Martin Luther On the Real Presence


Q. What did Martin Luther believe about the Body and Blood of Christ in the bread and wine?

A. Martin Luther believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. He became indignant when groups, who had followed him out of the Catholic Church, rejected the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. He deplored the fact that every milkmaid and farmhand thought they could interpret scripture correctly. Here he is in his own words.

Who, but the devil, has granted such license of wresting the words of the holy Scripture? Who ever read in the Scriptures, that my body is the same as the sign of my body? or, that is is the same as it signifies? What language in the world ever spoke so? It is only then the devil, that imposes upon us by these fanatical men. Not one of the Fathers of the Church, though so numerous, ever spoke as the Sacramentarians: not one of them ever said, It is only bread and wine; or, the body and blood of Christ is not there present.

Surely, it is not credible, nor possible, since they often speak, and repeat their sentiments, that they should never (if they thought so) not so much as once, say, or let slip these words: It is bread only; or the body of Christ is not there, especially it being of great importance, that men should not be deceived. Certainly, in so many Fathers, and in so many writings, the negative might at least be found in one of them, had they thought the body and blood of Christ were not really present: but they are all of them unanimous.”

Luther’s Collected Works, Wittenburg Edition, no. 7 p, 391

Who Decided Which Books Should be in the Bible?



Q. Who Decided Which Books Should be in the Bible?

A. The Sacred Scriptures used by the Jews at the time of Christ were simply adopted by the Church and became what is known as the Old Testament. The books of the New Testament were not finalized until the fourth century by Catholic Councils and Catholic popes.

Before the 4th Century there were many worthy and some unworthy “gospels” and “letters” floating around the ancient world. Christian liturgies used what they had available.

The four Gospels, as we have them today were clearly recognized as inspired at an early date as were many of Paul’s letters. But about many other writings there was disagreement. For instance, some people thought Hebrews, Jude, Revelation and 2 Peter were not inspired. Others were very certain that the books of Shepherd of Hermas, Gospels of Peter and Thomas, Letter of Barnabas and Letter of Clement were inspired.

Starting around the year of 175 A.D. Various lists of inspired books of the New Testament were made by Bishops and saints.For instance:

Origen: Gospels, the thirteen Pauline Epistles, Acts, Apocalypse, I Peter, and I John. The contested writings were Hebrews, II Peter, II and III John, James, Jude, Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, and probably the Gospel of the Hebrews.

EusebiusBishop of Cæsarea in Palestine

Four Gospels, thirteen Epistles of St. Paul, Hebrews, Acts, I Peter, I John, and Apocalypse.

A second category is composed contested writings; these in turn are of the superior and inferior sort. The better ones are:

Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, II Peter, II and III John; these, like Origen, Eusebius wished to be admitted to the Canon, but was forced to record their uncertain status;

The inferior sort were Barnabas, the Didache, Gospel of the Hebrews, the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd, the Apocalypse of Peter.

This uncertainty about the inspiration of Christian writings lasted for nearly four centuries. But the Faith of the Apostles, as taught to them by Jesus Christ, continued to evangelize the world since it was not dependent upon or derived only from scripture.

Canonization of Scripture

By the time the fourth century of Christianity was nearing completion,

Pope Damasus in 382 A.D. prompted by the Council of Rome, wrote a decree listing the 73 Old and New Testament books of the Bible.

At the Council of Hippo, in North Africa, 393 A.D. the same 73 Books of the Old and New Testament were approved or canonized.

Again at the the Council of Carthage, (North Africa) 397 A.D. approved the same 73 books of sacred scripture that the Catholic Church uses today.

Finally, in 405 A.D. Pope St. Innocent I approved the same 73 books of the canon and closed the canon of the Bible.

Up until the close of the canon there was much debate among faithful Catholics. That is probably why it took four official decisions to close the canon: Two Councils and Two papal decisions.

For a discussion of the books of the OT removed by Martin Luther click HERE , Sola Scriptura, and Martin Luther on debt to Catholic Church, here.

Which Protestant Scripture Translation is Correct?



Reblogged from ProtestantErrors.com

The translations and interpretations of the Scriptures have been violated by the Protestant reformers:

It is one thing for the Protestant reformers to dare cut off entire books, chapters, sentences and words from Scripture, but even more, the books that they chose not to cut off they have corrupted and violated by their translations. ….

… It is common knowledge that only one word can change the meaning of an entire sentence. We note here that Hieronymus Emser, a literary opponent of Luther, points out 1400 inaccuracies in Luther’s translation of Scripture, while Bunsen, a Protestant scholar, points out 3000.

If Luther, Calvin and other reformers’ translations of a verse in Scripture differ from the original AND from each other, which one is the word of God? Or are  (all translations)  still the word of God, though their translation may make their meaning completely different from the next? How can so many brains which are so different make so many translations without overthrowing the sincerity of Scripture?

