A Lengthy Reply to a Short Critique

re the article on Protestants and Catholics

July 22, 2009

Ahh, yes, where to begin! First, please realize that the note I posted was the material of a talk given to the Catholic youth group at our church, here in the middle of the Bible Belt. I was responsible for a fifteen minute segment in an entire evening discussing apologetics and the responses we could give to those that might and very often do question and criticize the Catholic Church in our part of the country. I wasn't able to include everything I had written in the time limit, so several of the teens asked me to post the entire text.

Next, “Firstly, there seem to be a bunch of impressions you took from our Protestant upbringing that escaped me.” You need to read all the words… specifically the 5th paragraph disclaimer… What I wrote about my teachings in the Protestant church are simply more consistent with what Protestants in the Bible belt, especially Christian Fundamentalists believe about the Catholic Church.

“The bible was a set of collected stories and parables meant to convey a history of a people, a set of religious ethical principles defined by most religions as morals, and a way of life that fosters love over hate. That’s what I got out of it. I never believed for one second in a talking snake.” On this I agree fully and so does the Catholic Church.

”The statement “the Catholic Church was started in 33AD by Christ Himself” might be taking liberty with actual fact. The reasons for misgivings are many and ought to be rather obvious to you, one of the smartest people I know. (It may have MORPHED INTO what we know as the Catholic Church. It may have EVOLVED into the Catholic Church; people may have TAKEN CONTROL of a congregation that eventually BECAME the Catholic Church, but it was surely NOT the Catholic Church.)

Please don’t mistake my beliefs for a lack of intelligence. I could just as well relate your non belief as a lack of intelligence and I most certainly do not. It is precisely by looking at the scriptures and history outside of the scriptures and the church that I have become convinced of my own truth in this matter.

In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus says: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” Then he said “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

It is exactly here that Jesus gave full authority to Peter to first lead the church after his death, but also to speak for him entirely. Peter did go on to start Christ’s church with the full authority of God and whatever Peter said was bound fully by God. This clearly says to us that the traditions of the Church and the succession of it’s leaders is specifically ordained by God

Now, I grant you Jesus didn’t say “Upon this rock I will build the Catholic Church. He simply said “My Church”. His own, the only church of Jesus Christ the savior of us all. Peter and the other disciples spread the word of Jesus, and passed on the traditions of the church. They performed their ceremonies or rituals or whatever you may wish to call them in the way Christ taught them and they passed these traditions down from generation to generation.

Now, granted, there have been some leaders of the church who were, shall we say, less than stellar. Jesus never said that Peter or any of his successors would be perfect human beings. In fact, the reason Jesus came, died and was resurrected was precisely BECAUSE none of us are perfect and he knew this. I’m personally certain than there are a few Popes who might not have made it to Heaven, and neither I nor the Catholic Church believes that the Pope is infallible. They do believe in the infallibility of the Church, but even the Pope goes to confession.

I do not believe that the Pope has an intercom connected to Heaven or a burning bush in his apartment. He is an educated man of experience who dedicated his life to Christ, studies the scriptures and consults with many other learned men about the right path to take the church. I am certain he prays a lot about what he should do about any situation and takes the counsel of those around him. Judging him by those who abused the position is no more fair than medieval practice of imprisoning the son for the crimes of the father. By all accounts, Pope John Paul II was a fair and beloved Pope not only by his church but by many outside the church. So far it appears that Benedict XVI is doing just fine.

As for all those average Joes, it’s up to each of them to communicate with God on a regular basis, not wait for the Pope to do it for them.

”As for the saints, it seems that many Catholics world-wide DO pray to saints. While I could give you that prayer is not, in the strictest sense, WORSHIP, we’re cutting a pretty fine line here, and Catholicism fosters that. I’m not even saying that’s bad, only that it’s evident.”

Yes, I hope it is evident… Catholics DO pray to the saints. Again, Chris, read ALL the words. Read the part about praying to your grandmother or a favorite uncle… we all do it at one time or other. It is not worship, it is asking for intersession. Ever hear of a prayer chain? You ask your friends and neighbors to pray for a sick child or an injured friend? Do you have a problem asking someone who is surely in heaven to say a few good words for you to God? That’s not even a fine line between prayer and worship. It’s simply prayer. You pray directly to God, it can’t hurt to get a little extra help also.

As for Saint Barbara, I actually never heard of her, I’ve heard of Santa barbara, which was probably named for her and is a beautiful seacoast town to visit (do you remember our weekend trips there with Mom and Dad?) And while I was not an artilleryman, I was an Engineer, so perhaps I’ll have to do a bit of research and get a pendant of my own!

And lastly, I must respectfully disagree with you on this one. If you profess yourself to be a Christian, again you have to read all the words. This time, those written in Genesis. And yes, I believe that the story of Adam and Eve and the tree and the snake are allegories written down to teach us about God, not factual history. (If they are factual, somebody pulled of another creation in the land of Nod.)

In its most stripped down basic form, sin is simply saying no to God. God says something and you say no. Original sin was when Eve said no to God and ate of the forbidden fruit. There was nothing wrong with the fruit. It wasn’t poison, it didn’t kill Eve, God simply told her not to eat it and that snake of a devil convinced her otherwise. I have no idea what God was saving that fruit for, but he said don’t eat it and she did. Then that little devil convinced the man to eat it too. That was mans first mistake, listening to the woman!

The actual original sin was the woman’s (and the man’s) desire to now what God knew. To in effect say “I am as good as God. I know what is best for me. I don’t need God to tell me.” This is exactly the same thing that happens when we break any of Gods laws. When you steal, use God’s name in vain, commit adultery, covet or break any of God’s commandments you are saying, “I am as good as God. I know what is best for me. I don’t need God to tell me.”

So if you are counting on your good intentions and what feels right in your heart, you may be on the wrong track. That is not what I know, it is what I believe.

There is only one way to get to heaven in my book. It is by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and by continuing life by repenting of your sins and doing the good works of Jesus. The Catholics do not have a patent on that. It’s pretty wide spread. And the Catholics do not say they are the ONLY church. Their claim is that they are the ORIGINAL Christian church. This is historically factual as well as scripturally correct.

Yes, the Catholic Church was started in 33AD by Jesus Christ himself. No it was not called the Catholic Church, it was the Christian Church. Yes it “Morphed” into Catholic as you say. It did so because all of the teachings of the church were consistent all over the world. The same traditions were practiced (and still are today) the same scriptures are read in every Catholic Mass in the world every day and the church as known as the One Christins Church. The word Catholic comes from two Greek words meaning “All One” or “One Church” and became known as Catholic. (When I find the actual Greek words I’ll post them here.) That it’s NAME was morphed from “The One Church” to “Catholic” in no way changes the fact that the church was the original Church of Christ, came to be CALLED Catholic and it has remained so from that day until now.

Dear Brother, continue to do good, and do what is right in your heart. For that I greatly respect you. I have never thought of you as anything else. I'm not trying to convert you or anyone else. I'm just putting down my thoughts and beliefs.