Reason # 316 to Be Catholic: Below the Bible Belt Theology
One of the fruits of the reformation was to remove every believer out from under the authority of the Catholic Church. Given the availability of the printing press (invented in 1448) and vernacular translations (widely available in Germany before the reformation), a Christian could now gain from God, with guidance from the Holy Spirit, how to believe and practice his or her faith. It was not up to the Catholic Church to tell the laity what the scriptures meant. Here are a few snippets from Martin Luther:
"[It] is an accursed lie that the pope is the arbiter of Scripture or that the church has authority over Scripture."
"a simple layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it".
The downside, of course, is that even within Luther's lifetime, there came to be many individual interpretations of the scriptures and multiple new denominations developing as a result of these differing individual interpretations. There were over two hundred intepretations of the what the Lord's Supper was within one hundred years of the reformation.
As the secular culture now fully embraces same-sex marriage, there is a movement among the new crop of evangelicals to re-examine scripture and use personal interpretation to justify this "new morality." I suspect we will see more books like this one: "God and the Gay Christian." Matthew Vines, "a simple layman" states in this new release that “Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships.” He also writes that “I believe all of Scripture is inspired by God and authoritative for my life."
From using his own interpretation of scripture, Matthew Vine can declare what was once a sin, to be a sacrament. That is what I call "Below the Bible Belt Theology" and is reason #316 to be Catholic. Despite the many bad popes, bishops, priests, sleezy Catholic politicians, liberal Catholic theologians, nominal Catholics, etc., the teachings on issues of faith and morality taught by the Church will never change to fit the culture. The Church cannot and will not change morality based on an individual theologian's interpretations of the bible nor the ever-shifting winds of modern culture. For all you folks who want to remain faithful to biblical teaching on faith and morals, I encourage you to get over your incense allergy and Cross the Tiber. You'll be glad you did!