21 June, 2010

Misunderstandings of Church teaching discussed with Tristen

(Tristen) “Purgatory - implies that the sacrifice of Christ was insufficient to deal with my sins.”

(Cristoiglesia) Really? I see that you did not explain such a bazaar conclusion or provide a basis for such a conclusion. It appears that you are quite confused as to what the Church teaches about Purgatory. The following may help you to put the Doctrine of Purgatory into perspective by studying the biblical teaching on Purgatory:

There is a common Protestant misunderstanding of purgatory. At least one protestant minister, John Wesley, spoke of perfectionism in this life, possible but rare. He is one of the few to proclaim that one can be sanctified in this life and he left the Moravian Church over this issue after a rebuke by Count Zinzendorf for this teaching.

People in purgatory are already justified by receiving the supernatural eternal life into our souls through Baptism making us a part of the Body of Christ. Those in purgatory have accepted Christ by faith and have not rejected Him by unrepentant mortal sin. It is a place where one is purified by fire (Mal 3:2). Imagine the joy of being in purgatory and knowing that you are there because you have passed judgment and are assured of being in the presence of God in heaven. Purgatory is not an eternal destination, there are only two, heaven or hell.

We should not think of purgatory as some kind of legal punishment for past sins as it would be under the old law. Those in purgatory are already new creatures changed by Christ’s grace, they are the adopted children and part of God’s family in purgatory one receives final discipline and cleansing preparing one for the perfection of heaven. Catholics believe that sanctification is a process and is not completed when one comes to belief. So purgatory is not a suggestion that Christ’s atonement is insufficient but that we have not yet completed our sanctification through the grace of Christ.

Cleansing or sanctification is a gradual process and we must endure to the end to be saved.

(Mat 10:22 DRB) And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.

(Mat 24:13 DRB) But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.

(Mar 13:13 DRB) And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake. But he that shall endure unto the end, he shall be saved.

Catholic soteriology recognizes that for some of us the process was not completed at death or that we died with unrepentant sin.

(Heb 9:27 DRB) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment:

The judgment is our eternal destiny and for those whose name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life, heaven is assured. But we know that one must be free of sin to be in God’s presence.

(1Ti 6:14 DRB) That thou keep the commandment without spot, blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,

It may be that one is not prepared to be in our Lord’s presence as we may still be with spiritual shortcomings or temporal effects of forgiven sins on our soul making it necessary for some form of purification to enter heaven in God’s presence. Since this is a process of purgation it is called purgatory and it is in keeping with prophecy of the prophet Habakkuk who said that only that which is holy may enter heaven.

(Hab 1:13 DRB) Thy eyes are too pure to behold evil, and thou canst not look on iniquity. Why lookest thou upon them that do unjust things, and holdest thy peace when the wicked devoureth the man that is more just than himself?

St. Paul also taught of a process of purgation which may involve suffering on the soul of Christians and in his first letter to the Corinthian Church he describes the process of purgation after death.

(1Co 3:10 DRB) According to the grace of God that is given to me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation: and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

(1Co 3:11 DRB) For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid: which is Christ Jesus.

(1Co 3:12 DRB) Now, if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble:

(1Co 3:13 DRB) Every man's work shall be manifest. For the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire. And the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is.

(1Co 3:14 DRB) If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

(1Co 3:15 DRB) If any mans work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

St. Paul speaks metaphorically that the results of sin that remain on one’s soul is like “wood, hay and straw” and are burned away in the process of final purification to be received in the presence of the Lord. St. Paul also speaks of one’s works as “gold, silver and precious stones” which are refined and retained.

This passage reminds me of what Christ said in the following indicating that some sins may be forgiven after death.

(Mat 12:32 DRB) And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world, nor in the world to come.

Purgatory is also related to the parable of the unforgiving servant which is as follows…

(Mat 18:32 DRB) Then his lord called him: and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me:

(Mat 18:33 DRB) Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee?

(Mat 18:34 DRB) And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt.

After telling the parable Christ emphasizes His message lest it be misunderstood with this warning……..

(Mat 18:35 DRB) So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

Christ was warning us of the danger of a hard heart or anger making us unwilling to forgive others. We should acknowledge that these are the signs and example of a defective soul in need of purgation so that he that is imperfect may be in the presence of God and dwell in glory. (See CCC 1030-1032)

(Tristen) Deification and prayer to Mary - is unsupported in scripture. Jesus went out of His way to ensure that Mary would not be venerated.

(Cristoiglesia) The Church does not deify the blessed mother of God in any way. Such a claim is an outright prevarification of Catholic teaching. In fact the Church teaches the exact opposite of such an accusation.

Paragraph 6. Mary - Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church
963 Since the Virgin Mary's role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. "The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer.... She is 'clearly the mother of the members of Christ' . . . since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head."500 "Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church."501
Wholly united with her Son . . .
964 Mary's role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. "This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death";502 it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:
Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: "Woman, behold your son."503
965 After her Son's Ascension, Mary "aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers."504 In her association with the apostles and several women, "we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation."505
. . . also in her Assumption
966 "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death."506 The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:
In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.507
. . . she is our Mother in the order of grace
967 By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. Thus she is a "preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church"; indeed, she is the "exemplary realization" (typus)508 of the Church.
968 Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. "In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace."509
969 "This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation .... Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix."510
970 "Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it."511 "No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source."512
971 "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."513 The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."514 The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.515
972 After speaking of the Church, her origin, mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary. In her we contemplate what the Church already is in her mystery on her own "pilgrimage of faith," and what she will be in the homeland at the end of her journey. There, "in the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity," "in the communion of all the saints,"516 the Church is awaited by the one she venerates as Mother of her Lord and as her own mother.
In the meantime the Mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God.517
973 By pronouncing her "fiat" at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is Savior and head of the Mystical Body.
974 The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body.
975 "We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ" (Paul VI, CPG # 15).
500 LG 53; cf. St. Augustine, De virg. 6: PL 40,399.
501 Paul VI, Discourse, November 21,1964.
502 LG 57.
503 LG 58; cf. Jn 19:26-27.
504 LG 69.
505 LG 59.
506 LG 59; cf. Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus (1950): DS 3903; cf. Rev 19:16.
507 Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion, Feast of the Dormition, August 15th.
508 LG 53; 63.
509 LG 61.
510 LG 62.
511 LG 60.
512 LG 62.
513 Lk 1:48; Paul VI, MC 56.
514 LG 66.
515 Cf. Paul VI, MC 42; SC 103.
516 LG 69.
517 LG 68; Cf. 2 Pet 3 10.

Your suggestion that Jesus broke the Commandment to not honor His mother is quite offensive to the Christian conscience. He never did such a thing. In fact the Bible tells us that Jesus forbid just the actions you profess of our Lord in the following:

Mark 7:9-13 (King James Version)
9And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
10For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
11But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
12And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
13Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Jesus rejected the teaching of the Pharisees that allowed one to dedicate something to the Temple against the benefit of his parents. Jesus followed and taught as the Essenes and not the Pharisees as you seem to support in your accusation against Jesus. By not honoring His mother Jesus would be committing an evil act by His own teaching.

(Tristen) “The scripture is also clear that Mary had other children and spoke in tongues.”

(Cristoiglesia) Since the blessed mother of God was present in the “Upper Room” at Pentecost it is reasonable to assume that she spoke in tongues as the others who were also present.

However, there is absolutely no evidence biblically, historically or patristically that Jesus had any siblings.

From a historical standpoint, in regards to the perpetual virginity of the blessed mother, no one believed that she had other children until the last two hundred years or so due to widespread mistranslation of Scripture and the non-scriptural practice of Sola Scriptura using improper hermeneutics.

When studying Scriptures as a body of work, in context pointing towards the atonement of humanity there is no other reasonable conclusion that one can come to other than the fact that St. Mary had no other children than Jesus. Also the historical and the Biblical accounts confirm that the blessed mother was forever virgin. St. Joseph was not chosen as a husband in the normal sense but as the protector of the blessed mother's virginity. He was a much older man, likely a widower, chosen by God for this purpose. Let us look at the verses in question....

(Mat 12:46 DRB) As he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold his mother and his brethren stood without, seeking to speak to him.

(Mat 12:47 DRB) And one said unto him: Behold thy mother and thy brethren stand without, seeking thee.

(Mat 12:48 DRB) But he answering him that told him, said: Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?

(Mat 12:49 DRB) And stretching forth his hand towards his disciples, he said: Behold my mother and my brethren.

(Mat 12:50 DRB) For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.

The Greek noun used here is adelphoi which means brother and it is spelled exactly the same way both times it occurs in these Scriptures. One should note also that there is no such thing in Koine Greek grammar as a familial form of adelphoi. Now it is important to note that the language used here is in itself a translation from Aramaic for adelphoi used in the familiar way. In Aramaic there is no word which would distinguish ones biological brothers from other relatives such as cousins or even step brothers or sisters. The more acceptable term in proper translation would probably be something like brethren instead of brother. When Christ spoke he also used the Aramaic equivalent to adelphoi in the Greek, in a non-familiar sense when he said the following in verse 50, “he is my brother”.

As you can see with proper exegesis there is nothing in these verses to support the theory that St. Mary was not forever virgin and that she had other children besides Jesus. Please note that in all of Scriptures, no one is specifically called a child of the blessed mother other than Jesus.

Please note the following:

(Mat 1:20 DRB) But while he thought on these things, behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.

(Mat 1:21 DRB) And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins.

(Mat 1:22 DRB) Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying:

(Mat 1:23 DRB) Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The blessed mother was a virgin when she conceived and was a virgin after giving birth.

(Luk 1:26 DRB) And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,

(Luk 1:27 DRB) To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary.

(Luk 1:28 DRB) And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

(Luk 1:29 DRB) Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.

(Luk 1:30 DRB) And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.

(Luk 1:31 DRB) Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus.

(Luk 1:32 DRB) He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.

(Luk 1:33 DRB) And of his kingdom there shall be no end.

(Luk 1:34 DRB) And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?

(Luk 1:35 DRB) And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The verses preceding show that she intended to remain a virgin when she said to the angel Gabriel, “I know not man”. Please notice in the following verses in St. John’s account of the crucifixion of the blessed mother being put into the care of St. John. If she had other children and especially other male children the Jewish tradition would be that she would have been cared for by them. Jesus knowing the hardship of a childless widow placed her in good hands with St. John.

(Joh 19:26 DRB) When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son.

(Joh 19:27 DRB) After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

Last of all there is the difficulty of history and Sacred Tradition to overcome, which has always, without exception, called her the Blessed Virgin.

(Tristen) Forbidding ministers to marry. Paul equates forbidding to marry with "doctrines of demons".

Certainly you are correct that St. Paul spoke of forbidding to marry is a doctrine of demons. Catholics agree and that is why the Church does not forbid anyone to marry. Celibacy is a self imposed discipline and those who choose celibacy take a vow to God to remain celibate. The Church chooses from those who have made this vow to be among the priesthood. The Church also allows married men to be priests when they convert from Protestant faiths as ministers to the Catholic Roman Rite. The Roman Rite is just one of 23 Rites in the Catholic Church and the only one that the discipline of celibacy.

There is no where in the Scriptures that it says not to tell clergy to marry. What it does say is not to forbid marriage. In fact, both St. Paul and Jesus recommend celibacy for clergy. Both of them gave testimony by their actions of being celibate. Neither does this say that they must marry but if they are married that they should be men of good moral character. So the Church teaches nothing against the teaching of Scriptures by allowing clergy to swear a vow of celibacy and emulate Jesus and St. Paul.

(Tristen) “Prayer to the saints. The Bible says we should pray to God, in the Name of Jesus. And that when we need grace we should boldly approach God's throne directly. Jesus died to reconcile me to God through Christ - not the saints.”

(Cristoiglesia) Certainly we should pray to God but it does not say that we should not ask others to pray for us or for us to pray for them. Prayer is a part of the great commission and it is every Christian’s ministry that we all as Christians share and we pray for each other out of love for one another. The Bible teaches that our physical death does not separate us from the Church or from God’s love. Nor does our status as part of the Church Triumphant release us of our responsibility of ministry to assist others in what we have attained. Those of us in the Church militant are encouraged to call on those who have won the race for which we have hope pray for us out of love and present those prayers before the throne of God. It is natural for a Christian filled with God’s love and indwelled by the Holy Spirit to desire both the prayers of others and to pray for others as part of our own personal ministry. This does not end until the Parousia where all are reconciled to the Father. Jesus did not remove the love for one another but is instead an example of that love that we should follow and emulate. This explains it in more detail from elsewhere in my blog:

First of all it is disingenuous to state that the practice of praying for each other has no biblical foundation, we are instructed in Scripture to have a prayer life for others as it is part of God’s commandment to love one another.

(2Co 5:8 DRB) But we are confident and have a good will to be absent rather from the body and to be present with the Lord.

The Catholic Church does not teach that it is absolutely necessary for one to ask for the intercession of saints for salvation. The Church does teach that prayer to God is necessary for salvation for all believers. For a Catholic it would be wrong to ignore the liturgical worship offered to God at feast days for the saints and the prayers asking for their intercession.

The Communion of Saints is a dogma of the ancient Church and is recorded in the apostles Creed. It simply states that the faithful because of their relationship with Christ are alive even after the death of their flesh and worship with us. To us the Church is made up of the Church militant who represents all those believers living out their hope in the flesh.

(Phi 2:12 DRB) Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but much more now in my absence) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.

(Phi 2:13 DRB) For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.

It consists of the Church Suffering who are those who are temporarily in need of further purgation from sin so that they may enjoy the presence of God.

(2Ma 12:46 DRB) It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

Lastly, the Communion of the Saints consists of those who have won the race:

(Phi 3:14 DRB) I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus.

Their immortal souls are in heaven in God’s presence:

(Rev 5:8 DRB) And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

The universal stream connecting all of God’s creation is His love, which we take on in our baptism into our journey towards sanctification. This is not an emotional but a desire placed in us by the Spirit of God that endures as a desire for those other than ourselves and this love extends even to our enemies. This is truly a love that comes only from God and is a foreign concept and nonsense to those who have not received God’s salvific grace. This desire within our souls does not end with the death of our flesh but continues into eternity where the saints through their intercession in prayer encourage us in our race and assist us to endure unto our union with God.

