Sunday, June 19, 2016

"Ten Areas of Deadly Deception Among Catholics" Part II

This is the second in a series responding to a ridiculous anti-Catholic tract found online. I am trying to keep these responses to a sensible length, thus the series. Like I said in  part I, the anonymous author of this EOMin posting repeats many of the tired, old nonsense that has been disproved so, so many times.  He doesn't always argue his points with Scripture.

The two points already covered in Part I, were:
[1.] Roman Catholics are dangerously taught that they were born again at infant baptism.
I pointed out the Scriptural evidence which implies infant baptism (Col 2:11,12; Acts 2:39; Acts 16:15; 16:33; I Cor 1:16) and the Scriptural support for the Sacrament of Baptism (Acts 2:38; Matt: 28:19-20) and being "born again" by Baptism (John 3:6-8). And if Scripture were not enough, I did quote from Early Fathers of the Church, such as Origen, St. Cyprian, St. Gregory of Nazianz, St. Augustine, etc.
[2.] Roman Catholic dangerously think they receive Christ when they partake of the communion wafer.

Of course, we believe we receive Christ. More importantly we believe Christ receives us into His mystical body. We believe Our Lord Jesus's own words in John chapter 6, though Protestants are like the disciples who could not bring themselves to believe His words and left Him.

So, on to the next point:
 [3.] Roman Catholics wrongly think their church system was founded by Jesus on Peter the first pope.
The Catholic Church may be seen by some Protestants as a "church system", in my opinion, because many, if not most, Protestants sects and individual churches have no authority, no unity, and no set of beliefs in common. The Catholic Church holds the same beliefs, worship in the same way, and have a unity of beliefs that make it one Church. Jesus prayed to the Father that they would be one; one church, one faith, one family of God.
Roman Catholics, in fact, rightly believe their Church was founded by Jesus Christ on Peter the first pope. Protestants say that Scripture is the rule of their faith; I would say Catholics are actually the Bible believers. Let's look at a couple of Scripture passages that say that Jesus did indeed found His Church on Peter:
John 1: 42 Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter)
[Note on verse 42:] Cephas: in Aramaic = the Rock; cf. Mt 16:18. Neither the Greek equivalent Petros nor, with one isolated exception, Cephas is attested as a personal name before Christian times.
Jesus Christ gave Simon a new name. He called him Cephas. This is the Aramaic word for rock. He named him "The Rock." He was Simon "the Rock" Bar Jonah (son of John). Similar(though not quite the same) to Dwayne Johnson using The Rock as his wrestling name. From the time Jesus gave Simon that name, he was called "The Rock" or Rocky--in Greek Petros (because the word for rock, petra, was feminine, the ending was changed to a masculine one. This change of endings was quite common in the Greek language. However, there is only one other instance of a man using the Petros for a name in ancient literature.) But, since there is only one word for rock in Aramaic, the language Jesus Christ spoke, the significance of this becomes clear:
Matthew 16: 17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 18 And so I say to you, you are Peter [Cephas], and upon this rock [cephas] I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
 [Notes for verse 18 which help explain this passage:]  the Aramaic word kēpā’ meaning rock and transliterated into Greek as Kēphas is the name by which Peter is called in the Pauline letters (1 Cor 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:4; Gal 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14) except in Gal 2:78 (“Peter”). It is translated as Petros (“Peter”) in Jn 1:42. The presumed original Aramaic of Jesus’ statement would have been, in English, “You are the Rock (Kēpā’) and upon this rock (kēpā’) I will build my church.” The Greek text probably means the same, for the difference in gender between the masculine noun petros, the disciple’s new name, and the feminine noun petra (rock) may be due simply to the unsuitability of using a feminine noun as the proper name of a male. Although the two words were generally used with slightly different nuances, they were also used interchangeably with the same meaning, “rock.” Church: this word (Greek ekklēsia) occurs in the gospels only here and in Mt 18:17 (twice). There are several possibilities for an Aramaic original. Jesus’ church means the community that he will gather and that, like a building, will have Peter as its solid foundation. That function of Peter consists in his being witness to Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it: the netherworld (Greek Hadēs, the abode of the dead) is conceived of as a walled city whose gates will not close in upon the church of Jesus, i.e., it will not be overcome by the power of death.
For the Catholic Church this is pretty straightforward. Jesus "built" His Church on "The Rock" (Peter or Cephas in Aramaic). He gave The Rock the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and gave The Rock the power to forgive or not forgive--which also would be binding in heaven. We simply take Our Lord Jesus Christ at His word.

