Cultism, Catholicism & Authoritarianism

Hunt, Dave
May 31, 1990

Last month we referred to the fact that new “prophets” are arising to play an important role in preparing the world for the Antichrist. They are of two kinds: (1) charismatics/Pentecostals, who claim to receive extrabiblical inspiration directly from God; and (2) so-called “Christian psychologists,” who promote what they claim are extrabiblical revelations of “God’s truth” (“all truth is God’s truth”) given to godless humanists and anti-Christians such as Freud, Jung, et al. Increasing numbers of professing Christians are following the guidance of both kinds of false “prophets,” placing modern “revelations” and “experience” above the Bible.

Behold Protestantism’s growing Roman Catholic-like priesthood that cannot be questioned, which mediates for the people with God and helps build the bridge back to Rome. “Christian psychologists” play such a role within Protestant churches. They speak, as do Catholic priests, with an authority that comes from outside Scripture and which cannot be questioned by mere “Bereans” who know only their Bibles. They minister psychotherapeutic “sacraments and rituals,” which they claim are essential to the spiritual health of the flock and operate a “confessional.” Some even promote images more dangerous than those revered by Catholics, for the visualized “Christ” used in the “healing of memories” comes alive and speaks!

The new “prophets” among the charismatics likewise cannot be questioned. Their “revelations” take precedence over the Bible and must be followed by those who would not be guilty of rebellion. The charismatic movement provides another lane on the highway to Rome. Not only is there a close bond between Protestant and Catholic charismatics (there are about 30 million of the latter worldwide [Note: 70 million in 1995]), but some of the “revelations” also lead in that direction.

Pastor Roland Buck’s story, Angels On Assignment, is a classic case in point. One of his visions involved an alleged trip to the “throne room of God,” where he was given in writing a most interesting “prophecy” by “God” himself. As Buck explained,

Number 113 of the 120 events which God entered on this paper from my book in heaven on January 21, 1977, was the selection of a new pope….in order to help in the restoration of his fragmented body, God had chosen a man named Karol Wojtyla of Poland. This prophecy was fulfilled October 16, 1978 when he began his reign as Pope JohnPaul II.1

Buck’s book wasn’t published until 1979. If we take his word, however, that he actually had such a paranormal experience, then a demon was clearly the source of this “revelation.” The seductive purpose was obvious: to make it appear that God himself desires a union between Protestants and Catholics under the Pope.That the ecumenical movement has gained irresistible force cannot be denied. The climate for Protestant-Catholic “unity” today is a slap in the face of the Reformers, all of whom were convinced that the Roman Catholic popes were antichrists. This was the view of Protestant leaders during the next 400 years. Even Billy Graham, in 1948 at the start of his celebrated career, identified Roman Catholicism as one of the “greatest menaces faced by orthodox Christianity….”2


Yet today, leading Protestants refer to Roman Catholics as “Christian brothers and sisters” with whom we can work together in “evangelizing the world by the year a.d.2000.” Encouraging this new view, Billy Graham refers favorably to “the new understanding between Roman Catholics and Protestants” and sends converts back into Catholic churches. He thus undermines the very gospel which he, as the world’s most honored evangelist, preaches so earnestly.

Don’t ever forget that every belief upon which Protestantism was founded and for which the martyrs gave their lives was rejected by the Council of Trent. Its Canons and Decrees are considered to be a summation of Roman Catholicism valid for all time. Today’s catechisms continue to require all Roman Catholics to pledge absolute and unquestioning obedience to Trent’s dogmas:

I accept, without hesitation, and profess all that has been handed down, defined and declared by the Sacred Canons and by the general Councils, especially by the Sacred Council of Trent and by the Vatican General Council [Vatican II, which reaffirmed Trent], and in a special manner concerning the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff….3

It is extremely difficult for Roman Catholics to escape the cultic grip in which they are held because they have been convinced that their Church controls the gates of heaven. To disobey her is to be lost forever. Rome’s power to brainwash is evident in the fact that in spite of the Reformation that shook Europe in Luther’s day, John Paul II commands nearly 900 million followers (about fifteen times the number of Lutherans) who are bound to him by oaths typical of most cults. Here is a further portion of the oath quoted above from The Convert’s Catechism:

I recognize the Holy Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the mother and teacher of all…and I promise and swear true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Christ. …This same Catholic Faith, outside of which nobody can be saved, which I now freely profess and to which I truly adhere, the same I promise and swear to maintain and profess… until the last breath of life….4

As it is with Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses or any other cult, so it is with Catholics: though there is much talk about Christ, in the final analysis salvation is not in Him but in the Church. The first thing Mormon missionaries push on prospects sounds very much like Catholicism with a few names and dates changed: that theirs is the one true church outside of which there is no salvation, and that its current head is the true representative of Christ on earth, having inherited that position through apostolic succession that can be traced back to Joseph Smith, God’s true prophet. The claims of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church and other cults are much the same.

Standing in the place of the One who said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest” (Mat 11.28), the Roman Catholic Church insists that all must come to her and that she alone can provide to repentant sinners what Christ himself promised but cannot perform without her priesthood’s mediation. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was gravely concerned about the growing ecumenical acceptance of Roman Catholics as partners in “evangelization” of the world. Blaming this inexcusable naiveté upon “a weak and flabby Protestantism that does not know what it believes,” he earnestly warned,

I would not hesitate to assert that… Roman Catholicism, is the devil’s greatest masterpiece! It is such a departure from the Christian faith and the New Testament teaching, that I would not hesitate with the Reformers of the sixteenth century to [say]…she is, as the Scripture puts it, “the whore.”…Christian people, your responsibility is terrible. You must know the truth. …There are innocent people who are being deluded. It is your business and mine to open their eyes and to instruct them.5

Crying out against the already growing trend among Protestants in his day to accept Catholicism as not so bad after all, C. H. Spurgeon passionately decried “the spirit that would tamper with Truth for the sake of united action”:

Not so thought our fathers, when at the stake they gave themselves to death…for truths which men can nowadays count unimportant, but which being truths were to them so vital that they would sooner die than suffer them to be dishonoured.

O for the same uncompromising love of truth!

May there ever be found some men… who shall denounce again and again all league with error and all compromise with sin [as] the abhorrence of God…!

Early Protestant creeds unanimously called the pope Antichrist—not only because of Rome’s heresies but because the lives of many popes exemplified Antichrist’s evil. More than one pope vacated “Peter’s throne” when killed by a furious husband who caught him in bed with his wife. Even Catholic historians admit that many of the popes were among the most inhuman monsters to walk this earth. In Vicars of Christ, Jesuit Peter de Rosa reminds us that pope after pope engaged habitually on a grand scale in wholesale mayhem and murder, pillage, rape, incest, simony and corruption of the worst sort. Their evil lives are a blot upon the pages of history. It is a travesty to refer to such shameless perverts and master criminals as “His Holiness” or “Vicar of Christ” as they all are in official Roman Catholic dogma and documents.