I think that some people of faith, who do not understand the Communion of Saints, somehow believe that asking saints to pray for us is detracting from our love or our trust in God. In truth it is impossible, if we truly love as God commands and has given us the grace to understand, not to pray to those whom we love and in turn we expect them to return that same love to us by praying for us and presenting our prayers to God.

(Kristen) Changing the definition of saint to mean, 'a special kind of Christian' - rather than all who are sanctified (Christians). God is no respecter of persons. Any virtue found in a Christian is the result of the work of Christ - not their own righteousness. There is no such thing as a Christian who is more 'special' to God then other Christians. Certainly, acts of faithfulness deserve our respect, but that's all.

(Cristoiglesia) No one has changed the definition of “saint” but it is you that is limiting the definition. Saints are not just those in the invisible Church militant here on earth but also the Church suffering through purgation and those triumphant in heaven who have received the heavenly promise. The Bible does not limit sainthood as you labor to do out of your prejudice against all things taught in Christ’s own Church. We honor saints as an inspiration as those who have received our hope.

(Tristen) “Making the authority of the church equal to that of the Bible (or at least making the church the only authoritative interpreter of doctrine). All doctrine should be submitted to the authority of God's word. No doctrine which is unsupported by scripture should be adhered to dogmatically.”

(Cristoiglesia)By the end of the first century the Church was formed around the bishop who represented the Church in apostolic succession. The great commission was well underway and had extended to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. In scriptures we see St. Paul in his epistles telling the Church to respect the Sacred Traditions handed to them coming from both written sources and oral ones. Even the written sources were delivered orally as transcripts were very rare and few people were literate. There was not widespread distribution of what we consider today to be inspired Scripture as decided at the African Synods by the Church in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. Throughout the first sixteen centuries of the Church there was never any question that the authority of truth rested in the Church as the “regula fidei” where all teaching was and is measured by Sacred Tradition not by the Bible alone, especially when interpreted outside of its source the Church. To orthodox Christians this would be considered ridiculous as well as arrogant considering the church never wrote the Bible to be a sole source of faith, morals and practice and one author even reminded those who would approach its use in such a way as to consider it the only source that it is incomplete as far as teaching and that Christ taught much more than what it contained. In fact, it warns that it contains only a small part of Christ’s teaching, but the faithful need not fear because the Church was sent the Holy Spirit that leads the Church to all truths.

Obviously, because there are those who have rejected orthodox Christianity some lack the fullness of truth that is contained in the Episcopal structure of Christ’s Church. They lack the fullness of worship by not having the corporeal Christ present in their worship. They lack the fullness of faith by not receiving His Body and Blood that the Bible and Sacred Tradition say is necessary for eternal life. The Church is led by men as the enduring Church and not by a book easily misinterpreted and its teaching turned into the traditions and doctrines of men by those through eisegesis use it to support their desires of the flesh very often exhibited by their hatred for the Church and hatred for the most sacred of gifts to humanity His Body and Blood of the Eucharist. These misinterpretations also cause them to have animosity for each other with the same source, the Bible being used to justify schisms which are usually not so much the result of theological disagreements so much as pridefulness and deceit which are no gifts of the Spirit but attributes of the flesh that inhibit our process of sanctification that leads to final salvation. Perhaps this is why Jesus said as a prophetic statement, that unless we eat of His Body and drink His blood we have no life in us. Perhaps this is why the Bible teaches that it is not enough to cry “Lord, Lord” as some of those who do will hear at their judgment that Christ never knew them and be thrown into the lake of fire.

Christ did not teach that we are to gather around a book of Scriptures to find the truth but that the truth is found in the Church that gathers around the bishop. God was not the author of division as has occurred with those who have abandoned the Church for their private interpretations of Scripture into tens of thousands of exponentially increasing schisms without end. God is a God of unity where He prayed His prayer before His arrest and crucifixion that we all be one. He is not a God that can only be found in the pages of a Book but who is found in His Church and where His corporeal presence is given to His Church as He promised so that we may endure to eternal life and His Church may endure until He comes again. It is His Church where the truth resides and it is the place where we find the ”bulwark and ground of the truth”, there is no other.

(Tristen) These are the main reasons that I do not respect the authority of the Catholic church. I am not, however, anti-Catholic. I do believe that Catholics can be Christians. But I don't believe that someone is necessarily a Christian, just because they are a member of the Catholic church (yet another doctrine I disagree with).

(Cristoiglesia) Respectfully the only reason that a professed Christian would not accept the authority of Christ’s Church is because they are influenced by false teachers doing the will of Satan instead of Christ. Jesus gave all authority on earth to His Church and they exercised that authority by giving you and other Protestants the Bible that you use through eisegesis to create your doctrines of men and support your heresies. After all, Jesus prayed that we all be one in His Church as He and the Father are one. I believe that Protestants may be Christians as well but they are approaching the throne of God through the back door when the front door of His Church is wide open. I am unfamiliar with the doctrine you speak of saying that membership in the Church alone makes one a Christian. A Christian is one who does God’s will and not one’s own. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

13 June, 2010

Arianism vs Christianity discussion with the Jehovah Witness "Mindy"

(Cristoiglesia) You call yourself Christians yet do not even believe in the most fundamental beliefs of Christians which is that Jesus is God.

