Sunday, April 30, 2017

THE CATHOLIC MINDSET



Sometimes in discussions between Catholics and Protestants, it is interesting to see how their minds operate.  Catholics are geared to think one way, while Protestants have a different mentality.  We recently read an article that clearly demonstrated the difference between the two.  The article is titled, “Is Catholicism Biblical? That Question is Backwards!” by Dr. Jeff Mirus.  It can be found here:


The Cart Before the Horse?

In the article, Mirus recognizes the fact that Protestants (in general) see the Bible as the ultimate authority for the Christian.  According to Protestants, it is (or should be) the Rule of Faith.  But Mirus finds fault with this concept and believes that we Protestants have it all backwards.  He states:

“The key question is not whether Catholicism stands the test of Scripture, but whether Scripture stands the test of Catholicism.” 

He also says that it is “not whether the [Catholic] Church is Scriptural… [but] whether Scripture is Catholic—whether what we call ‘scripture’ is or is not part of the original Revelation which the Church received.”

And again, he says, “The Bible did not give rise to the Catholic Church; the Catholic Church gave rise to the Bible.” 

According to Mirus, this was all because “the Church came first.”  That is, the church was established before the Bible was, and it was the church that then “created the Bible by definitively proclaiming which early writers were inspired and which were not.” 

But is this true?

A Faulty Foundation

All right, notice that Mirus is operating on several false premises:

First, the Scriptures were not at all “created” by the church.  The early church simply recognized the Scriptures (the infallible writings) that God, Himself, created.  It was by His inspiration that every word was divinely spoken, recorded and preserved.  Yes, God used people as instruments to hear it, and to write it down, but He is the Creator of Divine revelation, which contains HIS thoughts and HIS plans (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21).  It is erroneous and arrogant to say that the church “created the Bible.”

Second, the church did not “come first” (i.e., before the Bible).  The Old Testament (which makes up about three-forths of the Bible) has been around for hundreds of years before the church ever existed.  Although the church started before the canon (list of inspired books) was complete, it is not true that the church pre-existed Scripture.  This claim is deceptive, at best.

Third, it seems that every time there is a controversy with Protestants, Catholics will say something like, “But the Catholic Church is right because she gave us the canon!”  This seems to be the “go to” answer in many of their arguments!  But see these links which put this false idea to rest:



But building upon Mirus’ first two points above, he believes that since it is the church that has recognized which of the books are actually Scripture, that this somehow means that the Bible should be subject to the church.  But recognizing or discovering something does not make you lord over it.  Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity did not give him any authority over gravity.  He discovered it, but he was still subject to its forces.  Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of electricity in no way made him master over this powerful force, either.  It is the same with the church and Scripture.  The church recognized the inspired books, but the church is still subject to those books’ authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The fourth false premise is the way most Catholics use the word “Church.”  Notice how Mirus uses the term in his article: 

  •   “… the Church’s infallible authority.”

  •   “… only the Church could identify which books were…inspired…”

  •   “What is the judgment of the Church about this text?”
  •   “Does the Church judge it to be inspired?”

  •   “… only by the authority of the Church…”

  •   “…the Tradition and teachings of the Church…”

  •   “… Revelation which the Church received.”


In each of these, the Catholic assumes a reference to an infallible hierarchy of leaders within the organization.  This demonstrates the deep-rooted mindset of the devout Catholic.  Now, in contrast, notice how the Bible uses the word “church.”  Note that it is only used in two ways:  as either 1) the local assembly of believers, as a whole (1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:2; Revelation chapters 1, 2, and 3), or 2) the “universal” body of Christ, including all true believers worldwide (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:17-18).  It is never used in the Bible to refer to a church leader (or leaders) only.  In the way that Mirus uses the seven examples above, none of them fit the biblical definition.  This point is very important, but seems to be missed by most people.  This subtle difference in the misuse of the term “church” is ingrained in the Catholic and it becomes a deep-seated part of his mentality. 

