Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

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During This Election: Why Should Christians Pray?

October 29, 2012

Image Credit: Here

Christians occupy a tense space between being a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdoms of this world.  While we are to have no other God’s above our Lord, we are commanded to show deference and respect to those that God has placed in positions of leadership over us.  That deference and respect is best manifested in prayer, prayer for those in governing authority over us.  For as God’s children living in our Father’s world we recognize that there is no authority over us except what God ordains.   Therefore, just as we pay taxes owed to the Government, we pay respect owed to those who God has placed over us. We pray in light of this truth, that God would grant us leaders who are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad; and that their character might reflect the One they govern under.

 

Romans 13:1-7

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not “a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Paul Instructs believers in Romans chapter 13 to “be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”  We owe respect to those governing us, because they have risen to their position of power under the providence of God.  Paul encourages give respect to those who are owed respect, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”  The greatest way to honor those above us is to pray for them.  Regardless of whether they have received your vote, they should receive your prayers.

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On Biblical Morality in Modern Times…

October 15, 2012

Moses on the SCOTUS facade.

It is important to consider that morality, at its essence, is a core of beliefs that is acted upon by individuals. Legislation, is but the codification of morality with the aim of directing groups of individuals to/from that morality. It is impossible for legislation to be devoid of morality, because legislation is a codification of values. So whether it serves as a legal restraint for good or a license for evil, it is inherently moral.

For the world, morality is benign, it is neither good nor bad. Dictators can be moral, so can school children, but where the world fails is in determining what if anything is immoral. The secular world fails to recognize any common universal source for morality, an individuals core of beliefs is but a reflection of their own predilection toward one course or another. Therefore when you ask a secularist ‘can one legislate morality?’ they give you this puzzled look. ‘How can anyone legislate or put into legislation individual morality?’ they ask. They go on to say, ‘what may be moral for you, is not moral for me…’ etc. This is the dead end road of the secular worldview. Ultimately nothing has meaning outside the individual, laws are suggestive of desire but not determinate of performance. The end result of this is chilling words from the book of Judges, “In those days there was no king… Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

For the Christian, morality is far less subjective. It is still a core of beliefs that is acted upon, but that core has a universal objective source. The source of human morality is God’s revelation in His word and in nature. Lodged within the narrative of history is the thread of God’s moral revelation. He reveals it implicitly in the general revelation of nature, and explicitly in the pages of His Word. Paul informs us in Romans that God has written His law on the heart of every man, so that whether they have received His written revelation or not they have within themselves a conscience that reflects their Creator’s image. For the Christian, morality is not benign, it is powerful. Morality is an expression of what one values and is given by God that we might value the right things. God gave His written law for the preservation of His people and the propagation of His glory. So for the Christian, laws and legislation become essential tools. God has created man to be ruled by laws. Whether Laws carved in stone or laws written on the human heart; it is man’s need to be governed by a moral code. The beauty of the gospel is that it redefines morality. Morality is now seen through the work of Christ on the cross. We are now given an opportunity to be governed by a law fulfilled in Christ. We are empowered to do greater works than were ever done before. What is moral becomes a reflection of Who He was and who we are in Him.

So there is great need on the part of the Christian to see that the laws of their lands reflect the redeemed reality of mankind. We must seek the goodwill of our neighborhood and our nation, and advocate for laws that protect and promote God’s design for mankind. But should the tide withdraw, and the season change, we must be prepared to live lives consistent with Christ’s example. Preaching the Word in season and out of season, as those around us “wander off into myths.” (2 Tim 4:4)

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Evangelical Engagement in Evil Times…

October 4, 2012

We live in an evil era. There is no doubt about this. One cursory look across the landscape of culture and media confirms that world lies under the domain of the evil one. In fact, it could be argued that from Jesus’ very ascension into heaven Christians have been living in what Paul would describe as “the last days.” With this in mind, how do christians engage this evil culture? Every four years this question becomes even more pertinent as Christians begin to navigate the unique and glorious responsibility of voting. God has given American Christians the opportunity to have a voice in their leadership and indeed in almost every level of governance. This was an opportunity denied Christians in the times of Paul, Constantine, Charlemagne and George III. But, with dawn of the American experiment came an unprecedented chance; Christians could now guide and participate in their government, in addition to praying for it. Ever since there has been a palpable tension in the heart of the conscientious Christian about which path is better: the political road of civic involvement, or the Kingdom road of spiritual reliance. Which path leads to the most effective engagement in repsone to these evil last days.

