Input needed on wording/clarity/etc. (long)

I have a long time friend (30+ years). Left the Catholic Church about 28 years ago because of discussion we had. Much of what she and her dh believed was not Catholic doctrine. One day I asked her why they are still Catholic if they don’t believe what the Church teaches. They left shortly after that. We’ve remained good friends and mostly skirted around religious issues, never tackled anything really in depth. They are good people who desire to follow God’s will. Maybe I should have had this discussion decades ago, I don’t know, but it’s here now.

This friend has been studying some alternative health things (heavy study, internship type study, not just self-study) and I have been working with her on my health. Not new age stuff, the goal is to balance your body based on foods and supplements. She tests urine regularly to determine what is needed. (Other tests also, blood tests, etc.) She believes, as I do, that all healing comes from God. And that a huge component of our physical health probably has to do with our spiritual life/health (I fully agree). She has, on occasion pointed me to some (spiritual) resources dealing with healing (Christian, not Catholic). I really haven’t pursued her resources. (I have quite a bit of Catholic material on healing, and a smidgen of Christian stuff.)

So, recently she felt called to suggest to me that I “revisit” the spiritual side" of things, and again suggested resources that she has found great benefit from (non-Catholic). I prayed about it, talked with hubby. Here is what I am thinking of sending her, and I’d like some feedback (mostly on if I am being clear, but also any feedback). Your thoughts?

Someone asked me what my goal with this is, and I’m not really sure. I want her to understand why I will not consider her or the resources she mentioned as spiritual guides. Also, I think, in the back of my mind, is the whole idea of them leaving the Church. That hurts me, just becasue they are friends. I have often thought about bringing this up, and for various reasons (probably not all good ones, I haven’t).

This is a long post, hope that’s okay. Text follows in next post…

I need to explain, to some degree, my thinking and beliefs.
Pleasant Valley Church and others (I think including you) believe the Bible is the sole authority. It frustrates me (has for decades) that folks who profess that can’t see the “flaw” in their thinking. I’ve talked with pastors, individuals, and others, and never gotten a reply that addresses the issue.
First off, let me say I do believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. (But also not the sole authority.)
Let me lead you down the garden path.  You and I believe that Genesis, Exodus, the Gospel of John, Galatians, and the Book of Revelation are all part of the Bible. We (I assume you also believe this) also believe that The Gospel of Peter and the Book of Moses are not part of Sacred Scripture (but may have many good things in them, just are not part of Scripture). Certain things are part of Scripture, certain things are not.
It really makes little difference at this point that you and I are not in agreement as to what is and is not (I accept the Catholic Bible with 72 books, you accept the Protestant one with 66). Or something like that, as I said, details matter little here. By you, I mean folks who profess Sola Scriptura/ Bible only.
So, you accept/ believe that certain books ARE Sacred Scripture. What is that belief based on? How do you know it’s true? How do you know they are the right books and none got left out? You DO believe the Bible is the book you have on your nightstand and on your bookshelf. But that basic fundamental belief (“This is the Bible”) is NOT in Scripture. You are saying you believe only in Scripture, yet even before that you are accepting/ believing a list.
Somewhere, at some point in time, some persons developed a list of books that constitute Sacred Scripture, that are the Bible. It makes little difference (at this point) who they were, when it was done, or what the list was. You accept a list. How can you say I only believe in the Bible, when first you have to believe what the Bible is?
You may say these men (or this group, whatever) were divinely inspired by God to “choose” the right books, etc. Fine, no problem. But you are accepting their “decree” and that’s not in the Bible. You can say, I know, I just believe, whatever. Exactly, you believe.
So, what I have trouble with is folks who say they only accept/believe the Bible. In order to accept the Bible, you have to accept/believe some list of books that constitute the Bible. Fine to say the list came from God, etc. No problem. And again, who, what, when doesn’t matter if we disagree on that. I’m just talking about the fact that you do accept/believe in a list.
So, what it boils down to, from my point of view, is that folks who say the Bible is the sole authority accept the authority of the men/group who decreed what is the Bible, but refuse to go any further than that. They reject all else they taught. To me, that is picking and choosing, and that holds no place in religion. I can’t pick and choose to follow only what I like in the Bible. Why can I pick and choose what that group, those men (I’ll call them the Early Church Fathers, but you don’t have to agree with that) said. I can accept/believe they were right (and maybe /probably divinely inspired) in coming up with Genesis, Exodus, the Gospel of John, Revelations and more as the Bible. But I will not accept/believe anything else they said. How can you do that? What gives YOU the authority to make that judgment for yourself? You might say that what’s you believe God wants of you. Well, it’s pretty high and mighty (I think) to say they were right in the canon but not in anything else. Or maybe some might say they were right in the canon, and possibly right in other things, but those other things don’t hold the same authority as the Bible, or whatever. Again, how do you make that determination?
Now, I believe those men had the Authority, granted by God, to “decree” the correct books as part of Sacred Scripture (via divine inspiration). I give them the name (formal or informal at the time) Catholic Church. I believe they had (and still have) divine Authority that was more than just coming up with the list of books. And it’s not my right to pick and choose what parts of their formal teaching I will and will not accept.
So I think that while those who follow Scripture only may have great insights, and knowledge to share, they are missing a huge chunk. And if they don’t acknowledge they are accepting Authority outside Scripture, they are fooling themselves. So for me to seek them out for spiritual guidance isn’t something I can do. They may have Truth, but only part of it.

