Monday, December 11, 2006

Another Poor Attempt to Discredit Christianity

This article in the upcoming edition of Newsweek is a prime example of the world trying it's hardest to discredit everything Christian.

A birth is a miraculous moment, since every Jewish parent knows their baby might be the Messiah.
I'm not terribly sure that's what every Jewish family thinks..
Jesus' followers were so impressed by his religious personality that they believed he was anointed by God (Christos means "anointed" in Greek)
No the disciples weren't just impressed by His 'personality' and then started calling Him Christ...When did the disciples first start getting a clue? It had nothing to do with personality. According to St. Peter's interpreter and disciple St. Mark, it was when the storm was about to capsize their boat and Jesus literally spoke to the forces of nature and they obeyed Him. The disciples were "terrified" and asked each other "who is this? Even the winds and waves obey Him"(1)
Because Jesus became such a religious hero, the Nativity narratives in the Gospels, written long after his death, adopted mythic themes associated with the birth of special figures. Yet modern Jews believe that the birth of Jesus was not the birth of Christianity, a religion that did not emerge until after his death.
It is true that from a Jewish perspective (and really any non-Christian perspective) at least the virgin birth is very suspicious. It's only mentioned twice in the Bible and all other authors seem to be unaware of it. Anyway, these types of allegations might fly with Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses & Messianic Jews but not with me. I posted once on the refutal of sun god worship influencing Christianity, once on the Chi Rho Symbol & Anti-Catholic bias and once on general pagan practices influencing Christianity. Though there is certainly a lot more to say on that subject, I'm gonna let it go for now.
Yet modern Jews believe that the birth of Jesus was not the birth of Christianity, a religion that did not emerge until after his death.
This is a dishonest way to talk about the Christian religion. It would be like a Catholic claiming that the Protestant religion was founded in 1521. Even though as a Catholic, I believe that Protestants are incorrect and have erroneously branched off of the true Church, I at least respect their own claim of continuing the 'true' Christianity. It is the same with Judaism & Christianity. Christians view themselves as the continuance of Judaism... the "Law fulfilled" as Jesus Himself put it. You may disagree thats fine, but it is not valid to speak of Christianity as if it has its beginning after Christ's death. We view every Jewish Scripture and prophecy as pointing to Christ and therefore Christianity is really Judaism fulfilled.
The first Christians were Jews, and thought of themselves as Jews; it is therefore impossible to understand Christianity without tracing its Judaic roots.
This is true. But a quick survey of Acts will reveal the very early controversy on this subject. It was very quickly revealed to the Church by the Holy Spirit through the original Pope, St. Peter how Christianity (or true Judaism according to us) is a religion that transcended race.


Joel said...

Catholicism did not come around until long after the initial church started. It is unfair to say that Catholics truly follow the Bible or that the Roman Catholic Church was basing their wars and land claims on Biblical truths. On the whole, the Catholic church (though it helped preserve the word, however I believe God has worked a great miracle in keeping its integrity together) has been one of the most hypocritical "followers of Christ" in history. They (typically) DO NOT evangelize (Mathew 28:16-20) as they are told to by Jesus. They (in many Hispanic cultures) worship the virgin Mary. NO WHERE, did God EVER say to revere MEN (or women), but instead to revere God. The only ones that you could say were to be "revered" were one's parents. To say that the Catholic church is capable of leading someone in the following of Christ is ridiculous and simply not true. I went to Sunday school for 15 years, did I or was I ever encouraged to read the bible? NOPE. Was I ever taught of Romans 10:9? NOPE. Was I ever taught of Mathew 7:21-23? NOPE. Perhaps you should analyze the Church you are with and see for yourself if their Lampstand is still there...or ever was...

In Christ,

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

And I thought I was doing a better job of being ecumenical. Guess not..Something I said sure seems to have lit a fire under you Joel. I'm sorry if I offended you.