It should not surprise us that the Bible speaks to this issue with razor sharp clarity and concision. While there are many texts which speak to both governors and the governed, few texts provide evangelicals with the kind of roadmap we find in 2 TImothy 3:1-4:5 (See below quoted in length)

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
(2 Timothy 3-4:1-5 ESV)

There is much that one can draw from this text, so much that it far exceeds the reasonable length of a blog post. However, there some key elements worth drawing out and some conclusions worth making.

Key Elements:

I. Paul does not sugarcoat the existence of Evil. The first 9 verses of chapter 3 are devoted exclusively to the topic of evil’s existence in Paul’s day, with an eye toward its acceleration in the last days to come. This provides us with valuable encouragement. We take no small measure of comfort in knowing that the “good ole days” were not really that good. Evil has always stood in opposition to God and His people, and will until Christ’s return.

II. Paul accurately describes evil in realistic and relevant terms. Paul looks out onto his world and forward to our own with explicit realism. The times Paul describes are marked by people who will be “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self control etc.” Does this sound at all familiar or reflective of our own time? We also must be conscientious enough to accurately define evil in our own time.

III. Paul stresses the primacy of the Word of God. Paul encourages Timothy (the evangelical engager) to root his hope in the all sufficient Word of God, which is “breathed out by God, profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.” The only way this first-century evangelical was going to be equipped to engage his fallen culture with every good work was if he continued in what he learned from the sacred writings, the Scriptures.

IV. Paul delivers the method of engagement. Finally Paul instructs our early evangelical as to the manner in which he must engage this fallen culture; “preach the Word.” Paul could have said many things here; he could have said run for local magistrate, he could have suggested that Timothy lead a sit-in at the local basilica, but he did not. Paul’s advice, or rather his command to Timothy is to “preach the Word in season and out of season.” “To reprove” (with the Word), “to rebuke” (with the Word), “to exhort” (with the Word) and to do all this with patience.

What can we conclude from the above elements? Some would say that Paul was merely instructing a pastor on how to be a pastor. That this text has little to do the the lay christian. “After all,” one might say, “1-2 TImothy are pastoral epistles.” Leaving aside the fact that such a designation as “pastoral epistle” did not exist in Paul’s day, I would argue that his instruction is for all believers. As Christians, we are called to engage the culture, to be salt and light. And I think that we have reached an era when “people no longer listen to sound teaching.” Post-modernity has robbed our generation of ability to argue philosophical positions effectively on a broad scale. Once we as a culture were robbed of the definitions of right and wrong, sound teaching became nearly impossible to define, let alone engage in. The only hope we have is in the explicit unapologetic proclamation of God’s Word.

I am not arguing for a second fundamentalist retreat into the hills of cultural isolation. On the contrary, I am arguing that we must follow Paul’s model in this passage. We must recognize evil’s existence in our culture, we must be adept enough to realistically define it, we must root ourselves in God’s sufficient Word, and then we must engage the culture through the proclamation of that Word. This must be done in our churches, our homes, in our offices, at our jobs, in our neighborhoods, and even in the public square.

Vote, yes. Campaign, if you must. Advocate for life, absolutely. But above all preach unceasingly the glory of the Kingdom that here and is to come; it is the only hope we have in theses “last days.” We must all “do the work of an evangelist.”

