18 June, 2011

Church criticisms discussed with "Darrin"

(Darrin) “Jesus did not found the Catholic church. The church began with Jews. Actual Christ followers.”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, most of the early Church was made up of converts to Christ from the Essene sect of Judaism. Some came from other Jewish sects. As an example St. Paul was a Pharisaical Jew who preached and converted the Gentiles.

One cannot deny that the foundation of all Christianity through His Church is based on Christ’s words to St. Peter before the disciples. There is no doubt from the construction vernacular that Jesus was instructing them to build a Church with them as the foundation stones and Himself as the cornerstone. He built no other Church as no other was needed because the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic, Church derives its perfection from Him through His promises. He prayed that we all be one within this Church. He said this Church would endure until the Parousia. He said of this Church that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. He said that He would be with this Church until the end of time. The Scriptures confirms these promises saying that this Church is the “pillar and ground of the truth”. He did not plan for the Church to be without leadership after the apostles died but provided that they choose successors to replace them in the enduring Church. This is confirmed it the book of Acts.

One can suggest that this Church is not the Church that Christ gave these promises and authority to but who else can support a claim that they are the true church represented by these promises if not the Catholic church. Some will suggest that the true church is the Gnostics or the Arians? Certainly remnants of those churches remain in modern incarnations of these heresies but can one claim the enduring characteristic promised by Christ? There is certainly no evidence that anyone can make a legitimate claim to Christ’s promises other than the Catholic Church. Some critics may claim that the reason that the Catholic Church has endured is because of political connections, but the truth is that it has endured because of the miracles of our Lord who persuaded a Pagan emperor to stop his persecution of the Church and not by some agreement of men. It is hard to persuade someone who is intent on your annihilation. Only God could convict the heart of the Pagan Emperor Constantine.

(Darrin) “Burning at the stake. Does the name John Huss mean anything to And even "IF" you were correct about them wanting to preserve the so called correct translation. Does that warrant burning at the stake? Not very Christian like. Or are you denying the church ever burned anyone?? There are many other, but thats good enough. ”

(Cristoiglesia) It is funny that you would mention Jan Huss. I am very familiar with Him as I was a Moravian (Hussite) for 50 years of my life before coming home and becoming a Catholic Christian. Hus was not burned at the stake by the Church which asked for mercy for him after declaring him a heretic at the Council of Constance. He was convicted, condemned and burned at the stake by secular authorities and not the Church as you have claimed.

(Darrin)” Latin was the common language of what people? Not Europe.”

(Cristoiglesia) Latin in the Middle Ages was the language of the educated people who could read all over Europe. People were much more likely to read Latin than any other language if they read at all.

(Darrin) “You are right about one thing....Jesus did say people would turn to false teachers to satisfy their desires. The Catholic church teaches tradition and the Pope are equal to if not exceeding in authority with the bible.”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, Jesus did prophesy about the Protestant rebellion in 2 Tim 4:3. The Bible is a part of Sacred Tradition that St. Paul told the Church to hold fast. St. Paul did not try to divide Sacred Tradition and neither does Christ’s Church. The Pope is the prime minister of the Church appointed by Christ as an enduring office of the Church which fulfills the Scriptures and the prophecy of Isaiah. The Pope is not the primary teaching authority of the Church but instead it is the Magisterium. He only teaches infallibly when speaking ex cathedra which has only been done a few times in the 2000 year history of the Church and always in full accordance with the Magisterium and the whole of Sacred Tradition which is including the Scriptures.

(Darrin) “You pray to Mary to intercede. Why?”

(Cristoiglesia) The simple answer is because the prayers of the righteous are of great benefit to us according to the Bible. No one has ever been more righteous than the blessed mother of God.

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.

(Darrin) “Jesus said no one comes to the Father but by me. Not Mary to Jesus to the Father. “

(Cristoiglesia) As you saw from the commentary above we do exactly as the Bible says as the blessed mother intercedes and takes our prayers to Her Son for our benefit.

(Darrin)“You bow down to mud puddles that give an image of what you think might look like Mary.”

(Cristoiglesia) Really? When did I do that? Don’t be ridiculous and immature.

(Darrin) “I hate to tell you Mary was not a white western or European woman, but you portray her as such in your statues.”

(Cristoiglesia) She is also portrayed as Hispanic, black and Indian. She is the mother of all of us and is portrayed as such in different cultures.

(Darrin) “I wont even get into the idol worship.”

(Cristoiglesia) Why not? The Church condemns any kind of idol worship. Catholic Christians are forbidden to worship anyone or anything but God. Read the Decalogue where it is forbidden as a mortal sin.

(Darrin) “Talking about false teachers.....How about bowing to the Pope or even a statue of the Pope? I hate to tell you. He is a sinner just like you and me.
I suppose we can get into all kinds of other heresies, but you will find a way to dismiss them, so what is the point.”