It has always been a practice of the early Church to limit the Scriptures to universal languages such as Greek and Latin since they are not only universal but also not subject to changes like other languages. Most other languages change town to town in accents, phrases, and words (i.e. slang), and vary season to season and age to age and therefore it has never been recommended by the early Christian Church to translate the Bible to other languages that are not fixed languages. Doing so has much more danger than profit as we can see from our example above. Though we note here also that the early Christian Church has never disallowed translation of the Scriptures to non-fixed languages, though She has always insisted that public services of the Church use a fixed language translation to avoid possibly misleading the faithful with verses of possibly incorrect translation and meaning.

In summary, the Protestant reformers not only made major changes to Scripture by poor translations, but also translated Scripture to all the local non-fixed languages of the people where they started their churches, and they use those faulty translations in their church services. Is it not evident why there are so many Protestant interpretations of Scripture all in conflict with one another?


The Catholic Church is Indefectible


The following is taken from ProtestantErrors.com with permission.

To those who say the true Church can err:

The Protestant reformers such as Calvin and Beza claim the Catholic Church to have been the True Church during the early centuries of Christianity (before they claim it fell into error). During those five hundred years the Church had fought and condemned the same doctrines that the Protestant reformers were resurrecting. Yet now Calvin and Beza have the audacity to offer the same doctrines again as medicine and holy reformations? If when the True Church in the early centuries of Christianity declared those Protestant beliefs to be error, how can the Protestant reformers now claim them to be truth and to base their new churches on them?

If the Church can err, to whom shall we have recourse in our difficulties? Protestants will say Scripture. We do not doubt that we must believe in and consult Scripture, but what if our difficulty pertains to Scripture itself? How can we find an answer? I cannot go to Luther or Calvin for they have opposing opinions. Do you really think Our Lord went to the trouble to establish His Church just to leave us in anarchy with no recourse on matters which could lead us into darkeness?

All denominations shout their claims with equal assurance that their interpretation of Scripture is accurate, which would leave all others inaccurate. To say Our Lord has not left us any guides to help us choose the good from the bad in an environment that He knew contained much error, is to say that He wishes us to be confused, which we know He does not.

Our Lord said, “And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican” (Matt 18:17). How else can this be understood than Our Lord sends us to the Church in our differences? (If not the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which Protestant one?)

If the Church can err, and God commands us to go to the Church, then this means God wishes to deceive us. Does it make sense that God would send all of His lambs to the slaughter by commanding them to consult a Church that can contain error?

When St. Paul says, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), why would he call the Church the “pillar and ground of truth” if it could contain error? (Why didn’t He call the Bible the pillar and ground of Truth?)

If the Church did err and the Protestant reformers started churches of their own, as they did, then how can we explain this verse from Scripture: “And he hath subjected all things under his feet, and hath made him head over all the church” (Ephesians 1:22). This verse refers to Jesus being head of ONE church, not multiple churches such as those started by Lutheran, Calvin and subsequent Protestants.

It must be made clear here that when we refer to the Church not erring, we are referring to the Church not misguiding the faithful with respect to faith and morals, which we are required to hear and know for our salvation. The Church at the same time is also a human society because it consists of human members. This is why scandals, heresies, schisms and sins among its members also arise. These sins are expected with human beings and do not indicate a failure of a divinely founded Church that Our Lord promised would never fail! Did the mission of all the Apostles fail or cease to be because Judas turned to betrayal? Of course not. Christ Himself foretold of these type of problems in Scripture when He spoke parables in Matthew 13 regarding the wheat and tares and the net containing good fish and bad fish. Consider the verses,

“Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kind of fishes. Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth. So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just.” Matthew 13:47-49.

In summary, Our Lord said His Church would never fail, yet we clearly see members of His Church making mistakes due to their human natures. These mistakes clearly do not indicate failure of the Church. Again, the Church is equivalent to an army with good and bad soldiers, many of which stray or are killed, but this does not affect the army as a whole. The same applies to the true Church of Christ; it continues unscathed over the gates of hell despite the downfalls of its members.

Was The True Church Restored by the Reformers?



Copied with permission from ProtestantErrors.com

To those who say the Catholic Church perished, which brought about the need for a reformation:

To say that the Church perished or went apostate is blasphemous against the Passion of Our Lord. Didn’t Jesus undergo His passion and death for us that He could establish His Church for all of us? Of what sense does it make that Our Lord should let go of His Church which cost Him so dear right after He established it? Of what sense would it make that He would take it back from us after giving it to us? How could He have abandoned the Church, which cost Him all of His blood? Do you think that Jesus is weaker than His adversary, the devil, and was overcome by him?

In Scripture Jesus clearly made promises on promises pertaining to the perpetuity of His Church. To say the Church perished is to call Jesus a liar, since he promised…. “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18)

Who gave Luther and Calvin a commission to revoke so many holy and solemn promises which Our Lord made of His Church? Did Our Lord not say of His Church, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”? (Matt 16:18) And didn’t He say, “behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” Matthew 28:20? And didn’t Our Lord say “And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever” John 14:16? And don’t we see repeated mention in the New Testament that Our Lord will be with us? How can all of these promises stand if the Church perished or went apostate? And if the true Church is to last forever as Christ told us, how can it have failed or gone apostate for a thousand years as the Protestant reformers claim?

He who thinks himself to be the reformer or resuscitator of the Catholic Church attributes to himself the honor due to Jesus alone, and makes himself greater than the Apostles. The Apostles preserved the Church by their ministry after Our Lord instituted it. He who says that he has found the Church dead and raised it to life himself is the most audacious human alive.

If the Church did perish and the Protestant reformers were the ones to truly resuscitate the Church back to a true state, that would make them greater than the Apostles. But never have they shown any signs or wonders of such greatness in their lives as the Apostles did!

To say that the Church perished sometime after the first five or six centuries as the Protestant reformers say is to imply nothing else than our predecessors for nearly 1000 years before the reformation are damned,…

For the rest of the article click–>Protestant Errors

By What Authority Did the Reformers Change the Church?


To those who say the Protestant reformers had an immediate mission from God to reform the Catholic Church:

To claim that the Protestant reformers were given direct mission by God to reform the church requires undeniable proof, otherwise people all over the world could easily claim direct mission from God on all sorts of beliefs, then where would we be? Then each time we thought we were following the truth we would be forever interrupted by men claiming an extraordinary vocation. Is that how Jesus intended His Church to be?

Consider the miracles sent by God through Moses so that others would believe his mission. Also consider the miracles performed by Jesus and the Apostles so that the people would believe their word. Yet the Protestant reformers, despite making the most drastic changes to the Catholic Church since its founding, have never shown a miracle or any other sign to prove their mission, as would have occurred elsewhere in Scripture with such a drastic change to the faith. Jesus did not hesitate to show signs when reforming the Jewish Faith, so what audacity do the Protestant reformers have to propose changes as drastic as Jesus made without showing any signs? “Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.” John 14:11,12

Why should we take the Protestant reformers mere word without a sign? He who boasts an extraordinary mission from God without immediately producing undeniable signs cannot be believed.

If there was a true immediate mission from God to reform the church, then we ask which one had the true mission; Luther, Calvin, or another reformer? Each of these men had opposing beliefs from the start which resulted in different denominations so it is quite obvious these men did not have an immediate mission from God.

For those who would like to claim the Protestant reformers were true prophets, why did they act contrary to all other prophets before them by not showing any undeniable signs to prove their words, and by opposing the one true Church which no other true prophet has ever done?

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” Galatians 1:8.

For the rest of the article click–> Protestant Errors

Where Did Luther (et. al) Get Authority to Change Christianity?


The following is taken from ProtestantErrors.com with permission.
The Protestant reformers had no legitimate mission from God (or from someone given power by God) to reform the Church:

Jesus Christ instructed His Apostles to preach the Gospel to the whole world, therefore they had an “immediate” mission from God. St. Paul sent Timothy of Ephesus and Titus of Crete as Bishops to help him on his first mission, therefore they had a “mediate” mission from someone given the power by God to send them.

On the other hand, never have we seen any of the Protestant reformers show any mission from God or from anyone else to reform the church. Rather it is readily apparent they wrongfully took it upon themselves to make reforms. “How shall they preach unless they be sent”? Romans 10:15.

No individual has the right to associate himself with the Apostles or attempt to act under their authority; the individual must be sent or commissioned with divine authority. “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber” John 10:1. Here we see Martin Luther openly agreeing with this. Consider verses such as “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you” John 20:21 and “He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me” John 13:20.

How can people without any authority attempt to make such drastic decisions affecting a divinely founded, global Church? Laity or princes do not have authority or power to start such a mission, rather someone must be sent legitimately, in Apostolic fashion, such as from a Bishop, or their mission is null. “Neither doth any man take the honor to himself but he that is called by God, as Aaron was.” Hebrews 5:4

If you say the reformers were given appropriate mission to reform the Catholic Church, then we ask who is the authority that sent them? We know it was not the Catholic Church for the ideas of the Reformation are against Catholic teaching, and it was not the Lutheran and other Protestant churches for they were not yet formed when the reformation was being organized. So on who’s authority was the mission of the Reformation?

