Friday, April 29, 2011

This is Not Helpful

Michael Voris is known for being openly Catholic, being ready to defend the Catholic faith at all times and in all situations. I cannot disagree with any of his statements, at least not any so far, but I am always left with a bad taste in my mouth. And this video helped me to realise why.

Voris states, quite accurately, that there are Scripture passages that Protestants are not able to explain easily: for instance, the one where Jesus gives all authority on earth to Peter, and another when he says that we must eat his body and drink his blood in order to have life in us. There is also the fact that the Catholic Church was the body that decided which books were part of the real Bible and which books were to be left out. This predated the Protestant Reformation and those Scriptures have not been questioned since. And there is the disturbing fact that, if we are meant to be one body of believers, why are there no less than 40,000 different Christian denominations? When a group in one church disagrees with the rest of the church, they split off and "plant" a new church, basing their foundation on their various interpretations of Scripture.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, can refer all such matters to the Magisterium of the Church (not the Pope exclusively as some would think) to be discerned. We have a body of authority to which we submit and which we trust since Jesus assured us that the Spirit would guide us after he left earth. The Magisterium is a body of knowledgeable individuals and matters are decided after much prayer, discussion, and discernment. Only rarely does the Pope himself make an absolute statement, from the Chair of Peter, matters that are then taught to be doctrines that all Catholics are bound to believe if they wish to be truly Catholic.

So what is wrong with Michael Voris stating all of this, when I believe it to be true? Because he discounts the vast wealth of Protestant teaching that is truly wonderful and edifying. I have personally received much more instruction from faith-filled Protestants than I have ever received from Catholics, clergy included. I have found individuals like Kay Arthur who founded Precept Bible Ministries, Charles Swindell, David Jeremiah, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and my personal favourite Derek Prince whose books I refer to frequently; these people to name a few have been sources of truth to whom I owe a huge debt.

My daughter Elena once described the difference between Catholics and Protestants as the difference between a tapestry and a mosaic. A mosaic is composed of various small pieces, joined together to create a picture. The overall effect is one of colour and simplicity and the effect is pleasing. A tapestry is composed of thousands, if not millions, of tiny threads all of which join in an intricate web that depicts a more complicated picture. I guess it is obvious: the Protestant faith is like a mosaic, while I find the Catholic to be like a tapestry.

Both reveal something to the person beholding it. I do believe that the Catholic Church holds a wealth of tradition, knowledge, and revelation that is not available to the Protestant believer. But I have found, time and time again, that faith-filled Protestants call me to a deeper walk with my personal Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. By focusing so much on this core of the salvation mystery, they bring my attention back to the simple act of believing in the Lord and trusting in Him.

So while I remain a Catholic, largely because I cannot deny the truth of the Eucharist and because I have come to recognize the place of Mary in the history of salvation, I find that my Protestant brethren call me forward and edify me in a way that Catholics seem to miss.

I would hope that Michael Voris would gain a deep respect for his Protestant brothers in the faith, while remaining true to his Catholic identity. Dissing Protestants in order to build up the Catholic faith will only bring about the opposite; who wants Catholics who are suspicious of and ready to pick bones with other Christians? We are called to something much better than that.


Jaclyn said...

As one who spent a long time stradling the Protestant-Catholic fence, it has been my observation that Catholics have a LOT to learn from our Protestant brothers and sisters. And they have lots to learn from us.

I am drawn to the truth in the Catholic church (obviously), but I'm also very drawn to the way Protestants live out their beliefs. (And, in all honesty, their music!)

Elena said...

Actually, I said a quilt not a mosaic: quilt (much more simple and grassroots), tapestry (much more intricate, detailed and exquisite). But, a quilt more than adequately does the job.