Even if the popes had all been paragons of virtue, it would still be a mockery to claim that they represent an unbroken chain of “apostolic succession” back to Peter. It was long the custom for the popes to be voted in by the populace of Rome, which had its own selfish reasons for desiring one candidate above another. Such a majority vote could hardly be called “apostolic succession” and, in fact, is not acceptable by Rome today. Some popes were deposed by angry mobs protesting their unbearable evil. Others were installed and/or deposed by kings and emperors. Political expediency along with the wealth and influence of the candidate as often as not determined who would be pope. “Apostolic succession” indeed!

Nor is there any evidence that Peter ever enjoyed the position of leadership in the early church which is now claimed for the pope. Christ’s promise, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 16:19), could be interpreted as having been fulfilled when Peter opened the Kingdom to Jews at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41) and to Gentiles in the home of Cornelius (Acts 10:34-48). Christ’s further promise to Peter that “whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” was no more than His identical promise to all of the disciples (Mat 18:18-20). Likewise the statement, “whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them…” (Jn 20:23), was made to all of the disciples.

That the special authority which has been claimed by the Roman Catholic popes as his alleged “successors” was never exercised by Peter as the head of the church is clear from the biblical record. Peter exhorts equals, he does not command subordinates: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder” (1 Pt 5:1). He offers his epistles not on the basis of exalted ecclesiastical position or power, but on the fact that he, like the other disciples, has been “a witness of the sufferings of Christ…[an eyewitness] of his majesty” (1 Pt 5:1; 2Pt 1:16).

The first church council (Acts 15:4-29), which was held in Jerusalem around A.D. 45-50, was convened on Paul’s initiative, not Peter’s. And it was James, not Peter, who seemed to take the leadership. Peter’s only recorded statement was not doctrinal but mainly a summation of his experiences. James, however, drew upon the Scriptures and argued from a doctrinal point of view. Moreover, it was James who said, “Wherefore my sentence is…,” and his declaration became the basis of the official letter sent back to Antioch in settlement of the dispute.

James seemingly took upon himself an authoritarian position which, while it never approached the infallibility and dominance now claimed for the pope, was unscriptural and detrimental. Fear of James and his influence caused Peter to revert to Jewish traditional separation from Gentiles. Paul, who wrote far more of the New Testament and whose ministry was obviously much larger, publicly rebuked Peter for his error (Gal 2:11-14). The specious claim that Peter held a special leadership position and was given the chief place among the apostles, and was thus the first pope, is refuted by numerous passages in the New Testament.

Roman Catholicism bases its false dogma upon Christ’s statement, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” (Mt 16:18). Whatever Christ meant, that declaration certainly makes no mention either of “infallibility,” “apostolic succession” or a “ruling hierarchy.” Nor can these key dogmas of Rome be supported by any other scripture. One need not argue from the Greek that Peter (petros) is not “this rock” (petra). The truth depends not upon a questionable interpretation of this one verse but upon the totality of Scripture. That Romanism’s view is not valid is demonstrated fully by the passages in the New Testament to which we have already referred, and by the fact that the entire Bible, rather than supporting it, actually refutes it.

God himself is clearly described as the only unfailing “Rock” of our salvation throughout the entire Old Testament.6 As for the New Testament, it declares that Jesus Christ is the Rock upon which the church is built and that He, being God, is alone qualified for that position. The rock upon which the “wise man built his house” was not Peter but Christ and His teachings (Mat 7:24-29). Peter himself points out that Christ is the “chief corner stone” upon which the church is built (1 Pt 2:6-8) and quotes an Old Testament passage to that effect which Christ fulfilled. Paul also calls Christ “the chief corner stone” and declares that the church is “built upon the foundation of [all] the apostles and prophets” (Eph 2:20)a statement which clearly denies to Peter any special position in the foundation.

Let us each be certain that our lives are built upon that Rock which is Christ and upon an obedience to Him as Lord which is consistent with our profession of faith in Him. May He bless and guide you into the fulfillment of the purpose to which He has called you—and there is such a purpose for each of us in being here.

ENDNOTES

1 Roland Buck, Angels on Assignment (Hunter Books, 1979), 70.

2 Cited in Plains Baptist Challenger (July 1977).

3 Rev. Peter Geiermann, C.SS.R, The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine (Tan Books & Publishers, Inc., 1977, Imprinatur Joseph E. Ritter, S.T.D., Archbishop of St. Louis), 26-27.

4 Catechism, 26-27.

5 Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Roman Catholicism (Evangelical Press, PO Box 2453, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, one in a series of “Pastoral Booklets), 1-4, 16.

6 See, for example, Dt 32:3,4; 2 Sm 22:47; 23:3; Ps 62:1,2; and many more similar verses.

erses.

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12 Responses to Cultism, Catholicism & Authoritarianism

  1. dbonneville says:

    In Greek, you probably know already that you can’t call a male by a female name. You change the ending of the word, but not the meaning. This is just like Spanish. Amiga and amigo both mean friend. But some words are feminine only, like “manana” (tomorrow). So Jesus, in Greek, essentially coins a new word Petros from petra (feminine) because otherwise it would not make any sense. However, Jesus was not speaking Greek. Rather, he was speaking Aramaic. In Aramaic, there is one word for rock and Peter, which is cephas. Jesus said “you are Cephas and on this cephas” I build my Church.

    You assert that Scripture on the whole must affirm Peter as Pope, not just one verse. Ok. How many people does God change the name of in Scripture? Not very many. And when he does, it’s very significant right? Abram to Abraham. Jacob to Israel. And of course God goes out of his way to provide a name for his Son, Jesus. So, when Jesus renames Simon to Peter (Cephas). So why change his name? Simon is from a Hebrew name meaning “one who listens and obeys”. So we see why Jesus did this. Because Simon listened and obeyed, and because God revealed this to Simon, Jesus chose him as the rock of his Church.

    How do we know the early Church held Simon in highest esteem? That is simple. In Acts, when Paul is before the Jerusalem council, the debate was about what to do with all the Gentile converts. Paul had his mission, yet he would submit to the Jerusalem council because it was the Church, right or wrong. The council was leaning towards saying that all Gentiles had to be circumcised but notice what James says. He stands up and says that because Peter had the vision (of the sheet and the unclean things), that Paul’s mission to include Gentiles as-is was from God. On that foundation – Peter’s vision – Paul was allowed to proceed. This is the critical juncture in Paul’s missionary life. James didn’t lead of his own accord, but rather he deferred to Peter and his vision. Once again, Peter is in fact the rock.

    You have a lot of common misinformation about Catholicism in this article. It’s easier to come by than avoid due to simple proliferation, but also book culture.

    Coming to Rome is the same as coming to Jesus since it is his Body. But you have it stated in a twisted way that makes it look like Jesus didn’t leave a Church for people to come to after he left, but that is in fact what he did. He left a Church, filled with sinners, and it is the same Church that is still here today. While many Christianized experiments come and go, the Catholic Church will remain the eternal one, as is evidenced by 2000 of it’s history and no signs of this about to change.

    You also level many other common but incorrect charges against the Catholic Church. For instance, suggesting that it is a cult it absurd at face value. Cult’s are small, personality driven communities that micromanage the lives of the adherents. Taking a simple shallow glance at the Catholic church at this moment in time would reveal many sad things, but being a cult is not one of them.

