Break-Away Play

I have a real short post for you this week, but I want to write something even though I’m in the middle of a busy work week and moving my little family all at the same time.

I would like to talk about the Pope.

I know, everybody’s talking about the Pope; and I know, I don’t usually do topical things like this, but I find this fascinating.

First, let me give you a little perspective. I’m incredibly Pro-Catholic. I’m not Catholic, as you all should know, but I love Catholicism. I just don’t see much of a difference between them and any other “denomination” of Christianity. I know that infuriates both Catholics and Protestants, but if we agree on the Lordship of Christ, I can’t help but feel like we’re good. Add to that the theological problems with every denomination out there and you’re really going to tell me that Baptists are Christians and Catholics aren’t or vice verse? Yeah, save your breath.

So, back to the Pope.

All church structures have pieces of their theology that are more rooted in tradition than in scripture. There aren’t exceptions. Any time I see a purposeful move away from these traditions I get excited. This is why the Catholic Church has me excited right now.

We do not see a model of life-long hierarchical authority in the Bible. Rather, this was the normative authority structure under Constantine and into the Middle Ages. The early church leaders simply took what was culturally normal (and working, I might add) and applied it to the church. It’s probably worth noting that most major protestant movements continued this particular tradition even after breaking from the Mother Church.

What I believe we’re seeing right now is an intentional breaking from an archaic tradition that will allow movement toward a more modern, culturally relevant, church leadership. This seems like a really good thing and I would love to see more denominations take a cue from our Catholic Brother and choose to look critically at tradition and break from it when it’s not helping further God’s Kingdom.

Maybe I’m over simplifying. Maybe I’m an eternal optimist. But come on, let’s look at the silver lining and be excited about it.

Here’s to really following God instead of traditions that make us feel comfortable.




3 responses to “Break-Away Play

  • Timothy Baldridge

    I think you need to read up a bit more on what true Catholicism believes. They reject the concept of Sola fide (faith alone). According to Catholic doctrine, confessing christ gets you 99.9999999% of the way to heaven, but it is up to you, through works and prayer, etc. To get the rest of the way there.

    This flies directly in the face of countless scriptures: “By grace are we saved through faith, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast”. So to claim that Catholics simply teach a different tradition is to claim that one can simply explain away entire portions of scripture if it doesn’t fulfill their worldview.

    Secondly, the Catholics reject the concept of Sola Scriptura. They claim there are two equally valid voices of God on earth: the Bible and the Pope. Every word spoke by the pope is a new revelation (or command) direct from God. In cases where the Pope seems to contradict scripture, the Pope has the final word as the most recent revelation from God.

    These are just two of the most damning heresies of the RCC.

    So in your twitter feed you asked “what part bothers you the most”. I guess what bothers me the most in this post is the lack of logical reasoning on the subject, it seems more based on your personal feelings than on actual research. We’re not talking about infant baptism here, or if we should use wine in communion. We’re discussing if Christ and Christ alone is sufficient for atonement, aside from any confessions, sacrements, or works.

    As an aside note, I’ve also found Daniel 7 to be particularly interesting in this context, as it predicts the fall of Rome and the rise of the Pope (Verse 8):

  • Timothy Baldridge

    And this summarizes my views on the subject quite well.

    Some key points from that link:

    “We think it is an arrogant usurpation of Christ’s authority for church rulers to presume to have authority to add to His word rules and commands. Where does the Bible require ministers in Christ’s church to be celibate? It doesn’t, but rather teaches the opposite (1 Tim. 3:2-5,12, see 1 Cor. 9:5). But Catholic authority requires Catholic priests to take vows of celibacy, which are contrary to human nature and create terrible stumbling blocks leading to sin (which is now being plastered shamefully all over the public media). For centuries the Catholic Church told its people they must refrain from eating meat on Fridays; to do otherwise was sin. Now it’s okay. It was a sin. Now it’s not. The church says so. But the Bible does not say one word, except Colossians 2:20-23 (and 1 Tim. 4:1-5).”

    “A key point here is our understanding that church authorities are to act “ministerially” and based always on the Word of God. They cannot make laws in addition to God’s revealed Word, but must labor to understand that Word properly and then declare it to the church and base their governing and disciplining actions upon it. We do not claim for any merely human governors of the church a magisterial authority.

    From this fundamental difference in regard to authority and to the relative roles of the Bible, tradition, decrees of councils, and edicts of popes, flow the other differences. Why do Presbyterians not pray to Mary and the saints? Because the Bible nowhere tells us to do so; it is an invention by gradual accretion in the tradition of the church. And because, on the other hand, the Bible tells us that “there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus,” who is our Great High Priest, through whom we have boldness to come to God’s throne of grace (1 Tim.2:5, Heb. 4:14-16). Christ is all the intercessor we need (Heb.7:23-28).”

  • Jonathan

    Wow, that was fast, Tim. Thanks for the comments. Just a couple quick thoughts from reading through them.

    I’m fully acknowledging un-biblical teachings and doctrine in Catholicism. I’d even list the tweaking of the Gospel close to the top if you asked me what was wrong with the Catholic Church. I’m just saying that I’m struggling to see the difference between that and (for example) the teachings on morality and what “real” Christians do as opposed to what “worldly” Christians do that we received growing up in ATI and its associated churches. I think I read something on Recovering Grace that called this “Jesus Plus”.

    I think that describes it perfectly. Anytime we add anything to Christ’s work on Calvary we’ve added to what is already finished. This goes for Catholic works, Pentecostal baptism (or speaking in tongues, whichever), the Baptist sinner’s prayer, or any other thing that we decide must exist along with Christ’s work to make salvation actually stick.

    But, having first hand experience with so many of these I know that even confused people have found God and a saving relationship with Christ despite these theological problems. If I’m not willing to categorically damn Baptists, Pentecostals, and the like, how am I supposed to write off the Catholics?

    (This set of sermons, especially the first one, gives great perspective on the idea of adding something to the gospel:

    As an aside, it’s interesting to look at the idea of salvation less from a theological perspective of atonement (which is true, valid, and correct. Please don’t misunderstand me) and more from the perspective of Lordship; which seems to be the way the Early Church presented salvation. (See Paul’s statement of salvation in Romans 10:9 and Peter’s Sermon in Acts 2)

    I think your point on authority could benefit from some comparison too. Honestly, so could most of our disagreements with the Catholics. Where are we drawing the line? Why are we drawing the line? If these things make us condemn Catholics, what do we do with other denominations we disagree with? What do we do when we feel that our protestant brothers twist or ignore entire portions of scripture to make their theology fit their worldview? I’m not saying there’s not a standard, I’m just saying we’re not being consistent with it.

    To be fair, Tim, I agree with most everything you say. I just fail to see how this makes the Catholics farther from God than a lot of other people we never hesitate to call Christians.

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