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Mike replies: 2nd April, 2003 04:10AM
You really have a lot to say regarding your hatred of the Catholic Church, and being 95% disabled, I do not have the physical or mental capacity (it took me 3 days just to read your e-mail) to fully reply to what you wrote. It has taken me a while but I have responded, because there are two sides to every story, and I think you should hear the Catholic side.
Your focus is very typical of Fundamentalists: you spend much time on the scandalous behavior of a few popes. I have learned that anti-Catholic material is sometimes true, often half true, and often outright lies. I believe some of what you wrote, but most of it I would give the same legitimacy as a "Father" Chiniquy novel or a Jack Chick tract. What does the Bible say about scandals, anyway? Jesus said that it was inevitable that they would come, and there would be woe to those who commit them, but He never said that they would bring down the Church. In fact, He said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church, and they have not prevailed. Yes, there have been a few scandalous popes, and Catholics are not afraid to admit that. But the fact that the Church has survived 20 centuries (not just 15) in spite of them is just one more proof of its divine origin.
You told me to compare the scandalous popes to Martin Luther, and I have already. There is no comparison. Jesus told his listeners to do what the Pharisees say, and not what they do. Those words would certainly not have been in regards to Luther. For although some popes were great sinners, they never tried to teach Christians that their sins were acceptable. Luther, on the other hand, was far more scandalous. He taught that God made women for the primary purpose of satisfying the sexual desires of men. In a public sermon, he once said, "If the mistress of the house is unwilling, then let the maid come." When a young man asked Luther's advice about dealing with temptations he had to sin, Luther told him, "Sin freely, and sin boldly, in order to mock the devil." Luther also taught that good works were to be avoided at all costs, and that performing them was a mortal sin. After Luther's "success" of breaking away from the Catholic Church, Protestant society became much more immoral. Luther lamented that in his later years, but it was too late. His scandal was far worse than that of any pope's.
Luther's scandal did not stop with only the morality front. His actions toward God's Holy Word were unconscionable. He just felt he could do whatever he wanted with the Bible on merely his own authority. He threw out seven entire books of the Bible that had been in it for the 1100 years that the Bible had been canonized. Those deutero-canonical books contained teachings on indulgences and purgatory, which were Christian beliefs that Luther did not share. He singled out those books, even though other passages in the Bible support the beliefs he opposed, because they were written by Greek-speaking Jews.
Luther's disdain for the Word of God did not stop at the deutero-canonicals, however. He wanted to remove the Pentateuch, because he said, "I have no use for Moses." He labeled Moses "a heretic, yea even worse than the pope and the devil," for "burdening our consciences with the Ten Commandments." (Apparently Luther forgot it was God who gave the Commandments to Moses in the first place). Luther despised the book of James, calling it "an epistle of straw," which in modern language would probably be rendered "a crock of shit." He wanted to remove it along with Revelation and 2 Peter, and he stopped short of doing so only because his colleagues convinced him he would lose all credibility by doing so. Instead, he relegated the books he didn't like to the back of the Bible. Luther also had the audacity to add the word "alone" to Rom. 3:28 in an attempt to justify his newly-invented doctrine of justification by faith alone. Some of Luthers' abuses have since been rectified by his spiritual descendants, but all Protestants, including Fundamentalists, still give assent today to Luthers' doings by using his canon of the Bible instead of the rightful Catholic one. And contrary to popular Protestant belief, Luther was not the first to produce a Bible in the language of the people. At the time his Bible came out, there were already 17 different Catholic Church-approved Bibles in Luther's own German tongue alone, and those were in addition to dozens of others in other European languages.
I know that as a Fundamentalist, you like to keep a distance from Luther, but if it were not for him and others who followed in his footsteps, you would not have the belief system you have. Fundamentalism is only about a little over a hundred years old, and one of its main tenets is to revise History to try to show that its beliefs have existed since New Testament times. There is absolutely no proof for that. Until the late 1800's, all Protestants (and you are one, whether you admit it or not) acknowledged that their religions were born in the Middle Ages or later, and that the Catholic Church was the one initially founded by Jesus. It is only lately that Fundamentalists and some other denominations have tried to cover the fact that theirs is just "another gospel" as condemned by Paul in Gal. 1:6-9.
