Why did you choose your religion?

I'm not saying the Catholic church is correct in their beliefs, but how is the belief that an individual can interpret the bible according to their own predilections better? How do Protestants think their beliefs are more in line with the bible when they have less historical roots than the Catholic church? How do you bridge that gap?

 

It seems to me that Islam has the right idea making Muhammad a savior, greater than Jesus, and saying he had direct revelations from an angel of God and, even though false, it adds authority to his claims. Luther and Wycliffe make no such claim. Why do their opinions have so much weight when there is no evidence, or common belief, that they had a direct revelation from God? Why is anything less than direct revelation considered more than just mere opinion?

 

My questions weren't ones about me finding faith, they were about how people choose what they do. My best guess is that people choose what is culturally appropriate and not based on an actual study of the facts surrounding a religion or denomination. Even if a person's family is not in any way religious, an individual will invariably choose a "faith" that causes them the least friction in the community in which they reside.

 

The questions I asked should at least make a person ask themselves why they chose the religion they did, and reflect upon it. Historically, Protestantism, and all it's subsequent ideological children, is the weakest denomination because it has less to stand on than other denominations as it's the most separated from the time of Christ and makes no claim of revelation.

Comments

Dino Manalis Added Nov 13, 2017 - 9:05am
It's in the family and we accept the Scriptures as holy documents with divine wisdom.  It gives us hope and endurance in this uncertain world.
Neil Lock Added Nov 13, 2017 - 9:08am
Jonathan: As it happens, I was brought up as a moderate Anglican Protestant. But when I was 16, I simply lost the religion. It didn't make sense to me any more.
 
I gradually moved towards atheism, then eventually worked out that I couldn't prove that god doesn't exist, any more than the religious can prove that he/she/it does. So these days I'm an agnostic. When asked "Is there a god?" my reply is: "I don't know. And I don't care." And I try my hardest to keep to what I call Neil's First Precept of Religion: "If you let me have my religion (or lack of it), I'll let you have yours."
Michael Cikraji Added Nov 13, 2017 - 9:48am
Hey Jonathan,
A deep, personal question you ask! But it's fair. You're tending to lean to the Catholic tradition just because it's older, with more deep historical roots? If you're going that direction, why not just be Jewish? They're older than Christianity. And after all, Jesus was born, lived and died a Jew.
 
It's something that makes sense to you and how you see the world and the universe. I think that most of the Old Testament are gross misunderstandings about God, written by dehydrated people wandering lost in the desert for years, getting attacked by everyone and their neighbor.
 
It isn't about finding your "religion" or even finding God at all. At stake is really finding yourself.
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 13, 2017 - 10:11am
Christianity isn't relevant until after Jesus, just like Islam not being relevant until after Muhammad. Catholicism is the sect most contemporaneous with the life of Christ and therefore, I think has a stronger claim to the truth, to the revelation of Jesus Christ than Protestantism.
 
I'm going to sometime use your argument that the Hebrews were a generally "dehydrated people." Weird thing can happen when you're dehydrated.
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 13, 2017 - 10:23am
Dino: The argument I'm making here is that there is less reason to accept the Protestant interpretation of the bible than the Catholic. "Divine wisdom" is passed through the pages of the bible through interpretation from others and ourselves depending on many factors, and to me, is suspect in light of a denomination's history.
John Minehan Added Nov 13, 2017 - 10:25am
It is an interesting question.
 
The Lutheran Church begins with "Sola Scriptura" . . . but later realizes there is room for a "Magisterium" (a term they coined and the Catholics adopted).
 
Temple Judaism was also Sola Scriptura (accepting only the written Torah), as opposed to Rabbinic Judaism, which  accepted both a written and an "Oral Torah" (detailed study of Torah by Rabbis, eventually recorded in the Talmud and the Midrash).
 
The triumph of Rabbinic Judaism after the Destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, made the deep study of the Torah and the Commentaries on it a central part of the faith. 
 
This was seemingly validated by the apostasyof the 16th Century false Mashiach,   Sabbatai Zevi.
 
But,  the Chassidic movement carved a new role for an emotional and mystical Jewish faith.
 
It appears that people need legitimacy, tradition, reason and emotion in religion as in other areas of life.   
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 13, 2017 - 10:30am
Neil: I agree with your assessment of religion. But my focus here was one of how Christians perceive their religion in spite of its history. Religion consistently suffers from confirmation bias for something that on its face is of the utmost importance and therefore requires us to look at everything in order to make an informed decision, and history of a denomination seems to be an inconsequential factor for the most part.
John Minehan Added Nov 13, 2017 - 10:58am
"Catholicism is the sect most contemporaneous with the life of Christ and therefore, I think has a stronger claim to the truth . . . ."
 
But what of Oriental (Copts, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Eritrean Orthodox Church, Thomists, Church of the East, Armenian Apostolic Church)and Eastern Orthodoxy (Russian, Greek, Serbian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches)?
 
Certainly their deviations from Catholicism give some idea as to how Christianity developed.  Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodoxy particularly  seem to retain more elements from Judaism. 
Michael Cikraji Added Nov 13, 2017 - 11:06am
Good point John.
In addition, it may be said that the longer a human institution has been around, the more opportunities for potential distortion of the truth take place.
 
Ever play the game "telephone"? What if people were playing that game for over 2000 years???
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 13, 2017 - 11:20am
John: I have no explanations for those either but Protestantism is fundamentally different from Catholicism, and has subsequently captured a huge percentage of people who call themselves Christian. Protestantism is so different from what occurred previously you'd almost expect a claim of supernatural infusion of new ideas in order to foment such a radical change, but there is none. 
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 13, 2017 - 11:30am
Michael: The telephone game lends support to the idea that Protestantism is an aberration, a mistake by people, and is more likely as such than something inspired by God. You'd also think if there was a God He would do His best to keep distortions to a minimum so as not to lead more people astray. 
Michael Cikraji Added Nov 13, 2017 - 12:17pm
John,
You're under the assumption that there is just one true way to God. Why? There are always many paths to get somewhere, why not also with God?
 
