Chapter 1.4 – On discussing doctrine and “truth”

Before I go any further with my story I need to say something about “truth.” I know any discussion about “truth” and doctrinal differences among churches makes some Christians uneasy. I’ve heard all kinds of comments from people on this matter. Some people don’t really care about doctrinal issues or differences. Then there are those who care but would rather not discuss differences; they don’t talk about them for fear that acknowledging and discussing those differences will be divisive. Now, I do agree that discussions about doctrine can be handled without love and create division. Sadly, I’ve seen this happen many times. But I’m of the mindset that open and honest discussion that is grounded in love can be healthy.

True ecumenical dialogue involves identifying and discussing differences in an effort to create understanding and find common ground. You can’t find common ground if you don’t discuss the uncommon ground that exists. Ecumenism does not mean that we sweep our differences under a rug and pretend they don’t exist. Neither does ecumenism ask someone to deny, betray or hide their beliefs for the sake of some majority rule. 

On the matter of discussing “truth” one of the most common comments I’ve heard is, “no church can claim to have the truth.” Some Christians will shut down any dialogue on the matter, asserting that if a church or Christian claims to “have the truth” they are wrong and even arrogant. I can see how someone who subscribes to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) would feel this way. Afterall, based on this doctrine no church has any binding authority over Christians on the issue of truth. It’s up to each individual to determine truth for himself. However, now no matter what any Christian tells me, truth does matter to them or else they wouldn’t be a Christian. Each of us choose to believe certain doctrines or “truths” about our Christian faith. In choosing to believe something, we  automatically reject other doctrines or beliefs. In doing so we declare those opposing beliefs to be false. It’s simply a  matter of logic.  If you choose to attend one church because you agree with the teaching, then by virtue of this statement you are saying other churches that do not agree with your church are teaching things that are untrue.

I realize that because my story is centered on my quest to find “the truth” it may seem like I’m being divisive or critical of other Christian beliefs. This is not my intent. Nor is it my intent to be offensive. And yet, I know that the logical consequence of concluding one thing to be true is a declaration that something else is false. And, some people perceive this to be unsettling at best and “judgmental” or “prideful” at worst.    

My heart in sharing my story on this blog is three-fold: 1) to answer questions some people have asked me about my decision to be Catholic; 2) to put into writing my story so that one day my daughters have a record of the journey on which God led Scott and me; 3) to share what the Catholic faith really believes in light of the many commonly held misconceptions and misinterpretations about the Catholic Church.   

If you’re reading this story and you take offense, I am truly sorry. Obviously, by choosing the Catholic faith I am making a statement that I believe its teachings to be true. However, my belief is not a denial of the truth that does exist in the Protestant faith.  It is important to remember that we have much more in common than not. We all have a faith journey to walk; we must form our faith, live according to our conscience and go where the Lord leads.  And that is what my story is really all about.

4 Responses to Chapter 1.4 – On discussing doctrine and “truth”

  1. David_Graham says:

    Hello,

    By Catholic, i presume you mean Roman Catholic?

    If so can you explain this to me? It is a very real document.

    The New York Catholic Catechism, under: Pope, says,

    “The Pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on earth…by divine right the pope has supreme and full power in faith and morals over each and every pastor and his flock. He is the true Vicar of Christ, the head of the entire church, the father and teacher of all Christians He is the infallible ruler, the founder of dogmas, the author of and the judge of councils; the universal ruler of truth, the arbiter of the world, the supreme judge of heaven and earth, the judge of all, being judged by one, God himself on earth.”

    Nobody in my church claims to be all that, I can assure you.

    David

  2. Amy says:

    Hey David-

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Yes, I do mean Roman Catholic. And I will be happy to address this quote from the catechism. Most likely it will have to wait until I share in my story about our examination of Papal authority. I have limited time to write. And because I don’t have the time to address all the issues that we examined when studying the faith at one time I will have to post in installments. Rather than duplicating I will address this issue as it came up in our journey and studying.

    Your comment though is important. The concept of the church and Papal authority is commonly misunderstood by Protestants. Frankly I can’t blame Protestants for being “turned off” by the claims of church authority. Protestantism is, by it’s very name and tradition a “protest” against any binding church authority. And I would not expect any Protestant church leader to make a claim of authority especially if they subscribe to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

    Suffice it to say the Catholic Church and Protestant churches interpret Scripture differently on matters of church authority. I’ll address those interpretations soon in my story. Feel free to drop by and continue reading about our journey.

    Amy

  3. David_Graham says:

    The pope claims he is “the Holy father”

    If we read from Matthew 23:9

    “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven”

    How would a Roman Catholic interpret that verse?
    Surely you would not say that a minister could misinterpret that?

    David

  4. Amy says:

    David-

    You offer one way to interpret that verse. However, I would suggest that this interpretation you offer leaves us with a problem. If we take the literal interpretation of this verse and say that we are to call no man father then anyone who calls the man whose sperm fertilized their mother’s egg their “father” is doing so against the teaching of Jesus and the Bible.

    Another problem would be the fact that Paul and other Apostles repeatedly refer to members of the church as being like their children. For example, Paul often refers to Timothy as “son.” Implying his role as a “spiritual father.” There’s more to consider here. Below I’ve listed an article on the subject that you can look at.

    As a Protestant the tradition of Catholics calling their pastors “father” never really bothered me. But since becoming Catholic I’ve encountered this argument from a number of people. I do not plan to directly address it in my story about my own journey. However, there is an excellent article that addresses this issue. If you have a genuine interest in understanding why the Catholic faith does not believe the use of the term “father” is unbibilical then I would encourage you to check it the link below. It offers another very reasonable interpretation of this verse. One that is worth considering.

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Call_No_Man_Father.asp

    Amy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: