Confused Protestant Has Questions

Great fondness for our Eastern Orthodox brethren, but an issue I see is that Jesus prayed for us to be ONE, and there is ONE Church. And yet, the Eastern Orthodox are not a unified group. In fact, they are VERY divided, specifically around national lines. And the authority breaks down because of this, because no bishop can call an ecumenical council when needed for them. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. It’s a little inaccurate to refer to the Eastern Orthodox as if they were one group, because they are not. The are Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, etcetcetcetcetc.

Something that really put my mind at ease, was recognizing Mary’s role, and her prefigurement in the OT. The one thing that prefigured her more than any other was the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark held Aaron’s priestly staff, the manna from the desert, and the Ten Commandments stone tablet. It held the priestly authority, the bread from heaven, and the word of God. Look at Mary, she held in her womb, the High Priest, the Bread/Eucharist from Heaven, and the WORD of God! REALLY ponder that and reflect on it.

And how was the Ark in the OT treated? Was it set off to the side, put in a closet, and only mentioned 1-2 times a year? Of course not! It was put in the Holy of Holies. And the Spirit of God overshadowed it in the Holy of Holies (exactly as Mary was overshadowed by the Spirit of God at the Annunciation). God’s Presence was in the Holy of Holies, and in Mary as His tabernacle.

And what else happened. The Ark of the Covenant was given GREAT honor. It was prayed in front of, sacrifices were offered in its presence. Prayers were said, psalms were sung, and David sang and danced in front of the Ark as it travelled. People gave it great honor. And at no point did they worship the Ark, and God approved of all the honor given to the Ark.

Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. That is why she is given such high honor. I hope that helps to connect the OT and NT, and Old Covenant and New Covenant, and explain it better. :slight_smile:

That’s not acceptable at ALL. And it is VERY puzzling how this is true?!?! We recite the Our Father at EVERY single Mass. At a minimum, those kids should have been reciting it WEEKLY. My 7yo knew the Our Father, Glory Be, and Hail Mary, along with other prayers by the time she was 3-4.

And welcome to the forums!! Hope you enjoy yourself. God bless.

I like blunt :wink:

  1. Infallibility isn’t about being exempt from making mistakes in general. That’s impeccability, NOT infallibility. Infallibility is about being mistake free when teaching doctrines on faith or morals to the entire Church that all must hold to i.e. believe in.

Do you see the difference?

Infallibility as the Catholic Church uses the term, has the following definition.

(all emphasis mine)

*]we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that
*]when the Roman pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA,
*]that is, when, [LIST=1]
*]**in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, **
*]**in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, **
*]**he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church, **
*]he possesses,
*]by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter,
*]that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals.
*]Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable.

  1. The crusades aren’t a matter of doctrine nor teaching on faith and morals. Infallibility therefore, doesn’t apply.

Sam, I’ve found, most of the issues Protestants have with Catholicism, when criticizing Catholicism, revolve around caracatures, and not actually understanding of what they criticize

could you be specific?

Thank you for those of you who clarified infallibility for me. I do not confuse infallibility and impeccability in my head, though I may have given the impression that I did, and I appologize. The Popes can be sinful while having the gift of infallibility with regard to solemn definitions of doctrine made ex cathedra.

I would like to respectfully suggest that I’ve done a lot of homework on the crusades. As a matter of faith and morals, the Crusaders believed that they were promised forgiveness of their sins (an indulgence) for fighting in the Crusades, and faith in concepts like limbus infantum had them stabbing pregnant Muslim women through the belly to make sure they killed mother and babe.

In any case, though the “classic” Crusades were not pre-emptive (the Holy Land had been owned by the Byzantine Empire, taken away, the empire asked the Pope for military help to facing the expanding Muslim threat in Asia Minor) the Christian response to persecution in the Bible and the early church is to turn the other cheek - even at the cost of one’s life. St. Polycarp famously feasted the soldiers who came to take him to be executed, rather than jumping them with justification and running away!

Wven if you disagree with me on the above, the 4th Crusade sacked the Christian cities of Zara and Constantinople (on both occasions condemned by the Pope.) Other Crusades were launched against the Moors in Spain, the Livonians, Latgallions, Selonians and Estonians in Northern Europe to convert them. Nowhere in the Bible can you find justification for a call to convert with the sword.

If the Crusaders were not launched, and if the Muslims were able to expand into Europe, we don’t know for sure what would have happened. I think you’ll also find that there were many Christians who endured a long time under the Muslim Caliphs. The Eastern Orthodox (while not having an easy time of it) were able to survive under the Muslims. It’s too bad that a succession of “just wars” have substantially reduced the number of Christians in the Middle East. (The latest being the War in Iraq; before the war, as many as 1.5 million Christians there, after, 400 000) And most importantly, with God on our side, who could conquer us? Rome tried force on the church, and failed. If God grants infallibility to the Pope, surely he grants His church endurance to the end of time.

Please don’t assume that my having an opinion that differs from yours means that I haven’t “done my homework” when I bring something up. (though by all means, point out any mistakes I make) I will assume that you have done yours, and I do truly appreciate you taking the time to respond to my questions. Thank you.

In any case, the Crusades were just meant to be illistrative of my difficulty with Papal infallibility: The Pope could hypothetically declare something to be good and true which is not, because he is a man, and can err, which I feel extends to issues of faith and morals. I merely picked the Crusades on the wrong assumption that these would be universally seen as something bad, especially since John Paul II apologized for the 4th Crusade, and as you’ve noted, it’s not just an issue of doctrine.

I think, on infallibility, I will have to think more about those links I’ve been sent. (Thank you all for those, by the way!) My difficulty with that one is mostly hypothetical. I’m uncomfortably aware that the Bible has Peter and early church history has the Pope in a unique leadership role in the church.

Moving back to my original post(s) and the responses, thank you all for the responses about Mary. I particularly was moved by:

[quote=zz912]Something that really put my mind at ease, was recognizing Mary’s role, and her prefigurement in the OT. The one thing that prefigured her more than any other was the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark held Aaron’s priestly staff, the manna from the desert, and the Ten Commandments stone tablet. It held the priestly authority, the bread from heaven, and the word of God. Look at Mary, she held in her womb, the High Priest, the Bread/Eucharist from Heaven, and the WORD of God! REALLY ponder that and reflect on it.

This and the following paragraphs were very helpful for me, as I’d never heard that about Mary before. Are there other ways in which Catholics see Mary prefigured in the Old Testament?

(*unlreated: my experience with the Catholic kids confused me as well. Most of them also did not recognize a rosary, despite my mentoring teacher saying she had taught them about rosaries earlier that year)

[quote=JKRH]Sam43232, I suspect that one of the things that you find frustrating about the “protestant model”, as I call it, is this lack of the ability to come together and resolve doctrinal differences.

Yes. Another large issue is that we have a body of “assumed tradition” that we don’t think about because we ostensibly believe in Sola scriptura. That’s a discussion for another thread though :slight_smile:

Sorry for the length! Since I’m done with infalliblity for now, hopefully any future posts are shorter. Thank you again, and I appologize for anything where I have not expressed myself well and led to misconceptions about my intentions or understanding of Catholicism.

Most protestant churches have a basic statement of faith. The first article nearly always begins “I believe the Bible …”, the rest of the articles in the statement are what we think it claims, in the order of what we deem important.

This is the most significant shift from the Catholic Church, because Catholic creeds are composed “I believe in God …” and are structured around the Trinity, Father Son and Holy Spirit, defining their acts. Creation, Redemption and Sanctification.


Hi Sam

I just wanted to point out Catholics don’t actually view the Pope as an absolute monarch either. We believe all the bishops in union with the Pope govern the Church and that they all possess the gift of infallibility also. (Though they don’t possess it individually as he does.)

The following quotes are all official Church teaching from the Catechism on the subject:

869 The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev 21:14). She is indestructible (cf. Mt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: **Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, ** the Pope and the college of bishops.

877 Likewise, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a collegial character. In fact, from the beginning of his ministry, the Lord Jesus instituted the Twelve as “the seeds of the new Israel and the beginning of the sacred hierarchy.” Chosen together, they were also sent out together, and their fraternal unity would be at the service of the fraternal communion of all the faithful: they would reflect and witness to the communion of the divine persons. For this reason every bishop exercises his ministry from within the episcopal college, in communion with the bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter and head of the college.

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

895 “The power which they [the bishops] exercise personally in the name of Christ, is proper, ordinary, and immediate, although its exercise is ultimately controlled by the supreme authority of the Church.” But the bishops **should not be thought of as vicars of the Pope. ** His ordinary and immediate authority over the whole Church does not annul, but on the contrary confirms and defends that of the bishops. Their authority must be exercised in communion with the whole Church under the guidance of the Pope.

When you take all these paragraphs together, not just the one about the Pope, we see the Church teaches Christ governs his Church through ALL the successors of the apostles, the college of bishops, of which the Pope is the head. The Pope has a unique, final, authority in the Church, just like Peter did, but he doesn’t govern the Church as a monarch does a kingdom.

