The balloon itself can represent our world or the reality which we can see. Air can be “Truth” which we do not see directly; we see the effects. One can squeeze-out the air in a certain part of the balloon, but it still exists; it pops-up somewhere else in the balloon, although perhaps in another form. We can try to suppress Truth in our individual life or in society, but it still exists and will eventually show up somewhere else.
This metaphor can be applied to Protestants/Evangelicals throughout history that have attempted to "squeeze out" Christian Tradition. The kind of Tradition that ultimately comes from God (not the traditions of men); the kind Catholics might spell with a capital “T”
Ø Squeeze out the Magisterium of Catholic Bishops, get the Baptist General Director of Missions
We have a need for human authority; this is why Jesus set up a visible on earth Church with people in charge. Bible churches do not use the Bible as their sole authority; they are also using whatever biblical interpretation their church leaders interpret. The Bible doesn’t actually “teach”, just as a math book does not teach; people do the teaching. If I handed some students an algebra book, told them to join an algebra study group and pray hard for understanding with no algebra teacher, how well would they do on the final exam? How well would they truly understand?
I once heard a minister say that the only proper interpreter of scripture is scripture itself. This reminded me of when I was a kid asking how to spell a word and being told to look it up in the dictionary. I would say to myself in frustration…”But I can’t spell the word, so how can I look it up”. It also reminded me of Acts 8:30-31 “Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?”
Of course, some Christians will say that the Holy Spirit does the guiding, teaching and interpreting for them individually. This would be somewhat reasonable if there were only two Christian denominations in the world, the misguided (or evil) Catholic Church and one true and holy “Bible Church”. The reality of course, is that there are thousands of Christian denominations that claim “Truth” from the Bible and yet teach different things. So it all begs the question, “Which Bible Answer Man or General Directors should we listen to?”
Ø Squeeze out the Eucharist, get the altar call.
There is something about going to an altar to receive Jesus publicly that just won’t go away!
Ø Squeeze out the Rosary, get the Prayer of Jabez
The Prayer of Jabez comes from 1 Chronicles 4:10 “Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!" And God granted him what he requested.”
The prayer is composed of four parts. First, Jabez asks God to bless him. Second, he asks God to enlarge his territory or increase his responsibility. Third, he prays that God will be with him and stay close. Lastly, Jabez asks that God keep him from harm so that he will be free from pain. Like the Rosary, Christians are encouraged to say the Prayer of Jabez on a daily basis so it can become a treasured and lifelong habit.
SIDE NOTE: I do wonder if a Christian who prays this daily could ever accept the spiritual value of suffering that all of us can share with Christ.
Both the Rosary and the Prayer of Jabez are criticized for vain repetition (see Matthew 6:7). Stop and think of repetition for a moment (OK, that’s enough). Did you think of day and night repeating over and over, seasons coming and going, breathing air in and out or your heart beating again and again? What is vain is vain, but repetition with meaning brings life.
All of this is not just about Protestants & Evangelicals reinventing the wheel, it is about the Truth finding its way to the surface!
Inspiration for this post comes from a talk I heard by a fine fellow named Ian Murphy during my recent stay At Catholic Familyland. He has a fascinating conversion story going from Agnostic to Baptist to Catholic.
Fascinating Conversion Story Part I:
Fascinating Conversion Story Part II: