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Monday, April 25, 2016

The ultimate and most effective Catholic apologetics argument against Protestantism.

I have come to the conclusion that the most powerful apologetics argument that a Catholic can make against Protestantism is that their Sunday Liturgy is actually man-made and thus blatant idolatry. Let me explain this more.

The most important duty a human has, regardless even of whether they are a Christian or not, is to worship God. This should be - without a doubt - an obvious truth that everyone can agree upon. Given this, a person must not only worship God, they must do so properly, i.e., they must worship as God has instructed them to do. This means that Liturgy requires divine revelation, because otherwise the person is "worshiping" God based on what sounds good to their human mind...but there is a word for worshiping according to what sounds good to you: it's called idolatry. So the only way to escape idolatry is to worship according to how God has divinely revealed it. Which leads us to the key problem which all Protestants face.

The key problem that all Protestants face is that nowhere in Scripture is the Christian Liturgy laid out. Nowhere. Many people think it is acceptable to make up their own liturgy as long as they are singing a Psalm or reading a Bible passage, but this is not Liturgy, it is making up your own liturgy (and thus a form of idolatry). Ask a Protestant if what they are doing on Sunday is expressly commanded in the Bible and they will fumble around. They wont have an answer. Because the Bible doesn't give them an answer. The Protestant then needs to be told that the only way they can avoid being guilty of Idolatry this upcoming Sunday is for them to cease doing what they do on Sunday. Any Protestant serious about the Bible must face this reality.

But the Catholic is not in this bind because the Catholic Mass does come from divine revelation: it comes from Jesus through the Apostles, through inspired oral tradition. Sola Scriptura is instantly disproved. This argument is the apologetics equivalent of kryptonite to a Protestant. They melt to the floor as soon as you introduce it to them. I've used it on many Protestants with great success. I've even had some Protestants admit that since the Bible doesn't tell us what the Christian Liturgy is supposed to look like, then Christians don't technically have to worship on Sunday and don't have to worship at all. That's the effectiveness that I'm talking about. 

When it comes to what Scripture actually says about the Christian Liturgy, the strongest passage is 1 Corinthians 10:14-22,
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
In this beautiful passage we Paul equating man-made worship with idolatry. As the Council of Trent says, quoting this passage, Paul clearly shows the Christian Liturgy is in its essence a Sacrifice upon an Altar, contrasted here to the Pagan Table-Altar (see Mal 1:7). It is no surprise that Protestants 'dont see' this passage when they read the Bible, because in rejecting the Sacrifice of the Mass, they unwittingly threw out Divine Worship and instead replaced true worship with a Bible study. It is idolatrous nonetheless because it parades around as worship when in reality it isn't. As I've said before, Protestants do not worship God.

57 comments:

E.J. Cassidy said...

From the Catechism:

Wounds to unity

817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame."269 The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270 - do not occur without human sin:

Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.271
818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276

E.J. Cassidy said...

838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."324

Nick said...

Hello EJ,

Nothing in that quote goes against what I posted. A Protestant who doesn't know any better and is doing their best is not engaging in idolatry in the proper sense, but rather accidentally. Regardless, it's nothing to trivialize. We cannot sit back and pretend that what Protestants are doing on Sunday is worship in the true Christian sense. The Priesthood and Mass are established by God as the way He wants to be worshiped. To downplay this is grave. A glorified Bible study by a self-appointed "pastor" is not worship and it's not what God ordained.

E.J. Cassidy said...

IN BRIEF

2133 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deut 6:5).

2134 The first commandment summons man to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him above all else.

2135 "You shall worship the Lord your God" (Mt 4:10). Adoring God, praying to him, offering him the worship that belongs to him, fulfilling the promises and vows made to him are acts of the virtue of religion which fall under obedience to the first commandment.

2136 The duty to offer God authentic worship concerns man both as an individual and as a social being.

E.J. Cassidy said...

1190 The Liturgy of the Word is an integral part of the celebration. The meaning of the celebration is expressed by the Word of God which is proclaimed and by the response of faith to it.

1191 Song and music are closely connected with the liturgical action. The criteria for their proper use are the beauty expressive of prayer, the unanimous participation of the assembly, and the sacred character of the celebration.

E.J. Cassidy said...

Nick, rather than rely solely on your own private interpretations of Scripture and your own personal beliefs regarding Protestants, I think it is important to state what the Church teaches and go from there.

Also, I have 30-plus years of experience as a member or as a regular attender in different Protestant communities and denominations, before I returned home to the Church eleven years ago.

While there are certain Protestant "worship" services that cross the line into entertainment and even idolatry, you cannot paint with a broad brush all Protestants. They don't have the Eucharist, but they do have a liturgy of the Word, and the elements that the Catechism lists. And if the people in the pew offer themselves to God as a spiritual sacrifice, then they have indeed engaged in worship.

It is certainly not the full worship that exists in the Church that Christ founded, but they cannot be painted with your broad brush.

E.J. Cassidy said...

An indelible spiritual mark . . .

1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.83 Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.

1273 Incorporated into the Church by Baptism, the faithful have received the sacramental character that consecrates them for Christian religious worship.84 The baptismal seal enables and commits Christians to serve God by a vital participation in the holy liturgy of the Church and to exercise their baptismal priesthood by the witness of holy lives and practical charity.85

E.J. Cassidy said...

1437 Reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Our Father - every sincere act of worship or devotion revives the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and contributes to the forgiveness of our sins.

Nick said...

EJ,

It would help if you didn't post multiple posts in a row because it comes off as spamming.

The fact remains that it is a grave matter to not worship God as He has instituted worship. Yes, this is harsh, but it is a harshness that must be recognized first before any 'exceptions' are examined. To say that Protestants have bits and pieces of the truth is to understate the situation. It's gravely serious that Protestants don't have the Mass, Eucharist, Confession, etc. They are not receiving the same blessings and graces through some back door in rejecting these ordinary means of grace.

Even granting that Protestants have valid baptism, even this has some pretty significant limits to it given that (1) most Protestants hold a very low view of Baptism, even explicitly rejecting any regenerative/forgiving power of it, which could cast doubt on it's validity, and (2) they don't have Confession, meaning any mortal sins they commit don't have any sure/safe/ordinary means of forgiveness (which is made worse by Once Saved Always Saved). When you're in a dubious position as that, it's hard to ascribe the average 'good' Protestant as even likely in a State of Grace.

I will not mock Our Lord and trivialize the Gospel by saying a Protestant who rejects Baptism, Eucharist, Mass, Confession, etc, is in a dandy place within the Christendom. We can say most of them are doing their best, but that doesn't leave us with an excuse to not point out these glaring issues. And pointing out that what they are doing on Sunday is not in obedience to God, that should be a pretty big wake up call.

Nick said...

My post was for apologetics purposes, and the syllogism is sound:

(1) Man's highest duty is to worship God as He divinely revealed it.

(2) Divinely Revealed Liturgy was passed on almost exclusively orally.

(3) Anyone not following this Apostolic Oral Teaching cannot properly fulfill his highest duty.

It really doesn't matter what lesser things Protestants get right, because they are, overall, failing their highest duty. They replaced the Priest offering the Sacrificial Host on the Altar with a layman holding a PhD in one hand and an incomplete Bible in the other hand. That's a Golden Calf if I've ever seen one.

Gordon Lam said...

I am GLAD that I have come home to
the True Church and to have a proper
way to worship God, my Savior.
Thanks, Nick, for the blog, it is
eye opening for me, since I was in
a lot of different Protestant churches
before "seeing the light" and joined the
Catholic Church.

prolifemama said...

Nick,

A friend of mine attends a Lutheran church whose community believes in the Real Presence. She had converted to Catholicism in her 30s and for years practiced the faith, but dropped away after some personal conflict she wouldn't confide to me. She began attending a Baptist church, and our friendship greatly suffered.

After a couple of years, she said she could no longer argue with Christ's words "This is My Body, This is My Blood", that He meant literally what He said. She then joined the Lutheran community.

I'm not sure what their liturgy is like, and she has never invited me to attend with her. I think she also holds the belief that Christ was truly abandoned by God the Father at the Crucifixion, that He literally became sin for us...

What points could I gently make to her, that even though her church believes in the Real Presence (until service is over), she may not be in full Communion with Christ, as she truly desires to be?

Nick said...

Hello Prolifemama,

As I understand it, the Lutheran "mass" is very similar in look/format as the Catholic Mass, but the Lutherans reject the priesthood and sacrifice "aspects" of the Mass. I say "aspects" because you cannot really drop the Sacrifice and still have the true Liturgy. Basically, in order to lure away Catholics, the Anglicans and Lutherans made up a liturgy that looked a lot like the Catholic Mass, but they eliminated all the Catholic "stuff" so that it really was a completely different liturgy (an impostor Mass, not the true liturgy).

She should realize that believing in the Real Presence is not the same as proper worship. The Mass is more about the priest offering a sacrifice to God than it is about the Real Presence. The Lutheran idea that Christ 'leaves' the bread after the service is over really makes no sense nor is that arrival/departure in the bread an act of worship in itself.

