Sunday, April 12, 2015

Faulty Anti-Catholic List

In searching for information to explain Catholicism to non-Catholic Christians, I came across a ridiculous webpage that tried to equate Mormonism to Catholicism. The absurd claim that Mormonism and Catholicism are equally bad or evil or not Christian is on the rise again. The author made a list of supposed points of similarity between "Mormonism" and "Roman Catholicism." While I cannot speak to the veracity of the Mormon list, I can sift through the truths, half-truths, and innuendo on the Catholic list. The anti-Catholic's statements are in italics.

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep (the Church) #
Claims itself to uniquely be "the Church."

While the Catholic Church does claim to be "the Church," this is "claim" is well founded.  It can be traced back from the present time to Jesus Christ Himself. He is the one who wished His followers to be one in Him, just as He said, "Holy Father, keep in thy name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one even as we are" (John 17: 11). During the first couple of centuries of the Church, Christians followed the teachings of the Apostles and their disciples, and those appointed by them.  For the most part communities of Christians did not meet in the open, lest they suffer persecution or death.  St. Ignatius is the one who first called the Christian Church Catholic.  Catholic means universal.  Since that time the name has stuck.  The early Church  was one and called Catholic.  That is why we "claim" to be "the Church." Our history and heritage indicate that we are descended from the original Church founded by Christ. This is not the same claim as the Mormon Church; their claim is founded on a very different foundation, a man other than Christ and a book outside the bible, more than eighteen centuries after Christ.

Christ and Sheep (Priest and Laity) #
Claims a unique and authoritative priesthood, thereby denying the priesthood of all Christians.

Yes, the Church does claim a unique and authoritative priesthood, but she does not deny the priesthood of all believers.  These two priesthoods are not mutually exclusive.  The priest in the Church brings us Christ in person; he consecrates the Holy Eucharist. He takes care of the day to day running of the church, and is the earthy shepherd of Christ's flock. The layman has a share in Christ's priesthood by virtue of being the "Body of Christ." We are there at the altar. We bring our children and others to Christ. We participate in the Mass and consume communion bread in "remembrance of Him".

Accepts multiple Satanic visions as being from God.

I am not sure what the author meant here.  Is he saying that all visions are "Satanic"? Is he saying all ("multiple") visions that are Catholic are therefore "Satanic"?  Because I am 100% certain that the Church does not accept any "Satanic visions as being from God." Visions accepted by Church authority are not satanic. Accepted visions tell us something about God, or how we can head off tragedies through prayer, or how to bring certain communities to Christ. Not a single vision accepted as worthy of belief by Church authority honors or glorifies Satan, and no accepted vision is contrary to the Gospel. But let us get one thing straight and out there--ALL visions are considered by the Church to be private revelation. Visions are not doctrine. Many visions may have changed our view of some doctrines, but none have changed the central doctrines of the Church.

Undermines the power of Jesus' blood by its view of personal suffering for the expiation of sins.

This statement shows a complete lack of understanding of the Church's teaching on suffering.  The Church never undermines the "power of Jesus' blood." The only thing of equal value is Christ's Resurrection.  Suffering on the other hand has value in helping us make up for sins. We caused Christ to suffer for our sins. Our sufferings help us take a tiny sliver of that suffering on ourselves. Suffering makes us closer to Christ and helps us understand His suffering. Our suffering neither replaces His suffering nor does it expiate sin on its own. We do not, despite what silly men like this author would have people believe, advocate our own suffering as a replacement of Christ's suffering.

The Annunciation #
Sings praise songs about Mary.

I'm not really sure why this is a bad thing but what the author fails to understand that songs and music in church are appropriate for the season.  My point being that songs in praise of Mary are sung only a few days during the entire year.  That doesn't mean the songs in worship of God, Christ, or Christian doctrines aren't also sung and are sung exclusively at the vast majority of other Masses during the year.  I fail to see the offense in this now, though I could have at one time. The thing is that Catholics honor Christ's mother for her part in salvation history. It is not any different than kids in other churches singing about Noah's Arky or the B-i-b-l-e.  If it is wrong to sing about the Mother of the Son of God, it would be wrong to sing about the Bible or David or Noah also.

Has strange doctrines regarding marriage (celibacy still practiced among its clergy).

The author fails to connect the twoThe vow of celibacy for the majority of Catholic priests (there actually are married priests in at least one Eastern rite in the Catholic Church) has very little to do with the doctrines regarding marriage.  Since these celibate priests don't marry, their unmarried state has nothing to do with marriage doctrines.  Marriage doctrines have been developed from Christ's blessing on marriage.  It is a Sacrament of the Church, instituted by Christ. Holy Orders (priesthood) is a completely separate Sacrament. Celibacy is a discipline developed over time for the benefit of both the Church and the priest. Christ was not married and could devote his whole life to teaching, preaching, and taking care of others. That is the priest's whole life as well--teaching, preaching, and taking care of others. Many are the times I've seen preachers kids (any one seen a show to this affect?) growing up to become absolutely awful people. Their dad was not around; there are certain expectations of a minister and they always come before his own family.

