"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Longish reply to Bob

You said:

“I imagine that the table is fenced on both sides - to the detriment of both.”

Hmm, I’m not sure I am smelling what you are cooking here Bob. Why is it a detriment or a bad thing? Is it a bad thing if your Pastor or my Priest sees a guy with a shirt that says “I’m a Mormon” or “I am an active homosexual” and denies him access to the sacraments (or ordinance in your current case)? No way. That is a good thing. The sacraments are given through the Church, to members of the Church (with the exception of baptism). What possible good does it do to profane Christ’s Body and Blood by giving it to someone who openly places themselves outside of the Church founded by Christ, or openly confesses heresy? And why is that the new assumed orthodoxy for evangelicals? The Reformers would bristle at your idea of open communion as being rank heresy, because they knew that the true church must confess the same faith, and heretics must be expelled just as Jesus, John, Paul, etc. tell us to.
Communing heretics does not bring more unity to Christians, it only waters down the faith to a common denominator of easy belief that gets more and more watered down all the time. What about Mormons Bob, should I reach out to Mormons and go chomp their bits of wonder bread in their “church” on Sunday morning? Should I let them receive the same precious Eucharist I receive from the Priest in the Catholic Church when St. Paul explicitly says it will bring them condemnation to eat it? I hope I don’t hate them enough to kill their soul that way.

No offense Bob, but in your congregation there is no sacrifice of Christ on Sunday morning. There is no Mass. There is no sacramental apostolic succession, no transubstantiation. I mean, it is not an insult, that is what they believe. So how could I go there in place of the Mass? By their own admission, they believe the bread they eat and juice (I can’t imagine it is wine) they drink (who knows how often… once a month?) is merely a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice, and has no saving power as a sacrament. Not only that, but there would be no sacramental confession in your church. So in all these ways I could just not even take part. There is no access to the grace of God for me there (according to Catholic belief). Even Jed barely could. As soon as the sermon got around to the great commission, Jed would tell you that your pastor is not rightly dividing the word, and has the biblical programs all mixed up, that the 4 gospels are written only to Jews, and not to us. He would also say that you shouldnt water baptize… again different program. Although he would commune on the bread with you… because he does not view it as a sacrament, does not view it as the flesh of Christ, and does not view it as infusing sanctifying grace into the soul of the willing receiver. So yes, you and Jed could commune together because he (and you?) is a Zwinglian when it comes to the Eucharist. For some reason you think non-Zwinglians should just give up their firmly held convictions and commune with you. (Even many Lutherans and Anglicans would be on my team here btw, not just Catholics and Orthodox)

You said:

“As far as Catholicism (or Protestantism) being a lie - I don't think that the question is valid.”

Well, you are wrong. Here is how. Catholicism claims a set of beliefs we will call “X”, and they believe it to be absolutely true. No argument there I assume. Protestant groups each claim various doctrines, but let’s focus on just one… I like oatmeal so how about Quakers. Quakers are no Papists, so you will agree that they believe “Y” which could be stated in terms of “NOT X”. And they believe “NOT X” to be true.
So we have X and –X. Bob, X does not equal –X. One is right and one is wrong, OR both are wrong, but there is no third option Bob. Agreed? Therefore one or both of these creeds (Catholic or Quaker) is a lie. Therefore the question is quite valid.

“It can be easily proven that protestants believe / do / behave contrary to God's will.”

I agree.

“Their doctrines have flaws, their assertions are wrong, and it shows in what they believe and how they live their lives.”

I agree the doctrines are wrong, but I think their lives could be messed up even with perfect doctrine.

“The fact that there are so many denominations proves that all protestants are failed human beings.”

I disagree. These are two separate questions and your conclusion does not follow from the premise. If all Protestants were united with the same creed under …say, Lutheranism, they would still all be failed humans. So therefore whether they are united or divided, either situation leads to the result you say division leads to. Therefore those criteria (unity or disunity) do not bear on whether they are failed people. Also I would rephrase and say “The fact that there are so many denominations proves that sola scriptura cannot provide an authoritative source of unity”. That is a statement that we can prove from history.

“Unfortunately, the same can also be said of Roman Catholics.”

Some can, some can’t.

