Thursday, July 5, 2012

Church Doctrine Unchangeable

Some say that the U.S. Constitution is a “living document” that can be constantly reinterpreted as society changes and new standards become acceptable or new situations arise. I say that viewpoint is wrong. The Constitution is static and unchangeable, carved in stone, and not subject to reinterpretation as society changes. The principles behind the Constitution are meant to be unchanging. Those principles may be applied to new situations but the principles themselves don’t change as society changes.

Similarly, the principles in the Bible don’t change either. The Bible can’t be reinterpreted to fit modern agendas – although that’s exactly what some are doing. Moreover, biblical principles can’t just be ignored or rationalized away if they happen to conflict with some modern agendas.

I read an article a couple of weeks ago in the Poughkeepsie Journal about some disagreements within the Roman Catholic Church concerning church doctrine. An organization representing several orders of nuns is being criticized by the church hierarchy because it was allegedly promoting viewpoints on several issues that were not consistent with the church’s stand. Let me point out several things for your consideration:

First of all, if you sign up with any organization, whether it is a church or the Masons or the Rotary, you agree to its mission and philosophy. If you disagree with these, then you should find a church or organization that is more to your liking. People claim to “love the church”, yet they are trying to undo 2,000 years of orthodoxy and remake the church to fit their agenda – which, by the way, is often contrary to biblical teachings as they’ve been understood for millennia.

Having said that, we must also realize, in dealing with the Church, that there are differences between doctrines, practices and opinions. In the Catholic Church these distinctions tend to become blurred, but they are important.

●Doctrines: Most doctrines are based on the Bible, which Christians believe was inspired by God and is therefore sacrosanct. Doctrines are supposed to be unchanging because they are based on transcendent biblical principles.

●Practices: these are usually man-made and are subject to change. Reasonable people can differ concerning practices but shouldn’t differ when it comes to the clear teachings of the Bible. Examples of Roman Catholic practices are the mass in Latin, priestly celibacy, and ordaining only men, all of which have little or no biblical support. Vatican II updated the Church somewhat by eliminating or changing some practices. Sadly, the current pope is trying to roll back some of the advances made by Vatican II and make the Catholic Church even more medieval than it already is.

●Opinions: these represent the church’s stand on certain issues that are not clearly addressed in the Bible. For example, the Catholic Church’s ban on artificial birth control is an opinion since the Bible doesn’t specifically address birth control. Biblical references supporting the ban are usually taken out of context and make a very weak argument. On the other hand, the stand against abortion has strong biblical support, starting with the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.”

Lastly, as a Protestant, I have to say that I disagree with some doctrines of the Catholic Church. That’s because certain doctrines are not based on the Bible but on “Church Tradition.” Examples of these are Purgatory (nowhere in the Bible), the perpetual virginity of Mary (contrary to many passages in the Bible), and the Immaculate Conception of Mary (nowhere in the Bible). Nevertheless, as I said earlier, if you claim to be a Catholic (or any religion, for that matter), then you should accept its doctrines. If you reject much of what your church teaches, then you should consider looking for another church. Religion and faith aren’t things you dabble in, but are life-changing commitments to God and the community of faith.

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