Thanks for all the great comments on my previous post, Flirting with Catholicism. You guys brought up some really great points, and @willadair even wrote a post in response to it. This seemed a little long to respond in the comments, so I just turned it into a post.
As so many of you were quick to point out, the Roman Catholic Church is not the “universal church.” The universal church is the priesthood of all believers. I understand that it is merely the Roman Rite that I am referring to. As Devin pointed out, it is the Catholic and Orthodox churches that have the strongest claim to being in continuity with the early church. I was just choosing the one I associate most closely with the early church. There’s lots of debate over whether it should be the Orthodox Church or that which became the RC Church, but that I see them as having equal hold on that title.
I’ve looked into the Orthodox Church (thanks so much for the links Bob) but find I would have to leave too many of the things behind that I currently enjoy about the Protestant church, a big one being contemporary worship music. It’s a big part of my worship, and not something I could easily leave behind.
I understand that “Catholic” is a term that does not belong to any Church, but all who call themselves Christian are part of the Catholic Church. This is an important distinction, one that I understand.
I still think the Roman Catholic Church has a very real link to the original church, which brings me to a point Rev Conwell made. Jesus didn’t send his disciples out to begin this church or that, and while those that follow the doctrine of apostolic succession would call upon Matthew 16:18 where Jesus tells Peter He will build His church upon him. I am not a fan of this interpretation, and think that apostolic succession was more a response to cultural events, not because of this passage. But that’s getting into historical interpretation. I do believe that when he sent them out to preach the Good News, the inevitability would be the creation of a church. One church. (if i’m wrong here, or misinterpreting, let me know)
Skippymom, what I was referring to when I was talking about moving down the street to a church down the road for a teaching more your liking, I was referring more to theology, and less to church politics (for lack of a better word). You can go to a different RC Church, but they will still teach the basic beliefs laid out in the Catechism, whereas I could go to my church that doesn’t believe in infant baptism and go down the road that believes infants should be baptised. To me that is a major theological difference. (Not to belittle your point) I’d love to talk to you more about your conversion though if you don’t mind discussing it sometime.
Brandon, I had never thought of Mark 9:38-40 as speaking against the exclusivity of one church. I’m going to have to look into that more. (Any reason to study scripture deeper is a good one. :)) Is this a widely accepted interpretation?
Transubstantiation is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently, and a doctrine I believe the RC Catholic church is right on the money with. I look to passages like, John 6:31-70 (Which is a lot, I know. But I find it really lays it out with background), Matthew 26:26-28 (and equivalent verses in the Synoptics). Even the verse you quote, if you look at the verses bordering it, Luke 22:17-20, I would say it also makes an argument for transubstantiation. I don’t think that because it becomes his body and blood nullifies the remembrance. It is still a remembrance of his death and resurrection. They could have celebrated it with Jesus following his resurrection and it would have still held meaning. They would, together, be remembering the event that is central to Christianity.
The veneration of Mary and the Saints is something I am still unsure of. I really like the concept, but am unsure of its meaning in today’s context. In the early church, following the legalization of Christianity under Constantine, Christians didn’t know what to do with themselves because persecution was a defining characteristic of who they were. So it made sense to hold up these martyrs. It’s something I want to study and pray about more before coming to any conclusions. It used to be something I was totally against until I learned more about it, which is why it is now in the “Likes” column.
I shouldn’t have used the word, “loopholes” as it doesn’t accurately address what I was getting at. What I wrote following, “answer for almost everything (whether I agree with the answer or not, I appreciate having things laid out like this to avoid the wishy-washyness I see so often)” is what I was trying to get at. Just a bad word choice on my part.
I have to disagree with you on structured prayer though, Brandon. In Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s prayer in Matthew He said to pray it, “in this way.” Which can be interpreted to mean verbatim or to be used as a framework. But it is Luke 11:2, “He said to them, “When you pray, say:”
But beyond even that, I see power in repetition. I understand that if your heart isn’t in the right place and you are saying it for the sake of saying it there is no use. An essential aspect is the prayer behind the words, not just the words themselves. This is something I’ve been learning as I try to incorporate the Divine Office into my day. For me the power behind the words is what really strikes a chord with me. If you see it as duty and ceremony, then you are right, you’ve lost out on discussion between your heart and God’s. But if you use those words as a conduit between your heart and God’s, it can be a very powerful thing.
Through all of the comments, one thing really struck me (other than the fact that the Roman Catholic Church does not have exclusive rights to the word Catholic or to the exclusivity as the “one, true, unified church”) is that most of my likes are to do with the reverence, the liturgy, the tradition, and my dislikes are with the theology. Now this poses some serious problems, because minor theological differences I can handle. But I disagree with some of the most fundamental of RC doctrine, things that would put me out of communion with the RC Church were I to head down that path. Now things change. Views change, beliefs change. I’m a prime example of that, things that I once hated about the RC Church, I now love. But confessing my sins to a man in the booth instead of directly to Jesus is one of my biggest hangups. I’ve read the Catechism on this and understand where they are coming from, but just like their interpretation forbidding contraception, I don’t agree.
So thanks for all the great comments. They really helped me sort some things out in my head, and while they cleared up some things, they got me thinking about others. And will, that post was amazing! It took a lot of the things I just learned in my History of Christianity class and went deeper. I really appreciated that thank you.
I will have plenty more that I’ll be looking for comments on too. I want to write more about transubstantiation, and explore it deeper to find out why it was rejected during the reformation. I also want to learn more about infant baptism, especially since I have an infant. I have been thinking about checking into the Anglican Church, but just haven’t made the time to go. We are involved every Sunday morning at our current church, and it is hard going to new churches with a baby (I find).