Posts Tagged ‘Protestants’

The Question of Authority in the Church

In 14 Book Corner on 2013/10/24 at 12:00 AM


Note: If you click on the above link, it will take you directly to the source of this article where you can HEAR LIVE what is written below.

Mark Shea

Fr. Robert Barron on Protestantism and Authority

Readers familiar with me will know that I think the world of Fr. Robert Barron’s creative and intelligent witness to the Faith.  Here he is addressing the problem of the Protestant approach to authority as it is articulated by one of its smartest representatives, Alister McGrath:

It will not come as a shock to know that I agree with Fr. Barron on the problems inherent in sola scripture and, in fact, have had more than a little to say about that myself:

But beyond the common and extremely-hard-to-deny point being made about the need for an umpire or referee in the “game” of the Christan faith (the core point made by apologists for the Catholic Faith like Yr. Obdt. Svt.) I think Fr. Barron makes an interesting and thought-provoking point when he notes that, while an umpire is essential to the game,  the game is not about the umpire.  It’s about the game.  The point of the Catholic faith is not about ecclesial politics or the minutiae of what the Pope and bishops are doing today.  It’s about the relationship of Jesus Christ and the human person.  The gospel is not a mere set of moral precepts.  You can get that from any religion and from a dozen philosophies. It’s not a mere collection of liturgical practices or religious rites (again, you can find these in most religions).  It’s not about authority for the sake of authority (you can find that, not only in many religions and political ideologies, but in chemical purity in totalitarian states).  All these things are found in human society apart from the gospel.  They can be, when exercised reasonably, good things. But in our idolatrous fallenness, all of them are latched on to by human beings as possible means of salvation in and of themselves and invariably become evils when this happens.  Apart from Jesus Christ, they are all idols and cannot occupy the throne in which he alone can sit.  All of them, separated from him, are just one more grab at some form of money, pleasure, power, and/or honor as the perennial substitutes for God.

This is, I think, one of the reasons that Pope Francis is confusing so many people: they have lost sight of the fact that the game is not about the umpire.  His emphasis, over and over, is on the game itself: on directing us back to the relationship between Jesus Christ and each human person.  But lots of us want him to be about an idol: power. They imagine that the faith is about something other than Jesus Christ crucified for our transgressions and raised to life for our justification.  It matters little what.  For some, it’s the attempt to reduce the faith to economic justice.  For others, it’s the attempt to reduce the faith to the proposition “Opposition to abortion taketh away the sins of the world”.  Both are examples of idolatry: of putting some good creature in the place of God. A,lot of people want the Umpire to kick out of the game anybody who fails to make their idol the goal of the game.  But Francis is not primarily about exercising power and throwing players out of the game (though that will occasionally enter into his duties). More than that, he is not about the worship of idols. Instead, he’s directing our attention to the game itself: to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, who goes out into the highways and byways and calls in the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind–including people we might feel are too spiritually blind to be allowed into the game.  And so the cry goes up that “The Ump is blind!” when it is we who are blind to the fact that, well, we are not the Ump and our idol is not the object of the game.  Jesus is the object of the game.

That doesn’t make every call the pope will make infallible.  But here’s the thing: it doesn’t make every call we make infallible either–including the ones we make about his prudential and pastoral judgments.  And the most fallible call we can make is to assume we are the Ump or that the point of the game is the Umpire or our favorite idol.  The point of the game is our relationship with Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, and the love of God and neighbor.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/fr.-robert-barron-on-protestantism-and-authority#ixzz2iI8cfbOl


Signs For Our Times – Part I: Unity of the Church

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/04/04 at 6:15 AM

The first mark of the true Church is UNITY in both doctrinal and moral teaching. All true Catholics believe the same basic doctrines and accept the Church’s moral code under the direction of the Pope and the bishops.  The liturgy of the Mass is the same everywhere. Unity does not mean sameness; unity refers to essentials.    Even the Eastern rite Churches, which participate in the full unity of the Church under the Pope, celebrate Mass with different ceremonies and languages while maintaining the essential parts of the Mass.

What makes the unbroken unity of the Church unique is that it cannot be explained on purely human terms.  No human organization can maintain its unity in essentials for two millennia.  It simply cannot be done without divine guidance and protection.  No other church or religion has maintained its original unity.  The Protestant world now has about thirty thousand denominations all claiming to be the true church and yet among them there are vast differences in doctrine and moral teaching.  Islam is divided into different allegiances.  Buddhism has divisions.  Judaism has divisions.  The Catholic Church has been threatened with division many times in its history by those who objected to some doctrine or aspect of a doctrine.  The two great divisions were the Great Western Schism of 1054 which gave rise to what are called the Orthodox Churches.  The other is the Protestant Reformation which affected Christian unity but did not destroy the essential unity of the Catholic Church because the Catholic Church did not change or alter any doctrine or moral teaching.

The basic reason for the unity of the Catholic Church is that Christ is what all true Catholics have in common.  Without Christ and all His teachings, there can be no true Church.  Remember that the founder of the Catholic Church is still alive whereas no other religion founder still lives.  We are not followers of a dead human, but a God-man who brought Himself back from the grave.  No other religion even claims such a miracle.

