Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK and Why We Need Theology of the Body More Than Ever


I was too young to know much about the scandals surrounding Bill Cosby the first time around. Then, as time went on the media storm subsided and Cosby emerged as someone still able to find affection in the public eye. He was, if not The American Father, at the very least in the running for it. I remembered him as Dr. Huxtable, as the guy on the Jello commercials, and as the host of Kids Say The Darndest Things.

I saw him live with my family to watch his comedy routine in person- it was a fun, family friendly night.

But, when the accusations burst forth again in 2014, I was old enough to pay attention. Even without a conviction, and with only the knowledge of what Cosby has admitted to doing, there is something we as a whole find incredibly disturbing about his conduct.

Then, as name after name of male celebrities comes into the public eye, and similar, equally disturbing stories are told, we have to wonder… what is it exactly about this behavior that we know is wrong? Lack of consent? Yes. Abuse of power? Yes. A distorted sense of immunity? Yes. These and a myriad of other things.

But, I suggest, there is also a deeper underlying issue at the core.

Let’s Talk About Sex

What’s the point of sex? Well, it is the means by which we continue our species. But procreation is not the only purpose of sex. The other point of sex is that it is for the good of the spouses.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death

And how is that aim of benefit to the spouses achieved? Here’s the Catechism one more time:

“The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude”

Sex as Self-Giving


Jesus gave his body fully for us. He sacrificed himself for our good. And that is exactly what sex is meant to be. It is meant to be a husband giving fully of himself for the good of his wife, and a wife giving fully of herself for the good of the husband. It is an ultimate appreciation of the dignity of our spouse, through a total gift of ourself to him/her.

Anytime we do something other than that, we turn sex from a self-gifting act to an act of self-seeking. From giving to taking. From whole to broken.

Marriage and Church/Marriage and the Trinity

Marriage is often referred to in the Bible as a reflection of Christ and the Church. Jesus is referred to as the Bridegroom, and the Church as the bride. If we play that relationship out to its logical conclusion, we see the beauty in Christ’s sacrifice for us, and realize our job within marriage is to reflect the beauty of what Christ did for us as a witness to the world.

Marriage is also reflection of the Trinity.

God is a burning inferno of love, and that love between the Father and the Son ushers into being a Third, the Holy Spirit. And when a husband and wife love each other, it has the potential to bring about a Third. That love becomes so real and so tangible that another life is brought into existence from it.

Sex is powerful stuff. Not because we have a right to indulge for our own sake or pleasure, but because we have the ability to give the gift of ourselves wholly and fully to another human being.

When that gift is profaned and becomes a selfish act, it undermines the dignity of the humans involved and can cause great hurt and pain. People feel used, something inside us becomes broken.

Sex is meant to be a total gift of self. Nothing about it is meant to be selfish.

The Distortion of Sex In The News

That’s partly why the news stories coming out about famous celebrity males taking advantage of females in incredibly disturbing ways hits home. Those behaviors are the result of a myriad of things. Privilege, a hunger for power, pride. But they also stem from the view of sex as being something that ultimately we deserve. Sex is for us. Pleasure is something we take instead of something we mutually give. Sex becomes a carnival house mirror instead of a pure and true reflection of God and his love for humanity. A cracked and distorted facimile of beauty.

We can see so clearly in those examples that something, and yes, many things are broken.

But a distortion of what is meant for good can occur even within a Christian marriage. All Christians would benefit greatly from an exploration into Theology of the Body and diving deeply into the power of the purpose of human sexuality. If our marriages are meant to be a living reflection of the Free, Total, Faithful and Fruitful love of God, then it is vitally important that we know what we are being asked to reflect, and that we take seriously the responsibility and honor to live as Gift to our spouse.

If you are interested in learning more about the foundational Christian views on sex and marriage, please check out:


And, when we see these examples when good is perverted, let us know why it is we know, at the root of it all, that selfishness in any expression of sexuality, in any situation at all, is harmful and wrong.


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Is Anyone Sola Scriptura? (Catholic Stand)

Note: This article originally appeared on Catholic Stand.

Coffee Shop Calvinism

I recently came across a group of men from the Reformed Church we left to become Catholic who were gathered at our local Starbucks. They were discussing theology, and didn’t notice I was sitting next to them for several minutes while they talked about things like “once saved, always saved,” TULIP, and other Calvinist doctrine. It was interesting to listen in on this discussion on some of the very issues that led me from that church and into a life as a passionate Catholic.

This is a group of men who are adamantly Sola Scriptura. But they left the coffee shop that day, not with Bibles in hand, but with thick-as-the-Catechism sized copies of Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem clutched to their chests.

Is Anyone Sola Scriptura?

The belief in the sufficiency of Scripture, wherein one believes Scripture is sufficient to tell us all we need concerning the theological truths God desired to reveal to mankind, can only be believed to be true in light of accurate interpretation. Even to a non-Catholic it has to be, at the very least, Scripture + accurate interpretation.

The longer I look into these issues, the more I am convinced of the impossibility of truly being Sola Scriptura. Even the men from that Reformed Church, implicitly, are living out their faith through the interpretive lens of Grudem and his Calvinist interpretation of Scripture.

Now, this practical reality does not stretch as far as to encompass a Protestant substitute for the Catholic belief in Tradition and the Magisterium – and of course a Calvinist, for example, would say that even Grudem’s words are not infallible. But it does indicate heavily an implicit acknowledgement that Scripture requires an interpretive authority. We need to look at Scripture through some sort of lens. The importance of the accuracy of that lens cannot be understated because if we have a Bible, but can’t interpret it correctly, then we are in big trouble. And we can’t interpret it correctly on our own.

Who Do We Trust?

Even the strongest adherents to Sola Scriptura caution against a “Me, God and the Bible” approach to scriptural interpretation, though for many Protestant Christians, this is essentially what Sola Scriptura has become as denomination after denomination has diverged since the origins of the Reformation. What necessarily results is thousands upon thousands of Christians who are divorced entirely from any authoritative source, and they themselves become their own interpretive authority.

Others realize that we can’t divorce Scripture from its historical and cultural context, nor can we divorce it from the intent of the original authors, or the meaning of words in the original written language.

For those Christians, the question becomes: Who do we trust? How do we sift through the myriad of opinions on this section of Scripture or that? If the Bible is sufficient, how do we know what it is actually saying to the world? We are left on our own, or on the recommendation of our pastors, or the books of Christian authors and theologians like Grudem, Tim Keller, and others to help guide us in, what we hope, is the truth.

The “Ordinary Believer”

Reformed theologian Robert Godfrey writes: “The Protestant position, and my position, is that all things necessary for salvation and concerning faith and life are taught in the Bible clearly enough for the ordinary believer to find it there and understand it.”