Diego Valazquez, Queen of Heaven @
Although both Sacraments involve solemn vows before God, they are separate doctrines and neither cancel each other out nor replace each other. They are both important to the Church. Both provide life to the Church.

Believes in the mother of God (who is the sinless queen of Heaven).

Of course, we "believe" in the mother of God.  She exists; we believe in her. Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ, God the Son. If her Son is God, she is His mother.  Christ is universally regarded as the King of Heaven and Earth.  His mother, therefore, would be queen mother.  We call her queen just as Bathsheba was the queen in Solomon's court. Mary IS sinless; she's in Heaven. Even protestants believe that people can no longer sin in Heaven. It is as simple as that.

Christ gave St. Peter charge of His Church #
Claims the head of their group speaks infallibly at times.

The "head of [our] group" is the pope. He is the vicar (ambassador) of Christ. He is like the viceroy, the representative of the king, in the old testament.  The viceroy was given the keys of the kingdom as a symbol of his authority; his authority was second only to the king. In the same way, the pope (papa) is the king's (Jesus') second in command. Yes, we claim that he "speaks infallibly at times." Not only are these "times" extremely rare, but they have happened. The conditions for infallibility are that the pope is speaking on a matter of doctrine, it is a matter for the whole church, and the he speaks of it from the authority of the See of Peter. One such infallible statement is contained in the document Ineffabilis Deus (The Immaculate Conception) issued by Pope Pius IX in 1854.  The infallible statement's prologue begins,
"Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own:"
The actual infallible statement is this part:
"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."
It seems no matter how many times you explain this, however, there are people out there who either don't want to listen or wish to remain ignorant of the facts.

Rev. 5:8 "...the prayers of the people" @
Redefines "saint" to mean a physically dead Catholic who was afterwords "canonized," instead of a Bible-defined child of God.

The Church has not "redefined" the word saint.  Saint means what it always has: someone holy. Whether alive or dead--a saint is a saint.  This is not only quite biblical but traditional. Canonization is only a declaration that the Church believes that person to be in Heaven and to be a saint. A person whose life is such an example of holiness that it is necessary to add them to the list (canon) of people we know to be in Heaven. Now are there others in Heaven that are not canonized (listed) by the Church? Of course. We don't know the names of everyone in Heaven, only God knows that, but we can be sure certain people are there. The Church does not deny that their are other, unnamed saints in Heaven which is why there is a celebration of All Souls' Day the day after All Saints' Day. All Souls' Day is for all the dead in Christ.

"Accepts and spreads "another gospel" (Gal 1:8.9)--good works, the sacraments, Mary and church membership.

There is only one Gospel ("Good News") and that is that Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, was sent by God, out of extreme, divine love for us, to die for our sins and that if we believe in Him and follow in His footsteps, we will be in Heaven with Him someday. The Gospel taught by Jesus and His Apostles is the only one the Church preaches. The other things listed are not the "gospel."

Good works are how we show God, ourselves, and the world that we believe in and follow Christ's example. "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:17).

Seven Sacraments of Christ @
The Sacraments are visible signs of invisible grace. All of them, each and every one of them was instituted by Christ.

Baptism: Matthew 3:16; Matthew 28:19; Mark 1:8; Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 8:36-38; Acts 11:16; Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33; Acts 18:8; Acts 19:3-6; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:25-26; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:20-21, and many others.

Confirmation: In Acts 19:3-6, especially, it is clear that John's baptism, Christian baptism and Confirmation are all distinct realities. Also, in Hebrews 6:2 baptizing and laying on of hands are distinguished. Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28; John 14:16; Acts 2:4; Acts 8:14-17; Acts 19:3-6; Hebrews 6:2.

 Confession: Matthew 16:19; John 20:21-23; Rev. 1:18.

Eucharist: Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 24:35; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 11:24-27

Marriage:  Mt. 19:10-11; Eph. 5:31-32.

Holy Orders, Acts 6:3-6; Acts 13:2-3; 1 Tim. 3:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-9; 1 Tim. 4:14; 1 Tim. 4:16; 1 Tim. 5:17-19; 1 Tim. 5:22.

anointing of the sick. James  5:14-15.

Mary is Christ's mother and honored as such. Do some Catholics go overboard in their expression of devotion to Mary? Of course some do. But one can say something similar about others claiming to be Christians.  I watched a Protestant service on tv once in which they chanted a saying about the Bible and their devotion to it. I'd say that was just as idolatrous as anything they have accused Catholics of doing.

