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To My "Bible Only" Christian Brothers and Sisters, From A Catholic Convert [a humble vanity]
Posted on 03/11/2012 4:27:55 PM PDT by Heart-Rest
Like you, I too used to be a "Bible Only" Christian, who would have said, "I only accept it and believe it if it's in the Bible!" With great regret and contrition, I also have to admit that I too was once very anti-Catholic, like many of you are right now, (and, coincidentally, like the unceasingly prevaricating President B.O. is, the lying foulmouth pervert Bill Maher is, the New York Times is, Muslims are, Communists are, atheists are, the main-stream-media in general is, anti-Catholic phony Catholics like Pelosi/Sebelius/Biden/Kerry/Kennedys/etc. are, democrats (in general) are, and many others ALSO are right now, unfortunately). Then, somewhere along the way, I ran into some very difficult questions that I had to honestly confront in my search for the "Truth". (Anything less than the full Truth is basically not worth much in this search for the Truth, the most important search we will ever do in this life.)
For some time, I explored a number of Christian denominations before I found the "fullness of Truth" and the Catholic Church which Jesus Himself built. Eventually, I came to see that the Truth was a lot different than I had been perceiving it, and if I really wanted to be honest, I had to change to conform myself to that Truth, rather than trying to change that Truth to conform it to me and my own prior personal pet beliefs.
In a spirit of Christian love and sharing, I urge you too to begin ask yourself some of these same questions regarding some of the issues that are often discussed and argued here in this forum, and to honestly reexamine these beliefs for yourselves. I want to just put these questions and issues to you honestly and bluntly, in the exact same way I always preferred to face them myself. No matter what you currently believe, please just go wherever the Truth leads you. It is, after all, our souls and eternity that is at stake, and finding the real Truth is far better than merely trying to win an argument. Please remember that even one small, simple, and seemingly insignificant wrong turn can end up getting a person hopelessly lost. It is my hope that, at the very least, we all will achieve a little better understanding of some of these issues we often dispute here and in other public forums.
Issue 1 - Bible only? Where in the Bible does it specifically say that someone was instructed or inspired by God to write the "Gospel of Matthew"? (Please give me the actual Bible book, chapter, and verse where it explicitly says that.) And where in the Bible does it specifically say that the "Gospel of Matthew" was to be included in the Holy Scriptures, as part of the Bible? I also ask you to apply those same exact two questions to the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of John, the Pauline Epistles, the other New Testament Epistles, etc.
If such specific statements cannot be found in the Bible (which truthfully, they cannot), then you have to be depending on sources outside the Bible to proclaim all those specific authors and writings (such as the Gospel of Matthew) to be inspired by God, and specifying that they should be included in the Sacred Scriptures, the Holy Bible. So, obviously, you are not really Bible-only Christians. You are relying on Tradition, whether you accept that the Tradition came from several Catholic Church Councils under the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit, or you somehow believe it was some other source that decided it, also from outside the Bible. In either case, it would have to be based on some source not contained within the Bible itself -- some kind of non-Biblical "Tradition". That is the simple, honest truth.
You also have to take the word of those same human beings in those Catholic Church Councils that such writings as the Gospel of James (the Protoevangelium of James), the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Barnabas, the Epistle of Barnabas, etc., should NOT be included in the Holy Scriptures (the Bible).
Another question you should ask yourself is, where in the Bible (Book, Chapter, and Verse please) does it tell you that you are to rely only on the Bible for your rule of faith? (Once again, if you can't find that in the Bible -- which you can't -- you would have to be relying on some other non-Biblical source to tell you that that was what you were supposed to do.) These are not new questions, of course, but they do have to be addressed directly by anyone who is seriously seeking the real and complete truth, and who do not want to be deceived by the great deceiver.
Another point to keep in mind concerning the Bible and the Church explicitly promised and built by Jesus Christ, is the fact that he established his Church long before the Bible was completed. As can be seen in the Bible itself, the Church was already in existence (and being severely persecuted) before the New Testament was even completely written. Saul, who later wrote most of the "books" of the New Testament after changing his name to Paul (the Apostle), was persecuting the Church long before he even began to write his "Epistles". (See Acts 7:58 through Acts 8:3, and Acts 9:1-5.)
This episode describing the beginning of the conversion of Saul / Paul from the Book of Acts, also is a very clear illustration of how Jesus Christ identifies his very Self with his Church, long before the Bible was complete. After Saul got knocked down by a light from heaven, Jesus said to him, "Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (He did not say, "Why are you persecuting my Church", but, rather, "Why are you persecuting ME?") (See Acts 9:3-5.) If his Church is that important to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who actually identifies Himself with his Church, please explain to me why his Church should not be important to all of us as well. (And, again, please remember that Jesus was saying this to Saul long before the Bible was even completely written.)
