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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Part 2: What about Cafeteria Catholics?

If we are Christians, then the implication is that we submit to Christ and His Teachings. Even the ones we don't care for.

Cafeteria Catholicism, then, seems to be the antithesis of the Christian model.  It is really NOT submitting to Christ, but rather to that which only appeals to our own sensibilities.

That is:  
"When I submit only when I agree, then the one to whom I submit really is me."

Cafeteria Catholicism is akin to folks in ancient Palestine following Jesus, saying, "We like what this guy says, except for His teachings on A, B and C.  So we'll be His followers, but we're going to keep our own opinions about A, B and C.   Yeah-- Jesus may have gotten it wrong on A, B and C."  

Kind of cheeky, right?!!  "Jesus, we think you're the 2nd Person of the Godhead, but you need to tweak your teachings A, B and C a bit, eh?"

I think most Cafeteria Catholics respond by saying, "We're not disagreeing with Christ when when say we reject teachings A, B and C.  We're just disagreeing with the Church.  Christ and the Catholic Church are not always one and the same."

On the one hand, they are correct--the Catholic Church and Christ are not always one and the same. Thus when a bad Catholic does a bad thing, that is not the same thing as Christ doing the bad thing.  
And when a priest speaks, it's not necessarily Christ who is speaking.  

However, it must be said that the ONLY way that Cafeteria Catholics know ANYTHING at all about God and what He has revealed is because the Catholic Church has proclaimed this.

So it's odd that a Catholic would say, "Yes, the Church got it right when she says that God is love, and that the Gospel of Matthew is inspired, and that our sins are forgiven, and that we should forgive seventy times seven..."

but then also say, "The Church gets it wrong when she says that abortion is gravely sinful, women cannot be ordained to the priesthood, non-Catholics may not receive communion..."

How do they know the Church got it right on teachings X, Y, and Z, but wrong on A, B and C?

What is the canon they use to determine when the Church is right and the Church is wrong...if not simply what they "feel" they want to agree to?

Cafeteria Christianity is nothing more than creating a Christ that conforms to our own selves.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What about Cafeteria Catholics?

"Cafeteria Catholics" are typically defined as Catholics who "pick and choose" what doctrines of the Church they follow, as if they were in a cafeteria, picking and choosing what foods appeal to them.

However, Catholics are not free to pick and choose what doctrines to believe.
We are obligated to give our religious assent to all teachings of the Church on faith and morals.

(And here, by "not free" we of course don't mean that Catholics aren't ABLE to pick and choose.  Of course, we all have the ability to pick and choose, thanks to the gift of our free will.  What is meant is that "picking and choosing" is not sanctioned or permitted .)

We can't read the Catechism and metaphorically tear out the pages we don't like.

As Apologist John Martignoni writes:  

You want to call yourself Catholic, but you want to pick and choose for yourself which of the Church's teachings to accept and which to reject, you give everyone else who calls themselves Catholic the right to do the same thing.

For example, you believe women should be the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1577 states, "Only a baptized man validly receives ordination...For this reason the ordination of women is not possible!" You don't believe that...well, that's fine...[RIP] just tear that page out of your just made it a Catechism of your Catholic Church...not mine.

But remember, if you can throw doctrines out, so can everyone else who calls themselves Catholic. That gives Joe Parishioner over at St. Doubting Thomas Catholic Church the right to throw out the Church's social justice teachings...he doesn't feel like feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, and all that other "bleeding heart" stuff - Paragraphs 2401 -2463 [RIP]...he just made it a Catechism of his Catholic Church...not mine and not yours.

You believe contraception is okay? Paragraph 2370 says contraception is intrinsically evil! [RIP] Joe Parishioner doesn't like what the Church teaches on the death penalty - Paragraphs 2266-2267[RIP]. You don't like what it teaches on pages 55-60 [RIP]. He doesn't like what it teaches on pages 128-140 [RIP]

Can you see what's happening? I heard it said once that there is a shortage of vocations to the priesthood in the United States, but no shortage of vocations to the Papacy! If we don't believe in all of it, if we each appoint ourselves Pope and throw out a doctrine here or a doctrine there, then our faith is no longer Catholic.

The Catholic faith is a seamless garment, given to us once for all.  Removing one thread of the garment, because it's not to our tastes, leads logically to the unraveling of another thread, which, eventually destroys the entire thing.

