Thursday, April 19, 2007

Religious ramblings of a sick person

There are a lot of things that ought to be done right now, but I feel to sick to do them. The children have been sick all week, and now I've got it too. How sick are they? Abigail asked at 7:00 if she could go to bed.

Anyhow, I can't take medicine, so I'm sucking on cough drops and trying to take it easy. It's hard to relax when there is so much to do. But on the other hand I have to keep reminding myself, I've got a little person to take care of inside of me. I'll have my first ultrasound May17, and I'll feel a lot better then.

On a completely unrelated note: Sunday at church Pastor Mike announced "starting next Sunday we will be undergoing a forty day period of prayer and fasting" "SAY WHAT???? Didn't we just finish Lent??" Okay, so obviously Lent is not the only time that we can fast. And while Lenten fasting is generally focussed on personal growth (at least for us) this fast is specifically about our church. Of course, I could argue that I'm exempt since I'm pregnant. Besides I've already given up, soda, coffee, sweets and most other junk food for the baby. But since I believe that our church is important, I decided to fast from reading advice columns. You know the Dear Abby sorts. It is one of my guilty pleasures and it really has no edifying value. I'm not sure what Paul will do yet.

And speaking of fasting, back during Lent I was discussing some theology and I left a few things hanging. Nobody has been clamoring for more religion but I thought I would bring it back up anyway.

First a synopsis on the sacraments:

Communion: The Real Presence of Christ but not technically blood and flesh (if Christ can be manifest in a human form, he can be manifest in the sacrament).

Baptism: Truly a sacrament, but it had no affect on a non-believing individual. The argument, from this perspective, for infant baptism is that a child can have faith long before he is old enough to understand the sacrament. Most families in our church do not baptize infants, we dedicate them. But this does not mean we do not view baptism as a sacrament. This is entirely different than the Baptist view which is that the baptism is merely symbolic.

Confession: We do not believe that priest mediated confession is necessary. Although confessing to the pastor is an option. However, confessing our sins and repenting of them is definitely a must.

Matrimony: Marriage is a life long commitment. Divorce is only allowable in the case that the spouse committed adultery. If a person is deserted by a non-Christian spouse, that person may remarry. However, divorces that occurred before the person came to faith are not counted against them. I totally do not understand the Catholic annulment thing. I think annulments are granted way too frequently.

Ordination: Certain people are called to ministry, they go to seminary and become ordained as ministers. Some ordained ministers also become deacons and bishops. Perhaps the one teaching of the Free Methodist church that I have never been able to really come to terms with is that they ordain women. They were actually one of the first denominations to come to this practice from my understanding. The logic is scriptural that in Christ we are "neither male nor female" still this doesn't sit right with me. On the other hand I am bothered by the Catholic demand for Celibacy since the Bible also says the overseer should be "the husband of one wife". Besides the fact that Peter was married (otherwise how could Jesus have healed his mother-in-law).

Anointing: When someone is ill (dying or not) they may request to be anointed. Sometimes there are special healing services. And usually this is accompanied by the laying on of hands of the congregation. Of course in some cases that is not possible. And sometimes a substitute is used for the laying on of hands. For instance when Sammy was in the NICU -- I was a stand in since the congregation could obviously not come in and see him. He was anointed once. It was kind of neat.

Confirmation: I don't know a lot about confirmation. People undergo classes then there is a ceremony in which they make professions and become full church members. If a person has a severe sin which needs to be remedied they can have a sort of probationary membership. For instance in our class there was a woman who was living with a man whom she was not married to. She went through the classes and ceremony with us. But was not a full member until she married him (she also could have moved out) but she didn't need any additional ceremony. The classes are very simple and much less rigorous than RCIA in part because the Free Methodist doctrine/discipline is oodles simpler. And the professions are very basic and any true Christian would agree with them even if they thought the church had a lot of other things backwards.

I think that's all the sacraments. We do truly believe in sacraments in our church. But usually if we say "the sacrament" we are referring to The Lord's Supper.

I think tomorrow I will give a discussion on Mariology. I will try to explain fairly what Catholic teachings say and why protestants are bothered by some of it. And I will also try not to offend anyone.

In the meantime I will go to bed and sleep.

I suppose I should put a disclaimer on my sight.

DISCLAIMER: Although I am a Free Methodist, I am not authorized to make statements on behalf of the church. So don't get mad if I said something wrong.

P.S. A lot of denominations recognize some of the sacraments but not others, this is sort of confusing to me.