    You can’t separate Jesus from his Church, because Christ is not divided, Paul tells us. But you have to get a proper understanding of what the Church is, and not rely on your own understanding and wisdom. You easily do a lot of new and interesting homework, if you were inclined, by reading material outside of the scope you currently read within. If you do that, you would see the Church very differently. As the Church itself teaches, education is key to everything.

  2. Hi Thanks for your detailed reply. However I would appreciate as Protestants to see some scripture accompanying your arguments. Otherwise we are only utilising human tradition and have no divine inspiration and authority. And as you may guess that is where my allegiances lay.

    As for the Greek comments on the Name of Peter we can both agree that Peter was both special and one of the leaders but nowhere do we find him to be the top dog, so to speak. In fact early church history puts James squarely at that place, fact that Peter was called hypocrite by Paul for not eating with non Jews, also shows that 1. he was fallible which is contrary to Papacy infallibility rules, and even if you say but he was not in his mode of teaching, I would argue that his actions have clear theological implications and needed to be corrected.

    Lastly my mother use to go to Catholic church in her younger days so I have plenty of necessary information, and from following recent church history for example in former Yugoslavia. Great book was written by women from Northern Ireland I think she was UN representative at the time, she did record that war crimes were committed and sanctioned by the Catholic Church against those who were of different Christian backgrounds. This was also true for those of the Orthodox background too. (I’m talking II world war here)

    What does this mean that we all make mistakes and sometimes need to agree that this infallibility theology really is inconsistent with the Biblical teaching?

    Only God’s word deserves to be treated with such reverence and respect. Most worrying for me is that you can confess your sins as a Catholic on Sunday and go on sinning on Monday; all you have to do is say few prayers and you will be fine. That kind of reduces what James is teaching to travesty i.e. should we not be reminded that our works should demonstrate our faith. Or did I get this wrong. Note that this is rhetorical question.

    Note that I’m not saying that Catholics will not go to Heaven as I’m convinced that there are people with genuine faith who are of Catholic tradition, but we do need to worn and correct others when theology is not consistent with the Bible. This is why for so long Bible was removed from the hands of the ordinary people.

    In Christ’s Love

    Defend the word

  3. dbonneville says:

    Hi. All my arguments are from Scripture. I made no assertion except from Scripture itself, if you re-read what I said. Take for instance this text from Acts 15:12-22. Carefully read the reasoning James lays out:

    12
    The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them.
    13
    After they had fallen silent, James responded, “My brothers, listen to me.
    14
    Symeon has described how God first concerned himself with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name.
    15
    The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:
    16
    ‘After this I shall return and rebuild the fallen hut of David; from its ruins I shall rebuild it and raise it up again,
    17
    so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord, even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked. Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
    18
    known from of old.’
    19
    It is my judgment, therefore, that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God,
    20
    but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood.
    21
    For Moses, for generations now, has had those who proclaim him in every town, as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”
    22
    Then the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers.

    So, we have James saying “Look what Peter said and look what the prophets of old said. Based on that, I offer my judgement”

    Do you see that James has elevated Peter to the same level as the old prophets? Yes, that is exactly what James is doing. Those are his words and his reasoning. James is not acting out of his own authority, but rather he is making a judgment based on what Peter said, and how the OT prophets agree. Do you agree that that is what James is doing?

    Also notice this statement: “Then the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided…” This statement shows a full-blow conciliar model of governance that the Church started using right from the get-go, on it’s own authority. There is no Scripture that tells the Church to do this. They just did it. And they also said “It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit”, which is rather a bold thing to say!

    This presents another problem for you as a Protestant. The Church acted as a council and it was binding, and it was based on Peter’s authority, according to James in Acts as we have just read. The Church had many councils after this, including the Councils of Rome, Hippo, and Carthage, in which the canon of Scripture was settled.

    The problem is this: is the index to the Bible (Old and New Testaments), which we know from history was settled by Church councils, binding on you? It is in fact a Tradition of the Church, which perhaps you might say is a tradition of men. But nonetheless, the index to the Bible is not in the Bible itself, but was worked out in many Church councils over 350 years or so until it was decided on and closed, and has remained ever since.

    Also, how do you know that the Gospel of Mark is the Gospel of Mark? Gospel itself does not say anywhere inside of itself that it is Mark’s Gospel. Same for Luke and Matthew and Hebrews. The Tradition of the Church says two things: one, that the Gospel of Mark was written by Mark, and two, that it is inspired. Without this authority of history we would not have the Bible as we do today. There is no need for recourse to “what if” scenarios or some alternate secret understanding of history to navigate this problem. The fact is that Jesus set up first His Church and secondly commissioned it through the work of the Holy Spirit to compile the “memoirs of the apostles” as we know them today.

    The pope is not infallible. That is a misunderstanding you have. All Popes sin. Pope John Paul II went to confession once a week. Where did you read the Pope is infallible? The Church does not teach this as you suggest it. You don’t have a fact straight in there.

    The Church teaches that you cannot sin and go to heaven. You have bad facts again. If someone in your church steals money, is it logical for me to assume that is what your pastor teaches? No, I’m sure you and your pastor teach the opposite. You’d think me unreasonable if I tried to connect the disobedience of your members to your official teaching. The catechism is quite clear that you cannot sin. The penalty for sinning unrepentantly, eventually, is hell, as I’m sure you believe. You have bad information, dear friend.

    The Bible was never “removed” from the hands of ordinary people. This again is bad information you read. The fact is that a Bible, from about the year 400 to 1400, would cost well over $100,000 US dollars per copy since they were made one by one by hand. So, they were carefully guarded. On top of that very few people for that 1000 year period could even read. On top of that – if the Church was so worried about Scripture “getting into the hands of people” why on earth was it read in almost complete entirety on a 3 year cycle outloud in public at every service since the very beginning? Paul himself tells Timothy “devote yourself to your teaching and to the public reading of Scripture”. The Catholic Church has done that since day one. There are other political situations that arose from time to time where Scripture and translations were certainly controversial, and sin was not lacking on all sides in many of these matters. Of course the members of the Church have been sinful, just like Luther who hated Jews and Calvin who had his enemies killed (slowly on a fire pit!). Sinfulness is not the issue here.

    You really do need some good material not written by Protestants in order to understand what you are valiantly trying to correct. However, with some digging into history, you will find you need to have some of your ideas altered if you want them to be congruent with history and truth. History is a matter of truth (unless you are a postmodernist), and this truth can be discovered, but we must not read propaganda on the same level as accurate history. History is unalterable but it is knowable.

  4. Hi again

    Thanks very much for another lengthy reply, and very quick and passionate too. But before I go any further may I ask for your opinion, as a member of Catholic Church what do you say about Protestants and where do you place their teaching this does not seam to be in any great contrast to how many Protestants look at Catholics?

    Does this mean this is simply case of the personal opinion? I would suggest that we need to be very careful what we state and often delivery of the information can be very slippery in order to avoid honest answer. Text that you quoted had to be interpreted like that with significant guidance on your part but note there are plenty of other options that are not taken into account here.

    Article was written by Dave Hunt, I happen to agree with it, also let me expand a bit more here. I was saddened to hear for example that amongst some cultures, there are prayers that are very sectarian in nature i.e. “God Help us Catholics” therefore excluding all that are not in agreement with them. It kind of negates ecumenical spirit that Catholic Church sometimes pretend to support.

