What are the Catholic superstitions & legalisms, if any?


#1

Hi,

In one of my many debates defending the faith I was stymied by a member of the Church of Christ (a non-denominational Christian/Protestant group) when he said that the Church of Christ rejects the superstitions and legalisms found within the Catholic Church.

What are these superstitions and legalisms mentioned by protestants?


#2

You’re going about this the wrong way. Don’t ask us–ask him!

*He’s *the one making an accusation. The burden of proof is on him. Pin him down. Make him tell you what these supposed legalisms and superstitions are. Make him prove to you that the Church teaches them.

Then, if he can manage to do that (which I doubt!), you can begin to refute his claims.


#3

Yeah… ask him…


#4

A particular devotion can become superstitious if divorced from the proper interior disposition. Thus, it seems to me that any particular Church of Christ devotion has that same potential—keep this in mind if he starts listing things like the Rosary, etc. His own congregation is likely to have practices that could be regarded as superstitious under certain circumstances. For example, the “sinner’s prayer” strikes me as superstitious when it is promoted as a get-to-heaven-free ticket, without any requirement for personal conversion.

As for legalisms: the Church derives its authority from Jesus, handed down to us through Apostolic succession. His church does not have this same God-given authority. It seems to me, then, that any requirements that his congregation imposes would truly be man-made legalisms.


#5

My CofC friend calls Alms and Indulgences, Scapulars, meatless Fridays, Lent, and such as superstitions and legalisms. Before you ask your friend to be more specific (and fall right into his trap), you may want to brush up on these practices and disciplines. I promise you he’s already loaded with ammunition. He’ll just be stunned (mortified, to be exact) to find out that he’s talking to a Catholic that knows the reasons behind our “superstitions”. After all, he’s probably used this on other Catholics who couldn’t defend the beauty of our faith.

Good Luck,

NotWorthy


#6

[quote=NotWorthy][font=Verdana]My CofC friend calls Alms and Indulgences, Scapulars, meatless Fridays, Lent, and such as superstitions and legalisms.
[/quote]

Thank you NotWorthy, this is the information I was seeking.

I could not imagine any superstitions existing within the Catholic Church, or what was meant as ‘legalisms’.

I find the idea of Lent, Scapulars, etc. to be considered as ‘superstitions’ highly offensive. This gives me something to focus in on for future debates.

Thank you.


#7

In my experience, those who accuse the Church of being too legalistic or having too many rules just want to use contraception.


#8

[quote=Kay Cee]You’re going about this the wrong way. Don’t ask us–ask him!

*He’s *the one making an accusation. The burden of proof is on him. Pin him down. Make him tell you what these supposed legalisms and superstitions are. Make him prove to you that the Church teaches them.

Then, if he can manage to do that (which I doubt!), you can begin to refute his claims.
[/quote]

Hello Kay Cee,

Actually, I heard the term Legalisms and Superstitions applied to the Catholic Church by more than one protestant, both vocally and in print.

I just need to know what the protestants are talking about before I can formulate a good counter-argument. This post of yours helps!


#9

[quote=challenger]Yeah… ask him…
[/quote]

Hello Challenger,

If I do ask him, all I’m going to do is get a definition which I have never encountered before and might possibly be unable to logically or theologically refute.

I feel I need to do my homework before sallying forth to do verbal battle.

For example; the very idea that the Rosary is considered a superstition by the Church of Christ/protestants will only result in invective on my part. How do I show Christian charity when such a fundamental of Church teaching is disparaged? By well formulated theological arguments, that is how!

Thanks for your post. :slight_smile:


#10

[quote=Bobby A. Greene]If I do ask him, all I’m going to do is get a definition which I have never encountered before and might possibly be unable to logically or theologically refute.
[/quote]

If this ever happens, just be honest that you don’t know the answer off the top of your head, but you will go find out for him and get back to him. Just make sure you actually do get back to him :thumbsup:


#11

[quote=Bobby A. Greene]Hi,

In one of my many debates defending the faith I was stymied by a member of the Church of Christ (a non-denominational Christian/Protestant group) when he said that the Church of Christ rejects the superstitions and legalisms found within the Catholic Church.

What are these superstitions and legalisms mentioned by protestants?
[/quote]

I.once.asked.a.workmate,“thought.you.weren’t.into.this
superstitious.stuff”,when.he.asked.to.borrow.my.newspaper,so.he
could.read.his.Star.Sign.


#12

Then you must not get out much. There are ample opportunities for Catholics to fall into superstitious practices. To say you can’t imagine it happening is naive at best. Take a trip to Mexico or the Philippines and you’ll see what I mean…

However, just because some folks use sacramentals in a superstitious manner doesn’t make the overall practice a superstition.


#13

[quote=cleopa]Then you must not get out much. There are ample opportunities for Catholics to fall into superstitious practices.
[/quote]

I didn’t mean throwing salt over the left shoulder after knocking over a salt shaker or getting nervous if a black cat crosses your path; I was asking what aspects of Catholicism are interpreted by protestants as being ‘superstitious’? Again, I can’t imagine any practice, ritual, or devotion of the Catholic Church to be superstition!

