Mr. S writes: I HAVE MANY ISSUES WITH THE RCC BUT I THINK THEY ALL PROBABLY STEM FROM ONE- THE RCC DOESN'T FOLLOW THE SCRIPTURES (EXAMPLE CALLING PRIESTS 'FATHER' WHEN SCRIPTURE CLEARLY FORBIDS IT). ALL THE PROPHETS WERE CHOSEN BY GOD TO WRITE DOWN WHAT GOD WANTED WRITTEN DOWN FOR US, CHRISTIANS. WITHOUT SCRIPTURE, WE WOULD BE LOST--THE CHURCH IS NOT RELIABLE IN THE LEAST BECAUSE IT PUTS ITS TRADITIONS ABOVE GODS WORD AND THINKS IT HAS THE AUTHORITY TO DO SO.
My response: I, as you probably expected, disagree with your views. First let me say, that the Catholic Church is reliable in teaching the faith because Jesus Christ created her to do so and promised that the "gates of hell" would not prevail against it. That is God's Word and you can trust in it. Now to what you view is the "stem" of all the issues you have with the Catholic Church: the Catholic Church isn't "sola scriptura", which from your comments I assume you are (my apologies if my assumption is incorrect). I too used to be "sola scriptura" or "scripture alone!". The problem with that is, God didn't drop bibles from Heaven nor did Jesus hand them out before he ascended. Jesus never even told believers to "listen to your bibles", in fact Jesus said to listen to the teachings of his Apostles (Mt.10) whom he left to run his Church on earth when He ascended. Let me ask you (general "you" to any one who's sola scriptura) to do something. Using your bible alone- no other source- tell me which books belong in your bibles and by what authority you have determined that. Have you come up with anything yet? Don't sweat it, you can't and neither could I. You know why? Because the bible doesn't tell you what books or verses belong in it, Church authority tells you that. The bible was never meant to be your authority or interpret its self. Jesus left a Church with authority to do that. The bible is not your authority, because it can't even determine what belongs in it nor can it interpret it's self to tell you what it's saying (I think you can agree that there are numerous differing- and bickering- interpretations of the scriptures among Christians). The bible is a tool for teaching but it isn't a better "tool" than Tradition. Sacred Scripture and Tradition are equal. Neither one more important than the other. They are equally important. What does scripture say about Tradition? 2 Thess. 2:15 "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter." The "we" is the Church. The "word of mouth" is Tradition and the "by letter" is our written scriptures. The bible tells us that BOTH are equal and if someone claims to be "sola scriptura" how can they get around this scripture to deny Tradition? Notice the "we" again. It does NOT say "stand firm and hold to the teachings you interpret from the bible" it says "stand firm and hold to the teaching WE passed on..." both "by word of mouth" (Tradition) "and by letter" (Scriptures). This completely defeats any notion of "sola scriptura". It shows Church authority and that Tradition and Scripture go hand in hand, together equally. The bible proves there is no such thing as "sola scriptura". It's right there for anyone willing to look for it honestly.
Now to your other comment about "call no man father". This is terribly misunderstood and leaves many confused. Are we forbidden from calling our biological and stepfathers "father"? Of course not. Was it a sin for Jesus to call Abraham "Father Abraham"? Of course not. Are we forbidden from calling priests "father"? Of course not as Saint Paul himself shows in scripture that he became a "father" to believers.
1 Cor. 4:15 "Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel."
Jesus says to "honor your father and mother", now if it was wrong to call a man "father" why would Jesus do so? Jesus also refers to Abraham as "Father Abraham", now if this was wrong why would Jesus do so? There are numerous occasions when "father" is used in scripture by Jesus and others. What Jesus meant by "call no man father" is we are not to ever elevate anyone to the level of our Father in Heaven, God. There is no way God is ever offended by us using the term "father" when we do not elevate any man to the level of God. We know this because of scripture it's self, as I've shown above.
You make one last comment about "authority" and your view that the Catholic Church does not have authority. No one has the authority (or power) over God. But Jesus did give His Church authority and you can see that in scripture.
Matt. 18:18 "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
John 20:23 "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
Acts 16:4 "As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for people to obey."
Note the "decisions reached by the apostles and elders"..."to obey". This IS Church authority in action shown in Sacred Scriptures. This is not people reaching their own decisions by reading a bible. The people are listening to the teachings of the Church because of Church authority. I know its very difficult for Protestants to see this because they are not taught to see it. These verses are often skipped right over and ignored because to address them would bring up questions that can not be supported by Protestantism. As a convert to the Catholic faith, I know this because I went thru it myself. It's eye opening and it rocks the boat of Protestant theology.
In Matt. 7:24-27 Jesus talks about building a house on a rock because when the storm comes such a house will prevail and still be standing. He also goes on to talk about builders who build a house on sand and that when the rain comes and wind blows the house can not stand because it's foundation is not solid. It collapses. Later in Matt. 16 Jesus changes Simon's name to "Rock" (Peter) and he says in verse 18 "And I tell you that you are Peter [Rock], and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."
Here is the Catholic Church and two thousand plus years later she is still standing strong against the storms because her foundation is the rock. The gates of Hades will not prevail against her. Jesus promised us this and He keeps His Word. The Catholic Church is the church that Jesus Christ created in Scripture and He gave it authority on earth and in Heaven (Mt.18:18). That is what scripture says and I believe it.