The dark side of Christianity

In the last few “Spirituality” posts, I asserted that we’re all being conditioned, by science, religion, media, culture, education. Science was the category that really came under the spotlight. So, in fairness, and to prove I’m as open-minded as I claim to be, this Christian is going to put his religion under the spotlight.

The first really bad piece of religious conditioning I encountered was an unfair attitude to sex. There I was, a horny seventeen-year-old, sitting in church, listening to a guest preacher say, “Young men, when you see an attractive girl walking down the street, and your eyes linger … turn your eyes away!” If I heard that from a pulpit today, I would stand up and walk out in defiance. It’s the worst example of an attitude that is taught by the church, to one degree or another. And what’s worse is, it’s not even in the Bible. It’s based on a misinterpretation of something spoken by Jesus:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-29)

What should be painfully obvious from the above passage is that Jesus is referring to married men who indulge in desire for other women. Notice it said “adultery,” not “fornication.” This is not applicable to boys and girls discovering their sexuality, nor is it applicable to any single person of any age. In a perfect world, what’s supposed to happen? We get our first ever erection on our marriage night? “Eek! What’s happening to me?” The idea is absurd. And yet ignorant preachers will carry on the age-old mission of driving this “sexuality is sinful” message home to the young. We end up with guilt-ridden teenagers who think they’re stuck with a horrible vice. It took a long time for me to realise I could look at a hot chick and think, “Phwoarrr!” without having to feel guilty.

Another issue: One of my pastor’s hobby-horses was the idea of “feelings orientation,” as he called it. When church life became uninspiring for me, and my attendance wavered, I would be accused of being “feelings oriented,” i.e. doing what I wanted to do instead of doing what I knew was right. So, believing myself to be “feelings oriented,” I would feel guilty about that and fix the immediate problem by being disciplined, i.e. attending church once again. It sounds like the problem is solved. But what you’re left with is an unhappy person, going through the motions of a spiritual life out of militaristic duty. And no one ever asks the really important underlying question: “Why is church no longer inspiring?” So the real problem gets neither noticed, addressed, nor fixed.

I should have perceived long before I did that this idea of “feelings orientation” is just some pop psychology that my pastor liked. I imbibed the idea that the “feelings” are not important. All that matters is duty. But then you end up feeling inadequate because you know you’re supposed to be joyful. And you can apply this accusation of “feelings orientation” to any problem that causes a church member to falter; you can make the problem instantly go away and turn them into obedient, guilt-driven robots once again. Cure any emotional problem by denying the importance of emotions. So, you can be a mess on the inside, but that’s apparently okay, as long as you’re going through the motions on the outside.

In more recent years, as someone who had now studied the Bible deeply, I grew sick of hearing error from the pulpit. One example: About a year ago, the pastor preached on the subject of the Sabbath, and it was terrible, conveying the idea that it was wrong to let your child play football on a Sunday. Only not just saying it outright – hinting at it in a subtle, manupulative way. Later, I heard another sermon by a younger member of the church about how “God is our friend.” When it was over, I realised I couldn’t take anything definitive away from it. It was an exercise in pretentiousness.

I was also disappointed by the distance between people in the church, or possibly the distance between them and me. Maybe it’s because I don’t belong to the shirt-and-tie brigade. Maybe it’s because I once turned agnostic, and when I came back they were never sure about me any longer. I can only guess. Maybe it’s just because I feel aloof from them because I see the poison under the surface of what’s being said and they don’t. All I know is, I don’t fit.

You might say, “Go find another church.” Been there, done that. I once wrote an article called “The Christian Book Minefield,” where I addressed the view that I think most Christian books are best avoided, because on a grand scale all those books together are a minefield of opposing and contradictory beliefs. Well, what is true of authors is surely true of preachers. We do, after all, have our Baptists, Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians, Free Presbyterians, Methodists, Independent Methodists, Pentecostals, etc, etc. If only it were as trivial as choosing ice cream!

I know what my friend Chris would say. “Become a Roman Catholic.” 🙂 I’m not convinced about that, but I won’t close my mind to it, either. The anti-Catholic attitude possessed by Protestants is yet another example of closed-minded conditioned thinking. It’s only in recent years that I’ve been able to see things a little more clearly, and it’s actually pretty simple, if you’re prepared to step away from your rigid belief system and be open-minded. Think about this: Protestantism was founded sometime in the 1500s. But “The Church” has been around since the first century. And what does history tell us that Church was? Uh-oh. It was the Roman Catholic Church. So what are we Protestants saying – that God was without a true Church for over a millennium? Think about it the next time you feel the words “Roman Catholics aren’t true Christians” coming to your lips. Conditioning! Conditioning! Conditioning! Somebody wake me up!

I’m sure there are some reading this now who are thinking, “Gee, Darryl, if you believe all that, why are you still a Christian?” Because of the Bible. Because I have undeniably learned more insight about life from it than from anything else. So I’m a Christian, but I have abandoned organised religion. And I’ve decided, as of now, to stop feeling guilty about that.

If you are a Christian and you’re feeling a bit angry that I’ve got the audacity to speak out against aspects of our religion, then you need to wake up. Go watch Jesus Camp, then tell me that our religion can’t be hijacked and used as a tool for brainwashing of the young. I refuse to be afraid to wake up to reality, regardless of how much ammo I might be handing to the athiest opposition. If they want to look out from their rigid belief system and add this to their list of reasons not to believe in God, that’s up to them. They’ve got their own conditioning to wake up from, too.

My mind was recently opened up to how much I’ve been conditioned, by a certain writer who isn’t even a Christian. In fact, he is quite opposed to Christianity, and every religion, seeing them all as exercises in control of the many by the few. Nevertheless, what he’s saying in principle is right. We pretend we’re open-minded when we’re really thinking from inside a prison cell in our minds, seeking only to defend a rigid belief system and knock down an opposing argument, instead of being open to all possibility. I have actually been more inspired by this book than by any Christian literature I’ve read, period.

Who is this author? Well, he’s a famous British personality that 99% of the population once thought was completely off his rocker (and many still do). Have a listen. Are these the words of a madman? …

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84 thoughts on “The dark side of Christianity

  1. mike q says:

    Didn’t this guy go on a chat show, wogan or des o’connor, saying that he was christ reborn or somthing of the like.

    For a madman that’s some of the most sane comments I’ve ever heard.

    When you said you are a christian because of the bible and the things it has taught you, what about the bad and contradictory things it says. If your a christian wouldn’t you have to believe everything it says. I’m not a christian but I would bet my house that we have the same values regarding love, life, friends and relatives, why do you have to label yourself as a christian.

  2. Andy says:

    Interesting point Mike Q and something I was thinking myself.
    Myself and Darryl have had many discussions about God and The Bible. I even tried to get him to read a book by a great historian called, Robin Lane Fox, entitled The Unauthorised Version which discusses the many inconsistances of the Bible and tries to rationalise them to likely and not likely. In the end I’m afraid Darryl won’t take!
    I’m neither a believer nor un-believer but if I was to devote my life to Christ I would try and do what I believe is best in line with what the Bible says and try and stay clear of the pulpit as I believe that some use passages in the Bible and twist them to say something else, as Darryl has noted above, in line with what’s currently politically correct and on the Hot Topic list for this week.
    You can’t possibly believe everyones take on the Bible since us humans can’t help inject too much emotion into everything. So why not use you’re own judgement (like you have been from what I can see, most of the time). It might not always be popular but just cause everyone else is doing it one way doesn’t mean it’s right. If you feel you’re living a life that God would approve of then I wouldn’t let anyone change my mind. In saying that it doesn’t mean I’d blindly follow and not question something I believe from time to time, as I travel through my life. I think that the older we get the better we can put things in perspective (most times).
    Darryl, my friend. My advise would be to believe in what you feel is right, don’t try and pegion hole yourself too much. You beleive in God. You belive you are living your life accroding to His Word. Now enjoy it!

  3. Darryl Sloan says:

    Yeah, it’s David Icke. He was ridiculed on Wogan in 1990 for claiming that he was “a son of God” (not the messiah, not Jesus). Believe me, this is the last person I expected to ever put any credence in anything he might have to say. But there’s no denying he has some powerful insight on some things.

    As for Bible contradictions, there appear to be some. Not as many as the “compiled lists of contradictions” would have you believe, and not enough for me to dismiss the Bible out of hand when I have gained so much from it, not least of all some pretty powerful wisdom on how to live my life.

    I know there are Christians who would claim, “Every word of this book is the infallible word of God.” I’m not one of those. But I find it impossible to dismiss.

    It’s likely our values overlap in a big way, sure. We belong to essentially the same culture. One of the subtle differences I notice is that our values tend to be the same until the pressure’s on. For instance, when I’m in the process of doing something for someone, and it ends up having unexpected negative consequences for me, I’ll keep my word regardless of that. I wasn’t like that before I was a Christian. It’s all about the pursuit of the highest good for others and the abolishing of selfishness. Christianity has refined or transformed my views on money, materialism, honesty, love, courage, etc. There’s a lot to be said for it.

  4. Darryl Sloan says:

    “The Unauthorised Version which discusses the many inconsistances of the Bible and tries to rationalise them to likely and not likely. In the end I’m afraid Darryl won’t take!”

    Ouch. Never say never. Don’t forget, I had the balls to read The God Delusion (see my review). I may read this one, too, in time.

