When Christianity Goes Wrong.. Why Christ's Church Needs a Hierarchy


#1

Exhibits A and B.

This has been all over the internet in the past week. At the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Indiana, a small child received a standing ovation after singing a song called "Ain't No Homos Gonna Make it to Heaven." Meanwhile, Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church called for homosexuals to be rounded up into prison camps.

With churches like these and that of Fred Phelps, it's small wonder that Christianity is so widely despised in the modern world. These individuals are distorting Christ's message of love and repentance into one of self-righteous contempt.

To my view, this is the ultimate danger of Protestantism realized. Don't get me wrong, there are many Protestant pastors, theologians, lay people, etc. whom I respect and admire, but without a central teaching power over individual churches, it seems there is always the danger of such distorted theology and outright hatred creeping in with no higher authority to put a stop to it.

The unfortunate consequence is that many souls are warped by this very malevolent and hostile caricature of Christianity, more ammunition is given to those who claim that Christianity promotes bigotry and intolerance, and yet more are driven away from Christ by such a hideous mockery of his teaching.

It angers me to no end that people would spew such hatred in the name of Jesus, not to mention disparaging and, in the eyes of many, discrediting the faith I hold so dear. Scripture calls all Christians to be united in one faith--one belief-- in submission to the church. This is a sad example of what can happen when that summons is ignored.


#2

I was getting some of these same vibes from fellow “Catholics” in one of the other threads. It’s a slippery slope going from wanting gay people to give up their lifestyle in order to work at a secular job to rounding them up & putting them on a train to go take a shower. This is how it starts & the fact that so-called Christians are ok with the first step down frightens me.


#3

To me the biggest problem - and the SSA issue is just one example - is that those in the secular news industry are not committed to promoting the “middle road” that the Catholic Church teaches.
The road that recognizes the issues and problems, resists any sort of “knee-jerk” response and instead seeks to promote a comprehensive teaching that loves the person and recognizes individual rights while at the same time condemning sin.

Instead - what is reported is the extremes where you have these sorts of hate from one side and a desire for total and unfettered acceptance from the other side. This only promotes polarization - which drives otherwise reasonable people, who might embrace reasoned and comprehensive solutions, toward one extremist camp or the other.

Praise God for our Good and Holy Church and the many wonderful bishops who continually seek to reach out in Love and in good faith to all sides. We need to promote understanding and comprehensive solutions - not extremist ones that only help the evil one and his plans.

Peace
James


#4

:frowning:

I don’t have the words to describe just how… awful… those videos are.

And people wonder why homosexuals don’t repent. Would you repent if that was the preaching you were hearing?

In spite of it maybe, by the grace of God, but they certainly are doing everything they can do guarantee homosexuals go to hell.


#5

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:1, topic:286899"]
This has been all over the internet in the past week. At the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Indiana, a small child received a standing ovation after singing a song called "Ain't No Homos Gonna Make it to Heaven." Meanwhile, Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church called for homosexuals to be rounded up into prison camps.

[/quote]

These may indeed be problematic. But in what way?

Regarding the child singing that song I have not heard it. But based on the title is this not true in Catholic theology? If homosexual sex is a mortal sin then would someone who is unrepentant of this sin make it to Heaven? If this is so then it seems the the problem is a lack of love to the homosexual. It is the sense of gloating one might get from the song about this fact that is wrong. But is this worse than a church that said it was not at all sinful? Both stances would lack love. Both should be offensive.

Regarding the prison camps the pastor said:

Build a great big large fence 50 or 100 miles long. Put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. Have that fence electrified so they can't get out. You know what, in a few years, they'll die out. You know why? They can't reproduce.

I'm not sure he really meant this like some have taken it. It seems possible he was just trying, maybe crudely, to point out that homosexuals can not, according to their nature, reproduce. That is a fact. It seems that we are also called to be charitable. So we should find out exactly what he meant by his comments. And it would be unwise to trust the news media because they are biased in promoting homosexuality and controversy - except of course the controversy of a self-appointed anti-bully homosexual who bullies Christians by calling their religion something I can't type here.

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:1, topic:286899"]
These individuals are distorting Christ's message of love and repentance into one of self-righteous contempt.

