December 28, 2002

The Old Debate
I post this only that you smart folks might have some advice for a situation that I probably should avoid engaging in...

We slipped, almost by accident, onto those grounds where we profoundly disagree. My mother said that Catholicism should get back to the bible, the way it was in the beginning. Her salient point was questioning the notion that not eating meat on Friday could put you in hell. Or that a 2nd-grader who had drank water could not receive Communion if said water was drank within three hours of receiving. She says that I'm an orthodox Catholic because I did not live through "those days." (i.e. pre Vatican II). Perhaps, perhaps not. I replied that the fruits of the Church in the 50s were such that those rules did not do any harm and perhaps much good. She said she didn't buy that - Protestants were just as holy in the 50s without the "crazy rules". I said that some Protestants had crazy rules - like no dancing, no alcohol, no gambling...the argument held no sway, and I was left afterward remembering Bishop Sheen's words that to "win the argument is to lose the soul" or words to that effect.

I guess my pet peeve is the argument that the Church is not biblical, although it shouldn't because in my ignorance I once thought similarly. I should understand that sentiment instead of reacting to it in less than composed manner. How would you sound-byte such a question? Since she and many Protestants are simply allergic or otherwise resistant to Matt 16 I am avoiding Peter directly by thinking thusly:

The New Testament would seem to be a grand poem in a foreign language that has been translated, very broadly, in two different ways - one more Catholic and another more Fundamentalist. We cannot be sure in this world which is the more accurate translation, but it is unfair to call one more "biblical" than the other. They are both heartfelt interpretations of Scripture. (I obviously feel the Catholic interpretation is more accurate.)

First, I think it's important to notice who Jesus speaks to when he says things, rather than just to assume He is always speaking to everyone. Why would he speak in parables before the crowds while offering more to his apostles? And why would he tell things to Peter individually that he would not tell the rest of the apostles? Isn't this implicitly hierarchical?

Secondly, I have never understood salvation as being assured or that "faith alone" is necessary when reading the whole of the gospels or the whole of the bible. I get a sense that Christ is constantly telling us to, if not worry, then to be watchful concerning our salvation. The parables of the sower and the seed and the ten virgins and numerous others simply don't support the "once saved, always saved" interpretation in my view.

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