    As for the Bible reading lets not pretend for one moment that this was for the benefit of the masses, as masses did not speak Latin (Language used to read scripture in catholic churches until recently) which was commonly used in Catholic churches and further more, Pope was recently talking about possible reintroduction of that tradition. What is the point of me reading Bible in your church if I bring Chinese Bible that nobody could understand on top of that when you are told by the leadership that only qualified priest is allowed to interpret that scripture then you have a problem. Does that not strike you as people who want to retain control over their congregation?

    Don’t get me wrong, in America and in Western Europe due to strong influence of the protestant tradition Catholics had to adopt, and introduce native languages or diminish in numbers. Often this sectarianism had lead people on both sides to behave like football clubs with pledge of allegiance to the mother church. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are saved through the church as an institution. Please don’t use patronising language if positive dialogue is what you are after, that does not help our relationship.

    I am not out to score points, people can find this information for themselves, simply saying you need to do your research better only serves to elevate yourself above me. And as you will notice does not provide contrary evidence. That is not how we hold honest debate. As for the point on history note that Catholic and Protestant histories are intertwined, without meaning to be patronising I have actually studied theology and Church history was one of the required subjects.

    I think we should all be open to understanding what each one is saying without the need to shout down and drown the opposition, simply because we happen to disagree on the subject. There are plenty of things I’m sure we do agree on i.e. need to stay faithful to the teaching of the Bible. I would therefore suggest that in that same spirit we again go back to the original source, lastly we may disagree on the origins of the first church and therefore Catholics right to hold the title of the original church, but we both agree that need to understand Gods word is attained trough the work of the Holy Spirit. Finally you will notice that Protestant and Catholic Bible differ in the number of books that are considered sacred; protestant world accepts 66 books whilst Catholics have few extra books. (We call them Apocrypha)

    Both lets remember again that there are number of things we do agree on.

    1. Christ Virgin birth
    2. His atoning death on the cross for our sins
    3. Need to repent from our sins in order to be reconciled with God
    4. Human need for God as a saviour

    So what I guess I’m saying is, we all have right to express our opinions and we can differ in how we approach examination of the evidence presented to us. But when it comes to the facts that are stated one has to have good counter arguments otherwise we will go in circle on and on.

    Kind regards

    Defend the word

  5. dbonneville says:

    Thanks for your quick and passionate reply as well!

    First, the Church teaches that anyone baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can be saved. If for some reason that was possible, the person can still be saved based on their desire, placed by the Holy Spirit, to do what is right. The Church teaches that Protestants are our brothers and sisters in Christ, though our relationship is hampered and not perfect. This is not my opinion, but is from the Catechism:

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c1a1.htm#1271

    The Catholic Church does not pretend to support ecumenical spirit. It is very supportive of it, as evidenced by it’s official teaching all over place, as in the above statement. If you think you have evidence of another official statement that say the contrary, especially from the Reformation, you are likely missing the context or dealing with definitions limited to ecclesial technicalities, and dealing with movement or governments and not individuals. The Church simply and clearly teaches that any group that celebrates the Lord supper in some capacity does so in hope of the same future glory that the Church also awaits:

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1400.htm

    As far as Latin goes, understand that at one point everyone did speak Latin. As culture and time shifted, Latin was lost as lingua franca yes, but by this point, the Church has spread far and wide, and was united by Latin everywhere. Since nobody could read, the Church resorted to pictographs and didactic art. The Scriptures were in fact widely understood and all the main stories understood. We have better access to them today because of the press and education and other liturgical reforms. But the Church can change, and it will in the future, just as it has in the past. Why should it not change? All churches change and adapt.

    The Church did not adopt Protestant ideas because of failing numbers. The Church has always grossly outnumbered all Protestant groups combined. Today, there are 1.2 billion Catholics, 300 million Greek Orthodox, 80 million Anglicans, and about 400 million Christians culled together from about 30,000 denominations across the globe. The numbers have always had this kind of skewing, and always will. The Church kept the Tridentine Mass from Trent for 500 years up until Vatican II. There are many parishes today because of Benedict that now celebrate Latin Mass again because people love it and find incredible holiness in it, and they imitate that holiness everyday.

    I apologize if my prose sounded patronizing. That is not the intention whatsoever. There is only so much time to polish off a blog posting, but I will try to be more cognizant of how this comes across. I certainly do not mean to inflect that.

    “Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are saved through the church as an institution”

    Well, that depends on how you define institution. But Jesus did say we are saved through him, and he is here only through his Body, which is filled with the Spirit. Paul says in 1 Cor that there is one bread and one body. Jesus says if you partake of his body you will be saved and have eternal life. But the early Christians full well understood the Church as the visible body of Christ. It was not until the Reformation that the idea of a primarily invisible body of Christ was introduced. In fact, the only place “body of Christ” ever shows up in the Bible is just two verses, but yet we use the concept of “body of Christ” rather loosely. We cannot use it loosely though. It has a specific origin in Scripture which needs to be considered astutely. Here is the first usage in anything Paul ever wrote:

    1 Cor 10:15-17

    15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
    16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ?
    17 seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body: for we are all partake of the one bread.

    Paul uses “body of Christ” for the first time specifically in the context of describing the Eucharist. The bread is the body of Christ and when we partake of that “one bread” we who are many become one at that moment. So, the “we who are many” is referring to actual people, not a divided ethereal group. There was only one concept of oneness according to Paul, since Christ cannot be divided as he says earlier.

    The second usage from 1 Cor is even more telling:

    1 Cor 10:25-30

    25 … there should be no schism in the body …
    27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof.
    28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues.
    29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
    30 have all gifts of healings? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

    And elsewhere he describes the gifts, of which one was administration, which pertains to organizing the large group. And elsewhere in his letters he described bishops, presbyters, and deacons.

    So, we are in fact saved through the Church. The Church happens to be an institution but that is utterly beside the point. Jesus set up a rival kingdom that will overcome the kingdoms of men one day. We shall indeed inherit the earth, and all the power and principalities and dominions that operate now (human institutions) will be beaten in the final battle, and the Lord’s kingdom, foreshadowed in the current Church, will assume administration of the entire world. This is what we learn in Revelation, headed by the Apostles. We learn this specifically from Revelation 12 where we see the woman (Mary as a type of Israel or new Eve and Church) with 12 stars (Apostles) giving birth to a son (Jesus) who will rule the world with an iron rod (Jesus through his Church), which is also a fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy about Jesus when it says “of his goverment there will be no end”.

    So according to Scripture we see that the Church is something concrete on this earth now, as Jesus set up, as the Apostles administered it (Jerusalem Council) and as prophecy predicts it (Isaiah and Revelation) will rule the world someday. However it in no way compatible with Scripture that the Church is primarily some kind of potential invisible body of “those who really believe” as it is suggested by many Protestant scholars. There is no Scriptural basis for that, and is an unfortunate innovation that has an appeal for those who think they need what that model might offer, but in fact, that model never delivers anything. At least in 500 years it has not yielded anything that has stood the test of time. The closest working model of this idea was the Anglican Communion, which by it’s own internal witnesses of conservative believers, ended as a potential after 500 years or so in 2008 not long after the Lambeth meeting in Canterbury.

