Thursday, March 14, 2013

Habemus Papam and blind faith

The ancient Latin announcement, "Habemus Papam (we have a Pope) echoed across St. Peter's square yesterday as cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina became the next Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Pope is the supreme spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, the head of his own country (the Vatican) and is called the successor of St. Peter, Pontifex Maximus or supreme leader, the first amongst equals and the vicar of Christ on the earth. 

 The Latin word "vicar" means substitute or representative, hence the Pope is a visible representation of Jesus himself according to Catholic teaching  and speaks with the authority and infallibility of God Himself when making a papal pronouncement or teaching regarding faith and morals. That happens rarely but that is something Roman Catholics are expected to believe without hesitation.

The past couple of weeks I have been debating some Catholic priests and apologists on a Christian forum and have challenged them to give scriptural support for a several of their doctrines that have been infallibly proclaimed. A couple of those doctrines are purgatory and the belief that Mary the mother of Jesus was born free from original sin (the Immaculate Conception), lived a totally sinless life, was bodily assumed into heaven and is the person all Christians need to go through to get to Jesus.

The bottom line is scriptural evidence for those beliefs do not exist but the apologists adhere to them stubbornly and believe that the teaching and doctrines are true because the Catholic Church says it is so. 

My question to Catholics is do you really know what your church teaches? Have you ever studied your catechism and compared it to the written word of God (the Bible)?  Are you taking on blind faith that your church is teaching you correctly? Most importantly, in whom or what are you putting your faith and trust? Jesus or the institutional church?

For non-Catholics, especially non-Catholic Christians, my questions are the same. In whom do you put your trust? The institution of your denominational affiliation or in the living Son of God, Jesus Christ?  Does your church's "confession" or profession of faith really line up with the written word of God or do you just take it on blind faith that your church leaders are "right" when they tell you what you are to believe?

Christians are to be accountable first and foremost to God and secondly to men and  church authority. Peter and John were ordered by the Jewish religious leaders of the day to cease and desist teaching about Jesus. They refused because they had to obey God rather than men. It is a lesson we all need to learn.

Salvation is not through an institution but through the person of Jesus Christ by placing faith in Him and what He did at Calvary by dying for our sins past present and future. It is not about being a member of a an exclusive club (church) or going through some elaborate ceremonies that allegedly make us special in God's sight.

It is about repentance from not putting God first in our lives, placing faith in Jesus and accepting his righteousness and holiness through simple faith and then walking out that faith daily. That is what makes a person saved, sanctified and a member of the church of Jesus Christ. Filling out a membership role, attending a class or going through a baptism ceremony as a baby does not accomplish that.

How do you know? The Bible says so.

Read the Bible for what it really is, the written word of God that can be believed and trusted for everything we need. Paul writes the following to Timothy:

 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV)
The Psalmist writes:
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

(Psalm 119:105 NKJV)
Trust what the word of God has to say. It is your responsibility to know what you believe and why. Passing the buck doesn't work.
God bless.