Issue 2 - Rejecting the Catholic Church because of the Priestly scandals. Over time, many posters here have expressed their unwillingness to even consider the Catholic Church because of the horrible Priestly scandals and coverups. However, please think about this for just a minute. It has been estimated that less than 2% of Catholic Priests were actually implicated in this kind of behavior, mostly back in the 1980's and before, and an even smaller number (and percentage) of Catholic Bishops were ever implicated in any kind of so called "coverup" of those kinds of Priestly misconduct. There is absolutely no excuse for ANY sexual abuse, and perpetrators should be properly punished and removed from any possibility of doing such evil acts ever again, and all proper legal measures to deal with the perpetrators should be undertaken, respected, and obeyed.
However, the Catholic Church itself should not be rejected (as some obviously do here) because of what a small percentage of errant Priests and Bishops have done. Please remember that Our Lord chose twelve special Apostles to travel around with him, and later to carry on His work. While child abuse is horrible and completely wrong, one of those twelve Apostles did something even worse than what those Priests did -- he conspired and helped to effect the murder of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Using that same logic of those who reject the Catholic Church because of what a tiny minority of their Priests have done in the past, one would have to reject the whole group of thirteen (Our Lord and His twelve Apostles), because of what that minority of them (Judas Iscariot) did. (He represented an even higher percentage -- over 7% -- of that group of thirteen, Our Lord and His twelve Apostles.) To be truly and honestly consistent, one would have to reject Our Lord and all His Apostles because of what one person out of that group of thirteen did (7% of them), if one decides it is necessary to reject the Church because of what less than 2% of their Priests did.
Also, I've noticed that when some Catholic posters have pointed out from the available statistics that the numbers and percentages of abusers for other clergy in the Protestant world and in the Jewish world, as well as non-clergy (such as public-school teachers and such, and even the general public), are all just as bad or worse than the numbers and percentages for Catholic Priests, some anti-Catholic posters have attacked those Catholic posters, accusing them of trying to excuse or justify the horrible behavior exhibited by those few Catholic Priests. That is patently erroneous and false. The Catholic posters there are not trying to excuse or justify the horrible behavior exhibited by those few Priests. Rather, they are just attempting to do the exact same thing Jesus did when he wrote in the sand, as they tell Protestants and the others that whichever "group/church" that is without sin should cast the first stone at the Catholic Church. (That kind of deliberate mischaracterization and misrepresentation done by certain anti-Catholic posters regarding what Catholic posters are ostensibly "saying" and "meaning" and "intending" with their numerical comparison posts is clearly another obvious example of blatant falsehood. Like all falsehoods, it comes from Satan - "the father of all lies". Please don't do that. Keep it honest.)
We are all sinners -- Catholics, Protestants, and everyone else (even the people Jesus himself associated with in 1st Century Palestine, including the ones who needed the Great Physician the most).
Issue 3 - The Biblical Basis for the Catholic teaching concerning the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. Many Scriptural passages affirm the Catholic teaching about the Holy Eucharist, including "John 6", "1 Corinthians 11", and many others. To get a good overview for the Scriptural basis for this teaching about the Eucharist of the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox Church), I would recommend a good small book to start (a quick, fascinating, and delightful read), "This Is My Body - An Evangelical Discovers the Real Presence", by Mark P. Shea. (For a bit more in-depth analysis of this teaching, you might want to also read "Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper", by Brant Pitre, and "With Us Today: On the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist", by John A. Hardon, and "The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth", by Scott Hahn.)
However, I also want to address one specific argument that I've seen pop up in FR discussions here a number of times, relating to how food enters one end of our bodies, and comes out the other end as waste, and that reference is then used to try to somehow denigrate the Catholic teaching about the Holy Eucharist. For people who view the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (which, of course, was instituted by Jesus Christ Himself) in such a horribly disgusting and blasphemous and sacrilegious way, I'd like to earnestly implore them to please carefully consider the following thoughts.
When you sit down at your table to eat a regular meal (say dinner), I would guess that many of you first bow your heads and give thanks for the food which you are about to eat, and then ask God to bless that food. After you do that, do you believe there is anything different about the food you just asked God to bless, or is it just exactly the same as it was before you asked God to bless it? If you believe that your food which you just asked God to bless for you is somehow different from the way it was before you asked for that blessing from God, exactly how is it different? Can you see the difference? Can you taste the difference? Can you feel the difference? Can you smell the difference? Can you hear the difference? If your food is truly somehow different after God has blessed it, and you can't perceive it by any of your five senses, then it is obviously different in some way which is not detectable or observable by normal human perception. (You would have to just take that on faith, not relying on your limited human perception.)
Then, you proceed to eat that food. In that food, your body receives vitamins, minerals, protein, and various other nutrients, which will begin (and later continue) to provide or enhance your energy, healing and health maintenance, strength, growth, well-being, and, in general, serve to help enhance and extend your very life. These helpful properties are extracted from your food long before it continues it journey down through the body and is excreted at the "other end". (It is certainly hoped that no one here seriously considers that what they take in their mouth as food is the same exact thing that eventually comes out the other end of their bodies as waste matter.)