(Mindy) “What God's Word THE BIBLE says and teaches:
"But these have been written down that YOU may believe that Jesus is the Christ THE SON OF GOD, and that, because of believing, YOU may have LIFE by means of his name."
~John 20:31”

(Cristoiglesia) OK and how does this teach Arianism? Yes, He is the Son of God and the second person in the Trinity of one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(Mindy) “THAT'S what I and over 7 MILLION of my fellow CHRISTIAN Witnesses of Jehovah worldwide fully believe and trust in.”

(Cristoiglesia) I am well aware of what you and the other schismatic sects of the Jehovah Witness sects believe. However this places you outside of Christianity as Christianity universally teaches the Trinity. You trust in a doctrine of men first promoted by the heretical bishop Arius. Arius was found in anathema at the Council of Nicaea. Even though He was supported by the powerful Emperor Constantine he lost the debate to the Holy Spirit who led the lowly deacon Athanasius to defeat the powerful bishop Arius. The teaching of Christ and the disciples triumphed over the heresy taught by Arius. Those who believe and follow the teaching of Arius are called Arians and not Christian. The belief in the Trinity is the fundamental belief for one to call oneself Christian. Jehovah Witnesses, Ang Dating Daan and Iglesia ni Cristo all are Arians. You deny the Church in whom Jesus placed all authority on earth. The Jehovah Witnesses have no authority to teach or to promote doctrines.

(Mindy) “Unless YOU or anyone else can show us by scripture exactly WHERE in the Bible (Bible book, chapter and verse) that it says anything even remotely close to "Unless we believe that Jesus Christ IS God Almighty we are doomed", we will go by what is specifically written at John 20:31 about our Lord.”

(Cristoiglesia) The Bible is the product of the Church. The Church wrote the New Testament and all the authors were Catholic Christians who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is the Church that decided the Christian Canon at the African Synods in the late fourth and early fifth centuries under the supervision of St. Augustin. The Bible has no teaching authority outside the Church. It is interesting and shows gross inconsistency that the Jehovah Witnesses accept their modified and truncated version of Scriptures that was produced by the Catholic Church but then deny the doctrines from that same source. Your proof text understanding of Scriptures is called eisegesis and almost always results in error as it does in this instance.

I do not believe that I have called you doomed as our sovereign Lord can save whom He wishes but the abandonment of His Church, ignorance of His nature and denial of His will by Jehovah Witnesses puts them into serious risk of the salvific promise. Certainly their rejection of the fullness of truth available in His Church and the Sacraments that provide this salvific grace opens them to all sorts of heretical lies and a questionable eternal destiny. But it also proves the satanic seduction of one following their own path instead of the narrow way which our Lord has taught that is necessary for eternal life.

(Mindy) “Jesus IS NOT God Almighty, he is THE SON of God Almighty, CREATED by God Almighty before all the other creations of God and was the only being and thing in existence that was created DIRECTLY by God whereas all other things where created by God but THROUGH the Word (Pre-human) Jesus as is testified IN SCRIPTURE.”

(Cristoiglesia) This is not the teaching of the Church either through the Bible, the apostolic witness or the Church. Yours is a heretical doctrine of men. It is the doctrine of men and in particular the teaching of Charles Taze Russell who was inspired by the Stone-Campbell-Millerite restorationist movement of the 19th century of which the Jehovah Witness, Mormons, Christodelphians and Seventh Day Adventists are some of the larger of the schisms. Your cousin faiths are almost as far from the truth as you are as well. Not surprising as you come from the same source.

No, Jesus is not a created being nor is He the human incarnation of Michael the Archangel. He is truly as the Bible teaches through the Church the second person of the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Please read the Nicene Creed which settled this controversy or the Athanasius Creed which also explains the orthodox Christian understanding of the nature of God in the Trinity.

(Mindy) “I feel so very sorry for you dude, but there is still yet time for YOU to see the light, but that time is RAPIDLY running out. Wait until Jehovah God puts the thought of getting rid of religion into the hearts of the political powers within the U.N and the Catholic Church (and all other false religion) becomes no more. God's wrath is coming on Catholicism and her members.”

(Cristoiglesia) I saw the light ten years ago when I converted to Catholic Christianity and left the worldly, fluid and ever changing doctrines and heresies of Protestantism of which your restorationist sect is an extremely heterodox example. I came home to
Christ’s Church and into His will as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that we all be one in His Church as He and the Father are one. It is this familial relationship and communion that He desires.