  5. mike q says:

    when you say our values are the same until the pressure is on; again I would say we are in the same boat. I had an instance where I put a lot of hard work into a project, only to have it taken off me at the last minute by a “friend”. But since then I haven’t bad mouthed him, in fact I have recomended him to others. Maybe you just need religion to do the right thing, whereas I do it because I know it to be right, I don’t need a book to tel me this.

    And wouldn’t someone who read the bible and took only the negative aspects of it be as much a christian as you. Same reference, different morals.

  6. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    You know, I probably wouldn’t ever tell you to become a “Roman” Catholic. Really, there is no need to relocate to Rome, unless, of course, you desperately want to be a Catholic in the diocese of Rome. 🙂 The term “Roman Catholic Church” is a popular misnomer; the proper term is simply the “Catholic Church”. So, why don’t you become a Catholic? 😉

    I think you have made a lot of very profound realizations in this latest post. However, I’d urge you, once you’ve woken up to conditioned thinking, to try to understand the origins of that conditioning, not only in the decisions of your past which brought you into an environment where the conditioning was received, but where the conditioning itself originated, and the reasons why it is false.

    In your case, you were imbibed with puritanical Calvinism, steeped in a certain degree of Bibliolatry (i.e., Biblical literalism, Sola Scriptura taken to an extreme). There are plenty of reasons why all of this is false, far to many to get into here, but you touched on some in your blog post.

    Here, however, I think it is sufficient to say that, while I’m glad you’ve finally reached an understanding of the historical facts regarding the Catholic Church, I think your next step is to understand the historical facts about the Bible and its relationship to Christianity.

    The bottom line is that the Bible is a product of the Church (yes, the Catholic Church), and the Church is not a product of the Bible. That’s why the Bible itself refers to the Church as the pillar and foundation of the Truth. If the Bible suddenly disappeared from existence, so would Protestantism, but the Catholic Church would carry on.

    When the Reformation happened in the 1500s, Protestants replaced the authority of the Church with the idol they had made out of the Bible. As we can readily see today, assuming that we’re not conditioned into thinking otherwise, this Bibliolatry has ultimately led to a hodge podge of muddled and harmful thinking about Christianity and what it means to be Christian.

    I guess my point here is this: it’s a good thing that you’ve set aside the guilt you’ve been conditioned into feeling. However, your new-found comfort with abandoning organized religion cannot be a permanent state, and you must not allow it to become so. Christianity has always been an organized religion. This the Bible makes very clear (e.g., what was one of the first acts of the Apostles, even before the Pentecost? Electing a successor to Judas! This is obviously the action of an organization).

    To end on a rather bold note, if you’re really starting to wake up to the conditioning in your life, and are becoming truly free to see things as they are, then I believe it is inevitable that you will realize that to be truly Christian is to be Catholic, because that is what all the evidence professes. Do not be afraid to come home to the Church. I cannot describe to you how liberating it was for me, both intellectually and spiritually, to finally convert and embrace the truth!

  7. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Mike.

    Here’s an example from experience. I once parked my car in a pay-and-display car park without realising it was pay-and-display. I only noticed two hours later, when I arrived back at my car ready to leave. By luck, no passing security man had spotted the absense of a ticket on my dashboard. I was free to leave. But I didn’t. I went and put money into the machine for two hours of park-time, then I tore up the ticket and left. I did it because I’m motivated by doing the right thing, not by doing what I can get away with.

    Of course, I will freely admit that Christians don’t have a monopoly on honest living, and there’s many a Christian would say, “Yerhoo. Free parking,” and leave. All I’m saying is that I personally learned a better way of living through the teachings of the Bible.

    My experience leads me to believe it’s a sacred book.

  8. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Chris.

    Thanks for your encouragement. That was possibly the most difficult post I’ve ever written. I actually felt disturbed after posting it, and I’m not sure why. Maybe I was just paranoid about accuracy, because it was such a personal topic, critical of certain (unnamed) individuals, as well my church.

    But there’s something cathartic about clarifying the things that have caused me grief in the past. I think it is fair to say that I have truly abandoned Protestantism. And I’m excited about the path ahead, wherever it may lead.

    I will say that I’m glad I had the courage the attend chapel with you when I visited America last year. I say “courage” because there was that part of me that had been conditioned to think that going into a place like that was forbidden. The experience was more conducive to the worship of God than any Protestant service I’ve attended.

  9. Earl says:

    If you adhere to Christianity, better, the teachings of Jesus, then surely the organised religion to follow is the one closest to the early church Jesus formed and which his disciples continued. Without the Bible as the standard, man can introduce whatever he pleases or what people will permit into a religion, thereby diluting it and eventually creating a religion of his own. Ultimately, if we are to follow and worship God, surely we should do so in a manner that He has stipulated and not one of our own choosing. Doing otherwise just repeats the basic error in Genesis where Cain presented an offering to God, but not according to how he had been instructed, and therefore God rejected it. Since Christ provided the perfect offering by sacrificing Himself, this alone is what God will accept as atonement for sin.

  10. Timothy says:

    Greetings! Saw your post in Google Blogsearch and came to read.

    I concur with your thought regarding most Christian books. Have you ever read any of the writings from the early Christians of the 1st and 2nd centuries. They wrote some marvelous stuff like The Didache and the First Apology of Justin Martyr. I’m real fond of the epistles of Ignatius.

    http://www.haywardfamily.org/ccel/fathers2/anf01/toc.htm

    God bless…

    +Timothy

  11. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    I, for one, appreciate the honesty of your post. There are a lot of things people have done in the name of Christianity that are shameful and erroneous. That has to be admitted, and every Christian has to come to terms with it.

    Nevertheless, it is a fallacy to evaluate a proposition on the basis of the conduct of those who adhere to a belief in it. It always drives me into a rage when I read people like Dawkins and Hitchins who use this fallacy as one of their main arguments. Of course, you’re not doing that here, but I think it’s an important point to make because we don’t want to be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Getting back to you main post, I think you might be doing that a little when you talked of “feelings orientation”. I understand your point on the matter, though. It seems like your pastor went overboard on the notion, applying it to the various aspects of the human condition with too broad a brush. You simply just can’t do that. Sometimes, people have bad feelings for a reason. In your case, I think your bad feelings about your church were trying to tell you something important, but you’d been indoctrinated to poo-poo them away. That’s bad.

    On the flip side, many people pay way too much attention to feelings in our culture, and there’s a free-flowing philosophical undercurrent of “if it feels good, then it must be right”. Morality is not driven by good feeling or bad feeling. Faith is not defined by feeling either – take a look at the Charismatic movement to see where that leads. So, in one sense, your pastor was right. It’s a shame he took it to an extreme.

    Anyway, I’m glad you had a good experience coming to church with me here. I can remember “experimenting” with Catholicism before immigrating to America. It was rather nerve wracking, and I always felt like I was going to be struck down either by a bolt of lighting or some guy cracking me over the head with a baseball bat for participating in something I shouldn’t have been. I was so worried about it, I would drive all the way to Armagh every Sunday just to go to the Catholic cathedral there where I knew I would remain incognito.

    There was this one time I went down to Belfast, and decided to hang out in this little Catholic church just around the corner from Waterstones. A newly ordained priest was celebrating his first Mass, and was giving a blessing to all the people there afterward. I decided to be bold, and go up for the blessing. When it was my turn, I was so nervous, I asked him if they blessed Protestants there, and he was very surprised and taken aback and told me “Of course! The Church’s blessing is for everyone.” He asked me if I wanted to meet with him for a chat afterwards, and I agreed. We had a good discussion in a nearby cafe. The whole time in the church, I was just pooping myself. I guess it’s hard to get past the extreme anti-Catholic notions that our culture has, especially in Protestant Northern Ireland.

  12. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Timothy. Thank you for the link! I had been wondering where to find this sort early church material in electronic form.

  13. Darryl Sloan says:

    Thanks for sharing that. Chris. You had a lot to overcome, coming from a Protestant housing estate, where not so long ago the hardcore non-religious Protestants (i.e. the paramilitary sympathisers; it’s complicated, folks) drove Catholics out of their houses.

    I hope Catholicism’s wrong, because I still live there! 😉

  14. Chris says:

    Earl,

    If you adhere to Christianity, better, the teachings of Jesus, then surely the organised religion to follow is the one closest to the early church Jesus formed and which his disciples continued.

    In all seriousness, which organization is that?

    Without the Bible as the standard, man can introduce whatever he pleases or what people will permit into a religion, thereby diluting it and eventually creating a religion of his own.

    Taking a step back and looking at Protestantism as a whole, can we really say that having the Bible as the one and only standard has produced an outfit of believers who are uniform in their beliefs? Indeed we cannot. In fact, by all appearances, it is the converse of what you are saying which appears to be more true.

    In the past 500 years, how many different theologies has this one standard given birth to? Or, to rephrase the question: Whose theology are you going to follow this Sunday? Calvin’s? Knox’s? Wesley’s? Luther’s? Zwingli’s? Sproul’s? Norman Barr’s? Any myriad of store-front preachers that we seem to have here in America?

    How about morality? This one standard seems to offer little resistance to the whims of believers when it comes down to the tough questions of homosexuality, abortion, contraception, the meaning of marriage.

    Protestantism, under this standard of the Bible without which you believe man can and will craft religion as he pleases, has done nothing but give man the ability to introduce whatever he pleases or what people will permit into a religion. Protestantism has diluted Christianity so much that there’s barely anything left but dirty dish water.

    This standard, to which everyone in Protestantism supposedly adheres, offers absolutely no means to defend against heretical notions because, if they can demonstrate an ounce of Biblical justification for their position, well then, I guess there must be a place for them at the Lord’s table.

    What, then, can we say of the Catholic Church? Has She caved in to man’s desire to remake Christianity to his liking? No. Has She conceded to popular notions of morality, freely admitting homosexuals to accept Holy Orders or enter into the sacrament of marriage? No. Has She given way on the abortion question? No. What, in 2000 years, has She changed in Her doctrine on Faith and Morals. Nothing. What She has done is continuously and carefully clarified and defined Her position against all the fashions of liberal secular society. It would indeed seem that the Catholic Church is the last bastion of hope for Christianity and mankind.

    This notion you have of the Bible being the one sure standard is simply wrong (and I find it somewhat funny, considering the notion itself is a man-made doctrine). The tree has borne its fruit, and the fruit is rotten at the core. It’s time to wake up, I’m afraid.

  15. Stacey says:

    In response to Earl’s post,

    You should know before I start that I’m Chris’s wife, which may lead you to think that I am predisposed to agree with what he says. The truth is, I’ve just had more of a chance to discuss these things with him and see where he’s coming from.

    I was raised with a “bible as the only standard” theology that quickly fell apart under closer scrutiny and entirely dissolved with my college education. Bible literalism has led to so many different “literal” interpretations and over 25,000 Protestant denominations. I’m all too familiar with victims of one such group, the Word of Faith churches. They take the Bible so literally they believe the words themselves have mystical powers that even God cannot oppose. It’s very pagan and reminiscent of power of the mind thinking. Seeing all these effects of “sola scriptura” and all the seeming inconsistencies (and the fact that “sola scriptura” isn’t even scriptural) lead me to reject the notion.

    If the Bible cannot be the only standard, is it useless? Not at all. It just requires a consistent interpretation and appeal to the authority that set it up as a sacred book in the first place. After all, the Bible didn’t even exist in its present form until the fourth century, when the Catholic Church included letters and writings consistent with the beliefs that had been taught by Christ and the disciples and their successors.

    The Bible is lame without authority behind it, as is Christianity. As other posters have noted, humans will all inject their own views and emotions into doctrine. But we can’t just “decide for ourselves” either, since we’ll do the same thing. The only real option left, while believing the truth of the Bible and Christ’s salvation, is Catholicism. Sorry Darryl, I think I’m half Catholic now.

  16. Earl says:

    Chris,

    First let me say that I am not staunch, as you understand the term coming from these neck of the woods, but consider all men equal and believe in freedom of religion.

    That said, I’ll try and answer at length when I’m less tired, but for now, in short, I base all my beliefs on the Bible because I consider God to be truthful and trustworthy, and because Jesus placed great emphasis on scripture.

    For example, in Matthew 4 – which deals with the temptation in the wilderness – Jesus says, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’, thus clearly showing the importance of scripture. And in each response to the Devil’s attacks, Jesus says, ‘It is written’ and always proceeds to quote scripture in order to counter the attacks and to state that what God says is the standard to go by. The only defence Christ uses is to point to what scripture says, nothing else.

    I have included the passage so you can see what I mean, since I may not have explained it adequately.

    Matthew 4

    1Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

    2And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

    3And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

    4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

    5Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

    6And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

    7Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

    8Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

    9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

    10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

    11Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

  17. Chris says:

    Hi Earl,

    Thanks for your reply. I realize it’s quite late in the day for you.

    That said, I’ll try and answer at length when I’m less tired, but for now, in short, I base all my beliefs on the Bible because I consider God to be truthful and trustworthy, and because Jesus placed great emphasis on scripture.

    I understand that, and I don’t deny it. However, what I’m saying is not that one’s beliefs shouldn’t accord with the Bible, but that they shouldn’t be based on the Bible alone.

    …And in each response to the Devil’s attacks, Jesus says, ‘It is written’ and always proceeds to quote scripture in order to counter the attacks and to state that what God says is the standard to go by. The only defence Christ uses is to point to what scripture says, nothing else.

    I understand where you’re coming from, but I think it’s a weak argument (I also think you’re almost begging the question, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt). To put it bluntly, so what if Jesus placed great emphasis on Scripture? That doesn’t really prove anything. If anything at all, the reference you gave proves too much: Jesus always quoted from what we refer to as the Old Testament, so does that mean you don’t regard the New Testament with the same authority?

    At Mass this morning, the Sunday Gospel reading was Matthew 16:13-19. I always find this passage of Scripture to be mind-blowing. Jesus says to Peter: “You are Rock, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” So, it bears pointing out here that Jesus came to earth to found a church (among other things), but he makes the promise that the gates of Hell will not overcome it. This church, whatever it may be, has His protection from all the powers of Hell, all the lies of Satan, all the animosity the underworld can muster against it. Notice that Jesus said he was going to build a church, not compile an infallible collection of texts that were to be used as the sole rule of faith.

    But Jesus then goes on to say something really bizarre and strange to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Think about what this means! Jesus just told Peter that he was going to build his church on Peter, and then he goes and gives Peter complete, binding authority over it. Jesus founded a church on a fallible man, and gave him complete authority over it, but promised that the church would be ok, Satan can do nothing to lead this church into error.

    You said you consider God to be truthful and trustworthy. Do you, then, still hold true the claim of Luther, and the other leaders of the Reformation, that Christ failed to uphold his promise of protecting the church from the gates of hell?

    To the contrary, if you believe that the Reformation is a proof of Christ’s fidelity, that Luther et al. saved the true Church of Christ from the errors of the Catholic Church, then how do you account for the doctrinal wasteland and moral decadence that has become Protestantism? How could Jesus fail to protect Biblical Protestantism from turning into a train wreck?

    Another question would be that if we take Jesus at his word, that he founded a real church on Peter (and not the idea of a “mystical church” that Protestants have fabricated for themselves), that this church is protected from doctrinal error, and is the pillar and foundation of the truth, can you point to any Protestant institution and convince me that it is the aforementioned church that Jesus founded?

    I appreciate these posts are starting to get rather long, and off-topic. Darryl has my e-mail address if you’d prefer to continue the discussion offline.

  18. Darryl Sloan says:

    Here’s another angle that I think keeps things relatively simple …

    In order for me to accept the Protestant church as God’s “primary” Church (if you will), certain things have to be true. The perceived “corruption” of the Catholic church must, of necessity, be restricted to a short period of time around the 1500s. Then you could interpret the situation as God cleansing the Church of error. Catholicism is left behind and the true Church, with all it’s history, marches on in the form of Protestantism, the gates of hell not standing against it.

    The big question is, did this happen? Or was it, as I suspect, a situation where the Catholic Church had essentially been the same for a vast period of time. Then Protestantism was invented and it jettisoned the Catholic church on the grounds that Protestantism had disovered the real truth. But the staggering implication of this claim is that it must view past generation after past generation of the Church living in darkness, with a false Gospel. This is not in keeping with the prophecy spoken to Peter.

    Bottom line: The answers are there for the taking by reading Church history … which I should do, obviously.

    But as a good Prod once said, “If the King James Version was good enough for St. Paul, it’s good enough for me.” 😉 (This was really said by someone, I’m told.)

  19. Earl says:

    Chris,

    My, my, where to start answering all your questions. I’m afraid I’ll have to retract or recant my statement saying that I will reply at length, for, presently, I am otherwise engaged and really don’t want to get into such a lengthy debate. However, what you have said will probably clatter about in my brain (I couldn’t get to sleep last light as a result), so I’m sure I’ll end up saying something sooner or later. You have my apologies.

    Darryl,

    This site of yours is turning into a regular forum on philosophy and many other things, besides. Pretty interesting, If I do say.

  20. Earl says:

    Stacey,

    Sorry if it appeared that I disregarded what you wrote in response to one of my posting, by not replying, but I was temporarily disorientated by a bombardment. 🙂

  21. Stacey says:

    No worries, Earl. Chris has had me increasingly disoriented for three years now.

  22. Andy says:

    What the corruption in the Catholic Church, Chris.

    The amount of wealth that has been amassed over the centuries is amazing, enough to stamp out World hunger. Why not use it for that or some other good cause instead of hording it in the Vatican and using it to support the extravagance of the clergy (this is also the case in the Protestant side of the fence but maybe not just as obvious). Does it not say in the Bible that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter Heaven.

    What about the failure of the Catholic Church/Pope to speak out against the Murder of the Jews in Germany/Poland during WWII?
    What about the child molisation cases that seem to appear so often and the Church’s failure to prevent this sort of thing and also to punish the convicted?

    Hardly the last bastion of hope for Chistianity and mankind!

  23. Chris says:

    Hi Andy,

    Some good questions there. I’ll try my best to give a response without writing a thesis! 🙂

    “The amount of wealth that has been amassed over the centuries is amazing, enough to stamp out World hunger. Why not use it for that or some other good cause instead of hording it in the Vatican and using it to support the extravagance of the clergy.”

    You know, I actually went and Googled some Vatican budget statistics. It turns out that, in 2007, the Vatican scraped through with a surplus of 2.4 million Euros. It seems they were actually operating at a loss during the first few years of this decade. In the ’80s, apparently, the deficit was really rather bad.