In an analogous way to our regular food and meals, Jesus stressed that his body and blood were to serve a special Sacramental function of putting his holy life into each of us, uniting with us in a most intimate way, and even when he said it the first time (see John 6), many people scoffed at him and did not believe him, and argued with him about it, then stopped listening to him, and finally just stalked off and left him. Can you imagine what it would have been like to have been one of those disciples who turned and walked away from Jesus just because of that one specific teaching of his which is recounted in "John 6"? The Bible says that teaching was too hard for them to take. nbsp; For those former disciples who became deserters, it was just too hard to understand, too hard to believe, too hard to accept, too hard to follow, so they turned and just walked away from Jesus Christ. Like many other people even today, those disciples just did not believe Jesus and his unusual teaching about this, and they made that very clear to everyone, then turned around and just walked away from Our Lord. The Scriptures do not say what happened to them after that, but have you ever thought about whatever happened to those deserters after they walked away from Jesus and abandoned him like that, just because of that one new and unusual teaching Jesus made about eating his body and drinking his blood, which they just could not bring themselves to believe or accept with faith?
Eventually, Jesus was surrounded by other angry mobs who ganged up on him when they disagreed with his teachings (such as this one) and they mocked him, argued with him, scorned him, made fun of him, called him names, insulted him with their most devastating put-downs, sarcastic barbs, condescendingly snide remarks, etc., and generally derided him and his teachings. In their own minds, they knew so much more than he did about everything. It is easy today to picture those scoffers walking around patting themselves and each other on the back for some clever insult or put-down towards him, with their haughty, prideful, arrogant, sneering snoots held high up in the air. Their aim was to win arguments and score debating points against him, not to humbly learn and embrace the holy truths he was teaching. They eventually conspired to murder Jesus because of his unusual teachings, and (with other co-conspirators) carried that murder out on Calvary.
Later, that same kind of belligerent and obnoxious treatment was also aimed at the members of the Catholic Church built by Jesus, even to the point of inflicting physical martyrdom on many of them. Sadly, that Catholic teaching which came straight from Jesus Christ, continues to this very day to be the target of that same kind of disbelief and verbal attack from many modern detractors as well. Like many people back then who heard Jesus teach this truth, some people today also do not believe what Our Lord Jesus Christ so plainly said. They seem to have no problem believing that it was possible for God to choose with his sovereign will and power to enter this world in the form of a simple human baby, but for some reason seem to think it is quite impossible for God to choose with his sovereign will and power to enter the world in the form of simple bread and wine, like Jesus so clearly and forcefully claimed. While His Church is still often horrendously attacked for retaining that beautiful teaching which Jesus gave them directly, he also assured all his faithful followers (then and now) that they would actually be blessed when other people reviled them and said all manner of evil against them falsely for his sake, because he obviously knew others would do just that.
One last point on this issue - the Catholic Church, as guided infallibly by the Holy Spirit, teaches that the Real Presence in that Sacramental form remains inside a person only until the so-called "accidents" of the Blessed Sacrament (the term used to describe the ways the "Body and Blood of Christ" appear to our physical human senses) begin to change form inside our body (about 15 minutes for most people). However, the "life" that Jesus Christ promised to those who partake of this sacred "food" worthily, remains within those worthy partakers, and they continue to receive the graces and blessings that God promised they would from a worthy reception of this Holy Sacrament.
Issue 4 - The Catholic Church teaches the worship of Mary. No, it does not. It is a complete misperception and misunderstanding. When you see people kneeling before a statue or picture of Mary (or some other saint) and praying, they are using the statue or picture to visualize Mary, as they ask her to pray together with them to God. They do NOT see her as some kind of goddess or deity. You have a total misconception about exactly what they are doing when you see them kneeling there. No matter what it may look like to other people who might see you, if you kneel down and pray with a Bible open in front of you, are you worshiping the Bible? If you kneel before a sick loved one's bed, are you worshiping that loved one? Are you worshiping the bed? If you kneel to pray in your church, are you worshiping the people or the pews in front of you? Are you worshiping your Pastor in the front of your church? If a person on a plane or bus saw that the person next to them was reading a porno book or magazine, then they saw someone else across the aisle reading a book that looked very similar, they might assume that other person was reading porno too, even if that other person was really reading a Bible. It might appear the same, but that is a total misperception -- it is completely different.
You might think that people kneeling before a statue or icon of Mary are worshiping her or the statue, because it looks similar to the way people in other religions might kneel and pray to idols, but Catholics truly are not. They use a statue or icon of Mary to focus their thoughts on her as they ask her to pray to God for them and with them. The use of the statue or picture would be somewhat similar to a spouse who, when out of town for a business trip, might take a photo of his wife out of his wallet to look at when he calls her, to bring better focus to his mind. He does not in any way mistake the photo for his actual wife, and he doesn't worship either the picture or his wife (in a "God" sense of the word).
Some posters here have claimed that Catholics worship Mary because they use so many different wonderful titles for her, or write some kind of flowerly and poetic love book to her. I guess that means that if Grandpa calls Grandma a bunch of special names, like "sweetie-pie", and "honey-buns", and "sugar-baby", and "plum-pudding", and "flower-blossom", (etc.), or if he writes a long and syrupy love poem to her, he is somehow truly worshiping her as an actual deity, right? (Not really. We should always want to stick to the real truth in anything even remotely involving our search for God. Do not read into things anything that isn't really there, as you would just be misleading yourself.)