Continued:
For my spiritual needs, I will seek what the Catholic Church has to offer, because I believe they, and they alone, have the FULLNESS of truth. The Bible, which I do believe in, has Truth in it. (I also believe it is inerrant.) But there is more to it than that. If you think that is heresy, how can you say that because you believe in something outside the Bible, namely the list of what is the Bible.
It is pointless to quote Scripture, because my question would be: “On what Authority do you accept/believe that verse IS Sacred Scripture? How do you know that verse really belongs in Scripture?”
I don’t mean to be difficult, but there is no answer. Within the Bible, which you and others profess to be the only Authority, it does not say what is and what is not Scripture. (Even if it did, that would have its own set of problems.) So you accept/ believe, in good faith, I presume, that the Bible IS what is the book on your shelf. That’s a belief outside Scripture.
Your email from the other day reaffirmed my need to work more on my spiritual life. One part that especially jumped out at me was the generational healing things. I have ordered a number of Catholic books and tapes on healing, and generational healing and more. I have looked at this all before, and have materials (Catholic) but it’s time to revisit things.
I prayed about it, and I can’t dig into Be In Health or the other spiritual resources you offer/suggest. As I said, they may indeed be good, but may be (are) missing some very fundamental things, in my opinion. Just because I have not yet discovered the answers in the Catholic Church does not mean they are not there. One’s faith life is an ongoing journey, always with the aim of becoming more closely united with Christ.
As always, I thank you for your prayers, and ongoing assistance. I’m not offended by your spiritual suggestions or insights, and I pray over them. As I said a bit earlier, your email yielded fruit (my renewed resolve to work on my spiritual life and further delving into other areas like generational healing), just not my following up on your resources.
That’s where I’m at and the choices I have made. I believe this is God’s will for me, and John agrees.

I think you need to shorten your letter quite a bit if you want it to be effective.

Just as an example, I would eliminate these 2 chapters entirely. They aren’t necessary.Let me lead you down the garden path.  You and I believe that Genesis, Exodus, the Gospel of John, Galatians, and the Book of Revelation are all part of the Bible. We (I assume you also believe this) also believe that The Gospel of Peter and the Book of Moses are not part of Sacred Scripture (but may have many good things in them, just are not part of Scripture). Certain things are part of Scripture, certain things are not.
It really makes little difference at this point that you and I are not in agreement as to what is and is not (I accept the Catholic Bible with 72 books, you accept the Protestant one with 66). Or something like that, as I said, details matter little here. By you, I mean folks who profess Sola Scriptura/ Bible only.Then I’d work on trying to be more concise on the main point (authority that determined Bible canon), eliminating any duplicate or equivalent sentences.

Above all, try to say things in a charitable way. I understand your aggravation, but try not to make that a part of the letter. Examine it for parts that might be uncharitable (pretend you’re the believing Protestant receiving it; how would you react to that part, etc.). Then try to get the same point across in a less offensive way.

BTW, I do think it’s a good idea to write her the letter.

In addition to Nita’s excellent suggestion, may I suggest removing words such as fool or heresy. I know you are not calling your friend a fool, but that is how it will be read. As Nita suggested change the stance to brief reference to Church doctrines and teachings and remove all the references to “Scripture alone” unless you are looking at a line or two to say the Catholic Church believes. Just a suggestion because as it is, your friend may see it as an attack on her faith and it is also an open invitation to a debate that you may wish to avoid.

As Nita said, a letter is a good idea but if you can shorten it to a gentle explanation your friend may read all of it. Maybe, no longer than the background 1st post. It will be hard and when you are done, put it in a drawer for at least 24 hours and read it quietly to yourself in different ways to try to pick out where the tone could be read the wrong way. Repeat the process the following day (and if need be, the day after that) as you will never be able to take back what you wrote, once it is sent.

God Bless. Am praying for you.

Strangely, when I use or read the word, “You” a lot in written form, it tends to have an accusatory tone. When I keep the focus on “I”, God, and facts, it takes that edge off. I am more likely to listen and think about the words if someone is musing and reflecting than when they are debating or appearing to accuse. Just a thought. I’ll pray for you and your friend.

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