I think if you ask her "Where is the Lutheran liturgy taught in detail in the Bible?" you will get her thinking. She will have to realize the Lutheran liturgy does not come from the Bible but rather from Catholic Tradition, but Luther said Catholic Tradition is not inspired. So they are faced with a logical dilemma: either throw out the Lutheran liturgy because it's not taught in Scripture, or admit the Lutheran liturgy is really stolen from Catholic Tradition and deformed by Protestants.

A good analogy is people in America who do Yoga stretches but they don't realize that Yoga is a religion. Real Yoga from India has religious prayers that go along with the different body poses. To "steal" Yoga and turn it into merely doing aerobic stretches while igoring the prayers that go along with it is not to do actual Yoga, but to make up your own new thing. That's what Lutherans have done with the Catholic Mass.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a Catholic blog at all. It's anti-Protestant garbage.

The more you oppose us, the more I'll dig my heels in.

Joe said...

Prolifemama,

As I see it, the main distinction from the Mass between Rome and us original Evangelicals (Lutherans)...is that we do not see the Supper as a sacrifice, though one could say a sacrifice of praise I suppose.

The book of Hebrews talks about the cross as the sacrifice and no more is needed, and that is one of the benefits of the New Testament...where the sacrifices do not have to be repeated..."once for all" as Hebrews says. Consequently we see the Supper as God giving gifts to us not the other way around...gifts of the forgiveness of sins, of communion with the Word Himself, His body and blood, communion of saints, etc...

Obviously we disagree on transubstantiation as well...as we see the elements of bread and wine still there, but Christi body and blood are also present.

As far as the original post, if that is the most effective argument against Evangelicals...then I feel pretty good. :) Actually my Roman friends would disagree, more in line with EJ's comments that we have worship, but not the fullness that Rome has....and the official docs of Rome would seem to indicate this as well, as pointed out by EJ. So I think EJ's comments stand pretty firm against Nick:

Nick, rather than rely solely on your own private interpretations of Scripture and your own personal beliefs regarding Protestants, I think it is important to state what the Church teaches and go from there.

As far as Christ becoming sin for us...yes, that is what we believe, as that is what scripture says:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Lastly, the Lutheran liturgy is similar to Rome...with certainly some differences. We have confession/absolution, baptism, Supper, Psalms, singing, scripture readings, prayers, creeds, Introit, Kyrie, Collect, Gradual, Preface, Lords Prayer, Agnus Dei, benediction, etc.... It is filled with scripture and Christ the entire Divine Service.

in Him,
Joe

E.J. Cassidy said...

Hi Joe,

Here are some quotes from Pope Francis:

“But why has the Lord taken this image that is so ugly, so evil?” the Pope asked. “Simply because He came to take upon Himself all of our sins and become the greatest sinner without having committed any [sin]. And Paul tells us: ‘He made Himself sin for us’, taking the image, ‘He made himself a serpent.’ It is ugly! He made Himself sin to save us, this is what the message of the today’s Liturgy of Word means, the path of Jesus.”



“And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross,” he underscored. What Jesus did, Pope Francis said, was to take upon himself “the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including our own sin,” and cleanse it “with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God.” He then recalled how the world is filled with the effects of evil and sin:

“Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbor and towards the whole of creation. In the face of all this, he asked, “Do we feel weak, inadequate, powerless?”...“But,” he responded, “God is not looking for powerful means: it is through the Cross that he has conquered evil! We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us: you can do nothing to counter violence, corruption, injustice, your sins!” “We must never grow accustomed to evil!” he insisted. “With Christ,” he declared, “we can transform ourselves and the world. We must bear the victory of Christ’s Cross to everyone everywhere, we must bear this great love of God.”



“Christianity is a person, a person raised on the Cross,” the Pope continued. Commenting on the day’s Scripture reading, in which Moses fashioned a bronze serpent, and the Israelites who looked upon it were healed, the Holy Father drew the comparison with Jesus on the Cross, who heals the sins of his people. “In the desert sin was lifted up, but it is a sin that seeks salvation,” the Pontiff said.

“It is impossible for us to free ourselves from sin by ourselves,” the Pope emphasized. He observed that many leaders of the Israeli people, including at the time of Christ, believed that they could achieve forgiveness by following a code of conduct. The Pope stressed that we can be delivered from our sins only when we lift our eyes to Jesus, and realize that He has taken our sins upon Himself, so that “your wounds will be healed, your sins will be forgiven.”

END OF QUOTES

Pope Francis believes that our Lord took our actual sins, our personal sins, onto Himself on the Cross.

This is more than just stating that our Lord took our weak frail humanity in the Incarnation, but without sin. Yes, He did. But He also took our personal sins onto Himself on the Cross.

The Pope is clear on this.

EJ

Joe said...

Hi EJ.

Super...

I was simply affirming to Profilemama that we do believe He became sin... since she at least implied, as I read it anyhow, that she and consequently Rome does not believe it.

I have heard many from Rome speak against this concept but good to see Francis is seemingly affirming it.

Our sin was imputed to Him... don't see much hope otherwise.

In Him - who took on my sin! and gave His righteousness!
Joe

E.J. Cassidy said...

Joe,

Well, the doctrine of the Atonement is not so cut-and-dried in Catholic theology. There are dogmas that are already settled and theologians must stay within those bounds. And there is a lot of gray areas that get debated, such as predestination versus free will.

We do not believe that Jesus actually was separated from the Father when He was on the Cross. In His divine nature, He was always in loving communion with the Father. St. John Paul II taught that Jesus experienced the separation caused by sin in His human nature, and that He had to do this in order to make reparation for our sins, which He took upon Himself out of love.

The greatest thinker in the Church was St. Thomas Aquinas and he believed that Jesus took our sins upon Himself while on the Cross.

As far as imputation is concerned, we do not follow the Calvinist/Lutheran interpretation. Through baptism, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. The Spirit unites us to Christ in heaven, we become part of His body, as St. Paul writes. Christ is IN us, through the Holy Spirit, but we are also IN Christ. Christ is in us and we are in Christ. We do not have the righteousness of Christ simply "imputed" to us. That is the wrong way to understand it. It is through our union with Christ that we are saved. If we lose this union, then we are no longer in Christ, and no longer in a state of grace.

We are still sinners, even though Christ is in us, and we are in Christ.

There is also the three tenses of salvation: justification, I am saved, in Christ; sanctification, I am being saved, I am becoming like Christ; glorification, I will be saved, I will be raised from the dead and my body will be glorified, as St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15.

OK, that's enough for now.

Peace,
EJ

One more thing. The doctrine of penal substitution is not rejected by the Church out of hand. There are parts of it that are, like Jesus being actually separated from the Father while on the Cross. But we don't use the term penal substitution.


Nick said...

Joe,

The Mass is a Sacrifice, so if that is lost, then the whole Mass becomes something else.

Would it make sense to remove the Lord's Supper from the Lutheran Liturgy and still be able to say the resulting Liturgy is still pretty close to the LL? No because what makes up the essence of the LL has been removed, even if everything else looks and sounds like the LL.


You said:
We have confession/absolution, baptism, Supper, Psalms, singing, scripture readings, prayers, creeds, Introit, Kyrie, Collect, Gradual, Preface, Lords Prayer, Agnus Dei, benediction, etc

Yes, but my original point is that this list of liturgical events is NOT laid out in Scripture. Where does the Bible say that the Agnus Dei, Kyrie, Introit, Collect, etc, are part of the Christian Liturgy? The Bible nowhere gives these details. So you are looking outside the Bible for this. That might not be a big deal to you, but that's only because you don't see the problem. Answer this: Is it acceptable for someone to rearrange the Lutheran Liturgy however they please?

As for your comments on Jesus "becoming sin," I wrote about this a while back HERE.

Joe said...

Hi EJ.

Well, the doctrine of the Atonement is not so cut-and-dried in Catholic theology. There are dogmas that are already settled and theologians must stay within those bounds.

Okay, but I thought you said it was clear that Francis does believe He took our sins. Are you saying that the Francis believes and teaches this but the Church he represents does not have to? Sorry if stupid question.

We do not believe that Jesus actually was separated from the Father when He was on the Cross. In His divine nature, He was always in loving communion with the Father. St. John Paul II taught that Jesus experienced the separation caused by sin in His human nature, and that He had to do this in order to make reparation for our sins, which He took upon Himself out of love.

The greatest thinker in the Church was St. Thomas Aquinas and he believed that Jesus took our sins upon Himself while on the Cross.


But if he took our sins, and sins separate from God... Yea, the distinction between the two natures gets pretty involved I guess. On the one hand Rome and us Lutherans would argue that Jesus is present in the Supper, even physically since Christ is not divided...He is still one person, so if you have the Divine, you also have His human nature. But wondering why this would not apply to this situation as well...if His physical nature experienced a separation, why not the divine.