But is this what we practically see in the Church? How does sufficiency come into play with issues that are clearly addressed in the Bible, but differences in interpretation lead people to different conclusions? Take baptism, for example. Are we meant to baptize infants, or should we only baptize those old enough to make an independent profession of faith? It’s clearly addressed in Scripture, but we cannot agree on a meaning. Or what about Holy Communion? Is the bread and wine truly the Body and Blood of Christ, or is it meant to be a symbolic representation of the same? It’s addressed in Scripture. But what does it mean? We cannot understand these things unless we have an interpretive source we can trust.

I do agree that the “ordinary believer” can find what he/she needs to know to understand the basics of the gospel and salvation in the Bible. My 5-year-old can understand that foundation. She knows we have sinned, and Jesus died for us and rose again so we can be with Him. She knows we need to live for God. All things we can find and understand at a basic level in Scripture. But, I don’t agree that all things necessary concerning faith and life are clear enough for the ordinary believer to find it and understand it. The “ordinary believer” does not have a thorough enough understanding of the historical and cultural context of Scripture, nor does he/she have an understanding of the original language of Scripture to understand all things necessary concerning faith and life.

A Protestant Christian living in America with an ESV translation of the Bible will come to some different interpretive conclusions than a Protestant theologian who has access to and understands the original languages of the text. This is why it isn’t a matter of whether or not we need an authoritative interpretive source. It’s a matter of in which interpretive source we place our trust.

The Ultimate Question

Even if a Protestant claims their interpretive source is fallible, they still need to rely on an interpretive source. And it will be the one they think holds most closely to the truth. A truth determined by their own best understanding of how to approach Scripture.

And, in my final months as a Protestant, the ultimate question for me wasn’t whether or not I believed Sola Scriptura. My ultimate question became which interpretive source has the greatest biblical, historical, and logical claim to truth.

When I acknowledged that the Bible requires a trustworthy interpretive source, I didn’t know it then but I was a few months away from receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic Church. I have not found any authoritative person or source to even come close in terms of historical and cultural context, original intent, logical coherence and consistency, and theological and philosophical depth. It is my hope that we as Catholics can truly appreciate the gift we have in the authoritative interpretive teachings of the Church. I also hope that my Protestant brothers and sisters will begin an intentional search to begin to ask the question of who they trust to interpret Scripture accurately, and that they acknowledge the importance of the answer to that question. And when they make those inquiries, I hope they give the Catholic Church an equal chance among the other options out there.

I know it’s changed everything for me.

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On Woven Sari Blankets and The Dignity of Man

I have trouble with eye contact. Not during job interviews, not at home with my husband and kids. But definitely in public.

I remember in middle and high school avoiding eye contact with others was a way to deal with my shyness. The subtle yet significant fear that I would look someone in the eyes and they would ignore me. That I would not be seen. So I made the first move, which was to not even try.

A lot of times now, I find myself in a similar boat, except I’m not as much paralyzed by shyness as I am by the fact that I’m wrapped up in my own thoughts about my own life. What I need to do next, what I’m going to write about next, what I need to cook for dinner. The kids, the house, the list of things I need to do.

By doing this, I miss a lot of people, and a lot of potential interactions with other human beings.

In The Image of God

It’s easy for me to look at a baby, or a child, and to see the spark of The Creator inside them. Less so when it’s the person in front of me in line at a busy grocery store, who painstakingly writes out a check a la my grandmother. But instead of noticing that and remembering my grandma fondly, I am mostly irritated I chose this line, and will be delayed a couple of minutes and I have ice cream probably melting in the car from my first stop at Aldi.

The thing is, the lady in front of me, too, bears the mark and the spark of God inside her. And she, therefore, is deserving of a certain and irrevocable level of dignity and respect. So is the slow driver in front of me. The man carrying a 12 pack of beer as he walks home from the liquor store on the corner. The woman on her cell phone waiting for the bus.

Recently, I tried running errands and making an effort to truly look at people. And as I did, to think Image of God every time. There’s still some residual shyness lurking about, and it’s more difficult than I thought it would be. But when I did succeed, when I did pay attention enough to conciously acknowledge someone’s inherent worth. When our eyes met and we smiled. Woah. That was a powerful moment.

People long to be seen. We want to know we have worth.

A Blanket of Woven Saris

I recently hosted a party for a company that sells things made by women survivors of human trafficking. One of the many beautiful aspects of these companies is that women, who once were in a position where they felt they had no choice but to sell their bodies, now make a fair, living wage creating beautiful products for export. In their work, there is now dignity where there once was shame.

I received a handwoven blanket as a thank you for hosting the party. It is made of vintage saris, all beautifully braided together by a woman named Nasima. I know this because she signed the tag. I was able to go onto the website of the company, and to learn a bit about her story, and how her job gives her freedom, and respect.

My beautiful blanket.

The Creativity of God

When we, myself included, forget about the dignity within each and every human, bad things can happen. From the smallest to the oldest among us, we all bear the image of our Creator, and this is the primary source of our immense and intrinsict worth. Any time we mess with that, and start assigning importance or value based upon one’s size, or if they are wanted, or if they can help us get something we want, we forget Imago Dei. And we are all the poorer for it.

I am the first one to say it is my goal to look people in the eyes more. It’s a small step, to be sure, but if you take enough steps you end up at a different destination. I want to look at them and think Imago Dei. I want to offer a smile. I want them to know they are seen. I want to spend more time interacting with these image bearers and less time with the neverending lists inside my head.

As I do this, I hope to grow in awe and wonder at the diversity of souls on this earth and at the dignity of man and the creativity of God.



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On Beautiful Churches

The Original Problem

I used to have a problem with ornate churches. I used to think the money would have been better spent elsewhere. I verged, at times, on offended.

Then, I realized, I’ve worshipped in very expensive buildings that weren’t so aesthetically pleasing. Yes, Cathedrals cost a lot more than the average mega-church, but they are both expensive. I’ve also worshipped in some churches that probably weren’t as expensive. I’ve worshipped outside, which is as cost-efficient as you can get. This article isn’t an attempt to argue that worship can’t occur in a variety of settings. It’s an explanation of how I’ve come to love beautiful churches, and to understand the value they hold for the practice of my faith.

The Real Presence

But why is there value in beautiful churches? As Catholics, we believe Jesus himself is present in a very real way in the Eucharist. That’s a good place to start.

During my conversion, I read a book called Jesus Shock by philosopher and Catholic convert Peter Kreeft. He argued that only belief in the True Presence could have built such beautiful churches. Only belief in the fact that those churches would be housing the presence of God himself resulted in the aesthetic beauty and astounding architecture of the Basilicas and Cathedrals of the world.

I believe it was Peter Kreeft who also wrote about beautiful churches, and how they help make up for the scandal of the manger. I had never before thought of the manger as scandalous, but our Savior, the God of all things was born into the most humble of places, amidst animal dung and slop. How scandalous indeed. Beautiful churches that house the presence of our living God in the bread and wine provide a much more fitting place for God to reside in the form of the Eucharist. It provides a contrast to the humble state in which Jesus entered the world as man.

