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    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    Me and the Bible and Me


    Sometimes I wonder just how lazy it is possible for me to be. It's been almost a week since the Pope declared that he was Catholic.
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    Finally this nice gentleman comes forward on CNN to make all the usual counterpoints for me. Even better, he used to be a Catholic but has escaped.
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    Well, good luck to him. Not that he needs it because he's studying Scripture now.
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    For him to even suggest that only the Catholic Church can provide true salvation to believers in Christ shows that he is wholly ignorant of the Scriptures that I have known all my life.
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    Sorry, let me take that back. I've really only known the Bible for the last 13 of my 38 years. That's because those first 25 years were spent as a die-hard Catholic.
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    The Bible records in Matthew 28:16 that Jesus called his 11 disciples (the other, Judas, hanged himself after betraying Jesus) to Mount Galilee and decreed, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (New International Version).
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    This gentleman perhaps missed the point that there were many followers of Jesus around when he made this statement, yet Jesus called only his 11 disciples to Mount Galilee.
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    Hmmmmm... Sounds like the Apostles/Bishops to me. Not that I couldn't go out and make disciples of all nations if I really wanted to. But wouldn't a Church come in handy here? And if a church, which of the thousand churchs do you suppose? Perhaps the ones that can trace their lineage back to the Apostles.
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    It doesn't matter what Pope Benedict XVI has to say, or for that matter, any other religious leader. A Christian believes in Jesus Christ and what He had to say, not what a man of God has to say. This is not an attempt to completely dismiss religious leaders, but is further evidence of what happens when ego is more important than the work of Christ.
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    Ah yes, ego is sort of like Pride, and one of those 7 deadlies. It is precisely the effort to decide just what it is that Jesus has to say that created these thousands of denominations in the first place. The situation is hardly made better by millions of people creating their own little church by the fireplace reading the Bible and deciding for themselves. Talk about ego!
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    It's hard work, made so much better by having access to an authoritative teacher with 2,000 years of commentary and thought and the Spirit's guidance.
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    John 14:6 says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Nowhere does it say that Peter, Pope Benedict XVI or anyone else can supplant Jesus as the leader of the church.
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    Right, exactly. And to tie things up in a tidy package, the Catholics believe that Jesus abides in the Church guided by the Holy Spirit. But you know what's next. Someone on earth would have to speak for the Church. Today that's Benedict and the Bishops united with him, and the Priests united with the Bishops, and the whole of the people in union with them.
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    I should apologize for picking on the gentleman. It's just that there are so many like him out there. The comments on Benedict from organized religion were much more reasonable.
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    And the reality is that we were never really encouraged to study the Scriptures. The standard practice was for all of us to read the same pamphlets passed out by the church, recite the readings from the New and Old Testaments, listen to the Scripture chosen for us in the Gospel and hear a normally bland homily.
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    Ha, sounds like some sort of Scripture study to me. But yes, those homilies are sometimes bland.

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