Skip to comments.Why Catholics Have More Fun Than Protestants While Studying Early Church History
Posted on 01/05/2009 2:54:13 AM PST by GonzoII
WHY CATHOLICS HAVE MORE FUN THAN PROTESTANTS WHILE STUDYING EARLY CHURCH HISTORY
Catholics admire evangelical Protestants for their courage to stand up on life issues and many other truths of moral law. Catholics also admire their Protestant brethren for their devotion to reading the Word of God and their willingness to stand up for what they believe and bring others to knowledge of Christ's saving work. Catholics see the grace of Christ at work in these Christians and often depend on their generous prayers in time of need.
So, Catholics feel badly for Protestants who oftentimes feel crushed upon embarking on studies of the Early Church only to discover the Early Church did not believe what they had envisioned.
Students of Protestantism hear it repeated on a regular basis that the 16th century Reformation "restored" doctrine to how things used to be in the Early Church. So it is not surprising that hearers of the above statement mistakenly take this to mean that Christians in the first few centuries held to the Reformers' doctrines of "faith alone" or "Scripture alone."
Naturally, they are not happy when they discover that not a single Christian between the Apostles and the next thousand years or so believed in these doctrines. In fact, the early Christians not only did not believe Luther's doctrines, they actually believed doctrines that sharply clashed with Luther's "faith-alone" theology of the 16th century.
What we find is that the early Christians vociferously defended Church authority, believing the Church and Scripture went hand in hand, and that Jesus had promised the Holy Spirit would guide His Church into "all the truth." (Jn 16:13). The early Christians vociferously defended the true Church as the one in union with the direct successor of St. Peter, to whom Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom (Mt 16:19). The bishop who held this ongoing chief office was said to sit in the "Chair of Peter." Peter was directly succeeded by Linus, who was directly succeeded by Anacletus, who was directly succeeded by Clement of Rome, who . . . 261 men later, was directly succeeded by Pope Benedict XVI.
On Baptism, evangelical Protestants are taught the sacrament does not remove any sin from the soul. They are taught it is merely a sign. So, they are crushed when they find out the Early Church unanimously taught that Baptism was indeed regenerative, removing original sin, as well as personal sin. Catholics continue to believe that babies receive the free gift of salvation, becoming a child of God, when they are baptized and washed clean of original sin. Only mortal sin can separate them from eternity with Christ.
BIBLE: Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
The early Christians were very aware that being "born of water and the Spirit" was a reference to Baptism. They knew the Bible was telling them that one could not enter heaven unless they were baptized.
BIBLE: Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name (Acts 22:16)
BIBLE: Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (1 Pet 3:21)
St. Augustine echoes the early Church belief that sins are forgiven in Baptism: "There are three ways in which sins are forgiven: in baptism, in prayer, and in the greater humility of penance; yet God does not forgive sins except to the baptized" (Sermons to Catechumens on the Creed 7:15 395 A.D. ).
Regarding the Eucharist, evangelical Protestants are taught the Bible's instruction to "eat" Christ's "flesh" are not literal. But, after perusing a library full of early Christian writings, they eventually realize the Early Church did take a literal interpretation. In fact, all Christians from the Apostles to the 16th century took a literal interpretation. The Early Church Fathers were unanimous on teaching the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. The early Christians accepted the literal message about the necessity of eating Christ's flesh for one's salvation in the Gospel of John (Jn 6:35-71). They accepted the literal definition of "is" when the Lord held up the host and said "This is my Body" (Mt 26:26). The early Christians celebrated the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass.
In St. Ignatius of Antioch, the third bishop of Antioch, wrote: "They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins
In 151 A.D., Church Father Justin Martyr wrote the Eucharist "is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus"
In 405 A.D., St. Augustine wrote: "Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, This is my body [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands" (Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10 [ 405 A.D.]).