Looking Up

At our current parish, there are a number of amazing stained glass windows that let in the light. At certain Masses at certain times of day, the sun shines its light directly through some of them. It is awe inspiring. I find myself often at Mass, throughout the liturgy, looking up.

I think that’s part of the point. Beautiful churches draw our thoughts and minds heavenward. To help us physically and tangibly connect with the heaven-earth intersection that occurs during the Mass. The incense, the music, the vestments, the tabernacle. They all are helpful in this regard, too. We are a body/soul composite. And all those physical components, including the architecture of the church, help frame and focus our minds on the things of God.


My husband and I visited Paris briefly several years back. We toured Notre Dame Cathedral, with the eyes of tourists. Interested in the architecture and history. I never once thought about the Eucharist that entire trip. I hope to be able to go back someday with the eyes of a Catholic. I think I will appreciate it in a way I wasn’t able to before.

Because before, when I walked into a Cathedral I saw interesting architecture but was concerned of the financial waste. I walk in now and see love. Love of God and his True Presence in the bread and the wine.

I don’t need to be in a Cathedral to worship, but I appreciate beautiful churches now.



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Finding A New Mother In Mary

Before I was Catholic, I focused on Mary during the holiday season. I mostly thought about her, pregnant and heavy laden, making the long journey for the census just before her baby was to be born. Tired, searching for a place to rest. Giving birth in a dirty, humble place. Holding the infant Jesus in a night where shepherds and angels and the light of a star paid Him heed. I had the honor of being in late stage pregnancy twice during the Advent season. I was very comfortable thinking about Mary then.

But I didn’t think about her much otherwise. Thoughts about Mary were safe during Advent and Christmas. But, like the tree and decorations we put up in our home, my thoughts of Mary, too, were boxed up and put away at the end of the season, until the following year. Mary belonged in a nativity scene, not in my life.

A Growing Admiration

All of that necessarily changes when one is on a journey to the Catholic Church. Mary plays such a key role in our salvation story, and Catholics aren’t afraid to acknowledge it. I know, based on the Bible and the teaching of The Church, that Mary is in heaven, and prays for us. I also know that Jesus listens carefully to what his mother requests of Him. Her role as the New Eve, the Ark of the New Covenant, her Immaculate Conception, her lifelong obedience and holiness, also are things I worked through as I prepared for Confirmation.


It became easy to realize there was much more to Mary than what I had previously thought. It became easy to be thankful for how precious a role God gave Mary, from the moment of her own conception. It became easy to admire her.

But, as I am learning, admiring someone is not the same thing as being in a relationship.

Baby Steps

As a teen, spending time with my mother wasn’t as high on the priority list, though that has long since changed. But in some ways, I think I still relate to Mary in that way. I know she loves me and is there for me, but I don’t often make time with her a priority. Some of the Rosary’s I’ve prayed have ended up being the most powerfrul prayers of my life, prayers that were clearly answered, and graces that were abundantly given.

So why don’t I do it more?

Perhaps it’s some tendency leftover from my Protestant days. The Rosary isn’t often one of the first prayers I go to, and even though it doesn’t take incredibly long, I often struggle at the time commitment a Rosary takes. I have been praying Hail Mary’s more often in my day to day life, which I think is a good baby step. But it feels too tiny sometimes, when I know the beautiful graces given to me through Mary on the occassions I have spent time intentionally turning to her.

But I also know Mary has a lot to offer me if I would not only spend time talking to her, but also listening.

I have so many wonderful mother figures in my life. There’s my mom, who has been with me since the beginning. I also have a step-mom, and a mother-in-law, as well as many other women who have been influential in my life.

But as much as these women have allowed me to talk and share my heart with them, I find I often learn the most when I listen to the wisdom they have to give me. And Mary has so very, very much wisdom to offer. Through her example in Scripture, through her presence in the ways she has appeared to many throughout history, offering Truth and encouragement and building our faith as a Church. This weekend, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fatima, and that is just one of many examples of her intervention in our world. And I’m sure she would speak to my own heart, if I only would quiet myself and listen.

Many Mothers

I think a person has room for many mothers. Women who love, guide, and shape us. Who intercede for us. Who listen to us. Who offer us comfort. And I firmly believe Mary should be at the top of the list of Mothers in our lives.

On this Mother’s Day, it is my prayer that as I celebrate the earthly mothers in my life, I would also move closer to embracing my heavenly Mother, Mary. That I would allow her guidance and wisdom more and more into my own daily existence. That I would not take the blessing of having a heavenly Mother for granted. And that I would look to emulate her, and ask for her intercession to become even a small portion of the woman and mother she was to Jesus and is to The Church. For God’s grace to emulate her in holiness. And to know she is there for me, loving me, and waiting for me to spend some time.


We Want to Know: What is your relationship with Mary like? How do you relate to her as a Mother?

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Why I Believe In Purgatory

Oh my goodness. As a Protestant, Purgatory was the weirdest.

Along with the Mary stuff.

I didn’t think about Purgatory much, but when I did, I had no idea what Catholics were thinking. I thought Purgatory was some sort of bizarre waiting place, like a really long DMV line. Or a bus route that just kept going in circles over and over again. I thought it was either a place where souls somehow had to prove themselves worthy of heaven, or a place where souls waited until God thought it was time to let them in. I knew Purgatory wasn’t supposed to be enjoyable. And I just didn’t see the point.

As I began my journey towards embracing the Catholic faith, I looked into everything I could. At the time, Purgatory was one of the bigger hurdles I had to jump.

I found my original conception of Purgatory was actually, once again, a misconception. And I learned there is a lot that makes sense about believing in Purgatory.

Justification and Sanctification

I know there is quite a bit of hubbub around the definition of Justification between Protestants and Catholics. It was one of the central issues in the Reformation. It seems, however, not many people are aware that Catholics and Lutherans and Methodists, have, for a while now been in agreement on that issue. The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification is a worthwhile thing to know about.

But, in short, and without going into the specifics of how justification is applied, justification means our salvation. It means heaven is our ultimate destination through Jesus’ atoning work. This article is not the place to delve into details. But, a person justified is in God’s grace.

Sanctification is the process by which we are made holy. By which the sinfulness in our life is burned away as we cooperate with God’s grace, and by which we are made into the likeness of our Heavenly Father.

Side note: I don’t buy the idea that once one is a Christian, sin is a non-issue. I’m not walking around like “oh I sin so much I’m depressed all the time,” but I am very, very aware of my tendency to sin even though I have a Christian faith. I think the Christian traditions that have moved in the direction of assuming that Christ’s work means that sin is not really something we need to worry about or think about much is concerning. I, personally, have found that every moment of every day, I have the choice to cooperate with that which God wishes to do inside of me, and be sanctified, or I can reject that work and choose to sin. I am, therefore, writing from the perspective that Sanctification is an active, not a passive, process by which we cooperate with God.