    Anyway, the Catholic Church is a huge organization, and it isn’t cheap to run such a large organization. Sure, there is almost certainly corruption, and misappropriation of funds, but, contrary to your insinuation that the clergy are just sitting around, smoking Cuban cigars and eating caviar, are you aware that the Catholic Church provides long-term care for 25% of the world’s Aids victims? I bet you that isn’t cheap. They also maintain a collection of fine art and historical buildings (to which the public are freely admitted), which also isn’t cheap. The Catholic Church also has thousands of missions around the world, bringing basic food and health care to the dregs and outcasts.

    But, the bottom line here is this: so what if there are corrupt individuals who misappropriate church funds, or get embroiled in financial scandal? How does that invalidate the truth of the Church’s teachings on faith and morals? It’s hardly a revelation that the Catholic Church is run by sinners. What’s remarkable is that sinners still haven’t ran the Church into the ground after 2000 years (despite many carefully crafted schemes to do so).

    What about the failure of the Catholic Church/Pope to speak out against the Murder of the Jews in Germany/Poland during WWII?

    There are many first-hand testimonies of Jews from WWII who would not be alive if it weren’t for the fact that the Catholic Church hid them away in some monastery or Church somewhere, provided false birth certificates, etc.. I think this is another old wives tale about the Church which doesn’t stand up under scrutiny.

    Here’s what Einstein had to say on the matter:

    “… Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.” [December 23, 1940 issue of Time magazine]

    There are many sites on the internet that will attest to the falsity of this commonly touted nonsense that PopePius XII and the Catholic Church did nothing to help the Jews. Here’s one to start you off:

    http://www.michaeljournal.org/piusXII.htm

    The cause for the sainthood of Pope Pius XII is currently being considered. And rightly so, in my opinion.

    What about the child molisation cases that seem to appear so often and the Church’s failure to prevent this sort of thing and also to punish the convicted?

    I guess my question here is why do you think the Catholic Church should be immune to a sinister phenomenon that has also invaded the Protestant churches, and the secular social care system? The truth about child molesters is that they’ll seek out positions of responsibility that will allow them to engage in sexual misconduct.

    In his recent trip to America, Pope Benedict sorrowfully acknowledged the failure of the Church to remove known child molesters from parishes. There are now more checks than ever for people who are entering the seminary.

    But, again, it’s hardly a great revelation that the Church, in its human organization, is run by sinners. How does this affect the validity of her teachings on faith and morals, or the historical evidence that the Catholic Church is the true church of Christ? Be honest, and admit that it really has no effect at all. The conduct of the sons of the Church is no argument against accepting Her doctrines.

  24. Chris says:

    Hi Earl,

    Sorry if you were overwhelmed by my questions. Obviously, I have a lot to say on the matter, and I didn’t mean to make you feel as though I was trying to beat you down with a mass of questions. I understand that you can’t really get into a lengthy debate right now (to be honest, neither can I… well, at least I shouldn’t!), but, perhaps when we both have more time, you can email me and we’ll take it from there. I’m more than happy to continue a discussion with you, if you’re interested. 🙂

  25. Mike q says:

    Hi Chris,

    Just a quick reply to the latter end of your post. “It’s hardly a great revelation that the church, in its human organisation, is run by sinners” So how can we believe anything that these “sinners” have written in the bible. Even if only a small pecentage of them wrote untruths to control the masses, wouldn’t that put doubt into a supposed perfect truth of the bible.

  26. Chris says:

    Hi Mike,

    I suppose this is a legitimate question, and worth trying to give an answer. But, really, it is almost of the caliber of such questions as: “How do we really know President Bush isn’t controlled by aliens?”, or “How do I really know my wife isn’t cheating on me?”, or “How do I really know if anything is true at all?”. Is this sort of level of paranoia and skepticism rational and justified?

    Your comment conjures up notions in my mind of deep and vast conspiracies on the part of organized religions to brain wash the minds of the masses and keep them under control so as to extract incalculable wealth and exercise complete power in all aspects of society. However, does the available evidence support this position? I really don’t think so.

    Mike, the reality of the situation is that the Catholic Church, or the Bible for that matter, has little influence over the minds of men. Heck, most Catholics these days dissent from Church/Biblical teaching on matters such as divorce, abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and so on. Sure, perhaps in the past, when the Catholic Church was a real driving force behind civilization and had political power, there was definitely abuse of that power by corrupt individuals in the Church. But those were different times. If the Catholic Church had the sort of control over society that some people believe, then how come the Reformation happened?

    Don’t forget that compulsory education is a fairly recent phenomenon. For hundreds and hundreds of years, most people had very poor literacy, and books were much too expensive. So, if the Church, or some group of Illuminati, wanted complete control of the masses, why would they waste their time with the Bible when the masses couldn’t even read a text they hardly had access to?

    Bottom line: if the Bible really does contain untruths intended to control the masses, then how do you explain the apparent lack of control it seems to have over the masses these days (or at any point in history)?

    As for the doubt all of this casts on the, as you put it, “supposed perfect truth of the bible”, I think you need to get back in touch with reality and leave the Dan Brown novels alone.

  27. mike q says:

    Hi Chris,

    Did I inadvertantly quote Dan brown with that line. I did read the da vince code, lovely bit of fiction.

    I think my main point was that if we agree that man is capable of sin, or lying, then what truth can we garantee in the bible, especially when it was written at a time when morals and justice were terrible, when people were racist, homophobic, sexist, It’s true that thta still exists today, but at least society has took a stand against these narrow minded thoughts, it’s a pity religion is still so far from this point.

  28. Chris says:

    Mike,

    “I think my main point was that if we agree that man is capable of sin, or lying, then what truth can we garantee in the bible”

    Apologies for not giving your main question its proper treatment in my last comment.

    Basically, the answer is: we can guarantee its truth because we believe the texts were authored by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We believe that God cannot lie, so if the texts which have been affirmed by the Church as canonical are also inspired by God, ergo they must be inerrant. If the Bible was merely a human book, which your argument assumes, then I’d have to agree with you.

    I’m sure this all seems very convenient, but, as someone who doesn’t even believe in God, can I really expect you to accept the argument? Of course not; it would be like putting the cart before the horse. If you do not admit the possibility that God exists, then you cannot admit the possibility that God somehow had a hand in composing the Bible, and so the Bible remains to you as a merely human book.

    I’m sorry, but until you can resolve the God question, I don’t think it would really do either of us any good to belabor the matter at hand any further.

  29. Earl says:

    Chris,

    Well, I don’t know if I would accuse you of browbeating me with questions, but I did feel a little punch-drunk while trying to assimilate and, more so, counter all you fired at me. To save face, I’ll attribute that to the lateness of the hour during which I set about to respond, rather than my ineptitude. 🙂 As for continuing when it’s more opportune, well, I imagine that for the foreseeable time I’d find that too taxing. The debate and the questions raised are, no doubt, very interesting, and it’s more than likely that I’ll add my halfpennyworth now and then. And afterward run for the hills in anticipation of your onslaught. 🙂

    Actually, as I was saying to Darryl, this site is becoming like one of the Parisian cafés during the Enlightenment, where debate was aplenty.

  30. Darryl Sloan says:

    Earl,

    I love what’s happening here lately. Now ferme la bush and go bring me a croissant, garcon.

  31. Chris says:

    Earl,

    The discussion here is of much greater worth than the garbage brought up during the Enlightenment. 😉

  32. Jeff Davis says:

    You guys rock. Chris, though I don’t necessarily agree with everything that you have said, I do have to say that I appreciate your defense of your faith. As a Protestant who was raised in the US, where we were fortunate enough to not have wars over the differences between Catholocism and Protestantism, I am not of the belief that Protestantism is “the true Church.” Each denomination came about due to perceived wrongs (true or not) in a prior denomination. I can agree that the reason that Luther broke from the church was a good one. I can agree that Calvin had some things correct (I’m not a “five pointer,” by any means). But I am not inclined to believe that a Catholic is going to hell for being a Catholic. Christ’s death paid the penalty for sin. That’s it, pure and simple. Does it really matter, as long as we are worshipping, if we are in Mass, a Baptist or Assembly of God church, or our living room?

    And, for the record, I was raised Assembly of God, believe in free will, was recently ordained to preach in a Baptist church and have a five-point Calvanist as a mentor. Whew!

  33. Gordy Crozier says:

    I kinda read this whole thing and didn’t know how to reply. On the one hand i felt angry as Darryl your church experience has obviously not been good with the Protestant church and i mirror a lot of your sentiments. The whole lust thing leads to repression on a mass scale and has kids who would be predisposed to guilt feeling guilty and confused over natural feelings they have to the opposite sex. The second i agree with as well, there are many people in the church who mask over their feelings as they are told that depression is simply not having enough Jesus (as if he’s available in a can) and that was told to me, him not knowing i have depression. And there is a list of stuff the church has not got right and i could add to your list, how churches can become wrapped around ministers and leaders and not about God/Jesus, also the fact that for a group of people who are meant to love each other we can be such complete jerks to each other and the list goes on so i’ll stop.
    But on the other i felt angry at Protestantism was being represented. I know i just laid my digs in and i admit that it goes on but at the same time its somewhere where i do feel loved. Its also a religion that is not as morally vacant as Chris has represented it as. I really felt offeneded by a number of your comments as, while i agree it is run by men and women who are imperfect and therefore can fall so is your own religion, its not snowy white either and therefore your attack is unjust and does you no credit. I think it unfair to say we have diluted Christianity to the point it is no more than “dirty dishwater”. I have a clear sense of my Christian morals and what the Bible says and that has come from my Protestant church and quiet times.