Sure, Protestantism is an aberration, that's exactly the point! Look at the word: Protestant. Per the Reformation, it was a protest against what was then the evil church that was literally selling salvation like it was a Blue Light Special at K-Mart. (There were also a TON of other abuses too.)
 
Protestantism saved Christianity at a critical juncture. In response, the Counter-Reformation also helped to fix many of the structural problems with Roman Catholicism too. 
 
To say that being a Roman Catholic is a closer way to God is ridiculous. It's all up to your personal passions. It's the way you perceive it that's important: IT'S ALL THE SAME GOD!!!
John Minehan Added Nov 13, 2017 - 12:38pm
Well, perhaps the perception of corruption is the most spiritual significant reason of all.  Certainly, Protestants and Rabbinic Jews would argue that. 
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 13, 2017 - 12:44pm
Michael: I'm not Catholic, but Protestants seem to be very clear, at least the one's I know and have known, that Catholicism is not the way to heaven, some even find it laughable. That is your opinion, one of many in the Christian world.
 
I'm not saying that Catholicism is a closer way to get to God, all I'm saying is that history seems to be in their favor as having closer temporal affiliation to the alleged truth, it's just one possible piece of evidence. Whether it is the actual truth is up for speculation.
 
I agree creating indulgences to get a basilica built is a pretty egregious way to acquire funds but did the Reformation save Christianity? It radically redefined it and made it into something different than it was. I guess you can say it saved Christianity in concept and name but up until then there was only "one true church" and a tight reign on Christian ideology. 
John Minehan Added Nov 13, 2017 - 12:53pm
The "Protestant Work Ethic" probably created Modernity. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 13, 2017 - 1:00pm
One doesn't choose a religion. You're inculcated with it. Frankly, before one is capable of critical thought its tantamount to child abuse. 
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 13, 2017 - 1:33pm
John:  I agree that maybe Protestantism can be perceived as God's way of getting things back on track, but we can only say that equivocally because there is no revelation to support it. But why did people retain their Protestant status after the Counter Reformation? If God was interested in getting Catholicism back to where it should be, you'd think the Counter Reformation would have been sufficient. Instead Protestantism proliferated as a substantial change from the original.
 
Dave Volek Added Nov 13, 2017 - 3:26pm
Why did the early Christians become Christians in the first place? Certainly it was not cool to be Christian at that time. Nor was it popular. In fact, it might get you killed.
 
Maybe if we could answer that question for 2000 years ago, maybe we could answer it in terms of today's light.
 
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Nov 13, 2017 - 3:33pm
I was born protestant thru my father's religion (on paper only), I protested and let religion behind at 16. And I never regretted it. It's more honest to admit being atheist than pretending to believe just to be no outcast in a possibly narrow-minded society.
Michael Cikraji Added Nov 13, 2017 - 3:48pm
John, 
You say Protestantism proliferated as a substantial change from the original.
I don't think this is right. There are many variations of Protestantism, some of them very close to Roman Catholicism (like Lutheranism and Anglicanism), and others further away, but in essence they are the same thing.
 
To be brutally honest, and completely politically incorrect, aside from leadership in the Pope, the only true difference between the Roman Catholics and the vast majority of the Protestants is the issue of guilt. A major aspect of being Catholic is feeling guilty for pretty much everything you do, and everything you are....
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 13, 2017 - 3:53pm
Jonathan
 
The RCC bases its authority on one verse of those scriptures, followed by its own tradition of Apostolic Succession.
 
The corruption within that institution had been obvious to all for a very long time. When, on the basis of its own traditions, that institution behaves as though its authority supersedes the scriptures upon which it stands, for example claiming to be able to sell licences to sin, it does not require a Divine Revelation to question the legitimacy of its claims.
 
In the very same scriptures, which contain the Blessing which Christ gave to Peter that forms the basis of the Authority of the RCC, there is another verse, equally authoritative, which says, "By their fruits ye shall know them."
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 13, 2017 - 4:06pm
Michael: I'd have to disagree with your disagreement. ;-) They do differ quite substantially an some theological issues. 
 
My experience is that Protestants have a lot of guilt, suffering from a inherited, sinful nature from birth. That is just my experience. I don't know about all denominations so there may be differences on that issue.
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 13, 2017 - 4:18pm
PaganTeaPartier: I'm not saying there weren't legitimate issues as I've expressed in my replies to others. But they did reign in some of those excesses during the Counter Reformation and that should count as positive "fruits." But by this time the damage had already been done. If this is the will of God, it certainly makes for a baffling history, one where it's hard to determine what the truth may be. As such, that's why I would have to give the Catholics more legitimacy if I wasn't so inclined to Protestantism.
Narnian Added Nov 13, 2017 - 4:52pm
Jonathan,
I gather this is not so much a debate between Catholicism and Protestantism as it is a question to each of us.  Why did I choose my religion? 
 
I wasn't seeking Christ, and had no interest in religion when Christ found me.  As a matter of fact, I once tore up a Bible that a friend was trying to give me.  I was full of rebellion.  A different friend "witnessed" to me over the period of about a year.  I was dead drunk sitting in my car at a mall late one stormy night.  My friend just showed up and knocked on my window.  I let him in, and he just said "It's time."  I knew what he meant, and he led in in what Protestants call "the Sinner's Prayer", where I gave my life to Christ.  It was amazing!  While I had been drunk at the beginning of the prayer, I was stone cold sober in an instant.  It felt like electricity going through me, but it didn't hurt.  I believe that was the Holy Spirit coming inside me. 
 
While I originally became a Baptist because it was pretty much the only choice, and my friend was Baptist, I have studied the doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic Church.  As a matter of fact, I have regular discussions with many Catholic brothers and sisters.  We learn from each other.  I disagree regarding your point about Protestantism being weak, but as a Catholic, it's only natural that you hold that view. 
 