I'm not sure what church membership has to do with "another gospel." As I've said, the Church has always preached one and the same Gospel for the last two millenia. Belonging to Christ's Church is extremely important. We are after all the Body of Christ. It is the belief of several Church theologians and reiterated by the Vatican II Council that Protestants do peripherally belong to the same church.

Prophetic Basis for the Claims of Jesus as Son of God #
Professes itself as Christian; Jesus as God, Savior, Lord and Son of God; Jesus' atoning death and resurrection.

To this "accusation", I would say we could plead guilty. But, I am extremely confused on this one. In my 36 years as a Protestant (Regular Baptist to be precise), I believed in every one of these things, also. The Baptists I know profess themselves as Christian.  They profess Jesus as God, Savior, Lord and Son of God. They profess Jesus' atoning death and resurrection. It makes me wonder at the truth of the author's claim to be a Christian.  What is his definition of Christian? Some of the anti-Catholic rhetoric I've seen lately leads me to wonder what the current definition of Christian could actually be.

Doctrines are sending hundreds of millions to Hell and they need to be openly refuted with Scripture.

This is not so much an accusation as an opinion, an erroneous opinion, but an opinion nonetheless. Since every one of the doctrines of the Church can be "openly" supported with Scripture, refuting Catholics with Scripture would be a pointless endeavor. Catholics are the original evangelicals. No other Christian Church would exist without her.

Teaches and practices bowing before and kissing statues.

"Teaches and practices"? I understand the author has a negative agenda here but the reality is not quite what he implies here. We honor our (God's) family members by having pictures and statues around us, just as people have pictures of their family members (alive and dead) around their house.

I am not aware of anyone "teaching" people to kiss a statue. True, some people "practice" this but that is out of the love a person has for that family member. Bowing is done as a way to honor our loved ones; kissing is something done out of personal feeling. The only thing I've ever actually seen "taught" about kissing is kissing a Cross on the feast of Corpus Cristi or on Good Friday. This is a way for us to kiss Christ and honor His sacrifice for us.

"This is My Body..." @
WORSHIPS the consecrated communion wafer as God.

He is close on this one. We do worship God in the Eucharist. Remember He said, "THIS IS MY BODY". We believe His words. So, if that is His Body, as He plainly said in so, so many places in Scripture, we can worship the actual Christ. However, when we kneel to the Eucharist (or "consecrated communion wafer") we are kneeling before Christ, not a piece of bread or an idol.  We worship Christ, period.

Claims Mary is their life, sweetness, hope, and most gracious advocate (as revealed in the Rosary).

And? Mary is not only the example but is everything we hope for and hope to be. She is alive in Christ. She was not only a sweet person but shares in the sweetness of Heaven. She lives the hope of Salvation with her Savior, just as we hope to do someday.

She is a gracious advocate. This takes nothing away from Christ. If you pray for a friend, you are their advocate. If your pastor, minister, priest prays for you, they are your advocate. Mary prays for us, children of God, she is our advocate.

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal-dispensing graces @
Claims Mary was raised bodily into Heaven.

Yes, we do claim that. There is biblical precedent for it. Elijah was taken into Heaven on a chariot; Mary was carried by angels. It is not only entirely plausible from a pragmatic view of Scripture but also probable.  I'd like to ask the author of this statement and any others who despise our belief that St. Mary received this honor, "why wouldn't He?" Why wouldn't Jesus Christ want His mother not to suffer the indignity of the corruption of the grave? Why wouldn't He want to honor the mother that He loves and cherishes? Why wouldn't He use His power as God to honor the woman who bore Him, God, in her womb? To me is it silly not to believe He would do that for her.

Claims they get to Jesus by first going to Mary.

Actually, the Church claims that we can go to Mary first not that we have to go to Mary first.  The difference is subtle but very important. Why would you go to your minister about Jesus? You say you don't need to go to anyone "first." We don't have to go through Mary. It is just that we can. Have you never, ever been ashamed of your actions, you know you must apologize, but were too ashamed? What if you could explain yourself to some one kind and gentle and loving? Then she could go the king for you and explain. Yes, He already knows what you've done, and, yes, you could go directly to Him. But, there is another avenue available to us--His mother. His mother is gentle and kind and loving and will listen to us.

Anti-Catholics such as the author of this list have been taught so much prejudicial nonsense that they cannot see past it. If they would actually listen to what the Church teaches and not what they've been carefully taught over the years, all Christianity might actually have a chance of putting up a unified front against the snares of the evil one. We, Catholics, are Christians. We do love Christ and follow His teaching. We do love other Christians and pray for them to go to Heaven. We also pray that the blinders of prejudice should come off and that they might see the truth in the real Gospel message.

#Pictures with this symbol are from the book online My Catholic Faith: A Manual of Religion by the Most Reverend Louis Laravoire Morrow, STD. Kenosha, New York, 1949.
@Public Domain

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