So in a way, the Church does actually agree with the first among equals line. The Pope is a bishop, he receives the same holy orders as all the other bishops in the world. He’s a member of the college of bishops. He’s not a mega bishop. :wink: Nor is he separate and above the college. In these senses he is equal.

Where we differ from our Orthodox brothers is what the primacy means. We don’t think it’s a merely honorary position, but that it carries a unique authority and responsibility. Again, that does NOT mean he is the sole ruler of the Church. The bishops have real authority too. They can’t act separately from the Pope, but that’s because a body can’t act separately from the head. :thumbsup:

Anyways, I don’t know if any of that was helpful, maybe it made things more confusing for you. :o But I just wanted to clear that misconception up.

Sam43232 #1
Fr. Robert Baron explains in his Catholicism series, where the Pope functions as a sort of umpire for the Church. I have difficulty with it being actually true, though.
I guess I wonder whether or not the Eastern Orthodox position on the Pope is more accurate, that Peter’s position is closer to a first among equals than an absolute monarch. So, the degree of power that the Pope is supposed to have is my stumbling block with that one, not the role of Peter.

It really is a matter of listening to Jesus, Our Lord, who specifically founded His Church on Peter:
**All four promises to Peter alone: **
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later, also to the Twelve].

Sole authority:
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17)

Already, Peter had exercised his supreme authority in the upper room before Pentecost to have Judas’ place filled. At the first Apostolic Council of Jerusalem Peter settled the heated discussion over circumcising the gentiles and “the whole assembly fell silent” (Acts 15:7-12). Paul made sure that his ministry to the gentiles was recognised by, Peter (Gal 1:I8).

Tradition shows Pope St Clement exercising his primacy in about 96, on a matter of schism in the Church of Corinth. Of the same generation as Saints Peter and Paul and when St John the Apostle was probably still living in Ephesus, Pope Clement wrote as one commanding to the Church of Corinth in Greece: “If any disobey what He (Christ) says through us, let them know that they will be involved in no small offence and danger, but we shall be innocent of this sin.” (I Clem. ad Cor. 59,1).

So there is no “first among equals” – this Catholic Church built specifically by Our Lord on St Peter as His Supreme Vicar teaches on faith and morals infallibly through the Pope when he defines a dogma or doctrine for the whole Church, or through an Ecumenical Council when the Pope approves a definition on faith or morals.

Certainly prior Popes have made mistakes, and I have difficulty believing that Pope Urban II would not have infallibly endorsed the Crusades, for instance, given the opportunity.
What reasons (from scripture, tradition, plain reason, etc) can be given in support of this?

The Crusades were legitimate defence against Muslim invaders.

eamonnroma #5
The only infallible statement since the proclamation of infallibility was that of the Dogma of the Assumption, in 1950. This did not mean that the dogma did not exist before - only that it had never been formally defined.

Not only dogmas are infallible but many doctrines.

**From EWTN Q&A: Answer by David Gregson on Nov-22-2002: **
“You are correct in stating that the Pope exercises his charism of infallibility not only in dogmatic definitions issued, ex cathedra, as divinely revealed (of which there have been only two), but also in doctrines definitively proposed by him, also ex cathedra, which would include canonizations (that they are in fact Saints, enjoying the Beatific Vision in heaven), moral teachings (such as contained in Humanae vitae), and other doctrines he has taught as necessarily connected with truths divinely revealed, such as that priestly ordination is reserved to men.”

Some good responses already to the infallibility issue, and I have nothing to really add to that. All I’d like to add to what was already given is a suggestion to read An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by John of Damascus Book IV.

Read Chapters 14, 15, 16 and 24 to hopefully get some more understanding.

I am very much in your same shoes right now so I can empathize. While I certainly don’t have anything figured out yet, I am almost certain that I’ll not be a Protestant the rest of my life.

Some resources that have helped me understand more of Catholicism is *Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians” * by Karl Keating as well as audio seminars by Scott Hahn on the Pope and the Eucharist. Karl Keating explains the issue with infallibility and the Pope such that the Pope may not always speak what needs to be spoken/taught in the right way or at the right time (if at all) but that he can never speak/teach ex cathedra something that is false. Clear as mud?

Like you, I also find the Orthodox faith quite compelling on certain issues. Please do not let those who want to oversimplify the issues dividing the RCC and EO persuade you until you have thoroughly researched and prayed about both.

This thread may be helpful to get insight from both sides:**

Genesis 3:15, the Protoevangelium is one.

