Q&A: Better Christians? Different gifts.

12305796_1697238077158230_1618154208_n

Brilliant picture, wish I could take credit for it, but it’s not mine.

Question:

Do Catholics believe that some Christians are better than others? For example, do they believe that the Pope is infallible and that Mary is a co-saviour?

Answer:

This is a tricky question(s) to answer because better can mean so many things. The given examples are topics where there is a lot of misunderstanding between evangelicals and Catholics. I could write 1000 words on either of those questions and still feel cramped for space. So whatever answer I write here will be incomplete.

Is the Pope better?

We believe the Pope has a special charism or gift of the Holy Spirit that keeps him from making doctrinal errors when acting in a particular role (something that has officially only happened twice in the 150 years since the dogma was defined) but this does not give him any personal superiority. He still sins, makes mistakes, has wrong opinions on various topics, and there have been some pretty terrible Popes occupying St. Peter’s Chair. Is this what is meant by ‘better’? I’d find a more precise word, or pick a particular Pope to weigh.

Mary is better.

Catholics think Mary is the best of all God’s creatures because you’d have to be a very special lady to be picked by Jesus to be His mum. Mary is considered to be the highest of all God’s creatures, a new Eve just as Christ was the new Adam. However, Mary, though highest of creatures, is only a creature, not divine. Jesus Christ is not merely a creature, but is fully man and fully God. Mary doesn’t compare. This is the perspective we consistently find in the Church Fathers.

Catholics do NOT believe that Mary is another Saviour. Some Catholic Christians do honor Mary with the title ‘co-Redemptorix’ and Mary has officially been honored with the title of Mediatrix. Redemptrix is the female form of redeemer. Mediatrix is the female form of mediator.

Catholics believe that Mary is a mediatrix and co-redemptrix because God chose her to be His Mom and she said yes. (Luke 1:26-38) Mary is one of many mediatrixes/co-redemptrixes because in a technical sense, we all are called to share in the work of Jesus Christ, which is the work of redemption and mediation. (Mark 5:44, James 5:16 for example) Mary is the ultimate example of this because God choose her to participate in his redemptive work by bringing or mediating Jesus into the world. Jesus, God the Son, grew in her womb, was nourished by her body and came out of her birth canal. Sorry to be so graphic, but think about what that means! This makes her literally a co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix. (Tangential side note: Catholics also call Mary ‘Mother of God’ because she is the mother of Jesus who is fully God, not because we have some zany idea that she’s a pagan goddess who is mother to the whole Holy Trinity.)

Mary’s mediation and participation in Christ’s redemptive work, and ours, is utterly dependent on Jesus Christ and His choice to involve us. Though we are called to share in Jesus’ work, we are totally subordinate to him in that work and not acting as equals or independently by any stretch of the imagination.

In general?

God loves us all the same, and does not love us more or less based on our gifts or accomplishments. But yes, some Christians are better than others. There are greater and lesser gifts, and some people are excellent servants and others are mediocre. This is one of the reasons the Catholic Church canonizes certain heroes of the faith as saints, so that we have many excellent exemplars of faith, though certainly we are all in a sense saints.

Experience bears this out, but I’m gonna let St. Paul and Jesus do the talking:

Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

(I Corinthians 12:28-31, 13:13)

The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

(Matthew 23:11)

For more information see: Catholic Bridge

For more Questions & Answers or my Catholic journey, click here.

N.B. I am only a new Catholic. Though I have an undergrad degree in theology and am working on a Masters, I will not be a flawless source of information. But friends and family have many questions since my wife and I began becoming Catholics, and this is an attempt to answer those questions.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Q&A: Better Christians? Different gifts.

    • Thank you. I’ve been soliciting questions about Christian faith in general or Catholicism in particular since I have been getting a lot of questions from friends and family lately. If you have any other points you’re wondering about, you can comment with them, and I will do my best to answer them.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s