Reposting this from last year. A brief synopsis of my personal experiences within Protestantism.
I recently had an online disagreement with somebody, a Protestant. I asked her to cite Bible verses to support her position. So she did. I replied I disagreed with her interpretation of those verses. Then I asked her if I had an obligation to accept her interpretation. I also said that if her answer was yes, that I DID have an obligation to accept her interpretation, then to tell me where or from whom she received her authority to impose her interpretation upon me (and presumably upon every other Christian). Then I asked her what we should do if I disagreed with her claim about the source of her authority. Her response was that I was using an ad hominem. I responded by saying that I was not criticising her, but I was criticising her presupposition. So it wasn’t an ad hominem.
Here is the syllogism:
- Since God is one, He does not change, and He only teaches one truth, there can only be one objectively correct interpretation of Scripture.
- There is disagreement of what Scripture means between two or more Christians of good will. They all can see this.
- No parties to the dispute have authority to enforce the correct interpretation, but one or more do not realize this. One or more believes that making better arguments or citing more or better Scripture verses is the way to resolve the dispute. Yet the dispute is never resolved.
- No agreement is made. Visible fractures develop between Christians, since the parties to the dispute all believe themselves to understand the correct interpretation of Scripture (which is a tacit reinforcement of the first point above).
By what authority may somebody enforce the one and only correct interpretation of Sacred Scripture when there is a disagreement between Christians of good will?
I have posted this article before, but it is so good that I’m posting it again. This time, I am going to try to define its central terms. I want to do this because the article is long and extremely complex. Not easy or light reading for sure! The author goes into a lot of detail that is super interesting, but a bit distracting. Even so, he gets to the heart of the matter, and in order to understand him, the most important terms need to be clearly identified and defined. By so doing I think I will be able to convey the argument.
1) Ecclesial means “pertaining to the church.” It comes to us from Greek.
2) A quick summary of the terms “deism” and “theism.”
Deism is the belief that God exists, but he doesn’t care about us. He created us and the whole universe, but leaves us alone to manage our lives on our own.
Theism is the belief that God exists, but he is a personal God who cares deeply for us and for all of creation.
An easy way to remember the difference between deism and theism is in this expression: “God is in control.” That can only be said by somebody who is a theist. A deist would never say such a thing.
3) When we put “ecclesial” together with “deism,” as we see in the link above, we have the idea that an impersonal God created the church but then left her to manage her affairs, her heirarchy, and her authority on her own. An ecclesial deist does not believe that Christ remained in control of his church from her inception, keeping her from error. Since Christ is not in control of the church according to the ecclesial deist, she can fall into error in regards to Christ’s teachings on faith and morals.
4) When we put “ecclesial” together with “theism,” we have the idea that Jesus Christ, who is God, created the church and has always been with her, guiding her and caring for her deeply. He did not ever leave her, but remains with her forever. Like her husband Christ, she is both human and divine. We see the human parts easily; the divine parts are harder to discern. Being perpetually guided by her husband Christ, she has never erred in her teachings on faith and morals.
The author never puts the terms “ecclesial theism,” together in the article, but I think these definitions get to the heart of the matter pretty well.
My heart felt so full of joy at mass yesterday. I was so happy to be there, to worship Jesus Christ and receive his body and partake in John 6:54-55. I felt a level of joy that I have not felt in a long time. It seemed like a consolation from God to confirm the decision I made to move.
“Why would intelligent, successful people give up careers, alienate friends, and cause havoc in their families…to become Catholic?”
That is from the film’s description on Amazon. It is a great question, because it is the reality for many who convert to the Catholic Church. My conversion wasn’t quite that dramatic, but I do suspect my family and friends think I acted impulsively when I became Catholic because it happened rather quickly.
The film is a collection of interviews from prominent Catholic converts. Many were atheists prior to converting, others were Protestants, others were cradle Catholics who left the Church but came back. All of them are educated and smart, and they all thought through their journey into the Church very thoroughly. I think pretty much all of them said they initially resisted the idea of becoming Catholic, and I remember feeling that way too briefly. The bottom line for many was how the Church’s authority can be traced back to Christ himself, and how that authority unifies the Church. Radio host and ex-atheist Jennifer Fulwiler is one of the interviewees, and her explanation on this point was one of the best I’ve seen.
