Authority Again

Continuing my post from a few weeks back 🙂

Catholic teaching has been, from our earilest time as a community of followers of the Way, to listen to the voice of our pastors, wether that’s the earliest Apostles, the men appointed by them, or their eventual succesors. Scripture (in terms of the New Testament) did not enter the picture until after Paul started writing it. Then the other epistles came in, then the Gospels & Acts. It may come down to Scriptural interpretation – we had a community of believers (the Church) before we had a written document (Scriptures) of our belief. Even then, the canon of Scripture was chosen by the body of believers and ratified by the chosen few who were deacons, preists, pastors, bishops, etc.

I do not wish for the following to be taken as a judgment but rather an honest assessment based upon the personal relationship I know and am experiencing with Christ within myself. I do not see how an acceptable compromise on this issue can be reached between what is in your heart and where your church stands if a new birth as scripture discusses has occurred in your life. I would see your struggle being identical with that of Martin Luther who concluded that if Romans 1:17 “The Just shall live by faith,” was true then how could he continue to practice the demands of his church, and chose to remove himself from it. I welcome continued discussion on the subject.

Martin Luther rallied against a form of Catholicism that never officially existed – selling indulgences/entrance into heaven, preaching that it was *only* through works that one could be saved, etc. We had many over zealous pastors, preachers, bishops and cardinals who saw a great way to make a quick buck and went for it. Some were passionate and honest in their preaching, but they still distorted what they thought to be Church teaching. Since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s much of official Catholic doctrine has validated some of the concerns Martin Luther so famously posted on that Church door.

Be that as it may, the demands the Church makes are baseline demands – attend Mass on Sundays, celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year, make some time during the year to fast and abstain, pray, etc. The Church demands these things in an effort to remind us of our call to holiness – to remind us that as followers of Christ we should act as Christ would – praying often, fasting, striving to lead a life that is without blemish, loving in thought, word and deed, etc. It’s an institution, so it finds institutional ways to call us to be more like Christ.

I’m reminded of retreats – on a retreat we make time and space to step away from our day-to-day lives and have peak experiences – transfiguration moments – which can’t last forever. The Church, through it’s long existence, has found certain elements to be important to the life of a believer (prayer, Scripture, almsgiving, fasting, community celebrations, periods of purgation, etc.) – so she calls her children to follow these. Some don’t, some chaff under the assault on their “individuality” and “freedom,” some hesitantly accept, some perform them only outwardly . . . but some respond to them, and are called to a deeper relationship with Jesus.

It’s for that reason alone that the Church continues to call forth to the community of believers to respond in certain ways – to develop and nurture a deep and abiding love of God.

So yeah, I will rail against the Church and assert the primacy of my individual conscience . . . and the Church officially agrees with me. The Church will continuously remind me, however, that the things I am called to are good . . and they have been around for millenia . . . and in my individual freedom of choice, I should at least attempt the disciplines that the greatest of our Christian saints & martyrs have used time and time again to nourish themselves and ascend to the heights of holiness.

Blessings & Peace,

4 thoughts on “Authority Again

  1. Hugo says:

    Thanks for the comment pechuer – I've enjoyed our discussions before as well 🙂

    I don't remember who said it (mabye Chesterson or Lewis), but the quote goes that history makes use we are not slaves to the present, and makes our lives more democratic by giving a voice to our ancestors (or something to that effect).

    As for Martin Luther, my point was that officially most of the things (not all, but most) he was upset about were not official church teaching. They were either misconstrued by well-meaning but inept/untrained clergymen, or they were being abused by members of the clergy who knew full well what they were doing (this was not a great time for excellent pastoral and theological preparation for ministry).

    I agree that we should always make sure that as church we keep each other on our toes by making sure that individually and corporately we are acting as Christ in the world. That's a scriptural mandate for all of the Body of Christ, and injustice should never be a part of that body.

    Blessings & Peace,

  2. pecheur says:

    I do enjoy talking about Catholicism with a bona fide one.:) I've recently been criticized for not having enough interaction, which is funny because most of the Christians I know in Europe are Catholic, but that's for another discussion.

    Anyway, as another preface, people say I come across as abrasive. That is not my intention. I fully respect your vantage point and are just responding with love and grace as a brother in the faith. Know that I really enjoy our discussions.

    I like what you said about how we followers of the Way (for they were not first called Catholics then;)) were to listen to the voice of those who have been put in a position of our spiritual overseers. I wish more people had respect for today's voices as well as those in the near and distance past.

    I wish we could regain a bit of the earliest orality of our heritage. That is, I wish we could focus on the Word as spoken first before we focus on the Word as written.

    At this point I think we agree salvation is by grace through faith. Even from a Catholic viewpoint, faith must precede the sacraments for it to have much worth. How that relates to Scripture and a new birth…which is where I feel you are going with this…is that it was reported by Scripture that Jesus said you must be born again. Again, I see no problem in our approach to Authority and Salvation (at this point). =)

    But I disagree that ML rallied against a form of Catholicism that did not officially exist. He rallied against the corruption of the Institution, which all of us would agree should happen. If the Church is doing something wrong we should not allow it to happen. Injustice is injustice whether from within or without. He was mad when he went to Rome and saw the abuse of the clergy of his day. They were human and they were doing wrong. If ML had only been rallying against some perceived evil of the Church, the Church could not have excommunicated him. But by denying him Communion, they believed they were punishing him and damning him to hell for going against what they were saying. Their official reaction should demonstrate that he was rallying against something official. If VII affirmed some of what he was saying, then isn't that an official acknowledgment of wrongs in the past by these pastors and bishops and even popes.

    After taking the post as a whole, why wouldn't any Protestant agree with you?

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