This cartoon illustrates quite trenchantly how denial of one tenet logically leads to the denial of another tenet, which eventually leads to denial of all the basic fundamentals of the faith:

I think that it makes sense that if there is a God, then, by definition, He is going to command some things, assert some truths, obligate us to believe in some ideas which aren't to our liking.  

I am suspicious of anyone's theology which has a god who happens to agree with every single moral position that the believer already had.

Person A:  "God wouldn't care if I look at porn, as long as I don't act on it!"

Person B:  What's your personal opinion on porn?  

Person A:  "Well, I have the same view!  It's fine to look at as long as I don't act on it!"

Rather, shouldn't this be the paradigm:

Person A:  I'm sorry, but if you're not Catholic, you really cannot receive the Eucharist.

Person B:  What's your personal opinion on this?

Person A:  Well, my personal wish is that everyone who came to Mass could receive. However, God didn't consult with me on this and so I have to conform* my views to His, not re-create a god who happens to believe everything that I believe and want the Church to be.

As Protestant Pastor Tim Keller says, "If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself."

(*conforming our views to God's doesn't mean a blind acceptance.  It doesn't mean that we simply and unthinkingly re-form our position to what the Church teaches without trying to comprehend the reasons behind this teaching.  As Cardinal Henry Newman said:  "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, for a man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, without doubting that it admits an answer".  In other words,
 a Math Student can struggle to understand how the Math Professor got a different answer to the math problem than she did, but she can accept that the Math Professor has the right answer--she simply needs to conform her calculations to achieve the same answer.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Can Catholics believe in reincarnation?

Answer:  No.

This Sunday's second reading from Hebrews professes:

Just as it is appointed that human beings die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.--Hebrews 9

And this is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about reincarnation:

Death is the end of man's earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny. When "the single course of our earthly life" is completed, we shall not return to other earthly lives: "It is appointed for men to die once." There is no "reincarnation" after death.--CCC 1013

CCC Search Result - Paragraph # 1013
1013 Death is the end of man's earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny.
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There are not a few Catholics, especially in the world of Internet discussions, who assert, "Well, I'm Catholic but I believe in reincarnation".

Unfortunately, Catholics are not free to choose what teachings on faith and morals they accept or reject. They can't assert this any more than someone can say, "Well, I'm Catholic but I believe that the Epistles of Paul don't belong in the Bible" or "I believe that Mary is a goddess, and I'm Catholic" or "I believe that women should be ordained, and I'm a lifelong Catholic".

We have the Faith, given to us once for all (Jude 1:3), and we must conform ourselves to it.

Not create a faith that conforms to our own person views.

If we are in a discussion regarding reincarnation, a good question to ask is, "What evidence do you have for reincarnation?"  Whenever someone makes a positive assertion (i.e. "Reincarnation is true!"), then the  the burden of proof for an unsubstantiated supposition falls on the person making the assumption.

Some proponents of reincarnation propose that the Bible supports it, specifically, they will cite Matthew's gospel where Jesus indicates that John the Baptist is the reincarnation of Elijah the Prophet:

And the disciples asked him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?" He replied, "Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.--Matthew 17:10-13

Apologist Tim Staples responds to this:

"Jesus is not speaking of reincarnation when he speaks of “Elijah [having] already come.” He speaks of St. John the Baptist having the spirit and the power of Elijah. In fact, Luke 1:16-17 helps us to understand Matthew 17:10-13 better when the angel Gabriel gives us further definition, if you will, of what "Elijah [having] already come" actually means. He says to Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist, concerning his son who would soon be miraculously conceived:

And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli'jah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.

Notice, he comes “in the spirit and power of Elijah” as a prophet of God. That is what is meant by “Elijah has already come.”

Also, logically, the idea of reincarnation doesn't make sense. What mistakes in our past lives have caused us to suffer in this life?  If we are to learn from our past mistakes, then why can't we remember what our past mistakes were? What's the point of being reincarnated if we can't remember what we did wrong in the previous life?

Finally, reincarnation is not compatible with Catholicism because reincarnation views the body as a mere receptacle--a shell to hold the spirit.  In reincarnation the spirit is supreme; the body is insignificant.

However, in Catholicism, the body is wondrous, awesome and profoundly important! We are not merely shells holding an immortal soul, but a magnificent Body-Soul composite

From EWTN:  For a Christian, the body's significance is good, inescapable, and central; Christianity itself cannot be understood apart from an appreciation of the body. It is a myth that the Catholic Church teaches as it does about sexuality because it undervalues sex. The Church teaches as it does because it values human sexuality so highly. And in valuing sexuality, it necessarily values the body.