As a good Jewish boy, Jesus surely would have fully honored his Mother as the Ten Commandments teach, and there should be no doubt that he would want all of us to honor his Mother too, and that he would strongly approve the fact that (as the Scriptures say) all generations would call her "blessed". She played a vitally important role (given her by God) for ALL of us, of ALL generations, whether we are personally able to recognize that or not.
Humans can only see what you are doing from the outside, but God sees the heart. God knows that I am not worshiping Mary when I am kneeling and praying there, and I know that I am not worshiping Mary, but other people may not know what I am doing. So, now I am plainly telling you -- the assertion that I am worhiping Mary is a complete falsehood, and all falsehoods originate from the father of lies, Satan. The Catholic Church does not teach the worship of Mary, no matter how many times and ways anyone might say that it does. You may be quite sincere in your belief about what you think I am doing, based on what you think you see and perceive, and you may not be deliberately lying about it, but it is (objectively speaking) a falsehood anyway, and all falsehoods come ultimately from Satan, whether someone sincerely believes them or not. Once you learn that truth, make sure you are then aware that from then on, you are morally required to also speak the truth about it yourself, not continue to assert a falsehood (from the father of all lies) regarding it.
Issue 5 - The Catholic Church teaches the worship of statues, icons, and paintings. No, they do not. Please see Issue 4 above (regarding Mary), as the same truths apply to both issues.
Issue 6 - The Catholic Church advocates and employs meaningless repetitious prayers. No, it does not. Catholics pray both non-formal, extemporaneous, spontaneous prayers, and certain formal, pre-defined prayers (such as the "Our Father", or the "Psalms"). Like many Protestants, many Catholics often "pray constantly, without ceasing, from the heart" with conversational prayers with God, but in addition to praying like that, they also utilize a huge treasure trove of prayers that others have composed and used before them in turning their face toward God. Some detractors point specifically to the "Rosary", calling it vain and repetitious prayer. That is simply false. The Rosary uses a combination of Scriptural prayer repetitions to calm a person down and relax them, while at the same time using a series of specific meditations on various events in the life of Jesus, which together then facilitate a deep form of contemplative prayer. The praying of the Rosary is quite often coupled with a special intention or purpose or "prayer request" or petition to God, such as a petition for the end of abortion. It is certainly not "vain repetition" -- that is a falsehood (from the father of all lies).
Catholics advocate and make use of silent prayers, vocal prayers, individual and group prayers, formal and informal prayers, the prayer of the Mass, the "Divine Office / Liturgy of the Hours" prayers, "Lectio Divina", Rosaries, the "Chaplet of Divine Mercy", other Chaplets, Novenas, the "Stations of the Cross" prayers, musical prayers, chanting prayers, meditation, contemplative prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, and many other forms and types of prayers. They use many rich and rewarding methods to approach and communicate with God.
Issue 7 - The Catholic Church does not place any or much emphasis at all on the Bible. While we could all certainly benefit from a lot more time spent with the written Word of God, I think it is pretty ludicrous to claim that Catholics ignore the Bible. A typical daily or Sunday Catholic Mass includes numerous Bible readings from the Gospels, the Psalms, and other Old Testament and New Testament books in the Bible. In addition to that, the liturgical prayers are literally saturated with Biblical references. Please attend some Catholic Masses, or see Dr. Edward Sri's book, " A Biblical Walk Through The Mass". Also, check out this magazine called "Magnificat", available at this link: Link for Magnificat Magazine It contains the Bible readings for the month for every single daily and Sunday Mass, in addition to the liturgical prayers simply filled with Biblical references. I can honestly say that I hear a lot more of the Bible during a typical Mass (daily or Sunday) than I ever did in any other kind of church service I ever attended in the many Protestant denominations I've been to.
Now, while we all should get a lot more familiar with the teachings contained in the Holy Scriptures, we also have to be careful how we look at other people and their own knowledge of the Bible. The Pharisees and other Jewish religious leaders during the New Testament times looked down with immense boastful pride, sneering superiority, and arrogant haughtiness at all those who did not know the Scriptures quite as well as them (in the areas of technical knowledge, "chapter and verse" (so to speak), and the "letter of the law"). Of course, Jesus verbally shot them down again and again and again, as, in spite of their great and extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, they still did not really understand them in the correct way, and Our Lord was quick to correct them over and over and over again. The teachings of the Bible entail so much more than a mere technical familiarity with them (and a knowledge of their numerical chapter and verse references) would indicate by themselves.
Some Catholics do not learn that "chapter and verse" of various Church teachings as well as they probably should, but they are exposed to so much more of the Scriptures in the course of their various liturgical services than people in many other denominations receive in their services. (If you don't believe this, check it out for yourself by attending Mass a few times.) (And, of course, just like all the various newer vernacular language translations, such as "English", the "chapter and verse" designations we use today were NOT a part of the original Bible whatsoever, but were added to the books of the Bible many centuries after they were written and transcribed.)
The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" also is just "loaded to the brim" with numerous Scripture references throughout, tying in the various teachings of the Catholic Church with their Biblical connections and roots in a deep and profound way, and giving the Biblical texts referenced.