The worldly have tried to destroy Christ’s Church before but it remains as a witness to the veracity of Christ’s promise to humanity as the Church which will endure for all times and that it is the Church that the gates of hell will not prevail against. There can be no other. The Church is the bride of Christ and will not suffer His wrath but perhaps the wrath of the world. We know from Christ’s teaching that the Church will survive and prosper despite the attacks from within and without. After all, Jesus taught us that the world would hate us as it hated Him and we know that He is victorious over the prince of darkness and father of lies. We put our trust in Him and not in a man-made sect full of false teaching and prophecy.

May our Lord have mercy on the enemies of His Church.

God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

05 June, 2010

Continuing discussion with Ernie

(Ernie) "All I can say is any religion that has any other source of truth than the word of God alone is introducing false doctrines and teachings."

(Cristoiglesia) Thank you for further discussion. May these discussions be a blessing for all that read them.

You know, we agree on this. Where we do not agree is what is the Word of God. You believe it is limited to the written Word and I believe as the Bible teaches that the Word consists of the written and the oral teaching of the Church. No where will you find biblical support for Sola Scriptura. This is truly a example of doctrines of men that is warned against in Scriptures. St. Paul chastised the Thessalonian Church for just this kind of teaching. (2Thessalonians 2:15) The Church grew and prospered and remained true for 400 years depending only on the oral tradition. There was no Canon of Scripture until after the African Synods of Hippo and Carthage in the late fourth and early fifth centuries.

(Ernie) “Everything I believe is in the word of God, while much of the Catholic doctrines must come from another source, because they contradict what God's word says.”

(Cristoiglesia) You repeat this mantra as if you say it enough that it will become true. Yet, you cannot name and support a single doctrine of the Church that is contradictory to Scriptures. The source of Catholic doctrine is God’s Word delivered to the disciples who through apostolic succession remain the leaders and the authority for the Church by possessing the authority of and from Christ. This is something of which the Protestants are very jealous and is a key element in their protestations and rebellion against Christ and His Church.

(Ernie) “You might want to check what you believe against what the bible teaches; and it is clear to see that they are not compatible.”

(Cristoiglesia) If it was clear I am sure that you would give evidence of your claim. The reason that you do not is because not only is it not “clear” as you say but the evidence is nonexistent. All evidence including biblical, patristic and historical point to the fact that the Church is truly what the Bible says it is and that is that it is the “pillar and foundation of the truth”. After all look at the foundation that our Lord has built with Himself as the cornerstone and the high priest and the disciples as the 12 foundation stones. St. Peter being given the authority of the prime minister (Isaiah 22: 21-22) of the Church and holds the keys of the Church as a result. That is why when St. Ignatius within the first century of the Church defined the Church as being those who gather around the bishops who were appointed and ordained in apostolic succession. Without the bishop or bishops there is no Church.

(Ernie) It's funny that you sound like Satan, accusing me of not having a love for God's word, when I have been called to teach it.”

(Cristoiglesia) You certainly have not shown a reverence for the truth that the Scriptures proclaim in their entirety but instead reject those Scriptures that do not fit your prejudice and worldview to support your rejection of Christ’s Church and your love for your man-made sect and man-made doctrines. If you truly had a love for God’s Word you would not misuse it and twist it to support your eisegesis. Instead you would allow His Word to instruct you. Proof text methodology that you prefer without scholarship almost always results in error as you have given witness. Not only does it reveal that you have no hermeneutical training but also shows that you have no desire to learn the truth. One who truly loves God’s Word respects scholarship and trains himself for the spiritual warfare that we are called to fight. We are to be always ready to contend for the faith and to spread the Gospel. We are to be sent into the world with the truth of our Lord and not our worldly prejudices.

(Ernie) “You are not called to teach this word, because you have introduced what the Catholics believe contrary to what the bible teaches. Just check out the verses from our previous conversation, and then compare them to your beliefs. They will not match. What I said was right from the word of God, no other source, and it wasn't tradition of man.”

(Cristoiglesia) Until you can give at least one example of your claim we must dismiss it as just a lot of empty blustering. I do not teach anything that is contrary to Scriptures. If you truly believe that I do give examples and be ready to defend your accusations. Whether you use Sola Scriptura or the entirety of God’s Word instead there is no contradiction at all in the teaching of the Catholic Church and the Bible. Such a accusation calls Jesus a liar when He said that His Church would remain for all times free from apostasy when He said that the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church. You are trying to make a case that this is not true. You are tragically wrong.

(Ernie) “Yes, but the unity is in HIS CHURCH, not the Catholic church. They are 2 different entities altogether, because the Catholic church has other sources of truth than God's word, and God's Church does not. Only the word of God is true, and God says let every man be a liar.”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, of course the unity Jesus spoke of in the Garden of Gethsemane was in His Church. He only founded one Church which is clearly the Catholic Church and not some man-made entity that would not appear for 1500 years later which was founded by Secular Humanist men in protest of Christ’s own Church. You seem to propose the unbiblical doctrine of Sola Scriptura as the mark of the true Church. The Bible, Patristic and historical evidence defy such a false premise. Again the Bible tells us that the fullness of God’s Word is not written but is contained in His Church. It is Jesus that is the Word and everything He taught to the disciples constitutes the truth.

