I got in a discussion with someone today and they told me that we are not bound to accept all that the church teaches because of moral conscience. They said that if they believe they are led by the Holy Spirit to think something is right or wrong, then they do not have to accept the churches teachings.
I remember when I was confirmed being asked “Do you accept and agree to follow all that the Church teaches?”.
I think that person misunderstands the teachings about conscience. Yes, we are to do what we believe is right and good, and then, even if it was wrong, we would not be held culpable for any evil committed. This does NOT mean we can ignore Church teachings that we disagree with (in fact, if we disagree, we should both continue to obey anyway, and learn why the Church teaches what she does about it, so as to properly form our conscience).
It would probably help to read the entire section of the Catechism that discusses moral conscience, but here is a relevant part of it:
1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.
1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.
1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.
1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
1794 A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time "from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith."60
The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by objective standards of moral conduct.61
That is how I understood it. I feel like this person is using that to say that they can go on any path they want if they feel ok about it. It even states “rejection of the Church’s authority and Her teaching”
If someone is speaking like this, is there a good way do you think to go about explaining to them what the teaching really is. Of course in this case the person is just going to come back and say they don’t have to accept the churches teaching, which is contrary.
We may disagree with the Church on some points of teaching. In fact, given the variety of teaching that the Church has built up over the centuries, it is virtually inevitable that we disagree on at least some points.
Now, we can accept what the Church teaches, even if we feel it wrong–whether or not we have some rational, valid arguments against the teaching(s) in question. We are submitting our judgment and will to the greater wisdom and experience of the Church.
Or we can refuse and insist on our own position. That is our right. But when we do so, we leave behind the guidance of the Church, and the protections God established for us.
I know that I am not perfect, that I have made errors of judgment, and that my intellect and will are faulty. Sociology has shown that the judgment of a group is generally better overall than any individual. In this case, the group (the Church) has not only that benefit, but assurances from God that it will not go seriously astray. Which one should we trust more? I know which one I trust.
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church and lead Her into all Truth. He did not promise that the Holy Spirit would lead each individual conscience in the same way.
The Holy Spirit is God. And God does not contradict Himself. He is not going to lead the Church to teach that abortion is immoral, but then simultaneously lead other people to come to the opposite conclusion. That is chaos and confusion. A God who would do that is not the kind of God I’d want to follow.
If they’re being led by a spirit to reach conclusions that oppose Catholic teaching, it ain’t a holy one.
Sometimes blindly following and accepting LITERALLY all of the church’s teachings can be just as bad, or worse as disobeying them. It’s a very very difficult question and definitely depends on the situation. This is the constant debate between “Cafeteria” Catholics and those who take the bible quite literally. For instance, one of the 10 commandments: Thou shalt not kill. Yet I just read a thread talking about how Catholics can support the death penalty? Doesn’t make much sense. Some issues can seem quite clear, but the moment you get into the “hot topic” issues, expect some push back on all sides. Personally I think there is a LOT of gray area, whereas others will see only Black or White, Right or Wrong, no room for personal interpretation or “following your heart.”
So to answer your questions. You are free to choose any of the teachings you wish
God wills that you can freely reject Him and His guidance for you. You also must acknowledge and accept the consequences of those choices. The Church is our guide in this pilgrimage of life. You can choose to go it alone and risk taking the wrong path and end up very unhappy. Or, you have follow the signs provided by the Church and take the right path to eternal happiness.
No, you’re not. Many have protested against Church teachings over the centuries; they are called Protestants.
To OP: The issue is that we are not defining the word “conscience” ie. Conciliar documents and Papal encyclicals often speak of conscience presuming that we understand this to mean “well-formed Christian conscience.” Occasionally, they will refer to a “mal-formed conscience” but not often. But there is an important distinction. We must form our consciences from outside sources: Church teachings, society, media, life experiences, etc.
A conscience that is well formed is one rooted in faith in God, that seeks moral certitude above popular opinion, observes the teachings of the Church, etc. Certainly, following this type of conscience would lead one to desire to please God and act in ways consistent with these teachings. However, a mal-formed one can be formed from other circumstances: passion, desire to be popular, opinion, swayed by immersion in immoral depictions on media channels, etc. This person’s conscience would produce action that seeks to please oneself, at the expense of others. Moral proclivity may not be recognizable in their conduct. This would not be pleasing to God.
When someone says, “I act on my conscience”, they are not necessarily making a moral statement, they are making a statement of personal persuasion, and their persuasion might not be sound.
So to answer your questions. You are free to choose any of the teachings you wish
Does the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth who established His Catholic Church, teach that infamy?
On the contrary, Jesus is crystal clear as He warned dissenters: “if he refuses to hear even the Church let him be like the heathen and a publican.” (Mt 18:17).
St. Paul teaches also, “through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph 3:10).” The Church teaches even the angels! This is with the authority of Christ!
Christ’s Church that teaches the angels is denigrated – by a type described by Christ as a “heathen and a publican” for not listening to Christ’s Church, and places himself above Christ while ignoring St Paul’s testimony.
CatholicRaven in post #2 has covered the inestimable worth of a sound conscience admirably.
Don’t listen to “them”. They don’t know what they are talking about! Our conscience has to be properly formed by the teachings of the Church. Sad to say, to many Catholics do not even know their own faith and they wrongly influence others. God Bless, Memaw
I think I would simply ask them to clarify or explain how they came to that conclusion. That may help you determine where their thinking gets off-track.
With some people, you may have to insist they show support for that belief with Church documents, Scripture, or even reason/logic… but not just with emotional appeals.