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C.S. Lewis on Forgiveness…

October 3, 2012

Read Below, some great insight on Forgiveness from C.S. Lewis: [1]

We say a great many things in church (and out of church too) without thinking of what we are saying. For instance, we say in the Creed ” I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” I had been saying it for several years before I asked myself why it was in the Creed. At first sight it seems hardly worth putting in. “If one is a Christian,” I thought ” of course one believes in the forgiveness of sins. It goes without saying.” But the people who compiled the Creed apparently thought that this was a part of our belief which we needed to be reminded of every time we went to church. And I have begun to see that, as far as I am concerned, they were right. To believe in the forgiveness of sins is not so easy as I thought. Real belief in it is the sort of thing that easily slips away if we don’t keep on polishing it up.

We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us. There is no doubt about the second part of this statement. It is in the Lord’s Prayer, it was emphatically stated by our Lord. If you don’t forgive you will not be forgiven. No exceptions to it. He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins, provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don’t we shall be forgiven none of our own.

Now it seems to me that we often make a mistake both about God’s forgiveness of our sins and about the forgiveness we are told to offer to other people’s sins. Take it first about God’s forgiveness, I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing.

Forgiveness says, “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.” If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites. Of course, in dozens of cases, either between God and man, or between one man and another, there may be a mixture of the two. Part of what at first seemed to be the sins turns out to be really nobody’s fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven. If you had a perfect excuse, you would not need forgiveness; if the whole of your actions needs forgiveness, then there was no excuse for it. But the trouble is that what we call “asking God’s forgiveness” very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses. What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some “extenuating circumstances.” We are so very anxious to point these things out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the very important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves without own excuses. They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.

This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life – to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son – How can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night “Forgive our trespasses* as we forgive those that trespass against us.” We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.


[1] Essay on Forgiveness, C.S. Lewis. Macmillian Pub. NY 1960.

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The Demeanor of Forgiveness…

October 2, 2012

What should our forgiveness look like?

We should love one another, as Christ loved the church, he was willing to give His life that we might have access to the Father through grace.  Rarely are we called upon to give our lives to make relationships right.  The least we can do is be humble enough to forgive those who have offended us.  Only God can forgive sins. (Mark 2:7)  We are not forgiving their sins, When we forgive we are giving a witness of the Spirit of God that is in us.  We serve a God who is forgiving, and just as we are called to be Holy because He is Holy, we should forgive because he forgave us.  The NT

We should forgive obediently: Matthew 6:14-15

We should forgive from our heart: Matthew 18:35

We should forgive prayerfully: Mark 11:25

We should forgive our persecutors: Luke 23:34

We should forgive to relieve sorrow: 2 Corinthians 2:5

 

Tim Keller on Forgiveness:[1]

“…Forgiveness means refusing to make them pay for what they did.  However to refrain from lashing out at someone when you want to do so will all your being is agony.  It is a form of suffering.  You not only suffer the original loss of happiness, reputation, and opportunity, but now forgo the consolation of inflicting the same on them.  You are absorbing the debt, taking the cost of it completely on yourself instead of taking it out of the other person.  It hurts terribly.  Many people would say it feels like a kind of death. Yes, but it is a death that leads to resurrection instead of the lifelong living death of bitterness and cynicism.”

“Forgiveness means bearing the cost instead of making the wrongdoer do it, so you can reach out in love to seek your enemy’s renewal and change.  Forgiveness means absorbing the debt of the sin yourself.  Everyone who forgives great evil goes through a death into resurrection and experiences nails, blood, sweat and tears.”

“Should it surprise us, then, that when God determined to forgive us rather than punish us for all the ways we have wronged him and one another, that he went to the Cross in the person of Jesus Christ and died there?…On the Cross we see God doing visibly and cosmically what every human being must do to forgive someone, though on an infinitely greater scale…There was a debt to be paid–God himself paid it. There was a penalty to be born–God himself bore it.  Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.”


