"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

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Catholicism: Satanic copy or the real Church.


You went from deciding between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, to leaning towards Catholicism, to having trouble discerning if it is satanic or true, to sounding as if you think it is obviously satanic and wondering why I am so misled, you went through all that in a matter of a few weeks. So what follows is my response I started yesterday to a letter of yours from the “deciding if it is satanic” time, and I will end with my response to your letter from the “it is satanic and Dave is a dupe” phase.

You said:

"I have been (and will continue) dwelling on the issue of the RCC. It is one of two things. It is either THE church that Christ instituted, or it is a most satanic copy designed to lead people astray. I find myself in a situation where I am having trouble discerning."

I agree it is either all or nothing. And you should take your time to discern. Here is something that might help. Find all the claimers to the title “Church founded by Jesus” and see how their evidence for the claim stacks up with the Catholic Church.

The hardest one to nail down is of course Protestantism. But if you take their standard idea of an invisible church comprised of all those who believe "the gospel", you will get their conception of what the “Church” is. OK, so put that on the list as exhibit “A”. Now throw on Eastern Orthodoxy as “B”, Catholicism “C”, etc.

Then do some research on what makes the Church the Church. Include everything. Holiness, the gospel, apostolic succession, the ability to authoritatively resolve disputes about theology, etc. Each of these criteria should be there, because each is part of the evidence. Make a chart or something and see who can plausibly claim to have all the points you come up with. For instance, the early Church fathers put a lot of stock in apostolic succession and obedience to ones bishop, and they claimed that was what had been passed down to them from the apostles, so those criteria should be there.

What happened when I did this was I was left with only a few claimants that even tried to meet all the criteria. Mormonism tries for instance. They claim apostolic succession. Obviously they weren’t on my list for long (never really). In the end I had the big 2. Catholic and Orthodox. And I must say, many of the issues you are working through would be the same in Orthodoxy.

But one thing is for sure, Protestantism is not in the running. They do not even claim to have succession! They do not (in general) even claim to have an living, infallible Magisterium!

If I approach the RCC from the standpoint of "authority" - they seem to have a very good argument, and really do appear to be correct. However, if I approach it from what they do and preach, then the parts of the argument only make sense if you buy the whole argument.

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice" (Matt. 23:2–3). (my emphasis)

Jesus told people to obey the Pharisees because they sat in the seat (cathedra) of Moses. He said to do what they said, not what they do. This is a key point. Like the rulers of ancient Israel, the Magisterium of the Church is to be obeyed because they have the authority from Christ, but we don’t always have to “do what they do”. Many of your examples fall into their “doing” not their “saying”. The distinction is everything, as Jesus points out. You need to look more into the distinction between what things are dogma, discipline, pius custom, precept, just farting around, canon law, abuse of a good thing, or none of the above. It seems that you are not making these distinctions precisely enough.

For example, the papal power to depose kings - it makes sense from the RCC structure, but flies in the face of Peter's command to obey earthly authorities.

I have not looked into that issue much. So I don’t know if that was mainly a medieval thing or just a temporary thing or what. But I honestly can’t see how it flies in the face of biblical commands to obey governing authorities. The bible says the authorities were put there by God, so obey everything they tell you that does not violate what one owes to God. If, -if- the Church has the power to depose governments, or to encourage disobedience to them (what it has traditionally done), then wouldn’t that just be another way God could get rid of governments He doesn’t like? So Peter says “obey earthly authorities” in one breath and in the next breath says “Don’t obey Stalin”. Well, I think that makes perfect sense! No contradiction at all. And honestly, that power is enjoyed by all the bishops, not just the pope. Our Archbishop Nienstedt could tell us to ignore Minnesota government attempts to force our children to attend contraceptive training classes for instance. That authority goes right on up to the ability to relieve our responsibility to obey them in anything if things got bad enough. The Apostles command (through the bible) to obey governments can’t be taken woodenly. And neither can the magisteriums statements. In Church history we have lots of examples of good disobedience to governments (from day 1).

Another example: When celibacy for the priests was instituted,

Whoa, wait. Last time I checked St. Paul was talking about how beneficial celibacy was in the New Testament. And as far as being “instituted”, in what way? Was the practice ever dogmatized? [No.] Is it a discipline that has grown over the years for many good reasons? [Yes.] Has the practice been abused at times? [probably, I don’t know… or care] Have there always been married priests in the Roman Rite? [yes] Are there right now? [yes] Even ones with 4 kids? [yes!].

