Friday, May 19, 2017

CAN WE “BECOME CHRIST”?



According to Paragraph 795 of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church (Second Edition – Revised in Accordance with the Official Latin Text):


(Start Quote)


“Christ and his Church thus together make up the “whole Christ” (Christus totus).  The Church is one with Christ.  The saints are acutely aware of this unity:
 

‘Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself.  Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us?  Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ.  For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man…  The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members.  But what does “head and members” mean?  Christ and the Church.  [Quoting Augustine]


Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself. [Quoting Pope Gregory I (“the Great”)]


Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person. [Quoting Thomas Aquinas]


A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter”.”
 

(End Quote) 


(CCC #795 – emphasis in bold added)


What?!!!  We (Christians) have BECOME CHRIST? Are they really saying this?  Isn’t this blasphemy?  Why would the Catholic Church teach something like this? 


Ok, perhaps they meant something else, or maybe we’re just not fully understanding their words.  So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for a moment.  Maybe we should let them explain what they really mean.  But in doing research on this, their answers are far from satisfactory.  When Protestants express concern over CCC #795, the Catholic answers to this seem to fall into three basic categories:


  1) They try to tell us that we are taking this “out of context.”


This whole context of Paragraph #795 deals with a special unity between Christ and His church.  But the language of “becoming” Christ doesn’t match the context.  There is a world of difference between being in union with Him, and BEING HIM.  So, the Catechism is violating its own context at this point.


  2) Some will say that we don’t really become Christ, but it’s only emphasizing our special union with Jesus, where we are conformed into the image and likeness of God’s Son, since He is the Head and we are members of His body, together making the whole man, or the “whole Christ.”  They’ll say that the church is “one with Christ,” creating “one organism,” just as husband and wife are made “one flesh,” etc, etc.  So, it’s only about the union.


We all agree that we (Christians) are in a special union with Christ, but notice that the Catechism is going out of its way to point out a CONTRAST:  It says “… we have become not only Christians, but Christ Himself.”  It is telling us that we are not only members of the body of Christ, but something more, something different than mere members of the body, apparently something greater.  And then it reinforces that by again saying, “… we have become Christ.”  So, Catholics can’t claim that this is only about our union with Him.
   

If all that this controversial Catechism statement means is that we are in union with Jesus, then the Catholic Church is only being redundant (repetitive) here.  It is like saying, “we have become not only members of the body of Christ, but something even greater… we have also become members of the body of Christ!”  This makes no sense.  Using this argument, they are building up to a supposed contrast, yet, there is none.  This “union only” argument simply renders the Catechism quote meaningless.  Yes folks, this is just another example of Catholic word games.
 

  3) Some will say that this “becoming Christ” is simply a great “mystery” that we can’t understand.


Then, if that’s the case, there is no limit to the “mysteries” we can use.  Anyone can teach almost anything and declare it to be a “great mystery.”  Then, they can tell outsiders that no one can understand this, but they must accept it, since their church says it is so.  This could get quickly out of hand.  Simply calling it a “mystery” doesn’t make it true, especially since it flies in the face of Scripture.


And what is this “whole Christ” business?  According to Augustine’s quote above, we need Christ AND the church to have the “fullness of Christ.”  But is Christ somehow “incomplete” without us? Or, in some way dependent on the church?  Absolutely not.  He can exist without the church, but the church cannot exist without Him.  He does not “need” the church, or anything else, for that matter (Colossians 2:9-10).  Jesus Christ has existed from eternity past and will continue to exist for eternity future (John 1:1-2; Revelation 1:8).  The only reason that the church is even involved at all is because of His grace and His choice to include Christians in His plan.  It is certainly not because of any need on His part.  But it almost seems that the Catholic Church wants to make it sound as though the church is somehow equal with Him here.


Concerning Joan of Arc’s quote above, it is truly interesting that the Catholic Church (the masters of complicating simple spiritual concepts) is telling us to just believe them and not to complicate things?!!!  It is hard to take them seriously when they say things like this.