The pre-Reformation heroes of Fundamentalists (Cathari, Waldensians, Lollards, Hussites, etc.) were nothing more than heretics whose "gospels" originated in the Middle Ages, and therefore could not be the gospel of the apostles. If they were true Christians, then they would not have had conflicting beliefs, but would have had unity of doctrine. The only speck of unity they had was the same speck of unity that Protestants have today - hatred of the True Church.
Another way Fundamentalists try to revise History, and something that you said, is that the Catholic Church murdered millions of Christians. If that is true, then Catholics would have had to have killed millions of their own, because Catholics were just about the only Christians around until the Reformation. Excepting the Arian heresy, heretics who claimed to be Christians existed in minute numbers until then. Of the few true instances where heretics were killed, the sentence was carried out by the state, and not by the Church. Heresy was considered treason by civil authorities, because it caused tremendous upheaval in a society that was based entirely on Christian teachings, and the punishment for treason was death.
In my own experience, Fundamentalists never acknowledge what their spiritual ancestors, the first Protestants, did to Catholics when they first came to power in Europe. Catholic Church property was stolen, and Catholics were forbidden to practice their faith. Those who tried to were hunted down like animals, and if caught, endured terrible tortures before they were killed. Entire nations that were Catholic had every vestige of their original Christianity wiped out. It was not until more than three centuries later that Catholics were allowed to practice their faith again, and they still had to endure persecution at that. Protestants did not stop with Catholics, either. In Protestant Germany, it is estimated that 100,000 women were burned at the stake for allegedly practicing witchcraft in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Another way Fundamentalists try to revise History is in trying to get around how we actually got the Bible. To deny that the Bible comes from the Catholic Church is to run away from reality. You seem to believe that God just floated the Bible down from Heaven, all leather-bound, and told some "Christians" to spread it around. It didn't happen that way. While it is true that early Christians considered some writings to be inspired before they were officially declared so by the Catholic Church, there was no agreement on which ones were inspired. Several lists have been found pre-dating the 4th century of books considered to be inspired, but they were all different. Some books that are in the Bible now were omitted, while others were included that are not in our present Bible. That is why it took the convening of Catholic Church councils in the late 4th and early 5th centuries to decide just which books belonged in the Bible. We would not have the Bible as we know it today if it were not for the Catholic Church, and to deny that is to deny cold hard fact.
Fundamentalists, and actually all Protestants, make the mistake of regarding the Bible as a catechism, which it is not. It doesn't claim to be one, and nowhere does it say that it is the sole authority. In fact, it claims what Catholics have always believed, that the Church is "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). The Bible is the product of the Catholic Church. Protestant churches are products of misinterpretation of the Bible.
Jesus did not tell the apostles to give a Bible to everyone; it didn't even exist in His time. He didn't say whatever the Scriptures bind and loose will be bound and loosed in Heaven, He said to Peter and the apostles, "Whatever you bind and loose will be bound and loosed in Heaven." He also said, "He who hears you hears me," not "He who hears Scripture hears me." And at the Council of Jerusalem to which you allude, the apostles did not look to Scripture as their final authority; they consulted the Holy Spirit.
Jesus taught the apostles to preach the gospel, baptize, and teach Christians "to observe all that I have commanded you." Nowhere does the Bible give a list of the commandments that Jesus gave to His apostles. This is where Tradition, the oral teachings of the apostles, comes in.
Anti-Catholics always jump on the Catholic Church because of its teachings on Tradition, saying that the Bible alone is the only source of Apostolic authority. But just what does the Bible say about Tradition? Plenty! 2 Thess. 2:14 tells the Thessalonians to stand fast in the tradition they have learned, whether by word or by epistle. Other passages which clearly point to the importance of Tradition are 1 Cor. 11:2; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Thess. 3:6 and 2 Tim. 2:2. More passages that speak of oral instruction by the apostles are 1 Cor. 11:34; 2 John 12 and 3 John 13-14.
