Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why I'm Catholic

Like my post on Tuesday, this is just a general overview.  There are a multitude of other reasons, but these are the three I would put forth to someone who asked me this question but didn't have several hours to discuss.  And like the other post, these are not arguments that are universal for all Catholics.  They have other reasons. 

1.  I believe it is the church Christ intended to leave.  This includes two thoughts - one is that Jesus intended for their to be an organized church, and also the Catholic church is in fact this same church.  On the first point, I think we can find several places in the New Testament that point to an organized church that isn't just local.  There are people in charge and a plan.  When they have questions, they go to a higher authority on the chain of command, such as when they went to Jerusalem to get the opinion of the apostles on circumcision. 

I think Jesus makes it pretty clear Himself in Matthew.  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mat 16:17-19)

Peter means rock, and a literal reading would indicate Jesus is naming Peter rock and stating His church will be built on Peter.  It doesn't say Peter's faith, it doesn't say the faith of all the apostles.  Just Peter.  Keys are an idea also in Isaiah 22, in reference to a prime minister post.  He's delegating authority here to His prime minister.  There's a lot more going on here, but I want to be brief.

There are only a few churches claiming to be this same church Jesus established.  I'm only familiar with the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.  If one believes Christ intended an organized church like the one I'm describing, then that really only leaves two options.

2.  I believe in the Eucharist.  In John 6, Jesus talks about His flesh being literal bread.  He doesn't stop those who take this time to leave Him by noting it is spiritually intended; not literal.  He uses words that indicate literally chewing.  Throw in the letters that indicate how important Communion is, and I don't believe it is a symbol at all.  We have very early writings from Christians discussing the literal presence of Christ in the Eucharist - this isn't some sort of developed idea.

This isn't surprising or problematic for me in the least.  The God who created the universe can surely turn bread and wine into body and blood.  How?  I don't need to know.

Again, if one believes this, there are only a few churches to choose from.  Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican (I think), and Lutherans (at least some). 

3.  Open the Bible to the Table of Contents, where it lists all the books of the Bible.  That text is not divinely inspired. Nobody has ever claimed that God specially designated them personally to be the writer of the Table of Contents; to pick which books would end up in the Bible. 

Let's skip the Old Testament here as we don't agree on which books go there, but every Christian has the same books in the New Testament.  Some of them are obvious choices, but some were contentious choices.  Some books that existed and were popular at the time were left out.  On whose authority were the books selected?  How do we know that the Bible we have in our hands is full of books that are actually divinely inspired?

There would have to be some guarantee on the people that picked the books.  That can only come from one place.  Either the Church had the authority to determine the books in the New Testament, or the book you currently hold in your hands could have the wrong books in it.  I'm not talking about the particular translation or anything - I mean the individual books could be wrong.  James could be entirely uninspired.  Paul could have been a heretic who simply wrote enough letters they were bound to be included.

1 comment:

  1. Here is another view
    It's all most a paradox
    Re. 3
    It was Orthodox Judaism that wanted Jesus killed, although they worked hard at preserving the Scripture about their Messiah. Also Jesus was not very impressed with them.
    Matt 23:1-12
    23 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' 8 But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
    Orthodox Christianity has done much to preserved Scripture it is true. But like Orthodox Judaism they have added many of their own ideas and traditions that have no Scripture basis and turned them into laws. Here in England we have sites were Orthodox Christianity has strangled and burnt people for translating the Bible into English or even just teaching children the Lord’s Prayer in English.
    Orthodox Christianity frightens me because it seems remarkably similar to the worst in Jewish Orthodoxy. From somebody looking from the outside Jesus comments seems remarkable apt.
    Whether Roman, Greek, Russian etc. they still like to use Father for their leaders.
    Christian Orthodoxy dress up in some amazing clothes etc.
    Yet I am sure you love your Church and get a lot of benefit from it. I imagine there are many people there like yourself who put a lot of thought into your Bible Study. – Which I think it great.