Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ripley's Believe It Or Else!

I have a friend who thinks the Church says I have to believe "such & such"... But what if I already believed it, only to discover the Church agreed with me? This was my experience coming to Catholicism. I was raised an Evangelical just like she was, but somewhere along the line, my thinking began to change. Honestly, I think it came from reading the Bible on my own. A lot. I'm not trying to toot my own horn- by no means- but I really think getting into the scripture provided the foundation for my present renovation.

So often we can be content to be spoon fed a chunk of scripture along with a sermon to wash it down... We can be handed a nice packaged Bible Study with the answers in the back or "suggested" in the leader's guide. We can even read scripture & miss the meaning because our chosen faith expression hems us in to our own pasture. I left my pasture & wandered for years. I threw out all I knew, started from scratch & eventually ended up on Catholicism's doorstep. Along with reading the Bible for myself, I explored the culture of the Jews living in Jesus' time, the history of the Church following & the lives & writings of the Church Fathers. I looked at the fruit of Protestantism & the fruit of Catholicism. There's a lot of bad fruit on both trees, but a lot of good fruit as well. Then I looked to see what kind of fruit Catholicism would bear in my life.... And I'll never be the same.

How can I believe in transubstantiation, the need for confession & absolution or even the Pope? I could try & explain things bit by bit, but I think it really all comes down to the issue of authority. I believe priests have been called & ordained by God. The priest is key in consecrating the elements, hearing confession & giving absolution, among other things. He is the one who baptises & confirms, who blesses & joins in marriage... His authority comes from the Bishop, and on & on, up to the ultimate authority Himself, which is God. Where in the NT did Jesus say He was doing away with the priesthood? He is the Great High Priest, but that doesn't negate the need for priests below Him. Why do we read about Jesus giving authority to Peter & the others (to bind & loose, to forgive sin or not)? Why did the Apostle Paul write about order, rank & authority in the church? I can believe certain things within the church because I believe in the authority given to it. As for the Pope, He is really just the top Bishop, much like Moses was over the Israelites. I DO think that people make too much of a fuss over the man, treating him like a king. Jesus is our King & the Pope is in His stead, not the other way around. It seems to be a tradition many are unwilling to part with however.

Anyway. The tenants of the Catholic Church (in my mind) provide the best match for all the foreshadowing that goes on in the Bible as well as what followed in Church history & tradition... Even the belief in the Real Presence. Even the teachings about Mary & the communion of saints. The Catholic Church says Protestants are bretheren too... Why they can't partake of the Eucharist is one I still struggle with. But again, it comes down to authority. The Apostle Paul said "no" & the Church Fathers said "no", with the understanding that to eat & drink without discerning the Body of the Lord would be damning to the one partaking. Non-Catholics don't see it this way however & feel jilted. I'm sorry for that...

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