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Hi all.... just starting back into classes in Systematic Theology and begun investigating the theology of church if you will.... What do we mean when we speak of church?

As usual these classes give me much to ponder and at least for a time raise more questions than they answer... perhaps why I enjoy them so much. Big Grin

I tend to separate church from Church - the denomination from the Body but there are denominations that I have a difficult time including in the Body Frowner pretty much because of some of their teachings... When does a church become separate from the Church or can it?

Help.....! Thoughts - insights - ?

Peace,
Wanda
 
Posts: 278 | Location: Pennslyvania | Registered: 12 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This is a pretty tricky topic, Wanda, especially insofar as there are various schools of theology about this. There are also various definitions of church, some of which are general in nature like "organization of believers in a religion" and "people of God."

I'm assuming you mean the Christian Church here, which would include all who profess the truths of the Christian faith. Where one draws the line concerning the ins and outs of the Christian faith could also be debated. E.g., are Mormons Christians? Jehovas Witnesses? Most Christian Churches would say no, as some of their teachings contradict with core beliefs rooted in Scripture and early Christian tradition.

When you open the "anonymous Christian" can of worms, it becomes even more complicated. This term, coined by Karl Rahner, applies to even people of other world religions--or no religion at all!!--who live good lives, and who would probably become Christians if the faith were presented to them in a way that they could understand.

Is my reflection helping? Big Grin

I'll close with a statement from the new Catholic catechism:

The Church is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil... thank you. I like the definition from the Catholic catechism. "The Church is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assumbly. She draws her life from the word and the Gody of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body." Actually maybe better than ours.... "The Church is the community of the New Covenant." It goes on a bit to define the church through Scripture and Creeds but does not really define it all that well. It seems to best define the organization of church rather than the Church.
So... actually your reflection helped a lot.
You Romans really do so much very very well. Big Grin
Thanks,
Wanda
 
Posts: 278 | Location: Pennslyvania | Registered: 12 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Wanda:
[qb]
You Romans really do so much very very well. Big Grin
Thanks,
Wanda[/qb]


Thanks, Wanda. We've been at it a long time! Wink

I had a couple of misspelled words in that quote that I've corrected. Gody of Christ isn't a bad misnomer, however, wouldn't you say? Smiler

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In many ways, I believe this is a question that we cannot truly answer. It may also be one better left unanswered.

It is not accurate to identify the mystical Body of Christ with the membership of any particular collection of proclaimed or defined Christian churches. The Roman Catholic definition provided by Phil excludes all denominations that are neither Eucharistic or Liturgical.

I believe the catechism would have been more accurate if the second sentence had been dropped. It would then read:

The Church is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body.

In my opinion, the above leaves the answer humanly unidentifiable, yet accurately defined.

My two cents.

John
 
Posts: 38 | Location: Deerfield, IL | Registered: 07 January 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The Church is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body.

In my opinion, the above leaves the answer humanly unidentifiable, yet accurately defined.


Thanks, John. Yes, it's not surprising that the Roman Church a definition with a Eucharistic emphasis. Do you think the early Church would have concurred?

It seems that you have nonetheless retained a Eucharistic dimension, though not so Sacramentally explicit, in your reference to the Body of Christ.

Personally, I can go along with any defintion of Church which emphasizes the fact of a community of faith-relationship to Christ, however that needs to be worded.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Minimally, I think Church should be defined as the community of those who follow Christ. This would include those who profess Christian faith, worship in a tradition of some kind, and it could also include those "anonymous Christians" Rahner wrote about who probably would be Church-going Christians if the circumstances were right.

I'm not comfortable either restricting the definition to only traditions which celebrate Eucharist.

Chris
 
Posts: 43 | Registered: 10 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I find the term "Church" too broad to define.......namely because we have the Baptist Church, the Catholic Church, etc......each represent a body of believers with a specific faith or belief.....doctrines vary as well. What if the term "The Church of Jesus Christ" became the focus of our definition? Would that clarify the confusion? I think from my studies of the scriptures, that there is a specific organization described therein.
Acts 15:22 "Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas........apostles and elders were in The Church of Jesus Christ
Ephesians:4:11-16 describes the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ in some degree.....apostles, prophets; evangelists, pastors and teacher.....for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.....till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ......that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive..........