Take a trip to Mexico or the Philippines and you’ll see what I mean…

Why? What happens in Mexico or the Philippines?

However, just because some folks use sacramentals in a superstitious manner doesn’t make the overall practice a superstition.

Could you provide examples how sacramentals are used in a superstitious manner? Thanks!


#14

How about, “If you die while wearing a brown scapular, you’ll go to heaven”? I’ve heard this before, although it is not taught by the church.

NotWorthy


#15

Bobby A. Greene,

You asked, “Could you provide examples how sacramentals are used in a superstitious manner?”. Though your question was directed to cleopa, I can answer that easily enough: probably any sacramental or devotion can be rendered superstitious when it is regarded, not as an exterior sign of inner commitment and disposition (such as a scapular), but as a “trick”, so to speak—“if I just wear this scapular I will get to heaven”, or “If I repeat this novena on such-and-such days my wish will be granted”, etc, while ignoring the interior life. In short, it’s regarding these things as magic tricks. Our priest (an excellent, orthodox priest) once found some printed prayer cards in the pews that made promises if some particular routine was followed. He described this as superstitious, and advised people to toss these things out when we find them (he promotes scapulars----wears one himself, as do I–and other traditional devotions, so his objection was to the “magic” promises, not to traditional devotions themselves).


#16

[quote=Sherlock]A particular devotion can become superstitious if divorced from the proper interior disposition. Thus, it seems to me that any particular Church of Christ devotion has that same potential—keep this in mind if he starts listing things like the Rosary, etc. His own congregation is likely to have practices that could be regarded as superstitious under certain circumstances. For example, the “sinner’s prayer” strikes me as superstitious when it is promoted as a get-to-heaven-free ticket, without any requirement for personal conversion.
[/quote]

I certainly agree with you here. I’ve been with Protestants who led a group of children in the “Sinner’s Prayer.” They genuinely believed that any child not already ‘saved’ who prayed the prayer would be ‘saved,’ regardless of how well the child understood what he or she was saying or of how interested the child was in actually following Jesus.


#17

[quote=Sherlock]Bobby A. Greene,

You asked, “Could you provide examples how sacramentals are used in a superstitious manner?”. Though your question was directed to cleopa, I can answer that easily enough: probably any sacramental or devotion can be rendered superstitious when it is regarded, not as an exterior sign of inner commitment and disposition (such as a scapular), but as a “trick”, so to speak—“if I just wear this scapular I will get to heaven”, or “If I repeat this novena on such-and-such days my wish will be granted”, etc, while ignoring the interior life. In short, it’s regarding these things as magic tricks. Our priest (an excellent, orthodox priest) once found some printed prayer cards in the pews that made promises if some particular routine was followed. He described this as superstitious, and advised people to toss these things out when we find them (he promotes scapulars----wears one himself, as do I–and other traditional devotions, so his objection was to the “magic” promises, not to traditional devotions themselves).
[/quote]

Hi Sherlock,

Thank you. What is the proper counter-argument if some one claims that the Rosary or the Scapular are superstitions?

My understanding of the word superstition implies an obsessive/compulsive behaviour toward a given occurence or object, such as black cats, ladders, four-leaf-clovers, rabbit foots, and the like. How would a scapular or saying the Rosary ever compare to these things in the eyes of a protestant?


#18

[quote=NotWorthy]How about, “If you die while wearing a brown scapular, you’ll go to heaven”? I’ve heard this before, although it is not taught by the church.

NotWorthy
[/quote]

If it is not taught by the Church, then it is irrelevant. Sounds like somebody needs to go back to Catechism Class. At least, that is what I would inform a protestant or a member of the Church of Christ (i.e. same thing).


#19

I would counter that the devotions, properly understood, reflect an interior committment. In saying the Rosary, we aren’t simply mindlessly repeating words—the words mean something to us, and they form a background to our meditations about the life of Christ. So ask them to explain how reflecting upon the life of Christ, or the saying of prayers, is superstitious? If they talk about “vain and repeated prayer”, then ask them if they have ever said the Our Father more than one time. Formal prayer has its place, and the angels, we are told, repeatedly praise God by saying “Holy, holy, holy Lord”. Ditto with the scapular: it reflects an interior disposition, and because it does so it becomes an avenue of grace. They may have a problem with that, though, because the Protestant understanding of grace is somewhat limited and so their understanding of the Sacraments and sacramentals is limited. One almost has to back up into a discussion of grace to get them to see what you’re saying clearly. But, remind them of what superstition is: the mechanical doing of some external act without an interior committment. A “magic” trick, in other words. So, unless they can see the inside of someone’s soul, they have no ability to criticize the Rosary or the scapular.

[quote=Bobby A. Greene]Hi Sherlock,

Thank you. What is the proper counter-argument if some one claims that the Rosary or the Scapular are superstitions?

My understanding of the word superstition implies an obsessive/compulsive behaviour toward a given occurence or object, such as black cats, ladders, four-leaf-clovers, rabbit foots, and the like. How would a scapular or saying the Rosary ever compare to these things in the eyes of a protestant?
[/quote]


#20

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