the search for self will never be satisfied. but keep looking.

so much of the first half of our lives are spent exhaustively in search of self. the problem of self is that even though it can hypothetically be completely searched it can never be truly found. but the task throughout the journey is not what you discover but the journey itself.
i read recently that "You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You find yourself by coming into the present."
but i disagree. i think that self is located not in the present alone but the conglomeration of the experiences we encounter through in the past.
throughout my high school career i was told that i was not going to make it to college. i admit my grades were something to be desired, and my guidance counselors encouraged me to go to a vocational school, if i go on to a school at all. at first i resented them but then i started to believe what they were saying. i began to believe that i couldn't make it in college, and that i should accept the fact that intellectually i was inferior.
its as if in life we are a metal frame structured in the likes of a skeletal system. every word that is spoken to us is the putty slowly manipulating who we are and who we are becoming. Unfortunately most of the time the words that we remember are all the negative words, it is our choice whether we are going to believe them or not. whether to make a statue out of the words spoken.
after high school i went to work at an amusement park pulling weeds and mowing lawns. i told people i was doing this because i was saving up for a car, but that was a lie. i didn't think that i could make it even at community college and wanted to find a job that i could live with. after working 6 months i realized that there was something different about me then the rest of the guys that worked there. because i had many many hours of being by myself i began to search what i wanted out of life. and even though i never figured it out completely i knew that working 40 hours a week planting flowers was not it. it wasn't that i had a higher IQ or that i was better than them by any means, but it was that i had tenacity for life and i couldn't escape my inner longing to be something better than i was. i was tired of believing the lies that i had accepted all through high school.
i enrolled in community college, and believing myself instead of others i got the best grades of my life. (eventually graduating from UCF w/ B.S. in psychology)
ok i realize that these are two different topics, the search for self & believing in yourself over what others believe of you, but in a way they seem to reflect each other more than some would like to admit. we need to focus on more of what we believe about ourselves and less on what other people feed negatively into our lives.
you have to realize that you are never really going to know yourself, ever. the average person changes careers 4 times in their lives, which means even when you think you know what you want to do with your life chances are you are going to redirect your focus sometime in your life. but the goal is never, and should never be to know yourself; but to search to find yourself.
what are some ways to explore who you are?
1. read. read everything you can get your hands on. so what if the author is a different sex, creed, religion, or cultural background. that is how you grow. by learning outside what you know.
2. talk. meet new people every day. sit somewhere different on the train. meet those who you may never see again. find someone sitting alone @ the coffee shop. study them like a manual. find out what they think the meaning of life is. or my favorite question for elderly people has always been "if you could rewind time to my age what would you have wanted to tell yourself?" so i guess, more than talk, listen.
3. write. journal/blog
4. listen, to yourself. to those thoughts that keep you up late at night, that wake you up early in the morning. that is called passion. find out what it is, search it out to its end.
5. pray. then pray.

what else? i am sure i am missing more ways. these are just the first few off the top of my head.


prince said…
as always, a great post.
i'm glad you didn't settle for planting flowers.
Heather said…
"i think that self is located not in the present alone but the conglomeration of the experiences we encounter through in the past."

i could not agree with that more. that was great.
Hilary said…
"if you could rewind time to my age what would you have wanted to tell yourself?"

thats an interesting question.. im going to start asking people that. i slept at dana's house last night and i could only sleep for 3 or 4 hours and then i woke up wide awake. my last thought of the evening and my first thought of the morning were both about the same thing.. seems to be that way a lot as of late.
i always wake up early when i stay there and i love that her dad is always awake. he tells the best stories about his life and has the most thought provoking ideas. hes one of those people that you can really look to for an intelligent perspective on almost anything you bring up. he reminds me a lot of you. he always has interesting things/ideas on his mind.
Mark... said…
"listen, to yourself. to those thoughts that keep you up late at night, that wake you up early in the morning. that is called passion. find out what it is, search it out to its end."

I love this. If I take any advice from you, or give any advice to someone that asks, it's going to be this.
Meg-a-roni said…
I do agree with you about the quote & believing that people are not only made up of what is to come in the future, but what has happened in the past & what people have said to them to make them believe who they are. The only thing that I would have to add to that is that alot of times, Satan tries to get people to say nasty, mean things to you to try to make you feel horrible about yourself or to distract you from the person you should be. God on the other hand is the only person/thing that can truly see who you really are & is the only one that will always tell you how special you are to Him. I guess you could say that the saying is false: "stick & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

Just like you, I have worked about 21 jobs in the last 10 years & everytime have never felt a peace in life that this is what I was "designed" to be doing. But all of these jobs have made me the person I am today, helping to create my skills & personality to allow me to go on to greater things.

We are all created differently & for a specific job in life. It is up to us to find it (through prayer & God's guidance).

The greatest thing about America is that we can choose to change careers easily, unlike many countries where it's hard to get a career in the first place.

I truly believe that one way you will begin to see who you really are is by not trying to impress others, but to just be you. People will like you for who you really are & you'll learn from them, because they are who they really are (& your relationship isn't based on a shallow friendship).

Lastly, I think in order to explore for a way to find out who you really are is by traveling. Traveling changes your perspective of others & how you treat others. You become less prejudice & a little bit more humble. You realize that the world is a gigantic place & you are soooooo extremly tiny.

"To the world you may be one person, but to one person.... you may be the world." anonymous

My advice is to just be you, seek God first & make His opinion matter the most & take one day at a time.
Kimberly said…
Inspiring and beautiful as usual. I can truly relate to this "search for self" that you speak of... I've been going through all those typical, college-student "finding yourself" situations for the past year. I realize now that in order to find yourself, you're assuming that you've always been around. That's not true unless you want to go the reincarnation route. From the moment a person is born, they are creating their own life. There's nothing to find... only things to create and be passionate about. If you look at it that way, it makes the journey much more interesting and definitely more fun. I do think you perfectly described the best ways to enjoy the ride, though. God, being open minded, and listening to others are the most important ways to create a beautiful human being for yourself, others around you, and God.
About the things that you can do to help you explore yourself.

I find that writing in a journal/blog doesn't help me. Only allows me to vent/ramble.

I also found that, art is one of my main ways of exploring who i am. I've learnt alot about myself whilst working on art pieces in the past.

♥ Robyn
Kaila said…
I've found that reading the Bible has helped me search for myself as well. Only people who are willing to do it can do this... but it surprised me how much it helps with things you never thought it COULD help with.
Sarah Noel said…
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Kate said…
why search if your never going to find?

i guess it just seems rather silly to me. I think it would be more fun to quit trying so hard to figure out who we are and just let it unravel along the way. Do we really have to know ourselves to enjoy life? Or can we just go with our instincts and be surprised daily by who we turn out to be that day.

I dunno, just a thought. I always thought it was fun when I was getting to know a new friend. Why can't we get to know ourselves in the same way, gradually, rather than analyzing our selves to death during that "find yourself" stage.

If i'm wrong, i'm wrong :)

Most Things Never Happen said…
"you have to realize that you are never really going to know yourself, ever." Hm. Is that true? "If this isn't knowing myself / this is the closest I've ever been." That? What is loving, what is knowing. Fathoming is at least more in reach than fathoming life. Naah, we'll probably always be closer than we've ever been because it's... how's that called... cumulative.

I agree that traveling should be added to the list. And ART. and what Kaila said. John Calvin said, you can't know yourself if you don't know God. (Maybe an interesting book: "The gift of being yourself" by David Benner. Just found that while I searched for the right quote)
Anonymous said…
I was going to try to restrain myself from commenting. Sometimes I think I just like to be heard.
But I read this quote this week from Os Guiness's book "The Call"
There is so much depth to this....
I truly believe in this call for you.

