One of the strangest trends in evangelical Christianity is the increasing acceptance of Catholicism; I remember talking to one of my friends and implying that the Pope (any Pope) wasn't a Christian, oh boy, the reaction I got was as though I'd implied one of the great certainties of life was not so. Such are the days we live in, when following the biblical command to test confessions of faith and a person's teaching is met with derision. Any reading of the New Testament letters will reveal a better way: it is our duty as Christians to assess other claim's to Christianity. As Paul writes:
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2 v 8
or as John writes:
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." 1 John 4 v 1.
The problem when it comes to the Pope, and to Catholicism in general, is that they speak the same language as us and we share similar moral views. Thus, it makes the work of discernment harder than in other cases especially today when a lot of Christians have been badly taught to begin with. Indeed, because Catholicism does clothe itself with Christians language and does teach some similar doctrines to Christianity then it worthwhile bearing in mind the following passage:
"For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." 2 Corinthians 11 v 13 - 15.
The fact that the Pope uses Christian language, shares some of our moral values, quotes from Scripture and will even occasionally teach correct doctrine does not absolve us from the duty of judging the entirety of his teachings nor him from the charge of false teaching. The central argument here is that the Pope is an anti-Christ; for his teaching is not in accord with Scripture, he acts to obscure Christ and he receives worship that should only go to God.
How Can otherwise intelligent and Rational People Believe the Bible to be the Infallible Word of God?
Over the last few months then I've run into a few different variations of the above question. It does annoy me slightly, I mean, talk about a backhanded compliment! On the one hand who doesn't like being told they are intelligent? Yet on the other hand it vexes me that intelligence and Christianity should apparently be so contradictory.
I do plan to answer the above question but before I do then I think its good to examine why it is that atheists in particular will come out with questions like it. After all, there is hardly a shortage of intelligent Christians out there why then should our existence prove so surprising for people to accept?
It is no coincidence that it is largely only atheists who I have heard asking this question and that is because if there's one thing that challenges the very root of atheism it is the presence of intelligent believers in Christianity. Let me explain further: a foundational pillar of the atheist's worldview is that human reason is the ultimate authority by which we judge all things. This makes sense, from a naturalist view, then as the most advanced creatures on this earth, humanity's ability to reason is the highest form of authority which can be found to judge anything by. Rule out God and what's the next best thing left to judge truth by?
Therefore, what is hard for an atheist to accept is an individual who otherwise appears perfectly rational believing in the Bible. It is an ultimate failure of their ultimate authority. For when it comes to the Bible then the atheist applies his human reasoning to it and rejects it so cannot understand why someone would be rational and believe it. Once again, this is no surprise. In the letter to the Corinthians it is written:
There’s a common misconception that both Christians and non-Christians have when approaching the Bible and it is this: the Bible was written for us. Yes, for me. It was written as a How to Lead a Good Life book, it was written so that we can criticise it, it was written so that we could have something to hate, it was written entirely and exclusively for our benefit.