But in all honesty, I said nothing offensive to Protestants and neednt be apologetic for sharing my view. In fact, here's what I said:

"Even though as a Catholic, I believe that Protestants are incorrect and have erroneously branched off of the true Church, I at least respect their own claim of continuing the 'true' Christianity."

So I am actually defending the right of Protestants here to believe they are the 'true heirs' so to speak of Christianity. Of course, I personally believe this is entirely incompatable with verifiable history which is why I am now a Roman Catholic.

Without meaning any disrespect to you Joel, I am afraid you are mistaken on Church history and it would do you a world of good to study the early Church. I invite you to do so (on your own terms).

Irrefutable is the fact that for the first 1000 years of Christianity there was only ONE Church. That is.. the Catholic Church of course. That is not a debatable issue. Catholic means universal and this term was used as early as the beginning of the 2nd century.

"Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church" (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).

"And of the elect, he was one indeed, the wonderful martyr Polycarp, who in our days was an apostolic and prophetic teacher, bishop of the Catholic Church in Smyrna. For every word which came forth from his mouth was fulfilled and will be fulfilled" (Martyrdom of Polycarp 16:2 [A.D. 155]).

"Besides these [letters of Paul] there is one to Philemon, and one to Titus, and two to Timothy, in affection and love, but nevertheless regarded as holy in the Catholic Church, in the ordering of churchly discipline. There is also one [letter] to the Laodiceans and another to the Alexandrians, forged under the name of Paul, in regard to the heresy of Marcion, and there are several others which cannot be received by the Church, for it is not suitable that gall be mixed with honey. The epistle of Jude, indeed, and the two ascribed to John are received by the Catholic Church (Muratorian fragment [A.D. 177]).

Etc.. Etc... I neednt continue but if you'd like you can read more here.

You may also check out my post on Apostolic Succession for more relevant info on that subject. In the comments section there are many quotes that prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the very earliest writings from the Church were unambiguously Catholic (in the modern sense of the word) and the early 2nd, 3rd & 4th century dominant figures of the Church (Saints) were all very strong believers in the primacy of St. Peter. St. Cyril of Jerusalem was an exception but that is one among many. And even then he said "He cannot have God as Father who has not Church as mother"

Some Protestant history books I've read tend to be very dishonest about the early Church history. They intentionally leave out such facts as the succession of popes. The reason we know beyond any doubt who St. Peter's successors were is because it was very important to early Christians and thus very well documented. We have no other such well preserved list from any other city or apostle though we know of many other bishops (such as St. Polycarp) who were "ordained by the apostles" as it is written about him by St. Irenaeus in the late 2nd century.

You said:
"It is unfair to say that Catholics truly follow the Bible or that the Roman Catholic Church was basing their wars and land claims on Biblical truths."

The Catholic Church put the bible together so of course we follow it. Thats one of the greatest things I like about being Catholic: if it's in the bible.. we believe it! I was so happy to no longer get in arguments when I quoted Scripture to my fellow Christians. As for basing "our wars & land claims" on the Bible.. again this is a product of historical ignorance (no offense intended but that is the only way to say it).

Here is one site (out of many) that will easily refute your misconceptions. I challenge you to take a serious look at it and other apologetic sites like it.

"They (typically) DO NOT evangelize"

We have evangelized the entire world. You can go to mass in nearly every corner of the earth precisely because the Chuch has already come and evangelized.

"They (in many Hispanic cultures) worship the virgin Mary."

Again, please read some Catholic Apologetics on the subject. They exist in abundance. Yes there are isolated cases of over-veneration of Mary caused by confusion of the layity and a failure to properly educate by the teaching authority, but Catholic doctrine teaches Mary as a human being that was created by God and therefore "infinitely less than Christ". We do not worship her. Period.

"To say that the Catholic church is capable of leading someone in the following of Christ is ridiculous and simply not true."