Though to be sure, it is obviously difficult to grasp the divine nature dying. Sorry if this is scattered, I am somewhat thinking out loud and trying to think through these things.

Through baptism, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. The Spirit unites us to Christ in heaven, we become part of His body, as St. Paul writes. Christ is IN us, through the Holy Spirit, but we are also IN Christ. Christ is in us and we are in Christ. We do not have the righteousness of Christ simply "imputed" to us. That is the wrong way to understand it. It is through our union with Christ that we are saved. If we lose this union, then we are no longer in Christ, and no longer in a state of grace.

As a Lutheran I do not see anything here that I disagree with really...though depending on what you mean by "simply imputed". Luther and Lutherans have a fuller/richer doctrine of justification I think than the Calvinistic/Reformed approach. To be sure, there is imputation involved at the core...but quoting Jordan Cooper in "The Great Divide":

...both (Lutheran and Reformed) affirm that justification is by faith alone, that is is a result of the imputation of Christ's alien righteousness, and that it is a legal term...However, for Luther, justification is not limited to a bare legal declaration, as in the case in the standard Reformed approach, but it is an efficacious declaration. Reformed theologians miss the sacramental context for Lutheran doctrine. There is no justification with an absent Christ, or without one baptism for the remission of sins, or Christ's true body and blood coming to hi church through the Eucharist. The Reformed tradition also divides justification from the other benefits of the ordo salutis incommensurate with the Book of Concord. In both the biblical and Lutheran approach to the doctrine of justification, both legal and effective dimensions are confessed, and justification is something which is continually effective and pertinent, being the basis for Christian life and worship.

We are still sinners, even though Christ is in us, and we are in Christ.

Agree...hence Luthers "simul ustus et peccator". (at the same time just and sinner)

There is also the three tenses of salvation: justification, I am saved, in Christ; sanctification, I am being saved, I am becoming like Christ; glorification, I will be saved, I will be raised from the dead and my body will be glorified, as St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15.

Agree.

Thanks for discussion. I will try to get to Nick's question/comments at some point today as well.

In Him,
Joe

Joe said...

Hi Nick.

The Mass is a Sacrifice, so if that is lost, then the whole Mass becomes something else.

Could be...you would be more knowledgeable on what elements are essential under Roman teachings for what constitutes the Mass, or any degree thereof. But it seems like you zealous to be anti-Protestant and go above what your official church documents teach, as EJ as pointed out, so I am not sure you would be the best person to deliberate on this.

Would it make sense to remove the Lord's Supper from the Lutheran Liturgy and still be able to say the resulting Liturgy is still pretty close to the LL? No because what makes up the essence of the LL has been removed, even if everything else looks and sounds like the LL.

Well, not all Lutheran churches have the Supper every week. We do at our Church which I love. So, yes, if we do not have the Supper, we would still have LL and real worship...though if it was neglected completely, then I would say no. An essential aspect of the LL and worship would be lacking and the full sense of worship would not be completely there.

Yes, but my original point is that this list of liturgical events is NOT laid out in Scripture. Where does the Bible say that the Agnus Dei, Kyrie, Introit, Collect, etc, are part of the Christian Liturgy? The Bible nowhere gives these details. So you are looking outside the Bible for this. That might not be a big deal to you, but that's only because you don't see the problem.

I am not sure why the Bible has to lay these things out in the specific manner in which you demand. Yea, apparently I do not see the problem with this. The Lutheran church does not have a problem with tradition per se. Nor would it require a liturgy manual in the scriptures to comply with sola scriptura. Martin Chemnitz, in his "Examination of Trent", goes through 8 different types of tradition, which I think all but one we affirm. Time permitting and if you are interested I could post those.

Answer this: Is it acceptable for someone to rearrange the Lutheran Liturgy however they please?

Well, I guess it depends on what you mean. We have standard liturgies for our Divine Services. Can these be changed? The history of the liturgy shows changes over time yes. Could my pastor say, just start changing what has been approved body our church governing bodies...I would say no. Does our pastor modify the order here and there when it makes sense? Sure. We had 2 baptisms this last Sunday, and the Lord's Prayer was rearranged to another time in the service than normal.

Forgive me if I am not completely understanding the reason for the question.

As I stated above, I think EJ rebutted your main premise that Protestants do not worship God, apparently in any sense. Your official church documents that EJ quoted at length explicitly show this.

As for your comments on Jesus "becoming sin," I wrote about this a while back HERE.

To be honest, I was not looking to start a conversation about this. I simply wanted to let Profilemama know that Lutherans do believe this, as she apparently questioned...and as EJ pointed out, apparently Francis does as well. He died not because of His own sins, but ours...He was bruised for our iniquities...our sins were imputed to Him, since He did not commit them.

In Him,
Joe


E.J. Cassidy said...

Joe,

You said: "Okay, but I thought you said it was clear that Francis does believe He took our sins. Are you saying that the Francis believes and teaches this but the Church he represents does not have to? Sorry if stupid question."

ME: No, that is not the way to understand it. Let me give you an example: divine election. There are those in the Church who believe that God chooses us before we come to faith. And there are those who believe that we believe first and then God chooses. They believe that God foreknows who will believe and then His choice is based on that foreknowledge. The Jesuits believe in this way of referring to election. The Dominicans believe in the first way.

Completely opposite viewpoints but the Church allows it because the Church has never come down on either side of this issue.

I am finding that it is the same with the Atonement. There is the model of the Atonement referred to as Satisfaction. Within this, there are two subsets of belief. One believes that Jesus took our sins upon Himself on the Cross and paid the debt we owe because of these sins. (Penal substitution) And there are those who believe that Jesus suffered and died to atone for our sins but did not actually take them unto Himself while on the Cross. It seems the Church has never dogmatically ruled on this one.

Is this clearer?

There is a common misconception that the Church has dogmatically defined every single area of Christian belief, but that is not so. There are many gray areas that are open to debate, as long as one holds to the areas that have been defined.

Peace,
EJ

E.J. Cassidy said...

Nick, you said: “Basically, in order to lure away Catholics, the Anglicans and Lutherans made up a liturgy that looked a lot like the Catholic Mass, but they eliminated all the Catholic “stuff” so that it really was a completely different liturgy (an impostor Mass, not the true liturgy).”

ME: The Anglican Church was once part of the Catholic Church. Henry VIII separated the Catholic Church in England from Rome and declared himself its head. So, at that time, all of the clergy of this “new” church were validly ordained Catholic clergy. They celebrated a valid Mass. They didn’t have to make anything up. I think that at that time, Rome considered them a sister Church because the separation occurred at the instigation of the king and not from within the clergy. They continued to celebrate valid sacraments. But as time went on, the Church of England became Protestantized, largely at the instigation of Cranmer, and they no longer celebrated a valid Mass. (If I remember correctly, it was because Cranmer changed the words of consecration for the sacrament of Holy Orders.)

Nick, you said: “The fact remains that it is a grave matter to not worship God as He has instituted worship. Yes, this is harsh, but it is a harshness that must be recognized first before any ‘exceptions’ are examined. To say that Protestants have bits and pieces of the truth is to understate the situation. It’s gravely serious that Protestants don’t have the Mass, Eucharist, Confession, etc. They are not receiving the same blessings and graces through some back door in rejecting these ordinary means of grace.”

ME: The harshness comes from you and not from the Church. I am not saying that Protestants have “bits and pieces” of the truth, as you have put it. It is the Church that has pointed out to us the elements of truth that our separated brothers and sisters have in common with us. You seem to think little of what the Church teaches.

There are Protestants who don’t have access to the Eucharist and Confession who might be walking the path of holiness. They can be leading lives that are completely surrendered to the Lord, surrendering their own will to their Father in heaven, through His Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. I’ve met some of them.

St. Paul tells us what our act of spiritual worship is to be, and that is to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices. This can happen in a Protestant service, as a result of a liturgy of the Word that is focused on God, and our duty to surrender our lives to Him. Of course, they are missing out on the fullness of the true worship, but they can achieve (I hate to use that word) the same results by making use of the means of grace that they do have.

I also find it strange that you accuse Protestants of engaging in manmade worship and being idolaters, yet you base your opinion of them on a manmade syllogism and not on Church teaching.

Joe said...

Hi EJ.

I am finding that it is the same with the Atonement. There is the model of the Atonement referred to as Satisfaction. Within this, there are two subsets of belief. One believes that Jesus took our sins upon Himself on the Cross and paid the debt we owe because of these sins. (Penal substitution) And there are those who believe that Jesus suffered and died to atone for our sins but did not actually take them unto Himself while on the Cross. It seems the Church has never dogmatically ruled on this one.

Is this clearer?


Yes, I think. I certainly understand there are things not formally settled and different interpretations of official documents, which in turn allows for differing viewpoints.

So to summarize...you would say that Francis has more of, or at least part of his Atonement includes a Satisfaction viewpoint then? (Not that that is the only aspect of his Atonement viewpoint, as one could have several aspects of it (Ransom, etc)). While at the same time this is not official dogma of the Roman church since it allows for a variety of beliefs on the atonement as long as one stays in the bounds of other established doctrine.