P.P.S. Sometime in the next few days, I plan to post on all the things that really bug me about the Catholic church. So be prepared to defend yourselves, all you Catholics (I think that constitutes a vast majority of my readership). And all you non-Catholics, I could probably use some support?

15 comments:

Dave said...

Shaelin,

I noticed that you've taken a liking (right word?) to Sister Mary Martha's Blog. And I have to say that yours is the most reasonable voice in that last post--the one where you first chimed in to challenge the fool who rejected the KJV because it wasn't the "original". As far as I know, most official Catholic Bibles have been based on Jerome's Bilblia Sacra Vulgata, meaning that our English translations come by way of Latin rather than directly from the Greek and Hebrew. I understand that corrections are made along the way, as Greek and Hebrew are better understood, but it's still kind of crazy to call it the original. (Plus, I've known many good Catholics, including priests, who admire the KJV--they just can't use it at mass since it's not an authorized translation.)

I think many of the posters on that blog are quite rude--and probably they are not used to being questioned when they make their ignorant attacks against other believers. I have noticed many Catholics who complain of anti-Catholic bias, but then say the nastiest things about Protestants. As far as I can tell, the real authorities in the Church are not like this, but there is a certain class of "serious" Catholic who use their religious identity as a way to feel like they are better than others. There is an irony in this, because they think they are better than those in other denominations, but at the same time they worry that the Catholic Church is becoming too liberal and too protestant-like. That is, they are critical of Protestants, but they are also critical of the Church that they claim to believe is inerrant.

When someone in that last post of Sr. Mary's said that being a Catholic is hard, I had to laugh, because this seemed like a point of pride for them--the "it's too hard for just anybody" attitude, which is of course false. But there is a kind of difficulty in being Catholic (though no more difficult than your own practice) that has to do with the fact that the rules are more clearly laid out than you will find in other denominations--as, for example, in the case of contraception. Any Christian may come to the conclusion that contraception is immoral, but if one is a Catholic, the rule is there from the beginning--and much harder to ignore (although it is obviously ignored a great deal).

My faith is grounded in the belief that the only reliable source of Christian doctrine is through the Catholic church, but I do not believe is that I am any more aware of this doctrine than other people just because I am Catholic. The truth is in the Church, but I must still learn it the hard way. The truth is also outside the church, but without a central authority it is much harder to come by.

Most of all, I hope that you do not come away with a poor impression of the Catholic faith just because many Catholics are such bad representatives of it. Ultimately, I think what all believers must remember is what the pope said (much better than I will say it here) in his Introduction to Christianity: that uncertainty accompanies even the strongest faith, so that even a saint on her death-bed might wonder whether God really exists, even while she believes in Him with her whole being. In other words, belief is hardly something to be arrogant about. All honest people are in the same situation--trying our best to identify the true in a vast sea of uncertainty.

Dave said...

I have probably said a couple of heretical things above, such as, for example, that there is truth outside the church. I believe there is a Latin answer to this somewhere: extra ecclesiam non salus est "outside of the church there is no salvation". But by this phrase the Catholic Church does not even deny the possibility of salvation for non-Christians, who through no fault of their own do not believe in Christ's resurrection. So I should not say that there is religious truth outside the Church, but that the bounds of the Church are not obvious and so there is good Christian doctrine outside the obvious bounds of Catholicism.

You allude to this at one point, although you seem to suggest there is a kind of contradiction. You noticed that you would not be faulted for not becoming a Catholic if you did not understand that the fullness of truth existed in the Catholic Church. This is true. But you would be faulted if you believed that the Catholic Church was the true Church, but did not join it for some other reason (such as the rudeness of Catholics). There is no contradiction here, and I think it is a very reasonable doctrine. Since God is just, he would not punish us for ignorance, as long as that ignorance was not intentional.

Anonymous said...

I followed you here from Sr. Martha's blog. I'm fascinated by your investigation of Catholicism.