And who do you suppose Mother Theresa followed? How about St. Augustine? Who did St. John Chrysostom follow or St. Francis of Assisi? Brother, I dont say this lightly: you're treading on dangerous ground. Be careful not to blaspheme the Spirit in the Catholic Church because it is the Holy Spirit and by blaspheming Him you can be "guilty of an eternal sin" as Christ Himself said in St. Mark's gospel.

You talk about not learning anything in Sunday School. That may be true. But simply because one parish (or even many parishes) are lacking does not mean that the Church doctrines are false. For every bad Catholic parish you show me I'll show you a bad Protestant Church. It doesnt mean anything unless it's a teaching of the Church.

Now you seem to be associating "following of Christ" with personal bible study. This is not a good way of looking at it. Christ said "if anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me" not "if anyone would come after Me, he must crack open his bible and read read read".

Although (the ever so Catholic) St. Jerome said in the 4th century "ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ", nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to have personal reading time of the bible.
Anyone who suggests otherwise has a serious lack of historical perspective. I can back that statement up with a single word: "Gutenburg". (So if you're having doubts just google it)

"Perhaps you should analyze the Church you are with and see for yourself if their Lampstand is still there...or ever was..."

I have analyzed it actually. Here is my analysis and final break down . It's very detailed and a lot of reading. But it outlines the defense for my conversion.

Now I will challenge you, as a brother in Christ. I challenge you to read some of the early Church Father documents. Read Justin Martyr, where he in his defense for Christianity, gives a detailed account to the emperor of Rome explaining their rituals EXACTLY as the Roman Catholic Church celebrates them today. Read St. Clement of Rome the 4th Pope at around 96 AD and how he calls St. Peter "the pillar of the Church". Read the Didache and read St. Polycarp's epistle. Read St. John Chrysostom's homilies on the gospel of Matthew and read Eusebius's history of the Church. When you have done that, come back and we'll chat.

I am very well versed in Protestant doctrine. I've grown up in the PCA. However, I am afraid you have been misinformed in the worst way about the Truth of the Roman Catholic Church.

I am now trying my best to be ecumenical and respectful in my posts (though I have been guilty of being not-so nice in the past) and I think I'm doing a fair job of that now.. However, as our current Pope Benedict XVI said (when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger):

"The Catholic Church professes that it is the one, holy catholic and apostolic Church of Christ; this it does not and could not deny."

Christ's Peace

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Correction - it was St. Cyprian who said "He cannot have God for his father, who has not the Church for his mother"....

Always get those two confused. :)

Joel said...

Is salvation by grace or by works?

About reading the bible everyday:
Psalm 119:11
About not just knowing what it says but DOING it:
James 1:22

I am less concerned with the fact that people ARE catholic but what it means: It IS NOT important to me what name we go under with our church but instead that we are part of the body of Christ. Are you part of the body of Christ?

About evangelism: no...Catholics don't evangelize, they indoctrinate, again it is not important that we know the word, but we do what it says. Going to mass does not equal saved. I invite you to read more of the bible, everyday. The Spirit will unfold knowledge to you if you seek it. I have a question for you, not in a disrespectful manner, even though it may sound this way:

What do you read more:
a) God's word
b) Catholic writings
c) Other books

Keep in mind that the more we read of something the more it is in us. We should be living like the Apostles did, not with fancy goblets made of gold and a huge bible outlined in gold leaf and huge flowing robes made of fine materials (i have to say, some of the bishops i've seen wear the most beautiful red robes) but living lives sold out for Christ in every way. Dieing to our flesh and to our worldly desires and living in the will of God. One last question:
How can you know what God's will is for you?

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Joel you are right. Actions speak louder than words and like James said, "faith without works is dead". So it is more important what we do than what we know.

Are we saved by grace or by works? The Church teaches we are saved by God's grace. It's in the Scripture .

As for reading the bible, again if you would just go to google and type in "gutenburg" I think you would understand that personal bibles and individuals reading their bibles are a very modern phenomenon certainly not in the intentions of the authors.

But yes I have read the bible more than once. And am currently reading Baruch.

So now, have you accepted my challenge? Did you go read those early Church fathers?