And in the Eastern Rite Catholic churches (and E. Orthodoxy) it is not even a discipline for priests! And like I have said before, this is something people sign up for. As a man with a growing family, do you seriously not see how being unmarried is a great help to someone in the ministry (Paul is clear about this)?

getting married as a priest was elevated to a sin that the pope himself had to pardon.

So if someone promises to not do something and then does that is ok with you? People do not become priests overnight, and they do not get married overnight. If a priest gets married after swearing not to, he is in disobedience to the Church (and thus to Christ).

However, having relations with anyone could be confessed to another priest.

Any sin of any kind can be confessed to a priest. Are you implying that that makes it ok to do the sin? Obviously a one time fling is different than a priests desire to settle down with a family. The situations are just not comparable.

This seems exactly backwards of biblical teaching.

Leaving aside what "seems" like biblical teaching to you and what does not, that celibacy is a good thing is totally biblical. I don’t agree with you at all. And no one is forced to be celibate! They sign up for it!

Not only that, but celibacy was instituted in an attempt to keep wealthy priests from giving their money to their descendants.

I think that is not true. Because you are implying that is the only reason. And I think you are implying some kind of ill will on the part of the Church to “rich priests” (cue the imperial march). The rule is in place to keep the cares of the world out of the church. Priests know what they are getting into. If they want a family, or wealth, or land to pass on to children, they shouldn’t become a priest. (or they could become a Byzantine Rite priest)

If you can't be married / can't have a family, then the church has the "right" to all your earthly possessions.

Should the church not own property? I don’t see why it shouldn’t. And if a Priest owns Church property then his sons will get it. That wont work for very many generations. Also, get real man, owning property orients one more towards business and the affairs of this world more than to what a priest should be concerned with. He should not be thinking of how to pay for college or braces or splitting up property between his kids.

Again, backwards of what one considers "biblical". Peter himself was married (unless you read the RCC bible, in which case his wife is refereed to as sister).

No, of what you consider biblical. Catholics know Peter was married, that fact is explicitly stated in tradition that Peter saw his wife martyred. I have read the account myself, it is beautiful. The "RCC bible" is not trying to pull the wool over your eyes. I don't know where you are getting some of your info but it is way off.

Priest celibacy is a discipline! It is not dogma! It is like holy water, Catholics could stop doing it if they want, and that would be ok.

If you approach it from the RCC "explanation" then it all makes sense - and I get that,

I don't think you do get what the explaination is actually.

but what is the outcome of the rule? Satan has his way with unmarried priests who can't control their lusts. Homosexuals flock to the priesthood. Illegitimate children are born to all these men of God -but it is OK

It is ok? Can you give me a citation?
cause they confessed it to another priest. Pedophilia (the caboose in a long train of sexual sins) enters into the church -

Just the Catholic Church right? Not your Church? Uh huh...

Here is where you have completely gone off the deep end while swallowing a camel.

The incidence of pedophilia is absolutely not a bit higher in the Catholic Church than any other organization, including Protestant churches. And that is according to widely accepted data.


In fact, my own research leads me to believe that the incidence in the Catholic Church is less once all the factors are balanced out.
thats [pedophilia] OK too cause they confessed it.

Can you give me a citation for this? Why do you think the fact someone can confess their sins means the sin is OK? This reminds me of people telling Calvinists “Well just go ahead and get a hooker, your elect right? So what does it matter?” The Calvinist is not impressed.

Or when Protestants in general are scorned for believing their sins (past, present, and future) are all gone because of Christ's finished work on the cross, so doesn’t that mean they can just sin with impunity?

For most Calvinists and most Protestants in general these examples fail. That is just not what they believe. And neither does the Catholic faith teach that evil becomes “ok too” because we confessed it.

In fact, the more I read and learn, the more it seems like the RCC believes the exact opposite of the protestant truths I recognize.

That is often the case. Is this news to you? You grew up Reformed right? Did you not realize what the “Reformed” thought they were reforming from? And if it is dependent on you “recognizing” a truth, will you ever get it right? How sure are of your abilities to “recognize” all the truths of the Christian faith? If you have changed your mind in the past, what makes you think you have it right now? Wouldn’t God know that we fail in this way and provide us with a sure guide?

Here is an example from the thread you pointed me to:

"Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. (Lumen Gentium, 16)"

Brian applied that to protestants, but the words are clearly about heathens.

Wrong. They are about those who “do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church”. That includes “heathens”, but also unborn babies, Buddhists, frozen embryos, Muslims, retarded people, AND Protestants. AND it includes CATHOLICS who don’t understand their own faith. Of which ALL Catholics, including myself, are to some degree! We are all “heathens” Bob, needing God’s grace to lift us out of the muck. Lumen Gentium is merely pointing out that there are ordinary means by which people come to God. (the sacraments, Baptism, trust in Christ and His Church) God is not bound by the ordinary means. He can do what he wants. As a father of a miscarried baby who was most likely already dead when he was baptized, I take comfort in that.

The RCC teaches that heathens can be saved by good works without the church.

No one can be saved outside of the Catholic Church! PERIOD. Get it? So please learn what Catholics believe before you stuff a straw man and take him all the way to Emerald City! If heathens are saved it is through imperfect communion with the Catholic Church.

And I bet you agree with the idea expressed in the document Bob. You yourself “strive to live a good life” in the way Catholics are meaning. They are not talking about the straw man of “good works” Protestants often have. What the document is saying is did they follow God the best they knew how? That is something you yourself do! When (by grace) the Holy Spirit prompted them, did they respond? Or did they reject? I assume you believe a tribesman who has never heard of the name of Jesus can go to heaven Bob. Assuming you believe that, doesn’t it make sense that he could go to hell also? If he sees someone hungry and does not feed him, that tribesman may go to hell for that. He rejected grace. If he feeds him, he is following Christ. He is responsible for what God reveals to him. This is basic Christianity Bob.

You yourself “strive to live a good life” just like Lumen Gentium says. You strive to obey Christ, you try to be contrite for your sins, you strive to trust Christ more each day. Why do you blame the RCC for teaching something that is false which you yourself practice?

I brought out a few things here - again they "make sense" with the extended RCC explanation machine working at full throttle.

Saying it is a “machine” implies there is no logic or emotion but only a desire to be right at all cost. If something “makes sense” then it should be because it is true, not because of sly arguments or rhetoric. Many aspects of Reformed theology “make sense” to me from within the Reformed paradigm. The reason I reject them is not because they do not make sense, but because they are not the faith of the Church which Christ founded and gave His authority to.

It seems that the RCC's interpretive authority expands not only to the Bible, but also to any statements that any pope through history makes. Why can't anyone just mean what they say and say what they mean?

I think you want everything tied up in a bow and tailor made for Bob in 21st century USA. You’re not going to get it. The scripture is FAR HARDER to interpret than any statements of popes. “Why can't [Jesus] just mean what [He] says and say what [He] means?” I sure wish all Christians could agree on what John 6 says, or any # of other passages of scripture. Oh well! They don’t. Magisterial statements nowhere near as misread. Time, place, intention, and language all matter. And those statements are not “inspired” like the scripture is, so in that sense they are easier to interpret, because they are only the words of men. Not the multivalent words of God. They are protected from error, but are still just the words of men in a certain time period, with their own foibles and such.

When Proverbs 26 says: “DO NOT answer a fool according to his folly” and in the VERY VEXT verse says “answer a fool according to his folly.” Is there a contradiction? Only to the jaundiced eye atheist reader of scripture. To God’s people, we (in general) know what is meant. We are not “explaining away” the text when we give reasons why there is no contradiction. We don’t have an agenda, and we TRUST proverbs. If the same attitude is had with the Magisterium, the contradictions and problems usually melt away. Your quote from Lumen Gentium is being interpreted by you in your own terms and definitions. Right down to the idea of “works”. If you read it in that light, with assumptions the writers did not intend, you will not understand what the writers meant.

(Now my response to your most recent email)


First off, you didn’t answer my (bolded, italicized, and underlined) question concerning the African bishop in 2000.

What do you think you have proved by citing this bishops statement?
I think it is very pertinent. You seem to think naughty bishops disprove Catholicism or something. And I just don’t understand why you think that.

"I can articulate and reject the Roman Mass."

Well if you can, you certainly have not done so. Nothing you have said shows that you understand it.
For instance, I can explain what "imputation" means and why I reject it, you have not shown you understand what Catholics believe the mass to be. You just reject my cursory explanation as unbelievable.
What is more unbelievable: God saying someone does not have sin, when in reality they do (simul iustus et peccator/imputation), or Calvary taking place both in and outside of the temporal realm? I don’t think one is more believable than the other really, they both are hard concepts to fully grasp (at least for me), and in fact I think both can make sense to a reasonable mind. The reason I reject imputation now is primarily because that is not the faith of the Church, not because it doesn’t make sense. I guess for you the mass being Calvary and happening outside of time just stretches belief somehow, yet all the other impossible paradoxes of Christianity fit like a puzzle?

I don't know how seriously to take all of this and how much you even want a response. Whatever, I will keep responding as long as you show even just a bit of desire for one, or if you want to present real arguments of why I am led astray I will mull them over and talk about those ideas. I am trying my best to understand here you are coming from.

I do have responses to what you have to say, but I wonder if you even care. Normally if someone says I am stupid I cut off the conversation, because that really is the end of conversation. If in your eyes I am brainwashed and in a cult, and not "thinking for myself", there is absolutely NOTHING I can say that you will accept.

Honestly when you said "I would ask you to think for yourself. Blind obedience is a sign of a cult."

If you are trying to piss me off, you win.

Blind obedience? Wow you seem to know a lot about me. I do try to be obedient, but I like to think I am not a cool-aid drinking robot about it and just obey blindly. Perhaps I am wrong? Perhaps if you could show me an example of this "blind" obedience I could take the blinders off? One thing about "discussion" or "argument" Bob, is that it is much easier to cast aside a viewpoint you don't like if you use the "poisoned well" fallacy.

Cuz hey, if I am "blind", what is the point of trying to put forth effort to SHOW me something? (never mind the fact you haven’t seriously tried to show me anything)
But if I am blind, what else can you do but just quietly pity me and pray for me? *It is so sad that I choose to not talk about religion and never read books or discuss things. I really am just so blind.*

And the "cult" part? Puh-leese. Lets see...

• I guess 51% of Christians COULD be in a cult.
• I guess the church with the most extensive coverage of the planet COULD be a cult.
• All that praying to Jesus I do and seeking to follow what He did COULD be a tricky sign I am in a cult.
• Confessing sin and trying to root it out... cult.
• Thousands upon thousands of the most intelligent men the world has ever produced having no problem being Catholics... cultish.
• Brilliant men like G. K. Chesterton, Marshal MacLuhan, John Henry Newman and hundreds of others CONVERTING to the Catholic Church for reasons of conscience, intellect and principle (not simply marriage or something)... cultish.
• My Protestant sister thinks baptizing babies means it is a cult. She COULD be right. About you and me!
• Believing salvation begins, is carried out with, and ends with 100% unmerited, and unasked for grace... culty.

Anything you say about the Catholic Church being a cult I can turn right back onto you. I see all the same warning signs: A Charismatic leader who spurns all authority, the leaders insistence on his own interpretation of scripture, etc. The main difference is you are only ONE GUY with a congregation of 3.

Which is more likely to not be a cult? A 2000 year old 1.1 billion member multinational organization with a wide diversity of cultures, or .... Bob.

I researched the Catholic Church for months Bob. And before I even considered it, I spent a lot of my hard earned money on Amazon to buy books on sola Scriptura. THE MAJORITY OF THEM WERE PROTESTANT BOOKS. And I read them all. And I gave them a fair hearing, trying to not be biased the best I could. I truly and honestly wanted them to disprove the Catholic authority claim. Some of them, like the shape of sola scriptura, I had already read back in ~'02, but I read it again, with a highlighter. I then had an email discussion with the author (it is on my blog). That book is the premier Reformed book on sola Scriptura. Recommended to me personally by R. C. Sproul Jr., Doug Wilson, and many other local Reformed guys. Have you read it? Have you even read the article on Called to Communion which refutes it?

I doubt you have read either one.

AFTER I read the sola Scriptura books, then I started on the apostolic succession and papacy books. Keep in mind that the books I gave you are some of the THIN ones that were on my shelf. The Fortescue one is the only one I bought before deciding on Catholicism, and even that one is thin and a brief overview of patristic writing on the topic of papal authority. I have 3 other much larger books on THAT TOPIC ALONE that I read also. One of them is just on Matt. 16! The whole book! Not to mention watching debates with the best Protestant apologists, reading many of their articles, interacting with them personally online.
Perhaps you are accusing me of “blind obedience” because you feel yourself being tempted toward blind obedience? I don't know, that is for you to decide. If that is the case, then don't do it. DO NOT become a Catholic for stupid reasons! I keep saying that over and over. If you think "The God of the Protestant church" (whatever that church believes) will "not let you down", and you think the truth is in Protestantism, then by all means stay there! But don't call me blind. I might be wrong, but I didn’t stumble blindly into it. If I am headedfor hell, it is with both hands on the wheel and foot to the floor. But with my eyes wide open. I guarantee I have researched Catholicism far more than you have, I can articulate the positions better than you can, and I was anything but "blind" when I made my decision.

"Crossing the Tiber could lead me closer, or to the pits of Hell. Closer would be nice, but is it worth the risk of my own salvation, and that of my children?"

If you think Catholicism is evil, then don't do it! If I make it, I will hopefully see you in heaven some day. If you are convicted that she could be who she says she is, then pray and research it, and pray some more. The main reason I started researching it was because of my children. I had the nagging feeling for years that I was responsible to teach them the truth of the faith, yet I could not be sure I was not leading them astray. Will the PCA, OPC, or CREC have lesbian pastors in 60 years? Perhaps. Is the federal Vision good or bad? I don't know. These are too important of questions to be left up to us layman. THE Church should be guiding us in these questions, but instead, Protestant churches leave it up to us as individuals to decide. Sorry, but that is not what the scripture says is supposed to happen. When I "take it to the Church" like Jesus says to, I want an answer. I should not have to ask "which church?" My children are looking to me to give them truth. I couldn’t honestly keep giving them my "best shot" at the truth any longer. I knew the true Church was something outside of "me".

And If you can't decide if Catholicism is evil or good, then you need more information. Have you prayed? Have you asked God NO.... BEGGED God for wisdom? Have you studied each topic in depth that you find crucially important? If not, then you need to go back to the drawing board. I suspect that you are being swayed from both sides, including by me, by quips from the internet and fallacious arguments like your paganism one. You need better resources, and you need to try to get under the skin of each side’s arguments- in their shoes. Even the Catholic Answers website can be deadly simplistic sometimes, with one page “just so” papers on very complex topics. When it comes to Protestant apologetic websites, it is a mixed bag too, some are similar to Catholic Answers, with just one page generalizations, some are fair and more in depth, and some are sensationalistic and outrageous, and they talk about obiliscs and funny hats. Ask each side what the best resource for a given topic is, and read each side. Read shape of sola scriptura, then read the CTC article. Decide for yourself, but do the research.
Take care you are not like Naaman, who didn’t like what he heard from the prophet and turned away.

Many times now you have said that it appears the Catholic Church is what she says she is... The Church. Well, if you suspect that might be true, then it is worth taking some time to explore. Don't let me or anyone else convince you with simple statements and personal anecdotes. Look at the evidence yourself. Read the Church fathers.

Read the 7 letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who died in the coliseum in 107AD.

Read him for yourself here:

See if he sounds more Catholic or Protestant. Listen to what he says about the Eucharist, Church authority, Apostolic succession, etc.

Get arguments from many sources for the same topic. For instance, your view of the mass is simply not the faith of the Catholic Church. There is much more to it, and you have stated things in a simplistic way that makes it easy to dismiss the Catholic view. Read a couple Catholic books about that topic if it is a big deal to you, and a couple Protestant ones. Honestly, you even oversimplified the Protestant view of Calvary. You seem to imply the work of Christ on Calvary needs no applying, as if the fact that it was once for all means nothing happens to apply it after that. Well, both Protestants and Catholics say it needs applying to be effective to individuals.

" If you want to believe that somehow the elements are "outside of time" so that you are participating in Calvary of the 1st century then you have a much higher threshold for believability than I do."

Huh? So you believe in the Trinity, which is one AND three, AT THE SAME TIME, but believing something can occur outside of time is crazy? Even the Reformed liturgy of covenant renewal is often said by Reformed scholars to take place in heaven outside of time. Nothing unique about the mass in that sense. Even the Reformed believe it. I did/do. This was one of the easiest transitions for me: from covenant renewal to the mass. The parallels are amazing.

"The protestant position, as you know, is that purgatory doesn't exist..."

No. I don't know that. Cuz It aint true. There are prominent Protestants who say it could very well exist, so your info is incorrect. But here again, you show that you just simply need to research things more. This reminds me of when you though the perpetual virginity of Mary was “low hanging fruit” on the tree of Catholic retardedness. I informed you then that many Protestants, including Luther and Calvin, believed it. Augustine believed it too. It just is not as big of an issue as you make it out to be.
"...and that Christs death on the cross pays the penalties for sin."

Of course Catholics believe that. It is sad to have to even say it. So no one will ever go to hell then? Is that the "Protestant position?" Of course not. Because they too believe it needs applying. And there is no "Protestant position" on how it gets applied. There are a dozen Protestant positions on how that happens. And of course Catholics believe that "Christ’s death on the cross pays the penalties for sin" and have their theology of how it is applied as well. I assume you have heard of "sacraments" at some point in your Reformed upbringing?

Honestly Bob, I don’t personally care which way you decide to go. I want you to love Jesus, teach your kids about Him, and I want you to go where you think God is leading you. For me, that was the Catholic Church. For you it might be back to choosing a session you agree with and "submitting" to them, or it might be the Evangelical Free Church or whatever. That is all fine and good. If you make the decision in good conscience, God will be with you. But if you abandon a path you know in your heart could be where God is leading you, that would obviously be disobedient to Him. Only you know these heart matters.

If there are specific, single, issues you want to go into, please let me know if you desire my input. I do better one at a time.

Peace to you and yours,



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