Please allow me to comment on what you have said here:

Communion: Catholics have a difficult word for what we believe about communion: Transubstatiation. This means that we believe that the host, while maintaing the apperance of bread becomes the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. We believe that when we take communion eat the true flesh of the Lord fufilling His command: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you." John 6:53

Baptism: Catholics believe that baptism has real effecs on the non-believing person. It is a real washing away of sin. Therefore Catholoics will not re-baptize anybody, even if they say they were a non-believer when first baptized. This belief is found in the Creed "I beleive in ONE baptism for the forgiveness of sins"

Marriage: Catholics do not believe that divorce is possible under any circumstances. It is not just that divorce is not allowed, it is that divorce is NOT POSSIBLE. An annulment is when the Church looks into a supposed marriage and finds that it never existed. Ususally this is because one of the parties did not understand that divorce is impossible, and thus never intended to marry in the first place. If you don't intend to get married, you are not married, you are just acting like those people in the movies. An annulment is the public acknowldgement of this fact. There are a lot of annulments because there are a lot of people just pretending to be married.

confession: After ther resurrection Jesus told his apostles "those whose sins you forgive are forgiven, those whoses sins you retain are retained." We take Jesus literally and believe that Bishops, to whom the Apostles handed on their sacramental power, have the power to bind and loose. We further believe that bishops can legitimately delegate this authority to priests, and that priests have the real power to forgive sins in Jesus' name.

Ordination: Catholics believe that Jesus gave real power to his apostles to preach govern (the Church) and sanctify, and that these powers have been passed down in a direct line to the bishops priests and deacons of today. The name for this is Apostolic succession. The real powers passed down at the laying of of hands include the power to forgive sins in Jesus' name and the power to turn wine and bread into the body, blood, soul, and divinty of Christ at the Holy Mass. Celibacy is a discipline of the Roman Church, it is not essential to Holy Orders. There are other Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome, like the Maronite Catholic Church, that do not practice the discipline of a celebate clergy.

Annointing of the Sick is performed to strengthen the sick and the dying on their journey. It is one component of Last Rites which aso includes sacramental confession and viaticum (communion).

Confirmation is one of the sacarments of initiation (the other 2 are baptism and communion) that make one a full member of the church. In this sacrament when the confirmand is annointed with oil, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit, just like the ancient church at pentecost as it is described in Acts.

Shae said...

I'm going to grant you that there is no truth outside of the church. However, by this I mean the church universal (i.e. the Body of Christ). But to say there is not truth outside of the Roman Catholic Church would be an entirely different matter. I don't think God could ever confine himself to any human structure. I've noticed that a lot of Catholics tend to consider the RCC and the Body of Christ synonymous.

Anonymous, thanks for your insight into the Catholic view of the sacraments. I guess I have been posting with the assumption that most of my readers already know the Catholic view. I will say that I do not think John 6:53 is referring solely to the partaking of communion. I think that eating the flesh is a metaphor for taking part in the life of Christ. While the sacrament of communion is certainly important it is only one of many ways in which we can partake of Christ. Christ would never have said "Unless you perform this particular ritual you can't belong to me" In a sense, that's the sort of attitude he was fighting against in the Pharisees.

I will also clarify that the Free Methodist doctrine does not say that the sacrament is not true flesh and blood. It merely says that it is the Real Presence of Christ and leaves it at that. The rest of my statement came from my own understanding.

Dave said...

It is circular to argue that the RCC cannot be the body of Christ because God wouldn't confine himself to a human institution. After all, the RCC isn't a human institution if it's the body of Christ.

Most times I aim to be ecumenical when I talk with non-Catholics, but I should be clear about what I believe. Protestants are part of the Christian Church only insofar as their doctrines agree with the doctrines of the Catholic Church. Since most Protestant faiths follow Catholic doctrine in most essentials (because the RCC is where they all came from), Protestants are still Christians. This does not mean that any individual Catholic possesses more truth than a Protestant, but it does mean that he is in closer communion with the source of religious truth because of his confirmation. My personal opinion is that this means Catholics may be held to a higher standard than other Christians, since we have less excuse for ignorance. You and Paul have decided not to use birth control, for example, but it is unlikely that most Protestants are aware of the gravity of its sinfulness. The Catholic Church makes of us very aware of it.

Shae said...

If most serious Catholics know the gravity of contraception, then why do most of them use it anyway (many with the blessing of their priest). 98% of American women will have used contraceptives by the time they turn 40, and 89% percent of women at risk of becoming pregnant (those in the right age category who are sexually active) are currently using them.

It's my understanding that over a third of Americans are Catholic. These statistics don't match up. Not to mention the number of Catholic men I know of who have had vasectomies.

Do these people really know how grave their sin is?

If you believe that the RCC is the body of Christ. Then you believe that I am not part of the body of Christ. Don't willy-nilly it.

I cannot ever believe that these two are synonymous. And if that is what the RCC believes, then I can never be a part of it. No matter how much I may agree with most of their teachings.

Shae said...