Conclusion


As we mentioned before, we all know that there’s a special bond between Christ and His church.  We’re not denying that, but Scripture never suggests that we can ever “become Christ” – that idea is totally foreign to God’s Word.  You can use all the “union with Christ” verses in the Bible that you want, but these verses do not support #795 in the Catechism.  We are not Christ, either individually or corporately.
   

So, once again, why would the Catholic Church say that we have become Christ?  They don’t officially believe in more than one true God, or more than one true Christ, do they?  This is a very controversial statement, one that stands out like a sore thumb, yet the Catholic Catechism doesn’t seem to be trying to explain it.  After all, isn’t the purpose of a catechism to explain the faith?  It’s almost as if the Catholic Church is purposefully leaving us hanging there, without any real attempt to clarify.  The silence is deafening.


Is this “becoming Christ” idea possibly part of the end-time one-world religious system?  We suspect that this quote from the Catechism may likely be used to further the Ecumenical Movement, where all faiths will come together.  Perhaps the Catholic Church is saying this to be “inclusive” of evolutionists, New Agers, Eastern mysticists, and members of other world religions (that is, those who might see themselves as their own “christ” or “god”).  Time will tell.


And why do we see so few objections coming from Catholics about this?  It appears that either they are not aware of these strange comments from the Catechism, or they are simply being faithful to “Mother Church,” no matter what kind of outrageous (and unbiblical) ideas she teaches.


The three points that we listed above appear to be the most common arguments for including CCC #795.  The only other option seems to be that we actually become Christ in an absolute sense, but this is outright heresy.


At any rate, the Catholic Catechism is wrong.  Jesus Christ is indeed the Head of the church.  But in saying that we (Christians) “become Christ,” do we now also become the Head?  Certainly not!  We can’t even always function properly as lesser members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:14-24), much less function as the Head!  We are part of the body, but not THAT part!



Sunday, April 30, 2017

THE CATHOLIC MINDSET



Sometimes in discussions between Catholics and Protestants, it is interesting to see how their minds operate.  Catholics are geared to think one way, while Protestants have a different mentality.  We recently read an article that clearly demonstrated the difference between the two.  The article is titled, “Is Catholicism Biblical? That Question is Backwards!” by Dr. Jeff Mirus.  It can be found here:


The Cart Before the Horse?

In the article, Mirus recognizes the fact that Protestants (in general) see the Bible as the ultimate authority for the Christian.  According to Protestants, it is (or should be) the Rule of Faith.  But Mirus finds fault with this concept and believes that we Protestants have it all backwards.  He states:

“The key question is not whether Catholicism stands the test of Scripture, but whether Scripture stands the test of Catholicism.” 

He also says that it is “not whether the [Catholic] Church is Scriptural… [but] whether Scripture is Catholic—whether what we call ‘scripture’ is or is not part of the original Revelation which the Church received.”

And again, he says, “The Bible did not give rise to the Catholic Church; the Catholic Church gave rise to the Bible.” 

According to Mirus, this was all because “the Church came first.”  That is, the church was established before the Bible was, and it was the church that then “created the Bible by definitively proclaiming which early writers were inspired and which were not.” 

But is this true?

A Faulty Foundation

All right, notice that Mirus is operating on several false premises:

First, the Scriptures were not at all “created” by the church.  The early church simply recognized the Scriptures (the infallible writings) that God, Himself, created.  It was by His inspiration that every word was divinely spoken, recorded and preserved.  Yes, God used people as instruments to hear it, and to write it down, but He is the Creator of Divine revelation, which contains HIS thoughts and HIS plans (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21).  It is erroneous and arrogant to say that the church “created the Bible.”

Second, the church did not “come first” (i.e., before the Bible).  The Old Testament (which makes up about three-forths of the Bible) has been around for hundreds of years before the church ever existed.  Although the church started before the canon (list of inspired books) was complete, it is not true that the church pre-existed Scripture.  This claim is deceptive, at best.

