Thursday, October 19, 2006

Religion: My response to "When will we get Christianity right?"

If you have a helmet, now's a good time to put it on. Seatbelts should be fastened. Tray tables and seat backs: upright and locked. Security blanket. Government savings bond. Flame retardant clothing. Fat-free ice cream.

On ChristianForums.com, while searching threads updated recently, I came across one named "catholic is the one true church". I didn't notice how many replies there were in that thread... over 200. Well, I'd read more than half when one caught my eye, and I decided to reply to it. I read the remainder of the replies just to see if anyone else was saying the same thing I was about to say. For the faint of heart, here's a brief synopsis of the thread:
  • Did Jesus start the Catholic church? That doesn't mean they can just make stuff up (like papal infallability).
  • Yes, he did. [Examples from Scripture].
  • No, he didn't. [Examples from Scripture].
  • When did they use the word "Catholic"?
  • When did they use the word "Protestant"?
  • OMG you call the Pope the "Holy Father"?
  • Orthodox and Catholics pretend they are the one true church and then posts like this arise and their differences are made clear.
  • Why can't we all just get along? Christianity is about Christ.
  • Jesus didn't start a physical church, he started a catholic (= universal) church, meaning it transcended nation and race.
  • Prove [such and such] from Scripture!
  • Neither Catholicism nor the Bible teaches Sola Scriptura, so why don't you look at these early Christian writings from Ignatius?
  • If there's no record of Peter in Rome in the Bible, I don't want to hear about it.

Yeah, so as you can see, things were going swimmingly. So I responded to a comment.

wmc1982: I personally believe anyone who believes in the diety of Jesus Christ and follows His teachings are all part of the "One True Church"

And away I went. Please let me know what you think. This can also be found at ChristianForums.com, in the thread linked above, page 23, post #226.

If we're all right, who'll admit to being wrong first?

I apologize if this appears to be a rant, or if my tone is less ecumenical than that of my brothers and sisters here, but I feel there are topics being avoided and words being swallowed. I ask St. James to pray for me and to help seek guidance for the "tongue" with which I speak now, for I do not wish to deceive my heart or anyone else's, and prove my religion to be in vain (James 1:26, 3:1-10). wmc1982, this is not directed at you personally, but it was your comment (since it was a recent one) that I decided to reply to.

But where do you draw the line as to what his teachings are? Did he (or did he not) institute the Eucharist, whereby the bread and wine he shared with the Apostles was his body and blood? Did he (or did he not) declare to the Apostles that they have the power to forgive sins (a power formerly attributed to God alone)? Did he (or did he not) command his Apostles to make disciples of the nations and baptize them? Did he (or did he not) instruct that faith yields fruits, and that these works of faith are necessary for your salvation to be true, just as John the Baptist had preached to the Pharisees?

You could ignore the majority of the Bible and just cling to Romans 10:9-10. But there's more in Paul's writing than those two verses, more epistles than those of Paul (like that of James, the only place "faith alone" is found, as in See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone, James 2:24), more to the New Testament than the epistles, more to the Bible than the New Testament, and more to the Church than the Bible! In fact, the Bible admits there's more to the teachings of Jesus than what's recorded in it, and yet Jesus told us to follow all his commands!

I won't deny Christians around the world share some core beliefs. But if there is a truth, it cannot be a different truth in one church than it is in another church. You can know some of the truth, which is different from knowing something contrary to the truth and calling it the truth. Look at it this way: you are calling for us to admit that we're all right so long as we accept Christ. Then who will be the first to admit that their church is wrong in the "extra details" it teaches, like how to baptize a person, and at what age it's permissible, and that tithing is necessary for the physical upkeep of the church as well as the financial support of its charitable missions? In fact, who needs "charitable missions" when we've got Christ?!

Catholicism didn't appear out of a vacuum. It didn't pop into existence the day Luther nailed his complaints to a door. It has been in existence since the day Jesus founded a Church, his Church, The Church. Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition and the teaching of those qualified to teach with authority are all ingredients to its growth over the centuries.

When John Q. Christian starts up his own church, "God's Way Bible Study Salvation Church", where does he find his authority? Did it take almost 2000 years for Christianity to have finally been "gotten right" by him? How does he interpret Scripture: is it really just how he reads it, or was he influenced by someone before him, who had another influence, and so on...? What about the historical interpretation by the Church Fathers and their successors? Is he interpreting the translated English text in his Bible, or examining the source documents in their historical context and language? Why does he ignore the history of the Church as presented by the Church Fathers? "It's not Scripture!" Well, if you're not going to believe something that's not in the Bible, then you'd better not place your trust in a "sinner's prayer" and an "altar call" for your salvation, since those are traditions of men. Nevermind what Paul actually wrote about accepting the traditions being passed onto the churches by the apostles. The Bible is not part of the Trinity, last time I checked. John 1 makes it clear that the Logos, the Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, was made incarnate in Jesus Christ, not "papyrate" in the Bible. The Bible is a testimony to God: Father, Son, and Spirit. The words written by its myriad authors were inspired in them by the Holy Spirit of God, making each of them prophets for us. Read Genesis 1:1-3 again, and there's the Trinity staring you in the face: the Father (who is creative in nature, for there is no Father without a child), the Spirit moving across the waters, and the Son and Divine Word (which was, from the beginning, "light"). What Divine Providence that the first three verses of the first chapter of the first book that comprises what we call "the Bible" point to His true essence!

So where am I going with all this? What is my point? If we haven't "gotten Christianity right" by today, then God has failed His promise to be with [us] always, until the end of the age (since we have clearly not been with Him), and God has failed His promise to build a new covenant with us written on our hearts that will not be broken (since we have failed to recognize that covenant since its inception), and God has failed His promise that His church would not be overcome by the gates of the netherworld (for all those "Christians" who have thus died in vain for nearly 20 centuries).

Christianity does not need to be scrapped and started from scratch. It needs to be re-united, it must be made one again, as the Son and the Father are one. This unity will not arrive at the snapping of fingers, but at the breaking of bread.

Peace be with you all.

5 comments:

The Prophet said...

Thank you for being unafraid to stand up for what you believe in.

Milly said...

Wow!
I love that you respect others. My husband was raised Catholic and is now attending a CoC. Very different, we need to realize that we are united in Christ and stop the insane fighting. Good job standing up and telling them

The Prophet said...

Is it always about being right? I think so many Christians (myself included). are worried about being right and not worried about learning along the journey.

Christianity is a journey, not a destination. One in which we grow, not knowing it all from the beginning.

Chance said...

Good post. I used to go to ChristianForums.com quite a bit, but now my spare time is caught up in blogging. I think the forums can be a very good thing, because it helps people understand other points of view. I am Protestant, and when I visited the forums I had a better understanding of the Catholic point of view. I still disagree, but I have a deeper understanding of why Catholics believe the way they do. Where this ties into your post I suppose is that it is easier to have unity within the body of Christ if people do not assume other denominations believe the way they do simply because they "aren't smart enough to figure it out" or some crap like that.

Weekend Fisher said...

Do you believe Christ is present in Word and Sacrament, and whenever two or three are gathered together in his name?

If so, then he has kept his promise to be with us always, to the end of the age, even if we're complete doctrinal messes.