Thursday, January 10, 2008

Discussion with Kirby

I have been having an on-line discussion with a person named Kirby. It has been pretty amiable so I will continue. The whole dialogue can be found here, here, here, and here.

Although some, including Nick, have warned me against this endeavor, I have decided to continue. Even if the whole thing is futile, at least it keeps me up to "fighting speed." But so far the exchange has been civil so I have no problem continuing.

I also need to restate a disclaimer: I am sorry if I keep bringing up the age of Kirby. I think there is a great difference in how one sees the world at 18 and at 43. I am not disregarding the experience of the 18 year-old and not disregarding the idealism, we all need idealism. I am, though, saying that there is also something to be noted about experience.

That being said, let's look at what Kirby has to say:

First of all, I do not want you to think that because I do not agree with you, that I am throwing all that you have to say out the window as baseless and useless. I have examined all you have had to say and read the article you suggested. If I was not interested in the conversation we are having, I would not be using precious study time to indulge in this argument.

The article did have many clarifications and was very informative for me, and I am sure you and your partner Nick have a loving relationship, yet the article does not have any proof or bass for some of the assumptions it makes. In Romans it condemns homosexual activity as a whole, and although there does exist loving same sex relationships in today's world, the relativistic society we live in cannot blur the words of St. Paul.
But we do blur the words of St. Paul. Again, I would bring up the situation of women teaching in the church. The rector I am working with is a woman. I have worked with pastors who are women. Granted, the Roman Catholic church does not allow women to be priests, and this is one of the areas that I differed with the Catholic church. It is also one of the reasons I left the Catholic church.

Now it seems that where we differ for the most part in our debate in views
on interpretation. I claim that I have the true and ultimate interpretation in
that of the Catholic Church, you claim that there is no perfect interpretation
and we merely must do our best with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (if I am
off base on your belief, please correct me) please do not think that I am a
Catholic who accepts the doctrine of the Church blindly and never questions the
word. I never hesitate to challenge an interpretation of the Church which I feel
odd about, yet to this day, I have been proven wrong on every doctrine. I was
raised Methodist and sent to a Catholic school because the public school I would
have attended is the number one meth school in the nation. So as a protestant in
a Catholic school, I questioned every aspect of their faith hoping to prove them
wrong. Most of the time I succeeded, but only because the majority of the
students do not know their faith very well, because when I came across one
teacher in particular, I was taken step by step logically to an answer. Every
question I had, he had an answer. But although I have left the Methodist Church,
I feel no bitterness towards it, and I even often go to Church with my Mother on

What I was getting at in that small tangent was that you should keep your
mind open to at least hear the defense of the Catholic Church and not be ready
to end the conversation with every minute Catholic teaching that is thrown in. I
feel the only way I can get what I am trying to say across to you is to attempt
to get the true message of the Catholic Church across; so that whatever corrupt
view you have of the Catholic Faith may be corrected. So now I would like to
know the doctrinal differences, other than views of homosexuality, which you
left the Catholic Church because of.

If you are willing to share those with me I feel we could make some
progress in our conversation, otherwise we will continue to but heads on every

Yes, it does come down to interpretation. (Concerning your comment that I should "keep [my] mind open:" please realize that I have been at this process for longer than you have been alive. If anyone should be pleading for someone to keep their mind open, I should be making that request of you.) I have been preaching on the scripture for over seven years. Every time I approach the scripture, I find something new. If it weren't a matter of interpretation, all we would have to do is have one sermon or homily and just repeat it every three years. But life changes and our understanding of scripture changes. This change in understanding is Biblical. Peter was challenged to change his understanding of what was clean and what was unclean. (Acts 10)

We too have are challenged to change our understanding. Our understanding of the place of women in the church has changed. Our understanding of slavery has changed. Our understanding of divorce has changed. Perhaps our understanding of homosexuality needs to change too.

My theological understanding is that the Holy Spirit is still at work in the world. The Holy Spirit is still expanding our knowledge and understanding of the scriptures. Just as Peter's understanding of what was clean and unclean was changed, our understanding also must change. The world is not static, our understanding of scripture must not be static either.

Ok, why I left the Catholic church.

One, I could not stomach the separation of clergy and laity, especially the priests. They were people, just like me. They may have been singled out for a specific calling in life, but that calling did not suddenly make them superhuman and above question.

Two, I stated my feeling about women in leadership positions. How can be deny people whom God has called? You may say that they can become nuns, but that is a cop out answer. We are telling them that because of their gender (and gender alone) they are less fit to lead. That does not make sense.

Three, praying to saints. Saints are people like you and I. We do not need a mediator, we have one. He is named Jesus.

Four, the ever-virginity, immaculateness of Mary. This is just an excuse to not be about the work of God in the world. We can say that we have not been endowed with the "special gifts" that have been given to Mary (or the saints for that matter) so we could not possibly do what they did. So therefore, we are off the hook. But if we realize that God works in this world through, to paraphrase Joan Osborn, "slobs like us," then we see that God can use us to do incredible things.

Five, closed communion. How dare we have the hubris to turn someone away from God's table!! Would Jesus, who ate with sinners, turn anyone away? Jesus even fed Judas before Judas went off to betray him. If that is not table hospitality, then I do not know what is! And the Catholic church would turn people away? That does not strike me as very Christian.

I will continue to keep you in my prayers Dr. Benton Quest!
I would like to inform you that my name is Kirby Longo, that may clarify all the confusing issues with the Kirb and Longo 15 names, I keep having to create new screen names for the blogger

Kirby, again thank you for the prayers, we all need them. But be aware of what you are praying for: if it is that I receive insight, maybe the prayers have been answered. There is the possibility that I actually have received insight and this conversation is a product of the Holy Spirit to spread this insight to you and to others. I cannot know this, but it is a possibility. Perhaps I am to receive insight from you? Who knows? But again, I will repeat your entreaty back to you, "keep your mind open."