[/quote]

Quite possibly. But many others are distorting Christ's message that sin is still sin.

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:1, topic:286899"]

To my view, this is the ultimate danger of Protestantism realized. Don't get me wrong, there are many Protestant pastors, theologians, lay people, etc. whom I respect and admire, but without a central teaching power over individual churches, it seems there is always the danger of such distorted theology and outright hatred creeping in with no higher authority to put a stop to it.

[/quote]

I see this said. And this is a good argument. But at the same time I have to say as a Protestant when I encounter this argument but also see how far Catholic institutions or authorities can stray from the truth themselves it loses some of its power. A generation of Catholics can be raised under teachers that teach error. I understand there is an official church teaching and the church over time tends to correct error. But it is not as if thanks to the hierarchy no wrong teaching ever occurs or goes uncorrected for significant lengths of time.

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:1, topic:286899"]

It angers me to no end that people would spew such hatred in the name of Jesus, not to mention disparaging and, in the eyes of many, discrediting the faith I hold so dear. Scripture calls all Christians to be united in one faith--one belief-- in submission to the church. This is a sad example of what can happen when that summons is ignored.

[/quote]

The world hates the Catholic church for its genuine teachings, like those on abortion and birth control. These teachings, which I agree with, discredit the faith for many people. I agree any church should teach the truth, but keep in mind that teaching the truth will always create enemies.


#6

People will say stupid things regardless of a hierarchy.


#7

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:1, topic:286899"]
Exhibits A and B.

This has been all over the internet in the past week. At the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Indiana, a small child received a standing ovation after singing a song called "Ain't No Homos Gonna Make it to Heaven." Meanwhile, Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church called for homosexuals to be rounded up into prison camps.

With churches like these and that of Fred Phelps, it's small wonder that Christianity is so widely despised in the modern world. These individuals are distorting Christ's message of love and repentance into one of self-righteous contempt.

To my view, this is the ultimate danger of Protestantism realized. Don't get me wrong, there are many Protestant pastors, theologians, lay people, etc. whom I respect and admire, but without a central teaching power over individual churches, it seems there is always the danger of such distorted theology and outright hatred creeping in with no higher authority to put a stop to it.

The unfortunate consequence is that many souls are warped by this very malevolent and hostile caricature of Christianity, more ammunition is given to those who claim that Christianity promotes bigotry and intolerance, and yet more are driven away from Christ by such a hideous mockery of his teaching.

It angers me to no end that people would spew such hatred in the name of Jesus, not to mention disparaging and, in the eyes of many, discrediting the faith I hold so dear. Scripture calls all Christians to be united in one faith--one belief-- in submission to the church. This is a sad example of what can happen when that summons is ignored.

[/quote]

In case you haven't noticed, your Church is pretty widely despised in the modern world, and while I know that many conservative Catholics like to think that this is just a case of darkness hating light, the reality doesn't seem to be that simple.

If all Christians followed the teachings of the Catholic hierarchy, would Christians really be less despised? I doubt it.

I'm not taking a stand here on whether the world has good reason to despise us or not. I'm simply pointing out that whatever stuff Protestants do to make the world despise Christians can easily be matched by stuff Catholics have done, so everyone becoming Catholic isn't going to solve this problem. That's true no matter how much of the "world's" attitude to the Church is based on hatred of the Church's moral witness and how much of it is righteous indignation against the Church's hypocrisy and lack of charity.

The Catholic Church is actually pretty much in the middle in this regard--there are Protestants--mostly fundamentalists--whose actions offend secular/liberal sensibilities even more than Catholics do, and there are others--mostly mainline liberals--whose actions offend those sensibilities much less. Evangelicals are more or less in the same boat with Catholics, in part because, like Catholics, they are all over the map on social/political stuff.

Edwin


#8

The bad news is that churches that invent their own traditions are not perfect.

The other bad news is that churches that have a hierarchy are not perfect.

I’d point out examples of the Catholic and Orthodox church’s failures to balance out the previously mentions ‘protestant’ failures, but we’re probably familiar enough with the subject that it’s not necessary.

As a Lutheran, as another example of failure - most Lutheran synods also have a bottom up elections, but top down theology - and they fail all the time. We fail to reconcile, fail to love, and fail to unite.

