Two questions


#1

I’ve posted three separate questions to ask an apologist I guess a week ago now but with no response. I’m going to throw two of them out here - I can’t remember the third at the moment - so that whoever likes can address one or both, or perhaps tell me why I haven’t received responses so far. No, I’m not a Catholic, but I have no axe to grind, and I’m not playing a game. I’m simply curious and find some of the postings here interesting. So here goes:

  1. St. Paul, as we know has always been a controversial, even polarizing figure. What is the official Church estimation of him? Is he an imperfect vehicle that needs correction by the scriptures, or is completely reliable and needs only to be properly understood?

  2. Is it possible to be a member of the Catholic Church while privately holding a non-literal understanding of the creeds & dogma (specifically those statements dealing with metaphysical questions), if that understanding does not lead to any improper outward behavior, and if that member does not oppose or criticize the official literal interpretations that others hold, does not hold that his interpretation is in any sense superior, and does not attempt to promote his particular way of seeing the truth?

Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the trouble to answer.


#2

[quote=Vimalakirti]1. St. Paul, as we know has always been a controversial, even polarizing figure. What is the official Church estimation of him? Is he an imperfect vehicle that needs correction by the scriptures, or is completely reliable and needs only to be properly understood?
[/quote]

Since Scripture is inerrant, the teachings in St. Paul’s writings are inerrant. He just needs to be read and understood in context with the Gospels and Jesus’ words. Protestants tend to do it the other way around I think.

  1. Is it possible to be a member of the Catholic Church while privately holding a non-literal understanding of the creeds & dogma (specifically those statements dealing with metaphysical questions), if that understanding does not lead to any improper outward behavior, and if that member does not oppose or criticize the official literal interpretations that others hold, does not hold that his interpretation is in any sense superior, and does not attempt to promote his particular way of seeing the truth?

Hmmm. Could you give some examples?


#3

A question such as this is best asked, in person, to a cleric familiar with the Catholic contemplative tradition, or a renunciate (monk or nun).


#4

hello, vimalakirti. thanks for your honest questions and participation in this forum.

you said:

Is it possible to be a member of the Catholic Church while privately holding a non-literal understanding of the creeds & dogma (specifically those statements dealing with metaphysical questions),

part of being catholic is believing the creeds and the dogmas. in other words, being catholic MEANS believing these things. if a person doesn’t believe, for instance, that Jesus is God, then that person may attend a catholic church, but they are not catholic. being catholic means believing.

i think i hear you asking if it’s possible for you to become catholic without accepting certain teachings of the church literally. is that true? what teachings bother you?


#5

[quote=jeffreedy789]hello, vimalakirti. thanks for your honest questions and participation in this forum.

you said:

part of being catholic is believing the creeds and the dogmas. in other words, being catholic MEANS believing these things. if a person doesn’t believe, for instance, that Jesus is God, then that person may attend a catholic church, but they are not catholic. being catholic means believing.

i think i hear you asking if it’s possible for you to become catholic without accepting certain teachings of the church literally. is that true? what teachings bother you?
[/quote]

I’ve got a couple nits with some things. They may seem minor to some, but huge to others.

For instance, while I fully accept the Real Presence, and I believe that “transubstantiation” is one quite possible mechanism, I really don’t see that other similar doctrines, such as “consubstantiation” are necessarily excluded from all the teachings of scripture and the ECF.


#6

I read the letters of St. Paul often and do not find any of his teachings to be in conflict with the Catholic Churches teachings. However if you take one verse out of context you could find a verse to support whatever your beliefs are. This his how Martin Luther came up with his “faith alone” belief. He did not look at things in context, he just chose single verses that out of context would support his teachings.

God Bless,
Andrew


#7

[quote=Andrew_11]I read the letters of St. Paul often and do not find any of his teachings to be in conflict with the Catholic Churches teachings. However if you take one verse out of context you could find a verse to support whatever your beliefs are. This his how Martin Luther came up with his “faith alone” belief. He did not look at things in context, he just chose single verses that out of context would support his teachings.

[/quote]

He also flat out inserted the word “alone.”


#8

[quote=Genesis315]Since Scripture is inerrant, the teachings in St. Paul’s writings are inerrant. He just needs to be read and understood in context with the Gospels and Jesus’ words. Protestants tend to do it the other way around I think.

—I’m not completely clear on what “inerrant” means. Do you know or can you point me to a full explanation of what it entails?

Hmmm. Could you give some examples?
[/quote]

—Well, let me begin by assuring you that it is not my intent to pose an argument or a challenge, and I mean my question in all respect for the faith. My question is strictly directed to increasing my own understanding of these issues. As for examples, it’s pretty straightforward - I’m referring to the miraculous, the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc., as well as the metaphysical, most notably the specific kind of divinity attributed to Jesus by the Church. Again my point is not to deny the literal truth of these events and statements; I’m only saying that I personally don’t find it necessary to believe in this literal truth as strictly defined by Catholic dogmatics to affirm the gospel story, the life, death & resurrection of Jesus as profoundly moving, emblematic of the human condition and pointing to the highest truth. And the same would apply to all verbal descriptions, records and words, including the word God. Does that set me up as superior to someone who believes the literal creed? Absolutely not. That would be inconsistent with my assumptions, for if that literal belief leads to a compassionate and happy life and points toward the highest truth, it can’t be contested. In fact, I would go further and say that upholding the literal truth may be a necessary thing for the body of the church, as long as it doesn’t lead to intolerance or oppression. My question therefore has nothing to do with dispute over dogma or doctrine. It’s only asking whether the Church currently allows what may be called existential wiggle room for those who can more happily and effectively experience faith with a less-than-literal understanding of the gospels.

Sorry for being so long-winded. I’m actually quite new to writing in forums of any kind. I’ll work on brevity. Thanks for your response.


closed #9

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