plane interviews and off the cuff remarks is not faithful and clear transmission of the Catholic faith by a Pope. The Pope does not know what the Catholic church teaches and believes?

    Yes, his words can be spun as a matter of mis-quotation or as private thoughts/ opinions or as a challenge to the faithful or as a product of his life and upbringing. He can be spun as a holy, yet naive, man of God being taken advantage of by the media.

    It is funny that you think I get my news from the mainstream media. I cut the cable (and print media) several years ago. I felt the Lord leading me to “come out from among them.” (When I tell people that, they usually get very defensive, by the way!) I would not invite someone into my home who misrepresents, misleads and manipulates (i.e., Media Mockingbird Propaganda). Why would I invite them via media and TV. Instead, I read alternative websites like ZeroHedge, Investment Watch Blog, What Really Happened, InfoWars, etc.

    After I finished reading your response, I happened upon an article that said it all: “Normalcy Bias and Papal Positivism,” by Eric Sammons on June 20, 2016 — on the One Peter Five website. The comments are equally enlightening. Check it out. I was also led to another website hosted by priests who are attempting to answer their parishioners’ confusion and concerns (i.e., apparently I am not alone in my questioning). Check it out: https://en.denzingerbergoglio.com Certainly Jesus is leading me into all truth.

    As for how I can be a Catholic Protestant — it is simple, really. I can affirm just about everything the Protestants affirm. I just cannot deny everything the Protestants deny. I go to the Catholic church for the mass, the liturgy, the Sacraments, Adoration and the depth of spiritual literature/ writings. I go to the Protestant church for the expositional verse by verse Bible study/ teaching, the small groups, the fellowship and community and discipleship, and for the community outreaches. I don’t argue doctrine with my Protestant friends.

    For example: The Protestants believe baptism is a public confession of faith and an admission into the church/ denomination. I can believe that — and I also believe in the regenerative nature of baptism. The Protestants believe baptism was commanded by Christ — and I also believe that. We may not entirely agree as to “why” or “what it means” but we agree as to certain basics. And that holds true through many of the doctrinal issues. As long as we don’t curse each other (we agree to disagree) … it usually works out okay.

    With respect to treating all religions as equal — I wasn’t meaning that among Christian religions. I was meaning that with respect to treating Christianity as equal to the Jewish faith as equal to the Hindu faith as equal to the Islamic faith as equal to the Buddhist faith. You missed the three to five minute video by Pope Francis with the Priest, the Imam, the Rabbi and the Hindu priestess. I found that video very disturbing. And by the way, Pope Francis managed to hide the cross he wears with the paper/ script he is reading from.

    Mark, it is a delight to chat back and forth with you. I give you “two thumbs up” for staying positive and issue focused. Unfortunately, many such conversations like this disintegrate into name calling and nastiness (when people do not agree with each other). I give you credit for taking the high road. I certainly appreciate it. (Yes, I too have tried very hard to take the high road.) Susan

    • Mark anderson says:

      Glad we could get to the bottom of it. It all makes sense now. I can’t compete with Infowars.com, hedgezero, and investment watch.com. More power to you you. I’m sorry you don’t like this pope but we have had 266 of them since Peter and Jesus has kept his promises.

      This pope, love him or hate has not created any new doctrine whatsoever, nor has he bound the church to any new doctrine.

      Your Protestant friends believe you are worshipping a piece of bread and that your baptism was meaningless. You are free to ignore all that, your prerogative. Going to a church for bible teaching that teaches that the bible means exactly the opposite of what you believe it means, doesn’t make any sense to me, but hey, it’s your life to lead.

      I am sorry that the pope and the bishop and your parish priest and the folks in your parish don’t meet your standards. My only advice is to pray for them and focus on Jesus

      I have honestly tried to field your questions and issues but I feel like when I spend time to go in depth with you, you simply ignore them and shift gears to something else. I’ve done what I can. Hope it helps.

      I’ll leave this quote from the man you say you don’t like.

      “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of Jesus Christ, our Lotd”

      Maybe before we point fingers and point out the faults of everyone else we should realize that we are and they are sinners. We all need Jesus, even the pope. He would be the first to admit it.

      Trust in Jesus not men. And don’t fret when you don’t understand the plans of Jesus.