Even more tragically, I see no way for a church not to error unless it’s under the direct and manifest leadership of Christ.

And even then, we creatures would probably rebel rather than rejoice. :frowning:


#9

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:1, topic:286899"]

It angers me to no end that people would spew such hatred in the name of Jesus, not to mention disparaging and, in the eyes of many, discrediting the faith I hold so dear. Scripture calls all Christians to be united in one faith--one belief-- in submission to the church. This is a sad example of what can happen when that summons is ignored.

[/quote]

Religious hierarchy is powerless to stop this sort of thing in a free society. The only way you can forcibly impose any religious summons on a nation as a whole is through an intrusive hand-in-glove alliance between church and state. There is some harm that comes when bad people abuse religious freedom, but it is far outweighed by the benefits of living in a society that recognizes religious freedom.

More specific to your point. When you do live in a free society, it is true that the wall of separation between church and state forces non-Catholic Christians to refrain from overstepping their bounds by imposing their particular rules on people not in fellowship with them. But this is just as true of Catholic Christians, proving that your rigid hierarchy does not render you any more capable of handling these problems. But wait, you're about to tell me how Catholics maintain control over Catholics, and if necessary, bad people can be disfellowshipped as punishment. But you are clearly missing the point- once you disfellowship a bad person, he goes to a place called Westboro and starts a Baptist church that isn't really Baptist. In the end, what was your hierarchy able to do? Were you able to stop him? No, you were not, and that's because this is a free society where no church- hierarchical or otherwise- is capable of taking on that role.

We could, I suppose, tear down the wall of separation between church and state. But if we did, all types of religious leadership would be equally capable of making and enforcing laws according to their particular beliefs. Sharia law gets it done, Mormons would carry out many of the things you've suggested, a Lutheran government would no doubt do everything you've described, and I'm certain that an Anglican-controlled legislature would as well.

On one hand, no religious institution can do what you want- in a free society, that is. And on the other hand, any of them can do what you've described- providesd that religious freedom is completely demolished.

Would you like to know what it is that really sets the Catholic hierarchy apart from other systems of religious leadership? It is the tendency to consistently trample on religious freedom in almost every country where it's been possible for almost all of its history. This, at least, makes you unique among Christians. The other thing that makes you unique is your reticence to look at your past and see anything bad. Yes, of course, Catholicism as the state religion by any means necessary has been the normal pattern for most of your history. And of course you've killed or exiled heretics and Jews- among others- as punishment for not being good Catholics, and you've always felt that the Church functioned best when the state was most fully under its control. But the benefits must have outweighed the cost at the time- right? It must have been a good idea at the time- right?

Well....no, it wasn't a good idea at the time. The benefits did not outweigh the costs. And the only good thing about those patterns on governance- both where Catholics have done it and where early Reformers put it into practice as well- is the fact that they stopped doing it and moved on to something better. That better thing is freedom of religion- better on the whole, even if it does render us all incapable of deporting the members of Westboro or arresting them or burning them at the stake or whatever else it is you used to do. Again, there was some of this from early Reformers- Servetus is the prime example, although the involvement of Calvin himself tends to be overestimated- but the thing is, Protestants can look back on that as something awful that we should never return to. What I see from some Catholics- including the one who started this thread- is an implicit desire for the Catholic Church to retain its formal role as maker and enforcer of the law, and you're even framing it in such a way as to inform us of how much better you are at it than us.

This isn't something that you want to be good at. Not really, when you think it through.


#10

[quote="Sixpence, post:9, topic:286899"]

More specific to your point. When you do live in a free society, it is true that the wall of separation between church and state forces non-Catholic Christians to refrain from overstepping their bounds by imposing their particular rules on people not in fellowship with them. But this is just as true of Catholic Christians, proving that your rigid hierarchy does not render you any more capable of handling these problems. But wait, you're about to tell me how Catholics maintain control over Catholics, and if necessary, bad people can be disfellowshipped as punishment. But you are clearly missing the point- once you disfellowship a bad person, he goes to a place called Westboro and starts a Baptist church that isn't really Baptist. In the end, what was your hierarchy able to do? Were you able to stop him? No, you were not, and that's because this is a free society where no church- hierarchical or otherwise- is capable of taking on that role.