It has always been difficult for me to grasp how one could not accept the Satisfaction aspect of the Atonement. One reason I love Lutheran theology is that it is so "Christ for you". He did all this for you...including taking my sin, my punishment that I ever so deserve!

Thanks!
In Him,
Joe

E.J. Cassidy said...

Joe,

I can't speak for what Pope Francis believes regarding the Atonement. I've only posted quotes from some of his homilies where he mentions Christ taking our actual sins onto Himself on the Cross.

Peace,
EJ

Nick said...

EJ,

To try and catch up with your last post to me, here are my thoughts on what you said:

(1) I agree that the Anglicans originally had valid clergy and valid Mass at the time of Henry. But you rightly affirm that when Cranmer came in, they no longer had a valid Mass BECAUSE Cranmner changed the theology of holy orders from that of a sacrificial priesthood to a merely ministerial priesthood. Thus, while the Anglican "liturgy" from then on looked a lot like the Catholic Mass, the essential Catholic elements were stripped out, resulting in essentially a different liturgy and thus losing the essence of Apostolic Worship (i.e. Sacrificial Priesthood offering Sacrifice).

(2) When the Catechism says that Protestants have 'elements of truth' and such, this is because they DO. But it is not to trivialize the fact that Protestants lack A LOT of the Truth. You must take care not to make Protestantism into something like "Catholicism Lite" because it is isn't. It is lacking many essential elements that make the Catholic Church the One True Church.

It is wrong to suggest that a Protestant who lacks Confession and Eucharist is on a path to holiness as good or even better than that of a practicing Catholic. It's impossible. They are worlds apart. There is no substitute for the Eucharist, so regardless of how holy a Protestant is living, a Catholic who worthily receives the Eucharist is universes ahead spiritually. To deny that is to reduce the Eucharist from literally Christ to a mere piece of bread.

And when a Protestant falls into grave sin - as nearly all baptized have done after the age of reason - to suggest that 'simply praying to God' gets them back in a state of grace is a trivializing denial of the *Sacrament* of Confession. Even an act of Perfect Contrition requires the person to desire to receive the *Sacrament* of Confession as soon as they can get to it.

To suggest that there are Protestants out there living very holy lives WITHOUT the key sources of grace available only in the Catholic Church is a huge error theologically and effectively a rejection of Catholicism.

A Protestant cannot attain the same level of holiness a Catholic can. Period. It's impossible. To say a person can by as holy without the Eucharist is an effective denial of John 6.


E.J. Cassidy said...

Nick,

In reply, I will again post this paragraph from the Catechism:

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276

END OF QUOTE

I think that beliefs regarding Protestants are not in line with the teaching of the Church.

"the written Word of God;

the life of grace;

faith, hope, and charity,

with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."

Protestants have access to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. You trivialize them by your statements.

You said: "And when a Protestant falls into grave sin - as nearly all baptized have done after the age of reason - to suggest that 'simply praying to God' gets them back in a state of grace is a trivializing denial of the *Sacrament* of Confession. Even an act of Perfect Contrition requires the person to desire to receive the *Sacrament* of Confession as soon as they can get to it."

ME: It sounds like in your thinking, a Protestant has no hope of being restored to a state of grace once they fall into mortal sin. Is this what you are inferring?

Peace,
EJ



Michael Taylor said...

So let me get this straight. We Protestants are all idolaters because we are not worshipping exactly as God revealed it. But He didn't clearly reveal the liturgy in scripture and so it must be that the liturgy is revealed outside of the Bible. And apparently Rome, and only Rome possess that revelation.

Nick, that's not public revelation--that's gnosticism. Only your communion is "in the know." The rest of those are groping for the full picture as we piece together bits and pieces from the Bible: music, pslams, Lord's Supper etc. But we don't have specific prayers, or a definite order of worship etc, and so, lacking that we are therefore "idolaters."

Got it. Okay, and so how many revisions of the liturgy has their been over time? Is God progressively revealing it? I ask because I didn't think RCs held to progressive revelation. Oh wait, I know. It's "developing." Fair enough. Is it fully grown yet? Or should we expect more changes? In other words, exactly *what* has been revealed in the liturgy? Is it the basic structure of the liturgy, but not the specific words? Is there some kind of stable "core" to the liturgy that is revealed, but a "changeable" or "adaptable" exterior that isn't revealed?

In other words, what exactly do you mean when you say the liturgy is "revealed?"

Second, how do you know? I ask because it sounds like you're arguing this:

1. Protestants are heretics for not worshipping according to the revealed liturgy.
2. Only Rome has been given a revealed liturgy.
Supporting Argument for 2:
1. Rome has a revealed liturgy because:
2. Rome says it does.

Awesome. You're really advanced the cause of ecumenism with this post and convinced only those who already think Rome speaks for God.

I think that's why EJ has been "spamming" the catechism at you and why you're equally annoyed with him for doing so.

Thought experiment: If Pope Francis were to read this post, I think he'd give you the smack-down and disown you as an orthodox Roman Catholic. Of course, he might then go pray at a mosque after having done so. But that is beside the point. (Or is it?)

Nick said...

Michael,

If you are *truly* Reformed, then you follow the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW), which is the Reformed notion that no liturgical act should be done unless it is plainly instructed in the Bible. There is no making up a liturgy in the classical Reformed mind.

The Golden Calf incident in the OT was not about the Israelites just turning to a random idol, but rather it was the Israelites worshiping Yahweh as they thought best. Your Protestant "liturgy" isn't liturgy at all, but literally an anything goes type "worship," which is no different than the Golden Calf. To say a person can worship as little or much as he wants, however he wants, is to ultimately say God doesn't care about worship, which is obviously ridiculous.

As you have noted, the Liturgy has developed, but nothing has substantially changed, nor have various prayers. If you look at Cyril of Jerusalem's Catecetial Lectures (specifically #12, I think), he is speaking around the year 300 and the liturgy he lays out is virtually the same as what Catholics/Orthodox have today. The core of the Liturgy is a Sacrificial Priesthood offering up Sacrifice, with the Roman Canon being one of the oldest (if not the oldest) Eucharistic Prayers. The "revisions" to the Catholic Mass over the centuries, including the modern revisions, are not as substantial as people might think. Furthermore, that the Church has the authority to make developments is part of the Apostolic truth, which is why there are variations of the liturgy from early on, even while remaining substantially the same in order, prayers, etc.

What is ironic here is that in your rush to come down upon me, you basically affirm my original point, which is that Protestants are stuck on the Liturgy question. You have no coherent answer Scripturally, because either you say God doesn't care how He's worshiped (which is false) or you say God wants to be worshiped a specific way and yet you cannot actually give the details from Scripture.






Nick said...

EJ,

In response to your last post.

Catechism paragraph 819 is speaking of both Eastern Orthodox and Protestantism, and the Catholic Church is very clear that the EO are much much closer to the fullness of truth than Protestants. So when you read 819, realize that "these Churches [the EO] and ecclesial communities [Protestants]" are both being talked about but with widely different degrees. What you are doing is flattening the field so that the EO are no different than the most individualist unaffiliated Protestant out there. That's gravely contrary to what the Catholic Church says and intends. The Catholic Church explicitly states that the EO can be called "Churches" while Protestant communities cannot properly take on the term "churches".

You are reading paragraph 819 with Protestant glasses on, as a trump card, such that you believe it doesn't matter what your religious affiliation is and that you are just as saved, just as holy, just as secure, etc, as being a practicing Catholic in full communion with Rome. But that reading of 819 is wrong.

You asked: "It sounds like in your thinking, a Protestant has no hope of being restored to a state of grace once they fall into mortal sin. Is this what you are inferring?"

A Protestant does have hope of being restored, and it's called the Sacrament of Confession. To infer anything short of this is to say the Sacrament of Confession is non-essential to Christian life. To infer a Protestant does not need Confession is to infer that a Protestant can go directly to Jesus and that the Catholic Priesthood is an invention of Satan. Even an Act of Perfect Contrition includes in it the resolve to get to the Sacrament of Confession as soon as possible. And even given this, when many Protestants have the mindset of "Once Saved Always Saved," this precludes any sort of regular repentance or Act of Contrition anyway.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick: "There is no making up a liturgy in the classical Reformed mind."

Right. But much depends upon what you mean by "making up." Reformed thinking affords us quite a bit of latitude as to the order of worship, the type of music, etc. The Regulative principle simply says that we stick to whatever the Bible permits us to do. Since the Bible doesn't lay out a particular liturgy for the Church for all time and all places, it goes well beyond what is written to "make up" a liturgy and then pass that off as divinely revealed, as you and your tradition have done.

Nick: "The Golden Calf incident in the OT was not about the Israelites just turning to a random idol, but rather it was the Israelites worshiping Yahweh as they thought best."

Where are you getting that idea from Exodus 32? Where does it say, or even imply, "as they thought best?"