You say that the Bible is opposed to the Catholic Church, but I beg to differ. No Christian faith is more closely aligned with the Bible than Catholicism, which is understandable since the Bible was written by Catholics, for Catholics. Catholics follow the Bible more closely than Fundamentalists, that's for sure. Jesus taught very clearly that Baptism is necessary for salvation, but Fundamentalists just consider Baptism to be optional. When the rich young man asked Jesus what he must do to be saved, Jesus replied, "Keep the commandments," a teaching that Catholics take seriously. Fundamentalists believe that once you are "saved," you can violate the commandments all you want and you can't lose your salvation, even though the Bible teaches in many passages that you can lose it by sinning (Ezek. 33:12-13; Rom. 11:21-22 and 1 Cor. 10:12 are some fine examples). Why Fundamentalists believe they are "saved" while they are still alive is beyond me anyway, since Heb. 9:27 teaches that our judgment comes after death.
John 6, 1 Cor. 10:16 and 1 Cor. 11:23-29 all teach very clearly about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, something which Catholics believe and Fundamentalists reject. Dan. 12:11 speaks of the last days when the continual sacrifice will be taken away. He couldn't have been speaking about Fundamentalists, because they deny the Sacrifice of the Mass, which is what the prophet alludes to. And Mal. 1:11 speaks eloquently about the Mass, saying, "For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts." This is a prophecy only the Catholic Church has fulfilled; the clean oblation can only be the bloodless re-presentation of the once-for-all sacrifice of Calvary which is the center of every Catholic Mass.
Another important way Catholics follow the Bible and Fundamentalists don't is in their beliefs in God-given authority. Nowhere does the Bible say that it is the sole authority in matters of faith, but that is what Fundamentalists believe. The Bible clearly teaches that authority resides in the leaders of the Church (Matt. 16:16-19 and 18:18; Luke 10:16; John 20:21-23; Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:7, 17 among others), and that is what Catholics believe.
Catholics also believe in Bible teaching regarding justification. We are justified by a faith that works through charity (Gal. 5:6; 1 Cor. 13:2 and Jas. 2). Fundamentalists believe Martin Luther's teaching of justification by faith alone, which is soundly contradicted by James 2. So I don't think that the Bible opposes Catholicism; I think the better choice is to say that in these highly important matters of doctrine I have just mentioned, Fundamentalism opposes the Bible.
Fundamentalists always try to prove that Catholicism was not present in New Testament times, but again, to deny that is to deny the cold hard facts of History. I love the argument that Peter was not invested with any special authority by Jesus. Jesus did not speak Greek; He spoke Aramaic, and in that tongue, "rock" is not a feminine noun. Simon's name was changed to Cephas (in Aramaic, Kepha), meaning "rock." It was upon Kepha that Jesus would build His Church, and not on Peter's confession of faith. If Peter's role were not significant, then why would Jesus give him the keys to Heaven? Why is Peter always listed as the first apostle in all the gospels? Why would Jesus say to Peter what He did in Luke 22:31-32 and in John 21 (Feed my lambs; feed my sheep)? Peter has a special place among the apostles, that's why. And Fundamentalists think that Paul is so superior to Peter because of Galations, but they never consider what Paul did to Timothy in Acts 16:1-3. Jesus didn't say that Peter would be perfect in his behavior, only in his teaching ("Whatever you bind and loose...").
I have seen Fundamentalists date the beginning of the Catholic Church anywhere from the year 325 to the year 1000. If one reads the writings of the early Christians, however, a whole different picture emerges. The Didache (70, A.D.) is also known as "The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles." It instructs that only the baptized may partake of the Eucharist, because "This is what Christ meant when He said, 'Do not give what is holy to dogs.'" I can't imagine a Fundamentalist thinking that of the Eucharist. I'm sure you have heard of the Roman city of Pompeii, which was buried in volcanic ash in 79. Pompeii is slowly being excavated, and writings of the inhabitants found there ridicule Christians as cannibals. That can mean only one thing - that the early Christians were Catholic, believing in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
To say that the Papacy as it exists today was not present in the early Church is incorrect, because its basis as the final authority in matters of faith and morals was there from the beginning. In the year 80, we have the letter of Clement, fourth Bishop of Rome, to the Corinthians. The Corinthians had a serious dispute in their local church, and they turned to Clement, the Bishop of Rome, to settle it. This is when at least one apostle, John, was still alive. Note that the Corinthians appealed to a leader of the Church to solve their problem; they did not consult Scripture to solve it.