"Have you concluded that your desire for purpose is an illusion? Then follow the Eastern masters to their various states of detachment. Have you determined that your purpose is something that you must figure out yourself and accomplish all on your own? There are many secularist thinkers to cheer you on in the attempt. Or are you open to the possibility that there is one who created you to be who you are and calls you to be who he alone knows you can be? Then listen to Jesus of Nazareth and his two words that changed the world - 'Follow me.'"

-- Os Guiness, The Call, ix
Anonymous said…
here's some more ideas:

*use television for education, inspiration, occasional entertainment and then turn it off and live your life.
otherwise before we know it we have done nothing but watch unfathomable amounts of nothing on tv.

*think about the things you were into as a child or things you aspired to whether or not they were realistic, it may not be your truest self or life purpose, but it might be a clue as to who you are at your core or what you truly love that you thought could never be possible b/c someone told you it wasn't, etc. Or you could end up seeing themes that end up correlating with a current passion that you had never realized was so much a part of who you really are at your core.

*ask people who know you and love you to identify things that they think make up parts of who you are, qualities that you have, things they see you are good at or gifted in, etc., things they remember that you loved as a child (making up stories, singing for a pretend audience, dressing like a cowbow or ballerina)

*Don't limit your "self" to what seems realistic. Being "realistic" in life has only led me to stagnate--which also really sucks--and anyone who aims for what is "realistic" will miss what is powerful, transforming, and supernatural. So, i think it is time we stop listening to those voices that tell us otherwise.

*don't compare yourself to other people or your path to theirs. we are all amazing and we are all average. no one is born better than another, so anything amazing that happens to us or that we have or do is a gift to be developed or shared. every gift is different so it is time we stop letting people tell us we are better or worse.

*be open to being stretched b/c sometimes the things that are most "you" are things you would have never put together in your head. Look for opportunities to try new things.

*look for things that keep surfacing in your heart and ask yourself why. is there something I want to do about that?

*look for yourself outside of yourself. often times we get so focused on ourselves that we miss that fact that it is most often in serving others that we ourselves find what it is that we were made for. it is a very dull and indulgent life to live for oneself. I have learned the most about myself from being in relationship with God and others, sticking on the path of life when the going gets hard, and trusting that as time goes on, I will better know myself and my passions. But a person is made over time. We have a core that we were given as a gift, our soul. We have a personality that remains relatively the same, though it matures over time. We have unique experiences that have made us who we are till this point. And we will continue to be shaped and formed for the journey we are on and the destiny that awaits us each day in the future.

even when we think we can't keep going, we must. we have no idea what the big picture holds.

Jen said…
The older I get, the longer I'm in school, the more time I spend at my job... the more I realize just how little I really know. There's something really freeing about accepting that though, and moving forward and discovering. Life is all about the journey, right?

I find that journaling is the most helpful thing for me though. Maybe not so much in my blog, but I find that I write everything... uncensored and uninhibited, the good and the ugly... and reading it later is very revealing. That's probably my introvert's way though. :)

I like this list. Another great post, especially for someone like me, going through the awkward, end-of-college phase. Nice.

Speaking of which... go UCF! Hee hee. :D
shypoet83 said…
shoot, I think if I knew myself as well as God did, I would scare
shypoet83 said…
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Anonymous said…
To know yourself is to accept yourself and enjoy yourself. PPl don't enjoy themselves much. Go do things you love alone sometimes and not just with friends / family and you'll appreciate who u are more. it's not bad to sometimes be alone
Rachel said…
I also surrended myself the the beliefs and comments of those around me in highschool, but more so to the mis-belief of my own thoughts that I too could never go to University. After 4 years of continual working and failing (not just in grades but jobs) I also decided to believe something different. I was not created to fail. By not being at my best I was not glorifying God but insulting his creation. So like you with much prayer I have successfully finsihed my first internship in politics and starting University next semester in an area I realised I loved and was good at. I got there not by grades or the approval and acceptance of others but prayer and speaking into my own life everyday that I am designed to accomplish, and what followed was slow change in succeeding in everyday life. Words hold power. Watch what you say about yourself and eventually you'll start to believe in yourself.
lindsay caitlin said…
I continue to learn so much about myself, who I am, and why, more and more each day as I have this past year. It's amazing the changes we see in our perspectives, personalities, physical elements, and faith. How it continues to change as we live and endure more.

This entry, Stephen, has to be the most powerful one I have read from you yet. It's so beautiful and so true. I learn so much about you through this, that I feel as though you're a dear friend of mine. And it's comforting. To read your thoughts, the mistakes you lived through, how you grew from them...because of your writings, I know I'm not, and never will be, alone. Everyone is human no matter what they do in life. And even though we make mistakes, we can still be beautiful and loved people.

So I thank you for providing that comfort; for this safe-haven.
it never occured to me that life itself is the actual journey. for so long i had it set in my mind that 'life' is finding and then having that one career...your one true love...a perfect family.

i've been trying so hard to find those things that i hardly know have to know and love yourself before anybody else can, right? i hear that all the time and maybe it's true. i feel like i'm getting older and running out of time and i have to find my 'life' so i can finally live....

i still have some soul searcing to do but in the recent years i've learned more about myself than i ever have. i'm more independent and confident today than i've ever been, and a big part of that is looking in the past so i can move forward. having the strength and courage to move on and see what God has planned for me.

thank you for posting that. you've opened my eyes and now i'm seeing the bigger picture.

♥ Nadia
alonsa said…
I have read Blue Like Jazz and all of Donald Millers other books. It's not an all the time thing. Just sometimes I feel like it is better to isolate myself than to bring down those around me. If that makes sense.
micah said…
first off, thank you very much for the comment on my blog. it brought a smile to my face.
i'm not entirely sure how to find myself yet (i'm not sure anyone is with absolute certainty), but it is something i do strive to do. i do believe that one way to find out who we are is to find out who others are. you touched on this when you said to read, but i think this is crucial just to observe others around you and how they live because it really reveals alot about ourselves too.
Ben2theEdge said…
Transparency is a forgotten virtue. Thanks for your writings, Stephen.
Anonymous said…
your "list" resembles a list I've made recently of things I want to do/change in my life (read more, pray more, etc.) something else I have on mine is volunteering/giving of my time and myself. I've been trying to do more of this even if it's something little like going to my grandparents to wash their dishes. even though this isn't something huge or life changing, I think it contributes to defining who you are and figuring out yourself/your life. (if any of that makes any sense which it probably doesn't) anywho thanks for inspiring me. (as usual)
genevieve said…
thanks stephen!!

im just a kid, & this is a comfort & reassurance... because i think the world thrusts us into figuring out who we are, what we want, what we are "going to be" so quickly... and tells us what we need to be... & that can be so frustrating, disheartening. its a blessing to hear someone talk about pursuing passion.
xdivinedgex said…
for you esteban.

what is in my heart -
my name. said…
i agree with prince-
stephen, i'm grateful for your strength to put out these writings and your ability to learn and teach others from your experiences. it brings a smile to my face when i see all the people you have touched, myself included.
"follow you bliss"
best of luck with all of life's journeys.
Anonymous said…
150 Reasons Why I am a Catholic (Revised)
"Heart speaks to heart" - John Henry Cardinal Newman
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

*****Featuring 300 Biblical Evidences Favoring Catholicism*****

[originally written in 1992]

1. Best One-Sentence Summary: I am convinced that the Catholic Church conforms much more closely to all of the biblical data, offers the only coherent view of the history of
Christianity (i.e., Christian, apostolic Tradition), and possesses the most profound and sublime Christian morality, spirituality, social ethic, and philosophy.