This is just scratching the surface. Please look into this just a little bit deeper, and you will very soon discover that the claim that the Catholic Church does not place any emphasis on the Bible is clearly just another falsehood.
Issue 8 - Instead of building large, beautiful, ornate Cathedrals and Churches, Catholics should use that money for the poor. That eerily echoes the spurious argument used by Judas Iscariot, where he said that the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus should have used that money for the poor instead, but Jesus immediately rebuked him, and said the woman did exactly the right thing. (See Matthew 26:6-11)
Catholics do try in all ways they humanly can to build the most beautiful Cathedrals, Basilicas, Churches, Chapels, and other structures, in order to do their very best to bring the greatest glory to God that they possibly can, and to provide the most magnificent facilities they conceivably can for the worship of God, and for honoring the special Real Presence of Our Lord.
The Catholic Church also happens to be the largest charitable organization in the world, in her extensive, world-wide, loving support of the sick and the poor and the needy. (It is not an "either/or" kind of situation, but a "both/and" balance.)
Issue 9 - Do Catholics teach and believe that they can save themselves, or that salvation comes from God alone? The Catholic Church teaches that salvation comes from God alone.
Catechism of the Catholic Church - Paragraph 169 - Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation. Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith. Catholics do NOT believe they can save themselves, by works, or by any other means. However, God, in his holy, sovereign will, has required that something be done on our own part, using our human free will, in order to be able to accept that salvation he offers. God does not save us against our own free will which he gave us. When he tosses us the lifeline of salvation from his ship of life, he wills that we have to do our part from within our own free will, by accepting that salvation he offers, and grabbing and holding on to that lifeline. (We also do not believe in "once-saved, always saved", as that is neither Biblical, nor does it make any sense.)
Catholics look at salvation as an offering to us from God based on the saving blood in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary. He wills that we accept this using our own free will, and this magnificent gift from God is like a beautiful diamond with many other facets to it as well. For example, God might make use of a humble instruments such as fellow human creatures who share the Gospel with us, and he makes use of the Holy Sacraments he gave us to give us his Grace, and he uses the Holy Church he built and gave us, and he uses the Bible, and his commandments, and doing good things for the least of our brothers, and many other things as well, to help us get to the point where we freely accept the free gift he offers us, and then go on to actually demonstrate our acceptance of his gift in a truthful way by the way we live our lives. Remember, Jesus once even used lowly, humble mud as an instrument to heal a blind man. He could have just willed it, or snapped his fingers, or done whatever else he wanted to to effect that healing miracle, but he chose on that occasion to use a humble instrument to effect his holy will, and he still does that regularly today in many ways.
Protestants have all kinds of beliefs about salvation, and some of them are completely contradictory. For example, some Protestants believe in that "once saved, always saved" doctrine, and some don't. (They can't both be right.) Some Protestants believe that some souls are predestined to be saved or lost, and some Protestants do not believe that, while other Protestants believe that God uses a way that we humans simply do not understand that allows us to use our free will to accept his offer of salvation or not accept it, even though God knows in advance what we are going to end up choosing.
Catholics believe that Christ's one-time sacrifice is made present ("re-PRESENTED") in an unbloody, Sacramental way in each and every Catholic Mass, NOT REPEATED, and that God supplies his grace from that gift to different people at different times. We believe God is outside time. (Most Protestants believe something similar, whether they realize it or not, as they do fully comprehend that they were not actually around PERSONALLY when Christ was crucified, so the saving grace from his sacrifice way back then has to be applied to us who are alive today in some supernatural way TODAY, as observed from OUR limited, human, time-based life perspective.)
Unfortunately, some Protestants blast Catholics for saying we do have a part given to us by God that we have to do ourselves in order to accept the gift of salvation he has offered us, and for our belief in a continual conversion process, where we have to reaffirm and re-establish that acceptance throughout our lifetimes, growing in holiness, based on the way God wills that it be done. However, Protestants also believe that we humans have to do something on our part to accept that gift of salvation, whether it be to say a prayer to Jesus telling him of our belief and faith in him, and acceptance for the forgiveness his sacrifice on Calvary made available, or something else. Some Protestants then believe no matter what you do after that, you will be saved (even if you turn around after that prayer and go out and rob a bank and all the people in it, rape a bunch of women, commit mass murder, then die). Many other Protestants most certainly do not believe in that kind of "once saved, always saved" teaching. There is a wide spectrum of differing beliefs in the Protestant world concerning these crucial salvation questions with mutually exclusive answers.
Catholics believe that only God saves us, we cannot save ourselves, but God wills that we cooperate throughout our lifetimes with that saving grace he offers, not to spurn his priceless gift, or throw it away, but to eagerly accept it, cherish it, and try our best (with God's grace and relying completely on his help and his compassionate mercy) to hold on to that precious gift for the rest of our lives here on Earth, and that from our human side, we should, as the Apostle Paul said, "work out our salvation with fear and trembling" - Phillipians 2:12.
Our Lord points out something extra involved in salvation in this text: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 7:21.