In the year 107, we have the writings of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, who wrote 8 letters to various churches on his way to martyrdom in Rome. He addresses the Church at Rome as that "which holds the presidency in the place of the country of the Romans." Ignatius also tells us that the Eucharist is truly the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ. And for those who believe that the Catholic Church began at some late date, Ignatius left us with the following quote: "Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop will appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." Again, 107, A.D.
You brought up mention of the epistle of Polycarp (a disciple and friend of the apostle John) in your e-mail, but I'm surprised that you would, because in chapter 9 of that epistle, Polycarp mentions Ignatius, with whom he was a good friend, as being of the same faith as Paul and the other apostles. In chapter 13, Polycarp tells his readers that by reading the epistles of Ignatius "ye may be greatly profited; for they treat of faith and patience, and all things that tend to edification in our Lord."
Justin Martyr left us with a lot of writing in the year 135. In it he gives the first known detailed description of a Christian worship service. It is, to the letter, a description of a Catholic Mass of today. Justin also emphasizes the fact that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
And I'm surprised that you quote Irenaeus (year 180), who tells us that the Catholic Church is where the apostles deposited the faith "like money in a bank." If you had read him carefully when he was listing the Bishops of Rome, you would have seen that Linus was not the first Bishop of Rome, but was commissioned as the second in line after the founders of the Roman Church, Peter and Paul.
As you can see, there is quite a lot of evidence that the Catholic Church was alive and well from the earliest beginnings of the Christian faith. And I would like to note that many of the writings I have of the Apostolic Fathers are in a book edited by Protestants who had little love for the Catholic Church. The book I have was first printed in the 1800's, at a time when Protestants admitted truthfully that the origin of the Church was Catholic, and before the time of Fundamentalism, which tries to revise History to say otherwise. I would also note that of the early Christian writings, there are none that bear even the slightest resemblance to the beliefs of Fundamentalists of today. There is absolutely no proof of Fundamentalist beliefs existing before the 16th century.
Now I'm going to switch gears and talk about something that all Fundamentalists believe that defies reality, and that belief is that the Catholic Church is a tool of Satan. Again, I can turn to the Bible and prove that that belief is a false one. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils by the power of Satan, what did Jesus say in reply? "A house divided cannot stand." For all 2000 years of its existence, the Catholic Church has had members who practice the exorcism of evil spirits. If the Catholic Church were really a tool of Satan, then its exorcism rite would go against the words of Jesus, would it not? Only Jesus can be your judge, not me, but I am concerned that when Fundamentalists proclaim that the Catholic Church is a tool of Satan, they may be risking blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
I can tell you about some anecdotes about Satan and the Catholic Church, too. You may have heard of Padre Pio, the Italian priest who died in 1965, and was either beatified or canonized by Pope John Paul II last year. Padre Pio was the only priest ever known to have the stigmata, the nail wounds of Christ in his hands and feet. (St. Francis of Assissi in the 13th century was the first Catholic known to have the stigmata, and only a few Catholics have had them since). When Padre Pio said Mass, during the Consecration, when the Holy Spirit changes the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, his hand wounds would bleed. But the stigmata were not the only source of Padre Pio's suffering, however. Satan was jealous of the Padre's leading people to Christ, and evil spirits used to attack the holy priest at night. His body was covered with bruises from their vicious pummeling.
Another priest you may have heard of is St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. He was pastor in the village of Ars, France, in the 1800's, and he is known as the Cure of Ars. The Cure was gifted by God with the ability to see the state of grace of a person's soul, and people (including bishops) would come from miles around and wait in line for days to confess their sins to him and to gain his spiritual advice. The Cure heard confessions for 18-20 hours a day, and of course got very little sleep. One night as he was sleeping, Satan grabbed the Cure by the ankles and yanked him out of bed! This was the beginning of a ritual that went on for years. The saint was terrified at first, but then just got into the habit of going back into bed and back to sleep. In one of his appearances to the Cure, Satan said, "If there were but three priests like you in the world, I would lose most of my kingdom."