You make a good point in that a person should know WHY they follow a particular religion.  This hold true whether they are Protestant or Catholic.  It shouldn't just be your family's religion, or a choice because it will avoid friction.  This concerns issues of the soul.
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 13, 2017 - 5:52pm
Narnian: I'm not Catholic. The whole reason I made this post was because it's not usually an issue that comes up during the process of converting to a religion. I'm stepping back and looking at this from objective view, if that's even possible with religion, using an historical perspective. I find the Protestant faiths in a much historically weaker position than that of Catholics. I'm not saying Protestantism is weaker for the individual in how one feels spiritually, but only that if one were to see it from my perspective, it seems to not have the characteristics of other mainstream faiths. It is not unusual that many of the monotheistic faiths have offspring, but typically not one that overwhelms its parent in such significant numbers.
Narnian Added Nov 13, 2017 - 6:17pm
Jonathan - My mistakes.  I should have read a little more carefully.  To look at religion objectively does sound difficult, to be sure.  Thank you for explaining what you meant regarding "weaker".  That makes sense, and I tend to agree with you.  The Protestant Reformation is just now 500 years old, whereas even Protestants would agree that the Catholic Church goes back at least as far as Constantine (4th Century).  Considering there are five major "families" of Protestantism with some 41,000 denominations, how could we possibly have the stronger historical perspective?  Many would argue that we all go back to the 1st Century Church, and I can see that view as well.
 
It seems that asking "why" should be the first question about converting or accepting a religion.  After all, it should affect your whole life.  Then again, I take a holistic approach to beliefs, but many just choose their faith without a "spiritual" motivation.
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 13, 2017 - 6:21pm
Jonathan
 
You are also starting out from the position that its all really just a load of bull to begin with.
 
If you believe that there actually was real corruption in the RCC, going all the way up to the Pope himself, then you must also conclude that the Line of Succession is genuinely broken.
 
The standard of Historical Longevity which you are asserting, has no basis at all in Christian Theology. The religion itself could not have survived, if it was believed that something was true, simply because it was old.
 
Without the belief that the man holding the office of the Pope, is the direct inheritor of the Blessing of Peter in an unbroken line, then the institutional authority of the RCC has no basis. Without that authority, the only source that is left are the scriptures themselves.
 
If you wish to base legitimacy on historical roots, the Coptic sects and the Orthodox Church have a far better claim than the RCC. But if you base it on Christian Scriptures, Paul's proclamation that all believers are Priests of the Order of Melchizedek, refutes all claims of institutional authority, and places final responsibility on each individual.
 
Which thus forms the basis of Protestant Theology.
Don Added Nov 13, 2017 - 8:30pm
The following is from an article I posted earlier on WB regarding how I chose my faith. It goes: “All my life has been a spiritual quest. Though no members of my family were church goers, by puberty, I was roaming the city finding churches to attend. Growing up in the South, there is a saying “There are more Baptists than people.” So, it is not surprising that is where I ended up. Later, I was to become a Baptist minister.”
 
The point of that article though was that after searching in many religions, I finally found the real thing.
 
As to Roman Catholicism, I am an English Catholic priest. Even so, as much as I might have wanted be a Roman Catholic priest, I can’t because I am divorced.
 
As to all the other religions and their elohim, once I know the Bible is true, I will keep way away. All the other elohim and anyone attached to them are in deep doo doo.
Don Added Nov 13, 2017 - 8:35pm
Jonathan Thomas you wrote that Protestants have a lot of guilty.
 
All Christians should be free from guilt. Jesus’ atonement on the cross freed us from all guilt. Catholics are a little better off in that during the Mass one lives again (anamnesis)the atonement each time for oneself. They also have confession.
 
A Protestant feeling guilt is a rejection of Jesus’ sacrificial action for them. I suspect a Protestant feeling guilt makes God very sad.
Don Added Nov 13, 2017 - 8:42pm
Dave Volek, you ask why people became Christian in the first place. The Book of Acts reveals it plainly It was the power being demonstrated. That same power has returned today and Christianity is exploding as a result of it.
Bill H. Added Nov 14, 2017 - 12:00am
As a child, I attended Protestant, Baptist, and Methodist churches with my parents. I initially found that the only differences was the wording of bible verses and hymns. I also found that interpretations of the bible differed based on the priorities of the pastor. I finally figured out when I was a teenager that neither any religion or belief had it right, and were probably not even close, yet the world has experienced many wars based strictly on religion.
I now believe that we are simply some alien kid's science fair project.
Wouldn't it be better if we all went with that one?
Steve Bergeron Added Nov 14, 2017 - 8:36am
PaganTeaPartier, the RCC does not base its authority on just one verse in Scripture.  It bases its authority on far more than that.  It's authority was given it by Christ in the beginning.  See 1 Tim 3:15 that says that the Church is the "the pillar and foundation of truth."  It is the Church that has Christ's authority, not the individual personally interpreting his/her own vernacular translation of the Bible.  Furthermore, in ancient times, kings had second-in-command, called royal stewards.   These royal stewards ruled the kingdom when the king was otherwise occupied (visiting other kingdoms, sick, at war, etc.).  The royal steward's symbol of authority was a large key (or sometimes, two), about 2-3 feet long, that were the "keys to the kingdom." Whatever he ruled, while the king was away, the king upheld upon his return. (See Isaiah 22;22 for a good example of this principle.)
Fast-forward to Matt. 16:19, where Jesus gives the "keys to the kingdom" to Peter.  He says, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  He establishes a dynastic (means it is permanent and will have successors) office that is to rule His kingdom until His return.  And He will uphold "whatever" the person in this position holds bound and loose whatever the person in this position looses.  This position we call the Pope.  The Pope is Jesus' (our King!) Royal Steward.  St. Peter was the first Pope.  St. Linus followed him, followed by St. Anacletus, followed by St. Clement I, and so forth, until you get to Pope Francis, the current Pope.
The Church has never taught doctrinal error.  There have been, from the beginning, sinful individuals who have committed sins and crimes, in the name of the Church or God, for their own purposes.  But it was not because they were following the doctrines of the Church, which have been handed down from Christ through the Apostles and their successors, the bishops.  The first such individual was Judas Iscariot.  And Jesus chose him.  
Jesus also gave His authority to forgive sins to the Apostles, and by extension, their successors, the bishops, in John 20:19-23, when He gave them His power to forgive sins (Confession).
Individuals who try to discount the Church because of sinful individuals make a case for not being Christian at all, because logic dictates you begin with the first sinful member, Judas Iscariot, chosen by Christ.  The Church that Christ created 2000 years ago is not a museum of Saints.  It is a hospital for sinners.  And, as St. Paul indicated in his epistles, it is the Body of Christ.  No one have any individual the authority to found a church apart from Christ's Church.  If you closely and prayerfully study the Early Church Fathers, you can clearly see the Catholic Church, the Sacraments, the Mass, etc.
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 14, 2017 - 8:48am
PaganTeaPartier:  If that's the interpretation of Paul's letter, why would it would take 1500 years to realize that "all believers are Priests of the Order of Melchizedek" logically translates into Sola Scriptura and increasing individual interpretation of scripture. When I hear the word "priest" I interpret it as someone who has been specially educated in a certain ideology, not as someone who understands scripture however they want. How do you interpret more specifically what Paul is saying?
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 14, 2017 - 8:53am
Don: When I was speaking of guilt, I was referring to Protestant churches that preach we are all born guilty. One would have to believe that first before accepting there is relief for it. 
Billy Roper Added Nov 14, 2017 - 11:00am
I chose my religion through observation. Christian Identity allowed me to reconcile faith with the political reality I observed around me. I began to see the natural order God how designed, and reject those who rejected it. For me, that was how the puzzle pieces came together.
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 14, 2017 - 11:27am
Steve
 