[1] [1] The Reason For God p.188-189, 192-193

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Worried About Witnessing? Don’t be….

August 29, 2012

A member of your church tells you that he really wants to share his faith, but is afraid to do so. How would you respond to him?

I would first say that he should be very encouraged and thankful that he has a real desire to share his faith. A real mark of a believer, someone who has been born again by the “living” and abiding word of God is and should be a desire to proclaim the excellencies of “Him who called us out of darkness and into light.”(I Pet. 2:9) Indeed it is for this reason we have been called, to be a witness to all the nations. (Matt 28:19) I would then say that I understand the fear that comes with that calling, it is a natural foe that we all must face but one that we have been empowered to defeat to the glory of God. So we would then explore some possible causes and solutions to this fear.

As to the possible sources, it is important to examine the following: What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of not knowing enough scripture? Are you afraid of potentially doing more harm than good? Are you afraid of being rejected? Any one of these is natural and can be addressed. If ignorance of scripture is your concern then what can we do to improve your knowledge of scripture, memorization, use of a tract? It is very important that we are sure of the basics of the gospel; we need not all be expert theologians, but we can all memorize some scripture. As to the fear of doing more harm than good; it is important to remember that we can not place them in any more harm than they are in. Each and every person has “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23) and “the wages of those sins,” apart from God’s grace, “is death.” (Rom6:23) I believe that God will accept our honest effort in good faith since none of us are perfect, but He came that all “should have life and have it abundantly.”(John 10:10) As for rejection, we must understand that even Christ faced rejection, and each and every one of us rejected him until He gave us the gift of faith and grace unto salvation. He “came unto His own and His own received Him not.”(John 1:11)

If a particular fear can be pinpointed then we hopefully can move to some proper responses to fear. First we must remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear “but of power, love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord.” (I Tim 1:7-8a) If we take that verse point by point it is illustrative.

A Spirit of power. Christ Himself commanded his disciples not to far those who can do harm to the body, but “rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Matt 10:28 God knows that we are imperfect and weak vessels, and yet he charges us to take his message to all those who would hear, so that they might believe. How are they to confess if they have not believed, how are they to believe if they have not heard, how are they to hear without someone preaching.(Rom 10:14) We access God’s power through, total reliance on Him through His word, prayer and the inner working of the Holy Spirit, so we must seek after these.

A spirit of love. God so loved the world he sent his son, he was willing to sacrifice part of himself to give life to all who believed. How much do we love those around us? Everyone we see who is without Christ is bound to face eternal separation from God apart from his grace. Now we can not save them, furthermore we cannot force them to believe, for it is God alone who justifies; who predestines, calls, glorifies and justifies. But we know that we abide in Him when we love one another and his love is perfected in us. (I John 4:12-13) If we claim the name of Christ then how can we not share his desire that “none should perish but that all should have life.” In Mark chapter 6, Jesus came to a crowd saw them and had compassion because “they were like sheep without a shepherd.” We too must have compassion for those who are in need of the Great Shepherd. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…we love because he first loved us.”(I John 4:18-19) If we truly believe this, then how can we not let love overcome our fear.

A spirit of self control. God has given you the grace of salvation, a sharp mind, and a spirit of self control. We must “prepare our minds for action,” be sober-minded and gird ourselves, setting our hope fully on the Glory which is to be revealed in Christ’s coming. (I Peter 1:13) Preparing our mind takes discipline, and we must equip ourselves with the tools God has given us. Foremost of these tools is the Spirit, who comforts and helps us, indeed he is our helper. Next is the word of God, which is the sword of the spirit by which souls are saved. Then we have the church, to aide us in equipping and bearing the burdens of ministry. Utilize these faithfully and you should be able to do all things “through Him who strengthens you!”(Phil 4:13) “All things” surely includes overcoming your fear to witness to those around you.

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Catholic Authority: The Word on Tradition…

July 7, 2012

Below is a brief overview of the sources, transmission, and interpretation of divine revelation within the Roman Catholic Church with particular attention to the functions of: Scripture,  Apostolic Tradition, and the Magisterium.

For the Church authority matters.  By what authority a church or religious institution claims to exist and speak into the lives of its adherents is of primary importance.  Within the Catholic Church authority is primarily derived from one source;  the revelation of God.  Understanding how that revelation was manifested and received is key to understanding the authority of the Catholic church and its mission.  God in his wisdom chose to reveal Himself and to make known to mankind the “hidden purpose of His will.”[1]  The majesty and impact of this act has not been lost on the church, and in fact, has served to animate the activities and construction within the church, of the apparatus necessary to share this glorious revelation with the world.  Our task here will be to examine the elements, sources and impact of the church’s use of this revelation; and how this differs from and/or fascinates protestant evangelicalism.

That God chose to reveal himself to the world is not in dispute within the church.  How God accomplished this revelation and how the church responded has often been a point of division throughout the history of Christianity.  For the Catholic Church,  there are three primary sources of God’s revelation to man.  This trinity of divine revelation takes the form of two modes of transmission and mode of interpretation.  God.  God transmitted His word through two sources; sacred scripture and tradition.[2]  These two occupy the same space and serve to work together and form a unified front of the truth of Christ.  They “are bound closely together and communicate one with the other.”[3]

Sacred Scripture is the actual written word of God, recorded through the work and breath of the Holy Spirit.[4]  This Scripture is the record of God’s deeds made manifest in the history of salvation. The word both confirms and is confirmed by the works of God in history.[5]  Chief among God works recorded in the Scriptures is the incarnation of the mystery of His Son.  Christ serves to make the revelation of God to man complete.  This leads us to the second mode of God’s revealing transmission, tradition.

Holy tradition is the entirety of God’s word communicated from God to the apostles by Christ and by the Holy Spirit.[6]  These are the oral teachings of Christ, recorded in the gospels, which informed the first church fathers, the apostles, as to the construction and actions of the Church.  The church is the product of Christ’s incarnation and work here on earth; indeed it is the focus of God’s revelation through His son and the Holy Spirit.  As such, the church “does not derive certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone.”[7]  But rather it must derive its certainty about truth from the work of scripture and tradition together.  And each must be accorded “equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”[8]  These are the two modes of the transmission divine revelation.  And both for “one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church.”[9]  Of chief importance to the church is its mode of interpreting this sacred deposit and communicating this truth to its believers.  This task falls under the work of the Magisterium.

The Magisterium serves to, “give authentic interpretation of the word of God,” to the people of God within the church.[10]  It is not superior to God’s word, but is indispensable to the work of God, acting as the servant of the word; “teaching what has been handed on to it.”[11]  While not equal to God’s word, it exercises its authority from Christ to the “fullest extent” when it serves to defines dogma from God’s revelation.[12]  This si the work of define truths from Scripture and tradition to inform the life of the believer and conform the behaviors of the faithful to the image of Christ.  This work is necessary to the effectiveness of the Scriptures.[13]

These three elements of divine revelation weave together the tapestry of divine authority as exercised by the church.  Each mode serves to inform the other and bring definition to the will of God for the believer.  And each is of indispensable importance to the authority of the church on earth.  We shall now examine the sources the church uses to proclaim this authority.

As was evidenced in the discussion above, there are three sources and methods by which the church has developed the doctrine of divine revelation.  More than any other doctrine, this one has woven together its substance and its subject.  How do we know what to believe about the Scriptures? We know from the Scriptures.  What informs our thoughts on tradition?  Of course, the history of tradition within the church.  Each of these doctrines is joined together by the work of the Magisterium.  The Catechism speaks to revelation in a section entitled “God comes to meet Man.”  Within that section on divine revelation, the chief source of catechetical instruction comes from Vatican II and the document Dei Verbum.  Dei Verbum was solemnly promulgated by Pope Paul VI, to follow in the foot steps of “the council of Trent and the First Vatican Council.  The presentation of this doctrine within the teaching of the church reflects very much the substance of this doctrine in practice.  It is often difficult to tell where Scripture begins and where tradition ends, or visa versa.  This is a key point of Criticism among evangelical and has been since the Council of Trent.