For the rest click –>Protestant Errors

Why I Became Catholic


Originally published in Surprised by Truth 3
schedule 2Author

HOW CAN I KEEP MY HEART FROM SINGING

Pam Forrester

When I was eight I asked my mom to take me to the little church at the end of our street. She began to drop me off every week for Sunday School. One Sunday, my teacher presented the Gospel and encouraged us to accept Jesus Christ as our savior.
“But,” she told us, “you must be willing to do anything for God, like be a missionary.”
Well, I really wanted to be saved but I did not want to be a missionary! I had to think this over. I went home and thought about it for a while, my little 8 year-old soul struggling against selfish desire. Some weeks later, I convinced myself that I would be willing to be a missionary for Jesus and I asked Him to come into my heart.

For years I had a very fervent faith, even up to my first year in college – when the theory of evolution and the desire to sin enticed me to abandon my faith. I conveniently became an atheist for two years during the 60’s. Then, my mom gave me a copy of The Late Great Planet Earth, a book about the second coming of Christ. After reading it, I decided that perhaps the Bible was relevant after all and not just some dusty old book I could safely ignore. So, I rededicated my life to Christ.

I gave a copy of the Late Great Planet Earth to my boyfriend Mike, a first-year medical student, and he committed his life to Christ too. A year later we took a Bible course called The Bethel Series – a two year overview of the whole Bible. We got married, taught Bethel, led small group Bible studies and studied Scripture in depth. We moved from California to Baltimore so Mike could do his surgery residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. And then we moved to Houston so he could do specialty training.

***

Since we were convinced that the Bible alone was sufficient for faith and salvation, we wanted to know exactly what words in the Bible meant. I bought a Greek dictionary and a Greek interlinear Bible and taught myself to read the Greek alphabet. When Mike finished his residency we moved to California with our three young children. Mike set up practice in a small town north of San Diego. We found a great church and we joined a weekly Bible study group.

It was here that we first heard about the doctrine of Eternal Security – the belief that a once a Christian is “saved,” he cannot lose salvation no matter what he does. We objected initially, but were assured it was true, our friends firing off memorized Bible verses to support the doctrine. We backed down for a while. Then Mike began his own Bible study by listening to tapes of the Bible while exercising. I also studied, on my own, with my dictionaries, concordances and Greek interlinear. Before long, Mike was using these sources as well. We soon became convinced that there were hundreds of verses that did not align with the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Our Bible study group swelled to overflowing as Mike taught how Scripture refuted Eternal Security. We were labeled Arminian even though we had never heard of Arminius or what he wrote. But we did reject Calvinism, especially the doctrine of Limited Atonement .

Our pastors did not agree with us, but since everything Mike was teaching was biblical he was allowed to continue as an elder in the church and even to teach from the pulpit several times a year. Some people agreed with us; some were convinced we were heretics and told us so. Mike’s sermons usually caused controversy. The Elder board tried to talk Mike out of speaking on Eternal Security issues; others tried to show us the error of our ways.
We worried about the people who might think they were eternally secure and bound for heaven no matter what kind of life they lived. My husband even wrote a two volume book and was asked to teach at a Bible college by a popular radio preacher in order to point out the errors of the “once saved, always saved” theology. We were still convinced that once all the biblical evidence was compiled it would be irresistibly persuasive and all our friends and pastors would see the truth.

But the evidence was met with a yawn. Those who disagreed with us didn’t refute the scriptural evidence – they just ignored it. We were astounded! We eventually realized that most people didn’t really practice sola scriptura after all; they clung to the Protestant traditions begun by Luther and Calvin, sometimes in spite of Scripture. After ten years of attempting to show how the Bible did not support Eternal Security, being called heretics, hearing through the grapevine about people who resented and suspected us, we became discouraged and disillusioned.

If I hadn’t been so thoroughly convinced there was a God, I could easily have become an atheist. In my heart I was prideful, arrogant, and critical. No church quite suited me since most Protestant churches incorporate some form of Calvinism. According to my understanding of the Bible, which I was convinced was led by the Holy Spirit, all the nearby churches were wrong about something. Despite this, I sensed that my attitude was not Christ-like, so I would pray about that. I wanted to be humble, but I just…wasn’t. “Maybe I am a heretic?” I wondered. “What makes me so sure I’m right and other Christians are wrong?” I desperately wanted to find a church where I could simply worship God without being critical. In the meantime, all I could do was studiously try to keep my mind from dwelling on criticisms. I thought I could be content in my apathy.

***

A few years later, in the summer 1997, while perusing home school curriculum catalogs, I saw a course for junior high school students designed to introduce Protestants to the Catholic faith and vice versa. The student was supposed to read the books in one order if he was Protestant and in the opposite order if he was Catholic, so that the last book read confirmed him in his own faith tradition. Since my oldest daughter had just started college at USD, a Catholic university, I decided that this would be the perfect time to find out more about the Catholic faith. That way if Heather came home with questions, I would be able to answer them. I didn’t want her to become Catholic!

