From Tradition To Truth - A Priest’s Story (Part 2)

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by DaveKJV1611, Sep 21, 2006.

  1. DaveKJV1611

    DaveKJV1611
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    About this time the Catholic Charismatic movement was growing, and we introduced it into most of our villages. Because of this movement, some Canadian Christians came to Trinidad to share with us. While much of what I learnt centered on pretended signs and wonders, which I have later renounced, the use of the Scriptures was truly a blessing to me. The love the Canadian Christians had for the Bible got me deeply into it as an authority source. I began to compare scripture with scripture and even to quote chapter and verse!
    One of the texts the Canadians used was Isaiah 53:5, “...and with his stripes we are healed.” Yet in studying Isaiah 53, I discovered that the Bible deals with the problem of sin by means of substitution. Christ died in my place. It was wrong for me to try to expidite or try to cooperate in paying the price of my sin. “If by grace, it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace..” Romans 11:6. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
    One particular sin of mine was getting annoyed with people, sometimes even angry. Although I asked forgiveness for my sins, I still did not realize that I was a sinner by the nature which we all inherit from Adam. The scriptural truth is, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), and “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The Catholic Church, however, had taught me that the depravity of man, which is called “original sin,” had been washed away by my infant baptism. I still held this belief in my head, but in my heart I knew that my depraved nature had not yet been conquered by Christ. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection...” (Philippians 3:10) continued to be the cry of my heart. I knew that it could be only through His power that I could live the Christian life. I posted this text on the dashboard of my car and in other places. It became the plea that motivated me, and the Lord who is Faithful began to answer.

    The Ultimate Question
    First, I discovered that God's Word in the Bible is absolute and without error. I had been taught that the Word is relative and that its truthfulness in many areas was to be questioned. Now I began to understand that the Bible could, in fact, be trusted. With the aid of Strong's Concordance, I began to study the Bible to see what it says about itself. I discovered that the Bible teaches clearly that it is from God and is absolute in what it says. It is true in its history, in the promises God has made, in its prophecies, in the moral commands it gives, and in how to live the Christian life. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17).
    This discovery was made while visiting in Vancouver, B.C., and in Seattle. When I was asked to talk to the prayer group in St. Stephen's Catholic Church, I took as my subject the absolute authority of God's Word. It was the first time that I had understood such a truth or talked about it. I returned to Vancouver, B.C. and in a large parish Church, before about 400 people, I preached the same message. Bible in hand, I proclaimed that “the absolute and final authority in all matters of faith and morals is the Bible, God's own Word.”
    Three days later, the archbishop of Vancouver, B.C., James Carney, called me to his office. I was then officially silenced and forbidden to preach in his archdiocese. I was told that my punishment would have been more severe, were it not for the letter of recommendation I had received from my own archbishop, Anthony Pantin. Soon afterwards I returned to Trinidad.

    Church-Bible Dilemma
    While I was still parish priest of Point-a-Pierre, Ambrose Duffy, the man who had so strictly taught me while he was Student Master, was asked to assist me. The tide had turned. After some initial difficulties, we became close friends. I shared with him what I was discovering. He listened and commented with great interest and wanted to find out what was motivating me. I saw in him a channel to my Dominican brothers and even to those in the Archbishop's house. When he died suddenly of a heart attack, I was stricken with grief. In my mind, I had seen Ambrose as the one who could make sense out of the Church-Bible dilemma with which I so struggled. I had hoped that he would have been able to explain to me and then to my Dominican brothers the truths with which I wrestled. I preached at his funeral and my despair was very deep.
    I continued to pray Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection....” But to learn more about Him, I had first to learn about myself as a sinner. I saw from the Bible (I Timothy 2:5) that the role I was playing as a priestly mediator -- exactly what the Catholic Church teaches but exactly opposite to what the Bible teaches -- was wrong. I really enjoyed being looked up to by the people and, in a certain sense, being idolized by them. I rationalized my sin by saying that after all, if this is what the biggest Church in the world teaches, who am I to question it? Still, I struggled with the conflict within. I began to see the worship of Mary, the saints, and the priests for the sin that it is. But while I was willing to renounce Mary and the saints as mediators, I could not renounce the priesthood, for in that I had invested my whole life.

    Tug-Of-War Years
    Mary, the saints, and the priesthood were just a small part of the huge struggle with which I was working. Who was Lord of my life, Jesus Christ in His Word or the Roman Church? This ultimate question raged inside me especially during my last six years as parish priest of Sangre Grande (1979-1985). That the Catholic Church was supreme in all matters of faith and morals had been dyed into my brain since I was a child. It looked impossible ever to change. Rome was not only supreme but always called “Holy Mother.” How could I ever go against “Holy Mother,” all the more so since I had an official part in dispensing her sacraments and keeping people faithful to her?
    In 1981, I actually rededicated myself to serving the Roman Catholic Church while attending a parish renewal seminar in New Orleans. Yet when I returned to Trinidad and again became involved in real life problems, I began to return to the authority of God's Word. Finally the tension became like a tug-of-war inside me. Sometimes I looked to the Roman Church as being absolute, sometimes to the authority of the Bible as being final. My stomach suffered much during those years; my emotions were being torn. I ought to have known the simple truth that one cannot serve two masters. My working position was to place the absolute authority of the Word of God under the supreme authority of the Roman Church.
    This contradiction was symbolized in what I did with the four statues in the Sangre Grande Church. I removed and broke the statues of St. Francis and St. Martin because the second commandment of God's Law declares in Exodus 20:4, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image....” But when some of the people objected to my removal of the statues of the Sacred Heart and of Mary, I left them standing because the higher authority, i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, said in its law Canon 1188: “The practise of displaying sacred images in the churches for the veneration of the faithful is to remain in force.” I did not see that what I was trying to do was to make God's Word subject to man's word.

    My Own Fault
    While I had learned earlier that God's Word is absolute, I still went through this agony of trying to maintain the Roman Catholic Church as holding more authority than God's Word, even in issues where the Church of Rome was saying the exact opposite to what was in the Bible. How could this be? First of all, it was my own fault. If I had accepted the authority of the Bible as supreme, I would have been convicted by God's Word to give up my priestly role as mediator, but that was too precious to me. Second, no one ever questioned what I did as a priest. Christians from overseas came to Mass, saw our sacred oils, holy water, medals, statues, vestments, rituals, and never said a word! The marvelous style, symbolism, music, and artistic taste of the Roman Church was all very captivating. Incense not only smells pungent, but to the mind it spells mystery.
     
  2. DaveKJV1611

    DaveKJV1611
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    From Tradition To Truth - A Priest’s Story

    "This testimony was sent to me by Richard Bennett for the
    purpose of posting it on forums." Sorry for any inconvience that this may have caused. Dave Flang (DaveKJV1611)
     

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