“Their doctrines have been (and still are) flawed,”

Not true. With no examples provided, I chalk this up to mere assertion. The Church has never proclaimed a false doctrine to be believed by the faithful. Never. If you take the time to try to find even one instance, you might end up Catholic like I did. It is absolutely a miracle that in 2000 years of history, with (some) pimping, murderous, lying, thieving Popes, that no doctrines ever taught by the Magisterium have ever contradicted each other. Knowing human nature is fallen, this is one of the best proofs of Christ leading His Church and keeping her from error. There is NO OTHER example of anything close to this situation in history. If you can find one, I am all ears.

“their assertions are wrong, and it shows in what they believe and how they live their lives.”

Perhaps individuals, but the Church as a whole is spotless and does not lie. The one holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church is all of those 4 things, while individuals will always have sin of course.

“The fact that the reformation happened proves that Roman Catholics are failed human beings.”

This is true in a sense, because the people who left were Roman Catholics who turned their back on the Church founded by Christ, so yes, they failed. It is also true that every Roman Cathiolic (or other eastern Catholics) are all sinners and fail daily to live for Christ, this does not need to be proved, I fully admit it and it is part of Catholic doctrine. I just went to confession on Sunday morning and the Priest gave me quite a penance, so believe me, I know I suck dude. But in the way I think you mean it, the statement is not true. Your conclusion does not follow from the premise. For instance, If I were to say “The fact that the Donatist schism happened in the 4th century proves that Roman Catholics are failed human beings.”, I don’t think you would agree. The Donatists were the ones at fault, and were heretics by nearly any Protestant reckoning. They chose to separate from the Catholic Church, and therefore the Church is not to blame. In fact, the Church (post-Donatist schism) could theoretically be sinless, and the Donatists could still have left. Likewise if the Church could have said or done something loving to woo the Donatists back, but individuals in the Church chose in their sin and pride to not do so, that would not mean that the Churches doctrine was false, or that the Church was at fault for the sin of the Donatists, any more than a girl dressing scantily means rape is ok.

“My contention through this is that it isn't the RC's vs P's. We are all collectively and currently the Church universal and indivisible, the bride of Christ.”
If you only read and answer one thing in my extended rant here, let it be this please:

If the Church as you conceive it was NOT “the Church universal and indivisible” but instead was actually fragmented and divisible, what would look different?

Thought experiment Bob. Let’s say I take you to an insane asylum (where I reside btw tehe..hehe) and introduce you to a man who says he is Barack Obama. I then tell the man “Hey bud, pretend for just a moment you are wrong and you are not Barack Obama. What would be different?” So the man looks around and sees guys in pajamas drooling and playing checkers and peeing their pants and yelling. He checks his wallet for his ID and it says “Biff Jones”, he thinks back to where he was born, and his parents were white and from Canada. He calls for the secret service to arrest you and me and no one shows up. “hmm,” he thinks, “If I were wrong, and I really weren’t Obama, nothing would be different than they are right now. Things would be just like this.” If he is thinking properly, this should be a clue to him that there is a very good chance he is not Barack Obama. Unless an elaborate brainwashing, plastic surgery, and body switch scenario was perpetrated by the CIA, which is just not plausible. (unless your one on those wako 9-11 truthers… hehe just kidding Bob)

So I ask you again Bob:
“If the Church as you conceive it was NOT “the Church universal [catholic] and indivisible” but instead was actually fragmented and divisible, what would look different?”

I think you are forced to answer “nothing”. And if that is the answer, you need to consider that your conception of what constitutes the Church is must be wrong. In a fragmented Church you would expect to find contradictory doctrines set forth as both being true. In your conception of the Church, that is what you find Bob. If you consider Catholics part of your Church, then it is even more provable. Example: Catholics believe as a matter of faith that the elements become the actual Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Christ when the priest says the words of consecration. Zwinglians (Evangelicals are nearly all Zwinglians), who you would say are in the Church, believe that is not true, and is actually idolatry. So you conception of the Church has both of these (and many more) disagreeing bodies in the ONE Church. It looks exactly like a fragmented, divisible Church. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck… it’s a duck Bob.

For myself, when I ask the question:
“If the “Church” as the Catholic Church conceives herself was NOT “the Church universal and indivisible” but instead was actually fragmented and divisible, what would look different?”
There are A TON of differences. First off, there would have to be different creeds and different doctrines being proclaimed by various bishops as necessary to believe. There would have to be no Magisterium, no records of sacramental apostolic succession, no Pope who all his brother bishops are unified with. There would have to be contradictory dogmas that I could point to within the one Catholic Church.

But I can’t point to any of that. And you can’t accuse the Catholic Church of any of that. You may not like some of it’s doctrines, but you can’t deny that the whole Catholic Church (minus the desenters present in any group) affirms them and is united under the Pope, and can point historically to physical succession from the Apostles, and has ONE creed and ONE belief about the Eucharist, and ONE belief about salvation, Church government, Sacraments, etc…

“The fact that saving grace is evident in both the RC and P churches proves that at the very least the holy spirit is present and working in both factions.”
The Catholic Church agrees 100% (And so do I)
“This is the same holy spirit that preserves its church - apparently without regard to denomination.”

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Your conception of the Church is one where contradictory truths are within the one Church Bob. That is not a work of the Holy Spirit. It is almost mathematical how easy it is to show that: Multiple “truths”=oxymoron=false=Not a work of the Holy Spirit=Not the Church. Your conception of the Church is false. The Church will always be one. 1John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

By the mere fact of a group separating from or remaining separated from the Church, they show themselves to not be in the unity of the one Church.
I think you are conflating the fact that the Spirit can work in someone’s life with that being the way we identify the Church. The Spirit can work in a Muslims life to draw him to Christ, yet they are not yet in the Church. The Church is identified in the Nicene creed as “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.” The council fathers who wrote those words specifically pointing out 4 VISIBLE things to look for to identify the Church. To make those words fit your model of the Church, you need to make all 4 of them INVISIBLE. Think about it Bob, here is the Protestant definition of these identifiers:

ONE: Not really one visibly or with common doctrines or hierarchy, but “one” in some sort of invisible “spiritual” way where nobody can really see it.
HOLY: We don’t really need to venerate the communion of Saints as being the holy ones among us, in fact we are all saints AND sinners at the same time, it is a sort of “invisible” holiness of Christ that covers us that no one can see.
CATHOLIC [universal]: The Church is wherever people who “believe in Jesus” and show fruit of having some amount of the Holy Spirit, so that means it is universal. But not Mormons, JW’s, etc. because their fruit is not from the Spirit and the don’t really believe in Jesus. So really “universal” means invisible and everywhere, mushed around the globe in a “spiritual” way that can only be verified one person at a time.
APOSTOLIC: The true Church always agrees with what I think the Apostolic doctrine was. So Mormons are not in the Church because their doctrine does not agree with my conception of the Apostles doctrine. “Apostolic” does NOT mean (like Catholics believe) that sacramental apostolic succession will preserve the Apostles doctrine.

“Not believing lies is a part of the sanctification process. That process has lead you to the RC church. I don't think my sanctification is taking me in the same direction.”

One of us is dreadfully wrong Bob, we can’t both be right, although we could both be wrong. But we cannot both be standing in the truth. So the one (or both) of us who is believing a lie, that lie cannot be part of their sanctification.

You quoted me saying:

"I really believe the Catholic Church is the only hope for humanity"

Then you said:
“I don't. I believe that Christ is the only hope for humanity”

Again, it is not either/or. When Paul raised from the dead that kid who fell from the window, was it either Paul or Jesus that healed the boy? No way. It does not have to be seen in that either/or context. With the proper understanding of the relationship between Jesus and Paul, It is both/and. So when I say the Catholic Church is the only hope, I am saying that Jesus, working through His supernatural Body, the Church, is the only hope.

“and he does not confine his workings to the RC church.”

Yes He does. All grace that comes from God flows from the Father, to Christ, to Mary, to the Catholic Church, then to the recipient here on earth. Any working of the Holy Spirit, all salvation, all grace, all sanctification comes from the Church. Even the Westminster Confession says all salvation comes through “the Church” as they conceived it. This is nothing new. So if we see people coming to know Christ through a Mormon or Assemby of God or Presbyterian missionary, those graces and that salvation have flowed through the institutional Catholic Church whose head is the Pope in Rome, the vicar of Christ on earth. My baptism on a lake boat launch by an Assemblies of God Pastor, unwittingly to him, was done under the authority of and through the Catholic Church. Again, seeing the Holy Spirit work is not evidence that an organization belongs to the Church. There are Muslim charities which do much good, and that good is from the Holy Spirit, but they are not the Church.

Re: 1 Peter 2 you said:
“It is our confession that causes us to be rocks.”

Again the either/or fallacy will come into play here. Yes, when we make that confession, we become rocks, I don’t deny it. And Peter’s confession IS the rock. And Jesus IS the Rock. And PETER IS the rock as well. But which rock has all authority? Which rock has the keys to administrate that authority? Please tell me that you have them Bob. I am itching to hear that! But of course we don’t. Peter was given them. HE is the rock upon which the Church is built in the sense of having Christ’s delegated authority. Just as Christ is the Rock upon which the Church is built. Just as Peter’s confession is the rock upon which the Church is built. And if you want to join in and say you are a rock in the foundation because of your common confession with Peter, go ahead. As much as you are a faithful member of Christ’s Body, you build up the Church and support it… great, you ROCK ON dude. But there is an elephant in your rocky living room Barney Rubble: You can’t say you have the keys to the kingdom of heaven, because the rock of Peter has them. You could not possibly be that cocky to say Christ is giving Bob Brenton the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven in Matt. 16. (with authority to bind and loose “whatsoever”). That would be David Koresh weird. So again, the either/or thing is not how Catholics view this topic. (or justification/sanctification, Scripture/Tradition, faith/works, Grace/obedience)

God ALWAYS makes the first move in Catholic theology. Whether in salvation in giving us grace to be able to respond to Him, or in Justification by actually infusing us with sanctifying grace and making us holy. It is all about Christ and His work in His Church. And Christ has ALL authority in heaven and earth. That does not conflict with the successor of Peter being Christ’s “prime minister”.

And if the Papacy was not being supernaturally protected from teaching error and from dissolving, why is it here after 2000 years? It takes a lot of naïve trust in the goodness of man to believe that sinful men, unguided by the Holy Spirit, could keep the largest single human organization running under the authority of one (sometimes quite incompetent and evil) man for 2000 years! And it is still growing! I don’t have the stomach to believe humanity could accomplish that unaided by God Himself.

Sorry for the long reply, but I wanted to cover all the points you brought up. I hope Deb and the lil’ ones are doing good and all is well for you. Peace to you bro.



  1. David you are correct about all of the things on my list of expectations of what I have been told is a E Free church. The only things I think you have wrong are that I would commune with them (as with you) because I am a member in good standing with my elders (I obviously can understand why your priest would have reservations about letting me commune with you without prior knowledge of my conversion) and secondly because as long as you are giving a warning in good faith about the repercussions and responsibilities regarding communion it really is on their/my head. Do you have a special tattoo that marks you as a Catholic in good standing or some other kind of ID that would let a priest in a different community know that you are a good Catholic? Or would he take your word for it?


  2. Excellent point Jed. He would take my word for it, your right. In that sense Catholics don't "fence" the table. I mean not with words. But I think most people know what Catholics believe about it and would not take the Eucharist at a Mass. Also, most Protestants would not want to because they would see it as the most base form of idolatry.

  3. I belong to a 12 step group that asserts that we do not need to police our membership because failing to adhere to spiritual principles can cause us to reach for that bottle, and then we are in danger of dying. It is a weak analogy but one that could be compared to a Catholic in mortal sin receiving The Eucharist...for we believe that doing so can cause that person harm, real harm. Hence, we don't have to point out the 'Catholics in Bad Standing' - that tatoo is on our foreheads, all right...but only God can see it (or someone like St Padre Pio - man, that guy is GOOD). Great Post, David...thank you!

  4. Leslie,
    great points. It reminds me of what we say at Mass just before we receive Christ:

    "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed."

    Not one of us is worthy of Him or is in good standing with Him. But if we aproach with a repentant and humble attitude, and beg his mercy, then by His grace we can eat the actual flesh of God!

    Jed, if you are still following this, I am surprised you would receive the Eucharist at a Mass if allowed to. I would have though you to see it as idolatry. I was wrong I guess.