The next time you hear a Catholic use the term “the church,” listen closely and see if he is speaking of the leaders only (for example, “the Church teaches…”, or “the Church’s infallible authority…”)… OR, if is he using it biblically.  Substitute his use of it with the phrase “local assembly of believers,” or “the universal church worldwide” to see if his meaning actually lines up with the way the Bible uses the term.

Who Serves Who?

Catholics will officially claim that the Catholic Church serves Scripture (“Dei Verbum,” Chapter 2, paragraph 10), which would make their Church a SERVANT thereof, but it is obvious in practice that they see their Magisterium as ABOVE the Bible.  For example:

If the Bible says A about a particular topic, but the Ecumenical Councils say B, the Catholic will go with B.

If the Bible says C, but “Sacred Tradition” says D, the Catholic will choose D.

If the Bible says X, but church fathers say Y, the Catholic will say Y.

Time and time again, the Bible is put on the back burner so that the Catholic Church can be exalted.

It is hard to take the Catholic Church’s supposed “servant” status toward the Bible seriously, when Catholics like Dr. Mirus write this kind of article.

Word Games

In this next pitiful attempt to weaken the authority of Scripture, Mirus said:

“But Revelation was not given to a book but to persons. Revelation was not even given originally in and through a book. It was given by Jesus Christ to His apostles and disciples.” 

But saying that revelation is not given to a book, but to persons, is like saying that money is not given to a bank, but to tellers.  The point is, the money eventually ends up in the bank and is stored and protected there.  In the same way, infallible revelation is ultimately “stored” in the Bible, even if first given to men.

Conclusion

Yes, folks, this is the mentality of the devout Catholic.  He claims to have equal devotion to Scripture and to the Church’s Tradition (CCC #82), but in practice, the Bible often takes a back seat.

Jeff Mirus’ article is a good example of many Catholics’ condescending attitude toward the Bible.  Saying things like, “[it’s] not whether Catholicism stands the test of Scripture, but whether Scripture stands the test of Catholicism,” is not only untrue, but it also clearly demonstrates arrogance.  You can’t say things like that and still have a truly healthy respect for Scripture (See Psalm 119).  It is the Catholic Church’s great (and false) claims about itself that give rise to this type of mindset.  


14 comments:

  1. Hi Russell,

    Be sure to check out this article:
    https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/05/comments-from-church-historian-jnd.html

    Also be sure to check out my recent posts on Mormonism.

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  2. Hello Jessie,

    Thanks for the heads up! I will view them soon.

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  3. Well there is a Protestant mindset as well.
    1. It assumes that the Church started after the New Testament writings were published.
    2. It limits truth to 66 books.
    3. It assumes that the Word of God if not written down ceases to be of authority.
    4. There was no standard used to recognise the writings as scripture.
    And etc etc
    The Catholic mindset is correct! And also logical.the Apostles taught communities and it is those communities that preserved the truth of Christ 's teachings and passed them on. The 27 books of the New Testament were not just accepted as scripture, they were tested first and they were tested against the faith received by the communities taught by the Apostles. A writing could not receive canonical status if it contradicted the faith received from the Apostles. Study the heresies which were fought before the canon of the bible was settled, the early church resorted to traditions received. Give me one example they resorted to Scripture Alone?

    Just going to a Catholic Mass you will that a Devout Catholic gets enough devotion to scripture per more than a protestant.

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  4. Aquinas,

    We have some issues with some of your premises.

    First of all, Protestants do not (or at least should not) assume that the church started after the N.T. was published. That is an outright misrepresentation.

    Second, yes, we believe that there are 66 inspired books in the Bible.

    Third, if one has the actual inspired Word of God in a form besides written, then he should be able to show it – but Catholics cannot do this.

    Fourth, there were indeed standards used to recognize the Scriptures. We never said that there weren’t.

    You (and many others) keep talking about the faith / Word of God which was received by the apostles and handed down to us, but again, Catholics cannot show us what this “infallible” Oral Tradition is.

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  5. If you actually think that the protestant mindset actually believes that there was a standard for recognising scriptures, abd what was this standard?