I ordered three of the books. The first, Evangelical Is Not Enough was written by Thomas Howard, a convert to Catholicism and the brother of prominent Evangelical, Elizabeth Elliot( Through Gates of Splendor and End of the Spear). I had long been curious about why a “Christian” would join the Catholic Church, and found Howard’s story interesting. He also made a lot of sense, and I grew slightly annoyed that I had accepted so many misconceptions about the Catholic faith. Hey, I thought, maybe the Catholic Church wasn’t so weird after all.

One evening at our Bible study, my husband brought up John 14:26, where Jesus says,

“the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

Mike reminded every one that our usual interpretation of this verse was that this promise was given to each and every believer. The result has been that there are now over 25,000 different Protestant denominations. But the Catholic view, as Howard had explained it, is that this promise was made in the upper room to the twelve disciples and therefore it only applied to them and their successors: the Pope and the Catholic leaders. Without the final, ruling authority of Christ through the Bishop of Rome and the Magisterium, the Catholic Church would splinter into even more sects than Protestantism.

I was quietly aghast because I wasn’t ready to say anything yet. No one said much and we went on with the study as usual. But I found out the next day that one of my best friends at the study had cried all the way home. She had been shocked to hear us say something outside of “Scripture alone”. And I didn’t blame her. I decided then not to say a word to anyone about my research into the Catholic Church until it became absolutely necessary, if ever.

After reading Howard’s book, I felt very broadminded toward the Catholic Church. But I did not sense the danger my Protestantism was in as I opened up the second book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating. This book promised Catholic answers to the charges against “Romanism” by “Bible Christians”. By the time I had read about half of the book, I no longer felt broad minded, but sick and horrified all at once. I had read enough of Keating’s book to learn, for the first time, that Catholicism had a defense for beliefs like the Eucharist and Papacy. Keating’s use of Scripture was standard exegesis. It made sense. What I read in that book coalesced with doubts and questions I had put on the back burners of my mind. No longer simmering, they began to boil.

For instance, I had long wondered, how could each and every individual person’s faith rest on personal devotional Bible reading, when most people, until relatively modern times, couldn’t even read? And even if they could read, they wouldn’t be able to own their own personal Bible because Bibles were hand copied (until the 16th century) and very expensive.

Personal devotional Bible reading for growing in Christ began to seem suspiciously modern. Especially when I discovered that the Catholic Church had read Scripture to the faithful at every Mass for 2000 years. But could the Catholic Church be the one Church founded by Jesus Christ himself? No! Never! It couldn’t possibly be true. My soul in turmoil, I slammed Catholicism and Fundamentalism shut and grabbed the book that was supposed to confirm me in my Protestant faith, The Gospel According to Rome by James McCarty.

***

In McCarty’s book I was looking for a rebuttal to Catholic Scripture interpretation. I wanted to know why Jesus didn’t literally mean to eat His flesh in John 6, when that sure seemed like what He said. I wanted to know exactly why Jesus did not found His Church on Peter in Matthew 16, when that is what He said. I wanted to know what was wrong with confession to a priest when the Bible says, “confess your sins to one another,” and “Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven….”
But, The Gospel According to Rome didn’t help at all. It didn’t address my questions, but merely explained why Catholicism was wrong according to traditional Protestant interpretations of certain Biblical passages. It never convincingly refuted the Catholic interpretation of verses that supported Catholic beliefs.

Now I really felt scared. I begged God to show me the truth about what was wrong with the Catholic Church. I did not want to be Catholic. There were no Catholics anywhere in either of our families. I had never been anti-Catholic; I believed there were a few real Christians in the Catholic Church in spite of Catholicism. I liked Catholics, I just didn’t want to be one!
I stopped reading for several weeks. I needed to get my perspective back. I thought and prayed. When I felt calm again, I picked up Keating’s book and finished it. Yes, the Catholic Church had good reasons, Biblical reasons, for its theology. But I was certain there had to be a good Protestant refutation, by somebody, somewhere.

But here was my dilemma. We had this early church that we trusted to tell us which writings floating around the ancient world were inerrant and inspired. It seemed logical, then, that we should therefore be able to trust this same church and the doctrines taught by it at least up until the time the Bible was canonized. Right? We always used to talk about the church of the Apostles and how it was the true model for Christian belief and practice. So when reading the Acts of the Apostles we sought to align our present day worship with what we found in sacred scripture. This goal of worshiping in imitation of the early church was a foundational principle. Therefore, you can imagine my shock when I discovered that this early church believed in that particularly Catholic doctrine, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

“They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again.”

St. Ignatius of Antioch- 110 AD

“We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes…so too, as we have been taught the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the Flesh and the Blood of that incarnated Jesus.”

St. Justin Martyr-150 AD

***

Jesus tells his followers eight times to eat His flesh in John 6. I came to the inescapable conclusion that the earliest Christians took Jesus literally. When I found out that even Martin Luther – one of the principal fathers of the Reformation – believed in the Real Presence I realized that Christians had always believed this doctrine.