[/quote]

Yes, but the Catholic Church can say, "We don't approve of this."

Protestant churches can say it too. But no Protestant church claims to speak for Christianity as a whole. Catholics do. So someone can look at Catholicism and say, "hmm. . . . here's a large, ancient church that claims to be the truest representative of Christianity and actually has some basis for this claim, and they say that these guys are nuts who are perverting Christianity--I guess Christians as a whole aren't as crazy as I thought." On the other hand, if First Baptist Church of wherever, or even the NAE, says the same thing, a non-Christian may say, "well, it's good to know that there are nice Christians, but probably they aren't reading the Bible quite as strictly as those nasty ones, since the nasty ones seem to have some Biblical passages on their side." Hence, a hierarchy does have its uses completely apart from issues of church-state relations.

However, I still think that the OP's point is dubious, for reasons I gave in my earlier post. I answer you here because I think you have a highly exaggerated idea of the extent to which Catholic models of authority depend on a state church. (If, as I suspect from some of your statements, you've been reading Rodney Stark, then you ought to know better--Stark and Finke have pointed out how well Catholicism has managed to function traditionally in America, precisely in its pre-Vatican-II days when it had an extremely authoritarian, hierarchical structure with no links to the state.)

Sharia law gets it done, Mormons would carry out many of the things you've suggested, a Lutheran government would no doubt do everything you've described, and I'm certain that an Anglican-controlled legislature would as well.

No, I don't think Lutherans or Anglicans would do as well. Mormons quite likely. And Muslims do it much better in many ways--interesting, given their decentralization (at least if we're speaking of Sunnis).

On one hand, no religious institution can do what you want- in a free society, that is. And on the other hand, any of them can do what you've described- providesd that religious freedom is completely demolished.

Too simplistic--you reduce everything to state power, failing to recognize the differences among religious institutions in terms of how their authority functions, and failing to recognize that religious authority has all kinds of ways of functioning in the absence of a state church.


#11

Would you like to know what it is that really sets the Catholic hierarchy apart from other systems of religious leadership? It is the tendency to consistently trample on religious freedom in almost every country where it's been possible for almost all of its history. This, at least, makes you unique among Christians.

Utter nonsense. Name me the church that has had the power to do this and hasn't done it. Anglicans have done it, Lutherans have done it, Orthodox have done it. Conservative evangelicals do it these days insofar as they get the chance. Try being a Wiccan or an atheist in the Bible Belt, or even, in some areas, a Catholic.

Certainly, as in the first question (i.e., the ability of a church to provide moral clarity to a society), different churches do it differently. But just as all churches can do this to some degree, given the chance, so pretty much all churches historically have tried to establish some kind of religious monopoly, given the chance. The churches with the best record are the ones from whom this temptation has been withheld.

The other thing that makes you unique is your reticence to look at your past and see anything bad.

Again, nonsense. All churches produce romanticized, whitewashed versions of their own history. Free-church evangelicals are less invested in doing so for particular institutions because they are less invested in particular institutions, true. But they still want to believe that there have been "true Christians" who have somehow not done the nasty stuff that "professing Christians" have done.

Given the heavy investment Catholics have in the authority and continuity of the visible Church, it is striking how much honest historical scholarship has been done by Catholics. You won't get a lot of that on this forum, true--folks tend to prefer apologetics masquerading as history. But Catholics can look at the dark side of their past plenty. You don't actually seem to have much knowledge of Catholicism outside the rather narrow right-wing version prevalent on this forum.

That better thing is freedom of religion- better on the whole, even if it does render us all incapable of deporting the members of Westboro or arresting them or burning them at the stake or whatever else it is you used to do.

I agree that freedom of religion is, on the whole, better than the repression of heresy. But it's not perfect, either, and it's probably an intrinsically incoherent concept. You really can't have complete freedom of religion--you have to draw lines somewhere, and the lines have to be drawn based on some conception of the good. So you will always have a societal consensus about which "heresies" are tolerable and which aren't. (For instance, I think we all agree that freedom of religion excludes human sacrifice.) In short, while a high degree of relative freedom of religion is definitely good, absolute freedom of religion is simply impossible. And insofar as Americans are committed to the idea of absolute freedom of religion, they're committed to something incoherent.

