Friday, August 19, 2011

A little clarity

I was reading this funny post and this popped up in the comments box:

Well the catholic church does have quite a few doctrines that are not reflected by scripture, they also put more weight to the words of the pope and their theology than they do the Bible. The catholic church also believes in a works based system of salvation, not faith alone in Christ’s work on the cross alone. So that is a huge difference to what scripture teaches about simple faith in Christ for salvation. Does that mean that all catholics are not saved, certainly not, but I am not sure they are hearing the gospel clearly in their church. BTW good point on the edifying the Lord comment…ur totally right on that one.

And this was my response.

*Buzz* sorry wrong about the “put more weight to the words of the pope and their theology than they do the Bible” What your talking about is Biblical interpretation. The Bible takes about in James that faith without works is dead. That’s in the Bible.

We do listen to the Pope and the Magisterium because we believe that Biblical interpretation isn’t entirely personal. Jesus gave authority to the disciples particularly Peter. That’s the difference between Protestants and Catholics. We follow the Pope’s teaching ON the Bible.

It’s a common misconception that Protestants have, but the entirety of Catholicism is based on the Bible. We just interpret it differently, but that doesn’t mean our interpretations are wrong even if they seem contrary to Protestants. Please understand this and stop equating differences in Biblical interpretation as putting less weight on the Bible.

I could have gone further in my explanation, but this was a comment box after all. So I will further explain. Catholics compiled the Bible. Why wouldn't we use it? That seems ridiculous.

Also there is this common misconception among Protestants that Catholics aren't a "Bible-believing denomination" when nothing could be further from the truth. The entire Mass comes from scriptural passages in addition to the scriptural passages that are read and discussed (homily). Why would a church use portions of the Bible and read the Bible on a daily basis, yet not give enough weight to it? That doesn't make sense either.

What does make sense is that we have a different Biblical interpretation, but then so does every Protestant denomination. Yet, I've never heard a Methodist say that a Baptist wasn't saved because they interpret the Bible different.

The point she was making, though, was that we put weight on the Pope and Magisterium for Biblical interpretation (in a misguided way), which is true. Catholics believe in Tradition and the Bible. Tradition's main aspect is looking at scripture and interpreting it. Catholics can and do interpret the Bible differently, as I have explained numerous times before. However, when it comes to certain theological matters such as abortion, euthanasia, birth control, etc., the Church's teaching ie Biblical interpretation is clear. If you are Catholic, you follow the Church's teaching on these matters. This is similar to a Protestant following their particular pastor's or denominations interpretation, which is why, in my opinion, there's really no such thing as Sola Scriptura. At some level, Protestants also follow authority. To sum up my long winded explanation, it's laughable that this person thinks that Catholics put more weight on the Pope's words when Protestants also put some amount of weight to their authority's Biblical interpretation as well. If that wasn't the case, there would be no division of Protestants and Catholics.

As for "hearing the Gospel clearly," I admit that some priests do a poor job if not totally ignore Church teachings. It's their responsibility to properly shepard their flock. However, Catholics are equally responsible for their own religious education as well as that of their children. The Catechism teaches that parents are the first teachers and primary teachers. Everybody else who offers instruction is secondary. So if there is a failure to teach the Gospel, it's on numerous fronts not just within a given parish. Catholics should not stop their education simply after they finish their catechism classes. Just like our relationship with God is always growing so should our understanding of him. So that comment was said out of ignorance for how Catholics receive the Gospel.

As for salvation, I've talked about that so many times before. Just search for it. I've also talked about Catholic views of salvation for Protestants. Just to briefly reiterate it, Catholics do not automatically assume their own salvation or that of others. Salvation is determined by God after we die. End of story.

Okay, back to the next thing I was going to watch.


  1. I'm go glad you gave the link to Elizabeth Esther's blog! Somehow I'd never seen it before. And wow, does she get some out there commentors/searches!

  2. Yeah, I love EE. She comes from a crazy fundamentalist church background and found peace in the Church. Her biggest pet peeve is how other denominations view the Church. She stopped going to her husband's for that reason, but she also stopped going to Mass often because she's still healing from all the stuff she went through. I try to pray for her. I know it's tough on her. She's trying her best to be close to God, but yet dealing with a lot of demons.


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!