2. Alternate: I am a Catholic because I sincerely believe, by virtue of much cumulative evidence, that Catholicism is true, and that the Catholic Church is the visible Church
divinely-established by our Lord Jesus, against which the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail (Mt 16:18), thereby possessing an authority to which I feel bound in Christian duty to

3. 2nd Alternate: I left Protestantism because it was seriously deficient in its interpretation of the Bible (e.g., "faith alone" and its missing many other "Catholic" doctrines - see evidences below), inconsistently selective in its espousal of various doctrines of Catholic Tradition (e.g., the canon of the Bible), inadequate in its ecclesiology, lacking a sensible view of Christian history (e.g., "Scripture alone"; ignorance or inconsistent understanding of of development of doctrine), compromised morally (e.g., contraception, divorce), and unbiblically schismatic and (in effect, or logical reduction, if not always in actual belief) relativistic.

Disclaimer: I don't therefore believe that Protestantism is all bad (not by a long shot - indeed, I think it is a pretty good thing overall), but these are some of the major deficiencies I eventually saw as fatal to the "theory" of Protestantism, over against Catholicism. All Catholics must regard baptized, Nicene, Chalcedonian Protestants as Christians.

4. Catholicism isn't formally divided and sectarian (Jn 17:20-23; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 1:10-13).

5. Catholic unity makes Christianity and Jesus more believable to the world (Jn 17:23).

6. Catholicism, because of its unified, complete, fully supernatural Christian vision, mitigates against secularization and humanism.

7. Catholicism (institutionally) avoids (and/or has the remedy to) an unbiblical individualism which undermines Christian community (e.g., 1 Cor 12:25-26).

8. Catholicism avoids theological relativism, by means of dogmatic certainty and the centrality of the papacy.

9. Catholicism avoids ecclesiological anarchism - one cannot merely jump to another denomination when some disciplinary measure or censure is called for.

10. Catholicism formally (although, sadly, not always in practice) prevents the theological "pick and choose" state of affairs, which leads to the uncertainties and "every man for himself" confusion within the Protestant system among laypeople.

11. Catholicism rejects the "State Church," which has led to governments dominating Christianity rather than vice-versa, caesaropapism, or a nominal, merely "go through the motions" institutional religion.

12. Protestant State Churches greatly influenced the rise of nationalism, which mitigated against equality of all men and the universal nature of historic Christianity (i.e., catholicism in its literal meaning).

13. Unified Catholic Christendom (before the 16th century) had not been plagued by the tragic, Christian vs. Christian religious wars which in turn led to the "Enlightenment," in which men rejected the hypocrisy of inter-Christian warfare and decided to become indifferent to religion rather than letting it guide their lives.

14. Catholicism retains (to the fullest extent) the elements of mystery, supernatural, and the sacred in Christianity, thus opposing itself to secularization, where the sphere of the religious in life becomes greatly limited.

15. Protestant individualism led to the privatization of Christianity, whereby it is little respected in societal and political life, leaving the "public square" largely barren of Christian influence.

16. The secular false dichotomy of "church vs. world" has led committed orthodox Christians, by and large, to withdraw from politics, leaving a void filled by pagans, cynics, the unscrupulous, the power-hungry, and the Machiavellian. Catholicism offers a sensible, internally-coherent framework in which to approach the state and civic responsibility.

17. Protestantism leans too much on mere traditions of men. Every denomination stems from one founder's vision, which contradicts something previously received from apostolic Tradition and passed down. As soon as two or more of these contradict each other, error is necessarily present.

18. Protestant churches (especially evangelicals), are far too often guilty of putting their pastors on too high of a pedestal. In effect, often pastors (at least in some denominational traditions) becomes a "pope," to varying degrees. Because of this, evangelical congregations often experience a severe crisis and/or split up when a pastor leaves, thus proving that their philosophy is overly man-centered, rather than God-centered (Catholic parishes usually don't experience such a crisis when a priest departs). Many pastors have far more power in their congregagtions than the pope has over the daily life of any Catholic.

19. Protestantism, due to lack of real authority and dogmatic structure, is tragically prone to accommodation to the spirit of the age, and moral faddism.

20. Catholicism retains apostolic succession, necessary to know what is true Christian apostolic Tradition. It was the criterion of Christian truth used by the early Christians and the Church Fathers.

21. Many Protestants take a dim view towards Christian history in general, especially the years from 313 (Constantine's conversion) to 1517 (Luther's arrival). This ignorance and hostility to Catholic Tradition leads to theological relativism, anti-Catholicism, and a constant, unnecessary process of "reinventing the wheel."

22. Protestantism from its inception was anti-Catholic, and certain factions of it remain so to this day (especially in certain fundamentalist and Baptist and Reformed circles). This is obviously wrong and unbiblical if Catholicism is indeed Christian (if it isn't, then - logically - neither is Protestantism, which inherited the bulk of its theology from Catholicism). The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is not anti-Protestant.

23. The Catholic Church accepts the authority of the great ecumenical councils (see, e.g., Acts 15) which defined and developed Christian doctrine (much of which Protestantism also

24. Most Protestants do not have bishops, a Christian office which is biblical (1 Tim 3:1-2) and which has existed from the earliest Christian history and Tradition.

25. Protestantism has no way of settling doctrinal issues definitively. At best, the individual Protestant can only take a head count of how many Protestant scholars, commentators, etc.
take such-and-such a view on Doctrine X, Y, or Z. Or (in a more sophisticated fashion), the Protestant can simply accept the authority of some denominational tradition, confession, or creed (which then has to be justified over against the other competing ones). There is no unified Protestant Tradition.

26. Protestantism arose in 1517, and is a "Johnny-come-lately" in the history of Christianity (having introduced many doctrines previously accepted by no Christian group, or very few individuals). Therefore it cannot possibly be the "restoration" of "pure", "primitive" Christianity, since this is ruled out by the fact of its novelties and absurdly late appearance. Christianity must have historic continuity or it is not Christianity. Protestantism is necessarily a "parasite" of Catholicism: historically and doctrinally speaking.

27. The notion (common among many Protestants) of the "invisible church" is also novel in the history of Christianity and foreign to the Bible (Mt 5:14; 16:18), therefore untrue.

28. When Protestant theologians speak of the teaching of early Christianity (e.g., when refuting "cults"), they say "the Church taught . . ." (as it was then unified), but when they refer
to the present they instinctively and inconsistently refrain from such terminology, since universal teaching authority now clearly resides only in the Catholic Church.

29. The Protestant principle of private judgment has created a milieu (especially in Protestant America) in which it is easier for (invariably) man-centered "cults" such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, and Christian Science arise. The very notion that one can "start" a new, or "the true" Church is Protestant to the core. Though (I want to stress) these cults are not Protestant themselves; nevertheless they tend to proliferate, given the existence of certain false Protestant principles of epistemology and authority.

30. The lack of a definitive teaching authority in Protestant (as with the Catholic magisterium) makes many individual Protestants think that they have a direct line to God,
notwithstanding all of Christian Tradition and the history of biblical exegesis (a "Bible, Holy Spirit and me" mentality). Such people are generally under-educated theologically,
unteachable, lack humility, and have no business making presumed "infallible" statements about the nature of Christianity.

31. Evangelicalism's "techniques" of evangelism are often contrived and manipulative, certainly not directly derived from the text of the Bible. Some even resemble brainwashing to a
degree. [I speak as a former street and campus and counter-cult evangelist myself, who avoided these techniques then, as I do now]

32. Sadly, too many evangelical Protestant evangelists and pastors present a truncated and abridged, individualistic and ear-tickling gospel, in effect merely "fire insurance"
rather than the biblical gospel as proclaimed by the apostles.

