Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ongoing Dialogue, Part III

Okay, so we exceeded 200 comment in the last post (please make sure to hit "load more" so that you get those 13 comments that came after 200). So, let's continue in the comment box:




Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ongoing Dialogue, Part II

Let's continue the discussion (from Part One) here, since Blogger is a pain to load after 200 comments. Okay, back to the comment box:


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ongoing Dialogue with Matt, an atheist

I'm so excited to start the Ongoing Dialogue post with my friend Matt! He is my college roommate's husband, and he is an atheist who is kind enough to come to the Bubble and debate the concept of Truth and see where that leads. You all are welcome to join in or just read along, and if you would like more information about what we are doing, read this previous post.





Matt and I agreed to start by putting out an "opening statement" about Truth, and we did not consult each other when writing our statements. We will use these thoughts as a springboard as we jump into the comment box.

First, my thoughts on Truth:


For the purposes of this conversation, when I speak of "Truth", I am not talking about subjective truth, such as whether you prefer red wine to white, or what you think of grandma's new hairdo. 
I am talking Objective Truth. Truths that are true no matter what you or I think.  
Truth cannot contradict itself. So, it's either true that murdering innocent human beings is wrong, or it's not. It's either true that rape is wrong, or it's not. It's either true that God exists, or it's not. It can't be "your truth" or "my truth" on these types of issues. 
Objective Truth exists outside of ourselves and will remain true even if the whole world doesn't believe it. Truth is not ours to determine, it is ours to seek and find and receive.  
Believing doesn't make something true. But, if something is true, it is right to believe it. 
Truth is what is real. 
Truth would exist even if we didn't. 


Now, Matt's opening thoughts on Truth:

Leila, thanks for your kind words and the invitation to square off with you on your blog. The question of what "truth" is, and how we know or trust that something is true, is of course a topic that philosophers have gone back and forth on for thousands of years. But in simplest terms, I think I'd say that something is true if "it conforms to a fact in reality". C. S. Peirce noted four methods of deciding what is true: tenacity (we're just comfortable believing it), authority (we're told to believe it), a priori, or the scientific method. I don't believe there's a legitimate supernatural method for this.

Thanks, Matt! I like that we both agree that truth is what is "real".

Okay, my first question to start the dialogue is below in the comments, and please remember that I do not expect either of us to change the other's mind, nor am I looking for consensus. Here is the philosophy of the discussions on this blog, for those who might be new:



Don't forget to subscribe to the comments so that you don't miss any of them (they will come straight to your email address), because once we hit 200 comments, things get messy on Blogger, unfortunately. In the meantime, hopefully we will all learn a lot through this respectful dialogue!


*We cut it off after 220 comments (to time-consuming to load the last 20), so continue with the discussion, here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Well done, good and faithful servant!"


I know those are the words that my beloved cousin and friend Michelle heard as she went to God this morning. She was not afraid to die. She carried her heavy cross with grace and love and without complaint. She was ready, although it pained her greatly to leave her daughters behind.

Michelle was a holy woman who loved Our Lord and Our Lady more than her own life, and who craved virtue and truth above any earthly thing. She is my role model in the Faith.

I want to write a fitting tribute to Michelle in time, but for now, I will just be missing her beautiful smile and musical laugh.

Please pray for the repose of her soul, and for the comfort of her three teenaged daughters, her parents, and her siblings. She will be missed more than words can say.

I love you, my dear friend. I cannot wait for the heavenly reunion.



Michelle Habra
1970 - 2015

Requiescat in pace



Monday, April 6, 2015

So, we are going to try something new here, soon!

Well, maybe it's been done elsewhere before, but I am really excited to see how it plays out here.

The strength of this blog, I believe, is the dialogue that often follows the original post. It's meaty stuff, while at the same time being respectful and conversational. Many of you have told me that you enjoy the dialogue in the comment sections so much that you break out the popcorn and spend the evening reading through. That makes me very happy. And, it makes me very happy when I hear that you have learned a lot from the discussions. That is what I've always hoped for this blog!