Whether those verses referring to the Church mean the body of all believers, or whether the RCC can claim that mantle exclusively for itself, is precisely what is disputed.
 
And there is no aspect of the scriptures which indicate that the authority given to Peter was able to be vested into a brick and mortar institution governed by man.
 
I might be Pagan now, but I grew up in a Baptist Church, I know these arguments by heart.
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 14, 2017 - 12:00pm
Jonathan
 
The Mosaic Law established the tribe of Levi as the priestly class. Since the Jews derive their name from being the tribe of Judah, and that was the only tribe known to have been reforged after the first exile, another mantle of priesthood needed to be identified.
 
Melchizedek was a Holy Man that Abraham encountered. Since this happened before the Patriarch of the Levitical line was even born, he had to have been sanctified through some other means. That means was the Holy Spirit.
 
Since it is an article of faith that the Holy Spirit has been given to all Christians, that means that all Christians have been sanctified in the same manner.
 
Why it took 1500 years is pretty simple. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, only the wealthy and the clerics had access to books. The overwhelming majority of the population was completely illiterate. The priests and monks were the only ones reading those scriptures in the first place.
 
Not to suggest that most people weren't illiterate before that, but in the struggles to simply survive the Dark Ages, it became much more pronounced.
 
Widespread literacy in America is a cultural gift of the Puritans, precisely because they believed that everyone needed to be able to read those scriptures for themselves.
Steve Bergeron Added Nov 14, 2017 - 1:52pm
Pagan, I think it has nothing to do with actual bricks and mortar, but with authority.  I served in our military as an officer.  I had certain authority to command men.  However, that authority was not self-appointed.  It was deligated to me by higher authority.  The same is true with the Church.  Jesus walked the earth and taught orally.  He never wrote a book, and certainly didn't found a Church based on a book.  He trained the first members of the Church, gave them His Divine authority, and commanded them to do likewise, which has gone on for 2000 years now.  The main difference between "power" and "authority" is that power is taken, authority is given.  Christ gave His authority to govern His Church to Peter and Peter's successors.  Clearly.  If you have doubts, read the early Church Fathers, the first members of Christ's Church. For example, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian of Carthage, et al. They clearly recognized Peter and his successors as having the authority of Christ to govern the Church created by Him.
 
With regard to that silly statement about "only the wealthy could own books."  Remember, before the invention of the printing press, most books were made of vellum, made from the stomachs of sheep or cows.  It took an entire herd to create one Bible, for example.  Only the rich could afford an entire herd.  But, the Catholic Church did provide a copy in the Church, chained down so that it wasn't stolen and sold by thieves.  All that's a pretty moot point, anyway, since the vast majority of people before the last century have been illiterate anyway.  Before the industrial revolution, most labor was manual, and literacy was of little use in providing for one's family for the majority of mankind.
 
 
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 14, 2017 - 2:52pm
Steve
 
Well now you are moving into the realm of arguing the truth of the competing claims. Whereas I am simply presenting the Protestant argument.
 
You believe in the authority of Catholic Tradition, for me the argument ends there, because you cannot argue someone into belief or doubt in the first place.
 
Starting from that position, I'd rather expect that after nearly 2000 years you all will have a pretty coherent and internally consistent theology.
 
But if you want to move beyond comparing your theology to itself, you are not going to be able to get around the fact that you cannot prove the authority of Catholic Tradition, by citing Catholic Tradition, and the scriptures which you would cite are in fact disputed.
 
You either believe it or you don't, end of argument.
 
However, the reality of pervasive illiteracy is a stone cold fact, and that had a tremendous effect of the development of Western Culture.
Don Added Nov 14, 2017 - 2:55pm
The only expressions of spiritualities that differ are experiential vs. cerebral. In Christianity the experiential are found in the Spirit-Filled Charismatic/Pentecostal and the sacramental. Outside of Christianity, direct experience of the spiritual realm is found in the mystical faiths. The others are cerebral.
Dave Volek Added Nov 14, 2017 - 4:14pm
Bill H
Did you ever read Robert Heinlein's JOB: A COMEDY OF JUSTICE? It kind parlays into your science experiment idea. And Jose Farmer's RIVERWORLD series has the same theme.
 
I read the Bible in my early 20s. I came to the conclusion that the Bible is a mysterious book and anyone who says he understands it is a fool. I didn't think I was smart enough to pick out which of the 2000 Christians sects has the best interpretation. So I remained agnostic for many more years.
 
BTW, I was brought up Catholic, but left when I was about 15.
Dave Volek Added Nov 14, 2017 - 4:18pm
Don
Despite the story in ACTS, only a small percentage of the people accepted that message of Christ. There were still far more many Jewish zealots, to which the Romans had to put down in a revolt a few decades later. Christianity was barely registering on the political front of those days.
 
When Constatine called the Council of Nicae, it was estimated that only 10% of the population were Christians. In other words, Christianity did not explode. There is no sign it is gaining ground in today's world.
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 14, 2017 - 4:43pm
Don
 
However there are exceptions.
 
Hermeticism is both cerebral enough to have given birth to science, and mystical enough to have formed the foundation of modern Neopaganism.
Steve Bergeron Added Nov 14, 2017 - 8:44pm
PaganTeaPartier, we are in agreement.  When I was young, I used to believe that folks weren't Catholic because they just hadn't read the right book, heard the right argument, watched the right video, etc.  I learned as I grew older, that the faith is not to be had that way.  It is imparted to us.  I recall the story of the famous British journalist, Malcom Muggeridge, who had studied the Catholic faith up one side and down the other, but could never come to conversion.  Then, one day, he was assigned to go to Calcutta and interview a nun, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  He interviewed her for only a few minutes, and BAM!  He converted.  Why?  Because she had imparted the faith that she had within her, to him.  Most folks fail to impart the faith because they don't have sufficient faith within them.  As the old Latin phrase goes, "Nemo dat quod non habet." Or, "We cannot give, what we do not have."
 
The late St. John Paul II said that we should not try to correct every error in faith we run across, because we would never end.  However, we should try to explain the faith to those who may benefit, because when we do, God's grace accompanies that truth, and when that soul will need the grace, it will be there for them.  And, I figure it can't hurt to provide a thought-provoking viewpoint that some folks (maybe not you, but perhaps others) may not have heard yet.  
 
BTW, just so we have our definitions in order, when Catholics refer to Tradition (capital "T"), we are not referring to mere customs, as we usually use the term in our day and age.  We are referring to the oral tradition (teachings) passed on from Christ to the Apostles and their successors, the bishops.  See 2 Thes. 2:15 that gives both oral tradition and written tradition equal authority.  Oral Tradition preceded the New Testament by quite a bit, timewise.
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 14, 2017 - 10:19pm
Steve
 
I was using the word Tradition in an open ended manner. Among Neopagans it a very expansive term, running the spectrum from different organizational structures withing Wicca to entire pantheons.
 
And you absolutely should present your doctrines and beliefs, and certainly speak up for the Catholic perspective whenever internal Christian debates are being discussed.
 
But in this case, I was simply trying to present the Protestant side objectively. The original author did not seem inclined to put stock in any Christian belief, but I have the ability to demonstrate that the position is not as weak as he was claiming, without feeling the need to try and convince him of the truth of that argument.
 
Naturally I could not do that without voicing some aspects of the Protestant objections to the RCC, and just as naturally you would step up to defend your Church.
 
When you started moving from logic to perspective, I felt I needed to clarify.
Steve Bergeron Added Nov 15, 2017 - 7:39am
PaganTeaPartier,
  
     I enjoy your posts and seeing your perspectives and opinions.  We can certainly agree to disagree respectfully, and I appreciate that.  This is what makes for intelligent dialogue.  You are clearly intelligent and intellectually honest.  Not everyone is, unfortuntely.  :)
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 15, 2017 - 8:28am
Steve. PaganTeaPartier: Enjoyed both of your comments and perspectives. The bible, in my opinion, can be made to correspond to whatever predispositions we as individuals may have, which is why I posed the questions in the first place. Religion is so emotionally laden and we identify with it so strongly that viewing it in ways that we view other aspects of our daily lives is difficult. We seem willing to provide a space for special pleading with our religion that we normally wouldn't with other aspects of our lives. I still retain my initial conclusion that Catholicism, all else being equal, has a stronger historical basis for faith than Protestantism because Protestantism doesn't provide, at a minimum, the devices used by other religions to sever ties with a dominant religion. Is that a fair assumption? I don't know, as God could have used that difference as the requisite characteristic of a true faith, something different from all the rest. But that would also negate the beginnings of Christianity in the first place. It's difficult to know the mind of God with a text that never changes but is ripe for interpretations that do.
Steve Bergeron Added Nov 15, 2017 - 9:08am
Jonathan,  good points.  I would say that if there were any validity to Protestantism, there would be one Protestant denomination, with one standard set of beliefs, not 40,000+.  Why?  Because the truth cannot contradict itself.  Take a class of 40 first graders.  Give them a one question math quiz.  2 + 2 = _____  Suppose you get 40 distinctive different answers.  How many, at most, can be correct?  One.  If you say they are all correct, then you have no objective truth with regard to that problem.  It digresses to mere personal opinion, which is all Protestantism boils down to.  Oh, I know.  They do get some things right.  Christ is God, et al.  However, Christ's truth is an integrated whole, because Christ is an integrated whole.  He said, "I am the way, the Truth, and the life."  I usually ask folks if they liked wine, and I gave them a glass of the world's finest wine, would they drink it?  Of course!  Gladly!  But, what if I put one teaspoon of sewerage in that glass of wine?  Would they drink it then?  No!  Never!  Why?  Because it's no longer a glass of the world's finest wine.  It's a glass of sewerage.  We have been given the fullness of Divine Revelation from Christ, passed down through the ages.  The Catholic Church does not claim the right to change Christ's teachings, or create a "new church" apart from the one He created.
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 15, 2017 - 11:31am
Steve
 
Oh come now, there has hardly been a shortage of sewage floating around in the Catholic Church.
 
Nor is it a stranger to personal opinions. Most Protestant Denominations divide more over organizational structure and practice; but there is less theological daylight between Methodists and Pentecostals, than outside observers perceive between John Paul II and Francis.
 
Likewise, why would you expect there to be only one singular organization? There were more than a dozen apostles, and they were far from a united front. Peter and Paul did not get along at all, but instead of struggling with each other for dominance, they just followed their own individual paths and did things their own way.
 
It was not Christ who set up one singular ruling body which exercised authority over all others, Constantine did that. Before Christianity was turned into a vessel of Imperial Authority, each local church governed themselves much like the Protestant Denominations do today.
 
Jonathan
 
Protestants weren't trying to create a new religion, they were trying to eliminate what they perceived as corruption within the organizational structure of the religion which they already had.
 
They had their Divine Revelation, the scriptures. What reason would a new Revelation be required to read those scriptures and notice, nowhere within them is a requirement that religious leaders be unmarried, there is not one instance of an infant being baptised, and the apostles claimed that Christ interceded between God and man, yet never claimed that any man needed them to intercede between man and Christ.
 
You don't need to lay a new foundation, to strip superfluous elements from the structure which has been built on the old one.
Steve Bergeron Added Nov 15, 2017 - 1:47pm
Jonathan,
     As I've said before (elsewhere???), the Church isn't a museum of Saints.  It's a hospital for sinners.  One would expect to find sinners within its ranks, far more than Saints.
     Have you ever belonged to a gym?  If so, have you ever seen someone horribly out of shape at the gym?   And, if so, did you say to yourself, "Gee!  This gym is worthless!  Look at that fat slob!"  It's not the gym.  It's the people belonging to it.  If they follow the exercise plans and use the equipment as they should, then they should be on the way to transforming themselves into a slim, fit individual as advertised.  If not, then not.  But, we don't blame the gym for each individuals level of fitness, do we?  The same is with the Church.  The Church has all the tools Christ provided mankind to seek holiness and achieve eternal salvation.  Each individual's challenge is to use these tools to accomplish the same.  Or not.  Life is all about choices, and consequences, isn't it?
     We believe that Divine Revelation ceased with the death of the last Apostle.  God had no more to say to mankind, as a whole.  He established a Church, not through Constantine, but through Christ.  Let me quote from St. Ignatius of Antioch, in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ch 8, wrote "Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."  This was around 107-110 A.D.  Note that in writing to the Smyrnaeans, he wasn't coining the term Catholic, but using the term as if he expected his audience to know and understand full well what he meant.  With regard to Constantine, he legalized the Church and stopped the Roman Empire from persecuting its members.  He didn't create it.  It existed centuries before he was born.
     With regard to the Apostles, remember that they were each trained by Jesus and given the deposit of faith.  None of the Apostles strayed from this deposit of faith.  Their individuality certainly would have shown up in their living out the faith, or administering their responsibilities in their area.  Within the Catholic Church, there are 23 rites, which means 23 different means of celebrating the faith.  But they all believe the same doctrines and dogmas, handed on by Christ.
    Protestantism began with the notion of fixing some problems that really existed within the Church.  But rather than patiently fix them, they bought into a divisive approach to the faith in allowing every man, woman, and child to interpret everything for themselves.  Luther was horrified at what Protestantism became because of that, splintering before he died.  And it has been splintering ever since.
     As Catholics, we have an obligation to form our consciences to the teachings of the Church (Christ), and to give religious obedience to all doctrines.  We aren't put in the position of Protestants in having to reinvent the wheel every time we pick up a Bible.
     I guess the real issue is one of authority.  Who has the authority to teach and preach, from Christ?  Protestants say it is the Bible.  Yet, without realizing it, they must acknowledge the authority of the Church who, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, decided which books went into the New Testament and which version of the Old Testament to use.  All agree, at least, on the 27 books of the New Testament, but it is through the authority of the Catholic Church.  And if the Catholic Church had the authority to decide which books went into the Bible, why not realize that it is the authoritative and authentic interpreter of the Bible, too?  It's just logical.  
 
 
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 15, 2017 - 1:56pm
PaganTeaPartier: Maybe you're right that qualifying it as a new religion is incorrect, perhaps that's why there was no revelation as we would normally understand it. But nonetheless, it's a substantial change, one that requires a complete break for an individual if they were to change as they are mutually exclusive and have obvious theological differences. I also wonder if true objectivity would lead me to a conclusion that Protestantism is a wholly different religion, much like some would characterize Mormonism as a different religion, even though it too is just an offshoot, a revelatory offshoot, but one nonetheless. Catholicism does create its own sacred tenets not required in the bible and perhaps there were so many at the time that a rebellion was inevitable. But, for me, that's an interpretive difference stemming from a dislike of the status quo, not divine revelation, and not particularly exceptional. I understand that is my opinion and is debatable, as it seems every aspect of my original post is.
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 15, 2017 - 2:35pm
Steve
 
Constantine didn't create The Church, he insisted on the formation of an institutionalized governing body, consistent with the government structures of Imperial Rome, and then proclaimed that governing structure, "The Church."
 
Having once received an imperial endorsement doesn't make your hospital for sinners fine wine, while everyone else's is raw sewage.
 
Jonathan
 
The simple continued existence of both Catholics and Protestants would seem to indicate that EVERYTHING is debatable.
 
You get to make up your mind for yourself which, if either, are correct.
 
But if you ever do reach a conclusion, recognize that there will be many others who came to a different one, and they will have their own arguments, and be able to back them up.
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 17, 2017 - 1:07am
For myself, I was surprised by God- He constantly upends my preconceived notions and surprises me with revelations which often go against my upbringing. I was raised a cool, calm conservative Presbyterian, encountered God with the Pentecostals was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.  I thought that was IT.
Then to the shock of everyone, after I attended  Mass in the Catholic Church, I was overwhelmed with an experience to the Presence of God which eventually led me to convert.  God loves to rip the rug from under us. He is God and I am not.
Don Added Nov 17, 2017 - 3:09am
Melanie, you and I are tracking along together including your interest even in mental illness.  By being a Spirit-filled Roman Catholic, you have it all.
Even the word catholic, says it all.  The Roman church has done all it can to keep everything that has meant something spiritual to its people.  Thus they are catholic in the true sense of the word.  I am happy for you.
Narnian Added Nov 17, 2017 - 8:21am
Don and Melanie,
Pardon my ignorance, but I had never heard of a Spirit-filled Roman Catholic.  I am very pleasantly surprised, and glad for you.
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 17, 2017 - 12:41pm
Don- It is a wonderful gift to stumble on a fellow traveller who actually understands and can relate to my journey
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 17, 2017 - 12:43pm
Narnian- In the mid-1960,s and 70's, the Catholic Charismatics or Pentecostal Catholics often had conferences of 30,000 people- the most notable occurred in Rome. many parishes still hold Life in the Spirit seminars.
Narnian Added Nov 17, 2017 - 1:42pm
I really didn't know many Catholics until just a few years ago.  Even at that, it's mostly a group of friends that I get together with about once a month for "Bibles and BBQ", where we have a pleasant discussion about our doctrines.  For us, it is a picture of "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133:1). 
 
I've been a "Spirit-filled" Believer since 1978, but I've never know the Catholic community was open to this.  Did it begin in the 60s, or is that just when the conferences started?
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 17, 2017 - 3:12pm
Narian- It first broke out in Ann Arbour, Michigan - Wikipedia gives a short history https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Charismatic_Renewal
Narnian Added Nov 17, 2017 - 3:14pm
Thanks for the link.  I'll read up on it.  Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 17, 2017 - 4:30pm
laughing- oh, I am one up on the Americans- Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving on Oct. 6th...before some of us get snowed in with no sign of a harvest. BUT may you have a joyful Thanksgiving
Narnian Added Nov 20, 2017 - 9:12am
Thank you very much, Melanie.  So, if we visit you in October, and you visit us in November, we will both be stuffed :).
Jonathan Thomas Added Nov 20, 2017 - 11:39am
I didn't realize my post could bring different countries together.
Narnian Added Nov 20, 2017 - 12:03pm
Indeed, Sir.  Even my parents would have been totally amazed.
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 20, 2017 - 12:52pm
Narnian- yes! and I must tell you that The Chronicles of Narnia  by C.S. Lewis are still in my top ten of  best books
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 20, 2017 - 12:53pm
Jonathan- oh, the benefits of the new social media
Narnian Added Nov 20, 2017 - 1:08pm
C.S. Lewis is (obviously) one of my favorite authors. 
A question, if you don't mind, regarding Spirit-filled Catholics.  Not everyone agrees that the Gifts of the Spirit are still active today.  You will never see a Baptist speaking in tongues or speaking a word in prophecy.  On the other hand, you will see Pentecostals practically swinging from the chandeliers. 
 
I firmly believe these gifts are meant for today as much as they were for the first Century Church.  Are there special congregations in the Catholic Church that exercise the gifts, or are they exercised at special times?
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 20, 2017 - 1:17pm
There are parishes which are open to the gifts-  St. Mary's in Ottawa, Canada is one such parish. They still conduct Life in the Spirit Seminars and healing Masses where people speak in tongues.
 
As a Catholic, I speak in tongues, sense prophecies- words from God for others, receive inner images which will tell me how a person needs to receive inner healing.
I have been healed physically and emotionally as has my husband/
Narnian Added Nov 20, 2017 - 1:31pm
Totally awesome, Sister.  Thank you.  My "Spirit-Filled" Brothers and Sisters in Christ will be as surprised (and pleased) as I am.
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 20, 2017 - 1:34pm
and I am thrilled to meet a fellow Christian who treats me, a Catholic,  as a Sister in Christ. Thank you for your open mind and heart.
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 20, 2017 - 4:06pm
Narnian
 
There are many flavors of Baptists, some of them, Free Will Baptists for example, can be quite charismatic, though it may vary significantly from congregation to congregation.
 
Speaking in Tongues is frowned upon due to the scriptural passage which say that an interpreter is a requirement. And while its unlikely that you'll experience a Baptist jumping up and proclaiming a prophecy they have received, that is not due to a lack of belief in the Gift of Prophecy, but the scriptural passage which asserts that the gift does not come with a compulsion to speak it.
 
Naturally there are other denominations which have a different perspective and/or different internal cultural attitudes, such as being more encouraging of speaking up upon receiving a prophecy.
 
But there is a wide variety of attitudes and practices between the numerous different types of Baptists, and typical balances along the spectrum within them.
Narnian Added Nov 20, 2017 - 4:24pm
Interesting points, PTP.  I attend a Southern Baptist church (which my wife and I dearly love), but I sometimes miss the manifestations of the Spirit in the Church.  On the other hand, I've seen some "manifestations" that looked like they may have been staged.  Not for me to judge, but sometimes it simply didn't seem right.  Especially when someone speaks in tongues, but there was no interpretation, or when someone is "slain in the Spirit", helped along with a little push.  Sometimes they seem more like a show, but, I digress. 
 
I didn't know that Free Will Baptists could be charismatic.  I'll be moving to near Longview, Texas in a couple of years.  I will keep this in mind.  I really love learning new things through chat rooms.  In just the past week, I've learned about Spirit-filled Catholics (thanks to Melanie and Don), and now I learn about Charismatic Baptists.  Reminds me of an old song by Carmen called "Spirit-filled Pizza".  (Not one of his best, but it is fun to listen to.)
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 20, 2017 - 4:32pm
Pagan TeaPartier- point taken. On the other hand, there is a difference between standing up and delivering a proclamation in tongues, without an interpretation and a group of Christians quietly singing and praising harmoniously, their eyes on God, without drawing attention to themselves. It is also not appropriate to be the only person praising in tongues in a group and distracting others
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 20, 2017 - 5:39pm
Narnian
 
I grew up in an American Baptist church, in my experience Baptists as a whole tend to prefer defying classification. Whatever your style might be, odds are you'll find some Baptists who, if not completely compatible can at least relate.
 
Melanie
 
As I said, a lot of that has to do with cultural attitudes within individual congregations and groups. Something which might be considered disruptive among some, might be actively encouraged among others.
 
Likewise the necessity of a specific interpreter regarding speaking in tongues can change depending on the relative intimacy of the occasion, and different groups have a different perception of just how intimate various gatherings are.
 