Still, some people are always going to assume their feelings are foolproof, while reason and logic are “cold” or “uncaring.” So often, I hear certain people say, “I follow my heart!” as if always doing what “feels good” is the ideal. I usually want to reply, “Well, no, you follow your emotions, and that’s not the same thing…”
It does not however state it is the ONLY thing that is profitable for those ends and the Bible can also be used to refute your position quite easily if we start quote mining, which is a dangerous game to play.
As you use the Bible and give it such value you are ironically acknowledging the huge debt you owe the apostolic Churches (guided by God of course) in doing so.
Scripture should be highly esteemed and valued but the apostles are themselves told to hold fast to tradition you should recall.
Agreed. They should also be checked with the Church, which is the pillar and bullwark of truth.
Chapter and verse for this please. This is simply unscriptural. The Bible explicitly teaches that the Church has authority to bind and loose on earth AND in Heaven.
You know what words are missing from that verse? “Only” or “Alone”. If it said “only Scripture is given…” or “Scripture alone is given…”, then it would support your claim. No one denies that Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. Most Christians deny the unbiblical claim that ONLY Scripture is given by God and profitable.
Acts 1:14-41 describes Peter addressing/teaching the crowd on Pentecost Sunday. Of course, at the time that Peter was doing the actual addressing/teaching, not a syllable of New Testament Scripture had yet been written. So… what Scripture did Peter check with before teaching?
And where does it say that in your Bible?
The Bible denies that it is sufficient as the complete rule of faith. Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition which is handed down by word of mouth (2 Tim. 2:2).
This oral teaching was accepted by Christians, just as they accepted the written teaching that came to them later. Jesus told his disciples: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me” (Luke 10:16). The Church, in the persons of the apostles, was given the authority to teach by Christ; the Church would be his representative. He commissioned them, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).
And how was this to be done? By preaching, by oral instruction: “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). The Church would always be the living teacher. It is a mistake to limit “Christ’s word” to the written word only or to suggest that all his teachings were reduced to writing. The Bible nowhere supports either notion.
Further, it is clear that the oral teaching of Christ would last until the end of time. “’But the word of the Lord abides for ever.’ That word is the good news which was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:25). Note that the word has been “preached”—that is, communicated orally. This would endure. It would not be supplanted by a written record like the Bible (supplemented, yes, but not supplanted), and would continue to have its own authority.
This is made clear when the apostle Paul tells Timothy: “[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Here we see the first few links in the chain of apostolic tradition that has been passed down intact from the apostles to our own day. Paul instructed Timothy to pass on the oral teachings (traditions) that he had received from the apostle. He was to give these to men who would be able to teach others, thus perpetuating the chain.
I’m curious… who or what will be your final and ultimate authority when the “Two Witnesses” of Revelation 11 appear on the scene? Will you still maintain your policy of “Bible alone” and continue to insist on your “right” of “private interpretation,” or will you instead, relinquish such a “right,” and submit yourself unreservedly to the living teaching authority of the Two Witnesses, recognizing in them the final and absolute arbiters of God’s one truth?
In short, will you then regard the pronouncements and teachings of the Two Witnesses as infallible and *universally binding *on all Christians?
2 Timothy 3:14-15
But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them*,* and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
“from whom you have learned them” not “from which books you have read them”
“from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures” – which Scriptures would Timothy have known from his childhood? The New Testament? I don’t think so.
Think about what you’re really saying here – that New Testament Scripture is not “able to make you wise for salvation through faith.” I suspect that’s not what you want to be saying.
Your post gives the impression you don’t know your faith as well as you should. Following the Church’s teachings, all of them, is NOT bad, and certainly is NOT worse than disobeying. You post comes across with an air of disobedience and a rejection of authority.
No, it doesn’t. How we enact Church teachings can change to fit the situation, but we must always follow Church teaching.
This is where you show that you don’t seem to know the Catholic faith. The debate is between Cafeteria catholics and faithful Catholics. Faithful Catholics can take the Bible quite literally, or they can believe the Bible has some literal parts, and some parts which are other types of writing, including allegorical, hyperbole, etc. But all faithful Catholics believe in Church teachings literally.
The better translation is “Thou shalt not murder”. And the Church has given guidance on this topic so that we aren’t confused on it and decide to make up our own view on this commandment. So it makes sense when you actually listen to Church teaching. The Church teaches that we can never kill an innocent person, but lethal force against an aggresor is licit, and the death penalty is licit if the convict cannot be restrained from further harming others.
The human heart is a wistful and transitory thing. Better to guide yourself with truth.
If one takes this to mean that anyone asking for a proper interpretation will receive one from God—and that is exactly how most Fundamentalists understand the assistance of the Holy Spirit to work—then the multiplicity of interpretations, even among Fundamentalists, should give people a gnawing suspicion that the Holy Spirit has not been doing his job very well.
Our Bible is the authority over all church teachings.
Christ wrote nothing for us, and established His Catholic Church. The Bible was given to the world by Christ’s Catholic Church which declared authoritatively that it is the Word of God, with 46 Books in the Old Testament and 27 Books in the New Testament.
That is why the Ecumenical Council Vatican II teaches: “Thus It is clear, therefore, that Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.” Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, #10].
If the teaching is inconsistent with scripture then it is not consistent with the Holy Spirit.
That is precisely why Jesus commanded “if he refuses to hear even the Church let him be like the heathen and a publican.” (Mt 18:17).
The reality of thousands of Protestant sects all teaching something different shows the futility of not listening to Christ Himself.