Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sometimes The Bible is Hard to Understand Part II


Yesterday, I wrote about the need for an independent authority that would supervene in cases where Scripture is unclear. If you are a "Bible only" subscriber, you wittingly or unwittingly become your own independent authority. You become convinced with prayer and study that your interpretation is the correct one. If the same Holy Spirit is leading someone else to have a completely opposite view, who is right? The reality is that there is an unspoken "Tradition" that protestants use to guide their interpretations. The Calvinist have one "tradition" that guides their interpretation, the Arminians another, the dispensationalists another, the Pentecostals another and so on...... Catholics believe in what is called Sacred Tradition, passed on from the apostles to the early church fathers and preciously held as the "deposit of faith." We acknowledge this Tradition and believe God inspires it as He does the Scripture.
As a Catholic, I believe, based on Matt 16, that Christ founded a church and gave his apostles the authority to bind , loose, forgive etc. This included the church functioning as the "pillar and foundation of truth" as Paul wrote to Timothy. It is this Sacred Tradition that guides Catholics in one unified truth and interpretation of Scripture. Paul exhorted Timothy to hold fast to the word, both spoken and written and to hold to the traditions that had been taught and handed down to him. Protestants often use Jesus words about the "traditions of men" to negate Sacred Tradition. They are two very different concepts and Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees for using "man made" traditions to circumvent obedience to the Law.(Like honoring their parents) The Catholic use of Tradition is to illuminate Scripture, not negate it. Sacred Tradition never goes against Scripture.

Regarding that obscure and difficult verse of Paul's yesterday, the traditional Catholic interpretation suggests that the word "baptism" can refer to more than just water baptism. Jesus used the term baptism in Mark 10:38-39 to refer to trials and afflictions. The trials and afflictions that we undergo can be offered up for the souls of those who have died. But this would be useless if there is no resurrection of the dead. It was the practice of the early church to pray for the dead as evidenced by the writings on tombs in the Catecombs. Therefore, when this letter of Paul's was read aloud to the early church in Corinth it did not cause as much confusion as it does in these post reformation days. Of course this interpretation is dismissed by the reformers because it pointed to the Catholic doctrine of a purification after death called Purgatory.
So what was Paul thinking as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit? Where did this come from? In keeping with Paul's habit of using Scripture to make points in his letters, it is likely from an Old Testament Scripture.
"He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of 2000 drachmas of silver and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. (2 Maccabees 12: 43-45)
Is it a far stretch to see that Paul may have been inspired by this verse when he wrote about the resurrection :"Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead if the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?"

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yesterday, I wrote about the need for an independent authority that would supervene in cases where Scripture is unclear. If you are a "Bible only" subscriber, you wittingly or unwittingly become your own independent authority. You become convinced with prayer and study that your interpretation is the correct one"..."

You are jumping to conclusions...when I study the bible, I need to check myself against what is known about that verse...if not then you could be blinded by your own personal interpretation or period in your growth period. Dind't our Lord say knock and the door will be opened? Notice that our Lord opens the door not us. Who claims to have complete understanding right away?
The problem I have with this statement is that I as a Protestant, look at everything I can find on a verse...like the ones you were stating about Paul. You cannot look to a few Catholic sources...or a few PRotestant sources...you need to look at ALL CREDITABLE SOURCES. The Holy Spirit guides you to Truth too! I have known some Catholics that are way more insightful and knowledgeable about the Bible than I am...bless them...and I will listen/learn from anyone that wants to talk the Bible. The problem I have with the Catholic Church right now is that they claim to be the autority over Scriptures and at the same time claim that the Bible is not that reliable...shouldn't be read alone...etc. and I feel that The Word is being pushed aside. Remember, I am only reading the statements made by the RCC, I find it amazing that Roman Catholics have to take Vatican statemnts and then try to explain it.

June 09, 2006 5:22 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

ANon the Ptotestant says:
The problem I have with this statement is that I as a Protestant, look at everything I can find on a verse...like the ones you were stating about Paul. You cannot look to a few Catholic sources...or a few PRotestant sources...you need to look at ALL CREDITABLE SOURCES.
Tiber Jumper the Catholic says: You prove my point with your statement. Who decides what is a CREDIBLE SOURCE? A source you agree with? Can you go to every source ever written? Clearly the answer is NO. Christ established his Church to be the "pillar and foundation of all truth" for this very reason: So we wouldn't be split into 33,000 denominations each one looking at "credible sources" to come up with their personal interpretations of the Bible. Certainly over 200 distinct interpretations of what the Eucharist represents can't reflect what Jesus meant when he prayed "that they may be one".....
The Catholic Church does not say that Scripture is not reliable, but that it
is not open to private interpretation.
Anon says:
"The problem I have with the Catholic Church right now is that they claim to be the autority over Scriptures...
Tiber Jumper says: Well, take your pick then, you become the authority over Scripture yourself or you accept the authority of the Church that gave you the Scriptures. How can you accept the Bible but reject the Authority that discerned it? Remember, the Church gave us the Bible, I repeat for emphasis: the Church gave us the Bible, not the other way around. It took me awhile for this reality to sink in too! But it is freeing to know I don't have to claw and scrape and invent my own interpretations while reading the Bible through my own (choose your color) colored glasses.
Jesus didn't leave us orphans. He gave us his Church to help us. What did the Church do for over 300 years without a Bible? How did they know truth? (Ans 1 Tim 3:15)

June 09, 2006 9:02 PM  

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