CATHOLIC DIALOG #5
(The scene is the schools track and field grounds during freshman P E class. It is Friday afternoon and Peggy wants to invite her friend Mindy to an activity at her non-denominational church)
Mindy: What a hot day.
Peggy: You're not kidding. It's too hot to run a mile today. This teacher is out of her mind. Why don't we walk for a while?
Peggy: Hey Mindy would you like to come to praise and worship night at our church this Sunday? It's always fun.
Mindy: Praise and worship night? Do you mean that you save it up all month and then offer your praise on one particular night? I don't think so.
Peggy: Oh come on. I know you'll like it. The music is great and we don't have to observe any strict formalities. It's pretty cool.
Mindy: What church do you go to anyway?
Peggy: It's a brand new one called "The Rock Fellowship". I used to go to Square Gospel, then to the Potters Chapel, then Calvary House, and then to the Living Waters, but now I've found my niche. Praise God!
Mindy: Sounds like you've really shopped around. You must be a real connoisseur. Why did you leave the other churches?
Peggy: I need a church that teaches from the Bible only. I just didn't agree with the way those others interpreted it. What church do you go to?
Mindy: St. Margaret Mary's.
Peggy: Catholic, huh?
Mindy: Since I was a baby.
Peggy: Haven't you ever tried another church?
Mindy: Why would I need to?
Peggy: Well wouldn't you like to go to a Bible teaching church once in a while?
Mindy: I just told you, I'm a Catholic. Don't you know what that means?
Peggy: Well my Pastor say's it means that you have a lot of ceremonies and practices that are not Biblical. He say's that the whole Christian truth is found in the Bible and that nothing outside of it (Bible) should be accepted as inspired.
Mindy: First off, I should tell you that our ceremonies are to give reverence to God, and that is very Biblical. Secondly, Didn't you just tell me that you didn't agree with the way it was interpreted in your other churches?
Peggy: Yes, but what's your point?
Mindy: My point is, how do you know that they weren't right?
Peggy: I rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me.
Mindy: Isn't that what they would say? I just can't imagine how the Holy Spirit would interpret the Bible one way for you and a different way for them. Are you sure it's the Holy Spirit you're dealing with?
Peggy: What do you mean by that?
Mindy: I mean that every heresy takes a partial truth and makes it an absolute. When that happens, part of the truth is perceived as the whole truth and the rest is discarded.
Peggy: Now wait a minute...
Mindy: No, I think you should hear me out. The "Bible only" doctrine is called Sola Scriptura. As you said, it is a belief that all of the truths of Christian faith are contained in the Bible and everything else is of no use. The problem is that even the Bible doesn't claim to be the sole authority. As a matter of fact, it seems to suggest the opposite.
Peggy: Where does it say that?
Mindy: Right at the end of the Gospel of John, it says that there was much more concerning Jesus that wasn't written down. In 2 Timothy 2:2, St. Paul says, "Christian teaching is to be found in the Tradition handed down by word of mouth."
Peggy: Ok, but Jesus says, "By these traditions of yours you have made God's law ineffective." What about that?
Mindy: You quoted that out of context. You can't do that with the Bible if you want to understand it's meaning. If you read the whole passage, you will see that He was not condemning all tradition, just the ones that contradict God's law. In this particular case the Pharisees were pretending to dedicate their property to the temple to avoid having to support their parents. They had invented a tradition to break the Commandment to "Honor thy Father and Mother." Can you see that?
Peggy: I don't know...
Mindy: Jesus followed traditions.
Mindy: He followed Jewish tradition. One example is the fact that He observed the Jewish Passover. As a matter of fact, He told the people to do what the Scribes and Pharisees told them, but not to imitate their actions. He wanted them to adhere to tradition that does not contradict God's law.
Peggy: Do you think that a church can go overboard with its traditions? I mean, I've heard that the Catholics actually drink wine at their services.
Mindy: The wine is used during Holy Communion. Before we drink it, the Priest consecrates it.
Peggy: Mindy, drinking alcohol is a sin. That IS against God's law.
Mindy: How can you say that? Jesus drank wine. What about the water that He changed into wine?
Peggy: That was unfermented.
Mindy: Unfermented? I thought you said you only believed what is in the Bible? Where does it say the word unfermented?
Peggy: Paul says, "Don't get drunk on wine."
Mindy: That only proves how wrong you are. You can't get drunk on unfermented wine. Why would he even mention drunkenness if all they were drinking was grape juice?
Peggy: Hey Mindy, you're getting on my nerves.
Mindy: Alright, let's get back to the interpretation thing. Jesus gave the authority to the Church to interpret Scripture when He said, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate (The Holy Spirit) to be with you always, the Spirit of truth. He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Pretty powerful stuff, huh? How would you like to stand on a promise like that?
Peggy: That's mighty impressive.
Mindy: As a Catholic, I have the assurance of Jesus Himself that my Church, through an infallible Pope, will teach no errors concerning doctrine.
Peggy: This all sounds good, but I've heard some real bad things about your Church from my Pastor and our youth minister. Now I'm not so sure...
Mindy: In Luke 10:16, Jesus says, "He who listens to you, listens to Me; He who despises you, despises Me."
Peggy: Maybe I should read that part again.
Mindy: Yes, and while you're at it maybe you should check out the story about Phillip and the Ethiopian. Phillip asks him, "Can't you understand what you are reading?" The Ethiopian replies, "How could I... without someone to guide me." St. Peter says, "No prophesy in scripture is subject to private interpretation." You can find that in 2 Peter 1:20.
Peggy: 2 Peter 1:20, huh? I'm going to check that one out too.
Mindy: The most important thing to understand is that the Church was not formed by the Bible. the Bible was written by the Church. The earliest Christians didn't have any Bible, but they had a Church. They decided what books were to go into the Bible by the authority given them from Jesus, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to interpret the truth. To recognize the authority of the Bible, but not the Church that composed it is a contradiction.
Peggy: Mindy, I know one thing.
Mindy: What's that?
Peggy: My Pastor says that Catholics don't even read the Bible. I guess he's wrong about that.
Mindy: Peggy. I don't think I want to go to praise and worship night at your church.
Peggy: Why not?
Mindy: Because of something it says in the Bible in a few different places.
Peggy: What's that?
Mindy: Beware of false teachers.