Friday, July 18, 2008

WHAT!!!!! CHARISMATICS DON'T BECOME CATHOLICS!!!! (or do they?) PT7

May 2005. That is when I began my meetings on a weekly basis with Msgr. Reed. Now if you know me, you know that I generally am well prepared for situations...most of the time. This was no exception. About a week earlier I remember going to WalMart to buy a miniature recorder and a pack of tapes. (I know that we are in the digital age....but I am frugal). The night before I met with Msgr I stayed up for a long time and made a list of what I wanted to talk about. I went in with an agenda. First things first. I wanted to discuss and find out what the Catholic doctrine was on what I believed to be the basis of my faith at the time. I wanted to know about Scripture, Salvation, Baptism, and that was just the beginning. There was something inside of me that wanted something to be wrong.....bad wrong. I knew that if I couldn't find anything, I would join the Church. I didn't know when, or how, but I knew that I would.





It wasI still rembember walking to the Parish offices for the first time. It was a very strange feeling. When I walked through the door the first thing I came to was a 4ft crucifix on the left hand side of the hallway. The giftshop followed with the curved glass window filled with all types of Catholic items, statues of the Saints who had gone before, the Blessed Mother, Rosaries, books....I simply couldn't belive that I was actually going through with this. In some senses I felt as though I was having an affair, something that had to be hidden and kept from the light. After all, at this time, I was still a Reformed Presbyterian and I didn't NEARLY understand the conflict that would be coming on that front--and that was a good thing. Msgr. Reed and I began with a prayer, he crossed himself in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and I just sat there wondering what was going to come next and what he was really thinking...and why was I here, now. Remember at this time I really didn't understand yet about Sacraments, the Eucharist, or any other of the details of Catholic theology but I was hungry and wanted to know. The first thing we started off with was the Scripture. What was the Catholic view of the Bible? Why did I want to know this? Remember, from my background the Bible was the final authority of our faith. Was it just a "good book", A "guide book", or was it the Word of God? And what about all these extra books? Why does the Catholic Bible have 73 books instead of 66? Who added them?

What I found out is that the Catholic Church does believe that the Bible is the Word of God: Inspired, Infallible and authoritative. More than that though, I found out that the Catholic Faith is like a three legged stool. The Scripture cannot stand and was not designed to stand on its own as a sole foundation of our faith. Christ came to establish the Church, not a book! As is stated in 1Tim 3:15

But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.

Why didn't St Paul state that the Bible was the "pillar and foundation of truth"? Because it was not the way it was designed by our Lord. For the first 4oo years of the Church, there was no defined Bible and there were all sorts of gospels floating around that were being read. It was at that time that the Catholic Church assembled the Bible that we have today-all 73 books. (back to that later). Prior to that time, how did Christians live? How did they develop their theology and their beliefs? It was by the Sacred Tradition that was passed down orally. Listen to what Jesus told his disciples in John 14:24-26:

24
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. 25 "I have told you this while I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.

As Christians, have we really understood what Christ was saying here? Christ told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come and remind them of everything that He had taught them. Then we read from St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:

2 I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.

Tradition in this sense is not bad or evil, or legalistic. The Tradition we were speaking of is the action of the Holy Spirit guiding all the Apostles and their successors with the True Faith of His Church. This is what guided the Early Church, not the 73 books of the Bible. And this Truth still guides us today; Truth did not get lost, and He did not lose control over his Church. Christianity was not hijacked by the Catholic Religion and Luther and the Reformers didn't "rescue" the Church. To believe this is to doubt the power and Sovreignty of the Holy Spirit and insinuates than Our Lord had no idea what he was saying.

It was in this meeting that I also found out about the third leg on this stool, the Magisterium, or the Teaching Authority of the Church. This is how God speaks and guides us today. The Holy Spirit continues to guide his Body through the Holy Father to teach and to guide us. Therefore all three supports must be there to balance our Faith: Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Teaching authority of the Church: In this I saw balance. No man can give his own private revelation from God without the ability to back it up and test it. Scripture is not open to private interpretation, 2 Peter 1:20-21

20
Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, 21 for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.

Finally I found out why Catholic Bibles have those extra books! When the Scriptures were cannonized in 382, there were 73 books in the Bible. (Including 1 & 2 Macabees, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and certain portions of Esther and Daniel). If you look at the very first Edition of the KJV, 1594 all these books are still included. The reason that they are not in the Protestant Bible is for the simple fact that the Reformers REMOVED them, they were not ADDED by the Catholic Church. Why did they remove them? Who gave them the authority to do so? The answer to the 2nd question is that I don't know. The reason to the first question is as follows: They were written in Greek. When the Jews met at the Council of Jamnia, they accepted their cannon of scripture and they would not accept anything that was written in Greek. Another reason they rejected the books was simply becuase some of the new Jewish Christians were using these books to convert the Jews to the Christian faith. Since the Jews didn't accept the books, the Reformers decided that there must be something to that and followed their lead and pull them out as well. In addition, these books also have references to very Catholic doctrines that they were separating themselves from. (very short explanation) Therefore, from that point forward, the Protestant Bible remains with only 66 books.

And this was just the first meeting.........

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

WHAT!!!!! CHARISMATICS DON'T BECOME CATHOLICS!!!! (or do they?) PT6

Wow.....So the doctrine of Sola Scriptura at that point was no longer valid to me, I knew that it was no longer a valid basis of my Christian faith. At this point I know that many people who read this are screaming HERESY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I well can understand, I was there. But is it REALLY???? What is the foundation and basis of our Christian faith. As we are followers of our Lord, what did he tell us? What did he leave us? Did he give us any hints, any direction upon which to base our faith, since the Scriptures weren't even around yet? I do believe that he did and this is where my faith took the next step. I remember each time I would run across a new fact, a new teaching (new to me, not a newly revealed teaching, as there is no newly revealed doctrines) I would keep Laura up till all hours of the evening or morning telling her--explaining the truth that I was learning. The Eucharist, the Sacraments, Confession, they all began to make sense. For years growing up I had these nagging questions which I couldn't answer, as a matter of fact I couldn't even define them as questions because I didn't know. I would just say that I felt that something was not "centered", that is the easiest way I can explain it. But it was all coming together like pieces of a mystical jigsaw puzzle .

The only problem was that more than one person was starting to see it come together...mainly Laura. With all the reading I was doing, she knew something was up, but she had no idea. I still remember one Sunday Morning before we had moved to McIlwain, and before I had been scared away from the Catholic Church I went to visit a Mass at Our Savior Catholic Church here in Pensacola. I remember getting ready and Laura told me "Don't you get any ideas, now....we aren't going to become Catholics!" Neither of us had any idea what was moving before us. I politely told her that I would NEVER become a Catholic, I was just interested in going and seeing as I had never done so before. Now, years later my view had changed. Mentally, I was moving very quickly....more quickly that I ever could have imagined. There was one night when Laura and I were laying in bed as we always do...talking until hours that we shouldn't and she asked me the question: "You are going to become a Catholic, aren't you?" Silence was the only thing that I could offer her. "I don't know" I responded. The problem was that I did know. Our Lord was calling me from the innermost part of my being...calling me Home and I knew it was going to effect us. The next words out of her mouth (as Laura has never been one to mince words) were: "You do know....tell me" Gulp....what was I was going to say to her? The only thing I could do is try to put it off as long as possible. It worked for Scott Hahn, maybe it would work for me...it was worth a try. "I might", I told her, "but it will be at least 3 or 4 years, never anytime soon." That seemed to hold for now.


In the meantime I suddenly found Catholics all around me that I never knew were there and if they weren't there, I sought them out. My buddy that I was working with at the car dealership with at the time was a "quiet Catholic". It is hard to be a loud Catholic in and of itself, but it is even harder when you are living smack dab on the buckle of the Bible Belt. In a town where Pensacola Christian College and Pensacola Bible Institute co-exist and in a city that was rocked by the Brownsville Revival, being Catholic is not the easiest path to take. When you blend in the fact that the Catholic Church had just itself been rocked by it's own problems and scandals, this was not the best time to pull into a Conversion situation. It is very strange, but when the Lord calls you none of that matters anymore. Every distraction is eclipsed by Him and that is what was happening. So Shawn and I would talk almost daily about our faith as he himself had come to the Church from a Lutheran background, yet he was still amazed that a "Bible Thumper" as we were all called down here, would come to the Church. I would call my buddy Stewart and talk to him incessantly (as he was the one who got me into this situation). I remember a distinct conversation that we had and he told me, "slow down....ask the Holy Spirit to guide you....you have just discovered the World's Largest Onion and you are trying to digest it in one bite!" How true that is. " A God that we can comprehend is not a God that we can worship." All of the sudden I was coming to see in my life the width, the breadth and the depth of our Lord. That our God is an Eternal God with Eternal facets and no matter how much I read, how much I studied, I would never be able to understand his ways, his precepts and his reasoning. I just had to slow down...take it easy, rest in Him and that is really what I was trying to do, but I still had to have answers.


The first thing that I did other than my conversations with my buddies was to call the local Diocese office. I was moving to the point that I had to visit a parish, but I had no idea which one to visit. When I called I wound up speaking with Sister Margaret Kuntz, who I would find out later was in the Department of Christian formation in the Diocese. She told me that what was happening to me was that God was calling me...and I needed to follow him. It was shortly after that conversation that I decided to visit my first Mass in 3 years...this time it was serious. I had read some and was continuing to read on Doctrines, and I needed to find out in person. I had the perfect plan. I would simply do the same thing I did before, sneak into the back pew, sit, watch, and if I liked it, I would find some way to connect with a Priest. So Friday afternoon, on the way back home from work, I found the closest Parish to my house and this happened to be the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

I knew where it was and I couldn't wait for the next morning. Early Saturday morning I went to the Parish and pulled on the huge wooden doors with the twisted brass handles. I was nervous and scared...filled with expectation of what was awaiting me inside. I knew that I was going to have a new encounter with our Lord, one that I had not had before. Only one problem. The doors were locked. I could not believe it! I had come all this way and now the doors were locked. This really was supposed to happen differently. On my way back to the car, a very nice lady stopped me and directed me to the side chapel where Mass was being held this morning. SIDE CHAPEL!!!! I walked through another heavy wooden door with another twisted brass handle and I all of the sudden became very scared. I was going to have no place to hide. All of the sudden I was the only Protestant in a room of about 15 Catholics. If you have never been to a Mass before and you are attending for the first time, believe me, you will stick out like a sore thumb, and I did! But I was touched that morning in a way I never had been before. I was not distracted by lights, music, shouting or waving. What I heard was the Scriptures, very straight forward and I heard the Gospel proclaimed not in a way that was one persons interpretation, but a simple Gospel, a Gospel that literally changed my life. Then came the Eucharist.
Now at this time, I had little idea of what I was witnessing, but what I saw I new was real. What I saw was the priest elevate the Host and I knew something very special was happening. I knew Jesus was there, but in a way that I had never felt him before....stronger than I had felt him before. Now I understood what people meant by the "Real Presence". Our Lord was there in that Eucharist and I knew it. On the way out, I met a man who probably played the biggest parts in my conversion, Msgr. Michael Reed. He very graciously greeted me and asked me a few questions. After I explained my plight to him and asked him if we could chat sometime, he agreed. Too bad he had no idea what he was getting himself into.........

Monday, July 14, 2008

WHAT!!!!! CHARISMATICS DON'T BECOME CATHOLICS!!!! (or do they?) PT5



Wow! It is hard to believe that it has been well over a month since I last hit the BLOGGER. Life is busy with a family and things are really well. It is good to take a step back sometimes and look at what is really important in life.