Issue 10 - The Biblical meaning of "Church", as used in Matthew 16:18, 1 Timothy 3:15, etc. Some people who have disagreed with the Catholic Church in the past have insisted that the Greek term looking roughly like "ekklesia" has been repeatedly mistranslated, and in "the Bible according to them", should have been translated only as the word "assembly", nothing else. These folks should be made aware that, like virtually all words in all language-to-language dictionaries, high-quality Biblical Greek-English dictionaries have several different meanings listed for nearly every single word entry in the dictionary. There is almost never a perfect, exclusive, clean, word-for-word translation capability between ANY two languages, as any reputable translator will tell you. That Greek word that roughly looks like "ekklesia" using the English alphabet is no exception. In numerous Biblical Greek-English dictionaries (including Strong's for the King James Version of the Bible - #1577), one possible English word given for ekklesia is "Church" , another is "Synagogue", another is "assembly", and there are several others given as well.
It is obviously very telling and significant that the translators who translated that Greek word for both Matthew 16:18 and 1 Timothy 3:15 for the vast majority of the Bible translations in current use in the English speaking world (in both the Catholic sphere and the Protestant sphere), translate that word to "church", deeming that to be the most exact word to use to appropriately reflect the precise meaning it would hold in our modern English language today. To argue against that, one has to say that the Holy Spirit allowed all those Bible translators to get that "church" word wrong and only gives the "correct" translation to those individual readers/self-translators, who then try to use their own personal translation of that word to argue against the Church that Jesus Christ founded.
The list of translations that use the English word "church" include the "Revised Standard Version", the "King James Version", the "New International Version", the "American Standard Version", the "Douay-Rheims Version", the "English Standard Version", the "New American Standard Version", the "New International Reader's Version", the "New King James Version", the "Today's New International Version", and many other English translations.
Like the Catholic Church, most mainstream Protestant Churches today also accept that widespread "church" translation of that Greek word "ekklesia" in those Bible verses.
Some people have brought up that the word "church" is a more modern word derived from another language that was not around when the Greek books of the New Testament were written. My guess is that a careful analysis of the matter will show that most of our modern English language was not around back then in its current form, and if we were to somehow be able to talk to those ancient people in our modern English language, no one in the whole ancient world would be able to understand what we were saying. But, aside from that, the point they were making was completely irrelevant anyway.
Imagine (for example) that we discovered the long lost "Canadowizzy" tribe in the wilds of Canada somewhere. Our missionaries then decided to make a new translation of the Bible for them in their native "Canadowizzy" language. Then, imagine further that the translators discover there is no word in that tribe's language for "fig tree". They find out the tribe calls trees "zeemies", and after showing them a real fig tree, and they eat the fruit of that fig tree, etc., the tribe decides they want to call fig trees "zug-zeemies", so they create that new term for this thing they had been totally unaware of before this.
So, in doing the tranlation, the translators use that brand new word, "zug-zeemy" (the tribe's singular form of the word) when translating the story of the fig tree.
Even though that is a brand new word, that is exactly the only word you should use for the translation for that "Canadowizzy" language, as that is the most exact, precise meaning of the word for "fig tree" used in their language right now. The age of a word in the language that the Bible has been translated into has absolutely nothing to do with it. You simply want to use the most exact, precise, correct word in ANY new translation, that gives the truest, most accurate meaning to the word as it was intended in the other language you are translating from.
Of course, unlike "Synagogues" and "Assemblies", the "Church" itself was a brand new concept in New Testament times. Please remember that Jesus himself said he was going to build it upon a rock. What he was talking about actually did not exist before he built it. It was a brand new concept.
TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: billmaher; catholic; rome; rushlimbaugh; sandrafluke
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It is my sincere and humble prayer that we all turn to God in prayer to ask him to show us the real, honest Truth about all of these questions, and any other questions and issues that may come up between us. (And all of us should always remember that, when conversing with God in prayer, it is a very good idea to really just stick to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as I'm sure that none of us can possibly ever fool "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" about anything.)
And my further prayer is that we ALL may be ONE (just as Jesus prayed) within the one and only Church HE built -- about 1500 years before Martin Luther and John Calvin came along -- and that we may continue to grow steadily in enlightenment as provided by the "Light of the World", and progress to an ever greater level of understanding and love (as willed by God) and become saints, and make it into heaven!
May God bless all of us.
posted on 03/11/2012 4:34:02 PM PDT
(Further up and further in!)
To: Heart-Rest; NYer; Salvation
I also wanted to share with everyone a brief list of some of the resources that have been helpful (and are still being helpful) to me in my own spiritual journey. A lot of the books shown here were written by former Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants, who have converted to the Catholic faith. (One of the authors, the former Protestant Pastor, Scott Hahn, said that he used to believe that Rosary beads and praying the Rosary were idolatrous and superstitious nonsense, and he actually deliberately broke his own Catholic Grandmother's Rosary beads, to save her from what he then believed were her idolatrous sins. He later became much more enlightened, converted to the Catholic faith, and profoundly regretted that earlier impulsive action, and today he prays the Rosary regularly himself, and advocates it for all other Christians as well.)
I hope this list is helpful to somebody.
(Note to NYer and Salvation - If you would like to add any helpful resources to this list, it would be greatly appreciated.)