Here's what I see: "They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf." (Exodus 32:8). Here we are explicitly told by God Himself that Israel had disobeyed a direct commandment. If they were only doing "what they thought best," God apparently didn't see it that way.

>>Your Protestant "liturgy" isn't liturgy at all, but literally an anything goes type "worship," which is no different than the Golden Calf.<<

Wow. So much for ecumenism. I think EJ already pointed out how over-the-top this sounds when compared to your church's official teaching about Protestant "ecclesial communities.". Basically you're comparing all Protestants to the Golden Calf generation. Scripture says this of that generation, and apparently you're saying the same thing of modern Protestants:

"Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry" (Ex 32:6).

"Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt" (v. 7)

"They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." (v. 8).

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them." (vv. 9-10).

I don't know about anyone else, but this doesn't even remotely sound like modern (Post Vatican II) Rome's more ecumenical approach to Protestants. So I'm not sure of what kind of Catholic you are or even if you really are one.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>"To say a person can worship as little or much as he wants, however he wants, is to ultimately say God doesn't care about worship, which is obviously ridiculous."<<

Who is saying that? In any event, perhaps we can agree on this. God does care about worship. But God has not prescribed a particular liturgy for the church to follow. He has revealed liturgical rites that must be observed. But He has not revealed in what order they are to take place, how long they must take place, what language is to be used, what type of music is to be played (if any), what particular readings are to be read, whether the prayers are to be formal and/or extemporaneous, whether to raise hands or not, and if so, how high and wide to raise them, whether the Eucharist must be celebrated every time, whether the Lord's prayer is to be recited, whether a particular creed is to be recited, whether incense is optional, whether one has to fast ahead of time, and if so, the duration, whether a building other than a believers' house is acceptable, whether a collection is to be made, how much to be put in that collection (if it's required), whether a particular type of bread is to be used for communion, whether the wine has to have alcohol in it or not, when to sit, stand and/or kneel, whether any particular acclamations must be used, whether amplification is permissible, whether overhead projectors are acceptable, whether we can dress in jeans or not, etc.

Michael Taylor said...


Nick >>As you have noted, the Liturgy has developed, but nothing has substantially changed, nor have various prayers. If you look at Cyril of Jerusalem's Catecetial Lectures (specifically #12, I think), he is speaking around the year 300 and the liturgy he lays out is virtually the same as what Catholics/Orthodox have today.<<

So what? If you can't trace that liturgy back to Jesus and the Apostles, then you're claims evaporate. And you can't. But I can go back to an even earlier tradition (the New Testament) and from it I can show beyond a shadow of a doubt that there wasn't a particular liturgy in place yet. We have believers gathering in the houses of believers, breaking bread, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, reading and preaching the Word and praying. But nowhere do we find what later developed into "the liturgy." I'm not saying what later developed is necessarily wrong. I'm just saying it's a later development that cannot be traced back to the churches the apostles left behind.

>>The core of the Liturgy is a Sacrificial Priesthood offering up Sacrifice, with the Roman Canon being one of the oldest (if not the oldest) Eucharistic Prayers.<<

But there is no sacrificial priesthood beyond Jesus, at least not as far as the earliest tradition is concerned. What you can show may be very old. But it's not nearly old enough to have the authority you're claiming for it.

>>The "revisions" to the Catholic Mass over the centuries, including the modern revisions, are not as substantial as people might think.<<

Maybe not. But the point is that it is hard to pin down exactly what God has "revealed" when there have been so many changes, even if they're just cosmetic.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>Furthermore, that the Church has the authority to make developments is part of the Apostolic truth, which is why there are variations of the liturgy from early on, even while remaining substantially the same in order, prayers, etc. <<

Yes, the church has the authority to worship God in a way that honors God for Who He is and What He has done. But the church has no authority to say that the particular form of it's liturgy has been "revealed" and that no other form is valid. That's gnosticism. Only Rome is "in the know." I have very few problems with any "high" liturgy in terms of its faithfulness to scripture. But I would never say that a high liturgy is the only possible conclusion from what we read in scripture.

"Protestants are stuck on the Liturgy question. You have no coherent answer Scripturally, because either you say God doesn't care how He's worshiped (which is false) or you say God wants to be worshiped a specific way and yet you cannot actually give the details from Scripture. "

I don't see it that way at all. I think Protestants can equally overstep their boundaries in insisting upon particular forms of worship. (Those Protestants who make much of this tend to prefer more formal worship, old hymns, long sermons, suites and ties, and nothing "Charismatic.")

But anyone reading their Bible will quickly see that you can't prescribe a particular liturgy based on the Bible. In other words, you can't baptize your liturgical preferences and say, "Only my way of worship is Biblical." That's essentially what you're doing here, only whether it's Biblical or not doesn't really matter, since Rome can fill in any gaps in your knowledge by simple fiat (or so you believe).

Your argument sounds to me like a Romanized version of John MacArthur's argument in Strange Fire (easily the dumbest thing I've ever read from him). But what if we thought this through logically for a moment.

Does it follow that if God has not prescribed (revealed) a particular way to be worshipped by the church (and here I mean all Christians), that He therefore "doesn't care" how He is worshipped?

That seems like a non-sequitur to me. What if God has afforded us some latitude in this regard by revealing general norms rather than meticulous forms? Is that even a possibility in your world?

Nick said...

Michael,

(1) The Regulative Principle of Worship does not afford quite a bit of latitude, and it is precisely *not* whatever the Bible *permits*, but rather what the Bible positively commands. For example, no musical instruments, only singing from the Psalms, etc.

(2) For you to say that "the Bible doesn't lay out a particular liturgy" is to concede my main point: Protestants have no liturgy, and thus are forced to either make up a liturgy or to not have one at all.

(3) The golden calf incident is a favorite example Reformed folks use for the RPW. Google RPW + Golden Calf and see the hits. There are also instances in the OT where people didn't worship properly in their levitical duties and God was angry at them.

(4) You said: "God does care about worship. But God has not prescribed a particular liturgy for the church to follow."

This is a blatant contradiction...God cares but He leaves it up to us? You cannot say God cares but God leaves us no instructions. In any case, the Bible is, by your admission, insufficient on the liturgy issue.

(6) I think the earliest liturgy we have recorded is in Justin Martyr's First Apology, from around AD150. That's less than 100 years after the Apostles, but it substantially matches the Catholic Liturgy even today. Even the Catechism quotes Justin here because it's that important. To say that no liturgy can be traced back is to be forced into claiming there is no actual liturgy at all (and thus all worship is purely an invention of men).

(7) You said: "What if God has afforded us some latitude in this regard by revealing general norms rather than meticulous forms? Is that even a possibility in your world?"

That's certainly possible and would indeed be an answer...BUT the fact is the Bible reveals very little on what should be done for the Liturgy. What you cal "some latitude" is really "infinite latitude" because the Bible sets no limits! Start with the question: What does the Bible tell you SPECIFICALLY to do during Sunday worship? If you cannot give me a SINGLE positive command for Sunday Worship from the Bible, then the question of "latitude" is meaningless because you've established no parameters at all. For "general norms" to even be possible you'd have to give some Biblical prooftexts on what the norms even are. I don't believe a set of "general norms" are any the Bible any more than the canon of Scripture is.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick: (1) The Regulative Principle of Worship does not afford quite a bit of latitude, and it is precisely *not* whatever the Bible *permits*, but rather what the Bible positively commands. For example, no musical instruments, only singing from the Psalms, etc.

Sorry, Nick, but that's not the Regulative Principle. The Bible commands specific actions, yes. But it doesn't go into detail. So, for example, we should read scripture publicly (1 Tim 4:13). But the Bible doesn't tell us how many verses to read, from which sections of the Bible to read etc. We are therefore *permitted* to read whatever we want from it. There is no lectionary with prescribed readings for this day or that. But if one wants to make a lectionary for this purpose, all well and good. On the other hand, you don't have to have a lectionary. What is regulated is that we read scripture.

(2) For you to say that "the Bible doesn't lay out a particular liturgy" is to concede my main point: Protestants have no liturgy, and thus are forced to either make up a liturgy or to not have one at all.

You're begging the question here by assuming we need a prescribed liturgy in the first place. But why do you assume this? Also, I think you need to define what you mean by the word "liturgy." Most Protestants do have a liturgy (as in an order of worship). They just don't have Rome's. But since Rome can't justify its own liturgy apart from its own authority, your claim is only as strong as your argument for Rome's authority. But your argument for Rome's authority isn't very strong.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick: 3) The golden calf incident is a favorite example Reformed folks use for the RPW. Google RPW + Golden Calf and see the hits. There are also instances in the OT where people didn't worship properly in their levitical duties and God was angry at them.

Yes, I've seen this text and others used this way. And yes, I'd agree they are good illustrations of the regulative principle. But no, I don't think these texts can be used to broad brush all Protestants as you're doing in this post.