    Now, there is no need to disagree whatsoever on the foundation of the Church and the history and facts of the matter. They are well documented and well attested. Luther himself said the Catholics gave the world the Bible, as he truly did understand history. His method of reform is debatable, I should add.

    I’m going to submit another post about the Bible and deal with the missing book, not the extra ones, as I will demonstrate.

    Kind regards,

    Doug

  6. dbonneville says:

    At the so-called Council, or shall we say meeting, of Jamnia, the Jews who were left after the destruction of Jerusalem decided to to a purge of Helenistic and Roman influences. They were extremely upset at the Christians who would not fight to protect the Temple and the city, and thus viewed their several hundred years of mixing things up with pagans as a failure, capped off by the influx of pagans into the Christian sect. There is debate about Jamnia, but the consensus is that this is where the Hebrew cannon was trimmed to eliminate any books not written in Hebrew. 7 books were composed in Greek during this time of “infiltration” as it was seen by the Rabbis.

    Also problematic was the fact that the version of the Old Testament that everyone was using was the Septuagint, in use for hundreds of years, which was in Greek. It was that version in Greek that Luke got “virgin” from and incorporated in the Nativity narration in his Gospel. This was another reason to get rid of Greek, as it contained verses that undermined the Jewish position of rejection of the Virgin Birth.

    To further complicate matters for the Jews, about 200 of the 300 times the New Testament authors quote the OT, they are quoting directly from the Septuagint. Now, by quoting the Septuagint, Jesus and the Apostles are validating it as Scripture and not something that can be tossed out. It contained the 7 books in question. The Jews, wanting to discredit Christianity and distance themselves from anything Greek, got rid of the Septuagint and the Greek books composed in the last few hundred years. If you get rid of the Septuagint and it’s “extra” books, you are getting rid of the Scriptures that our Lord himself choose to quote. This is problematic.

    Now let’s fast forward to the year 300 or so. By this time, the canon of Scripture is almost worked out, but not officially done. The 2 earliest and best complete codexes of the entire Greek bible included the OT and NT list of books pretty much as we have it. Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest, contains all of the OT, all of the NT, plus a few more. You can actually read this online now for the first time ever. It just came out like a month ago…with all the “extra” books right there in their full glory…

    Fast forward about 100 years more and the list is paired down to the list the Catholics still use to this day. The Canon was closed by 420 and the discussion ended.

    From 420 until the Reformation, nobody questioned the Canon. Nobody. During the Reformation Luther eliminated, on his own authority, the 7 books the Jews got rid of. One of them specifically has Catholic theology about prayers for the dead, so it was easy on that basis to exclude it. Luther also wanted to get rid of Revelation and James (he called it an epistle of straw) but his friends said it would be too much to tamper with it, and it might backfire. But make no doubt that Luther wanted to get rid of James because of it’s so-called works theology that so irked his troubled soul.

    Trent later reaffirmed the Canon established in 420AD, but many today people not knowing history misread this as “adding” because of how disingenuous Protestants present the facts. No, nothing has changed since St. Augustine saw the closure of the Canon in 419 until this day. Nothing. So, it is a fact that Protestants are missing books from the Bible, plain and simple. Divisive theology and politics and not history are to blame for their removal and nothing else. Those books are Scripture because the Apostles and Jesus used the Septuagint they are part of. They are not excluded as Scripture because of the opinion of Luther, no matter how well intentioned or reasoned he and others thought he was.

    I too am somewhat well read. I have a Bible degree from a conservative, fully-accredited Christian university. I embraced Catholicism 3 years after my degree completed because I kept studying. I found what Cardinal John Henry Newman said to be quite true: “To be deep in History is to cease to be Protestant”. Newman was an Anglican reformer of the Protestant church in England in the 19th century. He saw sin and vulgarity in his church and launched a reform that took the nation by storm and led the movement for 30 years. Many thousands of people followed him and he transformed Oxford in that regard. Slowly as his studies continued, they centered on Rome. Finally, he resigned from Oxford and gave up everything in life he had accomplished because history had revealed the false premise of many aspects of Protestantism. He converted to Catholicism and a decade later was made a Cardinal by the Pope.

    Respectfully, I would encourage you to go deeper in history. There was no insult meant in saying that you need more material, better materials, but it is true. It is a kindness to tell you this. If you have studied and yet still hold some of these easily-dismissed prejudices about the Church, it points to a lack of good information. You are zealous and have a good conscience about what you know, but it is incomplete. As we go deeper into Scripture and deeper into History, we see the Church Jesus founded with greater and greater clarity, like a light that gets brighter and brighter, and we wonder how on earth we missed it and believe some of the irrational things said about it, which are so easily dismissed. The beauty and glory we as Protestants longed for is hidden for many by the collective confusion of the centuries resulting from an overzealous correction. The church will always need reform, but it needs it from within, like a family. When our earthly fathers fail us, we don’t rebuke them harshly. We reason with them, and love them respectfully, and submit to them and to God knowing God’s justice and love always break through. The tears of a mother will heal any wound…

  7. dbonneville says:

    One more quick item…I forgot to address the misconception that the pope is infallible, in general:

    http://www.catholicfaithandreason.org/papal_infallibility.htm

    The first paragraph clears this up very easily:

    “Non-Catholics often confuse the pope’s gift of ‘infallibility’ with ‘impeccability’. They think the Catholic Church is claiming her Popes are sinless or that the Pope is claiming inspiration from God for every pronouncement he makes. This is not the case…”

    and further down…

    ‘There are several requirements for a dogmatic, papal infallible pronouncement…Most “examples” of papal “errors” emerge when critics ignore the necessity of these three points…’

    Thanks again for your gracious tone in this discourse…

    Doug

  8. dbonneville says:

    Sorry! One more I just came across from a friend today. Here are some quotes from a great article about the official ecumenism many Protestants don’t know about. The link to the article is at the bottom:

    “Let us take our lead from the clear teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the section entitled “Wounds to Unity”:

    “817 In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church – for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.” The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body – here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism – do not occur without human sin:
    Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.

    818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

    819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.”274 Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”

    Toward unity

    820 “Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.” Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: “That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me.” The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.” ”

    So beautiful! Here is the article in full:

    http://www.catholic.org/printer_friendly.php?id=34311&section=Cathcom

  9. Hi Doug

    Thank you very much for your so very detailed and kind work on your posts; it must have taken you ages to compile that entire work. I know I have to go through huge amount of material myself and sometimes I find it heard when I lose the place amongst all the books and then I have to start my search from the beginning. So just to make this clear before I go any further I am very grateful for your massive effort.

    Secondly let me make my position clear, in case people are not sure where my starting points are. On some of this I will make assumption that these statements are self evident and will be from personal experience with Catholic Church and others will be linked to the material that you should be familiar with.