These verses give me a lot of things to ponder and question........the Church Jesus organized seems quite specific.....and for how long it should exist....."until we come in the unity of faith." It would seem the purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ is to teach the doctrines that Christ taught, being safeguarded by those in authority to teach, preach, baptise, and receive members into the Church of Jesus Christ.

This poses a lot of questions I am not prepared to answer at this moment.
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Moab, Utah | Registered: 05 February 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ephesians:4:11-16 describes the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ in some degree.....apostles, prophets; evangelists, pastors and teacher.....


I think we do see something of the early structure and identity of Church in the Scriptures, lookbeyond. Point well taken. What doesn't work, however, is reading those verses as though they are a final draft for what the Christian community was to be like. Something of the organization and ministry roles can be found in most Church traditions today, however.

These verses give me a lot of things to ponder and question........the Church Jesus organized seems quite specific.....and for how long it should exist....."until we come in the unity of faith." It would seem the purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ is to teach the doctrines that Christ taught, being safeguarded by those in authority to teach, preach, baptise, and receive members into the Church of Jesus Christ.

Yes, that makes a lot of sense.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"What doesn't work, however, is reading those verses as though they are a final draft for what the Christian community was to be like. Something of the organization and ministry roles can be found in most Church traditions today, however."

Acts 14:23 "And when they had ordained them elders in EVERY church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed."
Acts 1:21-26.........And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles." This verse seems to set a pattern of replacement with the apostles.......people apparently were not yet brought to a "unity of faith," which we aren't today, likewise.

If there is to be one Lord, one faith, one baptism........where is that organization that exemplifies that unity? One Lord, meaning, Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, who He called and set in the Church, His apostles, prophets, teachers, deacons, priests, seventy, high priest, to keep it's doctrines pure, and the members united in their faith in Him! If we are true believers of Jesus Christ, and desire to be His followers, should we not seek to find the organization of the Church still in tact, that we might obtain the blessings of baptism, by those having the same authority to preach, teach, and baptize in His name, as did John the Baptist, and Peter, James and John and the othe apostles so called? Should the Church of Jesus Christ vary in its teachings throughout the world......or should their be a unity of faith and teaching of the same doctrine and teachings He taught?

That then brings me to my next question......where did some of the doctrines now being taught in the churches today come from......infant baptism for one.......the rosary and worship of Mary.........Popes, Cardinals,
indulgences for forgiveness......prayers for those in pergatory..........sprinkling in place of immersion! Who changed the example set by the Savior? Questions here I have pondered for years.......why the varied names of churches.....to denote specific doctrines they gendered when they broke from the Catholic Church?
And it would appear to me The Church of Jesus Christ, named after Christ because it is His Church, should also include His gospel being taught within! Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the receiving of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands at baptism..........

2 Timothy 4:3-4 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

This verse describes many of the churches today, I believe.......1 Timothy 4:1-3 describes them even more directly.......so where is truth today? Where is the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ? Who was authorized to change the doctrine? the ordinances? Confused
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Moab, Utah | Registered: 05 February 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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lookbeyond, some of your questions seem to be calling for a recounting of Church history on the development of doctrine and minitry in the Church. Not an easy thing to do on a forum like this. But I will tell you that there are answers to these questions. Years ago I wrote a book entitled Catholic Answers to Fundamentalists' Questions. There's a link to it on my books page on my web site.