SOME RECOMMENDED BOOKS
- New Catholic Answer Bible: Revised New American Bible
- Catholic Scripture Study Bible RSV-CE Large Print Leather Bound - Gail Buckley (Editor)
- Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament Paperback - Curtis Mitch (Compiler), Scott Hahn (Editor)
- Understanding The Scriptures: A Complete Course On Bible Study (The Didache Series) - Scott Hahn
- Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians" - Karl Keating
- What Catholics Really Believe--Setting the Record Straight: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions about the Catholic Faith - Karl Keating
- Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic - David B. Currie
- Rapture: The End-Times Error That Leaves the Bible Behind - David B. Currie
- Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism - Scott Hahn
- Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith - Scott Hahn
- Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God - Scott Hahn
- The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth - Scott Hahn
- Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots - Scott Hahn
- Scripture Matters: Essays on Reading the Bible from the Heart of the Church - Scott Hahn
- Catholic for a Reason: Scripture and the Mystery of the Family of God - Scott Hahn, Leon J. Suprenant (editors)
- Catholic for a Reason II: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mother of God - Scott Hahn, Jr. Leon J. Suprenant (editors)
- Catholic for a Reason III: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mass - Scott Hahn, Regis J. Flaherty (editors)
- Catholic for a Reason IV: Scripture and the Mystery of Marriage and Family Life - Scott Hahn and Regis Flaherty (editors)
- Crossing the Tiber - Steve Ray
- Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church - Stephen K. Ray
- Essential Catholic Survival Guide - Catholic Anwers Staff
- If Protestantism is True: The Reformation Meets Rome - Devin Rose
- Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper - Brant Pitre
- With Us Today: On the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist - John A. Hardon
- Where is That in the Bible? - Patrick Madrid
- Answer Me This! - Patrick Madrid
- Why is That in Tradition? - Patrick Madrid
- Does the Bible Really Say That?: Discovering Catholic Teaching in Scripture - Patrick Madrid
- Jesus-Shock - Peter Kreeft
- Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible - Tim Gray, Jeff Cavins
- Sacraments in Scripture - Tim Gray
- Nuts & Bolts: A Practical, How-To Guide for Explaining & Defending the Catholic Faith - Tim Staples
- A Biblical Defense of Catholicism - Dave Armstrong
- The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants - Dave Armstrong
- Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths: A Source Book for Apologists and Inquirers - Dave Armstrong
- The Salvation Controversy - James Akin
- Evangelical is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament - Thomas Howard
- On Being Catholic - Thomas Howard
- Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey to Rome - Thomas Howard
- By What Authority? an Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition - Mark P. Shea
- This Is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers The Real Presence - Mark P. Shea
- Why Catholics Are Right - Michael Coren
- A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do In The Liturgy - Edward Sri
- Worthy is the Lamb: The Biblical Roots of the Mass - Tom Nash
- The Biblical Basis for the Catholic Faith - John Salza
- The Biblical Basis for the Eucharist - John Salza
- The Biblical Basis for the Papacy - John Salza
- The Biblical Basis for Tradition: Why Catholics Don't Rely on Scripture Alone - John Salza - (Note: Available soon on Amazon or check other sources)
(Such as here: The Biblical Basis for Tradition: Why Catholics Don't Rely on Scripture Alone - John Salza
- The Biblical Basis for Purgatory - John Salza
- The Rapture Trap: A Catholic Response to "End Times" Fever - Paul Thigpen
- Will Catholics Be Left Behind?- Carl E. Olson
- No Price too High: A Pentecostal Preacher Becomes Catholic - Alex Jones
- Praying Constantly: Bringing Your Faith to Life - Benedict J. Groeschel
- Prayer for Beginners - Peter Kreeft
- Prayer Primer : Igniting a Fire Within - Thomas DuBay
- Fire Within - Thomas DuBay
- The Imitation of Christ - Thomas A. Kempis
- Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration - Pope Benedict XVI
- Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection - Pope Benedict XVI
- God and the World: A Conversation With Peter Seewald - Benedict XVI (Author), Peter Seewald (Author)
- Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium- An Interview With Peter Seewald - Peter Seewald (Author), Adrian Walker (Translator), Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Collaborator)
- Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and the Signs Of The Times - Peter Seewald (Author), Pope Benedict XVI (Author)
- God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
- Where We Got the Bible... Our Debt to the Catholic Church - Henry G. Graham
- The Bible and the Liturgy - Jean Danielou
- Catholicism DVD Box Set - Fr. Robert Barron, Matt Leonard - Format: DVD
- Theology For Beginners - Frank J. Sheed
- A Map of Life: - Frank J. Sheed
- Link for Magnificat Magazine
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
SOME RECOMMENDED WEB SITES
Scott Hahn's Web Site
Catholic Answers Web Site
Catholic Convert - Stephen Ray's Web Site
Patrick Madrid's Web Site
Peter Kreeft's Web Site
Ask A Catholic Web Site
Mark Shea's Web Site
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism with Dave Armstrong - Web Site
One Hundred Fifty Reasons I'm Catholic And You Should Be Too! by Dave Armstrong - Web Site
Catholics Come Home Web Site
Coming Home Network Web Site
Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) Web Site
Scripture Catholic - Providing Scriptural Evidence for the Teachings of the Catholic Church - Web Site
Catholic Truth Society Web Site
OTHER RECOMMENDED LINKS (youtube, etc.)