This put me in a tough position.

On the one hand, the early Church canonized the Bible around 400 AD. On the other hand that very same early Church believed in the Real Presence of Christ (and, I was discovering, many other Catholic doctrines). The standard Protestant solution to this dilemma was that these strange Catholic doctrines were pagan corruptions of the pure and simple Christianity of the apostles. But I could no more take the Bible from the hand of a church that was supposed to be corrupted by paganism than I could accept the Pearl of Great Price (an extra biblical text considered part of inspired Scripture by Mormons) while rejecting everything else about the Mormon belief system. That seemed totally irrational. I couldn’t buy it.

Being a Protestant was like watching a Corpus Christi procession, then rushing up and knocking down the priests and nuns, candles, censors, crucifix, and monstrance but grabbing the Bible and carrying it away and basing faith on it alone. What sense does that make? I just could not find a logical way to accept the authority of the Bible while rejecting the beliefs of the very earliest Christian Church that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (which we all believe) chose the books that make up the Bible.

***

I began to read Catholic books, hoping to find the Church’s Achilles heel.

Nothing.

Still resisting, I called Hector, a pastor friend who had a ministry to bring Hispanics out of the Catholic Church. He seemed like a likely candidate to know the intricacies of Catholic doctrine and what was wrong with it. I told him what I was going through and he sympathetically recommended The Gospel According to Rome. I told him I’d read it and it wasn’t convincing.
Then he asked, “But, what about the fact that Jesus had brothers? The Bible talks about the brothers and sisters of Jesus.”
My experience with Greek had already helped me tackle this question.

“I looked that up and the Greek word can legitimately be translated ‘kinsman’ or ‘brother’ depending upon the context,” I said. “And that same Greek word is translated ‘kinsman’ in lots of other places in the New Testament. Such as when Paul addresses the recipients of his epistles. So the Catholics could be right about Mary being ever-virgin,” I said.

He kindly promised to pray for me and we hung up. I silently stared into space and wondered, “Is that the best he can do?!”

A few hours later my pastor called. I decided Hector must have called him so I told him all about my dilemma. Then I asked,

“Why don’t we believe in the Real Presence of Christ in Communion when Jesus says in John 6 over and over that we must eat His body and drink His blood in order to have eternal life? Why don’t we take it literally like the Catholics do?”

“That is just symbolic,” he responded “because later Jesus says the flesh is of no avail.”

“Yes, Jesus says, ‘the flesh is of no avail’ but what does He mean by that? Jesus is God in the flesh. Is His flesh of no avail?”

“Well of course His flesh is important. The ‘flesh of Jesus availeth much.’ But Jesus is speaking symbolically when he talks about eating his flesh.”

“Ok, but how do we know that for certain?” I asked.

“Because cannibalism is strictly forbidden in the Old Testament.”

“You’re right. But the Old Testament prohibition against cannibalism is exactly why many of Jesus’ Jewish disciples left Him at this point saying, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’ And as far as we know Jesus didn’t chase after them and say, ‘Wait, I was only speaking symbolically!’ So the disciples who left understood Jesus to be speaking literally. Otherwise, why would they leave? So somehow Jesus must have been speaking literally and yet not advocating cannibalism. The Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist is literal and yet not literally cannibalistic since Jesus didn’t cut off His arm and pass is around saying, ‘Take, eat.’ How can we as Protestants respond to this?”

“Well, what about all the money they spent building cathedrals when people were starving?”

“But when they built a cathedral it was like a giant welfare project. People had work for years and years,” I replied.

He changed the subject again: “The Catholic Church became corrupted by pagan beliefs shortly after the apostles died.”

“Well then, wouldn’t that mean that the gates of Hell prevailed against His Church and Jesus was unable to keep that promise?”

“No…there was always a remnant.”

“But how can we know for sure that the remnant part of the Church, the true Church of Christ, was the one that canonized the Bible and not the corrupted part of the Church?”

“We just trust the Holy Spirit was able to do that.”
“But the earliest Christians held Catholic beliefs like the real presence and the perpetual virginity of Mary? Who threw these beliefs out? Luther believed them. Luther and Calvin believed Mary was a perpetual virgin. Who decided Mary definitely had other children when everyone right up to and including the Reformation believed she only gave birth to Jesus?”

Our conversation continued like this for a couple of hours. When he couldn’t give an answer he changed the subject. I wasn’t actually defending the Church at that point. I was telling him the Catholic viewpoint in desperate hope that he could give me a convincing Protestant rebuttal. But nothing he said was convincing.

Later I wrote him letters with about forty questions and included a review of the books I had read. He was in a doctoral program at the time, and I hoped maybe he could get some answers from his professors. When we talked again he said I had done so much research that he didn’t have time to get up to speed with me. He told me to go ahead and visit a Catholic Church, thinking that would put an end to my fantasy. It didn’t. Meanwhile I kept searching for a Protestant refutation of the Catholic Faith. There just had to be one.

