Friday, January 2, 2009

But that's not in there!!

Many objections to Catholicism center around the idea that our dogmas and definitions are not in the Bible. And while elements of the Nicene creed such as the notion that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (or just the Father, if you are Eastern) strike me as being at least somewhat obscure, it is alleged that the Catholic cry that certain passages point to Purgatory, the Pope, the intercession of the saints in heaven, the coronation of Mary in heaven, and more are just not clearly delineated by the Scriptures.

This leads many to cry out, "Hey, but that's not in there!" to the Catholic faithful.

Personally, I went back and forth on the matter, and while I think those passages should be considered (something I did on this blog a year or so ago in talking about Mary and Revelation 12), the key to the matter is asking what else is missing.

Scott Hahn made a great point in discussing the goodness of this entire debate, in asking the simple question--where does the Bible tell us to only use the Bible for understanding our faith and morals? This, the basic premise behind Sola Scriptura as classically understood, is an interesting area where the Bible actually doesn't describe itself in such a way. It's just not in there, that everything is in THERE (there being the Good Books of the Bible).

The same can be said as to where the Bible in an inspired matter delineates what Books are actually those Good Books. This has led some Protestants to call the Bible a fallible collection of infallible books. I'll leave that thought for you to chew on over dinner or dessert, but that's not really what's on my mind tonight.

Instead, what strikes me at the moment is not what is not in the Bible, but what is not in those congregations that claim to be the Church established by Jesus.

The Gospels say a lot of things that are quite often overlooked for the sake of epistles by Paul (James, not so much, but I'm digressing), and one thing which I had often overlooked was this passage:

From the 19th Chapter of the Gospel of Saint Matthew, we read:

10The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

11Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

In my estimation, that there is a group of those who are dedicated to serving God in such a way that they have renounced the marital union is just "not in there", when I survey Protestant groups. Eastern Orthodox and Catholics have this element of devotion, but where is it in Protestantism? It's certainly not in the leaders. Do you know of Pastor Jim at First Community Church (or whatever denomination happens to float your boat) who has deliberately made it a point to never get married so that he can focus on his parishoners? If anything, he'd be likely suspect by his congregation. And speaking of leaders, I know one leader of disciples who lived 3 years longer than I have made it on this planet thus far, and he remained a virgin. Which reminds me of something Homer Simpson once said:

"Kids, let me tell you about another so-called 'wicked' guy. He had long hair and some wild ideas. He didn't always do what other people thought was right. And that man's name was... I forget. But the point is... I forget that, too. Marge, you know what I'm talking about. He used to drive that blue car?"

OK--sorry for the comic relief via the Simpsons, but I found it fitting.....At the end of the day, a big element of the tide that turned and led me to believe that Jesus established the Catholic Church was not merely a matter just understanding things that Catholics believe that are viewed to be hard to understand from the Scriptures, there were things like the matter of celibacy that are simply impossible to find in Protestantism. And for all of the literalism that can be seen in some circles, when will my friends consider this testimony to celibacy here:

1Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. 2And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. 3And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. 5No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.

Hopefully, I'll spend more time on this issue and talk about what else seemed to just not be in there, as I looked outside of the Catholic Church.

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