Liberal Protestant point of view


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As a Liberal Protestant, I would like to state a (there is no “the”) point of view, in order to have Catholic comment on it. We take the Gospels seriously, although admittedly we tend to ignore the rest of the New Testament. When I say “seriously” I do not mean “literally”: the scholarship of modern biblical critics (from Bultmann and Schweitzer on down) shows that much in the New Testament is apocryphal interpolation or mythological. Nevertheless, the essence of the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ is presented. Just as a couple of examples, (1) our Lord never condemned gays and expressly commanded us not to judge: what right have we to judge gay people? (2) Jesus said all foods are lawful to eat: what gave the Church the right to order what foods, and when, Chistians should eat?
I am sure Catholics strongly disagree with me; but I only ask for civility and charity in any responses you make.
Oof. I would reject Bultmann out of hand. A studied opinion, but opinion it remains and is certainly not binding on the faithful. Bart Ehrman - do you take him literally? Both - Ehrman particularly - expunge the metaphysical aspects of the faith, if not of God Himself.
Here is an excellent watch: Dr. William Marshner, a theologian and former Lutheran who explains the reasons for his conversion. He relies wherever and whenever possible on historical fact. 54 well-spent minutes.
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(1) Nobody judges gay people. We do judge, indeed must judge, sodomitical behavior. The Bible condemns it in no uncertain terms — are we not to read our Bibles? Are we supposed to say “yes, it’s there in black and white, but I’m not supposed to judge, so I’ll just ignore that part”? To contemplate the acts themselves allows us to see that they are contra naturam. Strictly speaking, you wouldn’t even have to be a religious believer, to see that there is something just a little “bent” about such practices. The hygiene aspect alone is quite enough.

(2) The foods are indeed lawful, the Church just prescribes abstinence from meat as a means of penance. Meat does not become ritually impure at midnight on Friday and then become “kosher” again at 11:59:59 pm. Meat is, for many people, the most pleasant, tasty, and satisfying kind of food, and to do without it leaves many people feeling cheated (for lack of a better word). It’s just inconvenient enough to be a token penance. Eastern Christians give up a far greater range of foods for longer periods of time, for the same reasons.
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  1. OK, I re-read your post. My bad. Christ loves ALL but calls ALL to repentance. He asks us to deny ourselves and take up our crosses. Predilection to sin is a cross. As to relying on scripture alone, the bible is incomplete. It tells us so if we pay attention. John 21, 21
  2. It’s use when torn away from the authority which produced it, becomes a license to sin. 2 Thessalonians 2:14
  3. Paul addresses all manner of sin which separates us from God. 1 Corinthians 6
  4. Do you maintain that there is no heterosexual sin? If so, why? See above.
  5. Biology and Jesus’ words Male and female He made them. Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves unto his wife. This has been completely redefined by moderns. Matthew 19, Mark 10
  6. If you are attracted to the same sex, you are called to deny yourself. If I lust after women, I am called to deny myself. If. I am a drunkard, I can called to sober up. Sin is sin. We cannot “un-sin” it by redefining the term.
  7. Those who hear and decide not to repent have placed themselves against the Church - not the converse.
  8. Who said life is easy?
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I understand that the bible teaches us to “Judge” but when that judgement devolves into cruelty, then it is my belief that we are stepping out of Christ’s examples of “Love and Mercy”. It is of course our duty to counsel our fellow sinners when they “might be stepping outside the box” so to say, (we “owe” that to any and all of God’ children. However, when it comes to the punishing phase (as in the case of homosexuality) It is my understanding that Jesus Christ holds that position. All that I am saying is that I am so sick to death of the over zealous cruelty in so many of our worlds "text-book Christians.
However, when it comes to the punishing phase (as in the case of homosexuality) It is my understanding that Jesus Christ holds that position.
Who exactly is “punishing” homosexuals within the Catholic Church?