  • Joseph says:

    Mark, AJ, Joe, Ken and anyone out there trying to make sense of Susan’s delusions or false understanding is impossible…this became an unending discussion. Luther was mad, meaning he was just as crazy as our catholic friend that is in reality a protestant. I do not mean this as an insult, just as my take on it, just as she has HER take on the church, the pope and laity. We should be adult enough to accept what we are and what we can and cannot do. I bind myself to the authority of the church, if not, then Jesus was a liar. He sure didn’t leave us the other 30, 000 “christian” churches. So in the end we can say, according to Susan, Jesus did not leave us any church, because either he lied about “the gates of hell not prevailing against it” or Susan is within a small group still looking for that church or still looking for the messiah… I know I lack the intelligence and clarity of this select group but in the end it was not a total waste of time, but it was close.

    • Mark anderson says:

      I understand where you are coming from. I did my best,.

    • Susan Shelko says:

      Joseph,
      Really. The people with whom you disagree are crazy mad delusional? How attractive do you think it is to demean someone else in the name of religion? Is this what the Catholic God teaches? Is this what the Protestant God teaches? Did any of you look into a single resource that I cited? I speak a number of inconvenient truths so an ad hominem attack is how you respond? I would find your response far more respectable and credible if you looked into the articles, websites, books I cited and responded to the actual points being made. Christ has a Church — yes He does — and it is composed of disciples from all the different denominations (Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Anglican, Lutheran, etc.). I am very sure the Lord knows who truly belongs to him.
      Susan

      • mark anderson says:

        Susan- Why are you getting so worked up here? You have questioned the Pope, your bishop, your parish priest, and everyone in the pews with you, because they haven’t met the standards that you believe they should live up too. So, why is it ok for you to question, literally everyone in the catholic church, but its not ok for someone to question your opinions or actions? That seems a little unfair. If you can hammer people on an internet website who aren’t here to defend themselves, shouldn’t folks feel free to question your opinions, which on their face seem illogical and contradictory? I hate to see you get all worked up like this.

  • Susan Shelko says:

    Mark, Mark, Mark,
    So what was illogical and contradictory about the denzinger bergoglio website that I cited? Where do you disagree and/or where do you think these priests are wrong about their concerns and conclusions? So what was illogical and contradictory about the normalcy bias and papal positivism article? Why do you disagree with this author (assuming you actually looked into anything I cited)? Where is David Bercot getting it “wrong”? Again, where do you disagree and/or where do you think these folks are getting it “wrong”?

    So I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head? Calm. Peace. All is well. Everything is simply awesome. Everyone is simply awesome. So Mark, tell me exactly what would get you all “worked up”? How egregious does something have to be before it is a “problem”? Susan

    • mark anderson says:

      Susan, we have been through this all before. We all agree that not everyone in the church is perfect. Not the pope, bishop, priest, or you and or me. We have been over all of this time and time again. it doesn’t change the fact that you can’t be catholic and protestant at the same time.

      You can be a catholic who works for and prays for renewal in the church, or you can be a protestant who denies core doctrine of the catholic church, but you cant be a catholic and a protestant at the same time. We have been through it all before. I don’t get my theology from infowars.com.

      Now, why is it ok for you to call to question, the pope, the bishops, your parish priest, and everyone in your church, but you take issue with someone who questions you?

      What is your authority on what the bible means? and what is your authority on what books even should be included in the bible?

      where does the Bible teach what you are espousing, that Jesus founded 1,000’s of different denominations all teaching different truth and contradicting doctrines, and that was His intention? or that he founded a church that would lead people into error?

  • Susan Shelko says:

    Sure I can be Catholic and Protestant at the same time. I can affirm everything the Protestants affirm. I just do not and cannot deny everything that the Protestants deny. What we are talking about is the difference between a floor and a ceiling. You aren’t being creative enough or thinking out of the box enough, Mark.

    For example, I can rely upon the Catholic side of the isle for the sacraments, the liturgy and the mass and I can rely upon the Protestant side of the isle for fellowship, community, discipleship and a daily walk with Christ. I can tap into the Catholic side for beautiful prayers, the rosary, stunning art and architecture and I can tap into the Protestant side for well done expositional verse by verse teaching from the Bible and a group of people who actually stick around after the service is concluded and live their faith in the context of community.

    I have Protestant friends and I have Catholic friends. All of the art in the museum (the Catholic side of the museum and the Protestant side of the museum) is there for me to treasure and to enjoy. I explained at length in earlier posts my stance on Scripture (the Catholic canon) and how I got there. Where you see a wall and a barrier I see a bridge. Obviously there are places and things upon which I need to agree to disagree. But believe it or not, we (Catholics and Protestants) have more in common than what we disagree upon.