One holy Catholic I'm sure you have never heard of is Bernadette Cyr, of Biddeford, Maine. I know her personally, as she helped me get through months of agonizing suffering when I had my disabling seizure 5 years ago. Bernadette suffered from epilepsy for 33 years, and for 12 years she couldn't be left alone, as she had 8-12 grand mal seizures a day! And to add more to her extreme suffering, one day out of the blue, Satan started harrassing her, trying to get her to turn her back on God for allowing her to suffer so much. This went on daily for 2 years. Bernadette is a woman of great faith, however, and she persevered in prayer. God showed great mercy to her on June 25, 1978, by instantly curing her of her epilepsy and several other serious health problems.
When Bernadette was cured, she was blessed with the stigmata. She has also been given the gift of healing. She holds healing services at a small chapel that was built on her property, and she has also traveled North America holding services. Jesus has wrought many wonderful miracles as she has laid hands on people and prayed over them in His Name. Satan has not given up on Bernadette, however. For 2 or 3 days before each healing service, he still continues to harrass her. Not only is Satan jealous of Jesus' healings, but he knows that because of them and Bernadette's witness to the Faith, many hearts will be led to Christ. I would recommend that you check out Bernadette's website, littlehouseofprayer.net. You may have to search Google to find it, as I cannot always bring it up on Yahoo. You will notice that in her picture, Bernadette is holding her hands behind her back, as she is very modest about her stigmata.
So I ask you, why, if the Catholic Church is a tool of Satan, does Satan harrass holy Catholics? Doesn't it make you wonder? These people I have mentioned are only a sampling of holy Catholics who have been harrassed by Satan. There have been many others. I have never heard of a Fundamentalist, or any Protestant for that matter, who has been so harrassed. Have you? The only Protestant I know who claimed that Satan appeared to him was Martin Luther, and Luther wrote that Satan spoke with approval of Luther's new doctrine of justification by faith alone.
I will now contend with another point you made - and I had to chuckle about it - that about Catholics having to check their minds in at the door. Didn't Jesus tell the apostles to teach Christians to observe all that He commanded them? What is wrong with Catholics giving their allegiance to the teachings of the apostles? By doing so, they are merely following the words of Jesus. Jesus did not say to believe what we want to believe. He said to "observe all." That is what true Catholics do. And you ridicule Catholics for not being democratic (the Kingdom of Heaven is a theocracy, not a democracy). I know for a fact that if Fundamentalists do not agree with their pastors' interpretations of the Bible, they are kicked out of their churches and shunned by family members and former friends. I have seen it happen to people I know personally. Fundamentalists claim that people have the right to interpret the Bible personally, but if the interpretation is not the same as their own, then they claim it is wrong. Fundamentalist churches are not democracies in the least. Fundamentalists always jump on the Catholic papacy and say it is wrong, but Fundamentalist pastors are their own "popes." If one can believe Protestant teaching that each person can interpret the Bible as he so chooses, then we have the possibility of having 400 million Protestant "popes." You cannot have something for yourself and then say that it is wrong for Catholics to have the same thing.
The idea that each Protestant can be his own pope has made a travesty about another teaching of the Bible, that of the necessity of Christian unity. Jesus prayed in John 17 that the apostles and all who believed their word would be one as Jesus and the Father are one, which is perfectly one. Paul in many passages exhorts Christians to be one in mind and in faith, with no divisions among them (1 Cor. 1:10 is a fine example). He even goes so far as to say that those who form sects will not obtain the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21). Yet what does Protestanism, including Fundamentalism, do? It forms sect after sect after sect, with thousands of denominations now worldwide. It is probably the greatest scandal of Christianity in the eyes of non-believers. One billion Catholics, on the other hand, have one set of doctrine.
I'll end here. I hope this has given you a lot to think about. I just hope you realize what little power your arguments have against Catholics who know the Bible and History and realize just how far off Fundamentalists are from following Scripture. I pray that God will open your hearts to the truth of the Faith.
Sincerely, Mike Martin
TCE replies: 23rd April, 2003 11:13PM
thank you for your 'reply' to our explanation regarding your views on the Roman Catholic church and papacy.
We regret that you have been unable to address the many issues we discussed.
Unfortunately you are correct in your opening statement - although you seem to have forgotten this when you make your optimistic conclusion!
Nevertheless, when time allows in the near future, we will return to the points you make.
In Christian truth
TCE replies: 23rd August, 2003 11:25PM
many thanks for your second letter in reply to our web-pages on the Papal Roman Catholic Church.