So, over the years I have had some private debates with my college roommate's husband, Matt. He is an intelligent and committed atheist. We disagree on many things. But there is good will between us, and if I don't blow it, there will be good will as we begin this new experiment for the Bubble.

I'm going to call it the "Ongoing Dialogue" post.

I will start by publishing opening statements about Truth, one from Matt and one from me. Then, we will start a casual but coherent dialogue in the comment section. It will be just like what you are used to in the Bubble, the only difference being that it won't have to slow down or end when I publish another (regular) post.

So, the "Ongoing Dialogue" post (or posts, if we are successful and want to start new such posts with different topics, or even different people) will be something you'll want to subscribe to via email so that you'll never miss a comment.

I'm still not sure how to deal with Blogger's 200 comment limit before it makes you "load more" (which is a colossal pain), but I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Meanwhile, look for regular posts as always, but also look for the "Ongoing Dialogue" post coming soon. I need to make a logo for it. Isn't this fun?? Maybe this concept will fall flat, but hopefully it will enlighten us all and bear good fruit!

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And if you could please storm Heaven for my cousin Michelle who is still suffering from advanced cancer. Choose your best intercessors for this wonderful single mom, who is not just my cousin but a cherished friend. Thank you so much!



Sunday, April 5, 2015

Christ is Risen!


Indeed He is Risen!



The tomb is empty and death is vanquished!

Rejoice in the Risen Lord, dear friends! Let the Easter Season begin!





Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday meditation

Background and Part I, here.
Part II, here.
Part III, here.
Part IV, here.
Part V, here.


Continuing with Lenten meditations on the Seven Last Words and the Seven Virtues, by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.


The Fourth Word:
"It is consummated … Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."

The Corresponding Virtue:
Justice and Charity

Velázquez

Excerpts from Sheen's March 22, 1940 address:


This is Good Friday -- the day when freedom revolted against Truth, and nailed it to a Cross. It is not a history everyone likes to hear recalled, and generally those who most shrink from the sight of the Saviour on the Cross are the very ones who delight in the grotesque murder stories in our tabloids and follow with bold interest in the harrowing details of a sex crime. Why is it that the lover of horror cannot stand the sight of the Crucifix? Why is it that the fanatics of murder stories are so cold to the story of the world's greatest sacrifice? The answer is that unlike all other crimes the Crucifix is self-accusing. 



We can look on other scenes of injustice without feeling we are involved in them; but we cannot look on a Crucifix without feeling that we had something to do with it, either for better or worse; either as a robber brought before his victim for judgment, or as a drowning man brought before his rescuer for thanks.



In the Crucifix is symbolized the perennial crisis in the soul of every man, the choice between the illusory end of time and the imponderable ends of eternity. Here are focused all the microscopic conflicts of good and evil that go on in every conscience; or, to put it another way, every man's soul is Calvary written small. That is why the Crucifix is inescapable; we either shrink from it or we embrace it; but we are not indifferent to it. 

...

For those who are brave enough to look at the Crucifix there is a revelation of the moral order -- not a moral order based on abstractions, theories and hypotheses, but a moral order revealed in a Person of absolute goodness who has met the impact of human evil and sin. It is more like a mirror than a scene, for it reveals not something unrelated to us, but ourselves, our moral beggary, our perversities and our defeats. 

...

Like nothing else in all the world [the Crucifix] seems to ask the questions: "Where do you stand?" "Which side do you propose to take from this moment on -- My side, or the side of moneyed Judas, cowardly Pilate, crafty Annas, or lustful Herod?" We cannot escape an answer. If on that Cross were someone who himself had been wrong and failed and had compromised with goodness, we could plead and excuse. But here neutrality is impossible, because there is no question of something more good or less good -- there is only right and wrong.… We cannot be on both sides, anymore than we can be in Light and Darkness at the same time.



The [empty] Cross they can look at, for that might be only a symbol of the contradictions of life; but the Crucifix -- they call it 'horrible' when they mean it is accusing. They may run away from it during life, but they will meet it at the Eternal Judgment when the Son of Man shall come bearing the Cross in triumph in the clouds of heaven to render to every man according to his works. It is better to face it now. 