Most Christians today do believe in the literal presence of the real Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. (but not evangelical Protestants)
Evangelicals know that Reformation theology states one cannot lose one's salvation (i.e. lose justifying grace once one has received it). So, naturally, they are surprised to find that not a single Christian believed this doctrine in the Early Church or at any time prior to the 16th century. In fact, the early Church Fathers agreed that serious sins (mortal sins) would result in a loss of God's grace. They all believed justification could be received, and then lost.
St. Augustine ponders the enigma of two men who are justified, yet one perseveres until the end and one loses his justification: Of "two pious men, why to the one should be given perseverance unto the end, and to the other it should not be given, Gods judgments are even more unsearchable. . . . had not both been called and followed him that called them? And had not both become, from wicked men, justified men, and both been renewed by the laver of regeneration?" (The Gift of Perseverance 9:21 [428 A.D.]).
Fortunately, as St. Ignatius of Antioch pointed out, those who fall still have the possibility of repenting and rising again: "And pray without ceasing in behalf of other men; for there is hope of the repentance, that they may attain to God. For cannot he that falls arise again, and he may attain to God?" (Letter to the Ephesians 10 [A.D. 110]).
Where did the early Christians get the idea that one could fall from grace? From the Bible!
BIBLE: You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace (Gal 5:4)
BIBLE: Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. (Rom. 11:22)
BIBLE: Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Cor 10:11-12)
The Bible tell us some sins are deadly and some are not. If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal. (1 Jn 5:16-17)
Many evangelical Protestants are not even familiar with the doctrines of apostolic succession (all bishops of the Church must be successors of the College of Apostles) and Petrine succession (the head bishop of the Church must be a direct successor of St. Peter), so it comes as a surprise when they find these two things were MAJOR and NON-NEGOTIABLE doctrines of the Early Church.
The early Christians, by definition, were in union with the Chair of Peter. St. Jerome, for example, declared "I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter (Against the Luciferians 23 [383 A.D.]).
This Chair of Peter has continued for almost 2,000 years, with Pope Benedict XVI being the current occupant of the Chair. Protestants cut themselves off from communion with this Chair in the 16th century. But now that the ancient concerns Luther had in the 16th century have long been eradicated in the Church, we hope Protestants will come back.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK
Catholics have always anointed the very sick or very injured with oil if a person's life could be in danger. We call this sacrament, which involves anointing and special prayers, the Anointing of the Sick or Extreme Unction. So, Protestants are disappointed when they hear why the Reformers in the 16th century eliminated this sacrament. The new theology of the Reformers said no sacrament could be remotely connected to forgiveness, so they had to get rid of it. The Bible shows Christians should anoint their sick, that it is connected to forgiveness, and the sacrament can heal people spiritually and even physically at times.
BIBLE: So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them (Mk 6:12-13)
BIBLE Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14-15)
Confirmation, which involves being sealed with the Holy Spirit, has always been a Sacrament of the Catholic Church. Some of the Protestant Churches got rid of it in the 16th century, while others completely changed its meaning and its true spiritual effect. So, it is disappointing for some Protestants to find the Bible clearly shows apostles confirming people with the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands as a separate action from Baptism. In the early Church, many people got baptized and confirmed on the same day since they were already adults when they entered the Christian community.
BIBLE: Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Sama'ria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17)
BIBLE: On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:5-6)
BIBLE: But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee (2 Cor 1:21-22)
Protestants are trained not to mention "relics" unless they tie it to the word "medieval" in order to conjure up terrible scary images of Catholics, who respect God's holiest friends. By constantly labeling relics as a "medieval" thing, most students of Protestantism mistakenly infer that relics were not a part of Christianity until medieval times. So, it is with much chagrin that they learn that the Early Church had just as much respect for relics (body parts, tiny pieces of bone, or clothes or things that touched a holy saint) as the Catholic Church has today.