33. Evangelicalism often separates profound, life-transforming repentance and radical discipleship from its gospel message. The Lutheran Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this "cheap grace."

34. The absence of the idea of submission to spiritual authority in Protestantism has leaked over into the civic arena, where the ideas of personal "freedom," "rights," and "choice" now dominate to such an extent that civic duty, communitarianism, and discipline are tragically neglected, to the detriment of a healthy society.

35. Catholicism retains the sense of the sacred, the sublime, the holy, and the beautiful in spirituality. The ideas of altar, and "sacred space" are preserved. Many Protestant churches are no more than "meeting halls" or "gymnasiums" or "barn"-type structures. Most Protestants' homes are more esthetically striking than their churches. Likewise, Protestants (particularly fundamentalists and too many evangelicals) are often "addicted to mediocrity" in their appreciation of art, music, architecture, drama, the imagination, etc.

36. Protestantism has too often neglected the place of liturgy in worship (with notable exceptions such as Anglicanism and Lutheranism). This is the way Christians had always worshiped down through the centuries, and thus can't be so lightly dismissed.

37. Too many brands of Protestantism tend to oppose matter and spirit, favoring the latter, and sometimes exhibit Gnostic or Docetic strains of thought in this regard.

38. Catholicism upholds in the fullest way the "incarnational principle," wherein Jesus became flesh and thus raised flesh and matter to new spiritual heights.

39. Some strains of Protestantism (particularly evangelicalism and pentecostalism and especially the Baptists) greatly limit or disbelieve in sacramentalism, which is simply the extension of the incarnational principle and the belief that matter can convey grace. Some sects (e.g., Quakers and the Salvation Army) reject all sacraments.

40. Too many Protestants' excessive mistrust of the flesh ("carnality") often leads to (in evangelicalism or fundamentalism) an absurd legalism (no dancing, drinking, card-playing, rock music, etc.).

41. Many Protestants tend to separate life into categories of "spiritual" and "carnal," as if God is not Lord of all of life. They forget that all non-sinful endeavors are ultimately spiritual.

42. Many Protestant denominations have removed the Eucharist from the center and focus of Christian worship services. Some Protestants observe it only monthly, or even quarterly (the Reformed are notorious for this). This is against the Tradition of the early Church.

43. Most Protestants (Lutherans and high-church Anglicans being the exception) believe in a merely symbolic Eucharist, which is contrary to universal Christian Tradition up to 1517, and the Bible (Mt 26:26-8; Jn 6:47-63; 1 Cor 10:14-22; 11:23-30), which hold to the Real Presence (another instance of the antipathy to matter).

44. Protestantism almost universally denies the sacramentality of marriage, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mt 19:4-5; 1 Cor 7:14,39; Eph 5:25-33).

45. Protestantism has abolished the priesthood (Mt 18:18) and the sacrament of ordination, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Acts 6:6; 14:22; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6).

46. Catholicism retains the Pauline notion of the spiritual practicality, prudence, and wisdom of a celibate clergy (e.g., Mt 19:12, 1 Cor 7:8,27,32-3).

47. Protestantism has largely rejected the sacrament of confirmation (Acts 8:18, Heb 6:2-4), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible.

48. A significant minority of Protestants have denied infant baptism, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Acts 2:38-9; 16:15,33; 18:8; cf. 11:14; 1 Cor 1:16; Col 2:11-12). Protestantism is divided into five major camps on the question of baptism.

49. The majority of Protestants deny baptismal regeneration, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom 6:3-4; 1 Cor 6:11; Titus 3:5).

50. Protestants have rejected the sacrament of anointing of the sick (Extreme Unction / "Last Rites"), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mk 6:13; 1 Cor 12:9,30; Jas 5:14-15).

51. Protestantism denies the indissolubility of sacramental marriage and allows divorce, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Gen 2:24; Mal 2:14-16; Mt 5:32; 19:6,9; Mk
10:11-12; Lk 16:18; Rom 7:2-3; 1 Cor 7:10-14,39).

52. Many Protestants deny that procreation is the primary purpose and benefit of marriage (it isn't part of the vows, as in Catholic matrimony), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Gen 1:28; 28:3, Ps 107:38; 127:3-5).

53. Protestantism sanctions contraception, in defiance of universal Christian Tradition (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant) up until 1930 - when the Anglicans first allowed it - and the Bible (Gen 38:8-10; 41:52; Ex 23:25-6; Lev 26:9; Deut 7:14; Ruth 4:13; Lk 1:24-5). Luther and Calvin, e.g., regarded it as murder. Now, only Catholicism retains the ancient Tradition, over against the "anti-child" mentality.

54. Protestantism (mostly its liberal wing, but alarmingly in many other places, too) has accepted abortion as a moral option, contrary to universal Christian Tradition until recently (sometime after 1930), and the Bible (e.g., Ex 20:13; Job 31:15; Ps 139:13-16; Isa 44:2; 49:5; Jer 1:5; 2:34; Lk 1:15,41; Rom 13:9-10).

55. Protestantism (largely liberal denominations, but not exclusively so) allow women pastors (and even bishops, as in Anglicanism), contrary to Christian Tradition (including. traditional Protestant theology) and the Bible (Mt 10:1-4; 1 Tim 2:11-15; 3:1-12; Titus 1:6).

56. Protestantism is, more and more, formally and officially compromising with currently fashionable radical feminism, which denies the roles of men and women, as taught in the Bible (Gen 2:18-23; 1 Cor 11:3-10) and maintained by Christian Tradition (differentiation of roles, but not of equality).

57. Protestantism is also currently denying, with increasing frequency, the headship of the husband in marriage, which is based upon the headship of the Father over the Son (while
equal in essence) in the Trinity, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (1 Cor 11:3; Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pet 3:1-2). This too, is based on a relationship of equality (1 Cor
11:11-12; Gal 3:28; Eph 5:21).

58. Liberal Protestantism (most notably Anglicanism) has even ordained practicing homosexuals as pastors and blessed their "marriages," or taught that homosexuality is merely an involuntary, "alternate" lifestyle, contrary to formerly universal Christian Tradition, as the Bible clearly teaches (Gen 19:4-25; Rom 1:18-27; 1 Cor 6:9). Catholicism stands firm on
traditional sexual morality.

59. Liberal Protestantism, and evangelicalism increasingly, have accepted "higher critical" methods of biblical interpretation which lead to the destruction of the traditional Christian reverence for the Bible, and demote it to the status of largely a human, fallible document, to the detriment of its divine, infallible essence.

60. Much of liberal Protestantism has thrown out many cardinal doctrines of Christianity, such as the incarnation, virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ, the Trinity, original sin, hell, the existence of the devil, miracles, etc.

61. The founders of Protestantism denied, and Calvinists today deny, the reality of human free will (Luther's favorite book was his Bondage of the Will). This is contrary to the
constant premise of the Bible, Christian Tradition, and common sense.

62. Classical Protestantism had a deficient view of the Fall of Man, thinking that the result was "total depravity." According to Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and Calvinists, man could only do
evil of his own volition, and had no free will to do good. He now has a "sin nature." Catholicism believes that, in a mysterious way, man cooperates with the grace which always originates from God and precedes all good actions. In Catholicism, man's nature still retains some good, although he has a propensity to sin ("concupiscence").

63. Classical Protestantism, and Calvinism today, comes perilously close to making God the author of evil. He supposedly wills that men do evil and violate His precepts without having any free will to do so.

64. Accordingly (man having no free will), in classical Protestant and Calvinist thought, God predestines men to hell, although they had no choice or say in the matter all along.

65. Classical Protestantism and Calvinism, teach falsely that Jesus died only for the elect (i.e., those who will make it to heaven).

66. Classical Protestantism (especially Luther), and Calvinism, deny natural theology, and tend to dichotomize reason against God and faith, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mk 12:28; Lk 10:27; Jn 20:24-9; Acts 1:3; 17:2,17,22-34; 19:8). The best Protestant apologists today simply hearken back to the Catholic heritage of St. Aquinas, St. Augustine, and many other great thinkers.

67. Pentecostal or charismatic Protestantism strongly tend to place much too high an emphasis on spiritual experience, not balancing it properly with reason, the Bible, and Tradition (including the authority of the Church to pronounce on the validity of "private revelations").

68. Other Protestants (e.g., many Baptists) deny that spiritual gifts such as healing are present in the current age (supposedly they ceased with the apostles). This position is called cessationism.

69. Protestantism has contradictory views of church government, or ecclesiology (episcopal, presbyterian, congregational, or no collective authority at all), thus making widespread discipline, unity and order impossible. Some sects even claim to have "apostles" or "prophets" among them, with all the accompanying abuses of authority resulting therefrom.

70. Some strains of Protestantism (especially evangelicalism and fundamentalism) have an undue fascination for - even obsession with - the "end of the world," which has led to unbiblical date-setting (Mt 24:30-44; 25:13; Lk 12:39-40) and much human tragedy among those who are taken in by such false prophecies.

71. Over-emphasis on the "imminent end" of the age (where found in Protestantism) has often led to a certain "pie-in-the sky" mentality, to the detriment of social, political, ethical, and economic sensibilities here on earth.

72. Protestant thought has a strong characteristic or tendency of being "dichotomous," i.e., it separates ideas into more or less exclusive and mutually-hostile camps, when in fact many of the dichotomies are simply complementary rather than contradictory. Protestantism has been described as an "either-or" system, whereas Catholicism takes a "both-and" approach. Examples follow:

73. Protestantism pits the Word (the Bible, preaching) against sacraments.

74. Protestantism sets up inner devotion and piety against liturgy.

75. Protestantism opposes spontaneous worship to form prayers.

76. Protestantism separates the Bible from the Church.

77. Protestantism creates the false dichotomy of Bible vs. Tradition.

78. Protetantism pits Tradition against the Holy Spirit.

79. Protestantism considers (binding) Church authority and individual liberty and conscience contradictory.

80. Some forms of Protestantism (notably Luther and present-day dispensationalists) set up the Old Testament against the New Testament, even though Jesus did not do so (Mt 5:17-19; Mk 7:8-11; Lk 24:27,44; Jn 5:45-47).

81. On equally unbiblical grounds, some Protestants (notably, Lutherans) opposes law to grace.

82. Protestantism creates a false dichotomy between symbolism and sacramental reality (e.g., baptism, Eucharist).

83. Protestantism strongly tends to separate the individual from Christian community (1 Cor 12:14-27).

84. Protestantism pits the veneration of saints against the worship of God. Catholic theology doesn't permit worship of saints. Rather, saints are revered and honored, not adored, as only God the Creator can be.

85. The anti-historical outlook of many Protestants leads to individuals thinking that the Holy Spirit is speaking to them, but has not, in effect, spoken to the multitudes of Christians for
1500 years before Protestantism began.

86. Flaws in original Protestant thought have led to even worse errors in reaction. E.g., extrinsic justification, devised to assure the predominance of grace, came to prohibit any
outward sign of its presence ("faith vs. works," sola fide). Calvinism, with its overly stern and rigid God, turned men off to such an extent that they became Unitarians (as in New England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries). Many founders of cults of recent origin started out Calvinist (Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, The Way International, etc.). One error begets another more serious and damaging error.

87. Evangelicalism is unbiblically obsessed (in typically American fashion) with celebrities (TV Evangelists).

88. Evangelicalism is infatuated with the false idea that great numbers in a congregation (or rapid growth) are a sign of God's presence in a special way, and His unique blessing. They
forget that Mormonism is also growing by leaps and bounds. God calls us to faithfulness rather than to "success"; obedience, not flattering statistics.

89. Evangelicalism often emphasizes numerical growth rather than individual spiritual growth.

90. Evangelicalism is presently obsessed with self-fulfillment, self-help, and oftentimes, outright selfishness, rather than the traditional Christian stress on suffering, sacrifice, and service. A visit to the average "Christian bookstore" will quickly confirm this.

91. Evangelicalism has a truncated and insufficient view of the place of suffering in the Christian life. Instead, "health-and-wealth" and "name-it-and-claim-it" movements within
pentecostal Protestantism are flourishing, which have a view of possessions and spiritual well-being not in harmony with the Bible and Christian Tradition.

92. Many evangelicals have adopted a worldview which is, in many ways, more capitalist than Christian. Wealth and personal gain is sought more than godliness, and is seen as
a proof of God's favor, as in Puritan, and secularized American thought, over against the Bible and Christian teaching.

93. Evangelicalism is increasingly tolerating leftist political outlooks not in accord with Christian views, especially at its seminaries and colleges.

94. Evangelicalism is increasingly tolerating theological heterodoxy and liberalism, to such an extent that many evangelical leaders are alarmed, and predict a further decay of orthodox standards.

95. "Positive confession" movements in pentecostal evangelicalism have adopted views of God (in effect) as a "cosmic bellhop," subject to man's frivolous whims and desires of the
moment, thus denying God's absolute sovereignty and prerogative to turn down any of man's improper prayer requests (Jas 4:3; 1 Jn 5:14).

96. The above sects usually teach that anyone can be healed who has enough "faith," contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (e.g., Job, St. Paul's "thorn in the flesh," usually
considered a disease by most Protestant commentators).

97. Evangelicalism, by its own self-critiques, is badly infected with pragmatism, the false philosophical view that "whatever works is true, or right." The gospel, especially on television, is often sold in the same way that McDonalds hawks hamburgers. Technology, mass-market and public relations techniques have too often replaced personal pastoral care and social concern for the downtrodden, irreligious, and unchurched masses.

98. Sin, in evangelicalism, is increasingly seen as a psychological failure or a lack of self-esteem, rather than the willful revolt against God that it is.

99. Protestantism, in all essential elements, merely borrows wholesale from Catholic Tradition, or distorts the same. All doctrines upon which Catholics and Protestants agree, are clearly Catholic in origin (Holy Trinity, virgin birth, Jesus' Resurrection, second coming, canon of the Bible, heaven, hell, etc.). Those where Protestantism differs are usually distortions of Catholic forerunners. For example, Quakerism is a variant of Catholic Quietism. Calvinism is an over-obsession with the Catholic idea of the sovereignty of God, but taken to lengths beyond what Catholicism ever taught (denial of free will, total depravity, double predestination, etc.). Protestant dichotomies such as faith vs. works, come from the nominalism of the late Middle Ages, which was itself a corrupt form of Scholasticism, never dogmatically sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Whatever life or truth is present in each Protestant idea, always is derived from Catholicism, which is the fulfillment of the deepest and best aspirations within Protestantism.

100. One of Protestantism's foundational principles is sola Scriptura, which is neither biblical (see below), historical (nonexistent until the 16th century), nor logical (it's self-defeating)

101. The Bible doesn't contain the whole of Jesus' teaching, or Christianity, as many Protestants believe (Mk 4:33; 6:34; Lk 24:15-16,25-27; Jn 16:12; 20:30; 21:25; Acts 1:2-3).

102. Sola scriptura is an abuse of the Bible, since it is a use of the Bible contrary to its explicit and implicit testimony about itself and Tradition. An objective reading of the Bible leads one to Tradition and the Catholic Church, rather than the opposite. The Bible is, in fact, undeniably a Christian Tradition itself.

103. The NT was neither written nor received as the Bible at first, but only gradually so (i.e., early Christianity couldn't have believed in sola Scriptura like current Protestants, unless it referred to the OT alone).

104. Tradition is not a bad word in the Bible. The Greek paradosis refers to something handed on from one to another (good or bad). Good (Christian) Tradition is spoken of in 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15, 3:6, and Col 2:8. In the latter it is contrasted with traditions of men.

105. Christian Tradition, according to the Bible, can be oral as well as written (2 Thess 2:15; 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2:2). St. Paul makes no qualitative distinction between the two forms.

106. The phrases "word of God" or "word of the Lord" in Acts and the epistles almost always refer to oral preaching, not to the Bible itself. Much of the Bible was originally oral (e.g.,
Jesus' entire teaching - He wrote nothing - St. Peter's sermon at Pentecost, etc.).

107. Contrary to many Protestant claims, Jesus didn't condemn all tradition any more than St. Paul did. E.g., Mt 15:3,6; Mk 7:8-9,13, where He condemns corrupt Pharisaical tradition only. He says "your tradition."

108. The Greek paradidomi, or "delivering" Christian, apostolic Tradition occurs in Lk 1:1-2; Rom 6:17; 1 Cor 11:23; 15:3; 2 Pet 2:21; Jude 3. Paralambano, or "receiving" Christian Tradition occurs in 1 Cor 15:1-2; Gal 1:9,12; 1 Thess 2:13.

109. The concepts of "Tradition," "gospel," "word of God," "doctrine," and "the Faith" are essentially synonymous, and all are predominantly oral. For example, in the Thessalonian epistles alone St. Paul uses 3 of these interchangeably (2 Thess 2:15; 3:6; 1 Thess 2:9,13 (cf. Gal 1:9; Acts 8:14). If Tradition is a dirty word, then so is "gospel" and "word of God".

110. St. Paul, in 1 Tim 3:15, states that the Church is the ground of truth, as in Catholicism.

111. Protestantism's chief "proof text" for sola Scriptura, 2 Timothy 3:16, fails, since it says that the Bible is profitable, but not sufficient for learning and righteousness. Catholicism agrees that it is great for these purposes, but not exclusively so, as in Protestantism. Secondly, when St. Paul speaks of "Scripture" here, the NT didn't yet exist (not definitively for over 300 more
years), thus he is referring to the OT only. This would mean that the NT wasn't necessary for the rule of faith, if sola Scriptura were true, and if it were supposedly alluded to in this verse.

112. The above eleven factors being true, Catholicism maintains that all its Tradition is consistent with the Bible, even where the Bible is mute or merely implicit on a subject. For Catholicism, every doctrine need not be found primarily in the Bible, for this is Protestantism's principle of sola Scriptura. On the other hand, most Catholic theologians claim that all Catholic doctrines can be found in some fashion in the Bible, in kernel form, or by (usually. extensive) inference, and that the Bible is materially sufficient for salvation, if it was all one had (on a desert island or something).

113. As thoughtful evangelical scholars have pointed out, an unthinking sola Scriptura position (sometimes referred to as solo Scriptura) can turn into "bibliolatry," almost a worship of the Bible rather than God who is its Author. This mentality is similar to the Muslim view of Revelation, where no human elements whatsoever were involved. Sola Scriptura, rightly understood from a more sophisticated (e.g., Reformed) Protestant perspective, means that the Bible is the final authority in Christianity, not the record of all God has said and done, as many evangelicals believe.

114. Christianity is unavoidably and intrinsically historical. All the events of Jesus' life (iIncarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, etc.) were historical, as was the preaching of the apostles. Tradition, therefore, of some sort, is unavoidable, contrary to numerous shortsighted Protestant claims. This is true both for matters great (ecclesiology, trinitarianism, justification) and small (church budgets, type of worship music, lengths of sermons, etc.). Every denial of a particular tradition involves a bias (hidden or open) towards one's own alternate tradition (E.g., if all Church authority is spurned, even individualistic autonomy is a "tradition," which ought to be defended as a Christian view in some fashion).

115. Sola scriptura literally couldn't have been true, practically speaking, for most Christians throughout history, since the movable-type printing press only appeared in the mid-15th
century. Preaching and oral Tradition, along with things like devotional practices, Christian holidays, church architecture and other sacred art, were the primary carriers of the gospel for
1400 years. For all these centuries, sola Scriptura would have been regarded as an absurd abstraction and impossibility.

116. Protestantism claims that the Catholic Church has "added to the Bible." The Catholic Church replies that it has merely drawn out the implications of the Bible (development of doctrine), and followed the understanding of the early Church, and that Protestants have "subtracted" from the Bible by ignoring large portions of it which suggest Catholic positions.
Each side thinks the other is "unbiblical," but in different ways.

117. Sola Scriptura is Protestantism's "Achilles' Heel." Merely invoking sola Scriptura is no solution to the problem of authority and certainty as long as multiple interpretations exist. If the Bible were so clear that all Protestants agreed simply by reading it with a willingness to accept and follow its teaching, this would be one thing, but since this isn't the case by a long
shot (the multiplicity of denominations), sola Scriptura is a pipe-dream at best. About all that all Protestants agree on is that Catholicism is wrong, or on doctrines with which they already agree with Catholicism. Of all Protestant ideas, the "clarity" or perspicuity of the Bible is surely one of the most absurd and the most demonstrably false.

118. Put another way, having a Bible does not render one's private judgment infallible. Interpretation is just as inevitable as tradition, and such individual interpretation is rife with one's own traditions, and prior theological biases, whether acknowledged or not. The Catholic Church therefore, is absolutely necessary in order for true authority to exist, and to prevent confusion, error, and division.

119. Catholicism doesn't regard the Bible as obscure, mysterious, and inaccessible, but it is vigilant to protect it from all arbitrary and aberrant exegesis (2 Pet 1:20, 3:16). The best
Protestant traditions seek to do the same, but are inadequate and ineffectual since they are divided.

120. Protestantism has a huge problem with the canon of the NT. The disputes and disagreements concerning the exact books which constitute the NT lasted until 397 A.D., when the Council of Carthage spoke with finality, certainly proof that the Bible is not "self-authenticating," as Protestantism believes. Some sincere, devout, and learned Christians doubted the canonicity of some books which are now in the Bible, and others considered books as Scripture which were not at length included in the canon. St. Athanasius in 367 was the first to list all 27 books in the NT as Scripture.

121. The Council of Carthage, in deciding the canon of the entire Bible in 397, included the so-called "Apocryphal" books, which Protestants kicked out of the Bible (i.e., a late tradition).
Prior to the 16th century Christians considered these books Scripture, and they weren't even separated from the others, as they are today in the Protestant Bibles which include them.
Protestantism accepts the authority of this council for the NT, but not the OT, just as it arbitrarily and selectively accepts or denies other conciliar decrees, according to their accord
with existing Protestant "dogmas" and biases.

122. Contrary to Protestant anti-Catholic myth, the Catholic Church has always revered the Bible, and hasn't suppressed it (it protested some Protestant translations, but Protestants
have often done the same regarding Catholic versions and even various Protestant ones). This is proven by the laborious care of monks in protecting and copying manuscripts, and the constant translations into vernacular tongues (as opposed to the falsehoods about only Latin Bibles), among other plentiful and indisputable historical evidences. The Bible is a Catholic book, and no matter how much Protestants study it and proclaim it as peculiarly their own, they must acknowledge their undeniable debt to the Catholic Church for having decided the canon, and for preserving the Bible intact for 1400 years. How could the Catholic Church be "against the Bible," as anti-Catholics say, yet at the same time preserve and revere the Bible profoundly for so many years? The very thought is so absurd as to be self-refuting. If Catholicism is indeed as heinous as anti-Catholics would have us believe, Protestantism ought to put together its own
Bible, instead of using the one delivered to them by the Catholic Church, as it obviously could not be trusted.

123. Protestantism denies the Sacrifice of the Mass, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Gen 14:18; Ps 110:4; Isa 66:18,21; Mal 1:11; Heb 7:24-5; 13:10; Rev 5:1-10; cf. 8:3;
13:8). Catholicism, it must be emphasized, doesn't believe that Jesus is sacrificed over and over at each Mass; rather, each Mass is a representation of the one Sacrifice at Calvary on
the Cross, which transcends space and time, as in Rev 13:8.

124. Many Protestants disbelieve or distort beyond recognition, the development of doctrine, contrary to Christian Tradition and many implicit biblical indications. Whenever the Bible refers to the increasing knowledge and maturity of Christians individually and (particularly) collectively, an idea similar to development is present. Further, many doctrines develop in the Bible before our eyes ("progressive revelation"). Examples: the afterlife, the Trinity, acceptance of Gentiles. And doctrines which Protestantism accepts whole and entire from Catholicism, such as the Trinity and the canon of the Bible, developed in history, in the first three centuries of Christianity. It is foolish to try and deny this. The Church is the "Body" of Christ, and is a living organism, which grows and develops like all living bodies. It is not a statue, simply to be cleaned and polished over time, as many Protestants seem to think.

125. Protestantism separates justification from sanctification, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (e.g., Mt 5:20; 7:20-24; Rom 2:7-13; 1 Cor 6:11; 1 Pet 1:2).

126. Protestantism has a strong tendency of pitting faith against works (sola fide), which is a rejection of Christian Tradition and the explicit teaching of the Bible (Mt 25:31-46; Lk 18:18-25; Jn 6:27-9; Gal 5:6; Eph 2:8-10; Phil 2:12-13; 3:10-14; 1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:11; Heb 5:9; Jas 1:21-7; 2:14-16). These passages also indicate that salvation is a process, not an instantaneous event, as in Protestantism.

127. Protestantism rejects the Christian Tradition and biblical teaching of merit, or differential reward for our good deeds done in faith (Mt 16:27; Rom 2:6; 1 Cor 3:8-9; 1 Pet 1:17; Rev 22:12).

128. Protestantism's teaching of extrinsic, imputed, forensic, or external justification contradicts the Christian Tradition and biblical doctrine of infused, actual, internal, transformational justification (which includes sanctification): Ps 51:2-10; 103:12; Jn 1:29; Rom 5:19; 2 Cor 5:17; Heb 1:3; 1 Jn 1:7-9.

129. Many Protestants (especially Presbyterians, Calvinists and Baptists) believe in eternal security, or, perseverance of the saints (the belief that one can't lose his "salvation," supposedly obtained at one point in time). This is contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible: 1 Cor 9:27; Gal 4:9; 5:1,4; Col 1:22-3; 1 Tim 1:19-20; 4:1; 5:15; Heb 3:12-14; 6:4-6; 10:26,29,39; 12:14-15; 2 Pet 2:15,20-21; Rev 2:4-5.

130. Contrary to Protestant myth and anti-Catholicism, the Catholic Church doesn't teach that one is saved by works apart from preceding and enabling grace, but that faith and works are inseparable, as in James 1 and 2. This heresy of which Catholicism is often charged, was in fact condemned by the Catholic Church at the Second Council of Orange in 529 A.D. It is known as Pelagianism, the view that man could save himself by his own natural efforts, without the necessary supernatural grace from God. A more moderate view, Semi-Pelagianism, was likewise condemned. To continue to accuse the Catholic Church of this heresy suggests a manifest ignorance of the history of theology, as well as the clear
Catholic teaching of the Council of Trent (1545-63), available for all to see. Yet the myth is strangely prevalent.

131. Protestantism has virtually eliminated the practice of confession to a priest (or at least a pastor), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mt 16:19; 18:18; Jn 20:23).

132. Protestantism disbelieves in penance, or temporal punishment for (forgiven) sin, over against Christian Tradition and the Bible (e.g., Num 14:19-23; 2 Sam 12:13-14; 1 Cor
11:27-32; Heb 12:6-8).

133. Protestantism has little concept of the Tradition and biblical doctrine of mortifying the flesh, or, suffering with Christ: Mt 10:38; 16:24: Rom 8:13,17; 1 Cor 12:24-6; Phil 3:10; 1 Pet 4:1,13.

134. Likewise, Protestantism has lost the Tradition and biblical doctrine of vicarious atonement, or redemptive suffering with Christ, of Christians for the sake of each other: Ex 32:30-32; Num 16:43-8; 25:6-13; 2 Cor 4:10; Col 1:24; 2 Tim 4:6.

135. Protestantism has rejected the Tradition and biblical doctrine of purgatory, as a consequence of its false view of justification and penance, despite sufficient evidence in Scripture: Is 4:4; 6:5-7; Micah 7:8-9; Mal 3:1-4; 2 Maccabees 12:39-45; Mt 5:25-6; 12:32; Lk 16:19-31 (cf. Eph 4:8-10; 1 Pet 3:19-20); 1 Cor 3:11-15; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 21:27.

136. Protestantism has rejected (largely due to misconceptions and misunderstanding) the Catholic developed doctrine of indulgences, which is, simply, the remission of the temporal
punishment for sin (i.e., penance), by the Church (on the grounds of Mt 16:19; 18:18, and Jn 20:23). This is no different than what St. Paul did, concerning an errant brother at the
Church of Corinth. He first imposed a penance on him (1 Cor 5:3-5), then remitted part of it (an indulgence: 2 Cor 2:6-11). Just because abuses occurred prior to the Protestant Revolt
(admitted and rectified by the Catholic Church), is no reason to toss out yet another biblical doctrine. Yet it is sadly typical of Protestantism to burn down a house rather than to cleanse it, to "throw the baby out with the bath water."

137. Protestantism has thrown out prayers for the dead, in opposition to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Tobit 12:12; 2 Maccabees 12:39-45; 1 Cor 15:29; 2 Tim 1:16-18; also verses
having to do with purgatory, since these prayers are for the saints there).

138. Protestantism rejects, on inadequate grounds, the intercession of the saints for us after death, and the correspondent invocation of the saints for their effectual prayers (Jas 5:16).
Christian Tradition and the Bible, on the other hand, have upheld this practice: Dead saints are aware of earthly affairs (Mt 22:30 w/ Lk 15:10 and 1 Cor 15:29; Heb 12:1), appear on
earth to interact with men (1 Sam 28:12-15; Mt 17:1-3, 27:50-53; Rev 11:3), and therefore can intercede for us, and likewise be petitioned for their prayers, just as are Christians on
earth (2 Maccabees 15:14; Rev 5:8; 6:9-10).

139. Some Protestants disbelieve in guardian angels, despite Christian Tradition and the Bible (Ps 34:7; 91:11; Mt 18:10; Acts 12:15; Heb 1:14).

140. Most Protestants deny angelic intercession, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Rev 1:4; 5:8; 8:3-4).

141. Protestantism rejects Mary's Immaculate Conception, despite developed Christian Tradition and indications in the Bible: Gen 3:15; Lk 1:28 ("full of grace" Catholics interpret, on
linguistic grounds, to mean "without sin"); Mary as a type of the Ark of the Covenant (Lk 1:35 w/ Ex 40:34-8; Lk 1:44 w/ 2 Sam 6:14-16; Lk 1:43 w/ 2 Sam 6:9: God's Presence requires
extraordinary holiness).

142. Protestantism rejects Mary's Assumption, despite developed Christian Tradition and biblical indications: If Mary was indeed sinless, she would not have to undergo bodily decay at
death (Ps 16:10; Gen 3:19). Similar occurrences in the Bible make the Assumption not implausible or "unbiblical" per se (Enoch: Gen 5:24 w/ Heb 11:5; Elijah: 2 Ki 2:11; Paul: 2 Cor
12:2-4; the Protestant doctrine of the "Rapture": 1 Thess 4:15-17; risen saints: Mt 27:52-3).

143. Many (most?) Protestants deny Mary's perpetual virginity, despite Christian Tradition (including the unanimous agreement of the Protestant founders (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc.), some Protestant support, and several biblical evidences, too involved to briefly summarize.

144. Protestantism denies Mary's Spiritual Motherhood of Christians, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Jn 19:26-7: "Behold thy mother"; Rev 12:1,5,17: Christians described as "her seed.") Catholics believe that Mary is incomparably more alive and holy than we are, hence, her prayers for us are of great effect (Jas 5:16; Rev 5:8; 6:9-10). But she is our sister with regard to our position of creatures vis-a-vis the Creator, God. Mary never operates apart from the necessary graces from her Son, and always glorifies Him, not herself, as Catholic
theology stresses.

145. Protestantism rejects the papacy, despite profound Christian Tradition, and the strong evidence in the Bible of Peter's preeminence and commission by Jesus as the Rock of His
Church. No one denies he was some type of leader among the apostles. The papacy as we now know it is derived from this primacy: Mt 16:18-19; Lk 22:31-2; Jn 21:15-17 are the most
direct "papal" passages. Peter's name appears first in all lists of apostles; even an angel implies he is their leader (Mk 16:7), and he is accepted by the world as such (Acts 2:37-8,41).
He works the first miracle of the Church age (Acts 3:6-8), utters the first anathema (Acts 5:2-11), raises the dead (Acts 9:40), first receives the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-48), and his name
is mentioned more often than all the other disciples put together (191 times). Much more similar evidence can be found.

146. The Church of Rome and the popes were central to the governance and theological direction and orthodoxyof the Christian Church from the beginning. This is undeniable. All of the historical groups now regarded as heretical by Protestants and Catholics alike were originally judged as such by popes and/or ecumenical councils presided over and ratified by popes.

147. Protestantism, in its desperation to eke out some type of historical continuity apart from the Catholic Church, sometimes attempts to claim a lineage from medieval sects such as
the Waldenses, Cathari, and Albigensians (and sometimes earlier groups such as the Montanists or Donatists). However, this endeavor is doomed to failure when one studies closely what these sects believed. They either retain much Catholic teaching anathema to Protestants or hold heretical notions antithetical to Christianity altogether (Catholic, Protestant, and
Orthodox), or both, making this Protestant theory quite dubious at best.

148. Catholic has the most sophisticated and thoughtful Christian socio-economic and political philosophy, a mixture of "progressive" and "conservative" elements distinct from the commonplace political rhetoric and Machiavellianism which typically dominate the political arena. Catholicism has the best view of church in relation to the state and culture as well.

149. Catholicism has the best Christian philosophy and worldview, worked out through centuries of reflection and experience. As in its theological reflection and development, the
Catholic Church is ineffably wise and profound, to an extent truly amazing, and indicative of a sure divine stamp. I used to marvel, just before I converted, at how the Catholic Church
could be so right about so many things. I was accustomed to thinking, as a good evangelical, that the truth was always a potpourri of ideas from many Protestant denominations and
Catholicism and Orthodoxy (selected by myself), and that none "had it all together." But, alas, the Catholic Church does, after all.

150. Last but by no means least, Catholicism has the most sublime spirituality and devotional spirit, manifested in a thousand different ways, from the monastic ideal, to the heroic celibacy and pure devotion and service to God of the clergy and religious, the Catholic hospitals, the sheer holiness of a Thomas a Kempis or a St. Ignatius Loyola and their great devotional books, countless saints - both canonized and as yet unknown and unsung, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII, the early martyrs, St. Francis of Assisi, the events at Lourdes and Fatima, the dazzling intellect of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, the wisdom and insight of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, St. John of the Cross, the sanctified wit of a Chesterton or a Muggeridge, elderly women doing the Stations of the Cross or the Rosary, Holy Hour, Benediction, kneeling - the list goes on and on. This devotional spirit is, I humbly submit, unmatched in its scope and deepness, despite many fine counterparts in Protestant and Orthodox spirituality.
berty and gerty said…
Hey Stephen

In answer to your post I would just like to say that the advice you give is great. I know, reading, talking, writing, listening… they definitely help you to feel satisfied with life. But I just found it interesting that you put praying last, and also that you mention praying but not about having a relationship with the one that you pray to. After all, that’s what its about…not just randomly saying “hey, the big guy up there, give me this… help me with that”. In that realationship is where i find my true identity.

Also I find that reading the bible (which is the most awesomest book on the planet!) really puts things into perspective and teaches me so much about life and everything else. I wrote a post about it awhile ago, after I read the whole thing in 90 days (which was so hard but so cool!) and what I learnt from the experience.

Thanks for your post, B&G
i really liked this post.
i sort of agree with the person right above me....but sort of not.
i think that we all have an identity (duh, i know)
God made us all individuals, with different identities.
i think that a lot of christians only want to find their identities in God because that's pretty easy. they see themselves as Christians, and that's it. they think they don't need anything else.
but look deeper than that.
God gave you a personality and an identity beyond just a Christian.
don't simply settle for being a Christian (although that is quite important).
be the Christian God made you to be.
be yourself.
follow the steps provided by stephen, and maybe more....
sometimes i'm semi-deep here.
adrienne said…
Hey Stephen,
I like this post. I am constantly analyzing myself and the ones around me.
I know the Summer is busy for you but will you give us a dash of your thoughts to tie us over. It doesn't have to be really profound or long but honestly I like hearing what is going on in that noggin of yours.
Thanks ADE
PS A.W. I like your 2 cents. Finding out who I am outside of evangelical Christianity has been a struggle for me. I'm still trying to find the balance. As my University Theology prof Dr. Scott use to constantly reminded us 'its all about balance'. Too bad it took my twenties to figure this one out.
Anonymous said…
Thanks Stephen, I needed to hear that.
Katie News said…
a b.s. in psychology. impressive..i dont know you but im in the process of getting my bachelors in psych as well and by reading your blogs i've realized you have a very nice writing style.
Anonymous said…
very encouraging
Anonymous said…
Thanks for that post.
Alice-Bo-Balice said…
Everytime I read a post of yours, it really makes me think and ponder things. I liked this post especially. You're an excellent writer. You are deffinately an inpiration of mine. God bless...
Story of a Girl said…
I can identify with low expectations from others. I am very glad you didn't believe everyone. What was wrong with them ? You are so intelligent and wise. I'm happy that you are making your dreams come true.
andy said…
that really was amazing stephen. i liked the one about meeting people everyday. we spend so much of our time keeping our distance, when we can show close relationships.

that truly was great.

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