On the Teaching of the


On the Teaching of the Bishops

I guess I am just completely stupid, will-less and spineless, and ready to be led about by the nose. However, when the Bishops speak on any matter, I rejoice. I remind myself of the infinite confusion from which I escaped--the morass of protestantism where the preaching of one pastor or elder had every bit as much authority as the next and none of them were binding on any believer who, supreme in their own consciences and in the "priesthood of the believer" had to weigh between all these various sayings and find out where the truth lay.

Here, the Catholic Church offers authorative, official teaching, even if not binding, and there seems to be slew of people saying, "We don't want the Bishops to say anything about matters in which they have no expertise" (which by the way includes everything except and extremely narrow and defined set of theological propositions.)

Thank God the Bishops speak, and thank God that we are required and encouraged to consider it very carefully, even if it is not infallible. Thank Goodness the Church speaks with one voice and we can go somewhere for guidance. I don't know about you all, but the swim through the sea of Protestantism made me thoroughly ready for a landfall on concrete teaching. Maybe they are wrong--but I'm willing to bet that the teaching is better than that of thirty random protestant ministers.

I encourage you all, no matter how you feel about the teaching, to remember that at least you have a church that does have the authority to teach and that does take that authority and responsibility seriously. The Bishops may produce flawed work, but they at least consider it important to speak and to teach and I am certain that they do not undertake the office lightly or frivilously. I'm also certain that collectively they have given more thought to an issue than I am willing or able to give it.

I may not always agree with the teaching. But normally I discover my disagreement revolves around my misunderstanding or misconstruction of their actual statements. It would absolute hubris for me to assume that I know more than the collective intelligence of the American Episcopacy.

But perhaps mine is a view that can only come from having escaped from a religion in which when you asked any given question your would receive nine or ten best answers and no one spoke with any real or binding authority at all. (Although there are claims to the contrary--for example the Southern Baptist Convention whose rulings are supposedly binding on the member churches--but that is as may be.)

Thank God for the teaching authority of the Church. Thank God for even this fallible guidance, for it is far better than no guidance at all. At least some of the groundwork of the thinking is laid out. Thank God for the courage of beseiged Bishops, still willing to speak out and to try to guide their flock. May God make me responsive to His Word through their lips!

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 27, 2002 7:48 PM.

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