(4) You said: "God does care about worship. But God has not prescribed a particular liturgy for the church to follow." This is a blatant contradiction...God cares but He leaves it up to us? You cannot say God cares but God leaves us no instructions. In any case, the Bible is, by your admission, insufficient on the liturgy issue.

You're logic here is sloppy. God can care about worship without prescribing a meticulous form to follow. When Paul says, "all things should be done decently and in order" (1 Cor 14:40) he is regulating the worship of the Corinthians that had gotten out of hand. But what is "decent" and "orderly" will vary from culture to culture, and time to time. Paul also says, "I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling" (1 Tim 2:8) we can infer from this that is quite permissible to raise your hands in prayer at church. You see this among many charismatic churches. But Paul doesn't actually require it. He says he desires it. Still, it's probably safer to assume that his desire has the force of a requirement because he is an apostle and because he is clearly regulating worship in this passage.

Question: Who besides the priest assumes the orans posture in Rome's liturgy? In other words, does the average Roman Catholic fulfill the apostle's desire for raised hands when attending mass?

Another question: How high are those holy hands supposed to be lifted. All the way up? Half way up? Palms up? Raise the roof? We're not told.

The regulative principle doesn't answer those questions. But it would say that so long as those hands are held up "decently and in order," then Paul would approve.

Michael Taylor said...

(6) To say that no liturgy can be traced back is to be forced into claiming there is no actual liturgy at all (and thus all worship is purely an invention of men).

Interesting conclusion. A lot of things you hold dogmatically cannot be traced back to the apostles. Yet you do not dismiss them as "purely an invention of men." For example, you can't trace infant baptism back to the apostles. You can't trace the doctrine of transubstantiation back to the apostles, the assumption of Mary, her immaculate conception, purgatory, a ministerial priesthood, etc. But you would nevertheless maintain that all of these are legitimate "developments." Well, I think you'd have to say the same thing about the liturgy. It has evolved from statements we can trace back to the apostles. The problem is that there isn't a single liturgical form that we can trace, but rather many. But it doesn't follow from that fact--at least it shouldn't from your point of view--that everything is therefore man-made.

Some things are, and Jesus denounced those things in his day that were (Matthew 15:1-14) insofar as they nullified God's Word. So I think caution is in order here. Many things the church comes up with belong to non-revelatory tradition. But that doesn't mean all those traditions are wrong. Sunday school is a tradition. VBS is a tradition. Donuts and coffee in the parish hall is a tradition. But that doesn't mean you're building the Golden Calf all over again for having come up with these.

>>(7) You said: "What if God has afforded us some latitude in this regard by revealing general norms rather than meticulous forms? Is that even a possibility in your world?" That's certainly possible and would indeed be an answer...BUT the fact is the Bible reveals very little on what should be done for the Liturgy…..

….which once again presupposes that there has to be one, end all be all, capital L "Liturgy." But where do you get that idea from? Certainly not from the NT. God seems fine with allowing us to worship him in a variety of ways so long as it is "decent and orderly."

>>What you call "some latitude" is really "infinite latitude" because the Bible sets no limits!<<

Yes and no. I think the Bible has limits in the sense that it does give us a number of explicit commands and examples of regulated worship. But the Bible doesn't place limits on the manifold ways in which me might fulfill those commands. We are commanded to praise God. But there may be "no limits" to the ways in which we can do this. That's why I think there's latitude. But I don't think it's anything goes.

>>Start with the question: What does the Bible tell you SPECIFICALLY to do during Sunday worship? <<

1. Not to neglect the assembly. (So we need to go.)
2. To sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19).
3. To publicly read, preach and teach scripture. (1 Tim 2:8).
4. To maintain decorum. (1 Cor. 14:40).

Those are just some things off the top of my head. Any order of worship attempting to be Biblical will have those elements at least. There are probably others. But that's plenty to establish my point that scripture gives us general norms rather than particular forms. So the choice of psalm, hymn and spiritual song is up to the particular congregation, as are the the number to be sung. Same holds for which readings are to be read, etc.

R. Zell said...

Hi Nick and EJ.

Interesting discussion here.

IMHO Protestants who live the life of faith and have retained even an iota of Catholic teaching, such as belief in the Trinity, a valid baptism, and do profess with their lips that "Jesus is Lord....." are guided by the Holy Spirit, only to the extent that they return to or come into the Church that Christ established on the faith of His Apostles with Himself as the cornerstone.

I forgot which Pope (1890's) was asked "Can Protestants be saved?" He answered, and I'm paraphrasing: When we die, Christ will call you by name, sit to down at table, take bread, bless it, break it and hand you it and,say "Body if Christ." You will either take it or reject it.

Blessings,

R. Zell
solasymbolic.wordpress.com

Michael Taylor said...

Zell >>….[Protestants] are guided by the Holy Spirit, only to the extent that they return to or come into the Church that Christ established on the faith of His Apostles with Himself as the cornerstone.<<

1. As a Protestant I could easily affirm this precisely because as members of the body of Christ, we are ipso facto members of the "Church that Christ established…"

2. But a a Protestant, and a former convert to Roman Catholicism, I know that you mean something quite different by "Church that Christ established" than I do. I wouldn't want to overdraw the differences, as if there were no overlap at all. But so long as we are picturing a venn diagram here, I'd say the overlap is thin indeed.

3. The claim that Christ established the Roman Catholic church isn't just a theological claim; it's also an historical claim. Both aspects (the theological and historical) can be tested against scripture and historical source materials to show that Rome cannot possibly be "the church Christ established," but is at best (and I'm being charitable here), a diseased branch of the tree that is danger of being cut off and thrown into the fire on account of its corruption and false teaching.

4. RCs have made the object of faith the Church ® itself. So much energy is devoted to promoting the glories of the Church ®, how true conversion can only take place by joining and/or being reconciled to the Church ®, etc., that evangelism for conservative RCs boils down to selling the Church ®, as Nick is doing here in touting the "Litrugy" ™, whereas liberal RCs reduce evangelism to social justice issues. Either way, it is the Church ® that is seen as the end-all-be-all.

5. Compare this to what we read of the NT church. They were always promoting Jesus--talking about his death and resurrection, commanding everyone to repent and believe the Gospel. Evangelism means doing what we can do to turn unbelievers into believers in Jesus--not promoting the papacy, the liturgy, the magisterium, the saints, Mary, the dignity of the priesthood, the Eucharist etc. Virtually everything that RCs boast about seems to draw our attention to the the Church ® itself rather than to the person and work of Christ.





Nick said...

Michael,

I will try to be brief:

(1) I agree with you that the RPW is not intended to teach every liturgical act must be laid out in detail, but my point was more basic than that, namely that the RPW teaches that we are only to do on Sunday Liturgy the 'general actions' the Bible positively instructs must be done...and yet the Bible does not even give us the basics of what must be done on a typical Sunday! In other words, the Bible nowhere says anything along the lines of "On Sundays you should sing songs during liturgy" (aside from what specific songs must be sung) or "On Sundays you should pray the Lord's Prayer during the liturgy" (aside from when during the liturgy it's prayed). The Bible does not give us even these most general instructions, and that's what's fatal for the Protestant position.

And you pointing to 1 Timothy 4:13 where Paul tells Timothy to read Scripture publicly does *not* in any way suggest "we" are "permitted" to read "whatever we want". That is, again, a form of relativism. The Jewish custom of reading Scripture was very much a structured/fixed lectionary, based on seasons/holidays/etc, so the default assumption should be the same for Christians carrying on the same (but now developed) Bible. And, further, this verse says nothing about the Liturgy, which it is *not* valid to assume from the "public reading of Scripture" that this rule is the same as the "liturgical reading of Scripture".

(2) You said: "You're begging the question here by assuming we need a prescribed liturgy in the first place. But why do you assume this?"

You have ZERO Biblical mandate for what you're doing on Sunday. Please realize that. Realize that everything you do, from Start to Finish, on a Sunday Liturgy, was NOWHERE commanded in Scripture to be done during Sunday Liturgy. That's where the Protestant position hangs itself with its own rope. You're trying to dance around this pretty blatant discrepancy, but it wont work.

(3) No further comment on the Golden Calf stuff.

(4) You said: "God can care about worship without prescribing a meticulous form to follow."

Agreed, but my argument is that the Bible does not give EITHER a meticulous OR a generic form to follow. So you can't say "God cares" and yet not even the most general/basic instructions are given for liturgy. Your "lifting hands" verse is not given in a liturgical context, and it certainly doesn't suggest men can pray and raise their hands whenever they want however they want during the Liturgy.

(6) I would not say that any of the Catholic doctrines you listed are "developments". The Church says all those things were taught by the Apostles. And even though the Liturgy has developed, it's core/essence has not, which is that of a Sacrifice by a Ministerial Priesthood, the real transformation of the Bread & Wine, etc.

Nick said...

