ANSWERING JESUS’ SKEPTICS — PART 2

 

bible

ADDING A BIT OF PERSPECTIVE:  ARE ROMAN CATHOLICS JESUS’ SKEPTICS?

As I alluded to in Should Catholic tradition have equal or greater authority than the Bible?, here of late several Christian blogs I frequent have taken up the issues they have with the Roman Catholic Church.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with discussing our differences, but one thing worries me about such posts. We risk obscuring the fact that in spite of our differences Catholics remain our brothers in Christ.

Consider the extract below of a comment by  thenakedtruth2. In response to  scout’s persistent query,  obligingly listed all the Catholic traditions he thinks are in conflict with Scripture.

-the tradition of papal succession and authority
-the tradition of holding to ‘no marriage’ for men leaders (meanwhile the alleged first pope had a wife)
-the church tradition of teaching and promoting transubstantiation
-the tradition of absolute belief in papal infallibility (meanwhile Paul rebuked Peter for some careless practice)
-the tradition of holding to faith plus works equals salvation; plainly contradicting the Lord, Paul, Peter, and James

Rest here.

-the teaching of water baptism to remove sin
-the teaching of a human to absolve others of real sins
-the teaching of the tradition of Purgatory (meant solely to relieve the miscreants of an unrepentant and Godless life)
-the tradition of Mary as Saviour through her sinless life (her alleged sinless life)
-the tradition of ‘last rites’ to once more hope for favour

(extracted from here)

‘s concerns are real, and he presents them well. He is not trying to create strife, but what we hear is not necessarily what the speaker says. Thus, being tactful and still saying what needs to be said requires prayer and the love and grace of Jesus.

Are there times when we must air our differences? Yes. Such a time was when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenburg (October 31, 1517). The Roman Catholic Church badly needed reform.  Luther identified specific practices, such as the sale of indulgences, that were clearly corrupt. Thus, too many of the Catholic clergy were behaving as false prophets and teachers.

2 Peter 2:1-3 English Standard Version (ESV)

False Prophets and Teachers

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Fortunately, the Catholic Church responded to Protestant Reformation by initiating The Counter-Reformation. Because of the pressure offered by competing Christian Churches, that reformation continues even today. Therefore, while the differences between Bible believing Protestants and Roman Catholics remain serious, both share the same basic creed.

That creed is literal and many hundreds of years old. In 2009, I wrote WORDS FOR A DOUBTING THOMAS. That post references the Nicene Creed. That statement of faith is shared by all followers of Christ Jesus, including the Roman Catholic Church.

Note also that the Roman Catholic Church has conceded one of main points of the Reformation. The Roman Catholic Church agrees we are justified by faith alone. See the JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION. Wikipedia provides some background here.

But?????… we may ask: doesn’t the Roman Catholic Church still need reform today? Yes, but what church does not? In fact, have not many Protestant churches drifted from a firm adherence to Scripture? What about them?

In any event, few of us have strong enough characters to respond well to criticism. Hence we see proverbs such as this.

Proverbs 9:8-9 English Standard Version (ESV)

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
    reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
    teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

Unlike 1517, in our day the Catholic Church cannot require us to become member. So only those who choose to be are Catholics, and antagonizing them is foolishness. Therefore, the reform that remains is now largely up to the members of the Catholic Church and our Lord.

What can we do? I think our part lies in Bible education (which all three of the blogs cited above are devoted to). As Christians we all need to reverently study the Word of God. If we study the Word, and if we pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us, won’t all of us find our minds renewed (Romans 12:2). To that end numerous websites, churches, missionaries and so forth have dedicated themselves. Each of us, we who call ourselves born again Christians, must do our best to support such efforts.

Personal note: I was raised as member of the Roman Catholic Church. I now attend a Protestant church. I would not be as happy in the Catholic Church. I don’t think a humongous, worldwide, catholic, church organization is desirable. The Bible calls upon us to be brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, but where does it say all Christians need to belong to the same Christian organization?

What does the Bible call upon us to do? We must participate with other Christians in fellowship.

Hebrews 10:24-25 English Standard Version (ESV)

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

So why this post in defense of Catholicism? I have noted Protestants tend to have an exaggerated conception of Catholic beliefs. How does that happen? Instead of examining what Catholics say they believe, we listen to what others say Catholics believe. Because that’s third party information, that’s not as likely to be accurate information.

Previous Posts In This Series

Part 1 — DID JESUS CLAIM TO BE GOD?:  February 16, 2014

 

16 thoughts on “ANSWERING JESUS’ SKEPTICS — PART 2

  1. Another work of ‘looking at various sides’ by C. Tom. A few highlights.if I may. CT said: ‘We risk obscuring the fact that in spite of our differences Catholics remain our brothers in Christ,’ Not entirely true here, any more than are all protestants our ‘brothers in Christ.’