    As for renewal from within the Catholic Church, every single thing I have offered has been rejected out of hand — other than the standard teach a Catechism class and facilitate a Bible study. I am doing both. I am not a sing in the choir type of person. And by the way, the reason I am at the parish I am at is because they are actually committed to offering Bible studies. This is a rarity.

    What one parishioner did when the priest refused to allow a Bible study was to visit the women at the Baptist Church down the street (she took her Catholic lady friends along with her) and that Baptist Bible study quickly became 50% Catholic women and 50% Baptist women. The women all became fast friends, they learned they had more in common than they did in differences and the priest finally figured out he was going to lose parishioners if he continued his stance/ his refusal. That was how they got Bible studies at that particular Catholic parish.

    Maybe small steps can be taken (paint a room) and I am not hopeful as to major renovations happening (a kitchen remodel). If real large scale Reformation from within the Catholic Church actually worked, then we would not be at a place of 500 years later and countless new Protestant churches. Martin Luther was right! in his criticisms. The Church hierarchy badly mishandled that situation.

    Further efforts: I volunteered to be a sponsor for RCIA but they had enough volunteers. I offered to organize and manage Alpha for Catholic, Catholicism 201, FaithCafe, or the Living Christ Retreat. No, no, no, and no! I have gone above and beyond in trying to be part of the solution, but it appears folks are happy with how things are currently. I was told, “maybe what people want is cotton candy.”. Okay, I get/ got the message. I hate to say it but the book Holy Ground by Chris Castaldo nails it. The article, The Hidden Exodus: Catholics Becoming Protestants, by Thomas Reese (a Jesuit priest, by the way) also nails it.

    As for authority — what authority? Jesus words about the Pharisees are equally applicable to the leadership and hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Should I follow their example? Should I follow what they say to do? Should I follow some obscure council or writing? My Protestant friends think that what the Pope says reflects the teachings and beliefs of the Catholic church. And who could blame them for drawing such a conclusion. It is an embarrassment to say the least. I explain to them that the Pope is stating private opinion that contradicts the Catholic Church’s doctrinal teaching. Or the alternative is that the Pope is being badly misquoted and is a victim of the media. Apparently you did not check out the denzinger bergoglio website or the article I cited on normalcy bias and papal positivism.

    As for the 10,000 plus different Protestant denominations — I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Mark my words, I fully expect the current Pope to promote and encourage the new one world religious initiative that embraces all the major world religions. We can all join Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan — the second Reformation of good deeds and eradicating poverty and advancing social justice causes. Promoted and encouraged at first then later made mandatory. You didn’t check out the video from Pope Francis featuring the Catholic priest, the Jewish rabbi, the Hindu priestess and the Muslim Iman who all believe in love. And not far behind that will be the Pope’s exhortation that we all get the new RFID chip (or whatever the latest technology) on our right hand or on our forehead so we can buy and sell and conduct business transactions — “it is not the mark of the beast” i am sure he will tell faithful Catholics around the world.

    Is this what Jesus intended? I believe it is what Jesus foresaw and said would happen.

    • Mark anderson says:

      Oh boy….

    • mark anderson says:

      Well, it is clear you aren’t going to listen to sound reasoning, so I suspect my last post on this thread will be roundly ignored, but in the interest of charity I am going to address these wild claims once again.

      Fellowship, and a daily walk with Christ can be found in the catholic Church. I live it everyday. You can find as much or as little as you want.

      You say I see a wall and you see a bridge, but I can’t accept as “no big deal” when other protestant communities deny core christian teachings and often times teach the exact opposite of the truth. While we do agree on many things, we disagree on many many things, and I can’t just “let it go” and build a bridge when people are teaching falsehoods and actively trying to draw folks away from the fullness of truth and the catholic faith. Not only that, they are putting people’s souls in jeopardy by telling them that their sins are ok, and that they can’t lose their salvation. I can’t accept that. Its not ok, and many souls are being lost, because of these protestant communities telling people its ok to sin. 100 years ago every single protestant community taught that birth control was immoral. Today, literally all of them accept it not only as moral, but as expected, and even good. All of them are teaching that something that was once totally immoral is now a good thing. Just one example. You can do all kinds of mental gymnastics to justify being half catholic half protestant, but it is an impossibility. And it seems that you have deemed yourself your own Pope, your own authority to determine what teachings must be believed and what teachings are just fine to take or leave. You make the decision. It is the core of all protestants, they make themselves their own authority.