Michael,

(7) You said: "the Bible has limits in the sense that it does give us a number of explicit commands and examples of regulated worship"

This is the million dollar question and you're not answering it. The Bible does *NOT* give "a number of explicit commands of regulated worship". Your 4 examples you gave were, in themselves, a self-refutation of your own position, since they didn't actually say what to do with any helpful detail *during Sunday Liturgy*. Eph 5:19 does not say these songs are to be sung during Liturgy. 1 Tim 4:13 does not say the Public Reading of Scripture is the Liturgical Reading of Scripture. 1 Cor 14:40 says maintain order, but this is so abstract as to be of no help. The context is of Speaking in Tongues, which most Protestants would say is defunct after the Apostolic Age.

Do you not see how this is a serious problem? Nowhere does the Bible say to Read Scripture during the Liturgy. Nowhere does the Bible say a pastor Preaches during the Sunday Liturgy. Nowhere does the Bible say do whatever you want within certain limits during the Sunday Liturgy. And WHY is this? Because the Bible is mostly *S*I*L*E*N*T* on what >>is to be done<< during Sunday Liturgy.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>> I agree with you that the RPW is not intended to teach every liturgical act must be laid out in detail, but…<<<


This is a fatal admission on your part because we do not claim in the first place that the Bible prescribes a meticulous liturgy. Since you agree that it doesn’t either, I don’t really understand why you think this is a telling point against our position.

“...and yet the Bible does not even give us the basics of what must be done on a typical Sunday!<<

Whatever do you mean? The bible doesn’t prescribe worship on Sunday. But it does describe it. The Bible doesn’t give meticulous instruction on an order of worship. But it does describe a range of activities that Christians did when they gathered to worship. So your objection again keeps begging the same old question as to why even “basics” must be prescribed in the first place.

>>And you pointing to 1 Timothy 4:13 where Paul tells Timothy to read Scripture publicly does *not* in any way suggest "we" are "permitted" to read "whatever we want". That is, again, a form of relativism.<<

Sure it does. Where do you get the idea that specific readings have been prescribed? As for the charge of “relativism,” that begs the question. For here you are assuming the existence of an objective standard (a specific order of worship) that God simply has not prescribed. So the problem with your church is not unlike the problem with Pharisaism. It erects even more boundaries than the Law itself prescribed. That’s precisely the sort of problem Jesus had with the Pharisees. The sabbath, after all, is made for man, and not the other way around, Nick.

Michael Taylor said...

I said>> "You're begging the question here by assuming we need a prescribed liturgy in the first place. But why do you assume this?" <<

Note below that your response does NOT address my objection. You’re STILL begging the same question, Nick.

Nick>>You have ZERO Biblical mandate for what you're doing on Sunday.<<

Your assumption is still that I NEED a Biblical mandate to do particular liturgical acts in the first place. But why do I need a Biblically mandated order of worship specifically for Sundays? The Bible doesn’t give me one. But it does give me plenty examples of the kinds of activities Christians did when they gathered and plenty of commands concerning what we are to do at times of worship. That’s all we need, because that’s all God has provided for us. If you wish to say God has gone on to reveal a more meticulous order of worship, then you need to make the case for that, and not simply assume it as a given.

I said: "God can care about worship without prescribing a meticulous form to follow."

Nick>> Agreed, but….<<

This is yet another fatal admission on your part. I absolutely believe God “cares” about worship. But, as you freely (and wisely) admit, a particular form has simply not been prescribed.

Nick>>... my argument is that the Bible does not give EITHER a meticulous OR a generic form to follow. <<

Assuming for the sake of argument that you are right, so what? Your objection still presupposes that there has to be at least a generic form to follow. But I don’t grat that assumption. You’d first need to prove that there is theological need for such a generic order rather than a merely practical one.

>>Your "lifting hands" verse is not given in a liturgical context,<<<

Yes, it is. Lifting hands is the prefered (if not prescribed) gesture for prayer according to the authoritative Apostolic teaching. “Liturgical” is the weasel word here. It originally meant the public work of the people in the worship of the gods. Applied to Christianity, that simply means whenever Christians gather together to worship in a formal setting, there is a liturgy. That Paul is addressing liturgical issues is clear from the fact that he is addressing Timothy on a whole host of church order issues, including the public reading of scripture, etc.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>> and it certainly doesn't suggest men can pray and raise their hands whenever they want however they want during the Liturgy<<

But that’s exactly what Paul prefers that they do. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make this a law or rule. My original point was only to show you that there are Biblical prescriptions for worship that are not presently part of more formal liturgies or even less formal forms of worship. But if the RPW is true, then we should expect to be seeing more lifting of holy hands out there. Such a verse, by the way, not only indicts Romanism, but much of Protestantism as well.

Nick>>And even though the Liturgy has developed, it's core/essence has not, which is that of a Sacrifice by a Ministerial Priesthood, the real transformation of the Bread & Wine, etc.<<

For which there is no NT and therefore no Apostolic evidence. The Roman Catholic doctrine of the mass an unbloody sacrifice is very much a post-Apostolic “development.” No two ways about that, Nick. So there is absolutely *no way* for you to trace your liturgy back to the Bible or to the Apostles. Just can’t be done.

>>. ..since they didn't actually say what to do with any helpful detail *during Sunday Liturgy*.<<

You’re still begging the same question, viz., that we need “helpful details” for Sunday worship in the first place.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>> Eph 5:19 does not say these songs are to be sung during Liturgy.<<

The word “Liturgy” isn’t used. But the context is that of worship. So when we gather to worship, we can sing spiritual songs, psalms, and hymns. This can include times of formal worship (what you’re calling “Liturgy”) and times of informal worship (prayer meetings, for example.) But whether formally structured or informal, it's still "liturgy."

>> 1 Tim 4:13 does not say the Public Reading of Scripture is the Liturgical Reading of Scripture.<<

While not all public reading is liturgical, all liturgical reading is public. But your distinction doesn’t seem to matter in the first place because it’s still based on the unestablished premise that there is such a thing as a revealed, official Liturgy. There isn’t. So this text cannot be used to argue that the Bible doesn’t authorize a lexicon, as you seem to be arguing. Be that as it may, if Timothy has been charged with the public reading of scripture, where do you suppose he is supposed to fulfill that charge if not in the gathered assembly?

>>1 Cor 14:40 says maintain order, but this is so abstract as to be of no help. <<

So therefore ignore it? Surely that’s not what you’re suggesting? Be that as it may, you fail to grasp the importance of this command to my argument. The fact of the matter is that Paul leaves it up to the Corinthians to figure out what is and what is not “orderly.” Significantly, he does not prescribe a liturgical order to follow. He only says there ought to be one. In other words, the Bible leaves it up to our good judgment to figure out what is and what is not good liturgical order for our churches, just as the Apostle did in Corinth.

>>The context is of Speaking in Tongues, which most Protestants would say is defunct after the Apostolic Age.<<

Which is completely irrelevant as it does not thereby abrogate the command to do all things in order. By your logic, if tongues have ceased, then so has Paul’s command to do things in order. So are you really saying that it is now “anything goes?” Surely that can’t be your position. Yet your logic compels it.

By the way, your demographics are way off. “Most Protestants” are now the 500 million Christians of a pentecostal/charismatic persuasion, many of whom now (or soon will) constitute the majority of Christians in what have historically been known as Catholic countries.

Nick said...

Michael,

(1) You are trying to force a false dilemma fallacy, and I keep trying to correct it. The Bible does not have to give an *exhaustive* treatment on any Christian doctrine, but it should give *sufficient* information. When it comes to worship proper to Christians, the Bible does *not* have to give *exhaustive* instructions, but it should give *sufficient* instructions on Christian Worship. So enough with this false dilemma fallacy. My argument is merely that the Bible is not even *sufficient* for what belongs in a Christian Liturgy.

(2) You said: But it does give me plenty examples of the kinds of activities Christians did when they gathered and plenty of commands concerning what we are to do at times of worship.

You *want* the Bible to give you >>PLENTY<< of examples/commands, but it the Bible gives >>FEW<< if any examples/details of what Christian Worship looks like. This is the heart of the issue, which you keep flailing around. You have **not** given me >>PLENTY<< of examples/details from the Bible of what Christian Worship involves. You have taken a meager FEW verses, without much context, and called that good when it isn't proof or sufficient at all.

(3) Your only examples of "PLENTY" of Biblical information is Lifting Hands, Singing Songs, Public Reading of Scripture, and Maintaining Order. Not only are these too vague/generic to actually construct a liturgy, some of the very texts you gave aren't even liturgical.

The word "Liturgy" is not a buzz word here. It simply refers to "structured worship" consisting of sufficient divinely revealed detail to actually carry it out in real life. To worship God properly, we need to know at least some basics, like what "core activities" must be done during a gathering. The example I gave in the main post was that of celebrating the Eucharist. Ken (and most other Protestants) don't believe Eucharist is a core part of a Christian Worship Service, but that just means the Eucharist is now more or less optional and not central to Worship. You don't seem to have the Eucharist as a routine/core part of the Liturgy either, as you've not really mentioned it.

Same for specific prayers the like the Our Father, which Jesus explicitly told us how we should pray...and yet there's no actual mention of whether this is a core prayer in your liturgy.