I really want to continue and be able to put into a written format what really happened to me during my conversion to the Roman Catholic Church. So far what I have covered has been more of emotions. How I felt, etc. Obviously nobody of a logical nature would make a decision based on emotions; especially such an important decision as what I was considering. I guess that reading "Rome Sweet Home" really brought the two major pillars of Protestantism into question into my life. I will probably have time to only deal with one right now so I choose to start with the one that made the biggest impact on me, the portestant doctrine Sola Scriptura. Obviously, I am not entending to present an entire book here on the error of Sola Scriptura as there are many books who do a MUCH better job that I can, but rather my goal here is to give an arial view of the lay of the foundation of the Catholic Faith. I can't touch on everything here.




Just for credit, much of the information that I am using along with the format came from this link by Tim Staples. He may be much easier to read than I am. http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?id=4623&repos=1&subrepos=&searchid=257673



Sacred Scripture--Scriptural???


My entire life, as I said earlier, I was a full believer in the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura. If you are a Protestant and are not aware of the doctrine, I would say.....yes you are, even though you may not know it. Here is an example: If I were to ask you to defend or back up any belief, doctrine, or dogma of your faith, where would you go? What would you use? How would you defend it. Of course, you would go to the Bible. Would you use anything else? NO!! Why? Because if you go to any Protestant church's statement of belief, you would come across something of this nature:


The Holy Bible, and only the Bible, is the authoritative Word of God. It alone is the final authority in determining all doctrinal truths. In its original writing, it is inspired, infallible and inerrant.


So my question that I raise on this is the following: Where do we find (in the 66 books of the Bible) that the said 66 books are to be the sole deposit of our faith and the final authority on all doctrinal truths? Furthermore, how are we to know that the 66 books that are listed in the Protestant Bible (73 for Catholics) are inspired and are supossed to be included in the deposit of Sacred Scripture. I will challenge anybody to find it, because it isn't there. If you do, please let me know and I will firmly and definitely recant.


I want to make an interjection at this point. Don't hear what I am not saying. I firmly believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God. Period. It is Sacred. It is God's Word to us. My difference here is the teaching that Scripture is the SOLE FINAL deposit of faith and I actually haven't been able to find that taught anywhere in Scripture.


Generally, the verses that people use to back up this teaching will include the following:


II Timothy 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness.






I do believe that Scripture is useful for teaching, correction, and training. However my first point in this verse is that Paul is writing to Timothy and if you read v15, Paul is speaking about the Scriptures that Timothy has learned since his infancy. If this is the case then this verse would not be referring the 66 books as the Protestants believe; it would rather be the Old Testament, as the New Testament and the entire Bible wasn't even compiled at the time this verse was authored. SO, even if this verse WERE referring to the formal sufficiency of Scripture, (which it isn't) it would be referring to the OLD TESTAMENT. Secondly, this verse speaks of how Scripture is meant to beused, it's purpose so to speak. It has no reference to a SOLE SUFFIECNCY of the current 66 books of Scripture. To interpret this way is to read something that is not in the text.




II Peter 1:20-21


20 Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation,21 for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.


These verses are a little different......again, they have nothing to do with a formal sufficiency of Scripture. They don't and can't refer to the 66 books of Scripture as the Sole and final deposit of faith. As a matter of fact, the very opposite!! These verses tell us that we CAN'T interpret Scripture individually....It can only mean what it was originally meant to relay. We don't have the ability to "personally" interpret Scripture to fit our own means or situations. Scripture was given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles of Christ, therefore for us to understand the true meaning of any Scripture, we must understand the intention of the Author, in this case the Holy Spirit.


Lastly on this point, I stated earlier that there was not any Scriptural basis to back up the 66 books of Scripture being the Sole and Final deposit of faith. Now the next question is, if the Scriptures aren't the final authority of our faith, who or what is? The answer to that question is something that blew me out of the water and that answer was found in 1Timothy 3:15:



15 But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.



Read that verse over and over again. Paul wrote Timothy and told him not that the Bible or Sacred Scripture is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth, but that the CHURCH is the Pillar and foundation of Truth. This again is a follow up to what Christ declared to Peter in Matthew:




Matthew 16:18-19


18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."




