Monday, February 12, 2007

A Roundabout Road to Rome

A certain Christian set out on the path to the city of truth. Being warned of many false cities claiming to be this city (Mormonville, Adventia (it takes seven days to get there) and that one city with the Watchtower but worst of all the city of Rome) he made special precaution to avoid any signs which pointed him in those directions.

His mentors trained him to read the ancient map and gave him supplements to aid him in his studies. Most importantly, they warned him: never follow any direction except what you find on this map.

Along the way he saw many signs pointing this way and that but he ignored each of them as instructed. Some told him "come this way we also have the map" but clearly they were heading in the wrong direction as his map told him. In fact, he compared his map to theirs to make sure they were looking at the same thing and sure enough they were. At first, this frustrated him but eventually he remembered his original instructions "never follow any direction except what you find on this map" and so he continued on all the more fervently.

One day in frustration he threw up his hands and began to wonder if this map could even lead to the city of truth. Then he walked around aimlessly for some time, nearly giving up hope of finding it. He passed by others in run down shacks encamped around muddy watering holes saying "look we found this city of truth!" but he kept going. The city on the map looked much different.

Then one day he saw a dove flying and for some reason followed it. It led to the gates of a grand city. He went in and walked around, mesmerized by its beauty. "Where am I?" he asked. Someone answered, "You're in Rome. This is the city of the Church, the pillar and foundation of truth" And they took his map and showed him that in all his studies he had failed to understand the most basic principles behind the map. Then they gave him special 3D Early Church Father goggles..

Ok I'll stop there. Maybe the 3D goggles is just too much. Im not much for allegory unless it's real quick and to the point. I'm not sure I drove the point home and I'm sure I overstepped the boundaries of 'being quick'. But let me put this in a not-so roundabout way: it was sola scriptura which eventually led me to the Catholic Church. Had I trusted in Protestant tradition (specifically the conservative - Presbyterian one in which I was raised) I would have never even glanced at the Church.

But because I held my own interpretation of Scriptures above theirs (being true to the spirit of sola scriptura) I found that their teachings were actually not true to Scripture in many ways (according to my opinion). Now rewording this as most Protestants would say it to avoid the obvious - I found that the church I was attending didn't fully teach the Bible. The only problem was, after church hopping for some time, I found that none of them did (or at least not how I read it).

When I stumbled into some Catholic literature, I found it so surprising that the Church had already figured all of this stuff out. I wasn't inventing anything new, Christians before me had 'been there done that'. But I never would have gotten there in the first place if it hadn't been for sola scriptura which is the irony of this whole ordeal.

And so I went to the dealership and traded in my 500 year old tradition that broke down frequently for a 2000 year old one that came with a life time warranty.

Now I just need to talk to the manager Peter. From what I'm told he has the keys. (Its my blog I can be as cheesy as I want).


NotMyOpinion30 said...

I often struggle to imagine an allegory suitable enough to explain my conversion. I, like you and most other converts, had almost the exact same journey (only the names of the denominations were different).

I'll never forget the first time I read St. John Chrysostom's homilies on Matthew. I nearly burst into tears and jumped for joy! The Catholic Church speaks with the voice of reason like no other. It also requires more faith in the mysterious, things that are imperceptable to our senses. However, none of those things are void of the reason provided. They go hand in hand like no other. This is truly Christ's Church.

I think I'm going to try and read "The Pilgrim's Regress" by C.S. Lewis. Apparently, it is his flirtation with the Holy Church and is pretty similar (though alot more eloquent... just kidding... hehe) than your allegory. I really have an interest in it because it fascinates me how he could come so close but never grasp the hand of St. Peter while he was on this earth. Then again, the COE at the time was pretty similar to Holy Mother Church, so he could still attend a High Protestant Church without crossing the boundaries of Puritania, the prison of the prejudice he grew up with in his hometown of Belfast.

I hear also that "The Great Divorce" is supposed to be an allegory on Purgatory, one of the many Catholic doctrines that C.S. Lewis believed in.

Kacy said...

How familiar this trip sounds. When I read the map, I became freaked out when it told me to look at the Church, not just the map. Sola Mapano was not found on the map.

Anonymous said...

I'm on ths same journey now. I started out in a religious group that takes sola scriptura so far they won't even use the term "sola scriptura". It is also the most splintered group I know of. Right now, we've become "reformed" and are worshipping with a church that hopes to join the CREC. But the same kind of questions keep popping up. And then I recently realized that the Roman Church doesn't actually teach a works-based salvation. My paradigms are shifting violently. DH is not interested in shifting more right now, so I'm trying to learn without making his life more difficult. I know if we're meant to end up Catholic, we will and I can just be patient until we get there. In the meantime, I've found myself crossing myself and making tentative prayers to Mary. (I need one of those shocked smilies here.)

Tiber Jumper said...

The Church Fathers 3D glasses!
I loved that. But it is so true.
When we view the map through the eyes of those who were there when it actually was happening, we suddenly see things that we never thought were there.
Oh so when Jesus said eat my flesh, they actually believed him?
When James said that we are not saved by faith alone, they actually believed and lived that way.
And finally, that annoying verse about the Church being the Pillar of Truth, I thought someone had inserted that into my Bible !
Yeah give me that Old Time religion, that Old time religion,
It was good enough for Peter and it's good enough for me!

Great Post!

TheDen said...

That's some good stuff. I can't truly appreciate it as a lifelong Catholic but I enjoyed it.

For 35 years, I've only known Catholic theology and for the last couple years, I've stumbled on to some Protestant (and some virulently anti-Catholic) blogs and started reading some of their theology.

It fascinated me...not making me want to convert but just how different it was from Catholicism and what I knew.

I honestly thought in my ignorance that the only difference between Catholics and Protestants were that we venerated saints and some of the fringe things that I know you know.

I didn't realize that we viewed Scripture so differently.

So, for the last couple years or so, I've really tried to understand the Protestant mentality. What helps is reading blogs like yours who have stumbled on the Truth.

Anyhow, I don't know if I have commented on here before but great stuff.


TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Thanks for stopping by.