The modern mood of mutilating the Gospel, choosing some texts and ignoring others, makes men miss the purpose of the life of Christ. He came on earth not primarily to preach, but to redeem. He came less to live than to die. His mission was not one of mere benevolence, nor to create a revolution in politics or economics, nor to heal, nor to leave a humanitarian ethics -- all these were secondary to the one absorbing purpose of His life, the redemption of man. 



What happens often in the economic order, happened in the moral order; man contracted a bigger debt than he could pay. A sin against Divine Love is greater than man alone can repair. But if God undertook to forgive the debt through mercy, justice would have been unrequited. God of course could pay the debt of man's sin, but He could not in justice do it apart from man. 



God could not pay our debt unless He became in some way involved in it. This the Son of God, Jesus Christ, did by becoming man, assuming a human nature like unto us in all things save sin. He did not merely substitute for us, nor take our place; there is an identification of Him with us. He is the Head of our sin-laden race. In a certain sense He and we are one Person -- the new Adam. Strictly speaking, Our Lord is man in an absolute sense, no just a man; His humiliation was not so much in assuming a human nature, but in making Himself one with us in the sinful conditions which we created. 



The Cross was not merely the outbreak of human passion -- it was the violent expression of anti-God. It was sin in its essence -- the attempted destruction of Divinity. Sin is self-mutilation, the destruction of personality -- when it takes the form of pride, it crowns Goodness with thorns; when it takes the form of dishonesty, it nails hands to a Cross; when it takes the form of hate, it blasphemes the dying; when it takes the form of lust, it crucifies. Nothing less than bloodshed could have been sin's worst crime and registered sin's deepest hurt.



Evil must work its power to the bitter end, use all its hatred, exhaust all its deceits, unsheathe all of its bloody swords, that being exhausted Goodness may be revealed as triumphant. And now that evil was spent in the final act of crucifixion, seeing that in Justice the last farthing was paid in the red coin of His blood and the mortgage against man paid back, He uttered His Cry of Triumph: "It is consummated … Father into thy hands I comment my spirit." All history, pagan and Jewish, looked forward to this moment; Heaven and earth were separated -- now they could be united. The Pontiff or Bridge-builder has spanned the shores of eternity and time, and the Bridge is the Cross. The last rivet has been put in place; the last nail driven; there is no "unfinished symphony"; with Him -- It is consummated.



It was the beauty and loveliness of the God-Man Christ which on the one hand made the crime so great, and on the other hand made the Divine forgiveness so final and so certain. That Figure on the Cross bore to the full not only the physical effects of sin which any man might suffer, and not only the mental effects of sin which all of us ought to feel, but the spiritual effects of sin which only He could feel because being sinless He was not part of it. Only the sinless know the horror of sin.



If you can stand the gaze of a Crucifix long enough you will discover these truths. First, if sin cost Him, who is Innocence, so much, then I who am guilty cannot take it lightly; second, there is only one thing worse in all the world than sin -- and that is to forget I am a sinner; third, more bitter than the Crucifixion must be my rejection of that Love by which I was redeemed. 





 



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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Happy Birthday, David!!


David Benjamin

8 lbs, 11 ozs, 21.5 inches

March 24, 2015
Traditional Feast of St. Gabriel the Archangel





We love you so much, little big fella!!! 




On our side of the family, this is a massive baby! We are just awestruck, ha ha! Thanks for all your prayers, dear friends, and for sharing in our joy!

Praise God that mother and baby are doing fine!

Now, I am going to be absent from the blog for a bit, while I get to know my new grandson and help the growing family adjust to life with a BABY!!!






Sunday, March 22, 2015

Little Shares from the Bubble!


Because trying to hit "seven" is too much for my brain (seriously, not kidding, really) and trying to hit "Friday" was even worse (I only hit Friday about twice in all these years!), I am giving my old self a break and taking all the pressure off. Thus, we now have...