Sorry I can't be of more help. Just a big topic. Smiler

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil, referring me to a book really is not what this discussion is all about......you mean you can't answer a simple question like, "where is truth?" I don't need to know the history of the formation of doctrine in the Catholic Church.....I already understand the Niceen Creed and how it came about.......but that doesn't answer anything beyond man's manipulation of God's Word......doctrine.....and ordinances to suit themselves. I find it a bit disturbing that within the church there is no harmony with teaching in the Bible with regards to authority....surely it wasn't God's intention that His Church should be a political body, dictated by the whims and desires of men.........the salvation of mankind is at stake here and I find it difficult to reconcile that there is no organization resembling the New Testament within the protestant and or Catholic Churches today......why? Where are the prophets, the apostles? Are we not in need of Divine direction today as spoken of in Hebrews, where it says something to the effect, "surely the Lord God will do nothing, accept He revealeth His secrets unto the prophets." With all the confusion about religion on the earth......surely He hasn't left us without guidance on matters of such importance as the salvation of mankind and it's requirements! Confused Confused Confused Confused
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Moab, Utah | Registered: 05 February 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil, referring me to a book really is not what this discussion is all about......you mean you can't answer a simple question like, "where is truth?"

I'm sorry, but I thought your question was: That then brings me to my next question......where did some of the doctrines now being taught in the churches today come from......infant baptism for one.......the rosary and worship of Mary.........Popes, Cardinals,
indulgences for forgiveness......prayers for those in pergatory..........sprinkling in place of immersion! Who changed the example set by the Savior? Questions here I have pondered for years.......why the varied names of churches.....to denote specific doctrines they gendered when they broke from the Catholic Church?


That isn't a "simple question," Wink and an adequate response really would call for something of a book, or at least some study and research on your part. There's really a lot on the net you can find. I'll post a resource below..

I'm beginning to sense that some of your questions and statements are "leading," Pharases like "man's manipulation of God's Word......doctrine.....and ordinances to suit themselves" suggest that you're coming from a kind of fundamentalistic perspective on these matters--that if things aren't just like the Bible describes them, then some kind of distortions have taken place. The rest of your post seems to present additional leading questions.

I do recommend my book to you again, or you might check out this web site for another alternative.

Good Best. Smiler

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil, if my questions appear to be leading that is because they are! I read one thing in the Bible as to the organization of the early Christian Church and yet I can't find that organization within the Catholic Church! My observations have caused me great concern, and to infer that I haven't already done a great deal of study and research is an interesting defense for your inability to give me a direct answer. I don't want to know what the historical details are, I already know them......I want to know how the church reconciles the differences today, in a church that calls themselves "christian" and yet has little resemblance to the Church spoken of or described in the Bible. If I am going to join myself to any religiion, it is my concern that that Church better be Christian or follow the pattern set by Jesus Christ......where is the authority received from, that the church today claims. I know in history there was once three Popes.....how is that reconciled? That Pope Constantine had his mother murdered........I think I better take my questions to someone not afraid to give the answers.....I think there is an easy answer to all the questions I have asked, and I was just hoping for a validating voice not unlike Martin Luther who broke from the church in the reformation........apostasy!!!! If apostasy, then where is the restoration promised in the scriptures? Acts 3:19-21 Jesus Christ.....whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things........The Second Coming will not come until a "restitution" of all things.....????? If the Catholic Church is the true church, why do the scriptures speak of a restitution of all things? What does "all things" represent? Don't misunderstand, my questions are sincere and I guess I should never have read and studied the Bible to try to understand Catholicism......it has caused more questions than it has produced answers for me, but then I am not a learned member of the clergy. Frowner
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Moab, Utah | Registered: 05 February 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I read one thing in the Bible as to the organization of the early Christian Church and yet I can't find that organization within the Catholic Church!

I'm not sure which organization of Church in the Bible you're referring to: the one in early Acts where the believers owned all things in common? Does your Church do that? Do you place your property in common with all other members of your Church? If not, then it would seem you're being unfaithful to the Bible and in a false Church, using your own logic.

My observations have caused me great concern, and to infer that I haven't already done a great deal of study and research is an interesting defense for your inability to give me a direct answer..

Actually, I did refer you to my book, and to a good web site in two very direct answers. Have you looked these over?