The ultimate point here is that if you sit down and write out the order of your Sunday worship service, along with a statement on why you do them, you will find out it's far less Biblical (in every sense) than you've been assuming.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>(1) You are trying to force a false dilemma fallacy..<<

Not at all. I'm accusing you of question begging, which is a different fallacy altogether.

>>The Bible does not have to give an *exhaustive* treatment on any Christian doctrine, but it should give *sufficient* information.<<

So much for "materially sufficient" view of the Bible as championed by the architects of Vatican II. I guess this puts you in the more traditional camp that says the Bible isn't even materially sufficient. Hence your words: " My argument is merely that the Bible is not even *sufficient* for what belongs in a Christian Liturgy."

And here again you're still BEGGING THE SAME QUESTION. The fatally flawed premise of the UCAA argument is that there has to be a revealed, meticulous, big-L Liturgy in the first place. In other words, you're assuming that if God cares about worship (and we both agree that He does), then He must have revealed a particular liturgical form (or forms) that He finds acceptable. That's your assumption. Then, based on that assumption, you go to the Bible and find that it is insufficient for the construction of the Liturgy. Then you conclude, "Ho, ho, the Protestant is in a precarious position because his allegedly sufficient Bible cannot even teach him how to worship God correctly." And this argument convinces (drum roll....) no one. Why? Because your starting premise is nothing more than a variation of the debate between sola scriptura and STM (scripture + tradition + magisterium).

In other words, it amounts to saying, "You Protestants can't get with your Bible what we Catholics can get with our Bible, our Tradition and our Magisterium."

Well, duh! I freely (and proudly) admit that we can't get to a lot of things with just our Bibles. We can't get an immaculately conceived virgin. We can't get an infallible papacy. We can't get a mediatrix of all graces or a queen of heaven. We can't get purgatory. We can't get a sacrificial priesthood in the New Covenant church. We can't get transubstantiation. We can't get a lot of things. So it's hardly surprising to us that we can reproduce any of the "Liturgies" that Rome authorizes.





Michael Taylor said...

Nick>> ...You have taken a meager FEW verses, without much context, and called that good when it isn't proof or sufficient at all.<<

Sufficient **for what?"** Again, the criticism keeps presupposing that a lot ("plenty") of detail is needed and that the relatively "few" verses that speak to worship are simply not sufficient to produce, say, a requiem mass or a Sunday high mass with the Nicene creed, the Gloria and say, Eucharistic Prayer IV.

But again, why should we accept this premise in first place? In other words, why isn't what we have in the Bible enough?

From your point of view, it can't be enough because far more than the Bible is needed to construct the liturgy. But we would say that the Bible is sufficient for what it was intended to do by its divine Author. Imagine if you will a scenario in which God commands us to do X but without telling us Y, which is, how often to do X.

Let X = "Do this in Memory of Me." Let Y = the frequency of doing X.

So we could both agree that the Bible is sufficient to establish X. We are definitely to celebrate the Lord's supper. But the Bible isn't clear as to how often we're supposed to do this. In other words, the Bible does not specify Y.

It does say, "as often as you do X," we are to do it in memory of Jesus. But the words, "as often" suggest that we should understand Y as encompassing a possibly broad range of frequencies.

Now if the elders of your church (since the church is ruled by a plurality of elders) decide that once a month is an acceptable interpretation of "as often," they would be more than Biblically justified in doing so. But so would the church that decides on every Sunday.

In other words, God seems pleased to leave it up to us to determine Y (how often to celebrate the Eucharist.).

Does that mean the Bible is "insufficient?" Not at all. Why? Because it was never the intent of the Bible **in the first place** to teach us Y (that is, prescribe a particular day and definite frequency regarding the celebration of Eucharist). So you can't call the Bible "insufficient" to a task it never was intended to perform. The Bible "delegates" (if you will) that task the local church just as the Lord left it up to his apostles as to "how often" they would "do this in memory of me."




Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>>Not only are these too vague/generic to actually construct a liturgy, some of the very texts you gave aren't even liturgical.<<

And again we see the same question-begging. The complaint about being "too vague" presupposes that the Bible needs to be meticulously specific. But that's not the language of the Bible in these matters. Jesus was fine with "as often as you do this," and Paul was fine with "but everything in order." Neither one of them thought it necessary to spell out the details. They were okay with "vague." But you're not. And that is transparently the *real* issue here. You're approaching this issue as a traditionalist and it's clouding your judgment.

>>You don't seem to have the Eucharist as a routine/core part of the Liturgy either, as you've not really mentioned it.<<

It is routine in my church. But it is not essential to every act of worship.

>>Same for specific prayers the like the Our Father, which Jesus explicitly told us how we should pray...and yet there's no actual mention of whether this is a core prayer in your liturgy. <<

When Jesus told us to pray/say the Lord's Prayer, he gave us no indication that this was to be a regular part of a Liturgy. But he never said *not* to do so "in church" either. His prohibition against repetitious prayer should give us pause before we turn any prayer into a mechanical routine. But the issue isn't repetition per se, but rather "vain repetition." I'm absolutely fine with praying the prayers and psalms we read in the Bible "in church." But I don't see a mandate to do so every time we worship.

Nick>>The ultimate point here is that if you sit down and write out the order of your Sunday worship service, along with a statement on why you do them, you will find out it's far less Biblical (in every sense) than you've been assuming.<<

That hasn't been my experience. But then again, I'm not expecting to get out of the Bible as much detail as you seem to think I should be looking for.

Southern Israelite said...

Nick,
And the effective Protestant response is to admit that Sunday is not the Sabbath but the 7th day is. And there you go.

Nick said...

Sunday never was the Sabbath for Christians. The Sabbath was never moved from Saturday to Sunday. The Sabbath remained on Saturday. Christian Worship began taking place on both Saturday (Sabbath) and Sunday (Lord's Day / Resurrection), never confusing the two days.

Southern Israelite said...

Nick,

Synod of Laodicea (4th Century), Canon 29,

"Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ."

The Sabbath did not remain Saturday according to Catholic teaching. The Sabbath was abrogated and the day of rest moved to Sunday as the canon clearly states. Please try actually addressing the things I say.

Nick said...

I'm not going to verify whether that quote is even legit, but it doesn't say Sunday is the Sabbath. That quote explicitly distinguishes Sabbath (Saturday) from Lord's Day (Sunday).

That Christians didn't keep the Sabbath (Saturday) according to Mosaic Custom is not controversial at all, for the Mosaic Dispensation is over and was only binding on the Jews.

everybodysdaughter said...

Hi Nick, I've been thinking more and more about this argument. Catholics have a liturgy, and this means we are unified in the manner in which we worship the Lord. This is obviously a plus in our favor from an apologetics stand point, as far as demonstrating that we actually *practice* unity.

Your argument highlights an important area where Protestants do not practice unity. Is the practice of worship essential or non-essential in the Christian life? All Christians would say that it is essential. But the way it is practiced among Protestants is not unified. Disunity in the practice of worship goes against a popular adage, "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity."

They might say, "Nowhere does the Bible say that Christians have to be unified in their worship." But this stretches the limits of credulity since it is a justification for division in the practice of the Christian faith. I am not an expert in the history of Protestantism, but I suspect quite a few splits were due to arguments over how to worship.

Anonymous said...

Nick,

You represent the very reason the Protestants broke from The Catholic Church. My church is full of ex-Catholics. I grew up watching the children of Catholics walk to the lake to swim on Sunday's while I was on my way to church (while their parents thought they were at Mass). What happened? The Catholic Church tradition is so exclusive, so inflexible, so willing to damn everyone who doesn't follow their rules exactly, that they chase many many people away. I am not a scholar like you, but I do know that Jesus told us to talk directly to God the father, so that means I don't need a Preist to interpret my personal relationship with God. When Jesus wanted to hear from God, he went off by himself, not into a building with other people. Every Protestant church service I attend includes a reading from the Word of God and the Lords Prayer, which was given by Jesus. Our creed says we believe in the Catholic Church. After that, no church can bring me closer to God by reading the "right" words. That part is up to me. It's also important to note that Jesus did not create the Catholic Church, or any church...men did, after his death and resurrection. Men are fallible. The Church is fallible. Only God is perfect and he is everywhere....Catholics can't contain God inside their church any more than they can gather the air and keep if for themselves. The Methodists didn't teach me to instruct Catholics or Baptists they have it all wrong, so I wonder why any Catholics feel the need to do that.

Nick said...

Anonymous,

I understand where you are coming from, but what your overall point seems to be is "Nobody can tell me how I should worship, what I should believe, etc. That's all up to my personal preference."

Well, if doctrine and worship is up to your personal preference, then by definition it isn't from God. It's a tradition of men (or man/woman, singular), and thus really your own religion, not Christianity.

I can understand why your church is full of ex-Catholics if those ex-Catholics have fallen prey to the idea that each person gets to decide for themself which teachings of the Bible they want to accept or not. The easy/broad path is often the most attractive.