Even in 156 A.D., Christians of Smyrna reverently took up the relics of their bishop Polycarp after he was martyred. According to the ancient writings: We took up his bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together. [The Martyrdom of Polycarp]
In 419 A.D., St. Augustine testifies that even in his time, miracles were still being worked by God through the relics of saints. In his famous City of God, he wrote: For even now miracles are wrought in the name of Christ, whether by his sacraments or by the prayers or relics of his saints
The relics of St. Januarius, a bishop and martyr of the early 4th century, were known by the Early Church to be responsible for many miracles, including the halting of eruptions of Mt. Vesuvious. Christians always preserved the relics of the holiest saints and placed them in churches for Christians to venerate. That includes the relics of St. John the Baptist, the relics of St. Stephen (the first Christian martyr), the relics of St. Peter and Paul, the relics of St. Brigid of Ireland (died 525 A.D.), S.t Nicholas (bishop of Myra), Even the Christians who learned straight from the Apostles did this. If someone tries to tell you it's "medieval," don't believe it! In 386 A.D., St Ambrose (bishop of Milan and mentor of St. Augustine) was told in a dream where to excavate and find the relics of St. Gervasius and St. Protasius. The next bishop of Milan placed the relics of St. Ambrose in the same church with Saints G & P. Many miracles occurred while the relics of St. Monica (mother of St. Augustine) were being brought to Rome. You may have seen the news reports that in 2004, the relics of St. Augustine were brought to Rome for veneration
The Catholic Church today has the same attitude toward relics that the Early Church had. In the words of St. Jerome: "We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the Creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore Him whose martyrs they are." (Letter to Riparius, 420 A.D.)
Where did the Early Church get the idea that God could work through the relics of his saints? The Word of God!
BIBLE: And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them (Acts 19:11-12)
BIBLE: so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed (Acts 5:15-16)
BIBLE: So Eli'sha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Eli'sha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Eli'sha, he revived, and stood on his feet (2 Kings 13:20-21)
Truthfully, most Catholics don't know much about relics or indulgences. They only start looking them up when Protestants keep telling them about them. In fact, the first few people who told me about indulgences were all Protestant/non-denominational and I was already an adult at the time. After 12 years of Catholic school, approximately 1,460 religion classes, and decades of going to Sunday Mass, I still had never heard of Indulgences. So I found it very ironic to learn that Protestants who take even one class on Catholicism at their own church hear all about indulgences!
It blows my mind that these classes, which are supposedly about the Catholic faith, never seem to teach these sincere students one of our most basic, basic doctrines: that our pope is and has for 2,000 years been a direct successor of St. Peter in an unbroken line back to the first century. These teachers refuse to bring up the second pope Linus, the third pope Anacletus, the four pope Clement of Rome, etc. It's like this major doctrine didn't even exist. These teachers mysteriously fail to mention the basic Scripture passages Catholics offer for where Jesus hands over His awesome authority to his Church (Mt 28:18-20, Mt 16:18-19, Mt 18:17-18), or gives his Church His own authority to forgive sins (Jn 20:23), or where the Bible refers to the Church as the "pillar and bulwark of truth" (1 Tim 3:15). It's almost like attending a class at Iceland University on the United States, and the Icelandic teacher mysteriously "forgets" to mention that the U.S.A. is led by a president or that we've had presidents in succession since George Washington.
MORE BIBLE STUFF
Finally, Protestants who have memorized the phrases such as "justification is by faith alone" are disappointed when they learn, sometimes not until old age, that the phrase "faith alone" appears in the Bible only one time (James 2:24), and it says the opposite of what they have memorized. ("Justification is by works and not by faith alone." (James 2:24).
Similarly, Protestants who have memorized the phrase "Confess straight to God, not to men!" are disappointed when they come across the part of the Gospel of John where Jesus, instills in His representatives (who are men!) His awesome power to forgive sins. (John 20:23) This bestowing of the power to forgive or to withhold forgiveness occurs during one of those few sacred moments where Jesus actually breathes the Holy Spirit into his Apostles.