By the by, I just read the Catechism section on "One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church" again. I agree with most of what it says, but I am really bothered by the fact that although they acknowledge Christians who are not Catholic as part of the church, it seems to say that our churches are not really churches (this despite the fact that the Methodists at least can reasonably claim Apostolic succession) because we are not in communion with Rome.

Also, it gives an out for those of us who were born Protestant but not for those who are born Catholic or born atheist for that matter. I have a good friend who was born into a Catholic family, but never found any kind of personal faith in that church. He did not stay in the church but instead joined a protestant Christian church where he developed a faith in Christ.
He is a very strong Christian, and your doctrine simply considers him an apostate.

Dave said...

The correct reason to join the RCC would not be because you agree with most of its teachings, but because you believe it is the true Church. I do not even know all of the Church's teachings, but have decided to accept them on faith as I grow in understanding.

Unfortunately, being privy to good doctrine does not make one a good person. I have never said that Catholics are better people than Protestants. On average, I would guess that a greater percentage of Protestants use contraceptives than Catholics, but even if that were not true, that does not challenge the RCC's claims to be the one true Church. Even an atheist can obey the natural law. A Catholic who practices birth control, however, knows the gravity of his sin unless he has not bothered to learn about his faith, in which case he is intentionally ignorant and therefore more culpable than a Protestant who has not been exposed to Catholic doctrine.

If I have said something will-nilly or ambiguously, it is because I am only expressing the truth of the Church as I have understood it as a very young Christian. The wisdom of the Church is much greater than mine.

As to your concern about being considered outside the body of Christ, it is not necessary to conclude that if the RCC is the body of Christ and you are not in full communion with the Church, you are outside the body. In as far as you believe in the triune God, the resurrection of Christ, and the truth of the Holy Scripture, etc., you are accepting what has been passed down to you by the RCC. You do not accept every teaching of the Church, but this does not mean that you have rejected the Church entirely, nor that the Church has rejected you.

The Church's doctrine may consider your friend an apostate, but not "simply" an apostate. One does not lose his dignity as a human being because his belief is not orthodox, nor does he forfeit the love of God. I do not know the reason that your friend has abandoned the RCC, and it is not for me to judge his relationship with God. But even if his faith is strong, this does not mean that he is not in serious error. Mormons and Muslims have very strong faith, too--and I'm sure you could find some raised as Christians. At what point do you draw the line? Do you define Christianity only by those doctrines you agree with? If there is no Church passing down clear doctrine, then Christianity becomes very willy-nilly indeed--as it has become in the wake of the Protestant reformation.

You say that Methodists can claim apostolic succession. I am ignorant of their claims, but do you mean by this that other Protestant churches are therefore heretical. If not, is apostolic succession irrelevant?

Shae said...

In no way was I trying to argue that the Methodist church was superior to other Protestant churches because it can claim apostolic succession. In fact, to some degree or another I think that most Protestant churches could make this claim. Moreover, I do not think apostolic succession is purely necessary. For instance, if in a secluded part of the Amazon rain forest someone came to know Christ (lets not worry about logistics), and they started a church to worship the true God, there would be absolutely no case for apostolic succession. But I can't imagine that God would discount this.

It occurred to me that part of our argument may be semantics.

There is one true, universal true church. This church is the Body of Christ and encompasses all who believe in him. All assemblies which gather to share in Christian fellowship belong to the true church. Because this church is universal it is called the Catholic church. Arguably (I am not entirely convinced yet, but the plausibility is striking), the pope is Peter's true successor and as such it is his responsibility to guard and feed and guide the entirety of this Catholic church. Those who are in fullest communion with the pope are the Roman Catholic church, but the Roman Catholic church is not in itself the true church. Other churches have varying degrees of communion with Rome some are very close like the Byzantines. Some are slightly farther away (like the Orthodox, whom I will have to farther investigate if I really want to know the truth). And the protestant churches are even farther away. The protestant churches are lacking great degrees of teaching and wisdom, but they are still part of the true church. In order to achieve the closeness to God that Christ intends, one must join full communion with Rome (not sure I'm quite on this one). However, a person in a protestant church might be in better union with God than a Catholic.

I think I could accept that statement. But I can't accept that I am "not part of the true church" nor can I accept that the ROMAN Catholic church IS the true church.

If a person is born to a Catholic family, but never has a faith of his own. I don't think it would be fair to really accuse him of leaving the church. He never really would have belonged (without faith baptism is just water, really). If Catholics can argue that a marriage was not real because people did not understand the implications, they must have an out for someone who technically left the church when he never believed in the first place.

