Random Questions and Answers about the Catholic Church teachings.
Random Questions, Answered will be an ongoing section with several phases aimed at solving those issues that many Catholics and non-Catholics have with our faith. My goal is to ask and answer some of the most common questions about the Catholic Church teachings. You may not agree or like the answers but you can count on it being truthful teachings of the Church.
Is Babylon really the Catholic Church?
Babylon in its literal sense is the name of an ancient city on the Euphrates River. I believe it is now the area called Iraq. It was to this city and its environs that the Israelites were deported by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar about the year 587 B.C. They were released later by Cyrus, the Persian.
Babylon, because of this experience, came to be a term for evil governments and was applied in a figurative sense to pagan institutions. This figurative use was carried into Christian times by convers from Judaism, the Apostles among them. In the early years of Roman persecution, Babylon became a code word among Christians for pagan Rome. It is in this sense that the name “Babylon” for pagan Rome is used by John in revelation. Some good examples are Rev 14:8 and 1 Peter 5:13. The idea that the word applies to the Roman Catholic Church has no justification in fact. It was born of the anti-Catholic feeling of the Reformation era.
What and why is the difference between the Catholic and Protestant Bible?
In the New Testament, both the Catholic and the Protestant Bibles have the same 27 books
At the time of Christ and the Apostles there was a Hebrew Bible and a Greek translation, the Septuagint, used by the Greek-speaking Jews. Both were considered authentic Scripture. Many of the Old Testament quotations in the New Testament are from the Septuagint version.
For the Old Testament, the Catholic tradition has retained the Septuagint Bible which had 46 books. The Protestant tradition follows the 24 book of the Hebrew text as regards content, but most of those are rearranged in sequence and several are divided, giving a total of 39 books. Catholic editions of the Old Testament contain the rearranged 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures plus seven others which are current in the official Latin Vulgate Bible and which Protestants include among the apocrypha.
It might be assumed that the Hebrew version is the more ancient canon (official collection) but the fact is that the Jews mad no distinction between the Hebrew and the Greek Bibles. In Judaism at the time of Christ, both Bibles were used interchangeably. The Jews did not establish an official Bible until the second century after Christ.
What is a “born again” Christian? Are Catholics “born again?”
The phrase “born again” as used in Saint John’s Gospel (3:3-9) and is Saint Peter’s Epistle (1 Peter 1:23) actually refers to the divine adoption which takes place at baptism. The person who was born once in the natural process is “reborn” or “born again” by being received into a life of a superior order.
Since many Catholics are baptized as infants, the faith necessary for baptism is supplied by their parents and the Church community or parish to which they belong. The parents should nourish the child’s faith through Christian formation (prayer, example, teaching) so that eventually, as a responsible adult, he would validate in his own name the acts of faith made for him at baptism.
When Catholics, for whatever reason, come to adulthood without proper formation in the Catholic faith, they really end up with nothing. Many drift off into the unchurched. Some come under the influence of Protestant out-reach programs and end up Protestants. Among the Protestants, several groups promote a build-up to a certain emotionally charged conversion experience. Faith moves from mere theory to a felt conviction. They refer to this as the “New Birth” and those who experience it as “born again” Christians.
The grace of God is at work in all this, of course, and we must marvel at it. A believing Protestant Christian is certainly more authentic than a merely nominal Catholic. Nevertheless, there is cause for sadness here. Catholic Christianity is certainly more complete and fulfilling in itself than any other form of Christianity so there really is no need for people to leave in order to be holier. Further, we have to regret the terrible breakdown on the part of parents and parishes in regard to the Catholic formation of their young. If only they had been properly raised, Catholics baptized as infants would know they are already “born again Christians” and need only to correspond intelligently and deliberately to their baptismal graces which are capable of being activated throughout their entire life.
I believe the bible is God’s word and anyone who reads it can understand its meaning. Is this the way Catholic see the Bible?
Catholics do not see the Bible quite in this way. True, it was inspired by God, and the Holy Spirit is its principal author. But it was written in human language by men who expressed themselves in accord with the language and customs of their times. Further, before the words were written down, the revelation was handed on from one generation to another in spoken tradition. Hence the words of the bible often need to be interpreted in light of what the original authors meant to say. Only a living tradition can give us such meanings–there are no footnotes in the original Bible.
Hence Catholics read the Bible in light of the living tradition of the Church, guided by those commissioned to teach in the Church. Scholars of ancient language and literature and similar fields of study also help to clarify meanings.
This is not to say, however, that only scholars should read the Bible. By no means. The Bible is a privileged place of God’s presence in the world and one who reads the sacred text with reverence and attention will surely be enriched by the Holy Spirit. But prayer and prayerful contemplation are one thing, doctrinal teaching another.
If God is one, how can Jesus Christ be God as well as the Father?
God has revealed to the Church that to be God is to be one and three at the same time. Three Persons-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-are all equally God. In a way that surpasses human comprehension, these three are all perfectly one. There are three distinct persons, yet one divine nature or essence. The only distinction within God is that resulting from the relationship among the three persons. The Father eternally begets the Son; the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son. God is not a solitary existence that contemplates itself; God is a perfect communion of three persons. The great sign of God’s love for us is that through Jesus Christ we are offered the possibility of sharing in the inner life of God, of taking part in the perfect communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
What are your thought concerning these random questions and answers? Please leave us a comment below.