Don't be sad, Protestants. You have been blessed with faith and a loving family who instilled in you a love of Scripture. But Jesus really did build a Church on Peter and promise it truthful guidance by the Holy Spirit. He intended this Church to guide all of his flock and most importantly, to give us the personal gift of Himself through the sacraments. All of your ancestors were part of this Church. We have an assurance from Jesus Himself that this Church will still be here when Christ comes again. Even though some of our members may sin, we have a promise from Jesus that our Church will still proclaiming truthful doctrines (Jn 16:13). We have an assurance that when you take Communion, you will be allowing the living God to enter you, transform you, and refine you. It is hard for devout Catholics to imagine not having this personal encounter with our Savior. We can hardly live without Him.
John 6:56: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him"
John 16:13: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth"
Mt 16:16-18: And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Mt 18:18: "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven"
If Protestants were correct that the original, true Church ceased to be the true Church at some point in time, then that would mean that Jesus did not tell the truth! Jesus promised that not even the powers of hell could prevail against His church (Mt 16:17). When his Church spoke, it would be Christ himself speaking (Lk 10:16).
He also promised to be with the teaching mission until the END OF THE AGE! Jesus said: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Mt 28:20)
Catholic Answers has compiled QUOTES from the EARLY CHURCH FATHERS. Check them out!
Church Fathers on the Church and Papacy
Church Fathers on Salvation, Baptism and Mortal Sin
Church Fathers on the Sacraments
Church Fathers on Scripture and Tradition
Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Baptism, Sacrament of Penance, Sin, Summa Theologica on Confession, Sacrament of Confirmation, Priest, Apostolic Succession, Sanctifying Grace, Infallibility, Relics, Miracles, Church Fathers on Infused Righteousness, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Calvinism, , The Reformation, The Counter-Reformation, Papacy, Sacrament of Confirmation (Aquinas) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Other stuff: Faith Alone: Luther's Discovery?, Do We Contribute to Our Salvation?, A Tiptoe through the TULIP, Justification by Faith, Justification in Catholic Teaching, Thomas Aquinas, Relics, Do Miracles Still Happen?, Salvation (Early Church Fathers), Sola Scriptura, Sola Scriptura article, Perspicuity of Scripture, Ask Any Question!
Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (The Lutheran-Catholic Agreement!)
Stuff on Peter, Petra, Petros, and the Papacy Respected Protestant scholars on Peter, Petra and Petros More on Peter, "Petra" and "Petros" Debate on "Petra" "Petros" and "Peter" Peter the Rock The Pebble Argument Goes Down Peter, Aramaic and Greek Scott Hahn on the Papacy
Suggested reading: The Salvation Controversy by Jimmy Akin, Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David Currie, Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn
Bibliography: Catechism of the Catholic Church, Catholic Answers, The Faith of the Early Fathers (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3),
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Some beautifully scripted thoughts here but in the nature of having more fun, my Senior Pastor is a very, very, VERY old man who actually was there at the time, so I shall ask for a second opinion....
And may the Truth win out, denomination notwithstanding!
I am currently teaching a course on church history to Chinese students, and we are currently in the 13th and 14th centuries. We are at the time of the Lollards in Germany and England, and John Wycliffe. We started with heavy documentation from the first three centuries dealing with Christianity in Antioch to Carthage to the south, and Antioch to Spain on the north of the Med.
What we do discover is that there is a lot of revisionist history from the Roman Church, especially from the time of Augustine. Everything must be made to appear to have an origin in what was created after Nicea (325 AD)
And we also notice that not one passage of Scripture quoted in the posted article says anything about a world-wide earthly religious institution based in the city of Rome.
“Fun” indeed, and we do not feel “crushed” at all, because we know how to read and research. The author agrees that others than members of the RCC institution have been brought to Christ, and that means that they (we)also have the Holy Spirit to guide us.
What is really amazing is how that the “Catholics” admire the “Protestants” (of course, there are millions of Christians who have never been either one) for their attention to Bible reading and study, when several of their own councils had put a ban on personal Bible reading.
But since their is so much revisionism out there (second to the “Catholic” institution, the greatest of the historical revisers for their own benefit are probably what are known as “Landmark Baptists”), it is a wonderful thing that genuine Christianity doesn't depend on historical data written by men for a foundation or Final Authority.
I would say quite historical.:)
"And may the Truth win out"
Who can argue with that.
