My Conversion Story

To read my conversion story, I have posted it in .pdf format available for download.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Camping, Sola Scriptura, and Authority

Can you stand one more article about Harold Camping? I hope so, because there is something I need to get off my chest, and this is going to branch out into other subjects too.

As we all know, Camping’s predictions for the rapture occurring on 6/21/2011 was completely wrong and he’s made himself a laughing stock. But should we be laughing at him and his followers, or should we be praying for them? I have been guilty of the former and I have not thought to pray for this man until this morning. I’ve been so busy ridiculing him that I have neglected to pray for him. He is a creation of God who has been deluded by his belief in sola scriptura—that the Bible and the Bible alone is the single authority of God’s truth and direction.

The problem with that belief is that it is impossible to truly believe it, put it into practice, and make it work. If all men are free to interpret Scripture however we please, then anything goes. How could anyone ever say to anyone else whether or not any Bible passage means this or that? If my interpretation is just as valid as your interpretation, then who is right? They can’t both be if they come up with diametrically opposing positions.

Before I reverted back to Catholicism, I remember talking to a friend (now my daughter’s –in-law father) at my Baptist church. Maybe this was me starting to begin my journey back to the Catholic faith. I remember commenting to him that if all Christians have the Holy Spirit in them, and all churches have Christ as the head, then doesn’t it seem logical that over time, the churches should begin to coalesce into one? But that is not what we have. Instead we have over 33,000 different Protestant denominations since the “Reformation/Revolution”, and every single one of them says that they are following the real intent of the Scripture.

But that is what happens with sola scriptura. But then is sola scriptura the problem, or a symptom of a deeper problem? Sola scriptura is a natural result of a rejection of the Church’s sole authority granted by Christ. Every one of us has to interpret the Bible in order to determine its meaning. But who makes that determination? If there is no single authority, outside of the Bible itself, which can interpret the Bible, then each person becomes his own authority. This means that the Bible is not your sole authority, YOU are. You determine what the Bible means. But we don’t like putting ourselves on that pedestal, so we have something called “sola scriptura” to take away our responsibility for our rebellion and place the blame for it on God. And because each person believes that he has the correct interpretation, the result is infighting and church splits.

This is why we as Catholics should pity Mr. Camping. He is truly puzzled. He is sure that he was right, so much so that he had to reinterpret last week’s failed rapture, into a Spiritual Judgment of sorts. He cannot accept that he was wrong because that would mean that not only was his interpretation wrong, but his authority (himself—perceived as the Bible-alone) is wrong. HE is wrong, not just his interpretation. The fact that he is even trying to determine this date is not only wrong because the Bible says so, but because the Church which interprets the Bible says so.

We as Catholics should not be surprised by this. And Protestants don’t really have a leg to stand on when judging Camping at all as their own interpretation of Scripture is based on their own foundation of sand. The news keeps reporting how most Christians believe that Christ will be coming back one day, but that “no man knows that day or that hour.”  They themselves may not set the date, but they that’s not the only thing that they disagree with him on. Most Evangelical/Fundamentalists in the USA believe in a particular timeline of events that does not exist in the Bible and is not at all similar to Camping's view. Both views, Camping’s and many Protestants, are constructed verse-by-verse from hundreds of different locations in the Bible, almost always out of context in order to make it fit their timeline.

The usual pre-tribulational, pre-millennial view was only created a short time ago in Christian history. The Rapture and dispensationalism  as concepts were basically created in about 1830 by John Nelson Darby. Charles Scofield later created a timeline chart based on Darby, plus a few modifications (he made some new stuff up) and was popularized by being included in the Scofield Reference Bible which was promoted by D. L. Moody during the first quarter of the 20th century (yes, fewer than 100 years!). This view of eschatology is almost exclusively American. The Scofield Reference Bible was not translated into other languages until much later, and Moody did not offer his sermons in anything but English, so it never really caught on outside the U.S. Where it does exist outside of America, it is because American missionaries brought it to them (along with Capitalism and a whole host of other Americanisms in our quest for world domination, but that’s a subject for another post).

But we as Catholics also fall into this trap. In today’s increasingly post-Christian era, Catholics are also beginning to reinterpret Scripture in order to make it fit our personal beliefs, virtually always selfish. This is why we have so many cafeteria Catholics who fly in violation of their Church regarding abortion, artificial birth-control, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, etc. And the more that people separate their beliefs from that of the Church, the more they believe that they don’t really need to go to Mass. Then they don’t need their parish. Then they don’t need the Church at all. Then they start believing that all religions are spokes on one wheel and put a “coexist” bumper-sticker on their car.

So before judging Camping, we should look at ourselves first. Look at yourself honestly. Do you put yourself over the Church? Christ put the Church over you. By rejecting it, you place your own self and your interpretation of Scripture over Him and reject Him. I’d rather not be in that “Camp”.

© 2011 The Cathoholic - All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The end of all this Saturday?

I don't believe for a second that Harold Camping has reduced God to an equation. He is certain that the Lord will return on Saturday, May 21 at 6pm EST.

But the Lord can come back at any time He chooses. At my church we get out of Mass at 6. If He should decide to come back then, wouldn't it be great to partake of His Body with the communion of all the Saints and then be taken to his presence?

But I'm content to wait for His timing and not have my faith dashed because my math was wrong.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Observations on the Road to Emmaus

Just a few thoughts on Sunday's Gospel reading at Mass about the two men on the road to Emmaus in John 24.

Note: these are just thoughts that popped into my head during the reading. I have not yet had time really delve into these, so they may not reflect correct Catholic doctrine.

Notice that these two disciples had been with the apostles earlier in the day (this is still Easter Sunday) as they already know that the women had seen the empty tomb, told the apostles, and Peter and John (at least) had gone to the tomb to see for themselves.

Emmaus was 7 miles from Jerusalem. When they arrived it was getting dark. That would have been about 4:30 or 5pm. That would be about a 3 ½ hour walk so they would have left Jerusalem probably no later than 1pm.
Jesus meets them on the way, but they don’t recognize him. Why? Is his physical appearance different? Is his face veiled? Can they not see the wounds in his hands?

Who is Cleopas? Is he the same as Cleophas in John 19:25? If so, he may be the father of James the Less. His father was Alphaeus, a possible translation of Cleophas.

Who is the other disciple?

This is the first and only recorded time (I think) that Jesus broke bread with any of his disciples outside of his Last Supper, which was only 3 days before (by our modern conventions of reckoning time).

Were these disciples in the upper room with Jesus at the Last Supper? Likely not. It appears that only the apostles, and possibly Mary (not mentioned) were there.

They recognized Jesus only in the breaking of the bread. How can this be if the Eucharist is a symbol only? If it is only a piece of bread, how could it have made Jesus real to them if they were not in the Upper room with him and to recognize the action and correlate it with what happened only a couple of days ago? How likely is it in on Saturday or early Sunday, that the Apostles told these men about how the Lord changed the Passover rite into the Rite of the Eucharist? The Apostles themselves still had not yet made the connection.

Or did they recognize him because receiving his flesh and blood made them one with him—true communion, just as woman receives her husband and becomes one with him?

© 2011 The Cathoholic - All Rights Reserved.