Why doesn't Romans 14 convince us of unity?

I have a hard time grasping what truly separates us when I read the Bible sometimes. Often I’ve brought up Romans 14 but I want to quickly make a topic about it and question why it doesn’t bring us unity?

Let’s go through it:

“1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”

How general is this command? Paul will soon speak of eating and drinking and also observance of days; but what other opinions can this be applied to? Prayer to Saints? Mary’s role? Communion?

"2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.

3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him."

Here Paul is speaking on behalf of both sides. One eats, one does not; but we cannot pass judgement on one who does or does not. Is Paul only speaking of vegetables and meat, or is there a bigger point on his mind?

“4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master { Or b lord b } that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

The answer is “no one” and I believe this can be said for all denominations. I believe Paul wanted unity regardless of beliefs on the little things that people make into big things.

“5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

Is this a statement against certain practices of holding Sunday or Saturday in high esteem and then arguing about which day? What about eating certain foods on certain days? Is Paul saying stop arguing about it, it doesn’t matter?

“17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Do we all agree with this here? It’s not about what we eat or drink or what we believe about said food, and we aren’t to quarrel over it. Paul must have had some troubles with this before and I feel as if things have not changed.

Do we constantly look down on others for not taking part in rituals or traditions regarding food, drink and days? And then do we throw a stumbling block and quarrel because of it? I think we always do.

Dronald…you go me confused with your question. Are you asking why are we not united in terms of food, drink and days? Or something else that is keeping us united?

Food and drink certainly set us apart, and our belief on such things. I believe (and correct me if I’m wrong) if one is Catholic and doesn’t believe in fasting on certain days or abstaining from certain foods on certain days, said Catholic would be in trouble.

But was Paul also speaking of other quarrelsome ideas or did he just want to make a point about food, drink and days? And if it could cover a variety of issues (did Mary die, can we pray to saints) then why isn’t there greater unity?

Okay…I will let others chime.

On Mary…here is article I just read: ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/jhitchcock_mary_aug05.asp

Misgivings About Mary | Dr. James Hitchcock

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Nowhere is the gulf dividing Catholics and Protestants wider than on the subject of Mary. Those conservative Protestants with whom Catholics increasingly find that they discover common ground, in defending Christian morality and the historic core of Christian revelation, are precisely the kind of Protestants who most quickly object to what they consider Catholic distortions in this regard.

Protestants who in principle balk at a serious consideration of Catholic Marian doctrines are inconsistent, for example, in accepting the doctrine of the Trinity, a word which nowhere appears in the Bible and the very concept of which is by no means obvious there.

Protestantism as a whole has a bad conscience about Mary, not in the sense that Protestants realize they are slighting her but in that the strong anti-Marian reaction of the Reformation period has frozen later Protestants into a permanent state of aversion to taking Mary seriously, except in marginal ways.

Perfect example! So that “Protestants are so inconsistent, look at them” and Protestants being so against it sometimes is in complete contradiction with Romans 14.

The article is quarreling where we should all be more accepting.

From the Article:

Ironically, the hoary Protestant charge that Catholicism turned Mary into a goddess is now literally true, since the feminists who claim her do not even care about her historical reality but merely treat her as a symbol, readily set alongside Aphrodite or Astarte. Thus, as with everything else which touches the Faith, it is now left for orthodox Catholics and faithful Protestants to begin again to explore this profound and so often misunderstood area of Christian belief. Questions of gender and of human sexuality are at the heart of the contemporary religious crisis, and nowhere does it seem more promising to begin to resolve them than with the Virgin Mother herself.

I am confused as to what exactly is being asked as well. One thing that I am sure of is that Paul is not asking us to accept error for the sake of unity. It does none of us any good to have unity in error.

St. Paul says we shouldn’t be quarreling about mere opinions, not about Church decisions.

In 14:4, the “you” is singular. Individuals shouldn’t pass judgment as that is the purview of the Church.

So was no one in error? Were both parties right in Romans 14?

I don’t know why you are complaining about not being unified when it is protestants like you who are separated from the Holy Catholic Church. :shrug:

FatherKowsBest hit the nail on the head:

Originally Posted by FatherKnowsBest
St. Paul says we shouldn’t be quarreling about mere opinions, not about Church decisions.