There is a big difference between this and leaving true faith in Christ to become Muslim. It is also different from someone who leaves the Catholic church to become protestant because they want to use the Pill.

And speaking of contraception. My church, while not condemning all forms of contraception, does condemn most of them on moral grounds (but as far as I can tell from the comments I received yesterday, they obviously take this lightly).

Before we were married Paul attended a church that condemned all birth control (not sure if that includes NFP), the average family had about 7 children.

There are definitely Protestant churches that condemn contraception.

Dave said...

The RCC would not disagree with you about your rain forest example. Since God is just, he does not hold people culpable for what they do not know. Therefore, the RCC does not withhold the possibility of salvation from people even if they have never heard of Christ. Christ died for the salvation of all men, not just those who have heard the gospel. This in no way diminshes the importance of the gospel or of belonging to the true church.

I will quote some passages from Vatican II on my blog to make these points clear. I think you will find the Church's position towards the Protestant denominations reassuring. The doctrine of extra ecclesiam nulla salus has not changed since it was defined, but the Church has a different understanding of the culpability of non-Catholics.

If you believe that Apostolic Succession has any meaning, then you must conclude that those churches who cannot claim it are in error. If any doctrine can be true, then disagreeing doctrines would be false. If a church preaches false doctrine, then it is a heretical church. If all churches have doctrinal differences, then there can only be one true church, and the rest must be heretical. (You could also say that all churches are heretical, but then I think you must also conclude that the Holy Spirit has abandoned the church, and then there is no hope.)

It is possibly blasphemous to say that baptism is only water if administered before the age of reason (which is what I assume you were saying). If you are claiming this, then you are also claiming that the RCC (as well as many Protestant churches) is heretical and that a great majority of Christians are unbaptized.

If your friend was baptized as an infant, there is nothing he can do to revoke it. He can leave the church, but the baptism remains. But you are right that there may be an "out" for your friend. However, it would exist only so far as he has rejected the true church through ignorance and not malice. If he relies on this "out", knowing he is in error but believing that God will excuse him anyway, then his belief is in vain.

There is a difference between leaving the Christian faith to become Muslim and leaving the Catholic Church to become Methodist, but the point I was making is that the strength of a person's faith does not diminish the error. It is always gravely sinful to reject the truth for a lie--although the gravity must be understood in terms of the person's culpability. I understand that Methodists are Christians and not entirely in error, but the Muslims are not entirely in error either.

Shae said...

I was not at all saying that baptism must happen after the age of reason. Truth be told, I would rather our children be baptized now, but I support my husband's belief that we should wait. I think that God also values that I should honor my husband.

My view is that baptism must be validated by belief. I also know that a person believes in God to the degree he is capable. If John the Baptist leapt in his mother's womb then obviously he had faith in utero.

And if I understand the catechism correctly, the Catholic church agrees with me. Baptism is a means of conferring grace but it cannot do so without faith. In a sense, when an infant is baptized it is his parents faith. But I think there is also a love of God that can be in even very tiny children (especially those in homes where love of God is expressed).

Also, as far as apostolic succession goes, it is possible to argue that it is important and that it has meaning without conceding that it is necessary. I also think that apostolic succession means different things to different people.

Furthermore, you say that if the RCC is the true church then my church is heretical. But I don't think this is true. Even if the teachings are not the same, there is no heresy present if none of the teachings are contrary. To be lacking is not to be heretical. I will grant you that the Free Methodist Church ordains women, but as far as I can tell this is the only thing that we do that is contrary to the Catholic church. So for this one issue I suppose you could call us heretical (although it was my understanding that this issue was one open for debate). There are many things Catholics are taught that we are not taught. This is not heresy, even if those things are true. Moreover, there are probably things we are taught that you are not. But this does not in itself make a heresy.

Most Protestant denominations have the common understanding that there are some things we can disagree about that don't really matter as long as we agree on the important ones.

I have a question. In many Roman Catholic Churches in places like South America it is fairly common for people to worship the ancient tribal Gods alongside the trinity (Mary worship is also not uncommon). Obviously, this is a heresy, no? Many people are leaving these Catholic churches to join protestant denominations (most prominently, Pentecostal). I would say they are better off where the heresy is not taught, and they can learn the truth about the ONE AND ONLY GOD. But your comments seem to suggest that it is better to be a Roman Catholic, regardless of the teachings or practices in that church.

Dave said...