***

Next, I watched a video debate between Father Mitch Pacwa S.J. and two prominent Protestant apologists (Walter Martin and John Ankerberg). Again, there was no refutation of Catholic claims, no explaining what was wrong with Catholic exegesis: only what was wrong with the Catholic beliefs, according to the interpretation of Scripture in a particular Protestant tradition. My husband, who was at once fascinated by the Catholic interpretation of Sacred Scripture and at the same time repulsed by the thought of becoming Catholic, was also disappointed that no one refuted the points Father Pacwa made. Martin and Ankerberg never explained why Fr. Pacwa’s interpretation was wrong. They merely condemned Catholic theology according to what they thought the Bible meant.

For example, I remember Walter Martin asking,

“Why does the Catholic Church believe Mary was without sin when she admits that God is her savior in Luke 1:47? She must have needed a savior because she sinned.”

Fr. Pacwa replied “Yes, she needed a savior. But, a person can be saved out of a pit after he has fallen in, or he can be saved from the pit before he falls in. We believe God saved Mary before she fell into sin by creating her, from conception, without the fallen nature caused by the stain of Original Sin, she otherwise would have inherited from her parents. So He created Mary without sin just like He created Adam and Eve without sin.”

Martin and Ankerberg would then go on to to another topic without dealing with Fr. Pacwa’s explanations.

***

Then, I decided to find out why some of my ex-Catholic friends had left the Church. One of them, I was surprised to learn, was on the verge of returning to the Catholic Church. The others had just drifted away when their parents could no longer make them go to Sunday Mass. None had left for any particular doctrinal reason.
One friend assured me the Catholic Church was really weird and unscriptural because she remembered, as a young, devout Catholic, having to go from church to church all in one day in order to say prayers for her loved ones. She assured me that she couldn’t pray for all the people she cared about in one church, but was only allowed pray for one person per church. I have since asked priests and lay Catholic friends if they have ever heard of this; none have. Perhaps she was either misinformed or misunderstood. Even if it were true, it seems to me little reason to reject the Church!

***

After six months of frantic detective work, I had exhausted every avenue I could think of to find a Protestant rebuttal to Catholic doctrine. There were of course many great Protestant arguments out there.

The trouble with them was that they rebutted doctrines that Catholics didn’t believe. For instance, you could find lots of apologetic material condemning the worship of Mary, complete with scriptures against idolatry. But that was useless, since the Catholic Church too condemns the worship of Mary. Most importantly, I could find no good Protestant reason for the rejection of the Real Presence in the Eucharist when John 6 so clearly has Jesus commanding his disciples to eat His flesh, and historically all Christians believed this doctrine for the first 1500 years of Christianity. I finally “knocked at the door” of my parish church and began the process of entering the Church.

When I told my friends, they were mostly kind and accepting. Some tried to dissuade me from entering the Church. And one friend, Donna, invited me to go to hear anti-Catholic, apologist Bart Brewer speak about the Catholic Church at a large nondenominational church in a nearby town. I knew Brewer was an ex-priest and anti-Catholic but I went anyway. The Easter Vigil was only months away. I wanted to let him take his best shot at me before I entered the Church. But as it turned out his was just the same old attack on the Catholic Church without refuting the scriptural and historical evidence for its doctrines.

Surprisingly, Donna saw through his double standard. While Brewer criticized and condemned the Catholic Church for relying on the “Bible plus the Catechism” instead of relying on the Bible alone, she was struck by the realization that he wasn’t sola scriptura either! He was relying on the Bible plus Calvin’s Institutes. She found him totally useless in helping her to “deprogram” me.

***

Eighteen months after my inquiry began, I embraced the Holy Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 1999. Our four youngest children were received into the Catholic Church at Easter 2000 with my husband’s permission. My husband and three oldest children are still Protestant but they are very supportive – especially my husband In fact, Mike is currently leading a Catholic/Protestant Bible study on the Gospel of John, with the stated purpose of teaching the biblical basis for Catholic theology. At first, I thought he would quickly follow me into the Church, but he has his own path to follow on the journey of faith.

But Donna entered the Catholic Church at Easter 2002. I am thankful to my Protestant teachers for the solid foundation they laid in me about the truths of Christianity, the illusions of worldly passions, and encouragement to study God’s Holy Word. It fed my soul for forty years. The irony is, I studied the Bible so much I uncovered many discrepancies between some Protestant doctrines and Sacred Scripture. This was the beginning of my loss of confidence in Protestant Christianity

But it wasn’t until Catholic authors made me face the historical evidence that Christianity preexisted the New Testament by 400 years that I began to consider the implications of this fact. That the Faith was alive, making converts, establishing churches, instructing and baptizing converts for so long (for reference, 400 years ago was about the time the Pilgrims came to America!) before the New Testament was compiled, meant that the New Testament could not be the touchstone of the Faith. The New Testament was not the very first reservoir of Christian teaching.