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File this under "Where have all the grown-ups gone?" Stuff like this, you just can't make it up. Yes, apparently we are that far gone.


I'm guessing it had to go through many adult-appearing people, from the ad folks to the executives, to get approval. I mean, really? This happened?

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So, this is interesting for those who want to dive into the philosophy behind the two sides of the marriage debate. Professor Robert P. George of Princeton (co-author) is one of my favorites. The piece, "Natural Law and the Unity and Truth of Sexual Ethics: A Reply to Gary Gutting" begins:

Gary Gutting is a Notre Dame philosophy professor who thinks that what counts about arguments is whether they “work.” And so his complaint against natural-law arguments for Catholic teachings about sex is that they “no longer work (if they ever did)”. His New York Times “Opinionator” post of March 12th (“Unraveling the Church Ban on Gay Sex”) names us as two people who are “still” exponents of such arguments. For us what counts about an argument is whether it is sound, i.e., whether its premises are true and its logic valid. If a line of thought about the morality of sex is reasonable today, it was reasonable in the time of Jesus or Plato or Abraham or as far back as we find men and women and their children. Whether arguments “work” persuasively in one era but not another is philosophically irrelevant, as any philosopher should take for granted.

Continue reading, here.

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"Gay marriage doesn't hurt anyone!" We hear it time and again, but many voices and ill-effects are ignored. Here are a couple of examples:




I personally know that the story about the Navy chaplain is accurate.

But believe it or not, there are voices in the gay community who agree with us that marriage is not genderless, and that children need a mother and a father. They do get burned when they dare to speak what we all knew just a few years ago, and what we still know in our hearts:



Bravo, Dolce & Gabbana! And as much as Elton John protests and boycotts them, he himself once said of his first son, born of a surrogate, “It’s going to be heartbreaking for him to grow up and realise he hasn’t got a mummy.” You see? He knows

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My younger daughter's due date was today! And she's still pregnant! We are waiting no-so-patiently for this little boy to make his appearance, because we soooooooo need to love on him as much as we love on his little cousin, who just turned nine months old. And that reminds me, you haven't seen a picture of sweet Felicity on this blog in a while! So, here ya go:




Why yes, I do think she is the cutest girl in the world. Doesn't everyone???


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Finally, if you can support our own Kara as she prepares to travel back to Eastern Europe to adopt another very special and oh-so-precious little orphan, please do! Go here (or click his picture) and find more information. Donations are tax-deductible!


"Truman"

I cannot wait to kiss and squeeze this little man!!



Have a lovely Monday, everyone! I hope my next post will be an announcement that a certain grandson has arrived!






Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Protestant "comes out"


For the first ten or fifteen years after my reversion, my main apologetical interest was in debating and discussing with Protestants. These days, I rarely engage the Protestant/Catholic debate, and I focus more on the "culture wars" by debating secularists and atheists. Protestants are fellow Christians, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the Church is very clear on that.

However, every so often, I revisit the issues that divide Protestants and Catholics because Truth matters, and because the Church is a stronger witness to the world when we are undivided. At the Last Supper, hours before His death, Jesus prayed that his followers all be one. Not some loosey-goosey "oneness of fellowship", but a Trinitarian oneness. True unity, no dissension, no separation. 

So, there was this epic thread that took place on my Facebook page the other day, and while I very much encourage you to read through all 700+ comments (get some popcorn and settle in; it's that good!), I have excerpted for you here some comments from a woman named Renee Joy, who jumped into the discussion and unexpectedly "came out" as a Protestant-turning-Catholic! She had been researching and praying and pondering this move privately, but this was her first public statement! 

Her insights and thoughts on this journey are truly compelling, and I think anyone on either side of the Protestant-Catholic divide will appreciate her intellect, sincerity, and deep faith. Please note, this is not a discussion about sin vs. sanctity (there are sinners and saints in both camps), rather, this is a discussion about doctrinal truth vs. doctrinal chaos.