Perhaps this is a layperson’s oversimplification, but it helped me a lot to think about Purgatory as the completion of one’s sanctification.

Here are a couple examples.

1- A person who believes in Christianity from the earliest age possible. They cooperate with God’s grace in their life, and live a long life of faith. By the end of their life, God has worked in them and through them so much, that they are not selfish, or prideful, or seeking their own comfort. They have been entirely conformed to The Father. We might call this person a Saint.

2- The man on the cross next to Jesus. He had lived a life of sin and selfishness. Yet, his heart turned toward God at the last moment.

Are both of these people justified by virtue of their faith in Jesus? Yes! Are both of them sanctified to the same degree upon their death? I’d say definitely not.

And then what? What happens to the sanctification of the man on the cross next to Jesus?

I don’t think it’s possible that people are in heaven only partially sanctified. That would mean there are people in heaven still dealing with sin issues. And that just doesn’t make sense. We won’t struggle with sin in heaven.

How Are We Sanctified?

Well, first of all, God isn’t a liar. He doesn’t declare us righteous and then be like “Well, I’ve said you’re righteous, but I’m not going to actually make you righteous. I’m just going to say it and we can all pretend it’s true.” No. God does what he says, and sanctification is how we are made righteous, or holy. We can only be sanctified through God’s grace. We can’t earn it or work at it in our own power. But, we need to cooperate with that grace. God can’t just drag us kicking and screaming into holiness. We have free will. Sanctification requires we say “Yes” to the work God is doing in us. God can’t force us to be selfless. God can’t force us to be humble. We need to submit to allowing God to do that work inside us, and cooperate with Him. And God isn’t going to be cool with a prideful, sinful person in Heaven with Him.

A Comparison

It was helpful to me to compare sanctification to exercise in this regard. Exercise is good for us! And necessary for our health. But it is not easy. It requires action on our part, and, often, discomfort or pain. We can’t get healthy without exercising. And we can’t exercise effectively and still avoid discomfort.

Sanctification is, in a very real sense, painful. Because through sanctification, we are rejecting the sin in our life.

Whenever we allow God to help us turn away from sin, it hurts. Biting my tongue when I want to say something snarky hurts. Eating a proper portion size of cake when I want to stuff my face with it hurts. Turning off technology for periods of time throughout the day, denying myself that nice little dopamine high from checking Facebook, hurts. Think of any sin you struggle with, and then think of denying yourself that sin… and you quickly realize the pain in sanctification.

That’s the pain people are talking about when they talk about Purgatory. It’s painful, but not arbitrarily so. There is purpose to it, and necessity. Because Purgatory is the end of any sin’s grip on you that you struggled with during your life on Earth. Struggled with pornography? It’s burned off. Struggled with laziness? Burned. Impatience? Burned. Pride? Burned.

Sanctification is good for us, and necessary, even, before entering Heaven. And it hurts because turning away from sin hurts.

Purgatory in the Bible

1 Corinthians 3 states:

10 By the grace of God which was given to me, I laid the foundations like a trained master-builder, and someone else is building on them. Now each one must be careful how he does the building.11 For nobody can lay down any other foundation than the one which is there already, namely Jesus Christ.12 On this foundation, different people may build in gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw 13 but each person’s handiwork will be shown for what it is. The Day which dawns in fire will make it clear and the fire itself will test the quality of each person’s work.14 The one whose work stands up to it will be given his wages; 15 the one whose work is burnt down will suffer the loss of it, though he himself will be saved; he will be saved as someone might expect to be saved from a fire.

JP was at a men’s Bible study one night before we became Catholic. He came home and shared with me the discussion the men had surrounding this verse. It was an odd thing for the men in the group to reconcile… this being saved through fire. I looked at him, and said: “It sounds like Purgatory.” He agreed.

I’ve since heard there is an argument that a person’s works are tested, not the person themselves. But that just doesn’t make sense to me. Works don’t exist apart from the person doing them. There is always a hand feeding the hungry person. There is always an eye looking at someone in judgment. There is always a foot going to dark places to spread the light of Jesus. Whether our works are in cooperation with God, or whether our works are sinful, there is a person attached to the work.

Also, in 2 Maccabees we also learn that Jewish people prayed for the dead. Whether or not one accepts that Maccabees belongs in the Bible, it still gives us a historical reference to know that the Jewish people, of which Jesus was one, prayed for the dead. That’s why we pray for souls in Purgatory. Just as we would pray for a friend in our Bible Study to work through a sin in their own life that they were struggling with, we pray for our fellow Christians in Purgatory that they would cooperate with God, and allow God to work through the sin they still struggle with and are holding on to as well.

C.S. Lewis and Purgatory

Now, just because C.S. Lewis believes something, doesn’t make it true. But, he is a well-respected theologian among Christians everywhere. And, he made some really good points about Purgatory.

He wrote:

Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy”? Should we not reply, “With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.” “It may hurt, you know” — “Even so, sir.”

I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering. Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done me in this life has involved it. . . .

(Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1964, 107-109)

And, in the acclaimed Mere Christianity, he writes:

“Make no mistake,” He says, “if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect — until My Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.”

God will conform us to His likeness. He will not leave us half-sanctified. He will do what He says.

The Great Divorce is also awesome book that helps illustrate some of these concepts. A character at the very end, has the ability to enter into Heaven, but has to go through a painful transformation to get there. The book is short, and powerful. I highly recommend it.


Well, suffice it to say I’ve come a long way from believing Purgatory is some weird DMV line with no point. I see it now as the process by which God completes his sanctifying work inside of me.

Purgatory is a really beautiful and life-giving thing for our souls.

It’s the death blow to our own personal struggles with sin.

It’s the final and full cooperation with God’s offer of grace, wherein any bits of sin we’ve stubbornly held onto are burned away by His love.


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Existence and Jesus: What Are The Odds?

I sit here, smack dab in the middle of Holy Week, anticipating the approaching daylight, but still knowing we have the darkness of Good Friday and Holy Saturday to pass through on our way to it.

And I am in awe. In awe of the fact that we exist. We are on a ball floating in space, constrained in the exact position necessary to sustain life due to the gravity of the sun and a bunch of other factors I probably will never understand. We exist in a universe of black holes, and asteroids and fiery balls of light. The whole thing could have been, and perhaps, according to the odds, should have been, chaos.

But it isn’t.

No… not only does out planet sustain life, but it sustains intelligent life. There is chaos, yes, but there is also an astounding level of order in our world to the largest magnitude and the smallest degree. The chaos is subdued, and here we are. What are the odds?

You know something else that has me in awe, every single day of my life? The fact that over 2,000 years ago a man walked this earth and claimed to be God. That man was crucified for his claims and he died.