Something else existed before it.

And that same “something else” kept the Faith alive and also gave birth to the New Testament. It was the oral teaching, the deposit of the Faith of the Apostles, that was used to make the final decisions about which books would end up in the New Testament. No book was included in the canon of the New Testament that contradicted the Faith of the Apostles. And that is why, I discovered to my joy, that nothing in Catholic doctrine contradicts anything in the Bible. The Bible, loved by Protestants as well as Catholics, the inspired and inerrant word of God, was written and published by the Catholic Church.

The icing on the cake of solid, scriptural Catholic doctrine was the beauty and poetry of Catholic worship. Its reverence in comparison to modern Evangelical praise services spoke to me of its ancient pedigree and authenticity. The Mass is ancient and Jewish – closer in form to Temple worship than to a Calvary Chapel. The ritual, prayers, and priestly robes are more Old Testament than my former Evangelical Free Church. And the incense and chants echo the heavenly worship found in the Book of Revelation better than any Baptist service.

In the end, a thousand tiny puzzle pieces of Bible verses, doctrines, prayers history, martyrs, liturgy, came together to form for me a clear image of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

“It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair.”

-G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)


 Pam Forrester writes from Fallbrook, California, where she lives with her husband, Mike, of thirty four years. They have seven children. The youngest was six when her mother entered the Catholic Church in 1999.

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How Many Protestant Denominations are there? Really?



I have heard that there are over 20,000 or 30,000 different denominations of Protestants. But I just did a little research and I am afraid it is a distortion. I am a Catholic who converted from a zealous Protestantism. I know there are way too many divisions in the body of Christ but this figure is not accurate b/c the authors from which this figure comes counted a church as a NEW or ANOTHER denomination just because it was in a different country. So the Roman Catholic Church…ONE UNIFIED CHURCH is counted as having over 200 denominations according to the method of counting denominations, just because the Roman Catholic Church is in over 200 different countries, which is just completely inaccurate.

So, if the Southern Baptist Church is found in the USA, Canada, and England it was counted as three denominations when it really should have been counted as one.

The source of this misinformation is the World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett. You can see for yourself by clicking the Link Here.

If anyone has an accurate count of actual denominations of Non-Catholic and Non-Orthodox Protestant Christians I would be interested in knowing how many there really are b/c I don’t want to be repeating misinformation.

Did the Catholic Church Add Books to the BIBLE?


Q. When did Catholics add books to the Bible?

A. They never did. The Jews and the Protestants removed books from the OT.
The Catholic Church simply received the Septuagint version of the Hebrew scriptures, from the Jews, at the time of Christ. This became known as the Old Testament. 70 years later, the Jews removed 7 Old Testament books from the Septuagint. The reason given for this was that they could no longer find those books in Hebrew.

Interestingly some of these books were being used to good advantage to make converts among the Jews. For example:

This passage prophesies and describes the attitude of the enemies of Jesus hundreds of years before His birth:

The Book of Wisdom
2.1a, 12-22

The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright:

Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself as a child of the Lord. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, Because his life is not like other men’s and different are his ways. He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him. These were their thoughts, but they erred, for their wickedness blinded them, and they knew not the hidden counsels of God neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.

Prayers for the dead and support for Purgatory (since people in Heaven don’t need prayers and people in Hell can’t be helped by prayers) are scriptural based on the following passage.

II Maccabees 12:44-45

For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.
But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

In 1529, Martin Luther removed the same 7 books from the Catholic Old Testament, that the Jews had removed1400 years earlier. Luther also removed 4 New Testament books (Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation) that did not agree with his theology, for his German translation. These books were removed from their original place in the order of the books and placed together at the end of the Bible. In later editions, he was persuaded to return the New Testament books to to their proper position in his translation of the Bible. Today Protestant Bibles don’t contain 7 Old Testament books at all.

Q. What is the Septuagint?

A. In the centuries leading up to the birth of Christ the Jews were living all over the known world. Greek was the language of commerce and scholarship. Over time it became harder and harder to maintain a wide knowledge of Hebrew among the Jews because more and more were speaking only Greek. The Jews in Alexandria set about to make a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. This translation was completed between 250-125 BC by 70 Jewish scholars. Septuagint means 70 in Latin.

Scholars are certain that Jesus and the early Christians accepted the Septuagint version of the Old Testament because etymological studies of 300 quotes from the Old Testament made by the New Testament writers can be traced back to the Septuagint version. There are also OT quotes that can be traced back to the Hebrew OT but these are far fewer in number. So, if Jesus had rejected the Septuagint the New Testament writers seemed to know nothing about it since they all used it quite freely.

For More on the Deuterocanon click–>Five Myths about the Seven Books

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