Another direct reply I would now make is to tell you that you have it all wrong about the Bible and the Church. The Bible belongs to the Church; it is the Word of God (New Testament) come through the Church, recognized by the Church, validated and brought into Canon by the Church. It's not an extra-ecclesial document that fell from the sky with instructions on how the Church was to be. Those comments in Scripture about the Church give us several different models that were being used, and it's obvious that the Church was evolving. Initially, they expected Christ to come any time, so there was no point in getting too organized. Later, as the Apostles died out, they had to develop new models of organization and leadership. The Bible doesn't give us that last word on how that's supposed to be; we are still free to organize ourselves as the times require.

That's the best I can do to help you. My sense is that your "inquiries" are really thinly-disguised fundamentalist rants against the Catholic Church, but I stand to be corrected--like with a post that communicates a little more good-will. I'll be watching.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi everyone,

Ok..this is something I have been struggling with for quite awhile myself. Needless to say I am no where near an authority here. That said, I will put in my two cents.. Big Grin

The first distinction I would like to make here is between the Anglican (church- small cap.) and the Body (Church- large cap.). The Anglican and the Roman and the Presbyterian and the Methodist, etc. - I will speak of as church. The Church Universal the Body of Christ I will speak of as Church. I make this distinction because I firmly believe that all Christians - all who profess Christ and are Baptized into Him are members of the Body - the Church.

Cyprian of Carthage notes" "The Church is one, and by her fertility she has extended by degree into many. In the same way, the sun has many rays, but a single light; a tree has many branches but a single trunk resting on a deep root; and many streams flow out from a single source."

Jan Hus takes this a bit further in his third definition of the Church to include those who are "predestined", no matter what their current situation. Certainly one must profess Christ to be Christian yet, he came not only to Christians but to all. "For God so loved the world...." Reading this one must, on some level, recognize that all are members whether they choose to accept this "membership" or not. So to say that the Church is catholic would be so say that the Church is truly universal - open to and including everyone and anyone.

Now to the subject of the churches. While the Anglican and indeed all other churches I am familiar with are also open to everyone, there are conditions that must be met. Various denominations have different "requirements". These churches are also parts of the Body - members of the Church and their members are parts both collectively and individually. They are held together by Truths held in common - revealed through Scripture and Sacrament. These are the people who have chosen membership in the Church and have chosen to at least try to live accordingly. They have organized themselves according to their various gifts for the purpose of inviting others to "accept" their place within the Church and within one of the various churches. These are the visible Church - the outward sign of inward grace. It is in and through these that the Word is spread by the Spirit, through the sacraments, the Scripture, the teachings of our fathers and mothers; through worship, fellowship and service.

Does this mean that every organization can be called church? I agree with Luther in that to be a church there must be distinguishing marks. While I agree with most of those he cited, preaching and hearing of the word, the Sacraments, ministry, etc. I would have to question what he considers "proper public worship" - worship yes, but what is proper worship?
What about the different teachings of the various churches (denominations); does any single denomination hold all Truth. While I believe that Scripture holds all that is necessary for salvation I am not sure every or maybe even any denomination is infallible in the interpretation of all Scripture. Must one be a member of a specific denomination to be "saved"? Must one belong to any specific denomination to be a "real" Christian? All I can say here is that I believe that each person must develop his/her own relationship and through that relationship will be called to community in the way and place that best fits their needs. I personally do not believe that the way one worships is of primary importance, but simply that one does. Myself, I like the Anglican way but I do not believe that this is the only way.

Needless to say this is an evolving understanding but then I also believe the Church is also evolving. Being an organization of us imperfect humans, it would be hard for the organization to be perfect. Frowner

Anyhow, that's my two cents - sorry I got so wordy.

Peace,
Wanda
 
Posts: 278 | Location: Pennslyvania | Registered: 12 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wanda, it seems you're doing some deep soul-searching concerning this issue of Church/churches. I like the distinctions you're making, and can go along with the Church of Jesus Christ being larger than any denomination. Most likely, they all embody the intent Christ had for the community of his followers to some degree, and one should belong to the denomination/faith tradition where one believes this is most fully manifest.