Read the whole Facebook thread, here (it's public), and meanwhile, here's just a taste of what Renee Joy had to say (I've strung together several of her comments) as she primarily engaged a thoughtful Protestant named Allison. 


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After 38 years in the Protestant world -- growing up Southern Baptist, under the teachings of Adrian Rogers (and any good S.B. knows who that is), going to a Evangelical Christian school K-12 heavily dominated by Reformed Presbyterians and non-denominational Evangelicals and Southern Baptists in the heart of the Bible Belt, I was frustrated with "church" for many reasons.

A few years ago, I started meeting Catholics, and realizing, oh my goodness, they are not the cult I was taught, and hey, wait a minute -- they make a lot more sense than anything I've seen. If you've lived Protestant then you know that Protestants cannot agree on anything. Sola scriptura my big foot! That's the issue! Everyone interprets everything their own way, and it has led to a complete disaster.

There are more denominations and subsets of those denominations, than is even believable. Independent Baptists eschew the Southern Baptists, who of course teach that the Methodists and Presbys are completely off base, the Lutherans and Episocopalians are totally different, Church of Christ, Church of God, Assembly of God, COGIC, none of them agree on much of anything -- not the way they define the relationship of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, not on baptism, not on what is considered "necessary".

Predestination? Huge point of contention -- so much so that most Baptist churches say that it's just a mistranslation, yet the Presbys insist it's foundational. Some allow female preachers, teachers, elders. Some allow homosexual marriage. The majority are fine with artificial birth control even though we all know that it risks causing miscarriage. The divorce rate is astronomical. The churches tend to be either dominated by men (with women in a completely subservient mode with no opinions or purpose) or dominated by women, mostly single mothers with kids, or married women whose husbands stay home. The average family size is tiny -- and their belief of "prolife" really just translates to anti-abortion. They don't agree on the proper method or function of baptism (sprinkle? dunk? indoor dunk or lake?). Even all the Baptists don't agree with the other Baptists -- you have Southerns, Independents (which can be very conservative or far out there), and a ton of little offshoots.

I've seen more Southern Baptist churches split over the dumbest things: a fight about the new carpet color (blue or burgandy???), adultery with the pastor/secretary, fights about what version of the Bible to use (and don't get me started on the nonsense that is the "Message" or the many discrepancies in the various translations), even one split occurred over the replacement of a steeple. And don't get me started on "cultural relevance" -- the turning of most Protestant churches into semi-heathen pep rally environments mixed with rock concerts, where trashy, revealing clothes are the norm, and the focus is on having a good time, getting "pumped up for the Lord" -- on "experiences" and "feelings", not Truth, not discipleship, sacrificial living, ministry.

I'm not Catholic yet -- but the more I walk, the closer Rome looks on the horizon. The dissension in the Protestant churches, for me, stems from the fact that yes, they were based on "protesting"-- someone saying "I don't like this, I'm taking it out". And ever since then, that's what they've done. Each denomination, purging out the things they don't want/like/understand, until they're all practicing some mutilated version of pseudo-Christianity that leaves the congregants unsatisfied, unguided, and unhappy.

Sola scriptura, which clearly is not supported by Scripture itself, since it would mean that we could only use the Old Testament, has resulted in at least a dozen different translations of the "Bible" -- many vastly different than the others, and hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny "churches", each thinking they have it all right, none in agreement with others, and a lot of folks walking around saying "I'm saved" but having lives that look no different in functionality than the people walking around saying "I don't believe in anything except being good to fellow man."

The confusion that has arisen from everyone trying to interpret things their own way, has led to a disaster. And if Protestants truly believed that the Holy Spirit alone interpreted Scripture, and that church meetings were for fellowship (let us not forsake assembly), then there wouldn't be preachers sharing anecdotes and interpretations. There wouldn't be denominations.

