Before I start on my study of the history of the church I want to do an “aside” post here on another topic.
I just read a very thoughtful post over at Rachel Held Evan’s blog about mysticism and evangelicalism. In it she was commenting on a book by Tim Challis about how mysticism, which he defined at any experiences with God outside of the Bible, as not being valid. I am not going to get into his arguments to back up this belief nor Rachel’s counter to it. Click on the link above to see all that. Instead I am going to talk about how Mr. Challis and many evangelicals I have encountered to have thoroughly dismiss the pope as a mediator between man and God but then turn around and put the Bible in that position.
I personally have been on both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide so I think I have an understanding of some of the differences. I spent the first 20 years in the Catholic church in one degree or another. I went to the first seven years of schooling being taught by nuns and priests. During that time I learned that man can’t interact directly with God as he is just too holy for our sinfulness. Instead we had to count on the parish priest for our daily interactions with God and for the Pope for the really deep understandings.
Even during those years I felt uncomfortable with this idea. We received communion on a regular basis but at that moment when the bread wafer turned into Jesus it was over the hunched shoulders of the priest ruling over the mass. We just weren’t allow to be part of that transformation. When I was an altar boy I occasionally tried to sneak a look at just what was going on but never saw anything I thought was miraculous about it. I just couldn’t understand why I needed someone else to talk to God for me.
As was typical I turned away from all things religious during my college years. I occasionally dabbled in the RCC but only very tepidly. When I was about to get married I had my first encounters with those people outside the “real” church. THose who call themselves Protestants in one form or another. The flavor I was involved with were Lutherans. I must admit that many of the things with Lutherans and Catholics are very similar. They have basically the same liturgy and beliefs with most things but definitely not when it come to the Pope. I can’t number how many times I heard very harsh words about the pope in my Lutheran circles. I was embarrassed by this almost hatred because I couldn’t understand it coming from Christians.
In reality I have come to realize that Lutherans and I expect many other Protestants have simply moved from one mediator to another. They take all authority away from the pope and put it on the document created under the tutelage of King Constantine in the fourth century. Of course that document is the Bible. While the Bible contains very inspiring writings passed down from generation to generation before being penned it is not the sole presence of God in the world today. To say that God quit instructing us how to live and love more than 1600 years ago is to take power away from him. And I am just not one to do that…..