His followers claimed he rose again.

What are the odds his claim was true?

This man, Jesus, was clearly, and only, one of three things. He could possibly have been a liar. Just a normal man making grandiose, yet fictional, claims about himself. He could possibly have been insane. A God Complex to the highest degree. The third option, is he is who he said he was.

Based on the nature of the claims, I suggest it is actually pretty important for us humans to figure out which one of those three options is true.


What do we do with the historical information surrounding the life of this man? What do we do with the ancient prophecies his life fulfilled? What do we do with the fact that ten of his twelve original disciples were martyred for their belief in him? And the many, many more martyrs in the times that followed up until now? Were they, too, all crazy or liars? What do we do with the eyewitness corroborative accounts of the things this man said and did? What are the odds the eyewitness accounts would hold up to both scrutiny and history? What do we do with the fact that this religion, despite a multitude of efforts stomp it out, still exists, thousands of years later? What do we do with the billions of lives changed over the course of history because of this man’s teachings?

What are the odds…

Well… according to the odds, we humans shouldn’t exist. But we do.

So… if we exist against all odds, perhaps looking into the claims of the Christian faith isn’t that far fetched at all. Perhaps the Christian faith is more than just stories and morals. Perhaps the Christian faith contains something so surprising, and so True, it will knock your socks off.

Perhaps there is unfathomable depth there, and incomprehensible beauty there, and abiding peace to be found there. Perhaps He who holds everything in this universe together, against all odds, did something so significant for you, that it could change every breath you take every moment forward for the rest of this life and onward into eternity.

So… what are the odds you will take another look at the God Man Jesus? Whether you’ve believed passionately, or nominally, or not at all-ly… let’s give the claims of this man the scrutiny they deserve. Fair warning: Those who believed His claims were true? They were forever, immensely changed.

If you’re willing, Easter is a great time to start.

Here are some resources to being learning about the Christian faith. And, as always, feel free to ask a question via comment or email. We would love to be a part of your journey in any small way. And, if you live in our neck of the woods, we’d be pleased to have you join us on Easter morning.

Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis

Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton

The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel



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On Being Misunderstood

Has there ever been a time in your life when your actions have been misunderstood… or, worse yet, you have been misunderstood? When someone took a piece of something you had done, or a piece of who you are, and then turned that bit of truth, or added to it, or took away from it, or scrutinized it so severely that the context got lost? So much so that what that person ended up with was not an accurate representation of you or your actions at all?

I am sure many of us have been there, at some point.

It happened to me personally this week, regarding my Catholic faith. And it was in a situation where I was unable to say anything back at all. Because the person misunderstanding me was in a video on YouTube.

A friend of mine was sent a video by someone she knows. A video sent to her because some people in her life are concerned she is spending so much time with a Catholic. Because some people in her life are concerned she has attended Mass with us a few times.

The person in the video was a scholar who studied theology from the Reformed (Calvinist perspective). He was being interviewed by a couple of people on the problems with Roman Catholicism.

Truth be told, by now I have heard most of the arguments that Reformed theologians have about my faith. But when we were converting, none of it made any sense, as I had never before come fully into contact with the Reformed perspective’s wrath against the Catholic Church. And it’s still never fun to hear.

In the video (which I cannot recommend at all, and thus will not be linking to,) the scholar said Catholics and Christians have a different gospel (this is the Reformed perspective, not all Protestants believe that). He strongly implied that Catholics believe Priests to be some sort of deity. He said Catholics had no means of experiencing true Shalom (peace). He implied transubstantiation was not believed by the majority of Early Church Fathers. He misconstrued the relationship between Scripture and Church Authority. He said the Catholic Church was incapable of reforming. I could go on…

When I started watching the video, I was chuckling. When I finished, I was unbelievably sad. Because when misunderstanding and half-truths are being spread about something important to you, it hurts.

This video reminds me why some people from the Reformed church we left to become Catholic, no longer continued a friendship with us. And it reminds me why Pastors from that church sat in our living room and told us we were not, and never had been, Christian.

If that surprises anyone reading this, I understand. It was a very jarring experience to go through. If you are reading this and that is your perspective, I hope this helps you understand what that experience was like, and also challenges you as to where you choose to receive information about things you disagree with.

It’s a lot easier to joke about the number of conditions a Catholic would have to meet to receive salvation on a YouTube video, sitting next to people that agree with you than it is to look another human being in the eye and do the same.

It’s a lot easier to propagate stereotypes and misconceptions than it is to share a meal with someone, and get to know them and their faith personally.

Because I bet if anti-Catholics did that, even if they never experienced an inkling of desire themselves to become Catholic, that Catholics and the Catholic faith in general would become a lot less scary and mysterious. And who knows, maybe they would make some new friends.


I will say the Reformed (Calvinist) view of Catholicism, the view that says true Roman Catholics are not Christian, is in the minority among Protestant Christians. People in the Calvinist tradition don’t even think it appropriate to serve alongside Catholics in ecumenical ministry. Now, just because something is a minority, doesn’t make it untrue. But, the fact that among Protestant Christians, Calvinists stand apart as very anti-Catholic, while other Protestant groups and Catholics view each other as brothers and sisters in Christ at least is something worth mentioning.

But, my main point is this.

If I wanted to accurately learn and understand democracy, would it make sense for me to interview an anarchist about the democratic system? Would someone anti-government be a good and reputable source of information to accurately understand government?

If I wanted to learn about and understand the history of minorities in America, would it make sense for me to interview a white supremacist? Would someone with extreme prejudices against a group of people be a good and reputable source of information about the history of the people they are prejudice against?

If I wanted to learn about the Pro-Life movement in America, it’s motivations, history, strategy, and practical implications, would it make sense for my primary source of information to be someone adamantly Pro-Choice? Would they be likely to give an accurate representation of those that believe life begins at conception?

I hope we could agree in all of those cases that the answer would be an emphatic No!

It follows, then, if you have only learned about the Catholic Church from anti-Catholic sources, is that likely to be a a good and reputable source of information about the Catholic Church?

I hope our answer again is, unequivocally, no.

I know this based on logic. I know this based on the misunderstandings I have experienced in this regard. But I also know this based on my own faith experience.

The man in the video said Catholics cannot have Shalom. And, I admit, he rattled mine a bit for a couple of days. But, the reason I lost my peace wasn’t because I’m Catholic. I have never been at more peace in my life than I am now living out my Christianity through my Catholic faith. I lost my peace for a bit because I was reacting to being grossly misunderstood.

I realize I didn’t have to give that man the power. I think it all stems back to my desire to be liked, which I recently wrote about in detail, because it reminds me that people I have cared about stopped being friends with us for some of the reasons the man in the video stated. And I also think part of it was a just reaction to a legitimate concern. There is a difference between communicating our faith with each other, in the hope to help bridge gaps, and spending one’s time defaming another faith, with the intent to increase divisions. There is something beneficial to understanding each other better. There is something terribly dangerous about spreading half truths.