Another preserver of Church unity is the office of the Pope.  There are no democracies in the Bible.  And Christ Himself set up the office when He appointed Peter as chief of the Apostles.  This shows divine wisdom at work because divine authority placed in the hands of one person is better to maintain the status quo than a council with its potential dissensions and disagreements.  

Some have questioned the absolute unity of the Catholic Church by citing dissension in the Church over the last fifty years.  Most dissenters questioned either established doctrine (ordination of women) or sought liturgical changes, and while they are vocal and have gained followers, they are not the custodians of doctrines and morals in the Church and thus do not affect the essentials of the Church.

Whenever an organization loses its essential unity, it can no longer function properly because of internal dissent.  Eventually it can no longer strive to attain its original goals.  It either goes out of business, or it changes its goals to something it might be able to achieve.  The Catholic Church has the same goals and the same means to the goals it always had, namely, the sanctification of those members who make the effort to become Christlike.

If you are a practicing member of the Catholic Church, rejoice in the great gift and live accordingly.  If you are not a Catholic, ponder the miracle of two thousand years of unity in the Catholic Church (after all, the twelve apostles would recognize the moral teaching of the contemporary Catholic Church).   Think of the certitude you could have in a Church established just for you.

Next week we will look at the Holiness of the Church.

Scripture Defiled

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/04/11 at 5:56 PM

St. Paul,  as recorded in Acts 20: 29-30, warns the believers to be on guard against “fierce wolves who will invade” and “even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them.”  There have been problems in each age but  the Catholic Church has always taught, what Christ taught.  Jesus Christ commanded His apostles to “Go teach whatsoever I have commanded you.”

The Early Church Fathers, following the Apostles, did just that: when heresies arose, they countered them with the Truth.  Councils were called to deal with them definitively.  Essentially, all the problems were the result of misinterpretations of Scripture. The most damaging was Luther’s introduction of “personal interpretation of the Bible” which led to more misinterpretations.  Luther  discarded  the books of the Canon of the Bible that he did not agree with because they did not suit his interpretation.

The so-called Protestant Reformation did not give the world a new and better version of Christianity. ” It gave the world a new false religion. It has not been guided by the Holy Spirit as proven by its negative effects and  its evolution in 30,000 denominations (1000 plus Baptists groups alone!)

Protestantism is not an alternative to the Church as many who have left the Church tell themselves. It is an empty organization based on the bad judgment of Luther.  Every denomination has split into divisions and factions to the point that their founders would not even recognize them.The  Catholic Church, in all its Rites, is by the divine decree, the only Church Christ founded, whether you believe it or not, whether you accept it or not, or whether you like it or not.

If you look at the 2000 year history of the Roman Catholic Church, only divine protection and guidance can explain why it is still around with the original teaching Christ gave it. Of all the religious founders in history: Mohammed, Buddha, Luther, Mormonism’s Joseph Smith….only Jesus Christ claimed to be divine and proved it by fulfilling the over 600 prophecies in the Old Testament and the miracles he performed while on earth. Jesus Christ set up a Church to last to the end of time. He promised to be with it to the end of time. He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail. However, He did not say it would be problem free (as we have seen); on the contrary, He warned us to beware of false teachers.

Hilare Belloc, in his book: THE GREAT HERESIES demonstrates how the “The spiritual basis of Protestantism went to pieces through the breakdown of the Bible as a supreme authority. ” This breakdown was the result of that very spirit of skeptical inquiry  upon which Protestantism had always been based. It had begun by saying: “I deny the authority of the Church: every man must examine the credibility of every doctrine for himself.” “In modern times, the Protestant culture has gone from having worshipped the very text of the Bible as something immutable and the clear voice of God to doubting almost everything the Bible contains. We can say that all the seeds sown are now in full bloom: Rationalism, Modernism, Secularism, Relativism, New Age, and list goes on. The ultimate victim has been Truth.

So what began with the idea of subjective evaluation and personal judgment, as opposed to objective/realistic evaluation and judgment, has resulted in that, today, except in the physical sphere, there is no truth; it’s all just opinion – no one religion is better than another.

Today, as Protestant theologians study the Fathers of the Early Church, they are finding the truth of Blessed John Henry Newman’s conclusion: “You cannot study the Fathers and remain a Protestant.” Today in Protestant Churches  the membership is at least one third or more former Catholics. You may be in contact with some of them. The point is, they are in the wrong church: whether they know it or not, whether they want it or not, whether they believe it or not. The Apostolic Fathers died for the Truth of Christ, the Doctors of the Church defended the Truth of Christ, the Popes preserved the Truth of Christ, and the Founders of Religious Orders enabled the Truth of Christ to be spread throughout the world.

We too are commissioned by our Baptism and Confirmation.   We must be confessors of the Faith upholding the Truth of Christ with fortitude and confidence,  without compromising of belief, and not conforming with anything that goes against faith or moral. We should pray that Jesus Christ will make us be faithful to Him so that we be among those of whom the Book of Wisdom says: “God, You manifest Yourself to those who do not disbelieve You, and truly trust in You and do Your will.”