Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Problem with a Lack of Authority

Last night Hubby and I met up with a friend of Hubby's from highschool that he hasn't seen in 15 years. We met him, his wife, and their son. It was a lovely dinner, but I had to really be careful and not seem like some aggressive Catholic loony. Here's some of the Conversation.

Wife: Yeah, so we've registered with a church. We're so far happy with it.

Hubby: Really? What church did you join?

Wife: We're Church of Christ our church is on ___and____. What church do you go to?

Hubby: Oh well we go to ....I can't think of the name of it....*looks at me*

Me: I go to St. Pius X. I'm Catholic. He doesn't really go to any church.

Which sorta ends with Hubby explaining his upbringing.

Thoughts: I love the colloquial habits of Protestants. It's so cute that they say that they've registered with a church and that they're so far happy with it. Catholics can't exactly do that. We have parish delineations. Technically you're supposed to register with the parish that you live within the boundaries of. You can go outside of you that parish, but for things like hospital visits by your priest, things get complicated because the hospitals are also divided out by parish. It's usually encouraged that you go to your "home" parish.

Also think it's cute that to be a Protestant you have to be happy with the church. Catholics can be happy, unhappy, indifferent, thrilled, miserable, etc. But we can't exactly change our minds about that parish and just leave. If there is truly a problem say the priest isn't following church teachings, it's incumbent on the Catholic faithful to report him to his bishop or to Rome directly. In other words, we can't change churches just because we're unhappy with it. Love you, Mom and Dad. Go back to Mass anyway.

Hubby: My wife doesn't believe in the death penalty...

Me: *interrupting* Actually dear, it's a Church teaching. (loose quotation of catechism) In other words, the Bishops in America say there's no reason for the death penalty to exist. So it's not a me thing, it's a Catholic thing.

Wife: Oh, well. We believe that what the Bible teaches, we follow. And where the Bible is silent, we are silent.

Thoughts: Oh thank God she didn't go for "well, I believe in the Bible" because if she did my blood pressure would go through the roof. Thank you for a much better phrasing of your beliefs and thank you for a less than "I repeat everything my minister pounds into my head" thought.

But then this thought crept into my head "really, then why are you wearing pants? The Bible says you can't wear pants." Did I blurt this? No, and this morning Hubby thanked me for not going on an offense. See this is where the problem of having no authority comes into play. As I said, all Protestants believe the Bible is the ultimate authority and that people can interpret it however they want to. Hence the 36,000 denominations, the ability to change to whatever church suits your needs when you want to, and the I will go to a church that believe exactly what I do regardless of whether it's right or wrong because I can interpret the Bible how I wish.

That's a big problem for me. I mean it's obvious. She believes in what the Bible says, but she's picking and choosing not to follow the part about a woman only being able to wear dresses and must covering their head (I'm pretty sure CoC doesn't make you cover your head). And that's why I'm a Catholic.

Fact: Catholics compiled the Bible. We decided what books were fallible (good) and infallible (bad). Jesus didn't come down from heaven and say take dictation for me or these books should comprise scripture. In fact when the Bible talks about scripture they are referring to the Torah and Talmud. The New Testament wasn't even written until nearly 200 years after Jesus's death. So we also had an oral tradition, which is what the Catholic church based it's decision on what the Bible should comprise of. So this whole notion of Sola Scriptura (scripture only) is odd to me because Protestants don't follow the Bible to the letter anymore than Catholics do. They just happen to have their own "loose" authority ie what they want to believe.

Fact: The Bible has contradictions. The OT talks about unclean/clean laws, which is what Hubby harps on all the time. Some Protestants believe that these are still in affect even though the Jesus sorta eradicates them (it's the hand washing law he specifically discusses which isn't in the Torah). So can we eat shrimp? Jesus doesn't say yes or no. So what do you do? I suppose if your Protestant you can interpret how you see fit. If your Catholic you rely on the Bishops, the Pope, the Authority that Jesus set up for us to follow. I mean what was the point of having Peter, if it wasn't to have an Authority to instruct us. Why else would Jesus put his disciples in positions of authority? He didn't have to.

And that's why I hate when religious discussions come up with Protestants. I have a hard time discerning whether a person will hear me out or shut me out. Oh, is that the time? Gotta go get ready for Mass.


  1. I'll be nice and not write the 2456 page essay that I could here lol. My mom was raised coC and I ended up at one of their colleges...

    The silent where the Bible is silent bit... that is in the repeating what the preacher says category. Its said over and over and over.. you get the drift lol. I've heard it way too many times.

  2. I hope that I didn't offend. I mostly was pointing out the major difference in Protestant vs. Catholic thinking. It's almost like having to learn a foreign language to understand the meaning behind some of the phrases. Catholics have one word; Protestants have another. I tend to use them interchangeably so that people will understand me. From my own personal life, I don't know any Protestants who understand Catholic lingo. Yet, in order to defend myself, I have to speak their language and explain why a Catholic thinks so differently. Still I admit, I wasn't being very charitable. I tend to judge.

    But I figured the silent where the Bible is silent bit was something that she had been taught. I'd never heard it before so it was new to me. What I typically here is "I follow what the Bible teaches." I think I would fall out of my seat in shock is someone would actually say "I follow what my faith tells me or my minister or something." Because the "I follow what the Bible teaches" can't possibly be the same phrase used for all different denominations who interpret the Bible differently. It's a Baptist phrase I think. At least I hear the phrase used most often in that circle.

    I think it's a simple phrase used to put a stop to debates. I mean what do you say to someone who says something like that? I prefer to debate as long as there is an understand that it's to be a healthy dialogue not a personal attack. But that's me. Maybe people find me too intimidating or too strange and not worth it.

  3. No no no, Not offensive at all. Sorry didn't mean for my comment to sound that way. Now, I'm sure I know a few people who would take offense to it, but there's always going to be someone right?

    No, I was raised around it. Not in it, but around it... And while I've found that in some ways this particular denom has a lot in common with us - the way I look at it is w/ the heart taken out... not that they don't love God (they do) have faith, hope or anything like that... but w/ out the Eucharist, without Confession... it comes out more harsh than most. But back to where I was going lol, there is a lot about it, despite the common areas, that I can't stand. Not just disagree with... but really gets to me. I think mostly because I was forced to be in the midst of it.

    And if anyone didn't take offense to yours, I'm sure they did to mine.

  4. Oh and point of that whole rant lol is that was what I was getting at by not going off on the subject. I could say a lot more than I just did lol. Absolutely nothing to do with your post, just the subject of your post. Sore spot I suppose.. a little too close home/strong feelings.


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!