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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Friday, April 15, 2005

Beating Dead Popes

Izmud elaborates, responding to my comments in this post:

A mixed report card is what I decided. I do not advocate that PJPII should not be firm in his convictions, I admire him for that--right or wrong. Actually that applies to our President from my perspective, as well, but that's another blog. However, as the temporal leader of the faithful, PJPII has the onus of recruiting and maintaining the flock as well as leading. Christ tasked the priesthood (apostles) to go forth and spread the word, which I interpret not as a passive role where you place the information on a website and let those who are interested read it and choose it if they like it. Rather you have to go out into the world's hovels and palaces and make your religion relevant to the people--how else will they have the opportunity for salvation? And to be relevant means you have to craft the practice of the religion (not the Christian doctrine--that's different) to the needs of the people. IMO, Catholicism is losing adherents (and that 10-15,000/mo. was stated by a Vatican talking head on one of the news channels during the papal funeral ceremonies) because the conservative, orthodox upper hierarchy of the Catholic Church are mired in the "traditions" that they set forth several hundred years ago, that ARE NOT founded on Christ's teachings, but on politics and their culture AT THAT TIME. Today's culture embraces not just all faiths, but all sexes. Catholicism desperately needs a Vatican III to bring the Church into the 21st century regarding female priests, marriage of priests, birth control, and other issues. These are not doctrinal tenet questions (like Christ is the son of God, rose from the dead to free humans from sin, or the 10 Commandments). These are POLICY questions that need to be considered, the tactics, techniques, and procedures by which the Catholic Church manages its flock. And I think it's high time from some new thinking, and PJPII, despite his successes in other areas, was not the man for that task.
I'm down witchu now, dog. You have succinctly described many of the reasons why I am not a Catholic (although I certainly believe in "one holy catholic [note small "c"] and apostolic church”) and will never be one. There is one catholic and visible Body of Christ in the world, united in Him, not in a human institution headquartered in Rome or anywhere else on earth.

I certainly agree with you Catholicism is corrupted by centuries of “traditions” that are not founded in Scripture—are at best extra-Biblical if harmless, at worst potentially blasphemous, or, as you point out, harmful to the flock. I also agree that many of the Catholic Church’s social policies nominally based on these “traditions” are harmful. Marriage of priests is a prime example. In the canon, Paul clearly speaks of bishops, elders, and deacons being “husbands of one wife,” to discourage forms of sexual immorality that existed in certain congregations. Priestly celibacy became a tradition, something often done and encouraged, but not made mandatory (vide Adrian II) until the Roman episcopate, facing its own set of sex scandals, made it policy in 1139 (Innocent II, if I recall). Well intentioned, certainly, but hardly healthy in the long run, so that we are faced, in our own age of Babylonish decadence, with an American Catholic priesthood that has become a haven for buggering predators.

And this shows the danger of not basing doctrine on sola sciptura—on the canonical scriptures alone. The differences between Protestants and Catholics on what the Bible consists of are doctrinally insignificant. And all of this is part—if only part—of why I cannot accept Catholicism. Izmud puts his rhetorical finger on it: it’s all the stuff that’s “NOT founded on Christ’s teachings.” I believe, with all the fervor that one brought up Presbyterian is capable of,* that Jesus Christ Himself, along with Paul, John, and the other apostles of scripture, left enough guidance on how the visible church should be set up, what it should teach, and how its members should behave for anyone’s satisfaction—without the need for the institutionally-, temporally-, and politically-motivated, corrupting encrustations of barbarians, Borgias, and buggerers.

Which leads me to this point: Izmud, why aren’t you Protestant? It isn’t 1400. There are options. And you sound like many of my ex-Catholic friends and acquaintances. If your walk has taken you beyond the denomination of your childhood, then perhaps it’s time to at least ask yourself if this isn’t the right move. Is cultural legacy really a good reason to remain Catholic (or anything else for that matter)? After all, this is the word of God we're talking about here--as revolutionary today as it was two millennia ago. My earlier comments on PJP II’s spiritual leadership largely apply to those who still find solace in the uniquely Catholic aspects of doctrine—and there are substantive doctrinal differences between Protestant and Catholic that extend beyond policies of church administration (like priestly marriage) to matters that are fundamental to the status of Christ as God—the whole Marian … thing … in particular. You should ask yourself if you still believe the Catholic Church’s more fundamental non-Biblical teachings. If you don’t, you’re probably in the wrong place. I pray that God will guide you to where you’re supposed to be.

And, since we’re on the subject, might I recommend Methodism? We have many transferees from Catholicism in my church. Of course, some ex-Catholics prefer to ease into the warm bath of Episcopalianism, rather than jump into the cold shower of reformed doctrine. Methodism is a good compromise—a warm shower, if you will: essentially reformed doctrine with Anglican trappings. ; >

BTW, I think I see the crux (so to speak) of the “growing or declining” debate: both are true. The Catholic Church is experiencing net growth, due mainly to population growth within Catholic parts of the Third World, but is voluntarily losing 10-15K a month, mostly in the developed world. Some of that loss is accounted for by people like you, who have become disillusioned with the church’s teaching on various issues. Many become Protestants, which I think is excellent. Many others, especially in Europe and the BlueStates, fall away from religion altogether, which is very sad.

PS: Do I take the “passive role where you place information on a website and let those who are interested read it” as a dig against blogging? Hmmmm… I see blogging as an invitation to publicly open conversation (like the one we’re having). Others may see things differently, of course. It can be used to incite as well as converse, just as any other published media can—only the barriers to entry are much lower, which is a healthy thing. Still, blogging is neither more nor less “passive” than Luther nailing his theses to the Wittenberg door—depends on the content and the audience, really—who steps up to read it and what their “take” is.

Don’t get me wrong. I would agree with you about blogging to some extent if that were all a Christian did (unless it was all he/she was able to do). I agree entirely that a Christian’s ministry should be active—directly meeting people’s needs in many hands-on ways. This is one of my beefs with Catholicism: that it helps create a mindset where “ministry” is only for “ministers”—kind of a religious analog to the welfare culture that the Left has tried to create in the US (and has succeeded in creating in Europe): charity is the government’s concern; let me pay my taxes and get on with my life—let some bureaucrat deal with the poor and needy. This attitude in all its manifestations has been fundamentally subversive of Christian duty and harmful to souls. It has led to corruptions worthy of Medieval Catholicism, like a church I attended long ago for a short time spending two million dollars of its wealthy parishioners’ money for a Christmas pageant each year while homeless walked the streets almost at their doors. Just one year’s pageant money would have set up a heck of a soup kitchen! (It was a heavily evangelical Southern Baptist congregation, unsurprisingly). Charity is at least as much for the giver as for the recipient. Active ministry (including charity for the poor and needy) is a duty for all Christians.


* That is: not much. Oh, and I’ll have that martini very dry and shaken, not stirred. It is after two pm, right?

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