    1. Your and my experience of Catholic Church is obviously significantly different, but I would probably guess we have many similarities. We are both highly passionate about what we believe and what we stand for.
    2. I’m not against Catholic people; I’m against teachings that form part of the Catholic institution.
    3. I have already acknowledged that I believe that there are real Christians inside Catholic Church. I have met some in person, in fact when the question was asked “why they choose to stay in Catholic Church?” they give me similar answer to what you said previously, they would like to see change happen in Catholic Church from the inside.
    4. I appreciate your movement from Anglican Church to Catholic is due to your research, but have you checked books that may be critical of the authors who may have complied that evidence. I find that we in Britain are way too quick to give credit and recognition when none of the propositions have been critically assessed. Note I’m not saying that this is what you did; only making similar remarks to what you suggested I should do, which I agree with 100%.
    5. From our European history we can easily work out that separation from the Catholic Church, by Luther and Calvin was due to the fact that they were in direct opposition and disagreement with the teaching that was promoted at the time. I’m sure you know about Luther’s 95 theses, and what made him do it.
    • Secondly your assessment that Luther wanted to take James out of the Bible is widely acknowledged fact by all Protestants. That has never been hidden in some corner and is therefore not needed as counter argument for retaining books that are in the Bible. Fact is that James still forms part of the New Testament and we are talking about “additional books” or in your case “missing Books” that form part of the Old Testament. You rightly acknowledged that Jewish community does not accept those to be part of the Cannon. However your explanation is somewhat questionable as why would they deprive their own people of Biblical text in order to get even and spite Catholic Church, which does not make sense to me at all. What is interesting is how much Catholic Church has gone out of its way to portray Jews in very negative light this does not help, even today just look at some of the Blogs and you will find many young Catholics so obviously presenting one sided picture.
    • Thirdly your comment that Calvin was involved with cruel punishments i.e. burning people at the stake, yes that is again widely acknowledged by all Protestants. My Argument is that he has come from the Catholic tradition and has not fully rescinded from their teaching. This is evident especially when you look at gradual changes in the way Protestants look at the Holy Communion. I don’t want to go in too many details here as we may loose few of our readers. The last point on this is as simple as this, “two wrongs don’t make it right, does it?”
    6. Things to think about is this changes in Britain from Catholicism to Protestant faith was due to the King Of England more than anything else, in fact this is why our Queen is still treated as Head of the Anglican Church. Remember that religion was very politically motivated in England with King not being happy that he could not get authorisation from Pope to remarry, this has moved him to make himself head of the Church. With another counter move by Mary I queen of England and Ireland from (Henry VIII first child) Mid 1553 moved the country Back to Catholic tradition. This is why even today she is considered one of the saints by Catholic Church. Her hard upbringing and father who was more interested in producing a male offspring than the wellbeing of his first daughter led her to find solace in Catholic Church and its leaders. During her accession to the throne after the premature death of her half brother Edward VI (Who was responsible for further establishing protestant faith in England) she was responsible for nearly 300 deaths of many religious leaders, I’m not saying that this was only done on one side of the church as we know that her father was responsible for just as many killings. But what I’m saying is that this was enough to earn her name “Bloody Mary” and show political struggle that was happening at the time. Her marriage to the Spaniard did not help her popularity and once she was succeeded by her half sister Elizabeth I England was back under the authority of Protestants. Therefore this lack of massive negative experience which was very much present in the rest of the Europe made England less aware of the real problems that rest of the Europe experienced. More recently many have moved from Anglican Church for number of reasons including Gay priests, Women ordination and so on, but what is missed is the fact that lack of understanding of Catholic church has led them to move to a tradition that they don’t completely understand. Sorry for being so bold to make such statement, but I doubt one can switch from one Church to the Next in one day and still have enough time to consider all the implications. (Note that I am not Anglican)
    7. Note also that during the time Pope spent his time in France he was controlled by the French king, who threatened to start new church which resulted in Pope being virtual prisoner there and was not able to move back to Rome. What I’m trying to say here is that often religion and politics were very much intertwined and this is so far removed from what Christ thought us.
    8. I have to come clean with you I’m not at all for the ecumenism, my comment was meant to remind you of two things,
    i. Catholic Church has always expertly manoeuvred through the political landscape to maintain its dominance this however does not make it right.
    ii. Assimilation of local customs and traditions is well established fact this was used to coerce and encourage locals into adopting its traditions. This resulted in many of the non biblical teachings infiltrating Catholic theology.
    iii. We should all call every Christian to go back to original Christianity not to the traditions of the man.
    One should be careful how he/she interpret the scripture, I.e. spend time praying before reading and allow Holy Spirit to guide you and don’t follow guidance and books that instruct you how to do this. After all does not Bible say that “He (the Holy Spirit) will lead you into all the truth”
    See John 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15“All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. This clearly shows us that we need God and not church to help us understand his word.

    9. As for the Origin of the Bible I would that say as for the Vaticanus yes it was based on Septuagint (LXX) and I will tell you also that Vulgate (Catholic Church official text) was not base on single text but on a number of Latin version note therefore that early in the Fifth Century there was a version of the Bible compiled in Latin some of it by using LXX and by using other Latin version all due to work of one man St Jerome, Great genius but remember not all texts available today were used. He was commissioned by Pope Damasus I late in 4 Century but work was not completed until the early 5th. What am I saying then is as follows, yes Septuagint does contain sayings that we find Jesus to be saying, but note that compilation of Old Testament documents does not make it legally binding and historically accurate; all we can deduce from this is that Septuagint contains staff that Jesus quoted and this does not mean that this was therefore recognised by Christ this is jumping a gun so to speak. Translation of Jehovah Witnesses contains many sayings that are in agreement with the protestant Bible but that does not make it right. (I know this is bit of a drastic example but it amply demonstrates my point) I think this is more question for Textual Criticism which I love, rather than theological teaching that are contained in the text that we may choose. You know what I mean by it. Anyway we have to be careful not to wonder too far from what the original Post was saying, so I would suggest that we maintain discipline in working within the parameters of the post in the future.

    I hope this did not make you less interested in contributing your ideas here; you are more than welcomed to continue to do that. Best way of teaching each other is through this kind of open debate.

    Kind regards

    Defend the Word

  10. dbonneville says:

    Hi again. Thank first for a large and courteous response. We are both the bookworm type and it shows!

    I will reply using the numbers from your response above. Let’s see if I can be brief and encapsulating rather than expansive this time.

    1) We are united by a similar passion, I would certainly agree. My experience in the Church as a child was so devoid of passion that when a friend converted to Pentecostal Christianity, I was compelled to follow. I spent 20 years doing church planting, mission work, evangelism, teaching, bible studies, getting a degree with great intensity. Upon relooking at the Church 20 years later, and studying great passion, the facts were more compelling than the original passion that drew me away in the first place.

    2) I’m not against, as you can see, and Protestants. However, I’m against that which keeps us divided. According to Jesus, the entire NT, the evidence of all of early Church history and the underlying theology, there is only one means of unity. This would be, unequivocally and irrevocably, the Eucharist. This is the means Jesus gave us of attaining and remaining in unification with each other. There is one bread and one body, as Paul says. But varying interpretations since the Reformation make this final unification impossible until those interpretations are set aside, one person at a time, since there is no unified Reformation “body” than can officially rescind all the schismatic viewpoints. The early Church was never anything than 100% in agreement on the nature of the Eucharist. The heretical groups that had other opinions have been judged harshly by history in that they all ceased to exist. Nourishment, in good conscience, comes from the Eucharist, Jesus himself. Where bad information but good conscience exists, the Church teaches, God is gracious allowing for the fact that a good conscience even with incomplete information is a powerful weapon for good.

    3) There is much to change in the Church, as your friends have commented. How can this not be the case? We all need to grow in charity and make corrections. There are many things in the Church that don’t help towards unity, from customs to ancillary teachings that can change. There are some things that can’t change (non-negotiables we already agree on as Christians), but those aren’t holding us back. Compound that which can change with misinformation by well-meaning (at times) but ill-informed Protestants (there are many) and we have a recipe for confusion and disunity, exactly as the devil himself has devised to keep the Gospel chained up to a degree.

    4) As far as research into conversion, my story is somewhat different from many. My background was Jewish studies and early Church history from a 100% non-Catholic point of view. As a Protestant with no intention of converting to Catholicism I studied the Jewish roots of Christianity. F.F. Bruce, W.D. Davies, etc, a lot of top notch Oxford and Cambridge scholars. I then completed a Bible degree at a very conservative thoroughly Protestant churches of Christ university. I graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0. What I’m saying is that with no vested interest in anything regarding Catholicism, I mastered the Protestant information set before me. I’m quite familiar with many Protestant and Jewish scholars, and have a very large personal library of high quality commentary all from Protestants. My study of church history lead me through several phases of denominational wandering, the longest being an independent non-denominational church, but it included Baptist, Pentecostal, house churches, several other flavors, but finally Anglicanism, in which most of what I concluded from studies seemed to make the most sense. But studying Jewish history, especially the role of Oral Tradition in Judaism led me to believe that this was missing in all forms of Christianity except Catholicism, and the arguments that Oral Tradition was invalid simply was not tenable, since Jesus founded a Church and later a completed canon of Scripture. The early church operated by tradition for hundreds of years before the NT was complete. This point is conceded by top Protestant scholars because there is no alternative history to draw from. It is a simple fact. All the church models fell away under the scrutiny of history and time, and the last model standing, the one I never considered this whole time was Catholicism. Having exhausted my options and weary after so many years of study without reaching anything conclusive (but close, just never complete) I realized by the Holy Spirit that the Catholic Church is the universal eternal one, and all other efforts, however well meaning, have proven to be quite temporal. Temporary wisdom equal temporary existence but eternal wisdom equal eternal existence. Since the Reformation principles did not exist at the time of the founding of the Church (especially Sola Scriptura), anything based on them could not be true because it would be anachronisitic. So, I submitted myself and said “I’ll stop being the teacher. God, teach me.”

    5) Luther venerated Mary. Calvin venerated Mary. Luther believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist as did Calvin. Zwingli did not. Luther’s 95 theses were reactions to legitimate claims of local abuse. He was right to raise them up. The bulk of his issues were all dealt with quite some time ago. In a sense today, Luther could not write a 95 theses today. He could write a 5 or 10 theses, and it would contain matters of opinion about theology and little or no expose accusation of corruption type charges like he was easily able to at the time in Germany. For instance, Tetzel was in Germany, not Spain or somewhere else. The abuses were at the hands of free individuals who creatively abused the system. The system should have caught these men, and 2 or 3 popes, but it is full of sin, as anything that man does will be. Behavior and official teaching are not the same thing. This is an issue that many Protestants can’t seem to get clarity on. If I were to judge your current Church based on the behavior of a handful of your members private or public lives if I looked for a couple years, I could pan your church as evil. But I would never do that.

    My understanding of why the Jews removed the books is not questionable. How and why is debatable, but the Council of Jamnia removed those books, which is a fact. To remove Hellenistic influences is also by and large the accepted reason. It was to remove Christian and pagan influence.

    Catholics, and Protestants, are both free to characterize Jews how they want. They are wrong if are they anti-Semitic. The official Church teaching acknowledges Jews and Jewish influence. However, you must certainly be aware of the awful rants of Luther. His Antisemitism is very well documented. When the Jews rebuffed his attempts to convert them, he turned and was off-the-charts upset. Some view Luther’s rants as the basis of later German Antisemitism that lead to the Holocaust.

    Two wrong don’t make a right. However, the reasoning you use for Calvin is often summarized as “Calvin was a man of his times”, meaning that is what people did back then. This was not a Catholic teaching of course, as you imply. This was how the world ran from one end to the other. Therefore the same applies to Catholic officials. They simply did what everyone else did when it came to civil punishment where religion and politics were far too entangled. This of course is not “love your neighbor” but rather civil “expedience” for the “better good” which the entire world looks back on as barbaric. It is not Catholic though. Because Catholics (and Calvinists) did something does not make it official teaching. It remains simply the actions of local freewill individuals.

    As far as communion goes, it is a fact that the entire Church only had one view for well over 1000 years. The Reformation brought in new and novel views that have no recourse to any Church history. Calvin and Luther both had their view of communion correct, but it was gradually worsened by continued innovation among the various freethinking churches. That innovation continues today, especially in many Anglican churches (Episcopal in America for example) where now non-baptized non-Christians are invited to communion. What a fresh heresy for us all to tolerate now!

    6) There is no way I can address the founding of Anglicanism. It is a convoluted and messy thing I don’t pretend to profess much mastery of beyond the basics and perhaps a little more. It does suffice to say, and corroborate with your points above, that both in England and continental Europe, the Reformation was indeed primarily a political undertaking. It is a romantic, but false notion that the success of the Reformation was due to spiritual correctness. It was immediately an issue of the law of the land. Without princes looking to break from Roman rule and create state Churches, the Reformation would not have taken hold. England was emboldened by German innovation and simply followed the same pattern. You can’t accuse the Church of playing politics while at the same time excusing Lutherans and Anglicans of doing exactly the same. That is why when Calvin’s city-state plans failed, it was due to the sentiment of Calvin “getting rid of the pope only to set up another”. The Reformation was a power grab under the guise of theological reform which in effect was very, very secondary in regard to the pragmatic aspect of what motivated princes and kings, few of which we would regard as decent Christians, let alone Christians at all by our standards today.

    7) This is another point I can’t enter into. My knowledge about French history is too paltry to bother making a comment. However, politics and religion from day one have always been intertwined. They always will be. We have learned though that to separate them is always better, though one must influence the other at all times. We don’t want atheistic communism nor a despotic theocracy. The solution is the Second Coming, I’m sure you’d agree!

    8) The Church has navigated politics throughout the centuries from day one, from Peter at Pentecost with local Jewish leaders, to Paul in Rome, to the early Fathers and unceasingly to this day. Today many Protestant leaders spend a lot of time in the political limelight. This is a calling of the Church to be a light to the world which includes politics, since that is very fabric of society. Without the restraint that Christians bring, the world would be even more evil than it is today.

    9) While one can make cursory sense of Scripture on one’s own, one cannot make ultimate judgments about it in a vacuum. To do so would be to cave into the spirit of the age which is postmodernism. The Bible is the product of the Catholic Church, which is a fact. It must always be seen as that. If you remove that, you remove reality, and you slip into a false construction. Many Protestants see the creation of the Bible in a very simplistic manner that never acknowledge the blood and sacrifices of the early Catholics, the work of the councils, nor the canon approved by the Catholic Church. There is a very strange notion that “God guided the people” to the right books in a way that seems to see that process apart from it actually happening over the span of hundreds of years. It seems to just have magically appeared, instead of being the hard work of trial and error and time and patience and councils and debate and much sweat. This is how we got the Bible, not some other magic process of it “kind of appearing”.

