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December 2, 2011 / compassioninpolitics

Why I am a Catholic, Why I am Not a Catholic

The Nicene Creed or the Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,[26]
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Focus on the pope vs. the parishoner. My understanding of my faith doesn’t force me to rely on the Pope for interpretation of scripture. I don’t think the Pope, although he may be a very good “Christian,” doesn’t have more of a claim to a hold on interpretation of scripture than a preacher, pastor, or church leader.

The Catholic church positioning the Pope as a unique conduit to God:
1) Doesn’t seem to have a Biblical basis (the upon this church verse on which Catholicism seems to rest most all its ideological marbles seems to be a misreading in my humble opinion.)
2) Seems to trade off with personal and local engagement with the Bible (and faith). This is critically important to maintaining personal relationships with God.
3) Can contribute in negative ways to stereotypes about religion and the Christian faith more broadly (I don’t think this is an outright reason, but certainly something to consider. But it does makes it far easier to conflate all Christians with Catholicism.)

The hierarchy in the Catholic church doesnt not seem to be supported by the model of the Acts 2 church. To be fair, not many churches in the Protestant or evangelical vein live up 100% to an Acts 2 model. (see also personal faith and engagement above).

Third, the ability of the church to cover up or ignore the abuse issue, while initially partially understandable, seems at this point to wholly without justification. The hierarchy and lack of transparency of such a large organization seems odd to me–an organizational model we know doesn’t work.

Fourth, the extreme emphasis placed on Mary by the Catholic faith is no where found in scripture to. She was a conduit for goodness to come into the world, but beyond raising him and birthing him (while amazing and probably “awesome”) doesn’t deserve a special position in the Christian faith.

Some Other Thoughts on the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Catholic Church
As a side note, I’m not sure what I think of para-church organizations, particularly the requirement to support parachurch organizations (which don’t seem to have one to one accountability or transparency).

Also, (from the outside) it seems that the Catholic church does a decent job of supporting nuns and priests, which I think some churches don’t do as well (I’m sure some do better). I think people who want to preach the word or do ministry should (in many cases although not necessary universally) receive more support than they do.

I think its interesting that the Catholic church has in the past found the value in supporting the arts (I don’t know how consistently it has done so and to what extent). Other faiths I think have a problem with this, although perhaps not a biblical one except that artists (painters, musicians, writers) in their own way can be (and are) missionaries of the faith.

2 Comments

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  1. Doug Lawrence / Dec 3 2011 11:10 am

    St. Peter was uniquely enlightened by God and that was an essential element leading to his selection by Jesus Christ as the first earthly leader of the church: See Matthew 16:15-18. The very next verse gives the papacy awesome, unparalleled and virtually unlimited power and authority. If that’s isn’t unique, then nothing is! Until the 15th century, virtually no one interpreted the scriptures to the contrary, because, politics aside, it’s impossible to truly subvert the meaning of the plain words of Jesus Christ.

    As for hierarchy … Heaven is a purely hierarchical system. The structure of the Catholic Church simply reflects the Heavenly system, with Jesus Christ at the head.

    Making no excuses, the abuse cover up reflects human corruption present in an otherwise divine institution. This is nothing new. The religious establishment of Jesus’ time was almost totally corrupt. And even Jesus had his Judas.

    As for the distinctive honor and veneration Catholics give to the Blessed Virgin Mary: It pales next to the distinctive honor and privilege given to her by God, as reflected in the totally unique, unprecedented, and totally inexplicable words of the angel Gabriel, found in Luke 1:28. “And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Name just one other person born since Adam’s fall who was similarly acknowledged and blessed, or anyone from any generation who was deemed suitable to be the Mother of God, and I will happily concede.

    In short, the only thing wrong with the Holy Catholic Church is the sins of some of the people who run it and belong to it, and their ignorant denial of the true power of Jesus Christ and his seven, grace giving sacraments.

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