Thursday, May 14, 2009


It said that, “There is always a king.” When it comes to Christianity in general I would add, “There is always a pope.” One of the hallmarks of Protestantism is that there is no official pope. But in reality there is.

This came home to me last week as a person who is seeking to jump the Tiber came to speak to me about becoming Catholic. His reason for becoming Catholic is the reason cited by perhaps 60% of the people who are becoming Catholic with whom I speak.

This person’s particular story in part concerns a parent who found employment in certain denominations. After a while, this father would find himself at odds with a pastor and be told in one way or the other that things were not going to work out. He would state that the Holy Spirit was guiding him t interpret the Bible in such a way and the pastor would state categorically that his interpretation was wrong. Unless he went to the church down the street. This happened in a number of situations. It occurred to this person at young age that there was something amiss. All of these churches claimed inspiration of the Holy Spirit but were at direct odds in matter of faith and morals. How could the Holy Spirit tell one pastor that alpha was the case and another omega? Did God allow confusion to reign in this way? Who had authority to decide? Each of the pastors claimed authority to interpret the Scriptures. But who had actual authority? Was it the alpha preaching minister or the omega? How do we know how to choose?

The conclusion that this person came to was to find proper authority. (There are many issues here, but this is one point on which I am focusing.) Is it a test of faith from God to find the right church or did God set up a Church with the authority to interpret Scripture? If that is the case, there is only one choice (save for those who believe that the Church went immediately into schism only to be reclaimed in recent centuries thereby nullifying Christ’s promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against her.) This leads them to a pope who had no qualms against stating that he is the pope. It is not a matter of finding a church that matches your beliefs, but a Church that teaches truth despite what you might wish to believe. At least this is one reason I am Catholic.


Pat said...

Dear Father, Quite a number of years ago I realized that all of the (often good) evangelical preachers on the radio had set themselves up as "the pope." Why else would their "faithful" tune in everyday to hear "the truths of scripture?" Their listeners and financial supporters obviously believed that their favorite preacher (and no other) had "the truth." No doubt these sincere believers would deny my conclusion. But if they honestly reflected upon the things you yourself have brought out in this blog, they would become very uncomfortable and be unable to explain why so many denominations have come into existence, all claiming to be "the only way " to Christ. But at least, they are trying. So many fallen away or "Sunday Catholics" don't even make the effort to seek the truth that we have in Holy Mother Church.

Anonymous said...

I came to the church via RCIA 10 years ago after being raised Methodist. During the RCIA process I often wondered why God would allow all the different divisions of Protestants to be created? Why would he allow people to worship following only some of the teachings? Many who grow up in those faiths don't know the difference. Through no fault of their own, these people are worshipping the same God that we are, albeit in a different sense. I came to the conclusion that it comes down to the gift that God gave us of free will. The early Chrisitans who created those religions, did exercise free will and knowingly separated from the Church. Modern day Christians in the protestant churches didn't necessarily choose. It was chosen by their parents, and they just followed. I believe that having the various protestant churches gives Christians an avenue to question their faith, and learn about it. And through that learning process, many end up returning to the roots of their true faith, the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

Yes, what a blessing it is to have proper authority.

But, in a sense,I have seem a similar misunderstanding in authority in our diocese. For example, we were told point blank by our Bishop we were free to go to whatever diocese or bishop agrees with "us" concerning early reception of confirmation for our children. This creates division and his, forgive me, lack of charity and understanding of the authority of the church has caused great struggles in our own family. But, God is forever good to us.

Warren said...

Same here. Protestant convert to Rome in 2002.

I say to people, that a Pope is a terrible thing, an inevitable thing, and therefore we should have exactly one of them. You cannot have zero popes any more than you can have a physical object without a center of gravity, or have an Up without having a Down.

It is a necessity of living in a place we call Reality. If you have a day then you have a night. If you have a question of authority, then you have authority, there is only the question of whether it is legitimate or not.

You can, and in fact, people do, make the same argument about God's existence. They very question arising of God existing, the very nature of the universe itself, and our ability to perceive it, raises the question. Once you have a God, who is an authority in Heaven and on Earth, the next most natural question is who, or what is the authority here.

The protestant answer is in general to make the Bible itself the "sole authority". This "sola scriptura" idea is not only unscriptural, it's impossible to
ignore the problem of it being an innovation. It was not the rule of things in the first or early second centuries, because New Testament scripture did not even exist, nor was the printed word a meaningful element in the life of the Church for the laity, until the invention of the printing press.

Sola scriptura is better known, in my view, as "Bibolatry".

If God gave nobody at all authority on earth, and Scripture says otherwise, then you end up nullifying the great commission.

Why did Jesus (a) hold the disciples back in Jerusalem until Pentecost, and then (b) release them after giving them both a real grace and a visible sign.

Does the Bible sound like it's writing about the Church and the mission to spread the Gospel as if "it takes a village", or as if the Church is hierarchically constituted. Church must be hiearchical or it is not Church.

There is a top, and thus there is a bottom. That's how the Bible reports and describes the Early Church. And THAT's why I'm catholic.


Fr. V said...

"I say to people, that a Pope is a terrible thing, an inevitable thing, and therefore we should have exactly one of them."

I've been musing about this all afternoon! Thanks.

Great comments to ponder guys.