The belief that Peter was The Rock and that He was the chosen (by Jesus Christ Himself) representative and leader of the Church was believed from the beginning. Some important early mentions of Peter as such:
St. Ambrose:

"Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter" (Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D. 221]).
 "[Simon Peter said to Simon Magus in Rome:] ‘For you now stand in direct opposition to me, who am a firm rock, the foundation of the Church’ [Matt. 16:18]" (Clementine Homilies 17:19 [A.D. 221]).
 "Look at [Peter], the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built the Church [Matt. 16:18]. And what does our Lord say to him? ‘Oh you of little faith,’ he says, ‘why do you doubt?’ [Matt. 14:31]" (Origen, Homilies on Exodus 5:4 [A.D. 248]).
 On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. . . . If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]). On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. . . . If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (Cyprian of Carthage, The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).
 "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. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails" (Jerome, Letters 15:2 [A.D. 396]).
 These and many more quotes along the same lines are found here.
I want to address just a couple of things he said in support of his argument.

The superiority the Roman Catholic Church claims for itself comes from this fallacious concept, which has led people into increasing error especially as Catholicism has drifted further and further into darkness over the centuries.
This statement does not stand up to actual Church history. It seems to me the author believes his audience will see this as an obvious given; it is not. I have spent some time above pointing out the biblical and traditional support for the Church being built on Peter and his authority. The Catholic Church believes that Christ said the words, as proved by Scripture, that make clear His wish that we be one, that we follow Peter, that we obey him. The Catholic Church established the form of Christianity we see today after the persecutions final stopped at the beginning of the fourth century. In Eusebius' History of the Church, we can even read about the magnificent Cathedral built at the time of Constantine as a tribute to the one true God and His Church.

The Catholic Church gathered, preserved, and published (painstakingly copied) the Scriptures all Christians enjoy today. The Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, studied, debated, prayed over, and decided on the beliefs of the faith. What the Catholic Church has today is the same Church it was 1700 years ago. The only differences are superficial ones. Some traditions have changed over the years (ie, celibacy, priestly dress, monastic garb, etc.), but doctrines have not. Some have had to be pronounced or written down as dogma when challenged within or without the Church (ie, the Immaculate Conception--which has always been believed but had to be outlined because of how far away from this doctrine Protestants had gone; More on Mary in the next post).

What the author sees as "superiority" is actually authority. The Church does indeed speak with authority because she was given that authority by Jesus Christ and ensured by the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us to "all truth" and guide us to the "end of the age."  What keeps the author of this opinion tract in the truth? How does he know that his form of Christianity is right and the church down the street that disagrees with him on basic tenets of faith is not the ones who are right? I would ask him to think about this: Is there one truth or many truths? This is what "superiority" the Catholic Church has--the Fullness of Truth. We know exactly where the authority of the Church comes from: our Founder, Savior, and the supreme Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.

The anonymous author goes on to say:
Most Catholics are not aware of the doctrines that were added over the centuries or that certain popes denounced as heretics by other popes. The whole idea of a papacy itself is unscriptural.
1) Catholics are or should be aware of all Catholic doctrine. We treat people as adults in our Church and expect them to pray and study. If they attend Mass regularly, they will hear the majority of Scripture read throughout the Sunday three year cycle. If they go to week day Masses, they will hear nearly 100% of Scripture in Church. Homilies (sermons) usually have to do with doctrinal teachings applied to life. If the average (Mass attending) Catholic is paying attention, then he/she will know the important doctrines/dogmas of the Church.
2) To think that "Most Catholics" are ignorant of Catholic doctrine, would be overstating the case. Doctrinal development is a fact. Doctrines have been developed, not added over time. The difference is that development means that the words were fleshed out; the meaning of the Scripture and Apostolic support of all doctrines have been fleshed out; doctrines have been put down in words that have meaning for the Christian faithful.
3) Catholics who have studied history freely admit that all popes are human and therefore not perfect. Even Pope Saint John Paul II went to confession every day. We know there have been some men who were appointed as pope that should not have been the leader of His Church. However, if one studies Church history objectively, one can see that not one of these "heretical" or "bad" popes changed, added, or practiced new, innovative, or heretical doctrines. Not one of them changed the Church's teachings--not one.
4) I have provided plenty of Scriptural support of the papacy above. Just because something is not spelled out, in English, for someone so tightly wound to find fault, does not make the papacy "unscriptural." There is plenty of support for the papacy in Scripture if one opens their eyes and mind.