My friend sent me the link to that video because she wanted to know, from a Catholic perspective, if the things he said were accurate. And, even though it was difficult to watch, I’m so glad she did. She went to the source and she valued our friendship, and she wants to know me and my faith because she cares about me as a friend. This is all good stuff.

And it feels a lot better to get my thoughts out in some capacity, even if I can’t respond directly to the man in the video. I’m ready to move on.

Because, at some point, as another good friend of mine often says, we need to meet at the cross, and work together to get out and be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting world. And I am so happy to do so with my many Christian friends of various faith backgrounds who are willing to serve alongside me. Because we can accomplish more together. Because we are the Body of Christ on this earth. And because we have much work to do.




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I Want You To Like Me (and why that’s a problem)

When I was a teenager, friends were very, very important to me. As they are for most adolescents. I remember keeping a journal, and writing in it a list of all the friends I had at the time. I like having friends, and I like having friends be happy with me.

Now, full disclosure, I was not a popular kid in school, if we are using popular in the sense of “cool.” I had this one shirt I loved in 5th grade that had a cartoon picture of two cuddly cats on it. It originally belonged to my grandmother, and I thought it was the best, so she let me borrow it. I wore that shirt to school with pride. In an era when name brands were starting to become a big thing- Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch… I was wearing cat shirts.

At this point, it may not surprise you to learn that I was also kind of a “nerd.” Which I’m sort of thankful for nowadays. I avoided a lot of drama by being nerdy. I wasn’t cool enough to get invited anywhere I could get myself in trouble. But, even though I was nerdy, I still cared a lot about what other people thought of me, and being different was often hard.

I think in many ways, it’s normal to want to be liked. No one is like “Man, I really hope people hate me today.” So, this is probably a universal thing.

But I think where my own struggle began is when I started to associate part of my own value as a person with how many friends I had at any given stage of my life. Like somehow how many people liked me somehow correlated with my value. Like I said, I like to keep people happy.

Friend Count

Now, there are seasons in life when it’s normal for one’s ‘friend count’ to go down. Situations in which you don’t actually lose friends, but when your normal peeps are inaccessible. Moving comes to mind. But I wasn’t really prepared for the shift that occurred when we transitioned to the Catholic Church.

We lost some friends because of our decision. We drifted away from others due to not seeing them at church on a weekly basis. And others, we thankfully were able to keep. But talking about the Catholic Stuff, which has become a huge part of our family life, still is a bit weird and awkward, and sometimes avoided altogether.

It’s difficult to not be able to talk about your faith openly with your friends, because you know they disagree with you. It feels like an entire part of my being, and theirs is not okay to bring up. And that’s really hard.

It’s difficult knowing that some people I know think I’m at best a bit misguided, and at worst a bit crazy for becoming Catholic. I know that reaction, because I’ve had it too towards other people who make what I think are odd decisions or hold what I think are incorrect beliefs. There are times when I’ve been like “man, I really like that person for a lot of reasons, but in this one regard I think they are a bit out there… too bad.” Becoming Catholic, to some people, means I’ve lost some street cred. It means everyone isn’t totally in love with every part of me, which, let’s be honest, they probably weren’t anyway to begin with. I may or may not have my fair share of flaws. And that’s something I should be expecting from people anyways. I know that’s my own weakness talking because the only One who is ever going to love me completely is God. I don’t need to seek to have that hole filled by people. It isn’t a fair expectation to make.

Another tricky thing about this, I think, is that women in particular base friendships on commonalities. You become friends because you have things in common. And then, when you have a friendship formed based at least partly upon a certain common thing… when that common thing changes, it adds some challenges.

And now, writing on a Catholic blog when many of my friends are firmly Protestant holds its own unique challenges.

And, I’m in this really interesting place because I know both Protestants and Catholics and people of other world views are reading what I write.

And I need to be authentic to my faith.

On Being “Safe”

It’s almost been like… it’s okay to many that I became Catholic if it has helped my faith walk, but I think maybe if we don’t talk about it too much or I don’t write about it too much then people can attempt to think I’m only Catholic in the “safe” ways to be Catholic. Like with the connection to history, and the liturgy, and the reverence. All the things that set the Catholic Church apart, but don’t offend people who disagree with the Church. And this has mostly come from me. I’ve been the one to emphasize how much I like the “safer” aspects of Catholicism. Because I don’t know how to bring up how much I love The Eucharist to a friend who doesn’t believe in the True Presence, or how much going to Confession or Adoration recently helped me refocus my prayer life, or how much I love praying the Rosary. Literally I know almost all those things sound weird or crazy to my friends that aren’t Catholic. I know, because that’s how I felt when I wasn’t Catholic. Catholics were to be loved on, but also kept at a safe distance… because they were a bit loco.

But… if I only write about those “safe” Catholic things, then I’m not really being true to myself, or the totality of my faith. I didn’t join the Catholic Church for only the “safe” reasons. I am fully Catholic. That means I believe in the Authority of the Catholic Church, and the Communion of Saints, and asking for the intercession of Mary and the Saints, all the Catholic teachings on Mary and Purgatory, and the True Presence in the Eucharist, and Confession, and that the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus founded during His time on earth. I am Pro-Life. I don’t support the use of contraception. I also believe that everyone, without knowing it, who has a genuine Christian faith is to some degree, though imperfectly, united with the Church Jesus founded.

None of this is a recipe for having everyone like me, or keeping everyone happy. And that is something, as I mentioned, that I have really struggled with since my youth.

As a former Protestant, I know that many of those aforementioned things sting when you aren’t Catholic. And that they bring up many, many thoughts and feelings and reactions.

I know hearing that the Catholic Church claims to be the Church Jesus founded stings, because as a Protestant I felt like people were telling me that my own faith was somehow not enough. Even if that isn’t what they meant, it felt awful to have someone tell me that there was a fuller version of Christianity out there that I didn’t agree with. It felt arrogant. It made me feel defensive. It made me mad.

I had no idea what my Catholic in-laws were talking about when they talked to me about things like the necessity of Mary being Ever-Virgin. I thought they were super weird, and had no frame of reference to understand why that would even be important. I cried a few times because I had no idea what these people were talking about.

The idea of accepting the Tradition of the Church on the same level as the Bible was offensive to me. I didn’t have any context for what it meant, and I had grown up my entire life hearing over and over again that The Bible is the sole authority for Christians on matters of faith.