We have taken considerable time to address each of the points you make and have emphasised your response before addressing the issues.
We have also divided our reply into four sections to speed the download and give you time to address each section at your leisure.
The long, hot spell of British weather has taken its' toll and the final Summer Break is now under way.
We trust this letter finds you in better health and that His grace is truly 'sufficient for you' (2 Corinthians 12:9)
In Christian love,
Do TCE write out of 'hatred of the Catholic Church'?
You write: ['The Christian Expositor'] 'have a lot to say regarding ... hatred of the Catholic Church'
TCE: We have a banner on our Web-pages,
'When a man bows before an idol of ivory, begging for salvation, and you tell him it cannot answer - is this hate?
When someone's little girl...must tell her thoughts, her emotions and temptations to an unmarried priest in the confession box, and you tell her she need only confess to Jesus - is this hate?
When a poor grieving widow pays from her meagre substance for Masses for her dead husband, desperately hoping to end his pain in purgatory, and you tell her there is no purgatory - is this hate?
When one billion souls, for whom Christ died, trust a well-fed pontiff dressed in gold and fine linen to give them the keys to Heaven, and you tell them they need no one but Jesus - is this hate?
When Jesus, God's gift of love to all mankind, pointed his finger at the Pharisees and called them so many snakes - was this hate?
When the Apostle Paul stood on Mars Hill and dared tell the philosophers of pagan mystery religion that they were too superstitious - was this hate?
To free a man from Satan's chains, you must first tell him he is a prisoner. You must convince him that he is lost and without hope... .There are those who call [evangelical] literature "hate literature." But they do not know the true meaning of hate.
True hatred hides the gospel in beautiful words that upset no one, and therefore bring no conviction of sin. True hatred stands in selfish silence as hell's population grows.
Is it hatred to tell the truth about a religion? Would you rather we kept quiet about the deception of the Roman church? Would this be showing love or hate? Let us see if you can prove us wrong over these historical and doctrinal issues before accusing us to justify your stance.
We are sorry to hear that you are '95% disabled' and without 'the physical or mental capacity ... to fully reply ...'
'Two sides to every story' - or the truth versus the lies?
Scandalous behaviour of 'just a few popes'?
You write: 'there are two sides to every story, and I think you should hear the Catholic side'.
TCE: You may believe this - but there is only the truth and there are not two sides to it! You may like to hope that the Papal Roman Catholic Church [we will use this designation through the body of the text to avoid confusion with the original Roman Church which existed up to the 324 A.D. 'reformation' of Constantine who initiated the Papal system which Rome follows to this day] has an answer, but it will only be valid if you can prove it to be historical and Biblical fact. We will soon see whether this is the case.
Luther was far from perfect - but Salvation is not based on him or his doctrines!
You write: 'Your focus is very typical of Fundamentalists: you spend much time on the scandalous behavior of a few popes'.
TCE: You forget that you attacked Luther in your first e-mail and still attempt to categorise all non-Papists in the 'Fundamentalist' camp despite our clear exposition of your error. If 'Fundamentalist' had not been besmirched by association with many other heretics we would be happy to accept the title, but we clearly described ourselves in the first line of our web-site yet you continue to try and insult us with a term you have chosen for this purpose, i.e. to maintain your mainly ad hominem attack. You fail to recognise several simple historical facts:
1. The true church of the Lord Jesus Christ is built on Him, the Rock - not on Peter or Luther, or any other man or woman;
2. Therefore all your attacks on Luther fall to the ground pointlessly;
3. The 'Pre-Reformers' were men who tried to reform the church to make it follow the New Testament beliefs and practices of the early church;
4. There were true believers long before John Wycliffe (1324-1384 A.D.) laid the foundation for the Protestant Reformation; a Roman Catholic priest, he criticized monasticism and the immoral clergy, rejected Papal authority (by naming Christ, not the pope, as head of the church) and rejected transubstantiation (by contending the elements are only symbols of Christ's body and blood), declared the Bible, not the church, is the sole authority for faith and practice, and produced the first, complete, English New Testament;
5. John Huss (1369-1415 A.D.) was another Roman Catholic priest and administrator at the University of Prague, and shared Wycliffe's views; the pope excommunicated him and demanded he appear for trial before a church council where the Holy Roman emperor guaranteed him safe conduct, but that guarantee was violated, and Huss was burned at the stake;
6. Savonarola (1452-1498) was a Dominican monk in Florence, Italy, who attacked the clergy and Papal corruption and was tortured and murdered by hanging;
This led to a brief period of hope when 'Reforming Councils' (1409-1449 A.D.) met, ostensibly to reform the Roman Catholic Church by establishing church government more in line with the New Testament pattern that is clearly recognisable (and proves that Peter was never an autocratic leader - see reply to first letter for details), but the pope crushed this move by setting up a rival council and thus maintained Papal authority. When the rival council made the seven sacraments official dogma, but failed to reform the Roman Catholic Church, it made the Protestant Reformation you hate absolutely inevitable.