(Cristoiglesia) We bow to the Pope out of respect for the divine office he holds which is ordained by Jesus Himself. Yes the Pope is a sinner. Why would you or anyone else think that he is not? The Church has never taught that the Pope is not a sinner. What do you mean all kinds of “other” heresies? You have not identified a single one. I will address any you can allege.

(Darrin) “You worship Peter. Upside down cross on the Popes chair.”

(Cristoiglesia) As I said before the Church forbids idolatry in any form. We do not worship any creature like the Pope. Of course there is an upside down cross on the Pope’s chair. It is the symbol of his office and signifies the manner of his death in Rome. After being condemned to death St. Peter requested that he not be crucified like our Lord as he said he was not worthy to be treated the same way. Instead he asked that he be crucified upside down and the Roman authorities honored his request, thus the upsides down cross as the symbol of St. Peter.

(Darrin) “The New Testament was completed and compiled at the end of the 1st century. The Catholic church laid claim to it 200 years later.

(Cristoiglesia) It seems as if you do not know the history of the Bible.

In first century Jerusalem there were at least four OT Canons in use by different Jewish Groups. There was the Canon of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Ethiopian Jews and the Diaspora/Essene Jews. Jesus and the disciples used the Septuagint which was the Canon of the Diaspora/Essenes. We know this because it is quoted in the New Testament. This Canon continued to be the Canon of Christians until after the Reformation and, in fact until about 200 years ago when the Protestants adopted a condensed version of the Canon eliminating the Deuterocanonicals from their Bibles. Even the AKJ originally contained the complete Christian Canon. It has been said by critics of Christ’s Church that the Deuterocanonicals were never believed to be inspired and just the opposite is true. The decision by Christians as to which books are inspired and useful for teaching was decided at the African Synods in the late fourth and early fifth century. There was never a question about their inspiration.

The OT Canon chosen by the Protestants is actually a Jewish Canon not chosen by the Jews until after the establishment of Christianity as a result of the spread of Christianity to slow the growth of the new group in Jerusalem after the fall of the Temple in 70AD. Until then as I said previously there were many Canons in use. The adoption of the Canon missing the Deuterocanonicals united the Jews against the Christians was decided in the Jewish Council of Jamnia because the Deuterocanonicals referred too strongly to the Messiah fulfilled in Christ.

Some Protestants will claim that only the Jews have the authority to choose Canon but the Church deferred that decision to Christ and the disciples and it is clear through biblical research, that the Septuagint is the Bible used by the first century Church and quoted in the NT Scriptures. The fact that Protestants choose to adopt the Canon that was approved by the same Jews that accused our Lord that resulted in His crucifixion suggests the source of this confusion as from the father of lies who led the Pharisees to accuse Christ and petition for His punishment. It is another way that Satan divides the body of Christ and separates the faithful denying Christ’s prayer that we all be one in Christ through His Church. The Christian Church has always used the Septuagint as Canon and never the truncated version of modernist Protestants.

Some Protestants erroneously believe that Catholics added to the Bible with the Deuterocanonicals but this shows an ignorance of their own history and the history of Christianity as witnessed by Christ’s Church. The facts are that the Protestants removed the Deuterocanonicals and even considered strongly to remove some of the NT books currently in use by Protestants and Catholics. Fr. Martin Luther was in favor of removing the book of James because it conflicted with His heretical man made doctrines of the “Solas”, Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. The heretic Ulrich Zwingli wanted to remove the Gospel of John because of its teaching of the commandment to Eat Christ’s Body and drink His Blood which contradicted his view of a real absence of Christ instead of a real presence in the Eucharist. Even Fr. Martin Luther could not endorse such a departure from Scriptures and deny that Christ is truly and really present in the Eucharist in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

(Darrin) “So you are saying Catholics were not Jews or Gentiles.....Really?”

(Cristoiglesia) No, I said that the first converts were from the Jews and the Gentiles. When they became Christians and followers of Jesus they were then Catholics or a part of perfected Judaism. They came under the New Covenant of Christ and into that familial relationship where He abided in them and He in them.

(Darrin) “If the first followers were Catholics, why is this term not mention in the book of Acts or anywhere else? Or even in the writings of Josephus? No they called themselves Christians and/or Jews.

(Cristoiglesia) The followers of Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch which was the bishopric of St. Peter. These Christians were first called Catholic by St. Ignatius who was the third bishop of Antioch late in the first century or early second century in His letter to the Smyrnaeans while on his way to be martyred in Rome. St. Ignatius was the disciple of St. John and of St. Peter along with his friend Polycarp. St. Ignatius defined the Church as those who gathered faithfully around the bishop saying, “where the bishop is there is the Church”. Thus, without apostolic succession there is no Church. Christians are the followers of Christ and not Jews as you presume. When they believed and followed Christ they became Catholic Christians through their Baptism into the Corpus Christi.