The Nature of the Claims

I remember watching a video series by Protestant Pastor and Author Tim Keller on The Reason For God. The book and video series were awesome tools in my own faith walk as I discerned whether or not Adult Lorelei believed Christianity to be true. Keller met with a group of people who were not Christians, and explained Christianity to them in a series of videos. They then had free discussion, where they would ask him questions, and he would answer them in a loving, yet truthful manner. One discussion was on the exclusivity of Christianity, and the idea of why are the perameters so narrow in the sense of Christianity having a corner market on Truth. Mr. Keller responded, basically, by saying, that Christians aren’t being exclusive just to be exclusive. It’s an inevitable side effect of the “nature of the claims” of who Jesus claimed to be. And if Jesus was truly who He claimed to be, by the nature of His claims, the perameters become narrow.

I guess I could ask my Protestant friends to pardon the seeming exclusivity of the Catholic faith. If the claims are true that Jesus founded The Catholic Church, then, by the nature of the claims, all the Catholic stuff is going to be true- the safe and the non-safe issues. I don’t know how much of a help that would be, but it is one way to look at it.

Finding an Answer

I often ask myself… Why can’t I just focus only on the nice things… parenting, and marriage, and all the other safe ecumenical Christian topics? And I do enjoy writing about those things, and plan to continue. But, again, it comes down to authenticity. And the passion deep inside my soul to help reduce the misconceptions about that which divides us. So I need to write about All The Things. Not just the easy or comfortable ones.

I desire to get better at this. To get better at being fully myself, and allowing others to be fully themselves without feeling like I need to censor so much. And I do so much love writing about my faith. It just hurts to know that what I write might cause any amount of pain or discomfort in another. I think in some ways it is God allowing me to feel the pain he feels at the divisions within Christianity. He meant for us to be one.

So… how to live and write authentically when you know a lot of people close to you disagree with what you believe? I don’t think the answer is to stay away from the controversial stuff. Avoidance inhibits authentic relationships.

I suppose I could take the attitude of “they don’t have to click on it if they don’t like it,” but that isn’t who I am. I care… perhaps too much at times, and not enough at others. But I care about the feelings the things I write bring up in those that read it. But I hope I’m learning not to care so much that it impacts how I feel about my own value or worth. Or so much that I’m scared of sharing that which I believe to be Truth.

I think perhaps the answer is to be authentically me, but also try to write in a way that explains my thinking as clearly and graciously as I can, for those who read that aren’t coming from a Catholic worldview.

Imperfect Me

I think God allowed that side effect of our journey to Catholicism, at least in part, to help reveal an area of sin in my own life. That I care far too much and too often about keeping the peace, and being liked, to an extent that I tend to lose myself when I am in a position of being different.

And I know I won’t be perfect at this. I’ve lived long enough to learn that there is no way to have an opinion about something and also keep everyone happy. And writing is all about having an opinion and sharing it in ways that other people can relate to, or can learn from, or that helps people see things in a new way. But at least this is a way to move forward, and do what I can to be open to conversation, and bridging those gaps.

So, I want to take a moment to thank both the friends and strangers, Protestant and Catholic, and whatever other background that have been reading this blog, especially those who took the time to read this post in its entirety. I respect you, I care about you, and I respect your faith life. I can’t promise that what I write won’t ever offend, or puzzle you… but I can promise that I am going to do my best to be authentic and gracious. I am always happy to answer a question. I hope if you aren’t Catholic, that you are able to learn a bit more about the Catholic Church, and I admire you’re willingness to learn about a worldview that differs from yours. I hope if you are Catholic, that you are able to find a place to be encouraged, and to learn more about this faith we share. And, I hope we can move in a direction of greater authenticity with each other.

What about you? Has your faith ever caused you to feel misunderstood by others? Has there been any part of yourself you didn’t know was safe to share with others? How have you learned to live more authentically in your own life?

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Why I Accept the Authority of the Catholic Church

One of the big concerns I had as a non-Catholic was that Catholics don’t believe in Sola Scriptura, or Bible Alone theology. Catholics accept the Authority of the Catholic Church on interpretation of the Bible, and to discern other Truths important to the faith though Tradition and the Magisterium.

I now view the Authority of the Church as the lens through with I view Scripture. And making sure that lens contains Truth is very important indeed. Which is why I don’t place my trust in myself. Because I don’t have to, and, I suggest, was never meant to in the first place.

What is Essential?

When I was Protestant, I enjoyed the idea that: “In the essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things love.” And now, as a Catholic, I still appreciate the sentiment. However, at some point during my conversion journey, I started asking these questions: Who decides what is essential? What gives them the authority to do so? Who decides what isn’t essential? What if we think something is a non-essential, that actually is an essential?

Case in point. There are some churches that believe infant baptism is essential. Others that believe adult or “believers” baptism is essential. Still others that don’t believe baptism is essential at all. Who is right? How can we be sure?

Most people, when they are talking about essentials, in essence, mean the Gospel. Which, is pretty much agreed upon by everyone. But, we can’t even agree on the implications of this essential. Some believe in Once Saved Always Saved… that you can’t lose salvation once you convert. Others believe that you have free will and could genuinely convert, but then choose to genuinely reject God at a later point in life. Again, who is right and how do we know?

I started thinking that all this hubbub about essentials and non-essentials goes against our common understanding that Absolute Truth is important. Is some Truth worth more than others? Did God allow any part of Scripture to be written where he was like… “meh, this part isn’t that important?” And, if its all important… why are we so keen on tiering the value of different Truths? And, how do we know we are weighting them correctly?

A Simple Message

I’ve also heard it said many times that people over complicate things when it comes to the Gospel. That it’s a really simple message, and is easy to understand.

In many ways I still agree with this. The Gospel, for example, was explained to me as a young girl. I understood it, and was able to accept it with my childlike, yet still very valid, faith.

But, as simple as the Gospel message is on the surface, I think it is also important to remember that we are talking about a God who is infinite. That compared to God, our minds work like babies. And that though, yes, many aspects of the Gospel and also the Bible as a whole can be understood by most with relative ease, the Bible is actually not a ‘simple’ book.

And what I mean by that is, yes, we can get a lot out of the Bible through personal study. And as Christians we should be in personal study, frequently. But, like any great book ever written, what you can garner from a surface-level understanding and what you can garner as you peel back the many layers are two different things.

And the Bible has many, many complex and beautiful layers.

And how do we ensure we are understanding those layers as they were meant to be understood? Herein begins my exploration of the problems involved in not having an authority.

Peeling Back the Layers

A few examples:

If we do not understand Jewish culture and practices, we could possibly misunderstand some things in Scripture. Specifically… we can read about the Last Supper in the Gospels, and have a decent, basic sense of what went on that night. However, we miss out on the deeper meaning of what Jesus was doing if we do not understand Judaism, as Jesus’ actions in the Last Supper were ripe with meaning for his disciples… who were all Jews. They would have understood Jesus’ actions and words in a much deeper way, simply because they understood the culture they were living in. It was a given for them. For us, 2,000 years removed from the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day… we are in danger of missing a lot.