Again, there was some of this from early Reformers- Servetus is the prime example, although the involvement of Calvin himself tends to be overestimated

Overestimated how by whom?

Calvin accused Servetus of heresy to the Genevan government, with the express purpose of having the government execute him. Calvin did not run the government, and did not run the court that condemned Servetus, but he did have a lot of influence over the government. He wanted Servetus beheaded, not burned, for what that's worth. But his involvement was pretty heavy. Servetus would almost certainly not have died when and where he did if not for Calvin.

  • but the thing is, Protestants can look back on that as something awful that we should never return to.

So can Catholics. You're right that some Catholics would like to see religious persecution return, but (at least if we're talking about the execution of heretics) they are a tiny minority--a loud but still relatively small minority on this forum, which is an extremely conservative one, and practically invisible in the larger Catholic population. As I said, religious liberty is a relative concept, so sure many Catholics would like to see some things that some folks would consider religious persecution (for instance, many people in our society would say that maintaining a heterosexual definition of legal marriage based on your religious beliefs is a form of religious persecution).

Edwin


#12

[quote="exnihilo, post:5, topic:286899"]
These may indeed be problematic. But in what way?

[/quote]

By completely disregarding Christ's admonition to "Remove the beam from your own eye first." So many of these "extremist" Christians target homosexuality as if it is the sin above all sins. Why isn't that child singing, "Ain't no liars gonna make it to heaven?" "Ain't no adulterers gonna make it to heaven?" "Ain't no thieves gonna make it to heaven?" These people use homosexuals as a punching bag.

Regarding the child singing that song I have not heard it. But based on the title is this not true in Catholic theology? If homosexual sex is a mortal sin then would someone who is unrepentant of this sin make it to Heaven? If this is so then it seems the the problem is a lack of love to the homosexual. It is the sense of gloating one might get from the song about this fact that is wrong. But is this worse than a church that said it was not at all sinful? Both stances would lack love. Both should be offensive.

Catholic theology holds that we can't know who will or will not "make it to heaven." Yes, Catholics believe that homosexual acts are mortally sinful but we certainly don't make a spectacle of the particular sins some struggle with and tell them they're going to hell. Of course the opposite is not loving either, but making entertainment out of something that is a very serious and sensitive issue for many people is downright despicable. It's hateful.

Regarding the prison camps the pastor said:

I'm not sure he really meant this like some have taken it. It seems possible he was just trying, maybe crudely, to point out that homosexuals can not, according to their nature, reproduce. That is a fact. It seems that we are also called to be charitable. So we should find out exactly what he meant by his comments. And it would be unwise to trust the news media because they are biased in promoting homosexuality and controversy - except of course the controversy of a self-appointed anti-bully homosexual who bullies Christians by calling their religion something I can't type here.

Quoting that pastor: "I figured out a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn't get it past the congress." For starters, referring to homosexuals as "queers" is very unChristian. Suppose he were talking about Mexicans and called them "spics"?

"It makes me puking sick to think about... could you imagine kissing some man?" Here he reveals his true colors: he is a homophobe. Never mind that in many cultures, men kiss in a completely platonic way; this is even present in the Bible.

The point he was making does not justify the statement. The fact that homosexuals cannot reproduce is obvious to anyone who has made it past middle school. To employ some neo-Nazi rant to the point is inexcusable.

Quite possibly. But many others are distorting Christ's message that sin is still sin.

I do not deny this. That, however, is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

I see this said. And this is a good argument. But at the same time I have to say as a Protestant when I encounter this argument but also see how far Catholic institutions or authorities can stray from the truth themselves it loses some of its power. A generation of Catholics can be raised under teachers that teach error. I understand there is an official church teaching and the church over time tends to correct error. But it is not as if thanks to the hierarchy no wrong teaching ever occurs or goes uncorrected for significant lengths of time.

As another poster pointed out a few posts down, the difference is that there is a body that speaks definitively for the Church, and the teaching of this body are accessible to each and every individual Catholic. I myself was raised in a considerably "cafeteria" Catholic home. After a long journey away from God, I came back to the Church and learned the faith on my own.

The world hates the Catholic church for its genuine teachings, like those on abortion and birth control. These teachings, which I agree with, discredit the faith for many people. I agree any church should teach the truth, but keep in mind that teaching the truth will always create enemies.