Scott Hahn's conversion to Catholicism - 1/6
Scott Hahn's conversion to Catholicism - 2/6
Scott Hahn's conversion to Catholicism - 3/6
Scott Hahn's conversion to Catholicism - 4/6
Scott Hahn's conversion to Catholicism - 5/6
Scott Hahn's conversion to Catholicism - 6/6
Fr. Robert Barron and Dr. Scott Hahn on Biblical Interpretation and The Liturgy
EWTN Live Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. and Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.
Let Me Be Born - Ladies of Cecilia (pro-life from a baby's viewpoint)
Voices - Chant From Avignon - Benedictine Nuns
The Nuns - Chant From Avignon - Overview Plus (youtube)
"The Communion of the Apostles" by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum)
posted on 03/11/2012 4:34:11 PM PDT
("The Church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15))
Like you, I too used to be a "Bible Only" Christian, who would have said, "I only accept it and believe it if it's in the Bible!" With great regret and contrition, I also have to admit that I too was once very anti-Catholic...
The above statement assumes that people who believe this way are anti-Catholic. The assumption is incorrect.
posted on 03/11/2012 4:38:12 PM PDT
(Light is fading to shadow, and casting its shroud over all we have known...)
Yup, you won’t see this Protestant bashing Catholics. If anything, I have a great deal of suspicion of those who seem dedicated to causing strife between us.
posted on 03/11/2012 4:42:14 PM PDT
(What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
Your text link says "Revelation 22:18-19 King James Version (KJV) 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
Who (in your mind) is adding to the prophecies in the "Book of Revelation"?
(Would a preacher, preaching about those texts, be adding to them? Would a FR poster, discussing and interpreting them them like you did, be adding to them?)
posted on 03/11/2012 4:44:14 PM PDT
("The Church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15))
I’m happy you found a place to worship Christ that you feel comfortable.
The issues I have with the Catholic church are not the ones you cite. Having explored it fully,
and having been Catholic and found Jesus Christ outside the Catholic church, I too am thankful
I found a place to worship Him.
posted on 03/11/2012 4:45:55 PM PDT
(I wouldnt vote for Romney for dog catcher if he was in a three way race against Lenin and Marx!)
I’m just passing along a serious warning from the Book of Revelation. Make of it what you will.
posted on 03/11/2012 4:47:29 PM PDT
(Further up and further in!)
Christ founded His Church [Thou art Peter, etc.] in AD 30-~33~[?]
The Epistle of St. James is put by several at the very beginning of Christian literature, between the years 40 and 50, the earliest Epistles of St. Paul about 52 till 58.
Thus there is no NT Bible for at least 7 years.
A Church with no New Testament for 7 years?
How did it ever survive? [sarc]
posted on 03/11/2012 4:48:48 PM PDT
(Jesus didn`t write any books?? ? ?? ``?? Who knew?)
There is a unity in the Church, but not in the Roman Church alone. We all are under Christ’s headship.
posted on 03/11/2012 4:49:04 PM PDT
(I write books, serve my country, love my wife and daughter, and believe in the Resurrection.)
where in the Bible (Book, Chapter, and Verse please) does it tell you that you are to rely only on the Bible for your rule of faith?
Natural Law can be relied on as well.
However, if anything CONTRADICTS the Bible it is to be suspect because the Bible is, in fact, the Word of God. The church is not the Word of God.
Your post is way too wordy to read all the way through but I picked out one erroneous way that you're thinking near the beginning.
As can be seen in the Bible itself, the Church was already in existence (and being severely persecuted) before the New Testament was even completely written
Yes, the church was in existence...in fact, God's people were in existence far before New Testament times. However, the church after the apostolic age cannot be judged to be God's word. The NT apostolic writings, however (as well as the OT writings), are the Canon (which means "rule") by which things are measured.
I appreciate your thoughtful reply.
I know people have other issues (as I did too), but I was trying to discuss the ones I've seen quite a few times on various threads here.
posted on 03/11/2012 4:50:09 PM PDT
("The Church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15))
I also used to be a Catholic bashing Protestant, but found I could only be fed with the “real food” of the Eucharist.
Eph 2:8-9: By FAITH are you saved by Grace.
posted on 03/11/2012 4:53:16 PM PDT
Comment #16 Removed by Moderator
How did it ever survive?
Easy...it was aided by the OT scriptures as well as the preaching of the Apostles which was set down on paper later.
posted on 03/11/2012 4:54:25 PM PDT
To: Heart-Rest; lilycicero; MaryLou1; glock rocks; JPG; Monkey Face; RIghtwardHo; pieces of time; ...
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posted on 03/11/2012 4:54:30 PM PDT
It was commanded directly from the mouth of God in the Upper Room, but it took me a while to grasp it.
posted on 03/11/2012 4:55:57 PM PDT
("The Church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15))
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