    There are many Catholics who have the divine seal by God, as do folks from all denominations. Being born into a religion does not guarantee God’s favour. Indeed there are many who are untaught in the RCC tradition, the Mormon persuasion, and to the chagrin of many, there are Jehovah Witnesses who are christian. Are all JW christian? Are all Mormons christian? Are all RC christian? And certainly are not all who occupy the pews in christian churches.

    There is equal opportunity offense, else what mean the words of the Lord Himself, ‘depart from me, I NEVER knew you?’ Quite tragic words in light of all the machinery done by people who profess the faith. (I am glad God is judge).

    A theology major is no requirement for the life of God in a soul. This issue (s) is not cut and dry; one size fits all. However, ignorance is one thing and is excusable; flat out rebellion when truth is presented is another matter altogether.

    Others have posted (see references above) as to the authority, reliability, and accuracy, and wisdom by God in giving us a book whereby ALL are under subjection, and He has done a fine job of preserving that word. If a council, church, synod agrees with scripture, so be it. If they digress, God’s word is still true, and they are guilty of malfeasance. Lessons abound regarding light and darkness. The believer is to seek and follow the light.

    By the way, I am continually impressed with the work done by CT here, and a very judicious attempt at ‘allowing other voices’ their fifteen minutes. This is a loaded topic (anytime there is differing opinions) but the discussion need not be caustic. Kudos to this end.

    To God be the glory, in spite of our shortcomings.

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    1. Because of our egos, we too easily forget who is right is less important than what is right. Yet except for Jesus, there is no such thing as a perfect human being. There is no perfect Christian denomination. There is only the Word of God. And even then, there is no perfect translation. Therefore, we must encourage each other, as you do, to discuss and consider the Bible carefully.

      As funny as it sounds, some insist that God must conform to their standards. These would have the presumption to treat their God as THEIR god. Many such think they can save themselves, and they find the Blood of Christ is an offense. It is difficult for a sincere Christian to avoid offending such unbelievers. And yet some of those unbelievers do attend a church of some sort.

      Some people attend church for years, including the RCC, and yet they still do not believe Jesus is the Son of God and our savior. Are these people saved? Since the Bible says we must believe, I guess not, but I am not their judge. All we can do is point to the appropriate passage, point to their problem.

      I was raised a Catholic and then I denied Christ. Decades latter I read the Bible, and I believed. Others have studied the Bible more than I and then denied Christ. How could they do that? I don’t know, but in my case I think it had something to do with foolish pride and misplaced priorities.

      What I have learned from own experience — which is all I have 🙂 — is that we must encourage our neighbors, even apostates, to keep seeking God.

      Thank you very much for your comments.

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  2. Well bro. Tom, we have more in common than most. I too was raised RC and probably which is why I am somewhat passionate about God’s word. God’s word is good, very good. It was by design a neglected book.

    You don’t know who reads these posts totally, per the past essays re. likes, etc; there are silent eyes with quiet mouths. Eternity will reveal the good done here, and for what its worth, I am equally interested in HOW and in WHAT manner a man carries his points. .

    I’ll keep alert for scouts additions which promises to be an ongoing discussion.
    (ps, tkx for the commendation via your linking)

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    1. I guess in the eyes of Catholics that makes us both apostates. Well, the Inquisition is over. I guess we are fortunate we were not raised as Muslims.

      Does the RCC neglect the Bible? I think so, but I think that happens more by preference than deliberate design. As you have observed, the RCC is very traditional, and those traditions go back to a time when literacy was uncommon.

      Another indication is how the RCC responded to the Protestant Reformation. They started educating the young. That is the task the Jesuits took up. Unfortunately, I don’t think the RC’s teaching of the young focuses as much on the Bible as it should. Instead, it focuses on the Catechism. Nevertheless, at about the same time the King James Version came out, the RCC produced the Douay–Rheims Bible (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douay%E2%80%93Rheims_Bible). So there has been a realization of the need, but getting people to read and to teach that book is not easy.

      .

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  3. I wish all religious leaders would get together and agree to stop stating their God is the only true God. Most religious choices are made based on different locations and cultures in the world. If religious leaders cannot agree about anything among themselves, what hope is there going to be for any lasting peace in this world to ever come about?.

    Regards and good will blogging.

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    1. Have you considered what you are asking all religious leaders to do? In order for all religious leaders to get together and agree to stop stating their God is the only true God, most would have to deny one of the basic tenets of their faith.

      For example, Jesus commanded Christians to spread the Good News. The Savor has come. Jesus was not one of the saviors. He was the Savior.

      Consider this passage. Then reflect on what you are asking.