So all your attempts to saddle 'The Christian Expositor' with the crimes of Luther and Protestantism fail utterly for we are established and founded solidly on the True Rock - the Word of God - who is Christ Himself and not on a fallible man, such as Peter, Paul, Luther, or any man alive on earth since Jesus departed for heaven (read Acts!).
This being so it should be clear to you, or anyone reading this text, that we do not accept everything from anyone's pen without comparing it carefully to God's Word (which is thoroughly established in the known, recognised, manuscript record - i.e. every translation into every modern tongue is to be compared with the most accurate and oldest manuscripts!).
Luther struggled to leave all of Rome's corrupt doctrines
We have already detailed the experiences that led Luther to nail his 'Ninety-five Theses' to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Chapel (John Calvin was, at that time only eight years old). When one studies the 'Theses' it is clear that Luther was not entirely opposed to indulgences--only to their abuses. At this point he was still a Roman Catholic in his heart, not desiring to leave that false and corrupt Church, but rather to reform it. Instead of leaving, he would be excommunicated. He rejected the sale of indulgences for money and the false proclamation that an indulgence of any kind could purchase salvation. That he did, however, still believe in purgatory and accepted the value of indulgences of a limited kind is quite clear from the following excerpts of his 'Theses':
Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit…. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation…. [I]ndulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.
The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.
Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded…[but] must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
It is quite clear that Luther, far from having renounced all of Rome's abominations, was only cautiously groping his way. The same would be true of Calvin, who followed Luther's footsteps some years later. Nor were either of these Reformers ever delivered completely from Rome'sHagiography - a sure mark of 'religion' and religiosity
errors. Tragically, much un-Biblical baggage was thereby carried over from Catholicism into Lutheranism and Calvinism, which remains to this day. For example, millions of Lutherans and Calvinists around the world remain under the deadly delusion that their baptism as infants made them children of God fit for heaven. Their subsequent "confirmation" only reinforces that deadly delusion.
To emphasise the true nature of the delusion you - and any Papist sharing your views - labour under, here is a typical quote from newsletters and articles of a ministry we have long been associated with (see link on the right of this test):
'I have rarely encountered as much illogical and emotional reaction to a challenge than I have from Reformation Protestant Christians in general and Calvinists in particular. Unlike ... Biblical narrative where both the good and bad points of hero figures are portrayed for what they are, a sure mark of 'religion' and religiosity is the tendency towards hagiography (misrepresenting religious heroes as totally sanctimonious figures, where reference to the human imperfections is omitted and mention of them considered virtually blasphemous). Roman Catholics call it 'canonization of saints'.
The Jehovah's Witnesses do it with C.T. Russell, the Mormons with Smith and Young and, not least of all, the Moslems with Mohammed. Orthodox Jews even resort to it among some of the most sinister characters in rabbinic history, such as with Simon Bar Kochba (who kicked a 90 year old rabbi in the head and killed him and bought the nation into destruction and dispersion as a false messiah), and Rabbi Akiva who persuaded the Jews that Bar Kochba was the Messiah.
Nonetheless, many Lutheran Missouri and Wisconsin synod churches do precisely the same with Luther, calling him 'the Beloved' and expecting everyone to join them in dismissing Luther's polemic against the Jews, which later inspired Hitler, and his 'stab them in the back' position during the Peasants' Revolt. Luther and the Reformers may have been the founders of what came to be called 'Protestantism', but they certainly were not the founders of the Reformation - they more or less hi-jacked it. It was actually Erasmus [see comment at end of this piece] who first pointed the Church back towards the scriptures (and attacked the papacy for its hypocrisy and corruption in the most vitriolic terms imaginable!) and the Baptist sects (whom the Protestants and Catholics alike would persecute) who were the most Biblical Christians.