Then we are in agreement about the validity of infant baptism. Therefore we should also agree that your friend's infant baptism was valid for these reasons:

(A) If you are saying the baptism was invalid because of his parent's lack of faith, then no one can be completely confident in his baptism. (B) If you are saying that the baptism was invalid because he himself lacked faith as an infant, then all infant baptism is suspect because we cannot know if an infant is faithful. (C) If you are saying that your friend's baptism was invalid because he was not faithful after he passed the age of reason, then the validity of baptism is only determined retroactively, which means it invalid if the child dies before the age of reason.

These are the only three reasons I could think of why you consider his baptism invalid, and I think I have shown that all three lead to untenable implications. Perhaps you were hasty when you said about your friend's baptism that it was "just water".

In defining heresy, you say that a church must teach a false doctrine to be heretical and that failing to teach a doctrine is not enough. By this reasoning, a church which teaches no doctrine, but leaves everything up to its members, would not be heretical either. Have the Unitarians escaped heresy by making no specific claims? Surely if a church did not preach that Christ was divine--but left it up to the congregation--you would consider it a heretical church.

But even by your own definition of heresy, you have continued to express a doctrine consider heretical by the Catholic Church, and that is that the RCC is not the one true church. You are not culpable for this heresy as long as it is based in ignorance (see my blog), but it is a heresy nonetheless.

I do not know what the source is for your claim that is "fairly common" for Catholics in South America to worship pagan gods, but certainly it would be a heresy for them to do so. You ask whether it would be better for them to become orthodox Protestants--and trade a greater heresy for a lesser one. I am not equipped to answer that question, especially since I do not know the situation. You seem to suggest that all the available Catholic churches are encouraging them in their heresy, but that the Protestants have stepped in to undo the damage done by the priests. This sounds like anti-Catholic propaganda to me, but if you give me a source I will read it.

Shae said...

A) His parents lacked faith. They went through the rituals of Catholicism without any faith or any effect on their outside life (as far as he could discern).

C) He lacked faith until after having left the Catholic church. His baptism was then validated but it was not validated while he was in the Church.


Unfortunately, I cannot give you the source I heard about the South American problem. I heard this information from people when I served in Chicago who were from South America and had witnessed the problems first hand. I will note that they did not blame the Catholic church itself for the problem, but the individual congregations. I have also heard from Catholics that the church has been trying to fight these sorts of problems. Even "The Idiot's Guide to Catholicism" mentions some pagan practices happening in Catholic churches in other parts of the globe.

I will admit though, in an attempt to google sources, the ones I found did seem mostly to be anti-Catholic propaganda.

I also looked up the definition of the word heresy. The first definition I found was "any doctrine not supported by the Roman Catholic Church". So I suppose if that's the definition, then I'm a heretic. Even if that's not the definition I've always used.

However, I maintain that not teaching the full truth does not make one heretical. The unitarians teach that there is no real truth or that each man is responsible for finding his own truth. They are teaching something that is false.

By your definition EVERYTHING except God himself is a heretic, including the post office (which should have no business teaching anything anyway).

But I have to say none of the documents you have shown me from the church nor the church catechism label me a heretic. That's just you.

If the Catholic church believes that I am not part of the true church (which as far as can tell, they don't, even if you do) then I can't become Catholic. The reason: I know this is false, and I will not embrace a false teaching.

Dave said...

To your friend again: Was it A or C that made his baptism invalid, or was it the combination? Also, if A or C can make a baptism invalid, then how can infant baptism be valid?

Dave said...

If you are certain that your present church teaches no false doctrine, why would you even consider joining the Catholic Church? The only good reason to become a Catholic is because you believe it is the one true church. If it is not the one true church, and all Christian churches are pretty much equal, why bother with it?

Again, you say that you cannot join the Catholic Church if it says that Protestants are heretics, because you know this is a lie. But if you already know this is a lie, you have not really considered joining the Catholic Church. To honestly consider joining another church one must admit the possibility that his faith is wrong in some way.

By the way, if you believe that the Catholic Church is teaching false doctrine, you should consider it heretical.

I myself have no doubt fallen into heresy many times. If I have done so, it is out of ignorance rather than intention. In other words, I have made it a matter of faith that the church is infallible and that I must accept what it preaches. This is how St. Thomas Aquinas defines a believer:

"The believer accepts the whole deposit as proposed by the Church; the heretic accepts only such parts of it as commend themselves to his own approval."

The Protestant churches have rejected some parts of the deposit of faith, such as the doctrine of purgatory, so they are heretical.

To exclude the post office, we can stipulate that only Christiant churhes can be heretical.

I will write more about heresy on my own blog.