(Ernie) “When you teach anything other than what the gospel teaches, you are teaching false doctrines, and are accursed. That is what Paul said, and I know he received his revelation from the Holy Spirit, while you have received the traditions of men.”

(Cristoiglesia) Again you cannot identify and support anything that the Church teaches that is contradictory to Scriptures so your accusations are totally hollow of veracity. Does not the Bible teach that it is the Church that is led by the Holy Spirit so clearly it is from the same source as the teaching of St. Paul. St. Paul got His teaching authority from the Church just as the Bible teaches.

(Ernie) “Jesus spoke against the traditions of men, which make the word of God of none effect ( see Mark 7:13 ).”

(Cristoiglesia) Did Jesus really speak against all traditions or was His statement about traditions condemning a specific source and kind. Certainly, He was speaking of the traditions of the Pharisees But how does that teaching apply to other traditions such as Sacred Traditions. Let us actually look at the Scriptures that apply to our discussion which are about Sacred Tradition.

St. Paul speaking of oral Tradition: (1Co 11:2 DRB) Now I praise you, brethren, that in all things you are mindful of me and keep my ordinances as I have delivered them to you.

This is St. Paul speaking about both oral and written Sacred Traditions. In his teaching notice he makes no distinction between the oral and the written Sacred Traditions. 2Th 2:15 DRB) (2:14) Therefore, brethren, stand fast: and hold the traditions, which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle.

Here St. Paul is also speaking of both the written and the oral Traditions without distinction as to which is more authoritative (Phi 4:9 DRB) The things which you have both learned and received and heard and seen in me, these do ye: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Here St. Paul is teaching that we should not associate with people who deny the authority of Sacred Tradition (2Th 3:6 DRB) And we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the tradition which they have received of us.

Here St. Peter supports what St. Paul has been teaching about (1Pe 1:25 DRB) But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel hath been preached unto you.

Here is what St. Irenaeus had to say:

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 180 AD):

"So forceful are these arguments that no one should henceforth seek the truth from any other source since it would be simple to get it from the Church ....On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the things pertaining to the Church with utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of truth ..For how should it be if the Apostles themselves had not left us writing? Would it be necessary [in that case] to follow the course of Tradition which they handed down to those whom they committed the Churches?" (Against the Heresies 3:4:1)

"Though none others know we the disposition of our salvation, than those through whom the Gospel came to us, first heralding it, then by the will of God delivering us the Scriptures, which were to be the foundation and pillar of our faith. ...But when the heretics use Scriptures, as if they were wrong and not authoritative, and variable, and the truth could not be extracted from them by those who were ignorant of tradition. And when we challenge them in turn with that tradition, which is from the apostles, which is guarded by the succession of presbyters in the churches, they oppose themselves to tradition, saying they are wiser, not only than those presbyters but even than the Apostles! The Tradition of the apostles manifested, on the contrary, in the whole world, is open in every church to all who seeks the truth ...And since it is a long matter in a work like this to enumerate these successions, we will confute them by pointing to the tradition of the greatest and most ancient and universally-known Church founded and constituted at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, a tradition which she has had and a faith which she proclaims to all men from those apostles." (Against the Heresies 3:1-3)

"It comes to this, therefore, these men do not consent to either Scripture nor tradition." (Against the Heresies 3:2:2).

(Ernie) “If they accused Jesus of heresy, I am in very good company when I speak His word. This isn't my word, or my understanding, it is God's word, and revelation from the Holy Spirit.”

(Cristoiglesia) Here you go making another gross error. The Bible says that it is not for private interpretation:

2 Peter 1:20-21 (King James Version)
20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit guides the Church to all truth. It is the Church and not the individual that has the authority to teach. Again you twist Scriptures to support your prejudice but in doing so you have revealed the error of Sola Scriptura and the danger of this heresy where every man believes that he is the final authority on God’s word. Such is the confusion of Protestantism. This kind of approach to Scriptures reveals the error of Protestantism and the reason that their doctrines causes over 30,000 divisions in the Corpus Christi that increases exponentially. The author of division is Satan and not God as you seem to surmise.

(Ernie) “I realize the religious spirit is a very nasty spirit, and causes much deception in the Church. BTW, when I say Church, I do not mean the Catholic church, but the Church of God. 2 different groups, but only the true Church of God is acceptable.”