    God gives his work to man as we’re all he has to work with. We get it wrong. All the time. We bring to the chuirch all our mistakes and hang-ups. If you ever find the perfect church you’re probably dead. I don’t believe Roman Catholics are going to hell, i believe that if they have made a committment to God then they are saved.

    I have no idea where this post went or if it means anything all i know is i feel slightly less angry and a bit more annoyed at my ability to express myself.

  34. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Gordy.

    I appreciate your comment as heartfelt, but you’ve left me a little in the dark as to the specifics of what I said that offended you (unless it was what Chris said).

    My church experiences are what they are (or perhaps that should be “were what they were”). I am left with no reason to stay at my present church, and Protestantism is in such a state that I’ve little hope of finding what I’m looking for (a church with rights teachings and love among its people) anywhere else.

    If you have found such a thing, then you are blessed. I lack the conviction that it exists, and I haven’t the energy go church-hopping to find it.

  35. Gordy Crozier says:

    No Darryl i felt angry that we as a church had let you down. Church should be about unity and making people that they are part of a family. And yeah i was offended by some of the stuff Chris had said. Wasn’t offended by what you said and as i said i agreed. Sorry when i write tend to ramble and not be clear sorry

  36. Chris says:

    Gordy,

    But on the other i felt angry at Protestantism was being represented. […] its somewhere where i do feel loved. Its also a religion that is not as morally vacant as Chris has represented it as.

    I wouldn’t necessarily say “morally vacant”, more like “morally disoriented” .

    I really felt offeneded by a number of your comments as, while i agree it is run by men and women who are imperfect and therefore can fall so is your own religion, its not snowy white either and therefore your attack is unjust and does you no credit.

    I believe I made reference to the sins of members of the Catholic Church in other posts, but I also pointed out that such actions of individual men are irrelevant when considering the stability and truth of the teachings of the institution concerning faith and morals.

    My point was that Protestantism, as a whole, has offered little resistance to popular moral whims (such as abortion, homosexuality, contraception, the meaning of marriage) and notions of theology which are patently dubious and even heretical — and that it is fundamentally incapable of clear, coherent, and unified resistance to such things — whereas the Catholic Church has remained firm in her teachings for over 2000 years, and clarified and refined them, against the enormous pressures of society.

    Why do you think that is an “unjust” assessment of the situation?

    I think it unfair to say we have diluted Christianity to the point it is no more than “dirty dishwater”. I have a clear sense of my Christian morals and what the Bible says and that has come from my Protestant church and quiet times.

    In hindsight, and if you take it out of context, the “dirty dishwater” analogy does seem too harsh. But I think you are confusing your own personal, provincial experience of Protestantism with the trends of Protestantism as a whole, and are not considering why those trends are happening.

    I’m glad you have a clear sense of your “Christian morals”, whatever that term means for you (and I don’t say that in ridicule, but I’m genuinely unsure what that term concretely means for any given Protestant), and what you think the Bible says, and have found a comfortable and loving home inside the bowels of Protestantism. Having been privy to Darryl’s personal troubles with finding a spiritual home, I’ll say you are fortunate in not having to deal with such torment.

    However, the facts remain. Protestantism, while there still may be some pockets of apparent stability, is being quickly eroded on all sides. I believe the reason for this is that the entire movement is based on bad foundations, a central one being the man-made and self-contradicting doctrine of Sola Scriptura. My justification for this belief is based on what I see — the gates of Hell are prevailing against Protestantism. While you think they have not penetrated your church’s bubble, the Protestant world around you is crumbling into the sands of time.

    I state these observations with strong language because I’m convinced that the issue is of paramount importance and urgency, and it concerns me greatly that people like you are unthinkingly being led astray. If my use of language has offended your gentle, mild-mannered sensibilities, then good, because it is intended to get people like you riled up, off the bench, and into the debate.

  37. mike q says:

    Hi Chris,
    Just a quick post regarding your view that the catholic church hasn’t comprimised in over two thousand years.

    You mention abortion, contraception, etc, But what about slavery, you don’t seem to be fighting for the right to keep slaves as the bible says is acceptable.

    “‘As for your male and your female slaves, whom you may have; of the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves. Moreover of the children of the strangers who sojourn among you, of them you may buy, and of their families who are with you, which they have conceived in your land; and they will be your property. You may make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession; of them may you take your slaves forever: but over your brothers the children of Israel you shall not rule, one over another, with harshness.

    “If a man strikes his servant or his maid with a rod, and he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. Notwithstanding, if he gets up after a day or two, he shall not be punished, for he is his property.”

  38. Darryl Sloan says:

    Chris,

    “Protestantism, while there still may be some pockets of apparent stability, is being quickly eroded on all sides. I believe the reason for this is that the entire movement is based on bad foundations, a central one being the man-made and self-contradicting doctrine of Sola Scriptura.”

    I’ve largely stayed out of this debate, but I feel I need to a little balance to the argument. It’s reasonable to say that there’s a massive sub-set of Protestantism termed the “Evangelicals,” these being Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentcostals, and many more. One facet of Evangelicalism is a very close adherence to the Bible, giving rise to matching moral standards. The separation of these sects is largely due to doctrinal matters regarding the nitty-gritty of church practices such as Baptism, use of music, etc.

    The messier side of Protestantism is the likes of the Church of England, whose laxity regarding such things as homosexuality, gay clergy, etc., is all down to an abandonment of the Bible as the rule of faith.

    The Evanglicals and their Sola Sciptura stance is the very thing that’s preventing them going the way of the Church of England.

    I feel you’ve got it backwards, buddy.

  39. Darryl Sloan says:

    Mike,

    You’ve raised an excellent point. I, for one, have to hold my hand up and say I can’t answer your objection.

    I think you’re quoting from the Old Testament, but I would be putting up a smokescreen if I rejected your point on those grounds. It’s the same God, after all.

    I just don’t know. Anyone want to tackle this?

  40. Chris says:

    Mike,

    You mention abortion, contraception, etc, But what about slavery, you don’t seem to be fighting for the right to keep slaves as the bible says is acceptable.

    Yeah, and I’m not fighting for the state’s right to use capitol punishment either. So, what’s your point?

  41. mike q says:

    Chris,

    Well the point I’m making is you take note when the bible says homosexuality is wrong, but you don’t seem to regard the taking of slaves as moraly right. even though the bible says it is, as long as it’s a non-israely slave. You’d make a stand against homosexuals, but wouldn’t stand in the way of the banishment of slavery.

  42. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    The Evanglicals and their Sola Sciptura stance is the very thing that’s preventing them going the way of the Church of England.

    Yes, I’m familiar with the so-called “Evangelical” sub-set of Protestantism, and I very much respect that they share a lot of unity with the Catholic Church on moral stances. However, as I mentioned in my response to Gordy, I’m not just concerned with matters of morality, but also with matters of faith. Evangelical groups maintain the usual Protestant Reformationist stances that I think are false, and sub-groups under the Evangelical umbrella have gone far off into left-field, particularly in the Pentecostal area, which you mentioned, where many heresies have developed.

    Sola Scriptura is no protection against theological error. In fact, it’s a permissive policy for generating it.

    I kind of have an inkling that the “grass-roots” Evangelicals will get absorbed back into the Catholic Church when, in time, the Protestant world has been reduced to tatters and the Evangelicals are the only sane voice left. I think many are converting even today. Look at what’s happening now in the Church of England — the issue of female bishops, soon to be voted on in the Lambeth Synod, has prompted a group of traditionalist bishops to get in touch with the Vatican, obviously with a view to coming back into the Catholic fold should things go even further south in the C of E.

  43. Earl says:

    Chris,

    “I’m not just concerned with matters of morality, but also with matters of faith.”

    In response to the position you hold on scripture, let me pose the following question:

    Why isn’t what God says in His Word sufficient in matters of faith?

  44. Chris says:

    Earl,

    Why isn’t what God says in His Word sufficient in matters of faith?

    Where does it say in the Bible that it is the only rule of faith? Why does the Bible refer to the Church as the pillar and foundation of the truth, and not itself? If God’s Word was completely sufficient for all matters of faith, then why did God’s Word Incarnate bother founding a Church at all, giving men instruction on how to run it, establishing it as a teaching authority, and sending the Holy Spirit to protect it from error and lead it into all truth?

    Mike,

    Well the point I’m making is you take note when the bible says homosexuality is wrong, but you don’t seem to regard the taking of slaves as moraly right. even though the bible says it is

    Perhaps if you read Paul’s letter to Philemon, you might gain some understanding of how God’s Incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ altered our perception of human dignity (although I’m more certain they’ll remain as mere words on a page for you). Besides, the Bible says eating certain kinds of foods is a reprehensible thing, yet that thinking was also renewed in the light of Christ. That’s why I’m not storming Capital Hill demanding Supreme Court action on the matter.

  45. Darryl Sloan says:

    I think Mike raised a fair point and is being treated less than fairly here.

    In the verses Mike quoted, a very dark shadow is cast on the Christian position of all people being equal. The verses seem to say that in legal matters involving a slave, as long a the slave doesn’t die, well, we can just forget the whole prosecution, hook, line and sinker, because he’s only a slave – your property (as it states) – of less worth and dignity than you, because of his class status. If that doesn’t make you uneasy as a Christian, I don’t know.

    Fair enough, that was pre-Christian Israel. But doesn’t it bother you that these are still laws laid down in the Bible? Okay, Christianity enhanced the law and took it to a better place. But I have to ask, why were the laws of the people of God laid down in this fashion originally, when it would have been a very simple thing to say from the get go, “Treat you slave with the same dignity as you treat your brother.”

  46. mike q says:

    Chris,

    I read the letter, so why did it take another two thousand years to finally realise that slavery was moraly wrong. Because society finally relised it was so. the same with sexism, and homophobia.

    And saying that Jesus came along and altered our way of thinking, well what about;

    Leviticus 20:13 states: “If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they should surely be put to death….”.

    First off, why isn’t this regarded as obsolete like slavery, I don’ tremember Jesus asking for the death of homosexuals, he didn’t because he realised it was from a point in history where that was frowned upon, and by frowned upon I mean you were stoned to death for it.

    If you still believe homosexuality is wrong, although I don’t see how you can if you can regard slavery as “old news”, then why aren’t you piling up the stones ready to kill homosexuals like the bible says you should.

  47. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    But I have to ask, why were the laws of the people of God laid down in this fashion originally, when it would have been a very simple thing to say from the get go, “Treat you slave with the same dignity as you treat your brother.”

    You have to be aware of the vastly different circumstances and character of the people of that time. The first mistake in understanding history is to read it backwards and project 21st Century values onto people of a different time.

    God’s permission of slavery seems more like an indulgence for a hard hearted people who lived in a world where slavery was as everyday as Starbucks baristas. It was the same situation with respect to polygamy, and divorce (c.f. Matt 19.8-9). Such things were not necessarily God’s intended way, but He permitted them at that time.

    I have a problem with Mike’s statement of his point. I don’t think he’s being honest, and is intentionally drawing parallels between vastly different moral issues just to make trouble for those burdened by Biblical literalism and Bibliolatry. I don’t like that, and I refuse to entertain such people. The bottom line is that homosexuality and abortion are objectively grave violations of the natural law. Slavery and polygamy are nowhere near as serious. The Bible does not anywhere state that slavery is morally acceptable. Just because it was permitted at one time does not mean it is a universal moral right.

  48. Chris says:

    Mike,

    why aren’t you piling up the stones ready to kill homosexuals like the bible says you should.

    Sorry, Mike. Perhaps someone else will respond to your trolling. But I’m not going to bite. Come back when you’re ready to have an honest discussion.

  49. mike q says:

    You say that homosexuality are grave violations of the natural law, so why does it happen in other species.

    Actually I’m with you on abortion, these days it’s become a lifestyle choice, wether or not to have a baby this year or the next. Oh just have an abortion, I’ll have it next year, its to easy. But there’s always extreme circumstances, a girl raped by her father for example becoming pregnant.

    And with God’s permision of slavery because that was the mentality of the time, the same goes for homosexuality, we should know better now.

  50. Chris says:

    Mike,

    You say that homosexuality are grave violations of the natural law, so why does it happen in other species.

    Since you don’t seem to know what the phrase “natural law” means:

    http://newadvent.org/cathen/09076a.htm

    And with God’s permision of slavery because that was the mentality of the time, the same goes for homosexuality, we should know better now.

    As I said, I’m unwilling to continue this discussion with you until you start being honest. Homosexuality and slavery are two vastly different issues, so stop equating the two.

  51. mike q says:

    Hi Chris,

    So you only read the last line of my post then, did you? The last line may have been flipant, but the rest I thought had honesty,

  52. Darryl Sloan says:

    It’s unfortunate that homosexuality has been brought into the debate, because you really can’t equate homosexuality with slavery.

    The reasons for both, and the objections to both, are vastly different.

    This discussion just got unnecessarily complicated, and I too won’t bite. Oh, all right, maybe just a bit …

    In recent decades, the gay community has taken great pains to ensure that anyone who disagrees with homosexuality is portrayed as homophobic and equated with people who indulge in racism and bigotry. This has largely been done through the manipulative abilities of the media, not by rationality. My contention is that most of the world has forgotten what sex actually is, and what it’s for. Hence we see the world growing further and further towards the acceptance as normal of something which is biologically absurd. I won’t put down homosexual people, but I reserve the right to politely disagree with them.

    Now, how do we fit the slavery issue into that context?

  53. mike q says:

    Hi Chris,

    Of course they’re vastly different issues, but what I was saying was, if we came to realise that slavery was wrong, but the people of the time thought it was okay. Why can’t we now say, that the people in that time thought homosexuality was wrong, but now we know that it isn’t a choice to be a homosexual, and so shouldn’t judge them with those same old values.

  54. mike q says:

    Of course your assuming that being gay is a choice, why are so many gay men camp, or feminine. And why are so many lesbians butch, or masculine. Why would they “choose” to live a life knowing they are in for a lifetime of hurt, oppression, and ridicule.

  55. Chris says:

    Mike,

    but now we know that it isn’t a choice to be a homosexual

    Rubbish! That has not been established as a fact. Stop using dishonest claims to back up your dishonest argument.

  56. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Mike.

    I half-expected you to react in one way or another to my statement. The question is, do we now forget about the original question about slavery and head down this avenue? Because it’s a long avenue.

    Like I said, comparing homosexuality with slavery essentially spoiled this debate. And I liked the issue you posed originally, regarding morals in the Bible changing over time.

    This was a bad example, because Christians (among others) object to homosexuality on more grounds than simply, “At one time or another God said no.”

  57. Rob J says:

    Just stumbled upon this fascinating discussion. I think Mike is making an interesting point about taboos in the Bible that are extremely dodgy today. Not just slavery, but selling your own daughter as a sex slave (Exodus 21:7)! Or the bit in Numbers where Moses orders genocide on everyone apart from the young virgins. In 2008 would anyone honestly take to the streets announcing that menstrual blood is unclean?While I believe that the Bible is a book to live by, I also believe that anyone who takes every single passage to heart is probably deranged.

    I also believe that the idea of homosexuality as being evil and wrong is outdated. It makes me think of that “God Hates Fags” cult in America, the Westboro Baptist Church. Something not even antqiuated about it – just a bit sad and ridiculous.
    I think homophobia is just that – a form of fear. And I wouldn’t take anyone too seriously who marches against it, unless they have discussed the matter in depth with a gay person. Just as I wouldn’t take anyone seriously in discussions about the Bible unless they have read it. It’s certainly interesting from the above comments how Mike is politely presenting his point of view, while Chris has descended into rudeness.

    Having said all that, I think Darryl said it best. We are all (I presume) lucky enough to live in democracies, so to politely disagree with something, someone, or even a way of life is our right. And if you don’t agree with homosexuality, that is certainly your right.

  58. Earl says:

    Rather than address all your questions, for now, anyhow, permit to me continue with the issue and give some examples of the role of scripture. Again, let me point you to accounts in the Gospels where Jesus shows the importance of His written word by directing the Jewish religious leaders to the scripture in order to correct their doctrinal error. As you will see in the passages, Jesus repeatedly says ‘have ye not read’, and thereby clearly demonstrates what source they should have consulted to prevent erroneous beliefs occurring. It is evident that they should have based their belief on what was written.

    Matthew 12

    1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
    2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
    3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
    4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
    5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
    6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.

    Matthew 19

    3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
    4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
    5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
    6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    Matthew 22

    23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,
    24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
    25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:
    26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.
    27 And last of all the woman died also.
    28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
    29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
    30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
    31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
    32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
    33 And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.

    In verse 29, Jesus explains why they err in matters of doctrine: it is a result of not knowing the scriptures.

  59. Chris says:

    Hi Earl,

    Yes, I’ve considered the fact that Christ likes to refer to the Scriptures God gave to the Hebrews. But, again, I don’t think that this proves your claim of the complete sufficiency of Scripture for deciding matters of faith. Like I said before, if anything, it proves too much — Christ always quoted the Old Testament (for obvious reasons), so does that mean the New Testament has no bearing?

    The questions of my last post to you still stand. If the Bible was completely sufficient for matters of faith, then why did Christ bother founding a Church?

    Protestants always like to point to the book of Acts as a case-study for how a Bible-based church ought to be. The reality is that Acts demonstrates numerous counter-examples to Protestant notions of Sola Scripture and church activity. The main one being the council of Jerusalem described in Acts 15. I leave you to go read the text, but there are a few things to notice.

    Observe the fact that the apostles and bishops are meeting in order to produce a definitive teaching on the matter at hand. The usual Protestant approach to doctrinal issues is to rely on the fabricated notion of “personal interpretation” of the Bible, and everyone is free to go his own way depending on how the “Holy Spirit guides him”.

    The second point of interest is that James makes reference to the book of Amos to confirm Peter’s opinion. Notice how Peter’s opinion was received first, then it was found to be supported by the Old Testament? The usual order of events for Protestants is to search the Scriptures first, then argue a point from a bunch of verses scattered all over the place. But here we seem to see that Peter’s opinion has primary authority and the scriptural justification is secondary.

    A third observation is the wording of the letter sent out by the apostles and bishops to the Gentiles, particularly in verse 28:

    28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements …

    If Scripture was completely sufficient for matters of faith, why doesn’t the letter justify the matter from Scripture? Why is the letter worded as though the apostles and bishops who deliberated on the matter consider themselves some sort of teaching authority, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whose decisions are binding? If Scripture is completely sufficient for matters of faith, why aren’t the Gentiles told to consult their copy of the King James?