Third, it seems that every time there is a controversy with Protestants, Catholics will say something like, “But the Catholic Church is right because she gave us the canon!”  This seems to be the “go to” answer in many of their arguments!  But see these links which put this false idea to rest:



But building upon Mirus’ first two points above, he believes that since it is the church that has recognized which of the books are actually Scripture, that this somehow means that the Bible should be subject to the church.  But recognizing or discovering something does not make you lord over it.  Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity did not give him any authority over gravity.  He discovered it, but he was still subject to its forces.  Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of electricity in no way made him master over this powerful force, either.  It is the same with the church and Scripture.  The church recognized the inspired books, but the church is still subject to those books’ authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The fourth false premise is the way most Catholics use the word “Church.”  Notice how Mirus uses the term in his article: 

  •   “… the Church’s infallible authority.”

  •   “… only the Church could identify which books were…inspired…”

  •   “What is the judgment of the Church about this text?”
  •   “Does the Church judge it to be inspired?”

  •   “… only by the authority of the Church…”

  •   “…the Tradition and teachings of the Church…”

  •   “… Revelation which the Church received.”


In each of these, the Catholic assumes a reference to an infallible hierarchy of leaders within the organization.  This demonstrates the deep-rooted mindset of the devout Catholic.  Now, in contrast, notice how the Bible uses the word “church.”  Note that it is only used in two ways:  as either 1) the local assembly of believers, as a whole (1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:2; Revelation chapters 1, 2, and 3), or 2) the “universal” body of Christ, including all true believers worldwide (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:17-18).  It is never used in the Bible to refer to a church leader (or leaders) only.  In the way that Mirus uses the seven examples above, none of them fit the biblical definition.  This point is very important, but seems to be missed by most people.  This subtle difference in the misuse of the term “church” is ingrained in the Catholic and it becomes a deep-seated part of his mentality. 

The next time you hear a Catholic use the term “the church,” listen closely and see if he is speaking of the leaders only (for example, “the Church teaches…”, or “the Church’s infallible authority…”)… OR, if is he using it biblically.  Substitute his use of it with the phrase “local assembly of believers,” or “the universal church worldwide” to see if his meaning actually lines up with the way the Bible uses the term.

Who Serves Who?

Catholics will officially claim that the Catholic Church serves Scripture (“Dei Verbum,” Chapter 2, paragraph 10), which would make their Church a SERVANT thereof, but it is obvious in practice that they see their Magisterium as ABOVE the Bible.  For example:

If the Bible says A about a particular topic, but the Ecumenical Councils say B, the Catholic will go with B.

If the Bible says C, but “Sacred Tradition” says D, the Catholic will choose D.

If the Bible says X, but church fathers say Y, the Catholic will say Y.

Time and time again, the Bible is put on the back burner so that the Catholic Church can be exalted.

It is hard to take the Catholic Church’s supposed “servant” status toward the Bible seriously, when Catholics like Dr. Mirus write this kind of article.

Word Games

In this next pitiful attempt to weaken the authority of Scripture, Mirus said:

“But Revelation was not given to a book but to persons. Revelation was not even given originally in and through a book. It was given by Jesus Christ to His apostles and disciples.” 

But saying that revelation is not given to a book, but to persons, is like saying that money is not given to a bank, but to tellers.  The point is, the money eventually ends up in the bank and is stored and protected there.  In the same way, infallible revelation is ultimately “stored” in the Bible, even if first given to men.

Conclusion

Yes, folks, this is the mentality of the devout Catholic.  He claims to have equal devotion to Scripture and to the Church’s Tradition (CCC #82), but in practice, the Bible often takes a back seat.

Jeff Mirus’ article is a good example of many Catholics’ condescending attitude toward the Bible.  Saying things like, “[it’s] not whether Catholicism stands the test of Scripture, but whether Scripture stands the test of Catholicism,” is not only untrue, but it also clearly demonstrates arrogance.  You can’t say things like that and still have a truly healthy respect for Scripture (See Psalm 119).  It is the Catholic Church’s great (and false) claims about itself that give rise to this type of mindset.  