Josephus was a secular writer and historian and not a Church historian.

(Darrin) Paul called himself a Jew among Jews and he was a Christ follower.

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, he was identifying himself as a former Jew believed to be among the sect of the Pharisees. When He became a follower of Christ He became a Christian and a part of the familial relationship In Christ called the New Covenant since the Old Covenant was completed on the Cross when Jesus said “it is finished” before He gave up His spirit.

(Darrin) “All I can say is, all this side stuff really wont matter as long as you are trying to do all the required works to merit heaven.”

(Cristoiglesia) Pelagianism has been condemned centuries ago by the Church and has never been a part of the teaching of the Church and is a heresy. The Church forbids required “work” to get into heaven. However works are meritorious to us when provoked by the Holy Spirit.

Initial salvation comes through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit bringing us to faith and sanctification. This grace given by God is unmerited and certainly not earned. Catholic teaching is that all works are not the result of our own efforts but are produced by His grace. At judgment God will see our works produced by His grace as meritorious. Through God and His grace working in our lives we earn our salvation. Catholic teaching in regards to merit is very similar if not identical to the Protestant monergistic view, meaning that all is of God, approach rather than a synergistic approach, some of God and some of us, as Catholics get accused. The actual view of Catholics is that God does all the work and we do all the work. Catholics give all the credit to God but also understand that their response to grace is deserving of merit.

The way I see it is that we respond to God’s promises He is obligated to fulfill a debt He has incurred through His promise. We through His grace put faith and trust in those promises. Since God promises us eternal life by our faith then He has created an obligation for Himself. It is God’s promise that makes it a merit and not our work because God represents to us justice and truth and by us responding to His commands through the Spirit He has created a debt deserved by crediting us with merit even though it is through Christ and the Holy Spirit that we responded to His commands and will.

(Darrin) And please dont forget to sacrifice Christ again in every church around the world since His one time sacrifice was insufficient.

(Cristoiglesia) Christ can never be sacrificed again. Once is indeed sufficient and this one sacrifice is made present in every Catholic Church around the world. Jesus said, “Do this in “anamnesis” of me which is to make the past as a present reality.

The Passover Seder was completed on the cross with the words, “It is finished” meaning the Old Covenant relationship with man but it began in the upper room. Jesus was acting as both priest and as the victim. Jesus instructed the disciples to do this in “remembrance” of me in most English translations. However “remembrance is not a direct translation but what we call an approximation since there is no word in the destination language that has exactly the same meaning. So “Remembrance” is as close as one can get to the original Koine Greek. The Greek word that is being translated is “anamnesis” which does not mean to recall a past event to memory as is the meaning of “remembrance”. Instead it means that a miracle is occurring where the past or the future is being made present. It represents an act that transcends time and place. In the case of the last supper Jesus is making the future present. Today when we receive the truly real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity Jesus is making the past present. We are literally present at the foot of the Cross when the Eucharist is celebrated.

Jesus NEVER said to commemorate His sacrifice or that the elements were symbols but instead in the most literal language possible said, “This is my Body, This is my Blood.” Actually, Jesus was speaking literally and was certainly not using symbolic language that might indicate that what He was saying is not literal. Jesus was present at the Last Supper in both a corporeal natural way and in a sacramental way in the elements He consecrated. This is identical to the way He is present today in the Eucharist. It truly is a mystery as to how He can be present in these ways simultaneously but nonetheless it is a religious truth. We could never understand it but our inability to understand does not make this impossible. It is no different than believing God is omnipotent even though there is no way to comprehend this with our finite minds and intellect. Certainly the creator of all things can make Himself into the bread and the wine.

There is no indication from any teaching of Christ on the Eucharist that the bread and the wine are symbols but instead Jesus said, “This is my Body, this is my blood”. He never said that the elements of the bread and wine were symbols but used literal language instead. Had this been His intent He could have easily said exactly what you claim but He did not do so.

(Darrin) “By the way, how many things do you have to do to merit heaven? Baptism, confession, rosary.... I know there are several more. I really hope that works for you.

(Cristoiglesia) I know that you are the victim of false teachers and what you think you know as facts are false. We all, as Christian, attain heaven by God’s grace alone. No amount of works merit heaven but the Bible warns us that faith without works is dead faith and that we cannot be saved by faith alone but also by works prompted by God’s grace. Remember that the only works that are condemned in Scriptures are the works of the law which are likened to filthy rags. It is said in context as a referenced to the Korban law which is a part of the Mosaic Law. Nowhere does the Bible condemn works but instead encourages works and obedience to Christ’s commandments. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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