That’s not something we do. Unlike some more conservative Protestant denominations, we make homosexuals welcome, and the Catechism rightly urges us to treat them with dignity and compassion. Some professing Christians see unwanted homosexuality as something that can be overcome by prayer and holiness. Sadly, “pray the gay away” hardly ever works. It’s a psychic wound that the sufferer can’t help.
Thank you for getting back to me. First off, I was (in my formative years) raised in the Catholic Church. Catholic Schools, Alter boy, ect. Please understand when I speak of punishment it takes the form of hate, bigotry and lack of compassion. Of course, not just the Catholic Church but all other religions as well. When I chose to marry a protestant girl and a year or two later wanted to be re-married in the Church, during an interview by an older priest, he referred to our civil ceremony as “non-existent” and that in the eyes of the church my wife was no better than a whore. It was eight years later that we decided to try again. It worked out better that time but only because my wife agreed to convert to Catholic. Please understand, I know that the Church can be no better than the people that make up its membership but isn’t that the rub? The very people that are supposed to be spreading Gods Word are spreading mans “interpretation” of that Word. When I speak of Gods Word, I tell of his never ending Love and Compassion. And that in accepting that Love, we must freely give the same back. I truly believe that until we do this with all our hearts we will never be able to accept the true dogma of sin and judgement. Believe me, no one is more aware of the holes in my “views” than I am.
Great responses! I hoped to stir things up. A little later I hope to address some of your criticisms (mostly valid from your point of view, but not from mine).
When I chose to marry a protestant girl and a year or two later wanted to be re-married in the Church, during an interview by an older priest, he referred to our civil ceremony as “non-existent” and that in the eyes of the church my wife was no better than a whore.
There was no excuse for that language. It is true that you were in an invalid marriage, but you were seeking to resolve that, but that doesn’t fit into any pastoral practice I’ve ever heard of. I am very sorry that happened to you.
I’d like to respond to some of your comments: more ammunition for your attack (which I encourage).
  1. Radical scholars: Believers should take the conclusions of scholars like Bultmann, a devout believer, or Ehrman, a non- believer, insofar as they find them helpful; nothing says they have to take them further. (I myself prefer the Lutheran biblical commentator Joachim Jeremias; readers of Pope Benedict’s excellent life of Christ will remember that the Pope held JJ in high esteem.)
  2. Fasting: Our Lord commands fasting as an individual spiritual discipline; but nothing he says suggests that an institution like the Church should command the time or manner of fasting (his comments on the scribes and pharisees suggests the opposite).
  3. Judgment: “Judge not lest ye be judged” (Mat. 7:1-2) is for me one of the hardest mandates of our Lord. Nevertheless, it is there, and we must do our best to follow it. Not only the Catholic and Orthodox churches but almost all protestant denominations have failed to do so.
  4. Homosexuality: Our Lord, unlike Paul (who had somewhat pathological tendencies) is silent on this matter. It is something the individual believer, guided by his or her Christian conscience and not by man-made (Church) rules, must deal with. Just to upset you, I will add that I put abortion in the same category of individual judgment. Note that criminal acts (like child abuse) are to be condemned as against all moral standards (something the Roman church and the Southern Baptist Convention took a long time to figure out).
    In sum, I can’t help but regard Catholicism as a true form of Christianity, but one unduly burdened and complicated by human rules.
    Thanks for your attention.–Bob
I don’t have an easy, handy-dandy way to attempt to persuade you that Catholicism is the truest form of Christianity, or that the various flavors of Protestantism (as well as a critical, individualized assertion of what is, indeed, true and false, right and wrong, good and bad, without respect to any one denomination) are lacking. Our Lord was silent on many matters that Catholics (as well as Orthodox and even Protestants) regard as important — to take such an approach is similar to Thomas Jefferson’s dissection of the Bible to highlight only the words of Jesus. And where Paul goes beyond the words of Our Lord, I can only say that his letters are also part of the Bible, which Catholics and Protestants agree is God’s Word — classical Protestantism doesn’t say “Paul’s letters aren’t to be taken as seriously as the Gospels”.

Here is an excellent source that makes the Catholic case in a very complete fashion, but I warn you, it is highly polemical here and there:

God tests us. That is a right reserved to him. Do we enjoy it? Never. But, that testing was of your resolve to enter into full communion and you passed. When you encounter someone uncharitable, that is their tacit plea for prayer. I think of such testing like surgery, or cancer. Not enjoyable, but the graces that sustain us through it and any healing received ultimately strengthen us and are for our good.
We are to admonish our brothers/sisters, judging their behavior, but God alone judges their heart. Society devolves when we are not admonished, but rather tolerated.
The fact that scripture is silent on any subject in no way means that Christ was silent. There was no LGTBQ movement 2,000 years ago. Christ empowered the Church, “He who hears you hears Me” as recorded in Luke 10:16. Christ gave the Apostles the power of binding and loosing, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit into all truth. Yet, if we acknowledge our sin, the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation is immediately available. The problem is that, since the “reformation”, sin has progressively been redefined into irrelevance. Whereas normal was normal, sin is now normal. What changed?
The judgment we are to have is more akin to discernment, upon ourselves, our actions and sins and attitudes.
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven” (Matthew 16:19, 18:18) NOTE: He said “Whatever.” Pretty broad latitude there. He trusted His Church to establish appropriate disciplines for the faithful; disciplines which reflect love of God, nourish spiritual growth and help perfect souls for the Beatific Vision.

I must point out that the sources you mention have all been condemned by both Catholic AND Orthodox, 1.5 billion living members with Apostolic traditions directly to the twelve. Bultmann an innovator and polemicist and Ehrmann an atheist.

If you are here to attack, negate, minimize or diminish Catholic teaching, your efforts are misplaced. If you are here seeking understanding, you will be granted it.

If you do not assume that your views are correct (many of us here rejected our former Protestantism) we can converse. But, you cannot assume that Catholics hold to Protestant doctrines. Quite the converse. As well we cannot cherry-pick moral truths. We accept them in toto or reject them. How can a crime (child abuse) which does not kill the child be evil while abortion which does kill the child not be evil? It’s not a child? Unity of sperm and egg are a child. Lacking that union, there is no child. After that union there is nothing other than a child.

Sexual sin is well dealt with within the seamless garment of scripture. As well, with Christ’s authority, the Church has spoken. The Catechism, available online, clearly explains Catholic doctrine. Your views seem more consistent with the world. What did Christ teach about the world? Who is the prince of this world? These questions may strike some as archaic, or arcane, but are indeed foundational.

To understand Christ and the Church He founded, one must set their protestant bias aside to have clarity.