And I will say, my husband and I were both raised very heavily in the Southern Baptist/Protestant world -- with my husband's family in the ministry in multiple generations, both of us raised in private Protestant schools, etc. There's a lot of false teaching that we've received over the years, about Catholicism, that we're having to research and refute, if that makes sense. But the more Church history we read, the more we confront the reality of what we see happening in Protestant churches (like the claims that Catholics are wrong for reciting prayers, despite the fact that Protestant churches not only recite the Lord's Prayer, but also typically have an altar call where people are led through a "Sinner's Prayer" to "get saved," etc.), the chaos and collapse of so many families, the blatant disregard for so much of Scripture that Protestants just can't reconcile with their particular denomination's beliefs and so they just ignore/discard it. The more my husband and I talk about it and put it out there, the more obvious the answers are.

And if you ever ask a Protestant, how, if they believe the Catholic Church was in error all those years, and that the Apostolic traditions are invalid, how the Protestant churches went from the New Testament housechurch pattern, to the set-up that exists today, which is often more like a corporation with tiered levels of authority, or conversely, is completely separate from all other churches, neither of which is true to New Testament teaching, they have no answer. If they truly believe that the Bible alone defines everything, then how do they reconcile those differences? If teaching stopped with the books in the New Testament, then how can it be correct to have what they have now? They have no answer.

I think two of the biggest issues were the "Romans Road" (i.e., Cliff Notes version of the Bible?) and the reality of what "salvation" was described as being in the Southern Baptist church, versus the reality of how that played out. For one, if all we really needed to understand salvation and Christianity was the handful of verses from Romans that most Protestant groups use to persuade people into joining their church, then why did God provide all the other books? Why is everything else necessary or important? You can't whittle away at it, taking away all the rest, pulling things out of context, and expect it to mean anything.

I think to be a Protestant, you have to be able to just say "it doesn't make sense but that's ok." I'm serious. There's so much you can't question -- or you're treated like an outcast. There's no consistency, no firm answers. It's all subjective. To be honest, I was talking about this earlier with another Catholic convert, and she pointed out that being Catholic isn't easy. In contrast, being Protestant is. Especially Southern Baptist. Once you've "prayed the prayer" and "gotten saved" (which are very important phrases), then you have your fire insurance. Anything you do, from then on, well, do your best but it's ok regardless. You can't get "unsaved" in that denomination. You're good to go. It's easy, in so many ways.

For years, I was taught that Catholics believed and taught things contradictory to Scripture. Purgatory, for instance. The respect they have for Mary, as another thing. In fact, there was a whole list of "violations." So, I started digging- not just to see if Catholics were right or wrong, but to see if the denomination I belonged to was also right or wrong. Because I grew up influenced by so many different "religions" (paternal grandfather, Southern Baptist; paternal grandmother, Methodist; maternal grandmother, Roman Catholic; maternal grandfather, Church of Christ. Went to a school taught by Reformed Presbyterians, non-denominational Evangelicals, and Southern Baptists. Went to Southern Baptist church. Nannied for a Jewish couple, worked a college job for a Sikh, had Muslim customers in Saudi Arabia and UAE, etc., and had a few Mormon friends. Worked in the inner city, where most worshipped at COGIC or Missionary Baptist denominations. You name it, I've heard it) -- I knew they could not all be correct. Someone has to be wrong. I don't want to be part of the ones that are wrong!

So here's the thing: I agree there are false teachers within the religious world. No doubt. That's obvious. The question is, who are they? So I started looking at that specifically -- across the board.

Presbyterians rely on Calvin, and to be honest, Scofield. I have a Scofield Bible on my nightstand, actually, and had used it for years. They set the standard and wrote the belief systems, pulling out the Scriptures they needed/liked to formulate what was "right" vs. "wrong." But who gave them that authority?

Most independent Baptist churches are pretty insistent on KJV. Why? I've even been in a church where I was carrying my Scofield NIV, and the church elders politely informed us that we couldn't read aloud in the Bible studies from the NIV, we had to use the KJV, and to help us "no longer be in error" then they had purchased us KJV's and left them in our pew. What gave them that authority?

