I often hear about bad habits and attitudes of Protestants when it comes to discussing matters of faith, like the typical “where is that in the Bible” and so on. I would like to have a thread of bad attitudes and habits of Catholics when it comes to discussing matters of faith, so that we can be aware of these habits in ourselves and see how to correct them. Anyone can chime in, whether you’re Catholic or not.
I want to start with two. I see these tendencies on Catholic Answers forums a lot.
The first is related to the scriptures. A lot of times when someone in a discussion quotes scripture, even legitimately, the immediate Catholic response is to say something along the lines of “who are you to interpret scripture without the holy Catholic Church?” or (when talking with Protestants “The Bible is a Catholic book!” It is true that as Catholics we do not believe in sola scriptura. That is, we don’t believe that the Bible alone is sufficient for Christian belief and dogma. However, we still believe that the scripture is the word of God and one of the three infallible “pillars” (so to speak) of Christian truth. We still have to listen to what it says. And while there are hard passages in the scripture and yes, we do need the Church for proper interpretation, this does not automatically mean that the whole Bible is this indecipherable mystery that we are capable of understanding. In fact the majority of it is pretty straightforward. If someone is debating with you, for example, and they use scripture to back up their position, then you should be willing to provide your own explanation for that passage in light of Catholic teaching or at least go and research it yourself before simply dismissing them with “well, the Church!”
The second thing I wanted to mention that I see very often is the speculation game. When people are discussing on the forums, for example, about a particular sin or belief, people will argue or speculate on whether or not someone is culpable for their sins or rejection of the Church. Culpability is a matter of God’s judgment alone. We are responsible for sharing the gospel with people and inviting them to God’s call for repentance. We should tell the truth as the gospel presents it and not speculate on whether people are responsible for their sins.
This second one is not a “bad habit”. It’s a theological difference between Catholics and other faith traditions. For Catholics, culpability is NOT “a matter of God’s judgment alone”. It’s a matter between the penitent and his/her confessor. Catholics also believe the Right Judgement is one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Right Judgement involves an understanding of the quality of our actions; what is right and wrong and what is grave or minor. This judgement is essential in order to make a good Confession.
It depends on whether people are talking about the culpability of a particular person who has performed a particular action or whether they are talking about a hypothetical person performing a hypothetical action. In the former case, yes, that is wrong, because there is no way for us to know what physical, psychological, and moral factors were in the background of someone’s actions.
In the hypothetical case, you can specify something like “assuming there are no unknown factors affecting the person’s behavior (or belief),” and then it is fine to try to make judgements on what the culpability would be of the hypothetical person.
I think what people may be doing, if they are speculating about a particular case, is mentally adding the “assuming there are no unknown factors…” and turning the speculation into a hypothetical question in their heads. This isn’t spiritually wrong, but it is awfully confusing for anyone who is reading what they say. It might be helpful to ask them if they are doing that, because it is certainly wrong ever to judge the condition of another (real) person’s soul.
Catholics can and should quote scripture…and often… to make our points. And Catholics shouldn’t be trashing other Catholics for using scripture, or calling them Protestants for using scripture. The Church doesn’t teach, that Catholics aren’t to quote scripture to make our points, we just can’t quote scripture in ways against the Church interpretation.
That would make culpability a useless term for us to use in this life. We don’t get blindsided by God in the next life. Of course we can know culpability for ourselves and others in this life. Otherwise no one is guilty of ANYTHING. And we know THAT’S not true
**1791 **“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.” In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.”
**2485 **“By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray”
In extension, how would the following even be possible to apply and respond to if we can’t make judgements ?
1 Jn 5:16 If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and Goda] will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.
unless someone is mentally challenged, everyone else on the planet is presumed to have an I.Q. sufficient to know right from wrong or at least can be taught such differences, and can be taught to distinguish simple sin and grave sin…
Even if someone is in the jungle and has never heard of anything we’re talking about, the moral law has been put on that person’s soul. God stacked the deck in His favor from the beginning. No one can escape the moral law. They go against it they are responsible.
If responsibility can’t be known by anyone including the individual, then why call ANYONE to repentance? If responsibility can’t be known then no one is guilty of anything. No need to repent if one can argue themselves out of even being responsible.
That is the slippery slope secularism and more specifically, Satan has gotten society into.
The Church forms our conscience properly so that we can go to heaven. We are taught from the beginning, right from wrong not only in thought but action. There’s no speculation there. And we are to carry that informed teaching from the Church, not just to our families but to the world as well.
To the topic, badly formed Catholics (formed by the world not the Church) are a BIG part of the problem we see in the world today
And of course there are fleas who are not honest and say they are Catholic.
And some fall for this and lose their Christian composure which is exactly what they want. And after all that is the real test isn’t it?
I think you are misunderstanding what I am saying…
Suppose that someone committed a sin. They go on Catholic Answers and ask if they should go to confession. People start talking to them about culpability (I have seen this happen before) and then they start asking themselves whether they are culpable for their own sins and decide not to go. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
My point is that culpability is a matter for God to decide. We should be focused on rooting out sin from our lives and encouraging others to do so, not speculating on culpability or making excuses. The desire and decision to eliminate sin from one’s life is what repentance is. Speculating about culpability is counter-productive to repentance.
Just being transparent, they shouldn’t be relying on the internet for such advice, they should be talking to a priest.
And suppose the guy they’re talking to on the internet, is a Bill Clinton type? :rolleyes:
Bill’s type gets caught and owns up to nothing. He even argues over every word, like what is “is”.Clinton Grand Jury . That’s how corrupt the human mind is capable of being.
That’s why I said, people in sin, should rely on talking to a priest face to face, not some anonymous person on the internet, they can’t see, know nothing about, and could be a Bill Clinton type, giving advice…
Yes we should root out sin and encourage others to do it also. Culpability just means deserving of blame. No speculation there.
Culpability for a sin simply means one knows an action is sinful and they freely committed the sin therefore, they are to blame for the sin. Unless someone is mentally retarded, or they had no free will in committing the sin, then blame is automatic, and so is the consequence.