    Backing up a bit and taking more of a bird’s-eye view again of what’s going on in Acts 15, it makes sense that the authorities of the church would have to meet like this in order to decide on matters of doctrine that are difficult to judge from Old Testament writings alone. Otherwise, the church would have fractioned into a thousand pieces in the first few decades, just like Protestantism has done.

    So, I think Acts 15 clearly shows the existence of institutional authority in the early church, which was able to make binding decisions on matters of doctrine. This institutional authority was living men guided by the Holy Spirit; it was not a book to which every man had to refer in order to reach his own conclusions.

  60. Earl says:

    Since it’s late here, I’ll not answer this evening. What’s more, I’ll also have to read the passage and see if I can provide an answer.

    However, for the meantime, consider the following passage in Acts 17 where the Bereans were commended and for what reason, assuming the two statements are meant to be coupled, of which, admittedly, I can’t fully determine. Anyway, their behaviour is noteworthy: they readily received the preaching, but checked what Paul the Apostle and Silas taught to see if their teaching agreed with the scripture.

    Acts 17

    10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

    11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

  61. Chris says:

    Earl,

    Anyway, their behaviour is noteworthy: they readily received the preaching, but checked what Paul the Apostle and Silas taught to see if their teaching agreed with the scripture.

    Well, of course! If you were a Jew in Palestine in those days, and some guys came to your synagogue and told you that your Messiah had already come and died a death to free you from sin, as predicted by the prophets, wouldn’t you go read the prophets to see if what you were being told was in accord with what the prophets wrote?

    But I don’t see what this has to do with Scripture being completely sufficient for matters of faith. The Jews in Acts 17:10,11 were instructed by word of mouth, which was then confirmed against the prophets. They weren’t handed a copy of the NIV and left to it.

  62. Darryl Sloan says:

    I’ve been wondering about this picture Chris is painting of Catholic uniformity through the ages, so I did a little digging. I came across some startlingly bad views on sex by some of the early Church Fathers.

    Justin Martyr (c. 100–165): “We Christians marry only to produce children.”

    Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–215): “If a man marries in order to have children, he ought not to have a sexual desire for his wife… He ought to produce children by a reverent, disciplined act of will.”

    St. Jerome (342–420): “Do you imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? … He who is too ardent a lover of his own wife is an adulterer.”

    Augustine (354–430): “It is one thing to lie together with the sole will of generating: this has no fault. It is another to seek the pleasure of flesh in lying, although within the limits of marriage, this has venial fault.”

    Augustine again (on what we would call Natural Family Planning): “You warn us to watch the time after the purification of the menses when a woman is likely to conceive, and at that time refrain from intercourse. From this it follows that you consider marriage is not to procreate children, but to satiate lust.”

    Okay, I’m only scratching the surface of proper research and not even being careful about the context in which these things were said, but it does look rather startling, from a more enlightened Christian perspective on sex. Think of all the pain and suffering caused by sexual repression through the ages, and it appears we have these men to thank for it.

    Earlier, I indicated some positivity towards the Catholic Church on the grounds that it was THE church for two millennia, whereas Protestantism has only been around for about five hundred years. But having just started to investigate all the history I need to investigate, I suddenly find myself open to the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Reformation was indeed a much-needed wake-up call, regardless of what Protestantism has turned into today.

  63. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    I’m not going to excuse what the Church Fathers have said in your quotes, especially when the context is unknown, but I think it’s important to remember that these were men of a different time. Augustine, for example, was a convert from Manichaeism, a group who had pretty grim views of the human body, and he did slip into some degree of rigorism before he died.

    But, what these men are saying, while it may be put harshly, is pretty much the core of the Catholic view of sexuality.

    Sex was created by God, and therefore fundamentally a good thing. It should only occur in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. There are two aspects of sex: the unitive, and the procreative; if you try to separate one from the other, you disorder God’s intent for sex. Contraception is morally wrong; if natural family planning is used as merely a contraceptive device, then it is morally wrong — it is legitimate that it be used as a mechanism to avoid pregnancy, for a short time or indefinitely, if there are serious moral reasons for doing so. If you see your wife as merely an outlet for your sexual lusts, then the sex you have with her is offensive to both her and God. Masturbation is objectively wrong. And so on.

    Yes, it would appear that the writings of these men have been turned into a guilt stick for people to beat themselves with throughout the ages, but the reality is that elements of Catholic teaching on sex, even today, looks overly restrictive to the permissive, modern Protestant view which admits all sorts of things as being licit in a marriage.

    Darryl, it’s easy to go hunt out stuff like this, which is not suiting your tastes, and use it to create a smoke screen around your problem. But the hard thing is to figure out why the teachings on morality are what they are. What are the underlying theological beliefs and the beliefs about man’s place in the order of creation, and how they have directed thinking on matters and led to conclusions which you find too rigid at face value. It can take a long time before you understand the context and origin of things. A more modern, and perhaps more comprehensible work to read from your Protestant perch, would be Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

    As for the Reformation being a “much needed wake-up call”, I don’t know about that. The abuse of indulgences mainly kicked that one off, but the Reformers held a pretty rigid view of sexuality. And if you want some really startlingly bad views on sex, I believe John Calvin came up with a lot of extremely rigid teachings all on his own, even compared to what you perceive the Catholic viewpoint to be. So it’s not all roses elsewhere either.

  64. Darryl Sloan says:

    It may have appeared from my wording that I deliberately went looking for error. That was not the case. I was doing more general reading on church history and this material pretty much fell into my lap. That said, it is what it is. And I have to wonder, from here forward, what else I’m going to discover that’s going to disappoint (or horrify) me. To me, those statements about marraige and sex are pretty horrific, and some of them are three hundred years after Christ.

    “It’s not all roses elsewhere either.”

    Clearly not. But let’s not make this a tit-for-tat against two sides. I have no vested interest in protecting Protestantism beyond the point where I spot an occasional observation of yours that I think is inaccurate. As for me, having already moved away from the Protestant church, I am unfortunately finding reasons to discourage me from Catholicism, too. And I may well have to face the possibility that I need to drop the whole thing, hook, line and sinker. We’ll see.

  65. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    I have no vested interest in protecting Protestantism beyond the point where I spot an occasional observation of yours that I think is inaccurate.

    I try to be as accurate as the limits of my knowledge allow, but I am not, by any means, an encyclopaedic authority on all things related to the Catholic Church. Caveat emptor — do your own research before you reach a decision on whether a thing is inaccurate, or simply not clarified well enough and given its correct and complete context.

    I am unfortunately finding reasons to discourage me from Catholicism, too. And I may well have to face the possibility that I need to drop the whole thing, hook, line and sinker. We’ll see.

    Catholic morality is a result of Catholic theology, and you cannot fully comprehend the moral teachings if you don’t understand the theological views from which they result. It’s like getting discouraged about joining the army because you don’t like the blotchy green combat gear they’d make you wear.

    It would be unfortunate if you allowed your own personal preferences to get in the way of a thorough and open-minded investigation, starting from first principles. I’m not exactly shouting from the rooftops about some things the Catholic Church says we ought to do, but I’m obedient because I realize Christianity is not about what I want, it’s about what God wants.

    You may well find that you come to a bridge where you have to either conform yourself to a different way of life and of thinking, or go your own way. Personally, I chose the former, and I feel my life is better for it.

  66. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    I am unfortunately finding reasons to discourage me from Catholicism, too.

    I wonder what it is you are hoping to find in the Catholic Church? What is it exactly that you want which discourages you because it appears you are not finding it in Catholicism?

    If you’re expecting a sinless organization, free from corruption, confusion, and inconsistency, then you will not find it in the conduct of the members of the Catholic Church throughout the ages. You will, however, find such things in her definitive statements of teachings on faith and morals made throughout the ages. To that end, and I think you’re missing this part of the puzzle, It is important to distinguish one individual Catholic writer’s opinions with, say, the teachings of the councils — the Magisterium of the Church does not encompass the writings of individual Catholics (unless, under very special circumstances, it is the Pope):

    http://newadvent.org/cathen/15006b.htm

    Like St. Augustine apparently said, “The Church is a whore, but she is my mother.”

    So, what is it you are looking for?

  67. Darryl Sloan says:

    Chris,

    I’m looking for something that shows right morality and theology from the get-go, and remains consistent for 2000 years.

    In other words, I’m looking for the absense of all the bad things you accuse the Protestant church of. 🙂

    Thus far, what I’m seeing is an unhealthy sexual repression incorporated into Church doctine and given sacred status, over at least the first 300-400 years of the Church. Not inspiring.

    In fairness, it’s not all bleak…

    St. John Chrysostom (c. 347–407): “How do husband and wife become one flesh? As if she were gold receiving the purest gold, the woman receives the man’s seed with rich pleasure, and within her it is nourished, cherished, and refined. It is mingled with her own substance and returned as a child. But suppose there is no child; do they then remain two and not one? No; their intercourse effects the joining of their bodies, and they are made one, just as when perfume is mixed with ointment.”

    But together it all reminds me of the sad divisiveness of Protestantism.

  68. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    But together it all reminds me of the sad divisiveness of Protestantism.