None of the Protestant denominations agree foundationally on the majority of their religion. Even though they might say that "anyone who believes in the Trinity, in the fact that we are all sinners in need of a savior, and then confesses the name of Jesus Christ as Lord" is "saved," do they practice that? Is there unity between the churches? NO. Not at all. They are fundamentally different, and if you stay in any denomination for very long, you'll hear how/why they believe they have the "correct" interpretation of Scripture. The problem is, they seem to evolve with time, with this cultural relevancy concept. I cannot fathom how a church can believe that homosexuality is fine, acceptable to God, that gay marriage should be performed -- and yet, last year, the Presbyterian USA voted to allow it, it's up to the individual churches. Without a standard of interpretation and teaching to hold to -- that "tradition" that is mentioned in 2 Thess 3:6 -- this is what happens. Everyone comes up with his own thing, something that suits him. And the scary thing is, they all contradict.

Every Protestant denomination thinks they have it right. They can all cite Scripture to support their own doctrines, often pulling things out of context, or ignoring other Scripture that clearly adds to/supports/mitigates the tiny little bit they've decided to pull out and build a religion on -- like the importance of baptism, or the function of taking the Lord's Supper. Without the teaching from the apostles to round things out, to explain things, it's like looking at the framework of a house being built. You need the drywall, the shingles, the wiring, the plumbing, to make it a home. That's why we're not supposed to forsake gathering together. that's why we're supposed to not just go off on our own and read the Bible and think that's sufficient.

When I first posted on my Facebook wall over a year ago that I was frustrated beyond belief with the Protestants, I had no desire to become a Catholic. None. I was firmly convinced that the Pope might be the anti-Christ, as I had been taught from the pulpit, that they worshipped Mary, talked to dead people like witchcraft, etc etc etc. I had trouble reconciling that with the Catholics I knew, though, including my grandmother and the many Godly, faithful, peace-loving, kind, inclusive, "die to self and live for Christ" women I had met through Reece's Rainbow. I was looking for the "best" Protestant denomination to join. But over and over, people in various Protestant churches were commenting and PM'ing and emailing me to say they had the same struggles -- and over and over Catholics were saying "I think you're looking for us" and "I think you're Catholic and don't know it yet" haha.

I started studying not to become Catholic, but to disprove it, to find that fatal flaw that allowed me to cross them off my list as a viable option. But the more I dug, the more I learned and the more it made sense. I had to learn to separate what I had drilled in my head for years, decades really, by the teachers/preachers in my life, the code phrases that were programmed in -- the "compare everything to Scripture" (but not necessarily Scripture in context, but Scripture as interpreted and presented by the leadership of that denomination, hence the major debate over sprinkling vs dunking, predestination vs foreknowledge, etc). It all really does come down to the apostolic tradition, and the verses in the New Testament that refer to that being relevant. How we interpret anything is dependent on who is doing the interpreting and what criteria they use, what bias they have. The fact that the Catholic Church can trace the Popes all the way back, and the fact that Jesus renamed Peter and then in the same sentence said that on that rock He would build His Church, is huge. It was minimized in the Southern Baptist church, written off as a coincidence of naming -- but why would Jesus do that? Why would God want to confuse us? He's not the one that's the author of confusion! If He had wanted to rename Peter, He could have done that at any point, and not followed that with "and upon (the new name I just gave you that means Rock, i.e. foundation that is not sinking sand) I build My Church". When I realized that -- realized that it made more sense that Peter was named Rock because he would be the first Pope, just like Abraham was renamed to "Father of Multitude" because that was his role -- it started all making sense....

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Renee knows more about Catholicism as a Protestant than most Catholics know about their own faith! Again, to read the entire thread, which includes a lot of other voices, go here. It was a real barn burner, and I heard from Protestants who enjoyed it and learned a lot. Go give it a look. And remember the words of Jesus to the Father on the night before He died, after consecrating the Apostles to go forth and teach in His name:

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." -- John 17: 20-23

Trinitarian unity of Christians is what God desires, and it's what Christ chose to pray for for in the precious hours before His agony. It cannot be minimized. God bless Renee and the countless others who have heeded Jesus' call to unity, so that the world may believe that He is Lord, sent by the Father.