      John 14:1-14 English Standard Version (ESV)

      I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

      14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

      8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

      12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

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      1. Citizen Tom,
        I personally believe in Jesus Christ and all the Bible passages in your reply post. My statement was made because of a the reaction I observed from a Protestant acquaintance of mine when the previous Pope made a statement that the Roman Catholic Church was the true church because it is the only religious organization that can directly trace RC origins in history to Jesus and the Apostles. The Protestant was normally a very good nature acquaintance and never seemed perturbed before until he heard the Pope’s statement on the news.

        I also read about how Gandhi studied the Bible and entertained changing his religious beliefs to become a Christian before he decided not to. I surmise because he may have felt that his countrymen would not accept hem as a leader if he did.

        The point I am making is as I stated before, that people of different religious faiths become perturbed with conflicting opinions and beliefs about the volcanic subject of religion. In researching King Solomon, I noticed he was tolerant of other religious beliefs and his record as a leader resulted in peace and prosperity during his entire reign.

        In my humble opinion, no lasting peace will ever be obtained in the world by politicians without concurrence of religious leaders. If religious leaders do not lead by example of tolerance of other religious beliefs, there will never be a lasting peace and good will for all men. Who really knows, maybe the Creator of all men might enjoy seeing his creations stop killing each other over disagreements of the Bible, Koran, etc. etc.

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        1. Some things are more important than peace.

          Matthew 10:34-39 English Standard Version (ESV)
          Not Peace, but a Sword

          34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

          As John observed (John 1:14), Jesus was full of grace and truth. Because His grace, we have been forgiven of our sins and saved. However, to accept His grace, we must first know and accept the Truth that we are sinners who need saving and only Jesus can save us.

          Mark 8:34-38 English Standard Version (ESV)
          34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

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        2. My interpretation of your Matthew reference is that Jesus was telling the young to question vigorously the old religious beliefs and follow him with his new creed.

          Peace to you is the greeting in the Bible or the Good News of Jesus.

          Regards and good will blogging

          Like

    2. @ scatter

      A man must be true to himself. You have written as much regarding a mutual respected one, ie, Solomon. It was no effort for him to promote the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who is still today the God of the living, and my God as well.

      There are no competitors in the heavenlies to claim title as to Who made the sun and the moon. ‘Agree that there are more than one God?’ Sure, you can do this, and many also follow you here. The topic here however refers to absolutes, ie, similar to the exact science of arithmetic, in which ALL agree.

      True agreement is also an absolute in spiritual things. I and others make no apology for holding to what we know is true. If there is an accord regarding ‘many gods,’ it is not an alliance with truth as president.

      Toms response to you was spot on because it referenced scripture.This is the strength of the discussion. (If I go, I will come again.) Indeed He went.

      (Your point of view is necessary and healthy to the topic by the way)

      Like

  4. When you state the word truth in reference to a religious belief, you rule out the possibility of logic. Check out the website below about absolute truth and relative truth.

    http://carm.org/are-there-absolutes

    My suggestion is all religions leaders quit competing against each other and work together to achieve what should be the universal goal for all religions. Peace and good will.
    Whether this can be achieved by logic or faith makes no difference to me or our Creator, in my humble opinion.

    In regards to King Solomon, he achieved peace during his forty year reign according to the Bible. He was known to be tolerant of all religious beliefs. In later years after his death, religious leaders chastised him because they believed that God was not pleased that he married women not of their beliefs or bloodlines. Ever since, there has never been a lasting peace in his former Kingdom.

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      1. There is no argument , only my opinions. Keep in mind that if religious leaders cannot agree among themselves , what hope is that their will ever be a lasting peace among men of different religious cultures and beliefs.
        Regards and good will blogging.

        Like

        1. I think you need to read those passages I quoted above again, but that’s only my opinion, of course. 🙂

          The Bible says only Jesus can bring peace. What our disagreement illustrates is the impossibility of man bringing peace. When we let our egos rule our thoughts, we see, and we believe what we wish to see and believe. All of us do that.

          That’s why I think only the thoroughly humble are at all sane. A humble man strives to serve God. He seeks to perceive himself and God’s creation as God sees. He strives to believe what God would have him believe. He accepts the fact God is God, and he is not.

          Check out John 14:27 and the passage around it.

          John 14:27 English Standard Version (ESV)
          27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

          The peace of knowing God is in control is about as much peace as we can have for now.

          Like

        2. I am at peace personally but wonder if our Creator is very pleased with all the mayhem in the world. Maybe he has a plan to test us to find out if we can figure out how to get along with all our brothers and sisters on the planet.. History could have an answer if we try to emulate what worked in the past, not that there are many periods of success

          Regards snd good will blogging

          Like

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