Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Well, Mark Byron got the ball rolling with his unfortunately-titled "Catholics and Christians" post, and things are heating up. Relapsed Catholic seems to have the best take on it. I'm not saying that the Roman Catholic church is morally corrupt. It's just that their clergy appears to have been infiltrated by perverts and their EFTA enablers. I may not agree with the Catholics on several doctrinal points, but they're still Christians, and have my sympathy.

However, that's not enough to prevent me from my polemics. I do disagree with the RCC on several issues, most notably praying to saints, mariology/-latry, and the priesthood. On the first charge, why not pray directly to God? Having a patron saints of particular causes sounds an awful lot like covert polytheism to me. As a Protestant, my understanding of what happens when we die is that we go to sheol/purgatory, and wait until Judgement Day (not the movie), with the faithful being resurrected. Now, some of the dead must obviously be in Heaven already, as evidenced by Mark 9, but it still seems to me that it's silly to pray to an intermediary when you can pray to Eloi/Adonai/YHWH/El Shaddai/I Am/Lord of Hosts/God himself.

As for Mary, I don't see much about her to merit her lofty status. Yes, it was a blessing to give birth to the Christ. And yes, she did show great faith. However, my only recollection of Mary after that is trying to talk to Jesus, and being told that his followers were his true "mother and brothers." Christ didn't seem to hold her in especially high regard. Peter, James, and John seem to have been closest to Jesus, and yet they're not considered co-redemptors. Heck, we hardly ever even hear about James, though Peter did get to go on to be Pope and John was the only apostle not martyred. As for the notion of Mary also being of immaculate conception, I'm not sure where this came from. The closest I can figure is that in order to conceive immaculately, she must also have been immaculately conceived. Of course, one must ask "What about Mary's mother? Why could she do it, but not Mary?" Personally, I think her status came about from a mingling of medieval church and romances, with Mary being seen as the ultimate in a fitting ideal of adoration. The rosary, which I've been told is like giving a rose to Mary, seems to confirm this to me. I also don't think that Mary was sinless, and she obviously didn't remain a virgin, since she had other children.

Finally, the priesthood. I can't really find any examples of Christian priests, besides Christ himself. There are plenty of ministers, and church officers (deacons and deaconesses), but no priests as Catholicism seems to understand them. I also don't know of the basis for allowing Popes to be any more infallible than anyone else. It was Peter himself who was granted authority, not his role. The whole "Thou art Peter" doctrine just seems to lack evidence for me.

I think that what happened was that the Catholic church used a lot of allusion and metaphor in early practice, but later forgot that they were only using a familiar proxy to describe the real thing, and began regarding the teaching tools as the Truth. Catholics often accuse Protestants of being too literal in their reading of the Bible, but it seems to me that the Catholics themselves are too literal themselves and misunderstand their own teachings.

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