Without doubt. However, consider how often you see a Catholic church appear in one of these stories. How often do messages like these get delivered from a Catholic pulpit? If they are, how likely are the perpetrators to be disciplined?

While Jesus assured us the world would hate us simply for speaking His truth and many undoubtedly find the unadorned teachings of the Bible hostile to their lifestyles, these "extremists" make Christians seem unstable and dangerous.


#13

But having a hierarchy ensures that those stupid things can be disowned by the institution as a whole.


#14

I think I would have to be living under a rock to not notice that. I’m not proposing this issue as a scapegoat for all of Christianity’s problems. I’m just making the observation that, to my mind, this kind of Christianity fuels the fire and strengthens the opposition.

If all Christians followed the teachings of the Catholic hierarchy, would Christians really be less despised? I doubt it.

If all Christians followed the teaching of the hierarchy, I think evangelization efforts would be much more fruitful. If time was taken to explain the full vision of the Church instead of pointing fingers and crying “Sinner!”, I think we would see an increase in conversion. Would we still be spited and hated by many? Undoubtedly. Christ Himself assured us so.

I’m not taking a stand here on whether the world has good reason to despise us or not. I’m simply pointing out that whatever stuff Protestants do to make the world despise Christians can easily be matched by stuff Catholics have done, so everyone becoming Catholic isn’t going to solve this problem. That’s true no matter how much of the “world’s” attitude to the Church is based on hatred of the Church’s moral witness and how much of it is righteous indignation against the Church’s hypocrisy and lack of charity.

The Catholic Church is actually pretty much in the middle in this regard–there are Protestants–mostly fundamentalists–whose actions offend secular/liberal sensibilities even more than Catholics do, and there are others–mostly mainline liberals–whose actions offend those sensibilities much less. Evangelicals are more or less in the same boat with Catholics, in part because, like Catholics, they are all over the map on social/political stuff.

I am not claiming that the Catholic Church has never made mistakes and will never make mistakes again. We are all human and subject to sin and error. My point is simply that without a central authority, things can get a lot more out of hand. It’s order vs. anarchy.


#15

[quote="benjohnson, post:8, topic:286899"]
The bad news is that churches that invent their own traditions are not perfect.

[/quote]

Nor would I expect them to be. All Christians (should) know that God alone is perfect.

The other bad news is that churches that have a hierarchy are not perfect.

I never claimed this.

I'd point out examples of the Catholic and Orthodox church's failures to balance out the previously mentions 'protestant' failures, but we're probably familiar enough with the subject that it's not necessary.

Indeed. As I have been saying, my point in this thread was not to argue that the Catholic Church has been flawless in its carrying out of God's will. My point is that, regardless of its errors and crimes, Christianity is better off with it than without it.

As a Lutheran, as another example of failure - most Lutheran synods also have a bottom up elections, but top down theology - and they fail all the time. We fail to reconcile, fail to love, and fail to unite.

Such is the tragedy of the human condition. We all, Catholics, Protestants and non-Christians alike, are very much subject to it. :o

Even more tragically, I see no way for a church not to error unless it's under the direct and manifest leadership of Christ.

I agree completely. My perspective is that the next best thing is a teaching body whose authority extends all the way back to the Apostles and whose teachings have been handed down from them. Regarding this specific issue, if all Christians, Catholic or not, followed the teaching of the Church in respect to homosexuals, this kind of vitriolic speech would not take place in churches.


#16

[quote="Sixpence, post:9, topic:286899"]
Religious hierarchy is powerless to stop this sort of thing in a free society. The only way you can forcibly impose any religious summons on a nation as a whole is through an intrusive hand-in-glove alliance between church and state. There is some harm that comes when bad people abuse religious freedom, but it is far outweighed by the benefits of living in a society that recognizes religious freedom.

[/quote]

Religious hierarchy can remove individuals from public ministry and declare them to be in error, excommunicate them, etc.. The state does not enter into the life of the Church (at least it shouldn't. Of course, here in America, that notion is currently being contested.)