I don't know that Cyprian was referring to denominations in his comments about rays of the sun and branches on a tree. There were no denominations of that kind back then, so it must have been to individual communities.

You wrote: All I can say here is that I believe that each person must develop his/her own relationship and through that relationship will be called to community in the way and place that best fits their needs. I personally do not believe that the way one worships is of primary importance, but simply that one does.

I think the "fits their needs" part needs to be supplemented with a few more criteria--like faithfulness to the Gospel, expression of the truth of Christ, etc. Otherwise, one could be looking for a community that just makes one "feel good," and this might not have much to do with some of the hard teachings of the Gospel. Also, I do believe how one worships has a lot to do with the way community is formed, how it re-members its story and connects itself to God. Simply worshiping is a good thing, for sure, but not nearly good enough, I don't think. That again opens the door to "I worship God my way and you worship God yours," which is hardly conducive to the building of community.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi again Phil....
"I think the "fits their needs" part needs to be supplemented with a few more criteria--like faithfulness to the Gospel,expression of the truth of Christ, etc. Otherwise, one could be looking for a community that just makes one "feel good,"
and this might not have much to do with some of the hard teachings of the Gospel."

I totally agree here Phil.... must not have been too clear. I like Luther's criteria for church, as I said and I think these elements are absolutely necessary for an organization to be church. It's the way the organization worships - the style - that needs to "fit their needs". Some are at home with a Roman style of worship while others feel more comfortable with a less ritualistic - visual mode. In the Anglican we have several different styles of church from evangelical to anglo-cathlic to pentecostal, etc. but we have the same liturgy that these flow through. I remember some of my Roman friends being incredibly put out by the folk mass when it first appeared... they did not like that style of worship. Me I tend towards the Anglo-catholic or high church but definitely enjoy the others on occasion as well. This is what I meant.
Feel good churches, and I know a few, are a lot like a diet of chocolate only... great for a bit but not very healthy or satisfying in the long run.
Peace,
Wanda
 
Posts: 278 | Location: Pennslyvania | Registered: 12 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In the Anglican we have several different styles of church from evangelical to anglo-cathlic to pentecostal, etc. but we have the same liturgy that these flow through. I remember some of my Roman friends being incredibly put out by the folk mass when it first appeared... they did not like that style of worship. Me I tend towards the Anglo-catholic or high church but definitely enjoy the others on occasion as well. This is what I meant.