      Ken has done a really nice job in the newer posts laying out the biblical basis for denying sola scriptura, and at the core is that Jesus intended as did his apostles for the church to be built on the authority of the church not the scriptures alone. Do you intend to address any of his argument against sola scriptura or do you simply intend to keep talking about the content from fringe websites you are reading? and bashing your fellow christians in the catholic church?

      You talk about your local pastor not letting you start this program or that program, but in all honesty, why in the world would a pastor whose sole mission is to care for souls, allow a person who openly attends a protestant church, denies the authority of the church, and believes the Pope is building a new world order and will be marking people with the sign of the beast, to teach and lead in his parish? If i was a priest, based on what you have shared with me, I wouldn’t let you teach or lead anything either? Do you really believe a person who believes the Pope is the new world order anti Christ should be teaching classes in a catholic Church? Can you understand how absurd that sounds on its face? It sounds to me like there are good reasons why the church is telling you No, No, No and No!

      The Church is always in need of renewal and reform because it is made up of sinners in need of grace. a thousand protestant denominations doesn’t prove that the catholic church needs reform, it proves that protestant communities with no authority outside themselves can’t agree on anything and they continue to splinter into never ending sects all teaching different truth, which therefore means they are teaching untruth.

      You said Jesus words about the Pharisees are spot on for today, well let us take a look at what Jesus told the jewish folks to do about the pharisees. Matthew 23 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” So Jesus tells the Jews to obey their leaders in spite of their actions. You have made an arguement that proves to much. Why should you not obey what the church teaches even if some of the leaders don’t practice what they teach? Are you above this advice from Jesus?

      We are all for calling our leaders to a life of holiness, but when they fail we can’t just ignore their teaching, because Jesus protects their teaching. If we were to reject the teaching of the church because the leaders of the church where sinners, then we wouldn’t have a church or a bible which the church defined, you would have no basis to believe anything because the leaders in the church from the time of Peter and Paul have been sinners.

      In the new testament, we are told to obey our leaders, but you want to ignore those parts of scripture and make up reasons why you don’t have to obey anyone but you yourself, and you are the final authority on what doctrines are right and wrong, and who is acting right and wrong, and when its ok to leave the church and when it is not.

      Hebrews 13 “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

      Does this verse not apply to you, or did the church get it wrong by allowing this verse to stand? Are you above this clear instruction from the bible to obey your church leaders? Do you just ignore this verse because you don’t like it?

      Luke 10 Jesus tells his disciples. “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

      2 thess 2 Paul tells us “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”

      Do you believe this verse by paul at some point became irrelevant? Why didn’t he say “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed onto you, unless of course your pastor is a sinner then you can forget them, but not what we have said by mouth, but only what we wrote in letters.:

      You ask “what authority?” and this sums up this entire thread in two simple words. in the end, Its all about authority, and you reject the church’s authority given to her and gaurenteed by Jesus himself, and you just claim it for yourself. Jesus founded a church and gave it his authority. You deny this and say there is no no authority. Are you claiming that Jesus doesn’t have the power to keep his promise and protect his church from teaching error?

      what exactly has the Pope taught that is outside of the catholic sphere of teaching> You keep making these claims that he is teaching in error but I dont see it. He says to protect the poor, accept the outcast, show mercy to the sinner, etc etc All simple core teachings of Jesus himself. One minute you are calling Church leaders pharisee’s and the next minute you yourself acting like a pharisee judging every person in your church as unfit. Did you attend mass two weeks ago and hear the Gospel story about the Good Samaritan? It seems to me this Pope’s focus is summed up in that one gospel reading, which is a story from the Mouth of The Lord Jesus Christ. Social justice is important, Jesus taught us to care for the poor, but that isn’t all the church is and is about. It is much more than a charitable organization.

      Its up to us to apply these teachings in the realm of politics and business. You are free to disagree with the Pope on the best way to achieve these good goals in the world today.

      I am not even going to address your comments on RFID chips. It’s such an absurd claim and it proves that you are getting your thoughts from wild conspiracy theory websites and other strange places.

      Stick with Jesus and his church and the successor of Peter. You will do well. But it requires some new testament obedience and an open mind to truly seek to understand the mind of the church, not just throw your hands up when you read a quote out of context, on an internet website which calls the Pope the leader of one world government and the anti christ.

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