1 comment:

longo15 said...

Hey Benton

I will get down to business with my defenses

First, separation of clergy and laity.
Priests have the benefit of receiving a special calling, they deserve a great respect for responding to this call from God and living a life of servitude. They are distinct in the fact that THEY CAN CONSECRATE THE EUCHARIST! In the argument ahead and the fact you did not mention the it tells me that you believe in the Eucharist. I cannot see how someone like you who has such a passionate faith can leave behind something so special! The Eucharist is a pillar in all Catholic’s faith, and the priest who has the privilege to consecrate the Eucharist deserves a high respect. Even in the Old Testament, they were at a different level, as we see in Numbers 16, priests are chosen by God and are different from the rest of the crowd.

Second, Female Priests in the Church
The Church does not have the authority to create new revelation. When the last apostle died, all revelation was complete. While the apostles were alive, there was no record of women priests. Therefore, the Church does not have the authority to allow women to be Priests, End of story! If we were ever to find records of female priests in the time of the Apostles, I am positive the Pope, in all his wisdom, would be ecstatic and immediately allow women the position. As of now, his hands are tied.

Third, Praying to the saints.
First of all, it must be clarified that we are merely asking the Saints for intercession. I know that you disagree with that as well so I will break it down. James 5: 16 points out the “Fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” I do not doubt that you agree in having your fiends pray for you. Even in the passage you quoted from Timothy, St. Paul says earlier “I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone.” (1 Timothy 2:1) So the issue here is basically that you feel there is no connection between the living and the dead. If you believed there was a connection of the living and dead, you would be lifting up your prayers to the Saints daily. Matthew 27:52-53 shows an obvious connection between the living and the dead when “The tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the Holy City and appeared to many.” If you believe that this only happened because of the special occasion, you must take a look at Revelation 8: 3. “He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold alter that was before the throne.” The holy ones are praying, and for what? They need not pray for those in heaven, they don’t need prayers> it does no good to pray for those in hell, they have denied God for all eternity. That only leaves earth, therefore the connection exists and those in heaven can pray for us. A passage that shows the presence of their prayers here on earth in prayer is Hebrews 12: 1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and perseveres in running the race that lies before us.” This cloud of witnesses is referring to the Saints which have lived such wonderful lives and given spectacular examples “so great a cloud” it is then asking us to “rid our burdens and sin that cling to us” which we can do through prayer and effectively through their intercession. It is obvious that he is speaking of the great Saints of old due to the previous chapter. I feel I could go on forever here but I am instead going to suggest a short book called "Any friend of Jesus is a friend of mine" by Patrick Madrid, you could read it in one sitting.

Fourth, The Immaculate Conception and the ever-virginity of Mary
First we must separate the two, for they are two completely different concepts. The Immaculate Conception is the gift, and it is not hard to imagine if you look closely. (Read Luke 1:26-56) See how the Archangel Gabriel honors her, how Elizabeth honors her, and she then says, "All ages shall call me Blessed." This means all ages will honor her, for it is obvious she deserves honor. First, think that Jesus is the only man who has ever had the opportunity to choose his mother, and of course he is going to choose one who suits him best. Then when the choice is made, he has the privilege to give his mother a gift, and for Mary, the greatest gift he could have possibly given her was the Immaculate Conception. Now let us put this gift into perspective. I will put it into an analogy I thought about while praying the rosary. If your best friend, or even your brother gave you an unbelievable gift for your birthday, but then when it came to his mother's birthday, he gave her an even more beautiful gift, would you be angry at him? Then why are you angry at the concept of the Immaculate Conception? Jesus merely saved his mother from sin before entering the womb while others must wait until baptism. In another analogy we are walking along and fall in the mud, Jesus pulls us out of the mud and washes us clean with baptism. In Mary's case he stepped in front of her before she fell into the mud.

The ever-virginity of Mary was not a gift (nor were any saints given a gift), it was a choice by Mary. And neither of these two concepts are excuses not to do the will of God, they are in fact the exact opposite. We as Catholics strive to live lives comparable to the Saints and Mary, the Saints are like our big brothers and sisters who lived wonderful lives and strive to help us live lives like theirs. As for the ever-virginity of Mary, in Luke 1:34 we see that Mary says to the Angel: "How can this be, since I HAVE no relations with a man." Notice she speaks with the present tense, not the past for she has given her life over to God and has no relations with Joseph. This concept of ever virginity was agreed on by all the original reformers, only with the later splits did it even come into question. Zwingli says "I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth forever remained a pure, intact virgin." Calvin believed the same. History supports this doctrine as does the Bible.

Fifth, Closed Communion.
The fact that you would attack some churches doing closed communion almost makes me angry! And it also means you believe in the true presence in the Eucharist. You are lying to yourself by leaving the Catholic Church if you believe in the true presence. But on to the defense, I have never been to a church with closed communion in my entire life. The only instances I could find when I did some research are blatant blasphemies during the actual service. I can only think that this would be an argument because you have experienced it first hand. I am going to have to side with the Catholic Church on the issue. This is not because I feel I won the argument on homosexuality vs. morality but merely because the stand of the Church is against it. This means that they cannot allow you to take communion, not because you have homosexual urges (sorry if that is an offensive word), but because your views are that it is ok to be homosexual. You disagree on a basic doctrine of the Church, and that makes you not a Catholic, and not able to take part in the Eucharist.

Sorry this post took so long, I have been extremely busy of late and I am running out of energy. I am going to ask you this time, as my brother in Christ, to pray for me, that God may allow me the energy to get through some ridiculous days. I would greatly appreciate it if you included me in your prayer. Thank you