Archive for the ‘Church Organization’ Category

In my conversations with Protestants and fellow Catholics, in my own experience leaving and returning to the Catholic faith, and especially in watching my wife on her journey to Rome, one thing has become painfully clear. 20130218-213114.jpgMost faithful Catholics simply do not understand Protestant reasoning. Moreover, they fail to grasp the degree to which anti-catholic sentiment truly reaches. Even for those who recognize on some level the opposition to Catholicism, too often they can’t wrap their brains around the notion that many catholic practices that they assumed were universally held would actually be repulsive to some otherwise faithful Christians.

A clarification is in order. In using the term “anti catholic,” I don’t mean to imply that fundamentalist Christians hold any hatred or malice toward Catholics (though undoubtedly, some do hate what they believe the church teaches and practices). Rather, I simply mean that they are opposed to the catholic faith. At times, vehemently so.
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Non Catholics and, sadly, some Catholics, are very adept at either purposefully or unknowingly misrepresenting a host of church customs, beliefs and traditions. 20130216-205754.jpgOf those practices most often misunderstood by non-Catholics, the sacrament of confession has got to be at the top of the list.

License to Sin?

Many non-Catholic Christians wrongly believe that the practice of confession is, in effect, a “license to sin,” effectively allowing unscrupulous Catholics to, as a close colleague of mine once put it, “rape, pillage and plunder to their hearts’ content during the week” as long as they confess it on the weekend. Catholics, for their part, often do little to correct — and much to reinforce — this notion by jovially saying things like “that’s okay; I’ll just confess it later.”

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All across Christendom, there are a variety of thoughts and ideas of how the church, the body of believers, should be organized.

20120903-162104.jpgMainline Protestants, such as Lutherans and Anglicans, favor an episcopalian model; that is to say that they recognize, at least on some level, the necessity of an ecumenical body to safeguard faith. They maintain that the scripture alone are the sole authority, but they also acknowledge the importance of the uniformity of interpretation of these scriptures.

Maintaining Doctrinal Unity

In many respects, these churches maintain much of the identify of their Catholic origins. They’ve downplayed the role of tradition, but they still maintain it’s value as a teaching tool, if not an authority. For these churches, the question of church organization comes down to the degree of authority that a governing body has.

Even mainline fundamentalist churches, such as Southern Baptists, appreciate the efficacy of a convention to act as a source of doctrinal guidance. Though the Southern Baptist Convention encourages the self-governing model of church organization, it exists to help maintain a consistency of theology among those churches.
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No discussion with protestants about the Catholic Church would be complete without mentioning the successor of Saint Peter, the Pope.

20120903-083105.jpgDepending on who you talk to, he’s the antichrist, the devil, the ruler of the Whore of Babylon, or just a harmless old man and a representative of a misguided, apostate and archaic religion.

For many Protestant Christians, he’s the symbol of the corrupt and evil remnants of the Roman Empire, the embodiment of the wolves among the sheep. For catholics and, perhaps more importantly for non Christians, though, he is the symbol of Christian unity throughout the world.

Where’s That in the Bible?

Whatever non catholics tell you the pope is, the one thing they’ll all agree on is that he isn’t is the head of the Christian church. “Where in the Bible,” they’ll demand, “do you find the word ‘pope’?” Now, this may come as a shock to many cradle Catholics, but the answer is, you won’t find the word “pope” anywhere in the Bible. Unfortunately, Protestants have us on that one. Or do they?
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