I apologise! I didn’t catch the word “Causus” in the beginning of the title. Please forgive. No more posts from me on this thread. Catholic friends have at it, and I will just read.
Well John, while I disagree with the content of your post, this shouldn’t be a caucus thread because it deals with reflections on another group other than Catholics. You should be able to present a defense of the views.
You teach Church History?
One couldn’t tell by these revisionsit gems you’ve tossed about:
1) “What we do discover is that there is a lot of revisionist history from the Roman Church, especially from the time of Augustine. Everything must be made to appear to have an origin in what was created after Nicea (325 AD)”
Huh? What was created after 325? Such as? Show examples of revisionism. Please document them. Can you? Or will this be an empty assertion?
2) “What is really amazing is how that the Catholics admire the Protestants (of course, there are millions of Christians who have never been either one) for their attention to Bible reading and study, when several of their own councils had put a ban on personal Bible reading.”
Really? No ecumenical council ever banned personal reading of the Bible. Do you mean regional councils fighting heretics like the Lollards and Albigensians? Were those bans on personal reading of the Bible or on specific translations? Please document. Can you?
Mark to read later.
If that's the case,(maybe I missed something somewhere), then let the rules be applied.
bump for later
This article is not at all up to your usual standards, G. In all honesty, its a pretty obvious piece of simplistic revisionism. I often wonder why some Romans, like the author of this piece, feel compelled to write this sort of spin when the real history of The Church will do even more for their position save when it comes to their notions of Petrine Supremacy.
I don't see what is wrong with it, K, you know we Catholics interpret the Church Fathers to have believed in the Petrine Primacy, that doesn't necessitate "simplistic revisionism".
You obviously took a lot of time to write this and I commend you for your effort. My biggest problem with your work is the sarcastic tone in which you present it. It does not appear to me that you are trying to win anyone to the Lord so much as trying to prove that you are right and everyone else is wrong. Are you trying to win me to the Lord or to your point of view?
Pride is a killer.
Your title “Catholics have more fun than Protestants” brings back memories of many offenses I received as a young boy from young Catholic grade school students.
I had hardly knew any Romans Catholics until they finished the 6th grade and started to attend the public schools.
They could out curse, especially using the G.d. and J.C. words, more vocally and louder that I had ever heard. Their parents had no problem in owning the local “beer Joints” and the liquor stores; and or the special “night clubs.”
But they never shared or mentioned God, nor our Savior in a respected manner.
This continued on through high school, college and in
military service! They seemed to carry a life message; “You can live in sin, enjoy the pleasure of sin, then just confess it. Then go out and do it again!
This seemed to me their way of having more fun!
“...you know we Catholics interpret the Church Fathers to have believed in the Petrine Primacy....”
Orthodoxy does not doubt for a minute the fact of Petrine Primacy, G. What we reject is Petrine Supremacy. Its telling that you focused on the role of the Pope. It seems that at base, that’s the real issue for Rome. All other theology pales to insignificance in Rome’s mania that all Christians submit to the Pope of Rome and accept as dogma his claims of “immediate universal jurisdiction.”
In fact, G, saying, for example, that “confirmation” in the early church was often conferred on the same day as baptism, ignores the fact that to this day all of Orthodoxy and virtually all of the Eastern particular Churches in communion with the bishop of Rome do the exact same thing and also give the newly baptized communion too...even to little babies. The article is shot through with this sort of revisionism.
I will grant you that a faithful and accurate history of The Church, one whose purpose is other than the promotion of a late 19th century innovation about the Pope, will call into question Papal Supremacy, but otherwise it will demonstrate the essential faithfulness of the Church of Rome to the teachings and dogmas of the early Church and conversely, the falling away of Protestantism (only for the most part since in Anglicanism and Lutheranism there are truly “catholic” teachings and beliefs and practices) from those teachings. Hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians and likely Protestants too hear this constant Papal Supremacy spin and simply tune Rome right out.
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How do you know that GonzoII and the author Claire Furia Smith are the same person?