Ah yes, that makes sense--various worship options within a tradition. I know what you mean, and quite agree. If one prefers the folksy Mass, fine; the more traditional, fine. Same goes for finding what feeds one in any denomination.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi Phil, I am sorry if my questions and comments have posed ill-will, truly my frustration at finding answers, sometimes makes me appear as such, and there is no intention to create anything but good will among those who seek to worship Jesus Christ, the Son of God, through whom we have been granted the privilege and opportunity to receive forgiveness of our sins, through repentance, receiving the mercy of God, and once again returning to His presence. The gospel of Jesus Christ is precious to me, but the gospel as taught by Jesus seems a bit illusive in today's modern "christianity" as is an understanding of the total picture of the salvation of man. There is so much confusion about what being "saved" means; one makes this claim another, another. What are the requirements of salvation? Christ taught simply, and instructed the Apostles & Prophets to teach the world, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism! That seems pretty simple at first reading, but then I ask the question about the mode of baptism. Immersion as Jesus exemplified as He went to the River Jordan, where John the Baptist, a recognized authority baptised Him, or is sprinkling which is done in many "churches" today acceptable? I ask a sincere question, if baptism is a symbol of the death and burial of the Savior, as well as His resurrection, is not some of that symbolism lost in the baptism by sprinkling? Again I find no scriptural reference to such acceptance of this change. I do find, however, a scripture reference in Galatians 1:6-9, 11-12 Verse 8 gives me concern and additional question, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you that that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed......verse 12 "For I neigher received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Paul speaks of receiving revelation from Jesus Christ and cautions that those who would pervert the gospel shall be accursed........1 Cor. 2:10-14 talks of the gospel being spiritually discerned......by the Holy Ghost! John 16:7-14; John 20:21-23 The Holy Ghost was given to the Apostles.....the spirit of truth....He would be the revealator of all truth from Christ to man..... Acts 2:37-39 speaks of receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost.......to the apostles and all ........Acts 8:14-20 The apostles in verse 17, laid hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost. Simon seeing that through the laying on of the Apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, offered money for this same power and authority....and verse 20 Peter said these harsh words, "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. And finally in Acts 9:31 "the churches, (meaning, I suppose, all those who had been baptised, being gathered into a community of like believers,) walked in the comfort of the Holy Ghost and were multiplied." John 3:5 "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
My question after all this, is Christ the author of all this confusion that reigns supreme in christianity today? And yes, Phil, I did go to the website you referenced.....but I did not come away comforted......just with more questions? That was the one reason my father and I had difficulty discussing Catholicism.....there were so many unreconcilable differences of the gospel preached by the Apostles of the New Testament, who were commissioned by Jesus Christ with power and authority to go forth among the people and teach the gospel, baptising them and giving them the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.........the Holy Ghost being the third member of the Godhead, who testifies and reveals all truth according to scripture......and the teachings of Catholicism.....added practices of questionable origin that troubled me......rosary, pergatory, purchasing forgiveness......no revelation from God today........does the Pope not consider himself a Prophet of God? Does he not receive revelation to lead the church aright today?
I hope my questions are received in the spirit in which they are given.....sincere! One thing my father taught me in all of our discussions, and maybe he regretted it, but he taught me to question and thin for miyself. Smiler Smiler
Confused
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Moab, Utah | Registered: 05 February 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi lookbeyond,

OK, I'll accept your statement that you're sincere in your questions and not just taking shots at the Catholic Church with them.

Without answering each individual question you ask (and you ask plenty! Smiler ), which would take quite awhile, and which I have already done in my book, Catholic Answers to Fundamentalists' Questions, what I can do is point out once again that the Bible was not meant to be a comprehensive constitution on Church organization and practices. Scripture gives us several glimpses into the life of the early Church, and there was see several models. As the Church continued to grow and develop through the decades and centuries, its organizational structure changed to meet the demands of its growing responsibilities. As for its beliefs and practices, I don't think any of them go against Scripture. Even those that are not mentioned explicitly in Scripture do no violation of the message of Scripture. Again, it is a matter of the beliefs and practices of the Church being greater than what Scripture records. Catholics call this Tradition, but most "Bible Churches" don't recognize its validity. And there's the rub.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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<<practices of the church being greater than the scripture>> You have just lost me, Phil! As you say, the church that has evolved down through the ages now harbors "tradition" and I am really disturbed that you seem comfortable with that! I know in the early church, to attract Romans to the church, many pagan practices were adopted. Early Christians were very opposed to wearing images. The image makers as long as paganism prevailed had a lucrative business. As Christianity grew, their business decreased and they were threatened. This caused an uproar in Ephesus in the days of Paul. (Acts 19:23-29) Christians were readily persecuted then, having two effects, those weak in the faith would deny the truth and begin to practice former beliefs. The second, those strong members of the church became even stronger but are eventually put to death eventually weakening the church as the leaders were killed. Pagans magnified the importance of religious externals, things and acts. They had theire female diety. Converts from these systems quickly magnified the place of the virgin Mary until she became an object of adoration and worship.
From my study, the changes that entered into the early Christian church were due to the persecutions suffered because the teachings were such a threat to the existing beliefs, and the church was still in its formative years, yet, the pattern seems to have been established and had it been allowed to continue would have maintained the doctrine in it's purity from the mouth of Christ and His Apostles. The church organization grew and was added to as the need became apparent.......Judas position was filled by Matheas; later Seventy's were called, Elders, Teachers, Priests, Bishops, Evangelists, and Deacons. The rub here is, the scriptures left no clear guidelines as to what each of these offices performed and what authority they were given, and how it was given. It seems apparent that "revelation" was a necessary principle in the early church to establish it and keep it functioning properly....."surely the Lord God will do nothing accept He revealeth His secrets unto the Prophets." We have a hard time with this concept in today's christianity. Revelation from God to a Prophet or any leaders is foreign to our understanding and anyone so claiming seem to be persecuted, not unlike the early church, for beliefs contrary to the beliefs of the day!
One observation, would not the continued revelation from God today, to the Church, eliminate the confusion? I am overwhelmed at the multitude of doctrines being taught today, claiming to be christianity, or followers of Christ, and I sense many are fragmented truths extracted from the scriptures that have been miraculously preserved for our benefit and use. Razzer
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Moab, Utah | Registered: 05 February 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi...