Again, this is a direct reference to the Church as our foundation. Scriputure is TREMENDOUSLY important...but cannot stand alone. Based on this and much more, I would say that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is NOT Scriptural.




Sola Scriptura--Historical??



If the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is not Scriptural, what does history teach us about the authority of Scripture? When we talk about Church history, most of us think about Luther, the Reformation and move forward from there, not remembering and realizing that there WAS a Christian Church before then. What was the Church like 100 years after the Ascension of our Lord? What did they believe? What did they base their faith on? How did they live? The first thing that we have to remember is that the earliest Christians were actually Jews who had accepted Christ as their Messiah and due to this they had been kicked out of the synogogues and had nowhere left to go. They then went to the Christian churches that were meeting at that time on Sundays and were reading these letters that had been circulating from the Apostles of the Church. They had no "Bible", No Old Testament, no New Testament, just the Tanak (Jewish Scriptures) and what was being taught by the Apostles. The Bible that we use wasn't even assembled until the middle of the fourth Century and when it was assembled, who determined what was considered Scripture an what wasn't??? That is right, the Catholic Church. And they stated that all books to be considered Scripture had to meet 4 guidelines: 1)The book had to be written by an Apostle or a disciple of an Apostle 2) it had to be written close to the time of Christ 3) It could not contradict current teaching of the Church and 4) it had to be widely read among the Churches. That, ladies and gentlemen is how we got the New Testament. And by the way, at the time the Canon of Scripture was closed in the 4th Century, it had 73 books and remained that way until the Reformation and Luther. It was at that time that he and some of the other reformers removed the 7 books often referred to as the Apocrypha. My question on this is, who gave him the authority to remove books that had been inserted? I digress......the point is that the Early Church and the Church up to the time of the Reformation had never heard of a doctrine of Sola Scriptura, this is a teaching that has only been taught and accepted since the Reformation. Finally if Sola Scriptura is an "essential" doctrine of our faith, I am guessing that those Christians that lived prior to 397 A.D. either missed out, or were under a different standard...along with all those Christians through the ages and even now in other parts of the world that aren't able to have Scripture...How do they build their faith?



Sola Scriptura---Historical....I don't think so.



Sola Scriptura--Logical??


As a very last item, I want to take a look at if the doctrine of Sola Scriptura actually is logical. So, if you are a Protestant and you believe that Scripture is the sole and final deposit of faith and it is the Word of God, then for it to be Truth, there has to be something or someone to confirm it as truth. That is a basic tenant of logic. Something is not true just because I say it is. "Consensus does not make the untrue true". Therefore, what makes Scripture true? It is not because we were taught it was the Word of God, or because our Pastor taught us it was the Word of God, or because we believe it is the Word of God. Scripture is Scripture and Holy and Inerrant and Inspired because of the fact that the Church that Christ established confirmed and agreed that the books that they had were the Word of God. Bottom line. Now how are we to guarantee that what we believe about Scripture is correct and how it is to be interpreted? If I can read your mind now, you are saying the Holy Spirit that indwells us. The only question that I had about that was two fold. 1) If that is the case, then why is the Holy Spirit telling 10.000+ denominations different things? That isn't very logical. And 2) If the Holy Spirit is guiding me, then how can I guarantee that what I am hearing is actually the Holy Spirit? Again if I am reading your mind you are now saying that what the Holy Spirit is telling you should be confirmed by Scripture. OK...now my head is spinning because if you are like me at this point, there is no plumbline...no solid rule to judge what Scripture really means...no clear interpretation and what we wind up doing is running to a free for all where everybody is doing what they believe the Holy Spirit is telling them to do and if they don't find somebody in their church who agrees with them, they will either find another church that they do agree with or start a new one.
Nowhere in Scripture are we allowed to pick and choose what we do or what we don't believe in. That is a very dangerous road to embark upon and one that I am glad I don't have to go down. I am forever grateful for the guidance and wisdom of the Church and that she protects and guides us perfectly to the heart of our Lord.