    9) I’m not at all looking at Latin which is irrelevant to the formation of the canon. I’m looking at Greek Codices only. The one thing you have said in all our writings back and forth I find astonishing is that if Jesus quote a writing, it doesn’t mean anything. You say it is not binding. If that is not binding, what in heaven’s name is binding? Luther’s assessment? Forgive me but you have got to be kidding. I’ll assume I missed your real meaning on that one. Good grief! I’d say if Luke has Jesus quoting from LXX and luke gets “almah” to mean “virgin” from the LXX translation, and our entire understanding of Jesus as God’s son stems from him being born of a virgin (and not just a “young woman” as the Jamnia council wished it), then I will consider the LXX as binding.

    How you can gloss over that in such an apparently trite manner is incredibly convenient it seems. If the index to the OT from the LXX is not binding because of Catholic authority which you reject, are you ready to concede that the council of Jamnia is binding, because in fact that is the index you use? Why would you knowingly side with Rabbis who’s objective in reordering the OT canon was to get rid of Christian influence and prophecies about Christ?

    On what authority do you choose to base your acceptance of an OT canon? Luther who bases it on Jamnia? Or something else? That seems to be a legitimate question from my perspective.

    On what authority then do you accept the NT canon which was settled forever by the Catholic Church and not a magical process? Again the dilemma for many is simply not knowing history. The NT canon, the index, is NOT in Scripture but is in simple fact a Tradition you seem to accept for some reason. Again, what is the reason you accept NT canon that is based on fact?

    I enjoyed my study of Textual Criticism too, and I do understand where you are coming from. Perhaps not personally nor fully, but rather the school of thought. For instance, the NRSV translates the “virgin” passage from Isaiah as “young woman” because it is going back to the Hebrew translation, and also because Jews were on the board of translation, and this was a concession. But that doesn’t change the fact that Luke chose the LXX “virgin” in Greek over and above the Hebrew version he also could have quotes (200 of 300 quotes in the NT of the OT are from LXX). This should mean something to you. To say that it does not is not a matter of scholarship but bias. You can’t say, with an informed conscience, that the Scripture that Jesus and the NT authors quoted from is immaterial, while at the same time saying you believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Well, I suppose you can and many do, I should concede. But it’s precisely this phenomenon of personal subjectivity that gives us the chaos and lack of unity among Protestants.

    There is a reason there is great formal disunity among Protestants. They are made of incompatible perspectives, rendered so by personal judgment and “Scripture Only” mentality that raises opinion to the level of micro-Magisterium.

    To get to the final conclusion and get this completely within the confines of the post, I would conclude that history favors Catholicism and no other form of Christianity, ultimately. Protestant communities come and go, split, divide, and redivide as successive leaders get “inspired” by the “truth” to “correct the errors” of the group they are in. Because of a perpetual confusion among Protestants on the whole, the movement can never coalesce to address the issues of our day with a single voice in a visible, meaningful, institutional way. Only an institution can answer and institution. Only a good institution can overcome or correct a wayward institution. All the Protestant chatter and efforts, well meaning and with limited effect that they do have, will never save the world. Only the Catholic Church has the capacity to do this. Only it can answer things like Communism and other social evils. Only it can gut the Roman Empire, as history shows us. It is the perpetual “last man standing” and will remain as such. Because Jesus founded his church and the gates of hell have never and will never ultimately prevail against it!

    Thank for you entertaining such an opposite set of views on your blog. You are truly gracious. May God richly bless you for even bothering to read this, let alone post this. Your kindness in putting up with me will not be without it’s reward.

    In deep sincerity,

    Doug

  11. Hi Doug

    I’m genuinely interested of making this a serious friendship; I find you fascinating, and a serious solid character. I may disagree on number of things with you, but I can’t help but love your zeal and child like honesty.

    I will not go into to many things this time as some of the things you raised and I have mentioned in previous correspondence kind of already show where I’m going with my arguments. At the end of your post you seam to change to preaching mode which is rather nice it shows that we are all human after all.

    I do hold different view of Holy Communion to you i.e. doesn’t go either with Luther or Calvin but I’m in essence closest to Zwingli. Unlike you I believe that Bible is enough, but just like you I wish to stay in touch. I don’t advocate unity for the sake of unity, but serious friendship, and as for division in churches note that same is true of the Catholic Church and it has been like that forever. On the issue of who started the Bible and Church, we have to be very careful there.

    1. Orthodox Church is making same claim there, and this is difficult to prove.
    2. Many have argued and I would include myself here whilst Catholic Church did serve to preserve the Bible as did the Orthodox tradition. Origins of the text should not be misunderstood with the custodians who had temporary possession of it.
    3. My Points of removing Bible from the masses does not mean that this is present in today’s Catholic Church. But I do worry that it’s interpretations are required to be through the Institutional Church.
    4. Last thing to say is this; regardless of the tradition, when Church becomes rich at the expense of the congregation its time to ask what kind of Gospel is being preached. Note that I will agree with you 100% if you turned around and commented that same is true of many protestant churches.
    5. More each day I feel that we should be known by the name of the saviour we follow not by the denomination. So call me Christian I may attend Baptist church but I’m primarily Bible believing Christian who’s believes are available under the heading of Statement of Faith. So there is nothing hidden here.

    On the point of cannon note following, many of the early church fathers have already used all the texts we find in our Bible, it is therefore incorrect to state that councils decided it, I would argue that it was by then self evident from the early writings even before the foundation of the Holy Catholic church. Agreements may have been made on the councils but this was made based on the established practice. And yes I know we differ in that view point too. However both you and I have to be careful of historical revisionism as we have all heard of the saying that “History is written by victors”, whilst not completely what I believe it does have grain of truth in it.

    Kind regards

    In Christ Jesus

    Defend the word

  12. dbonneville says:

    This indeed is a great dialogue and I agree we should keep it going. I appreciate your clarity and direct answering of questions. You have not done the two things that I see so often, which are the “red herring” and “ad hominem”. In so many of these debates, you see endless streams of words that shoot off in different directions as a tactic. When that fails, things often digress into name calling of one sort or another.

    I leaned towards preaching mode at the end as you point out, but again, it is all couched in a smile. Internet prose is hard to polish to the point of conveying the sense of warmth and good will along with polarized viewpoints I wish to convey! 🙂

    I think a fantastic post would be one on Communion. If you started one, I would pick up on it and make a few comments and see what think.

    In fact, all 5 of your points would make great threads, and I would love to answer them. If you were so inclined to post them, I would comment on them.

    In the meantime you might at least get a kick out of 2 ministries that I help run:

    http://www.newmanfellowship.org

    and

    http://www.newenglandcatholic.org

    Warning: there are conversion stories on the Newman Fellowship site, which is the whole point for the ministry and the “Testimonies Blog”. To further understand my perspective, simply perusing the topics of the posts at either site could be useful, if you wish to continue other posts.

    I have to say this is a first of a kind for me, to have such a courteous host of such a different view point than myself.

    Blessings,

    Douglas

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