15 August, 2009

Discussion with Ernie about the Communion of Saints and the Church

(Ernie)Well, a statue to Mary is not the same thing as bowing at your bedside. The bed is not an idol, but the statue of Mary is.

(Cristoiglesia) I am sorry but I do not know how you can call a statue that represents the blessed mother of God an idol. Such an assumption is in direct opposition to what the Scriptures say about her, her actions and what the Church teaches. The Church has never called or taught that the blessed mother is a god or deity in any way. Such an accusation insults Christ, His Church and His mother although I charitably assume this is not your intent but instead that you are the victim of false teaching.

There are only two reasons I can think of that one would say such a thing and that is that one must be prejudiced to the point that they ignore the witness of the blessed mother of God and the teaching of the Bible through the Church or that they are just ignorant of what constitutes an idol.

I will be charitable about my first assumption and go to the second. It cannot be that all statues and pictures are idols as God ordered the adornment of Solomon’s Temple with statues as well as the ordering of the Ark of the Covenant to be adorned with the Cherubim. Certainly a statue of the blessed mother of God is not an idol in any way.

(Ernie) Second, you said I suggested we shouldn't get the saints to pray for us, and my reference was James 5:14-16, which I didn't type in. We cannot confess our faults to saints who have gone on before us, only those still alive. I know we have a great cloud of witnesses watching our progress, because Hebrews 12:1 says so, but I see no support for asking the saints in heaven to pray for us.

(Cristoiglesia) You make a great error in using the verses of St. James to deny and/or divide the Communion of the Saints (Militant, Suffering and Triumphant) which is also known as the Mystical Body of Christ. This would be an act of also denying the teaching of the Bible about the Church invisible.

We know from Scriptures that those in heaven are alive in Christ. Some might even say that they are more alive than anyone because they have escaped the limitations of time and live in the perpetual present outside of time and of space.

Mar 12:26 And as concerning the dead that they rise again have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke to him, saying: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?

Mar 12:27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You therefore do greatly err.

St Paul asked the other disciples to pray for him in the following:

Rom 15:30 I beseech you therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God,

Col 4:3 Praying withal for us also, that God may open unto us a door of speech to speak the mystery of Christ (for which also I am bound):

2Th 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you: That our God would make you worthy of his vocation and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness and the work of faith in power:

Certainly the above verses show the veracity of praying for one another and there is no indication from Scriptures that the saints in heaven are somehow cut off from the Church when their flesh dies. Should we not also understand that when the Bible refers to the great cloud of witnesses that included are the saints who have endured in faith and received the promise of which we have hope? Logic should dictate that rather than being cut off they are instead brought closer and are in even greater communion with us.

Let me explain it in even a different way…. Let us look at the metaphor in John 15-1-8:

Joh 15:1 I am the true vine: and my Father is the husbandman.

Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Joh 15:3 Now you are clean, by reason of the word which I have spoken to you.

Joh 15:4 Abide in me: and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Joh 15:5 I am the vine: you the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.

Joh 15:6 If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch and shall wither: and they shall gather him up and cast him into the fire: and he burneth.

Joh 15:7 If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will: and it shall be done unto you.

Joh 15:8 In this is my Father glorified: that you bring forth very much fruit and become my disciples.

What the verses tell us is of our connection to each other and nowhere in Scriptures does it indicate that this relationship is temporary and depending on our earthly life but instead we see this as a permanent relationship that continues in heaven rather than us being cut off by death.

As the Mystical Body of Christ we all benefit each other by our unity. We share in suffering as well as joy and that continues for all time and beyond.

1Co 12:25 That there might be no schism in the body: but the members might be mutually careful one for another.

1Co 12:26 And if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it: or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.

1Co 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ and members of member.

St. Paul speaks of our unity but also of our different functions and parts even though we are one in devotion:

Rom 12:4 For as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office:

Rom 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ; and every one members one of another:

The only conclusion one can come to about the Church militant, suffering and triumphant is that we are all still connected in our prayers for each other. And that none of us are cut off from the vine but remain for eternity and beyond in Christ.

(Ernie) Some of our disagreements are trivial, but some are serious; like idolatry.

(Cristoiglesia) The truth is Ernie; we really do not have any disagreement on idolatry because it is a false accusation that we practice it or teach it in any way. I would also question how trivial some things may be. Remember the first schism of the Church since Pentecost occurred in 1054 between the Eastern and Western Church and was over one Greek letter the iota. An example I read was if you started off from New York to England in a ship and your course was off just one degree you would end up in Portugal. So, is anything really trivial?

(Ernie) The blood of Jesus and knowing He is the Son of God is what we both agree on, and I'm sure we agree on many other things. But to say the Catholic church represents the Church, I do not agree, as some of what you teach and believe is contrary to the word. I asked earlier if Catholics baptized babies, a practice the Church did not do.

(Cristoiglesia) Yes we do both agree on Jesus.

The Catholic Church does not just represent the Church; it is the Church and the only Church founded by Jesus and the disciples. No other sect or group qualifies to be called the Church. All people are saved through His Church whether they recognize His Church or not as the Church is the doorway to eternity. One may be saved outside of the visible Church but no one is saved without His Church. If you can find some Scriptural, historical or Patristic evidence that there is another I would like to discuss it but I have been unable to find any other Church founded by Christ. If there was why did He pray that we be one in His Church as He and the Father are one?

So, far you have not been able to find any Catholic teaching that is contrary to the Word of God and you will not because such is an impossibility. If you are correct, all of Christ’s promises of His Church and to humanity would be a lie. Jesus does not lie. You have absolutely no evidence that the Church did not baptize infants but only speculation while Scriptures by implication and historical and Patristic evidence does support infant baptism.

(Ernie) Also, exorcism isn't the same as in the bible. Anyone teaching false doctrine will be held accountable, as Paul stated in Galatians 1:6-9, and I take very seriously what we are sharing.

Exorcism is the same in that nothing practiced or taught by the Church disagrees with Scripture. Scripture is just not the fullness of teaching on this topic as is contained in the apostolic teaching of the Church. You see, this is an example of Scriptures being taught outside the Church instead of where it is intended to be taught and people coming to false conclusions based on incomplete information.

I take my teaching very seriously. That is why I left the Protestant Church for the Catholic Church which is the fullness of truth and practice. I became possessed with a Berean spirit but not only for studying if the teaching of the Catholic Church is right but more so to prove them wrong and false. I was convinced as are you that the Church taught false doctrine but every time I set out in study to prove the Church wrong I was confronted with the fact that the Church taught the truth. My first reaction was anger at my incompetence to complete my mission as I was still convinced that the Church must be wrong otherwise I was a heretic and I certainly did not want to be a Catholic. But, as the Holy Spirit kept drawing me to the explicable evidence by the shear weight of which I could no longer deny and I succumbed to the Spirit drawing me to Christ’s Church.

(Ernie) If it doesn't agree with the word, I will not receive it, or teach it as the word, because I will give an account of what I believe and teach. If you are going to post my statements, please post all of them, and don't pick and choose what you can answer. Let everyone see what I have said, and make their own judgment.

(Cristoiglesia) I will continue to do what I have thus far done and post your comments in their entirety.

We agree that we both must teach the truth of God’s Word and not accept contradiction. You will find with study and time, as so many have, that the Church teaching, doctrines and practices do not conflict with the written Word of God in any way. You will come to believe with study that such a premise of conflict is impossible to sustain and come to the realization that Jesus founded one true Church which contains the fullness of His truth. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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