If we do not understand the literary forms used in the Bible, we could misinterpret things. What was meant to be historical, what was meant to be allegorical, what is poetry, what is parable, what is symbol, what is fact? If we don’t understand the original language, and the specific meaning of the words Jesus chose… then we could be interpreting things wrong. John 6, and the Bread of Life Discourse is a prime example of this. Catholics use John 6 to substantiate our belief in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Those who don’t subscribe to this belief, might argue that Jesus wasn’t being literal. That he was using symbolism. But, when you look back at the original language, and the reaction the people who heard Jesus speak had to what he was saying… it is very hard not to understand that Jesus meant what he said. Literally. We are reading the Bible in English, and sometimes imperfectly translated from the original languages. And therefore, if we don’t understand Greek and Hebrew… we, on our own, might be interpreting things incorrectly. (And which English translation are we to use anyway?!)

The same applies if we don’t understand the politics and history of the times in which books of the Bible were written. So many times books of the Bible relate to the historical context of the times. They mean certain things for certain people at a certain time in history. We can learn from and apply the purposes of many of these things to our world and life today, but we cannot assume that context is irrelevant. Again, we can lose meaning, or conclude meaning incorrectly if we are going at this on our own.

This was a difficult pill for me to swallow. Looking back, I think I didn’t want to believe that I couldn’t figure out the whole Bible on my own. Or that it wasn’t okay for me just to pick a theologian I liked and trust their interpretation. I had grown up believing that it was simple, and that I didn’t need an authority. Initially, realizing that I was wrong was difficult.

The Fallacy of Individual Interpretation

Most Christian people I speak with would agree that God has a specific intention and purpose for every word that he has, through human beings guided by the Holy Spirit, written in Scripture. That there is Absolute Truth. Yes, either God intended “This is my body” to be literal, or figurative. Not “either or” and definitely not both.

So, how do we know who has it right?

I believe I am paraphrasing a famous theologian and Catholic convert Dr. Scott Hahn when I say that I believe God is loving. And that a loving God wouldn’t leave us with an inerrant Bible, but only broken means to interpret it.

Most Christian, non-Catholic people that I speak with also firmly believe that the Holy Spirit guides Christians to interpret Scripture correctly.

But… with our general assent that God did, in fact, have a meaning in mind for what he allowed in the Bible, and the absolute fact that there are over 30,000 Christian denominations worldwide… we can only conclude one of two things.

1- That the Holy Spirit actually isn’t guiding us all to individually interpret things correctly… because this Christian believes in Calvinism, and this Christian believes in Arminianism. Because this Christian believes in believers baptism, and this Christian believes in infant baptism. Because this Christian believes in ordaining women, and this Christian does not. Because, because… If the Holy Spirit is genuinely guiding all those who are genuinely seeking him through their own personal interpretation of things… why are so many Christians coming to so many different conclusions? If this is the case, God gave us a Bible, and didn’t give us any way to know for certain what he meant! That doesn’t sound very loving to me.

2- The other option is Jesus never intended for us as individuals to carry the weight of correct interpretation on our shoulders at all. This would be the Catholic perspective. Catholics don’t believe that Jesus left us only a Bible. Which, he actually, definitely didn’t do, because the New Testament wasn’t even a thing for quite a while after Jesus’ life on earth. No, he didn’t leave us just a Bible. We believe he left us a Church. And that Church has been granted the discernment of the Holy Spirit through the ages, to correctly interpret the Bible.

Here’s Why

1 Timothy 3:15 states: “This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Here’s a good article on the matter, but in essence, historically, prior to very recent Christian history, no one believed we should interpret the Bible individually. It was accepted and believed that Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would guide The Church to discern truth. The Church he himself established.

I don’t really think it’s that much a stretch for this to make sense. Christians believe that the Bible is inerrant. That God used dozens of authors, over hundreds and hundreds of years to give us an infallible book. God also gave the Church the Holy Spirit, with dozens of Popes over hundreds and hundreds of years to help the Church interpret that book infallibly.

John 16:13 says that when the Holy Spirit would come, He would guide us into all truth. Not just truth on the essentials (whatever those are determined to be), not just some of the truth, but all of it. He planned, from the very start, to give us a means to interpret Truth accurately.

We All Assent To Authority

Regardless if someone is Catholic or Protestant now, everyone assents to the authority of the Catholic Church on some issues.

For example… the Trinity is never mentioned in the Bible. Not once. But, interestingly enough, I was at a small group at my old Protestant church prior to my conversion, and the leader not only admitted that the Trinity isn’t in the Bible, but he acknowledged that we’ve trusted the Church to correctly form that doctrine for us. Now, I don’t think he was meaning to specifically reference the Catholic Church… but at the time the doctrine of the Trinity was formalized…. there was no Protestant Church. It was just Catholics everywhere. So, for all of us Christians that believe in the Trinity, we are assenting to the authority of the Catholic Church on that matter.

We also trust the authority of the Catholic Church with the Creeds of our faith. And we trust the Catholic Church to determine the Canon of Scripture (though Luther did have a few books removed during the Reformation… which in itself is another post).

At what point did God decide that submitting to the authority of the Church He established was no longer the way to do things, and that it was now up to the individual Christian to discern for him or herself what was true? I argue that He didn’t.

I honestly believe, based on the issues that Luther contended with at the time of the Reformation, and given the landscape of Christianity today- Luther would be Catholic. The issues he contended with aren’t issues anymore. He was right- the Church did need reforming at the time. And it did, most certainly, reform. And through it all, sound interpretation of our faith has been preserved. Even in times when there has been a corrupt Pope, or a heresy popping up, nothing doctrinally has been altered to the detriment of Truth. The bad Pope’s didn’t change things. The heresies were called out for what they were and snuffed out. Just like with the writing of the Bible, God is using fallible people to help preserve Infallible Truth.


The long and short of this post is to explain some of the reasoning behind why I accept the Authority of the Catholic Church.

I still read my Bible. Every day (much thanks to Lent for helping me solidify this discipline). But, when something comes up that I’m not sure about, I know where to go. There was just this sort of rabbit hole for me when I was Protestant that became very concerning. I was seeing people even within my own Church have different opinions on different issues in Scripture. How were they to know who was right? They may have taken their concern to the Pastor… well how were they to know the Pastor was interpreting things correctly? The Pastor might refer to a commentary or expository writing on that particular issue… but how were they to know that the author of that writing was interpreting things correctly? And on and on it goes… I’ve come to the conclusion that without a Pope, through whom the Holy Spirit works to protect Church teaching in matters of faith and morals, everyone is kind of their own. And that based on Scripture, that isn’t what Jesus was setting us up to be.

That’s why, ultimately, I saw no other way forward than to accept the Authority of the Catholic Church. Because I believe there is Biblical evidence that Jesus established a Church, and that He promised the Holy Spirit would preserve that Church in all Truth. And because I believe God keeps his promises.

– Lorelei

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