Gen 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

The devil absolutely LOATHES Mary. She bears the offspring which strikes his head.

Also the women with miraculous births, where God shows He can give birth in any way He wishes, especially to those who are faithful.

And she is also reflected in daughter Israel, but an obedient one.

Kinda long, but might be of interest.

I’m sorry, but I think the DR version is even more reflective of Mary than that one, or the KJV. That passage is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. “KJV - Genesis 3: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
"DRV - Genesis 3: [15] I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel."The DR version clearly makes more literal sense than either of the others, because it follows along with the point of the sentence; the serpent vs ‘the woman’ and her ‘seed’. Mary is the ‘woman’. One of the reasons Jesus calls her that at the wedding of Cana (before He started His ministry), is to reference this passage, and announce to the world who His Mother (Mary) really is. She is the New Eve and He is the New Adam (her seed).

So, Mary is the ‘woman’ who will crush the head of the serpent (the devil) while he just sits there, waiting for her to do it. This is extremely important. If the first Eve had done that instead of listening to him, we would never have gotten to where we are today, because he could never have tempted her in the first place. But, the New Eve will actually ‘crush his head’ by ending his reign of terror. (This is why he hates her so much. He knows his time is short and eventually, it will run out.) So, the New Eve will put an end to what Eve started. By their obedience to God, Jesus and Mary completely make up for what Adam and Eve caused through their disobedience.

Of course Matthew 16:18-20 provides the papal authority.

Linus the second pope is mentioned in Timothy

Saint Paul calls Saint Peter Kephas (rock)

Saint Peter the first pope talks with authority at the Council of Jerusalem

Oxford books provide the list of every pope.

When it comes to Mary.

If we are to imitate Christ then shouldn’t we love his mother. Mary had the most time with Christ than anybody else. At least you understand Mary is very special. Mary is the true woman.


and theology so for those of you worrying that I think the Pope personally ordered the Crusades and all that happened,

Ah…this may be of interest to you then…

Byzantium and the Roman Primacy…Instead of repeating all the known arguments pro and contra, let us try the historical method and examine the position which the Byzantine Church took on this problem from earliest times on up to the period when the estrangement between the Eastern and Western parts of mediaeval Christianity became apparent and began to envenom the atmosphere in which the Churches had to live.

I hope you don’t mind me quoting you only partially (I did read the rest of your reply, and am thankful for it) but I had always understood John 19:26-28 in a very practical sense where Jesus was providing for His mother, not giving His mother to the church.

How about Pope JohnPaul II further explaining this…this is a short talk…

I understand that this sort of feeling is kinda nebulous and doctrines can be true while causing misunderstandings, so that is why I was mostly curious to see how you felt rather than ask for a defence of devotion to Mary.

Again, thank you all for your kind replies. I have no one really to talk to about these things where I am right now, so I appreciate this community.

This some quotes from the ECFs…if you want to trace how the Church has understood the role of the BVM…

[LEFT]When Jesus said “I will build my Church and not even the gates of hell will prevail against it” we know there is no other Church but this one. None other and no other to come. And the Catholic Church can trace her lineage back to the very beginning. Jesus gave all His promises to this Church and the FULL authority to carry out His plan.[/LEFT]


An Orthodox priest who used to post here many years ago, and who I had many conversations with, said it this way. If one is first all aren’t equal and if all are equal no one can be first. As he says it’s a nonsense term. I’ll try and get his exact quote and post it after this.

Bp John, a Melkite Catholic Bishop gives a very clear answer to this as well. I added 2 other links as each of these is a short Q/A format.

[/LIST]ahhh I found what I was looking for


I found that the 2nd and 3rd link I provided don’t work. I’m sure you found that out.

these work. sorry about that.

My favorite image of our Lady in the old testament would prabably be the Ark of the Covenant but another connection I like to make is with Solomons queen mother Bathseba. Interesting how the queen of Israel was the mother and not a wife. Jesus our King also has a Queen who is not his spouce but his Mother. When people needed a special request from the king, if they had access to the queen, they used her as an intercessor before the King. We can see in the Queen Mother a powerful intercessor before the King who gives her great Honor and denies her nothing.