    Firstly, it may be worth pointing out that the Catholic Church is not some kind of Borg Collective. If you examine the opinions of Catholic writers on a matter, you will oftentimes get as many different opinions as there are writers. When there has been no official pronouncement on an issue, it is still open to debate which, of course, must take place in a way that doesn’t step outside the bounds of core Christian beliefs and values. The prevailing opinions on certain such issues have varied at different times, but, if the Church speaks definitively on a matter, then it is decided and the debate is pretty much over (or at least much more defined and restrained).

    But, I guess it depends on what you mean by the terms “right morality and theology”. What do you mean by those terms?

  69. Darryl Sloan says:

    “‘Right morality and theology’. What do you mean by those terms?”

    Another of “those” questions. What are you, my shrink? 😉 I sense you are baiting me, and I have a suspicion as to where, but I will fearlessly jump in head first nonetheless.

    I mean my personal opinion of what is right morality and right theology, based on my own reasonings in the matter. Go for it. 🙂

  70. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    I mean my personal opinion of what is right morality and right theology, based on my own reasonings in the matter. Go for it. 🙂

    Hehe. 🙂 Honestly, I wasn’t baiting you intentionally, or at all, really. I thought it was important to clarify terms given our recent misunderstandings.

    Now that you’ve clarified that you’re looking for some kind of self-affirmation in an institution, I don’t really think there’s much more I can say other than to echo my point that, eventually, you will come to a bridge where you have to either conform yourself to a different way of life and of thinking, or go your own way. The only place you’re going to find a church that completely affirms your way of thinking is to establish your own.

  71. Earl says:

    Chris,

    More to the point, though, how did Peter previously reach his conclusion on the topic that was under scrutiny by those assembled at Jerusalem? The method he used may be revealing and may strike to the heart of the matter.

    It all stems from what went before concerning Peter’s heavenly vision, his meeting with Cornelius, the salvation of those gathered at Cornelius’ house, and finally, how Peter remembers the word of the Lord and makes a reasoned judgement in light of what God said.

    Acts 11

    1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

    2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

    3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

    4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,

    5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:

    6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

    7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

    8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.

    9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

    10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

    11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.

    12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:

    13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;

    14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

    15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

    16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

    17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

    18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

    The account regarding Cornelius is in Acts 10.

  72. Darryl Sloan says:

    Earl,

    Is Peter not referring to the actual spoken words of Jesus? I think this may be a different issue altogether from the inspiration and authority of the Sriptures. Bad example, maybe?

  73. Darryl Sloan says:

    “Eventually, you will come to a bridge where you have to either conform yourself to a different way of life and of thinking, or go your own way.”

    The choice is then to either keep your mind or sacrifice it to someone else. Boy, I hope that’s not what you’re saying, but that’s sure what it reads like.

    No, I get you. You’re saying you have to learn to live with a certain level of things you don’t agree with, because you’ll never find perfection. Trouble is, I don’t see anything remotely close at the moment, but if I’m entirely honest with you, it has to be said that right now I’m not really looking for a church. My beliefs are too much in flux at the moment to even get that far.

    “The only place you’re going to find a church that completely affirms your way of thinking is to establish your own.”

    Folks, you heard it from him first. So, Chris, when you see me surrounded by thousands of my followers, who hang on my every word, bringing me riches and fame, you know you only have yourself to blame. 😉

  74. Earl says:

    I was completely aware of that, but I don’t see there being a problem. Like I said, Peter made a reasoned judgement based on what God said.

  75. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    You’re saying you have to learn to live with a certain level of things you don’t agree with, because you’ll never find perfection.

    Hmm… I don’t think that’s quite what I mean. It’s more like this: “I recognize that there is an institution established by God and working under His protection to guide men in the Christian journey. I accept that this institution has the authority to bind and loose decisions on believers for issues of faith and morals, and when I hear its leaders (the bishops, successors to the Apostles) speak in unison on such things, I am hearing the voice of God (“He who hears you, hears me…”). Therefore, I assent to the things that they teach, in confidence that it is God’s will and the truth, even though my personal preference may be for something else.” Or something to that effect.

    Pretty much all of the issues for which I would prefer the Church’s teaching to be slightly more lax, I realize that my preference is really more borne out of selfishness than a true desire for God’s will.

  76. Chris says:

    Earl,

    I don’t see there being a problem. Like I said, Peter made a reasoned judgement based on what God said.

    The problem is that Peter’s relying on the spoken words of Jesus, not the written words. The Gospels probably had not been written at that point.

    Have you perhaps forgotten that we’re debating the complete sufficiency of the written Scriptures? 🙂

  77. Earl says:

    Fair enough, I concede the point. However, I hope you can still see that the example shows how Peter arrived at his decision. That’s really what I was illustrating, albeit, departing somewhat from the point.

  78. Chris says:

    Earl,

    However, I hope you can still see that the example shows how Peter arrived at his decision.

    Yeah, but you’re quoting it as though Peter was referring to his copy of the King James or something. Don’t you understand that there was no such thing as the Gospels during the time when these events transpired for Peter? So, that would mean Peter was relying on extra-Biblical sources, i.e., spoken tradition.

    I’m sorry, but I really don’t see what you’re trying to draw from this example…

  79. Earl says:

    “The problem is that Peter’s relying on the spoken words of Jesus, not the written words. The Gospels probably had not been written at that point.”

    I think Peter was correct to rely on the spoken words of Jesus.

    First, to add a little clarity, let me convey that I accept both the spoken and written word of God.

    “Yeah, but you’re quoting it as though Peter was referring to his copy of the King James or something. Don’t you understand that there was no such thing as the Gospels during the time when these events transpired for Peter? So, that would mean Peter was relying on extra-Biblical sources, i.e., spoken tradition.”

    No, I didn’t mean what you list above when I said “how Peter remembered the word of the Lord”, but rather just meant that he remembered what Jesus had said to him. And, therefore, as a result, Peter made judgments about what was occurring in light of what the Lord Jesus had said. Then, with regard to Peter relying on ‘spoken tradition’, I wouldn’t equate Christ’s words to this, but would consider them completely authoritative.

    John 14

    25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

    26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    As to when the Gospels were written, like you, I also would be more inclined to assume that the Gospels weren’t written at this time, but I have no evidence either way, or at least haven’t checked.

    In essence, the main point I was trying to get across, but failed, was that Peter judged the events taking place in light of what Jesus had said, and drew the correct conclusions.

    So, Peter’s testimony in front of those assembled at Jerusalem was perfectly acceptable for he based doctrine on what Christ had said.

  80. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Earl.

    I think I can add a note of balance to this. The reason why what you’re saying is having no affect on Chris is because he already believes all this. As far as I know, Catholics do believe in the authority of Christ’s words and in the New Testament Scriptures.

    The problem we’re having is that they also believe in the authority of the Church on par with the Scriptures.

    The Evangelical view is that the revelation of God is closed and complete with the formation of the New Testament. The onus is therefore on the Evangelicals to prove from Scripture whether God has asserted that he has nothing more to say to the human race until Judgement Day. This is a position I always felt was never proven to my satisfaction, since the way of God throughout the ages has been to raise up prophets to speak to his people. But the Evangelicals now say, “The book is closed. There will never be another prophet.”

    That said, I am also highly uncomfortable with the idea of simply taking on faith everything the Catholic Church says to be right. The onus is therefore also on Catholics to prove to me (an outsider) that the Church deserves the authority it claims it should have over the minds of its adherents.

  81. Adam K says:

    Protestant religion started with people like yourself questioning the beliefs of others which can only be done by studying the scriptures, exactly what Martin Luther did. Though he didn’t come as far as questioning if there was a God which in my view there most certainly is.

    You see you may wonder why their is only one RC Church that is because the RC church controlled people into what to think, when the Bible was first translated it was in Latin, so RC priests read it in latin and translated it for their congregation, in other words they were told what to believe and not how to go about believing.

  82. Chris says:

    Adam,

    Protestant religion started with people like yourself questioning the beliefs of others which can only be done by studying the scriptures

    What makes you think that this can only be done by studying the Bible?

    You see you may wonder why their is only one RC Church that is because the RC church controlled people into what to think,

    As a Catholic, I’d be interested to hear you justify this rather outlandish assertion.

    when the Bible was first translated it was in Latin, so RC priests read it in latin and translated it for their congregation, in other words they were told what to believe and not how to go about believing.

    Perhaps you don’t quite understand that when St. Jerome completed the first translation of the entire canon of Scripture from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, that Latin was the language of the day. The Roman Empire was huge at that time, stretching all the way from England to Africa. Getting the Scriptures translated accurately into Latin increased their readership many thousands of times over. Latin remained the language of learning right through to the 1800s. So, I really think you’re just parroting a bunch of old wives’ tales here.

  83. Adam says:

    Chris,

    Can I ask you as what you believe?

    Also if my above statements are not true why did the RC Church try and stop the use of the printing press to print the bible?

  84. Chris says:

    Adam,

    Can I ask you as what you believe?

    What I believe about what? A number of points were raised in your original post.

    If you’re interested in what I believe about the Catholic Church, just read my comments attached to this blog post.

    Also if my above statements are not true why did the RC Church try and stop the use of the printing press to print the bible?

    It seems your reliance on old wives’ tales knows no bounds. Obviously you’ve never heard of the Gutenberg Bible:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutenberg_bible

    The only Bibles whose printing the Catholic Church tried to prevent were those translated by heretics who modified the text to suit their own agendas. Even Martin Luther was guilty of doing this.

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