Walking. Praying. Beholding.
Thousands of words could be written that would give a detailed account of the week-long pilgrimage to Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day. Instead, I want to offer some brief vignettes under the thematic words I have provided above. My reflections will relate to how I experienced World Youth Day from the perspective of a seminarian discerning his vocation to the priesthood. Let’s begin…
One of the common questions that begin a challenge to Catholic teaching by non-Catholic Christians is: “Where in the Bible…?” The question is usually asked in good faith with a genuine interest in wanting to know how Catholics justify their beliefs.
But, this phrase makes two presumptions made by the one inquiring that I want to expose as being unsound. First, it presumes that the ground of all beliefs and practices have to be explicitly expressed in the Bible. Second, that the non-Catholic who asks is following this principle within their life and within the Church community they attend. Both presumptions are wrong on grounds that they are both demonstrably false.
To show this, I am going to present the ‘Top 7’ examples of either unbiblical or non-biblical beliefs and practices that non-Catholic Christians engage in all the time and in a wide variety of ways.
By this list I want to show that Catholics are not the ones that need to have a defensive attitude on the question of what justifies our beliefs. Catholics should be happy to share what grounds our beliefs. At the same time, non-Catholics might realize that the things they accept as ‘Gospel Truth’ are actually their own traditions that they have received not from the Bible, but from the interpretive choices of their denomination.
*A note on terminology:
NON-BIBLICAL beliefs and practices are those which cannot be found explicitly in the Bible. Protestants operate from a general belief that all their beliefs are CLEARLY or EXPLICITLY found in the Bible. Catholics hold that beliefs and doctrines can be found explicitly and implicitly in the Bible and in the Tradition that has been consistently handed on from the beginning. Remember, what I am arguing is that Protestants are actually approaching things in a similar way to Catholics and not the way they claim they approach their beliefs. But, they are not drawing from the Tradition of the Church, but instead have created traditions of belief that did not arise from early Christian history.
UNBIBLICAL beliefs, in contrast, means that these beliefs, doctrines or practices are contrary to the Bible. They are not only not found in the Bible but actually contradict the Biblical witness. Some Protestant beliefs are fluid; meaning that they began as a NON-BIBLICAL tradition and evolved into an UNBIBLICAL doctrine.
So, here we go!