He goes on:
After Jesus spoke Mt. 16:18, Peter was not recognized as the chief Apostle among the Twelve. Mk 8:29 is the parallel account to Mt. 16:18. Less than one full chapter later, the disciples were arguing which of them was the greatest (Mk 9:24). Hence, they didn't understand Peter to be the chief. See also Acts 15 where Peter did not preside over the Jerusalem church council.
 1) Peter's name used more often than all apostles names combined: 191 times--162 times as Peter or Simon Peter, 23 as Simon, and 6 as Cephas). John is next with 48 mentions with Peter there about 50% of the time. It has been reckoned that all the other disciples combined are mentioned 130 times.

2) Peter's name is first in lists of the Apostles. See Matt. 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13. Matthew calls him the first in his Gospel (10:2). He is listed as the first among the "inner circle". See Matthew 17:1; 26:37, 40; Mark 5:37; 14:37).

3) Peter is also named first in just about every passage where he is mention with another person. See Galatians 1:18-19; 2:7-8). 

4) Peter spoke up and was recognized as the leader of the group of Christ's followers brought before the Jewish community leaders. See Acts 4:1-13, especially verse 8: "Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them,..." Peter was recognized as leader in Acts 2:37-38.

5) Peter was the first to: Enter the empty tomb (Luke 24:12; John 20:6); lead the apostles in fishing (John 21:2-3:11), call for a replacement to Judas (Acts 1:22); to speak after Pentecost (making him the first Christian to preach the Gospel; Acts 2:14-36), work a miracle (Acts 3:6-12); pronounce an anathema (Acts 5:2-11); raise the dead (Acts 9:40); receive the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-48); to be delivered by an angel (The whole Church praying for him; Acts 12:1-17); refute heresy (Acts 8:14-24); use the genuine gift of tongues (Acts 2:14-21); be a missionary (Acts 9:32-38, 43--Paul began his official missionary journeys in Acts 13:2); right an epistle from Rome (I Peter 5:13);

6) Paul went to see Peter in Jerusalem for 15 days before he set out on his missionary ministry (Gal 1:18) and received his commission from Peter, James, and John (Gal. 2:9).

7) As for the Council of Jerusalem, one see by reading Acts 15 that James was the bishop of Jerusalem. James, therefore, was the host of the Council. However, it was Peter's revelation that they were discussing (Acts 10:9-16) and that they acted upon (Acts 10: 44-49). Peter iterated the decision of the council and spoke first of the decision of the Council. James only reiterated  and agreed with what Peter said, and, as host, wrapped up (gave closure to) the council (Acts 15:19-21).
In conclusion, it strains credulity to think that God would present Peter with such prominence in the Bible without some meaning and import for later Christian history--in particular, Church government. The papacy is the plausible (we believe actual) fulfillment of this.  (Dave Armstrong, The Pre-Eminence of St. Peter: 50 New Testament Proofs--I also used this site to help with the Scriptures above).
Mr. Armstrong's article also contains many, many more instances of the preeminence of Peter, the uniqueness of the stories surrounding Peter, and Peter's firsts in Scripture. If the author wants to argue the lack of Scripture in favor of Peter's papacy, he falls short. There is so much Scripture in support of Peter as leader, as miracle worker, as missionary, that is becomes a little ridiculous to say that Peter was not the head of the Church Christ founded. The preponderance of evidence is in favor of Saint Peter.

Simply put, yes, Jesus founded His Church on Peter, The Rock. And, yes, it was believed by the Apostles, and the church from the beginning, as Scripture and the surviving Church writings show.

Further reading: The Papacy by ACTS, Did Jesus Really Make Peter Pope? by Fr. William Saunders on the EWTN Website,  Scott Hahn on the PapacyThe Early Church Fathers I Never Saw by Marcus Grodi,  Was Peter the Rock? The "little rock, big rock" theory  and The Pope on

Next up, the EOMin tract author's misinterpretations of Mary and her role in the plan of Salvation.

[4.] Catholics think Mary is their life, sweetness and hope and proclaim her as such when they recited the rosary, which they say is the epitome of the whole gospel.

[5.] Catholics think if they die wearing the brown scapular they will not suffer the fires of hell.
[6.] Catholics think the sacraments are a means of them receiving grace needed for salvation.
[7.] Catholics confess their sins to a priest instead of to God.
[8.] Catholics who read and believe the Fatima Visions are dangerously thinking that Mary is our refuge and the way that will lead them to God.
[9.] Many Catholics are just hoping to enter Purgatory and there get purged of their sins to afterwards go to Heaven.
[10.] Catholics have been lethally misinformed about how to show their love for the Lord Jesus.  

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