Specific practices can't really be used as a barometer. My grandparents were West Virginia transplants, and went to a small Free Will Baptist church which largely catered to others originally from that region. If you've ever seen Sargent York, the overwhelming majority of the people there actually talk like that.
 
You wouldn't see much explicit Gifts of the Spirit practices there, but they generally expected to throw the format out the window half way through, and go in whatever direction they felt they were being moved by the Spirit towards.
 
They explicitly rejected professional pastors, the typical lead pastor worked at the Whirlpool plant until he retired, and the idea of having a prepared sermon would never occur to any of them.
 
My mother once related a story of how one Sunday the regular service lasted for 4 hours, because 3 of the common people who would lead went off on a tear and repeatedly tag-teamed each other preaching as the felt moved. And everyone present was thoroughly engaged the entire way through.
 
I might not share your alls theology, but there was a palpably LIVING spirit at work in that church.
Melanie Jean Juneau Added Nov 20, 2017 - 5:44pm
agreed- it is all about being sensitive to others and to God, no matter what church you are in.
Narnian Added Nov 20, 2017 - 6:06pm
Sergeant York is one of my favorite movies (and a man I greatly admire), so I can relate to the church.  For a guy who doesn't necessarily share our theology, you are know quite a bit.  Really appreciate your input, PTP.
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 20, 2017 - 7:35pm
Yes, I am quite knowledgeable and experience, and as I've said before, since I have disagreements rather than objections, I'm also fair.
 
I disagree with Christianity's claims to having a monopoly on Truth, but while I don't believe your theology is inherently better than everyone else's, neither do I believe that it is inherently worse.
 
The living spirit which moved within that church did not reside within the hollowed ground of the building, nor within the passages of the scriptures in the Bibles that church contained. It wasn't contained within the theology which was understood, nor in the traditions which were embraced.
 
That spirit made its home in the hearts of the people who went there, and those people brought it with them. I don't perceive it as proof that your religion is true, it demonstrates only that for those people their religion was real.
 
Naturally you all will have a different perspective, but such disagreements can be discussed and debated with good will, without any need to treat it like a battle to the death.
 
The hostility you might have perceived as common among Neopagans, is entirely personal in origin, and not inherent to Neopagan beliefs.
 
Its a byproduct of most having rejected Christianity before they went searching for something else, which is why most of their criticisms and arguments tend to be indistinguishable from your standard issue leftist.
 
But as for the movie Sargent York, yeah when I first saw that I immediately recognized a striking resemblance to my mother's side of the family. I saw a great deal of my grandfather in Alvin York, which grew stronger when near the end of his life, the war was all that he seemed to want to talk about, after not having much to say about it at all the entire time I'd known him before.
Don Added Nov 20, 2017 - 10:23pm
As a former Baptist minister and now a Spirit Filled Anglican Priest, I have my theory as too why Baptists can’t pray in tongues.
 
It will surprise you when I say Baptists are too mental. Baptists believe one must reach the age of accountability before being baptized --i.e. believers baptism. This means you must intellectually understand what you are doing–a cerebral activity. Psychologists attribute this age of accountability which occurs around puberty, as resulting from the interconnections of the brain’s neurons reaching a level of maturity which makes rational thought possible. In other words, a core Baptist belief is the demand that you must be capable of understanding what you are doing.
 
Speaking in your special Spirit language requires the exact opposite of understanding. You must release the hegemony of the intellect to allow the hegemony of the Holy Spirit–something nearly impossible for the modern mind. (i.e. unless you have done some powerful Eastern meditation or taken a mind altering substance, you probably have no idea what that releasing is like.)
 
St. Paul puts it this way “If I pray in special sounds, my spirit is doing the praying. My mind does not understand.” (1 Cor 14:14 New Life Version)
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 20, 2017 - 11:18pm
There is a significant difference between can't and don't.
 
Just like there is a difference between will and consciousness.
 
Baptists do not believe that absolutely everything must be consciously understood by the intellect, they believe that a baptism only has significance if done of your own free will. The core of it is that no one else is capable of making this decision for you, that every individual is personally accountable for themselves.
 
While demonstrated cognitive ability is typically the yardstick by which a child is determined to have sufficient maturity, that is a proxy measurement. The relevant attribute is responsibility, not understanding.
 
Without your assumption being artificially grafted onto them as a preconception, your argument for them being too cerebral to be capable of intense spiritual experiences, completely falls apart.
 
The much more simple explanation, is that the Spirit does not manifest itself in them in that way, because they do not believe that it is right.
 
And as a side note, I've known many Baptists who practice prayer in the manner spoken of in that scripture. It is simply something that they do privately, specifically because they believe that it is wrong to do so among others without an interpreter.
Don Added Nov 20, 2017 - 11:42pm
Great job tea partier with your response—clear, succinct and right on target.  And, thanks for confirming that I can communicate a complex matter in a limited space.  You actually understood my point.  As to your knowledge of Baptists who believe there must be an interpreter, I have been away for so long I wouldn’t know.  All the Baptist I run in to are at the huge spirit filled meetings. 
 
PaganTeaPartier Added Nov 21, 2017 - 12:08am
If find it more surprising that there are those who have abandoned that belief, I found it pretty pervasive.
 
But as I said before, with all of the different types of Baptists, and all of the variation even within the different types, as a whole Baptists tend to defy classification. If you go looking for the ultra-cerebral ones like you described, you'll find some; and if you go looking for ultra-charismatic ones, you'll find some of those too. Go looking for any balance between those extremes, you'll find some of them somewhere. And even with all of that already expected, you'll still find some who don't fit within whatever box you are wanting to draw around them.
 
A joke that I'd heard a few times among Baptists, was one of those that it was funny because it was true.
 
If a Methodist has a problem with their church, they go to another Methodist Church.
 
If a Pentecostal has a problem with their church, they go to another Pentecostal Church.
 
If a Baptist has a problem with their church, they found their own.
 
Baptists are a definitively American Protestant Denomination, as such it shouldn't be surprising that they prefer a fiercely independent, bottom-up organizational structure.
 
Though one could be forgiven for perceiving the reality of that to be simply a euphemism for, "Abject Chaos."