Sunday, February 19, 2017

MARTIGNONI AND MATTHEW 19:12



A little over a year ago, we posted a couple of articles addressing some of Catholic apologist John Martignoni’s newsletters.  The articles can be found here:



Martignoni also has a series of videos titled, “Questions Protestants Can’t Answer.”  We recently ran across one that we would like to comment on.  This is from his Question #21 and the video can be found here:


The question revolves around Matthew 19:12:

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.  He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.  

So, Martignoni’s question is, “Who is Jesus talking about here?”

He seems to automatically think that Jesus is speaking of a very specific group, organization, or denomination here.  And since this doesn’t “fit the profile” of Baptist, Evangelical, Methodist, or non-denominational ministers (at least he says that he is not aware of any), he seems to think that it is obvious that Jesus must be speaking about the priests of the Roman Catholic Church here.  He must be speaking of the Latin Rite in the Catholic Church.  According to Martignoni, it is these Roman Catholic priests who “fulfill” Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:12.

While we agree with John Martignoni that here Jesus is speaking about celibacy (abstaining from sex), we cannot agree with Martignoni’s conclusion.

This passage is not about members of one particular denomination or organization who are celibate.  We find no such thing in Scripture.  It is about individuals from all walks of life with a special gift from God (the ability to abstain from sex in order to devote one’s total focus and energy on serving God).  This is the Protestant answer to Martignoni’s question.

Does Martignoni think that no one apart from the Roman Catholic Church is celibate?  Or, if not, does he feel that they are not important enough to mention?  Must it be that God could only be referring to a group or organization of celibates?  No, indeed.

But Martignoni’s logic would be like the Mormons saying that Jesus’ words in Luke 24:32 (“Did not our heart burn within us?”) are specifically referring to THEM (with their famous “burning in the bosom” reference).  Just because they can identify with the words of Jesus does not prove that Jesus is speaking specifically of the Mormon church.

Or it would be like a particular Baptist church saying that John the baptist immersing people in baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10) is a reference to their church, specifically, since they do the same. 

Of course, that is ridiculous, but this is what John Martignoni is doing.  He seems to be pretending that Jesus is referring only to Roman Catholic priests.  But no, you cannot apply a scriptural text to yourself and act as though God is referring specifically to your group just because you have, or do, something similar to what’s in the text.  Sorry, John, it’s not all about you and your church.

Furthermore, Martignoni also mentions that the celibacy in this verse applies “whether they are currently single or currently married.”  But we would contend that this cannot be.  It cannot apply to those who are married, since those married are obligated to tend to the sexual needs (“due benevolence”) of their spouses (1 Corinthians 7:3, 5).  Matthew 19:12 is speaking of those who voluntarily choose to not be encumbered with the responsibilities of a spouse and family.  It is unwise and unbiblical to marry and then try to be celibate for the rest of your life.  So, Martignoni’s statement about those “currently married,” yet celibate, is wrong.  Jesus’ point is IF YOU HAVE THIS GIFT, then, and ONLY then, should you abstain from marriage / sex to serve God more fully.

But we believe that there are many in the Catholic Church (and also in Protestant and Orthodox churches) who have thought that they had this gift, but were sorely disappointed when they found out they didn’t.  No doubt, much damage has been done to the cause of Christ because of this.  So, if you think that you have this gift, you’d better make sure!

Conclusion

Catholics, like Martignoni, are quick to “see themselves” in certain passages of Scripture.  In too many places in the Bible, they think that they see certain unique teachings of their own church when there is no such reference.  They’ll try to force Catholic meaning into such verses.  This is simply a pitiful attempt to legitimize the Roman Catholic Church.

It would not be so objectionable if John Martignoni had said, “We, as Roman Catholics, follow and obey that particular Scripture in Matthew 19:12.”  But it is altogether arrogant to say that God is speaking specifically about his church when there are, undoubtedly, others who also “fulfill” that passage.

Again, there is no special organization or class of priests that Jesus is speaking of here.

Not only is John Martignoni’s question easily answered by Protestants, but it also reveals that he is simply assuming  / reading something into the text.