In 14:4, the “you” is singular. Individuals shouldn’t pass judgment as that is the purview of the Church.

O.P., the unity the Bible advocates is not institutional; it is spiritual. Also look for example at the case (Luke 9:50) where the disciples got all bent out of shape about the guy who wasn’t “part of their clique” and was casting out demons in Jesus’ name: Jesus told His men, “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Think about Jesus Himself: He was not a member of any religious organization; He was a man unto Himself, walking in the Path of perfect righteousness, and actually hated by the major religious organization of the time (Pharisees). And YET, they claimed to be the keepers of God’s truth, the only ones who could legitimately interpret His Word. :confused:

Nor were Paul and the other apostles members of any institution: the Body of Christ at that point was, as it should be, an organism, “lively stones.”

Institutions invariably become an end in themselves. That is anathema when it comes to things relating to God and His Truth.


BTW, it’s FathersKnowBest. I make up this name for the same reason that Jimmy Akin gave that name to his book, but before the book was written.

Have you ever read “Acts”? The Bible clearly show an organized institution with authority. Paul and Barnabas brought their issue before the Church, headed by Peter. This is the conciliar model upon which the Catholic Church is based even today.

Wrong. Jesus was a very faithful Jew.


“If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:17)

To what do you believe Paul was referring? Some vague spiritual church or to actual people within an organization?

Pretty amazing then that the Catholic Church is the oldest institution in the world, outliving all nations and kingdoms and other institutions for the past 2000 years, and still going strong. But then, Christ promised that he would never abandon his Church and would remain with it until the end of time. So far he has been true to his word.

I agree 100% with your point, we shouldn’t quarrel over opinions. But determining what is opinion and what is essential doctrine is where it gets tricky.

You might say it’s not a big deal to believe Mary was immaculately conceived or not, I would say it is. You and I would both would probably say that believing life begins at conception or that marriage is between one man and one woman are huge issues that all Christians should agree on. But there are several mainstream denominations that say exactly the opposite, that these teachings aren’t important. Who decides?

That’s why there has to be some kind of authority outside ourselves to determine what beliefs are essential and what are optional. Otherwise our only choice is to quarrel endlessly with each other, or have a sort of mushy quasi-unity that takes no real stand on any teaching, leaving it up to the individual to decide if he agrees or not. And neither one of those is the vision Scripture gives us for Church unity.

The church is made up of people with flesh and blood. It isn’t made up of spirits. And should you say “Yes, but the church is the church because of its head, Jesus,” I would remind you that He is flesh and blood, too.

Any time anything is made up of people, it is, by definition, an institution.

He is referring to issues that are morally benign. The issue of meat was previously settled as as issue that no longer held a moral gravity so to argue (and cause division) over these types of issues damages the unity of the Body of Christ. This doesn’t apply to tolerance to issues that have a moral gravity, however.

In more recent times, the requirement for women to veil at mass was set aside. However, whether a women chooses to veil, according to her own conscience, is not to be judged by others who chose the opposite. Such behavior causes undue division and lack of charity.

But Romans here speaks of someone who’s faith is lacking over a certain belief. I guess I just can’t wrap my mind around how different Churches act when reading what Paul wrote.

The major protestant reformers (Zwingli, Calvin, Luther) all believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity. They understood the Tradition of the Church and scripture in this regards. Luther even said that Jesus giving Mary to John on the Cross was proof alone of her perpetual virginity. One small step toward unity would be for all protestant’s today to be aligned with the beliefs of the major reformers on this point.

Let’s all be as ONE on this thought: that Jesus did not have brothers and sisters (at least not through Mary … perhaps through Joseph from a previous marriage). It’s not even - only - “Catholic” to believe this…it’s a Christian belief for over 1,600 years.


That verse makes me sad when I read it.

Well, on the bright side, we (mostly) managed to stay together for 1,000 years and even then, still stayed true to the original Church. It was 500 years ago when we really started messing up with the whole unity thing. On the bright side, there are articles all the time about how our Holy Father is meeting with various denominations and seeking common ground.

(formerly known as “lutheran farmer”)

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