In Northern Ireland, extreme Calvinists engage in open revisionism (the rewriting of history), pretending that the Pope did not bless William of Orange with a papal Te Deum centred in Vienna, controlled by the Catholic Hapsburgs and likewise behave as if there were not Catholics from Holland fighting with William at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. More absurdly, they expect everyone to join with them in pretending that Irish republicanism was not founded by reformed Protestants in the Home Rule movement, such as Isaac Butt, Theobald Neppertandy, Charles Parnell, and Wolfe Tone. They act as if their Protestant forebears were always for the British crown when, in fact, at the close of the eighteenth century the British crown massacred their Protestant ancestors fighting the crown for Irish independence. There is simply no logic to Orange Protestantism, but bigotry is never logical.
Reading the Koran and Islamic history, the Taliban were indeed genuine Islam. The only thing the Taliban regime actually amounted to was Islam taken to its logical conclusions. Yet, the police states of the reformed church in Calvin's Geneva, Zwingli's Zurich, Knox's Scotland, and Puritan England and Massachusetts, were the Taliban of their day, complete with the judicial flogging and execution of women on religious grounds as public entertainment. Whenever one points out that Mohammed was a paedophile to a Moslem, they become extremely disturbed, not because it is a lie, but rather because it is true. I have experienced similar responses evoked from Calvinists by citing George Whitfield's support of the institution of slavery; again, not because it is false, but because it is true.
The history of injustice in Moslem society is parallelled by the history of injustice in Calvinistic society, from the apartheid of South Africa to the slavery of the American South to the Plantation period of Ireland - all endorsed from the pulpit by the Calvinistic clergy and sanctioned by the Reformed churches of those places at the time. Moslems resent someone looking at the reality of their own societies for what they are, just as some Reformed Christians share the same aversion for the same reasons. It is not reasonable, but neither hyper-Calvinism nor Islam are reasonable, because neither one works.
Just as Islam was unable to prevent Moslems from massacring each other, so too Calvinism was unable to stop Calvinists from massacring each other in the Puritan war against the Presbyterians. Both killed each other. And just as Islam requires a common enemy to stop fighting amongst themselves, the recent shoving spectacle by Protestant Parliamentarians in Stormont illustrates how, in principle, the same thing can be true of Calvinists. This is a reasonable observation, but the political correctness of Northern Ireland insists that reason be jettisoned.
Just as Moslems become enraged when you point out its failure to bring unity, so too, Calvinists become angry when you document its similar failure. As we have often noted, the fatalistic Islamic doctrine of inja allah and the Calvinistic misunderstanding of the biblical doctrines of election and predestination, are essentially two variations of the same thing in two different religious and cultural packages - one Islamic, and one Protestant.'
Footnote on Erasmus: When we debate the Tri-unity of God ('Trinity' to most lay people) with Jehovah's Witnesses you can be almost certain the more experienced of them will attack 1 John 5:7- even when we point out that this verse 'on the Trinity' is not in many modern translations? Why is this verse omitted by more recent translators? Because the verse has virtually no support among the early Greek manuscripts, though it is found in Latin manuscripts. Its appearance in late Greek manuscripts is based on the fact that Erasmus was placed under ecclesiastical pressure to include it in his Greek New Testament of 1522, having omitted it in his two earlier editions of 1516 and 1519 because he could not find any Greek manuscripts which contained it. Its inclusion in the Latin Bible probably results from a scribe incorporating a marginal comment (gloss) into the text as he copied the manuscript of 1 John. But including it in the text violates almost every rule of textual criticism and even the New King James Version, which generally retains the longer readings and disputed passages (see Mark 16:9ff. and John 7:53-8:11), comments in the margin that this is 'a passage found in only four or five very late Greek mss.' When we become aware of the kind of 'wresting' practiced by 'Pope' Sixtus V (see response to first letter) you can understand why we are distrustful of manuscripts that have been in Rome's hands exclusively, or for any period of time.
(Continued on page 287)