It is free to watch if you have Amazon Prime. Watch it here:
… he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
I was reading Hebrews 9, and this verse jumped out at me. I remember learning as a Protestant that Christ’s resurrected body had no blood in it. Here is an example of what I mean. This is from a popular Protestant website called CARM.org:
The Bible says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50). If this is so, then how could physical body have been raised? The answer is simple. After His resurrection Jesus said, “Touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). You must note that Jesus did not say, “flesh and blood.” He said, “flesh and bones.” This is because Jesus’ blood was shed on the cross. The life is in the blood and it is the blood that cleanses from sin: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul,” (Lev. 17:11). See also, Gen. 9:4; Deut. 12:23; and John 6:53-54. Jesus was pointing out that He was different. He had a body, but not a body of flesh and blood. It was flesh and bones. I am of the opinion that Jesus’ body had no functional blood in it. Remember, after the resurrection He still retained the wounds in His hands, feet, and side. But, His blood was the thing that cleanses us of our sins: “but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7). His body was raised, but it had no blood flowing through its veins. It was a glorified, physical body.
This isn’t what the Church teaches. The Catholic Church teaches that Christ’s resurrected body does have blood in it. But that is not the point I want to make here.
Instead, I want to ask a question. If the Protestants are correct, where does Christ get his blood in order to fulfill Heb. 9:12 where it says, “taking…his own blood”?
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
I read this today and something occured to me. Isn’t this what Jesus does for us at mass? He presents his body to us, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Father.
Looked at another way: does he ask us to do something here and now that he himself does not do here and now?
I’m reading Peter Kreeft’s book, “Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?” So many gems and great discussion starters here. I think it will be a great help to both sides. Kreeft is a convert to the Catholic Church, from Presbyterianism. It might be tempting for Protestants to think he is going to be very partisan, and to make a case against Protestantism, but he doesn’t do that. Among other things, he describes what is excellent in Protestantism, and how (some, perhaps many) Catholics need it. He is rather critical of the Catholic Church for not doing a good enough job emphasizing the need for a personal relationship with Christ, but he does not downplay what the Catholic Church brings to the table.
Probably the most important point he makes is to say that the issue of justification has been solved. In other words, Catholics and Protestants don’t believe differently about justification, even though we thought we did going all the way back to beginning of the Reformation. It was, in fact, the impetus for the Reformation. So the central issue that sparked the Reformation has been solved.
People of good will on both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide will benefit from this book. At the very least, it can provide many talking points for people to use as spring boards for open and honest discussion.
Back in February while I was staying with my mom in Vegas for a few days, I had a dream about Jesus. He was standing in front of me, and I thought, “It is the Lord.” For some reason I didn’t associate his name with his face until I work up. But it was him. Nothing else happened that I can remember.
The following video has some great Biblical exegesis as to why the Eucharist is literal, not figurative. Among other things, it compares the “bread of life discourse” in John 6, to other Bible passages where Jesus was speaking figuratively, people thought he was speaking literally or they did not understand him, and he corrected them (“We brought no bread,” “I am the door,” “Destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days.”). No correction happened in John 6 when the people indicated that he was speaking literally, but correction happend at those other times.
Plus, in every other passage regarding the Eucharist (ie, Last Supper, Paul’s admonition at 1 Cor 11), there is no indication that that the Eucharist was figurative. 1 Cor 11 is especially interesting to me. Since St. Paul was correcting the Corinthians anyway for the way they were treating the Lord’s Supper, it would have been a good time to explain or at least indicate somehow that it was not literal. But he didn’t do that.
I don’t know who this guy his, but I’ve watched a number of his videos. The name of his YouTube channel is “How To Be Christian.” He argues each topic thoroughly, and completely from the Bible. Check him out and see if you agree.