While the elevation of the entirety of Scripture as the infallible word of God is commendable, the chief complaint among protestant evangelicals is the equal elevation of tradition.  Placing anything on par with the word of God as proclaimed by the Holy Spirit, recorded in writing by the priests, prophets an apostles; is viewed as unacceptable.  Whether catholic or protestant, one can not deny the importance or the role of Christ’s church on earth.  Jesus gave his life for His church, His bride.  But the protestant desire for sola scriptura (scripture alone) is based on the belief that Scripture alone is “God breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness.”[14]  Also there is an appeal on behalf of evangelicals to examine the fruit of the church’s history concerning the practice of its tradition and Magisterium.  By misinterpreting the  perceived oral teachings of Christ, the habits of the early church fathers and even the composition of the canon to include apocryphal books and treating them as authoritative on par with the explicit recorded word of God, much damage has been done to the witness of Christ on earth.  The word has been given, and the mission is clear to Go into all the word, teaching what Christ taught, making disciples and baptizing in the name of the Father son and the Holy Spirit.  Elevating any human teaching or tradition to the level of this truth is bound to compete with the spirit of that mission.

In concluding it is worth examining this doctrine in terms of mystery and fascination.  As an evangelical protestant, I must admit to finding some attraction to the permanence and authority with which the Catholic church operates.  There is perceived, unquestioning adherence to what the church teaches and often times a confidence which grows from those convictions.  I think the evangelical world is beset by variation and independence of conscious to the point that it can be very difficult to discern what is true and authoritative; what truly should inform our lives?  The Catholic Church would appear to have answers to these questions.  And that perception is alluring and enticing, and its authority is attractive in this post-modern world.  The reality of course is that perception is often greater that reality.  The Catholic Church is not a monolithic body of mindless automatons.  But rather it is a vibrantly diverse group of over a billion people, some following the letter of the tradition, others not.  Ultimately evangelicals, myself included, must root our confidence in the word of God, for it alone possesses the power to save the souls of men.[15]  Our tradition must be that sole adherence to the word, which was made manifest in the Son.  The Word full of Glory, glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of Grace and Truth.  Lacking in nothing.

 

Glossary

The Holy Scriptures: The speech of God as put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit, organized in the Canon, called the Holy Bible.

 

Tradition: The entirety of the Word of God entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.

 

Magisterium: the servant of the Word of God, it is the teaching office of the church, giving authentic interpretation to the Word of God, whether in written form or in tradition.

 

Dei Verbum:  (The words of God) the Chief document of Vatican II discussing the revelation of God to the Church through the Scriptures, Holy Tradition and the role of the Magisterium.

 

Sola Scriptura:  One of the five Solas of the reformation.  Testifying to the belief of the reformers that scripture alone should instruct and inform the life of the believer and that tradition and the Magisterium were in no way equal in substance, importance, or function to the Word of God.

Bibliography

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Ligouri: Liguori

Publications. 1994. Sections 50-141 the Revelation of God and Sacred Scripture.

 

Dei Verbum. The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. Promulgated by His

Holiness Pope Pail VI, November 18, 1965


[1] Dei Verbum (DV) Ch1:2

[2]Catechism Sec. 81.

[3] Catechism Sec. 80

[4] Ibid Sec. 81

[5] DV Ch.1:2

[6] Catechism Sec. 81

[7] Catechism Sec. 82

[8]Ibid.

[9]DV Ch. 2:10

[10] Catechism Sec. 85

[11] Catechism Sec. 86

 [12] Catechism Sec. 88

[13] Ibid.

[14] 2 Timothy 3:16

[15] James 1:21