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    1. Aquinas,

      Basically, the criteria for the New Testament canon was:

      It had to be written by an apostle (or a close associate).

      There had to be universal acceptance of the book.

      It had to agree with previously known Scripture – and it had to be consistent and free of contradiction.

      There had to be public church usage and recognition of the book.

      Ok, having said this, it seems that you are simply creating a diversion from the issue at hand. Two of your four issues above concerning a Protestant mindset, were false. You are misrepresenting Protestants with these conclusions. I addressed those and pointed to the all-important fact that you need to show us the contents of your “infallible” Oral Tradition that you say you have. If you can’t do that, then our discussion is in vain. Having a discussion on “infallible Tradition” is pretty useless without being able to clearly identify its contents. We need to get this out of the way before going any further.

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    2. I have already answered your question concerning the contents of the Infallible Tradition check my comment below.

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    3. Aquinas,

      I have asked you over and over, and since you can’t show me those contents of “Sacred Tradition,” and you won’t admit that you’re wrong, and continue to be contentious, we are done. Anything further from you will be deleted.

      By the way, I know who you are. You’re just using a different name than you used before to hide your identity.

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  6. "Third, if one has the actual inspired Word of God in a form besides written, then he should be able to show it – but Catholics cannot do this."

    Lets say Catholics cannot do this does that matter? It does not matter, whether Catholics have the teachings or not, can show it or not, it does not take away the fact that everything taught by the apostles was not written and the fact that they used both Oral and Written Traditions to pass on their teachings and that in itself makes Sola Scriptura invalid. As long as it can demonstrated that everything the Apostles taught was not reduced to writing then the final Authority is not scripture alone but scripture and any other means they used to pass the teachings on. And this is a simple concept for you to grasp. Even scripture shows us that they committed teachings orally to some men:
    2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
    As scripture tells us the Word of God always comes to an effect and it did, teachings which were received were later committed to other men and so on and so on until today. The Word of tells us clearly that teachings were passed orally, hence it is illogical to refuse the fact based on some incompetence of an apologist or anyone who is presenting that. Truth is still truth even when its not presented well to you.
    1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
    Amen His word does not exist only when its written down but it lives forever. This is shown elsewhere too
    Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
    Your conclusions actually presume that those teachings of Christ which did not make it into writings returned to God void, and for a person who attacks the Catholic Church to have a bad mentality towards the written word, you have a worse attitude towards the Oral Word of God.
    Christ tells clearly the same thing man shall leave by every Word that comes from the mouth of God. So every Word from the Mouth of God has authority. It does not say only the written Word has authority.
    Nevertheless an example is always fitting of infallible practices from the apostles not to be found in scripture. Its an infallible tradition that A married man can be ordained to priesthood but an ordained priest cannot marry. This tradition which came from the Apostles is still bring practiced throughout the Catholic Church in all its rites. Though in the Roman rite there is a disciple in which only single man are ordained to priesthood with only a few exceptions of married men to this discipline. For more examples feel free to study Catholic practices and find out when do they begin.

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    1. Never mind the fact that the Church of Rome so clearly CONTRADICTS the Bible. Just blindly trust the priest!!!

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  7. Aquinas,

    You said:

    “Lets say Catholics cannot do this does that matter? It does not matter, whether Catholics have the teachings or not, can show it or not…”

    YES, IT ABSOLUTELY DOES MATTER! You need to stop acting like this is an irrelevant point!

    What if we Protestants said, “We have a sacred book of revelation called Scripture, and although it is inspired and much needed to save souls, we can’t show it to you! All we can do is show you one or two verses here and there.” Then you would surely cry foul (and rightly so). If you claim to have this inspired, infallible and much needed Tradition, but can’t tell us the contents, then common sense dictates that you are either cruelly holding back on us, or YOU DON’T HAVE IT to show us. And since the Catholic Church can’t possibly be cruel (right?), it must be the latter.

    Aquinas, either you admit you are wrong or that you don’t have this information available, or this is the end of the discussion.

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