Catholics say that b/c there was no widely-distributed Bible before the 4th century that the reliance was on oral tradition - that a ss standing results in the damnation of those early Christians b/c they didn’t have access to the Bible/ the authority/the fullness of truth.
This is silly. Even if we hold to a scripture/tradition/magesterium viewpoint there is the same problem b/c, just as there is no assurance that a particular, individual Bible interpretation is w/out error, likewise there is no assurance that a C priest/bishop/etc’s teaching about Cath. Tradition is w/out error. Furthermore, in order to know what the CC really teaches, one needs to do extensive research through canons and encyclicals and such and then try to interpret those…
A Cath. can err in interpreting the CC teaching just as a non-C can err in interpreting the Bible, just as a C pastor can err in relaying that info (as happens quite often. I’ve heard heretical, un-Catholic and even un-Christian teaching from priests – at Mass and in the confessional.). There is no difference between this and the early Christians having to rely on fallible men to relay the truths of the faith to them, whether they be oral, or written.
It seems to me, that holding to a Catholic position means that only the learned, high-positioned Catholic clergy have the f.o.t. that will give them what is sufficient for their salvation.
Also, we have always had authority with us: first through Jesus, then through Apostles, then through their writings. There is no gap. Regardless of someone having to relay that truth, the truth was there and I consider God merciful on those who may have received error in teaching b/c the info was not intermediated to them infallibly (not sure I said that right) – just as I would have to hope in the mercy of God upon those who receive false (Catholic or otherwise) teaching through heretical, or misinformed clergy.
Now, can we say the gates of hell prevail b/c some, or even most, are misinformed and taught error? In either case – whether the authority rested in the writings of the apostles (which were orally taught for 200-300 years) or in the tradition and magesterium of the overall CC – there was the possibility, and high probability, that error was being taught – just as it is today - at least for the laymen, which, btw, comprise the majority of the body of the church.
There is disagreement, at the parish level anyway, about many RC teachings. I know from experience that CC leaders don’t all interpret the teachings of the church the same way and don’t teach them all the same way. Now, I, and many other nominal Rcs feel ill-equipped, materially and intellectually, to fully understand all of the church’s writings on these various subjects.
So in the end, how is the nominal Catholic led to salvation through the fullness of truth/ the RCC? Does he have access to the numerous church declarations, dogmas and doctrines? Does he understand them? The CC is so big and the teachings so numerous and complicated and there is no assurance that those who explain it to the laymen will do so infallibly.
When it comes right down to it the nominal Christian is left a great measure to himself (and the H.S.) to determine how to follow Christ. This, I believe, is why many say the way to Christ is through our actions which prove our faith, and not what rituals we take part in or what the name of the church is. I think that part is fairly evident in the Bible (the moral part), and regardless of the fact that some Christians debate the basics of it it is clearly there for all who sincerely want to follow Christ.
I’m not advocating going to any ol church b/c it doesn’t matter, but I think the fruit of the church (the evidence of its faith) is basically more important than anything.
Your thoughts? (I know you won’t agree, but interested anyway)