More specific to your point. When you do live in a free society, it is true that the wall of separation between church and state forces non-Catholic Christians to refrain from overstepping their bounds by imposing their particular rules on people not in fellowship with them. But this is just as true of Catholic Christians, proving that your rigid hierarchy does not render you any more capable of handling these problems. But wait, you're about to tell me how Catholics maintain control over Catholics, and if necessary, bad people can be disfellowshipped as punishment. But you are clearly missing the point- once you disfellowship a bad person, he goes to a place called Westboro and starts a Baptist church that isn't really Baptist. In the end, what was your hierarchy able to do? Were you able to stop him? No, you were not, and that's because this is a free society where no church- hierarchical or otherwise- is capable of taking on that role.

Given that we all have free will and the Church is opposed to capital punishment, of course "stopping" such individuals is impossible. My point is that Christians who are faithful to the Catholic Church have an unchangeable body of doctrine that they can be assured has been faithfully handed down over the centuries. It is a matter of historical fact that no other church has maintained its original doctrines. I am not suggesting that if all Christians were Catholic that these types would disappear. What I am saying is that the Catholic Church possesses the best means of counteracting such movements within its ranks.

We could, I suppose, tear down the wall of separation between church and state. But if we did, all types of religious leadership would be equally capable of making and enforcing laws according to their particular beliefs. Sharia law gets it done, Mormons would carry out many of the things you've suggested, a Lutheran government would no doubt do everything you've described, and I'm certain that an Anglican-controlled legislature would as well.

Again, you're putting words in my mouth. I am not issuing a call to militant action. I am merely putting forth my opinion on what I see as a huge weak spot for Protestantism, and a good reason to believe that Christ wants all of us to be united in one faith with one doctrine. I also happen to believe that the Catholic Church is the instrument through which he wishes this to be achieved.

On one hand, no religious institution can do what you want- in a free society, that is. And on the other hand, any of them can do what you've described- providesd that religious freedom is completely demolished.

I don't know exactly what you think "I want." I don't want a religious institution to force anyone to do anything. My only want is for all of my Christian brothers and sisters to, of their own free will, become united in one body.

Would you like to know what it is that really sets the Catholic hierarchy apart from other systems of religious leadership? .....

I absolutely love how willing you are to put words in my mouth. I would like to see your sources for the Catholic Church "trampling religious freedom." And, for your information, I'm well aware that the Church's leaders have been guilty of some very heinous crimes in the past. I'm not some blind, rosey-glassed fool. The issue of executing heretics is a very complex one that involved secular powers as much if not more than Church powers, but I don't have the time to get into that debate. Further, your claim that intolerance has been unique to the Catholic Church is laughable. Didn't you ever have to read "The Crucible" in school?

Well....no, it wasn't a good idea at the time. The benefits did not outweigh the costs. And the only good thing about those patterns on governance- both where Catholics have done it and where early Reformers put it into practice as well- is the fact that they stopped doing it and moved on to something better. That better thing is freedom of religion- better on the whole, even if it does render us all*** incapable of deporting the members of Westboro or arresting them or burning them at the stake or whatever else it is you used to do.*** Again, there was some of this from early Reformers- Servetus is the prime example, although the involvement of Calvin himself tends to be overestimated- but the thing is, Protestants can look back on that as something awful that we should never return to. What I see from some Catholics- including the one who started this thread- is an implicit desire for the Catholic Church to retain its formal role as maker and enforcer of the law, and you're even framing it in such a way as to inform us of how much better you are at it than us.

You've done a great job of making a spectacle of yourself. I never suggested anything so ridiculous nor would I ever. The entire last two paragraphs of your entry are nothing but libelous presumption and slanderous conjecture.


#17

Thanks.


#18

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:12, topic:286899"]
By completely disregarding Christ's admonition to "Remove the beam from your own eye first." So many of these "extremist" Christians target homosexuality as if it is the sin above all sins. Why isn't that child singing, "Ain't no liars gonna make it to heaven?" "Ain't no adulterers gonna make it to heaven?" "Ain't no thieves gonna make it to heaven?" These people use homosexuals as a punching bag.

[/quote]

We don't know what else they sing or preach about. Maybe they are harsh on all sorts of popular sins. By the way homosexual sex is on many short lists of sins even in the NT. Maybe they followed it up with 'Let the Church Roll On'.

Let the church roll on (oh my lord)
Let the church roll on (oh my lord)
Let the church roll on (oh my lord)
Let the church roll on

There's a deacon in the church (oh my lord)
And he won't do right (oh my lord)
What shall we do (oh my lord)
Turn him out and kick him out
And let the church roll on

There a drunkards in the church (oh my lord)
And he won't do right (oh my lord)
What shall we do, take the liquor pour it out
And let the church roll on

There's women in the church (oh my lord)
Got paint on their face (oh my lord)
What shall we do take some water and wash it off
And let the church roll on

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:12, topic:286899"]

Catholic theology holds that we can't know who will or will not "make it to heaven." Yes, Catholics believe that homosexual acts are mortally sinful but we certainly don't make a spectacle of the particular sins some struggle with and tell them they're going to hell. Of course the opposite is not loving either, but making entertainment out of something that is a very serious and sensitive issue for many people is downright despicable. It's hateful.

[/quote]

It seems to me that you must be assured that certain behavior jeopardizes your eternal soul which means Hell. We don't like to say that these days but they were more clear about that in the past. I do agree that this is no excuse to not have at the same time compassion. But really people seem to most worry about compassion when the sin is popular and many aren't so sure it should even be a sin. There are plenty of other sins people seem less worried about showing compassion for. I'm pretty sure I know lots of Christians who would show less compassion for someone who mistreats an animal than a homosexual.

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:12, topic:286899"]

Quoting that pastor: "I figured out a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn't get it past the congress." For starters, referring to homosexuals as "queers" is very unChristian...

"It makes me puking sick to think about... could you imagine kissing some man?" Here he reveals his true colors: he is a homophobe. Never mind that in many cultures, men kiss in a completely platonic way; this is even present in the Bible.

The point he was making does not justify the statement. The fact that homosexuals cannot reproduce is obvious to anyone who has made it past middle school. To employ some neo-Nazi rant to the point is inexcusable.

[/quote]

Regarding the term some homosexual practitioners use that same term. The term has negative and insulting connotations because the activity is immoral. Personally I'm not going to worry too much about his choice of words. As for the kissing in our culture kissing is sexual that is repulsive. If I told my wife I kissed another woman I don't think me telling her other cultures greet with a kiss would be a good explanation, nor make it right. She would interpret something sexual about it.

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:12, topic:286899"]

As another poster pointed out a few posts down, the difference is that there is a body that speaks definitively for the Church, and the teaching of this body are accessible to each and every individual Catholic. I myself was raised in a considerably "cafeteria" Catholic home. After a long journey away from God, I came back to the Church and learned the faith on my own.

[/quote]

OK. But that definitive body does not solve your problems. There are far more speaking without definitive authority. And sometimes the definitive authority speaks in a way that can be understood in different ways thus requiring clarification of the clarification.

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:12, topic:286899"]

Without doubt. However, consider how often you see a Catholic church appear in one of these stories. How often do messages like these get delivered from a Catholic pulpit? If they are, how likely are the perpetrators to be disciplined?

[/quote]

I have no idea. The Catholic church is a worldwide church. I don't know what all goes on even in America.

[quote="prodigalson2011, post:12, topic:286899"]

While Jesus assured us the world would hate us simply for speaking His truth and many undoubtedly find the unadorned teachings of the Bible hostile to their lifestyles, these "extremists" make Christians seem unstable and dangerous.

[/quote]

If they ever read what St. Thomas said about heretics they'd have the same problem.


#19

I agree that Christianity needs a hierarchy. Does anyone know of one that is not riddled with dissension and/or corruption?

Anglican hierarchy, dissension certainly, corruption not very likely.

Roman Catholic hierarchy, dissension certainly, corruption (I couldn't possibly comment).


#20

You have the example of Westboro, a seemingly renegade church that says and does ridiculous things.

However you also have very large church bodies that, when something goes wrong (or even actively set up dangerous situations) will choose cowardice instead of humility, and sacrifice the protection and well-being of its members and those in the larger community in favor of institutional self-preservation. When this happens it can’t honestly expect others to regard it as a moral voice.

A hierarchy does no good for reigning in extreme behavior unless there are healthy checks and balances from within - and without - to protect its members and the community at large.


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