The statements to follow are strictly my opinion on things. I apologize for any toes that are stepped on. As I form and explain my opinion on the things to follow, I will do my absolute best to base those opinions on Scripture and to avoid allowing my Protestant upbringing to give me a predisposed negative outlook on Catholicism. As always, I attempt to form and justify opinions on my own rather than simply believing what I'm told. As a further note, there are also things within the Protestant church with which I disagree. Future rants will surely be posted on such topics!
Regarding authority: As stated in the previous post, Catholics believe Scripture and "Sacred Tradition" hold equal authority. I have no problem with traditions in and of themselves, but I do not feel comfortable saying that they have a position of authority in the Christian life. To say this would be exactly like the Pharisees and Sadducees that Christ so often reprimanded. Christ scolded them for holding their traditions and teachings on the same level as the commands of God. In the book of Matthew, Jesus quotes Isaiah saying "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:8,9). ["Me" refers to God.] I will say, however, that oftentimes in Protestant churches the same thing happens. We begin to value our traditions as though they were "God-ordained." We would never say that this is the case, but indeed it is at times. At least in the Catholic church, in this case their words and actions match up!
Secondly, Catholicism teaches that the church "has been entrusted to interpret the Bible for Catholics, who are not to interpret it for themselves." The book sums up pretty well what I believe: "Protestants say that individual Christians can trust the Holy Spirit for guidance as they read and interpret the Bible for themselves." This is not to say that each person will have a different "interpretation" of what the Bible says; it just means that as individuals read a passage of Scripture, the Holy Spirit may use that passage in different ways for different people. Verses and passages can have various areas of application, especially dependant upon what situations an individual is going through. These various applications are not something the church is able to tell you or teach you; they are simply things that the Holy Spirit must speak to the hearts of the individuals as they read the Scriptures.
"Catholicism teaches that Peter was the first pope...." So far, I have no problem with that. Pope, priest, head pastor, head minister, whatever you want to call it... I believe it is biblical for a body of believers to have some type of human leader. Whether or not there should be one worldwide head leader or not may be up for debate, but I'll skip that part of the discussion for now. The problem I have with the concept of the pope is what the book mentions: "Catholics teach that the pope is infallible...; Protestants reply that no human being is infallible...." All humans are fallible. We all sin. We all make mistakes. We all mess up sometimes. To say that a particular person (other than Christ, who is God in the flesh), even for a particular time, is infallible is completely contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
to be continued...