Some time ago I was chatting with a nice Baptist man who was coming to grips with a moral dilemma in his family. He explained to me how he had searched the Scriptures and come up with a solution to the problem. Although he was a conservative Christian he had come up with a rather liberal solution.
The particular problem isn’t the problem. The problem was not the liberal interpretation he put on the Sacred Scriptures. The problem was the premise. As a good Protestant he thought it was up to him to dig through the Bible and come up with the solution to the problem.
So I challenged that premise and asked, “Why would you think that you were the person to interpret the Scriptures, or if you did, why should your solution be any more correct than the next person’s? What if your Bible believing friend also searched the Scriptures and came up with a solution that was exactly the opposite of yours? Who’s right?
This was the pickle I found myself in thirty years ago when the Church of England was debating the ordination of women. One group of pious, church going, giving, praying Christian folks really, really believed that the Holy Spirit was leading the church to have women priests and another group of pious, praying, church going, giving, devout Christian folks really, really believed that this innovation was not of the Holy Spirit.
So who chooses? Throw a dice?
This is why I am a Catholic, because the Catholic Church has a referee in the game. He’s called the Pope. This is vital. Even if the pope, in his humanity is mediocre, a bad pope, a corrupt pope, a venal or weak or idiotic pope. He’s still the pope and when the crunch comes we can rely on him to make the right call as long as his teaching is congruent with the timeless teachings of the church.
This is the most terrible legacy of the Reformation which is commemorated this month: that the referee was thrown out of the game. When you get rid of the referee there is no game. There is chaos. The result if playing tennis without the net or playing chess without a board.
Not only did the Reformation break the unity of Christendom, but it enshrined this premise–that there is not God given interpretative authority on earth, and if this is so, then it really is every man for himself.
Furthermore, this also undermined the principle of objective truth. If it is every man with his Bible and every interpretation is as valid as the next one, then there is no such thing as objective truth, and the Protestant revolution helped to make this assumption universal.
I’ll be writing later this week about the subject of conversion to Catholicism. It would seem that a good number of high ranking Catholics–including the Holy Father Pope Francis–are rather ambiguous about the need for Protestants to convert to Catholicism.
I wonder why?
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