Perpetuating Myths About Each Other

MassThe hubby and I went to Mass yesterday evening. I much prefer the Saturday evening Mass over Sunday morning in this small parish. It’s quieter, for one thing, and the singing, which is truly awful, is kept to a minimum. Now I love full liturgical music as much as the next person, but sometimes all the singing of the Glorias and Hosannahs and Alleluias and Amens is just a detraction from the simplicity of the rite. The simple beauty of the liturgy goes perfectly well when spoken in the hushed tones of the priest. Our parish priest, who is in his upper 80s, also barely speaks above a whisper when he delivers his homily and most of the time he rants on against the perceived enemies of the Catholic hierarchy, so it’s ok if the sermon is not too loud. Especially yesterday. Yesterday, he uttered an outright falsehood.

Railing on about how Catholics should believe every word uttered by the Pope and how the college of bishops and cardinals is the ultimate authority on earth, he actually said that Baptists recognize no authority but themselves when it came to biblical interpretation AND he actually said that Baptists deny the divinity of Christ!! I looked at my husband with a “Did he really say that?” look and sure enough, he repeated it. Now Baptists may very well not recognize any earthly authority like the Pope or the Church when it comes to personal interpretation. That’s a given. But to say Baptists deny Christ’s divinity is a lie. Now, this priest is old school, Pre-Vatican II, who still believes that the Baltimore Catechism is the latest and best scholarship out there for Catholic parents and their children. However, I can’t believe that lies like these are still being perpetuated by supposedly educated clergy. Baptists most certainly believe in the divinity of Christ, as much as any other Christian does, including the almighty Catholic church.

Now, I know I live in a small conservative farming town, but I thought at least some of the people were enlightened, especially the local pastors and priests. To be fair, lies about the Catholic church are uttered all the time in Baptist churches around the country, but it’s mostly out of ignorance of doctrine and the fine points of dogma surrounding Catholic statues and apocryphal horror stories about the confessional. I’ve never heard any of this nonsense in my local Baptist church though. The point is that the inflammatory statements are still being flung at each other by Christian denominations, seemingly without any responsibility to give anyone the truth of the matter.  All this mud-slinging serves each denomination’s own purpose; that of keeping the flock within their own denominational fold. It’s no secret that Catholics are losing members to Protestant churches at an alarming rate, especially to Charismatic churches, so I suppose priests feel compelled to say all kinds of things to keep members faithful to the magesterium. But, that, my friends, is spiritual pride.

Religious rituals and denominations are merely outward expressions of personal spirituality. I hate to break it to them, but neither the Catholics or Baptists have the Truth encapsulated and captured in their denominations. Neither do the Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, or any other denominational body. Nobody and no thing is infallible, not the Pope, not bishops, not the bible. We may all be wrong and we may all be right, we just don’t know and will never know as long as we are alive. But this denominational wrangling is ridiculous. Apparently, it was common in Paul’s day as well. Some followed the apostles, some followed other teachers of the new faith, but Paul wondered, why all the division?

10 Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,d by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 11For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters.e 12What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14I thank Godf that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power (1 Corinthians 1)

Division is what people do, that’s why. People naturally break up into groups based on race, gender, faith, etc. We can’t seem to live without our own special group identities. These divisions are not going to be solved in my lifetime that’s for sure because dividing is how we convince ourselves that our particular group is right. But, at least we can expose the falsehoods each are saying about the other and call them on the carpet for it. Before any dialog can take place, each group needs to admit they may be wrong. Since the Catholic church will never admit it is wrong about any matter whatsoever, I know that we will never see a resolution. Much like politics in America and in the rest of the world, we will remain divided in the foreseeable future.


4 thoughts on “Perpetuating Myths About Each Other

  1. We’re reading Proverbs this month over at my blog and a few others, and today we had chapter 4 in our reading. Verse 25 really struck me and I think it goes well with your post too:

    Let your eyes look directly forward,
    and your gaze be straight before you.

    That means not looking at what other people are doing but looking to Christ if Christ is your hope, to God and the eternal life if that’s where you’re headed…
    I don’t get why people would take their eyes off the most beautiful gift Jesus Christ and waste their time trying to grab earthly power and win what might be called “glory from other men”. Frankly does it matter if the Catholics have stronger tradition than the Baptists and the Baptists have stronger doctrine? If Christ is what we have in common, he is the foundation on which we should build.

    WHO CARES if 1 denomination is small and the other is big, if one is growing and the other is not… in my insignificant opinion all denominations should not be avoiding each other but exploring each other and seeking to see whether there is something to be learnt. If there is not, they don’t need to say bad things about the other but trust the intelligence or judgement of their own followers to make up their mind about how to worship Christ.

    Where is the scripture that says “Let God alone be true and every man a liar”. For me I should be happy to know that other Christians are zealous in their worship and seeking truth instead of blindly accepting whatever is chucked at them. Sorry my comment is a bit emotional I think, I just hate it when Christians allow the spirit of division to plant itself in the middle of the church that’s just the stupidest thing.

    Okay, I should stop. Thanks for not taking sides and joining in the denomination bashing & if my words are too harsh please don’t approve this comment– lol

  2. Diana,
    I agree one hundred percent. You’d think that both sides would be glad that the other contains committed Christians! It’s all about being RIGHT with these people (either side), not about Jesus. Great comment! 🙂

  3. Very good observations about how the different Christian churchs sometimes bash each other in the name of being “right”. The goal of each church is the same and that is to be “Christ Like”. At the end of the day, that is what should be strived for, everything else is simply man’s ego attempting to win, to be right. Remove the ego from the play and you are left with your spirit, energy, love, God, if you will.
    I enjoyed your writing and look forward to exploring more of your blog.

  4. tobeme,
    Thank you, I’m glad you like my writing! You are right about the ego. I mean really, who cares who has the most adherents or who is “right?” I believe love is supreme and all we have left to count on at the end of the day. 🙂

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