"the Bible was not meant to be a comprehensive constitution on Church organization and practices."

I agree wholeheartedly. Most of the letters found in the NT address issues within an individual church - which I see as more of an explanation of the Gospel message than anything else. In many ways we are struggling with the same problem today - how to be church and different denominations have different ways to do that.

Lookbeyond, you have to remember that the early Christian church started from a tradition - Judiasm. Christ was a Jew and he did not deny that tradition or its teachings. You could say he expanded it, but in doing so left us with the problem of what stays and what is left behind... circumcism or no circumcism? In reading the Gospels it seems to be that Christ was less concerned with starting a new church - a new organization than to bring people to a better understanding and deeper relationship with God. The church seems to me to have risen out of the need to share this Good News and to be in community with others with the same desire and need.

Don't know if that helps at all and it really doesn't address the different doctrines directly but if you look at where something comes from it is sometimes easier to understand where it is and maybe even where it should go. this is the value of sharing the stories - of learning the history - of the traditions.

Good questions - have given me lots and lots to ponder. Thanks.
Peace,
Wanda
 
Posts: 278 | Location: Pennslyvania | Registered: 12 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi Lookbeyond, You really seem to be an earnest seeker. Your many questions come from someone who spends a lot of time considering his relationship with Jesus and what he is called to (imho).
May I comment on a couple of nuances that you missed in Phil's post? He didn't actually say that practices of the church were more important than scripture, but rather, some practices were more important than what scripture recorded. Scsripture did not record everything that Jesus taught or said, because all the books of the whole world could not contain what He taught.Many of the things that the early church taught, practiced and believed was hadned down inan oral Tradition. Which brings me to the second point.CAtholics use the word Tradition and tradition. Capital T Tridition is that teaching handed down from the apostles and perhaps never got written down in a clear, comprehensive way.It is is sacred and consistently taught. Small t tradition is practices and rituals and teachings that are of man made origins and may be changed.
CAtholics don't worship Mary or any of the Saints. We do give them honor. Think of it as honoring an Olympic-class Christian. Mary was the ultimate spiritual athlete and deserves recognition and honor and emulation.
Namaste, Ana
 
Posts: 38 | Location: kansas | Registered: 22 January 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As you say, the church that has evolved down through the ages now harbors "tradition" and I am really disturbed that you seem comfortable with that.

Why should I not be comfortable with that? That's what happened. The Church didn't stop learning how to be Church, how to organize itself, how to express its belief dogmatically after the last Apostle dies.

As Ana wrote, we distinguish between Tradition with a T and the less important beliefs and practices which are inessential, and which merit a small t.

I would also note that the Church recognizes no new revelation from God since the end of Biblical times, but that doesn't mean our understanding of what has been revealed hasn't deepened, nor that there is only one way to express that revelation theologically.

As Catholics, the truth we affirm comes from agreement between Scripture, Tradition, and Teaching Authority. We believe that none of these stand alone, and so the mistake of "bible-only" Christians is that they've cut themselves off from two important sources for understanding Christian truth. Again, "that's the rub."

Not much else I can do to help with your questions. You're just putting your finger on some of the differences between Catholicism and many forms of Protestantism.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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