(Cristoiglesia) I disagree. Our discussion reveals that it is not a nasty spirit that divides us but instead that it is man’s pride that makes man believe that he can create a Church superior and with more veracity than the Church founded by Jesus and the disciples. It is mans pride that tells him that he has the authority to usurp the authority of Christ and His Church. It is the spirit of Secular Humanism that desires a church that serves man’s desires instead of a Church that serves God as does His own Church the Catholic Church. We are speaking of deception here but the deception is man-made or if you really want to know the truth it comes from Satan that exploits mans pride and uses man’s pride to deceive. The Catholic Church represents heaven on earth and the others calling themselves Christian represent man’s pride and Satan’s influence through man’s worldly desires. May our Lord have mercy on those choosing to be outside of His Church. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

04 June, 2010

Discussing the authority of the Bible and the Church with Ernie

(Ernie) “You need to see from the outside what the Catholics do that violate the word of God. I was told by Imacatholic2 that the Catholics have other sources of truth than the bible, and if that is the case, no wonder the Catholic church is deceived. Only the bible is the truth, not any other book, because only the bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, not the Catholic doctrines.”

(Cristoiglesia) I was outside of the Church for 50 years as an evangelical Protestant (Moravian). I was an anti-Catholic just like you although better trained at two of the best Protestant seminaries. I was and am very deep in Scriptures and learned them in their original languages. I looked deeply and critically at the Church and saw that no only does the Church teach the fullness of truth but does so in perfect accordance with Scriptures.

You were told correctly that the Bible is not the only source of truth and the Bible confirms this fact. St. Paul said to hold fast to not only the written Word but also to the Sacred Traditions which are taught orally. Other than the Old Testament (Septuagint) there was no written Word for the first 400 years of the Church. All of the Word was transmitted orally. When the Protestant rebellion started the protestors rejected the fullness of God’s Word for the heresy of Sola Scriptura. This heresy is responsible of the lack of unity in the Corpus Christi with over 30,000 different sects calling themselves Christian each with some truth and teaching countless heresies.

Well Ernie, it was the Church that had the authority to decide that the Scriptures were inspired. We wrote them (NT) and canonized them. The whole New Testament is about the Catholic Church. Just as the Holy Spirit guided the Church to exercise this God given authority it guided the Church to all truth just as is recorded in Scriptures. The Holy Spirit was given to the Church which Jesus promised would endure for all times and it has testifying to Jesus’ veracity. It is the Church that has all authority for teaching and truth and not the book that we wrote and canonized. Just like the Bible which gets its authority from the Church so to do the doctrines of the Church get their authority from the same source given by Christ to the Church. So Ernie, what I have found is that biblical deception is only found outside of His Church and not within the teaching of the Church.

(Ernie) “I have proved to you with the scriptures the false doctrines the Catholics hold fast to and teach, and you refuse the truth over Catholic traditions.”

(Cristoiglesia) Ernie, now you know that this is far from the truth. You have never been able to refute any Catholic doctrine nor has anyone else. There have been those much more skilled than you and I who have also fell short of denying God’s Word contained in His Church. In fact you have been unable to identify any doctrine that is contrary to the Bible. I know how impotent you must feel which is why you puff yourself up with false pride. No one will ever be able to refute the authority of Christ’s Church as our Lord promised that it is His Church that will remain for all times as the “pillar and foundation of the truth” and not some man-made doctrine outside of this God given authority contained within the Church both written and oral.

(Ernie) “I stand on the word of God, and refuse the false teachings of the Catholic church.”

(Cristoiglesia)And yet, you cannot identify any false teaching of the Church and support it with a logical and biblical refutation. As I have said before, if you ever find any false teaching of Christ’s Church let me know as I have not been able to find one in all of my 60 years of life. Believe me I have tried as desperately as you are doing and with the same results. Do you know what the Bible says about those who refuse to listen to the Church?

Mat 18:17 (KJV)

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

(Ernie)“You can believe what you want, just be ready to give an account to Jesus for the things you teach contrary to His word. I will give an account for what I believe and teach as well.”

(Cristoiglesia) You have emphasized by your statement the reason I left the Protestant confusion for the truth of the Catholic Church. Being called by God I did not want to teach falsely but instead the fullness of truth contained in His Church. I believe that false teachers will have a special punishment in hell for being ravenous wolves leading people from Christ’s Church. I know from Scriptures that it is impossible for His Church the Catholic Church to teach contrary to God’s Word and I have yet to find any exception in the teaching of the Church to His Word. Remember, worse than being a false teacher you are not in God’s will outside of His Church as our Lord prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that we be one in His Church as He and the Father are one.

Don’t you think that it is time that you reject your man-made doctrines and your man-made church for the Church founded by Jesus and the disciples? Is it not time that you got a spirit of the Bereans and search the Scriptures to see if what the Church teaches is true? I did and found the fullness of truth and a unity of truth not found it those sects outside of His Church. If you really are a seeker of truth and of Jesus’ Sacred heart than you too will reject the deception of your pride and become obedient to His Church. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph