“Jesus never gave people a book. He gave teachers and sent to them the Holy Spirit to guide them to an ever-deepening understanding of his message. Jesus kept his promise and has been guiding the Church for two thousand years. Its understanding of Jesus’ message and the written word is much more authentic than the thoughts of people who just pick up the Bible and study it. There is a two-thousand-year-old memory in the Church formed by the Holy Spirit to guarantee the faithful transmission of Jesus’ message until the end of time. Since Jesus required acceptance of his message for entrance into God’s kingdom, he had to insure its integrity forever. And to this day that living message continues in spite of the personal lives of the apostles’ descendants, and cannot be rejected if people intend to be loyal to Jesus.”
Catholics traditionally have been taught that the path to Jesus is through the priest. According to this teaching, if we hold that the Bible is the primary path to faith, we cannot enter the kingdom of God and we are not loyal to Jesus. Again, this hurts.
I would suggest that there is much to be said for the two-thousand-year memory of the Church that we should not ignore. But I would also suggest that one is quite loyal to Jesus if he or she reads the Bible intensely. It is hard to imagine how the teachings of the Apostle John, passed down over the centuries through succession can pre-empt the written testimony of the same person in the Gospel of John.
Father Joe believes we are missing something by focusing too entirely on the Bible. He may well be right, if we do not love our brothers and sisters. But the same might also be true for focusing too entirely on fallible and sometimes corrupt bishops to the exclusion of the truth of the Bible.
By the way, the Catholic church has no monopoly on corrupt leaders!
At Streamside there is occasion for common repentance, the backbone of true unity.
More to follow in Part 5.