"So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right. Then she said, ‘I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.’ And the king said to her, ‘Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.’ 1 Kings 2:19-20

To make this connection stronger lets remember that Solomon was the son of David and Jesus is often refered to as “the son of David”. Also note worthy is that the queen sat at the right hand of the King. Remember it was a position desired by the apostles which did not belong to them. It seems to be a position reserved for our Lady the “slave” and “servant”. (Luke 10:35-45)(Luke 1)

There are other women from old testament who also give us a forshadowing of the “woman”. In his book, Daughter Zion: Meditations on the Church’s Marian Belief, Ratzinger(Pope Benedict XVI) seems to make connection with several other woman in the old testament. I have not read this book yet but I would like to. Some of the connections I believe he makes are: Sarah, Hannah, Deborah, Esther, Judith, and the prophetic image of the daughter of Zion.

This is not from the Old testament but if you read the end if Ch.11 and Ch. 12 in Revelation(Apocalypse) you will find it reveals a great deal about our Lady including a vision of the Ark of the Covenant who after a glorious celestial drumming is then seen as a great Queen who gives birth to a Child(The King) but is also mother to His Followers and she and her offspring are both hated and attacked by the dragon(Satan). Our Lady gives birth to Jesus in flesh and body…Remember that the church is “the body of Christ”. So Mary by translation is also the Mother of the Church. So it is no surprise that our Lady and the Church are so viciously attacked and misrepresented in the world.

We catholics also have the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is a prayer usually added to the end of the rosary. In the litany of our lady you will find a long list of titles attributed to our Lady. These are titles which have come about through the centuries as the Church continues to meditate on our Lady and her important role in Salvation history. Many, if not all, of these titles can be linked to the scriptures to some degree.

I hope this helps and may the the Lord continue to guide you in your journey! And I dare also pray that the Queen Mother intercede for you before the King so He may give you all the necessary graces you may need. God Bless You!

I don’t know any Hebrew and only a little Greek. Does anyone know which of these is closest to the original sense of the text, or is it ambiguous? I’ve always understood (and been taught) that Jesus was the one doing the bruising. It would be interesting indeed to know if I and many people I know are mistaken on that particular point.

For all others, I am trying to read your posts and I really appreciate them! It is the end of the school year for me so I’m busy marking and writing report cards. Thank you for your time and sorry I can’t give more of mine.

The reason it would not be possible for any Pope to declare something “true” that is not actually true is that the Holy Spirit has him in hand.

Legend has it that a relatively recent Pope died suddenly in his sleep just before signing a document that would have permitted Catholics to use birth control.

I don’t know which Pope it’s supposed to have been, or whether that actually happened, but the story is told in order to illustrate what we believe the action of the Holy Spirit is,when it comes to the safety of our souls. If a Pope were to attempt to define something infallibly that in fact were false doctrine, the Holy Spirit would cause him to lose his voice, or would remove him from this world, before allowing such a thing to happen.

(*unlreated: my experience with the Catholic kids confused me as well. Most of them also did not recognize a rosary, despite my mentoring teacher saying she had taught them about rosaries earlier that year)

Probably for the same reason that they also don’t remember any of the Arithmetic or English concepts they were taught last October, either, unless they practiced them regularly. If the children aren’t using Rosaries every day ( and too often, Catholic families are neglecting this devotion these days, due to a plague of being “too busy” that has engulfed our entire culture) then the information they were taught will seem irrelevant to them, and they will soon forget it entirely.

There is also the fact that children in school are bombarded every day with far more information than they can possibly remember for any length of time, and some things just get drowned out in the noise, even if the lesson was well-taught at the time.

Hi Sam. Sorry for the late follow up.

You are entirely correct concerning the history. Let us add more context, shall we?

When Pope Urban II called for the crusades with the stated goal of restoring the holy land to the Christians, he called the knights and leaders which were available to him. It had been several centuries since the fall of empirical Rome, and even under the Holy Roman Empire, knights and other leaders were feudal warlords. Any attempt to unify them was fruitless. These men were accustomed to fighting for their own benefit. They sacked Constantinople.

Pope Innocent was very distressed when he heard about the outrages in Constantinople. He denounced the perpetrators harshly, and excommunicated most of them. The pope was unaware that, before the attack, his legate had absolved the Crusaders from their original vows. Later, when confronted with the possibility that he might have a unified church on his hands, Innocent acquiesced and went along with the reality that what was done was done. He did nothing to stop the flow of desecrated wealth into Latin cathedrals and churches.

The point I am trying to make is that people will always do what is in their own best interest and nothing the Pope did or could have done would change that. But, the Pope never sanctioned the unjust violence committed by the knights.

Saint Pope John Paul II apologized to the Patriarch and returned some relics to Constantinople in a gesture of repentance.

One other thing…Indulgences are not a get-out-of-jail-free card. There are always conditions attached to receiving them. The actions of the knights would have negated them.


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