Critiquing Catholicism

Yesterday, I had a conversation on Youtube, mainly on Catholicism. I had done some brief reading of the basics, but I never really dove in. Here’s the debate for anyone who is interested. 

In Roman Catholicism, I think there is only one question you need to answer: it’s what is more important, scripture or tradition. If our walk with Jesus is personal, I don’t see how years of tradition could improve that relationship. I’m not saying that the traditions of the church are wrong; I am simply saying that they are not necessarily true. I accept scripture as being the Word of God. And while tradition may have given us scripture, there is tradition that followed scripture. And while there is dispute between Catholics and protestants over whether to accept the apocryphal writings, I think we all accept the validity of scripture itself. 

What I think Protestants and Catholics should certainly be able to agree on is the words of Jesus. That’s why I would take a careful look at Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Mark 7. 

 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Jesus says plainly that we are to value the word of God over human tradition. The question is why?

The more people that play the game of telephone, the worse the final message is. I don’t see how we could expect thousands of years of church tradition not to stray from the truth. Let’s take this approach for the history of science. Imagine if everything accepted by science, you believed. This is obviously not possible, because there are too many contradictions to count. The earth cannot be flat and round at the same time. The earth is either the center of the universe, or it’s not.  

For that reason, I think that the catholic church could be taking us further away from the truth of Jesus. It’s as simple as this: we have one story, followed by thousands of years of tradition. If the story saved those that came after, why do those that follow need the tradition? 

If the Holy Spirit works in us through the word of God, what use is the tradition of the Catholic Church? 

There is only one truth. And Jesus claimed to be it. I think the Gospel is as close as we can get to this truth. But the continued evolution of tradition seems to be a flawed way of getting closer to the truth. If we have the word of God and the Holy Spirit, both alive in this universe, why not just go directly to the source? Would you trust your information about something more if you watched a live video of it happening, or if you talked to someone who talked to a police officer who watched the video? 

That’s why I’m not a Catholic: Jesus said plainly that scripture was more important than human tradition. And if truth is the goal, and we consider Jesus the truth, you can see how centuries of tradition could take us away from that. 

42 thoughts on “Critiquing Catholicism

  1. The Greek noun used in Mark 7 and translated as “tradition” is paradosis”. The same word is used in 1 Cor 11:2, 2 Thes 2:15 and 2 Thes 3:6 – all of these verses tell us to follow tradition.
    You cannot compare transmission of tradition with telephone game. Jesus promised that He will send the Holy Spirit to guide us in truth and to remind us of everything He said (John 14:26).

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    • The verse in Corinthians reads: I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. All of the tenses of these verses is referring to something already passed, in my opinion.

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  2. In Greek, 1 Cor 11:2 the tense corresponding to the verb translated as “passed” is present tense. Those of 2 Thes. 2:15 and 3:6 are in aorist tense. Greek tenses is not the same with that of English. English does not have aorist tense. Even if they refer to something that already passed still means that both written and unwritten tradition are important.

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      • That’s hardly a reason to require it. If it was necessary, you’d think Jesus would have mentioned it.

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      • That is why we have Tradition. Whatever Jesus and the apostles said may not be written. There reason of infant baptism is they, though being not able to sin, were born with Original Sin. Doctrine Original Sin itself is not mentioned in Scripture.

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      • It doesn’t. But it does mention that children are made holy by the faith of their believing parents who were otherwise unholy.

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      • 1 Cor 7:12-14 talks about those whose spouses are not believers. All of them, children and unbeliever spouses are sanctified by the believers’ ones. In Greek the word “holy” and “to sanctify” have the same stem.

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      • I didn’t say they were the same. Faith, in this case, would be the reason the children are sanctified. Not because they were baptized.

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      • No, the verses says the parents sanctify each other, even is one of them is not believers, no mention about role of faith. The unbeliever spouse became sanctified while remains unbeliever. Sanctification is not product of faith.

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      • The unbelieving spouse was sanctified [as are the children] because of the believing spouse. I use that term to mean ‘one who has faith.’

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      • From your previous comment: In Greek the word “holy” and “to sanctify” have the same stem.

        All of this aside. Why do you think infant baptism does anything to sanctify them?

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      • These children that were made holy were likely not baptized, though. And even if they were, we are told that that is not the reason they are holy.

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      • How do you know they were no baptized? To sanctify means to set apart to be dedicated to God. Baptism is not the reason they are holy. It is God who sanctify them and sanctification is a process that ends when we die.

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      • I don’t think we have reason to believe that infant baptism adds anything to their holiness.

        And please use sources.

        Can non-Catholics go to heaven?

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      • I never wrote that infant baptism add holiness. Scripture says that Baptism forgives sins (Acts 2:38) and through it we walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Babies cannot sin but they were born with original sin. Scripture does not even mention original sin and therefore does not mention that babies have it. That is why we need Tradition. Being holy is not being sinless. A saint or a holy one is sinner set apart and whose sins are forgiven.

        To answer your question whether non-Catholics can go to heaven. According to Scripture, the righteous shall go to eternal life (Mat. 25:46). Both Catholics and non-Catholics can be righteous by grace of God, not by their own effort, and therefore can go to heaven.

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      • So how is tradition not adding on to the Word of God? Are you saying that Scripture is incomplete? What about all the babies that died before this tradition?

        So why be Catholic?

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      • Both Tradition and Scripture are Words of God according to Catholic teaching. They complement each other, not adding or completing each other. Scripture nowhere says which books and how many books are in Scripture. For Catholics canon of Scripture was fixed at Trent council. As Catholics we have Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium that works together. If you insist Scripture alone as authority then there are a number of Christian beliefs that cannot be found precisely in Scripture.

        What happened to babies who died without baptism? God is not bound by His Sacraments – He can save those (not only babies) whom not through their own fault do not know the Gospel and/or have no chance for Baptism (like one thief crucified with Christ).

        Why be Catholic? Every Catholic has different reason. My main reason is the Catholic Church is the Church established by Christ Himself. You don’t have to agree with me and I do respect your disagreement.

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      • I respectfully just believe that Jesus directly addressed this issue with the Pharisees. The Word of God trumps tradition, according to Jesus. I’m going with ‘Mere Christianity.’ To me, it’s intellectually viable and consistent.

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      • What bothers you? Washing your hands before meal? It is recommended in our daily life for health reason. I do it and I believe you do too. If you do it for religious reason and then criticize those who don’t, it is a different issue.

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      • More or less, I see the catholic system as one of boundary around the law. Using tradition as justification, as did the Pharisees.

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      • My interpretation of the words and message of Jesus. There are several other verses that also bother me if I’m a catholic. Let me know if you’d like to YouTube debate out it or discuss it further.

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      • 2 Thes. 2:13 because it says God Saves us through sanctification and not through faith alone.
        John 6:55 because Christ said His flesh is food indeed (Greek alethos) and His blood is drink indeed. The word alethos in NT never points to anything symbolic or not in reality.
        Rev 3:8 that says as the Lamb Christ has been slain from the foundation of the world. The Greek verb “to be slain” is in passive perfect tense that indicates an action completed in the past with continuing result to the present.
        Rom. 5:19 that says through Christ we are made righteous. It does not say through Christ we are counted as righteous as taught by the Reformers.
        Mat. 25:46 that says the righteous shall go to eternal life. It does not say those who are counted as righteous based on righteousness of Christ shall go to heaven.
        Jer. 33:17 that says God will make levitical priests continue offering sacrifice continuously. Without Jerusalem Temple, levitical priesthood of Judaism ceased offering sacrifice.

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