I have prayed and thought about how I should write my rebuttal to this book. As one person pointed out, it is rather annoying to read, simply because I hate to see a rehash of the same misnomers and misunderstandings which kept me from trying the Catholic church for so long and almost lost me to Christianity! My first message about the book seemed rather accurate - the only FATAL FLAW is James White's misunderstanding of Catholic doctrine.
I had first thought I would make my rebuttal a point by point thing but have changed my mind. Other than these (hopefully short) opening comments, my rebuttal will use one book only - the Bible. I came to the Catholic church and embraced this church because of my belief that the Bible IS the Word of God and my feeling that the Catholic church was teaching parts of the Bible that the Protestants were not teaching.
In THE FATAL FLAW, James White only does a bit of mud slinging - certainly much less than I have seen in other anti Catholic works. He couldn't resist a chapter on history, romanticizing Luther and emphasizing a few incidents in Catholic history which no one is proud of. Being a Catholic, I could even add to what James said about Hus (according to the Britannica, his death was mostly political rather than his beliefs - he went to the stake saying he agreed with basic Catholic doctrine but the shameful thing is, at that time, there were THREE popes and NO ONE knew which was the right one! Hus had the misfortune of disagreeing with his bishop on which pope was right and that started the problem in the first place!).
White also brought up the secret wives of popes etc. This problem is not limited to the far past history (regard dear Fr George who liked boys right here in Phoenix --> he is in the process of being thrown out of the priesthood but not before he did a modicum of damage). Nor is it limited to Catholics. Jimmy Swaggert, considered a rather good preacher by many had the same problem with getting parts of his body which should have been reserved for his wife into various young co-eds. A friend of mine who worked at his college, said that the students attending are dwindling off to nothing.
A point which might be made about this is that ALL churches have incidents in their history which are very unChristlike. The Catholic, being the oldest church (having been around for 2000 years) probably has MORE such incidents than the Protestant church which only came on the scene about 450 years ago.
Also, it should be noted that Christians or churches are not alone in gross inhumanities to man. Atheists have indulged also, killing millions of people in just the last 30 years. Sin is unfortunately, something in man and not just in one organization or another.
Another thing to consider is that in one way, the wayward history of Catholicism could be a sure proof that what is holding this church together (and it is as strong as ever) is Jesus' promise in Matt 16:16 that the 'jaws of death' would not prevail against the church He started. Surely much less has killed many other organizations on earth than what can be found in Catholic history.
A common source of misunderstanding between various types of Christians is terminology. What one person will called 'saved', another will call 'committed Christian' and so forth. When we get into the discussion of Communion, I will show you that the altar call which many feel is lacking in the Catholic church, actually takes place during every Mass.
This is probably why Jesus spoke out so strongly against judging others. Often when we judge others of doing something we consider bad, we are WRONG about them and simply did not have the information we needed to make that judgement. Jesus tells us to leave the judging to God and that we should only LOVE one another and NOT judge one another!
THE FATAL FLAW does share some features with other anti-Catholic publications. It is verbose and features many long quotes, often choosing older texts to quote from, the language of which are often a bit foreign from how we express things in this century. Quotes out of context tend to cause misunderstandings in the meaning of the entire passage. Few books are written to be able to be quoted in that manner. White also used Harden's Catechism quite a bit. This book is so intellectual, it is more than most laymen can stomach (although it certainly is one of the finest expositions of Catholic Doctrine available). White had access to books more understandable to the layman and written in easier language but chose to not use them as much as he could have. CHRIST AMONG US is not only written for the layman, but also arranged so it can be quoted in smaller fragments without losing the meaning.
Unfortunately, an attempt such as Mr White's, to present a very scholarly work with large amounts of quotes often has the result of causing the average reader, overburdened with a combination of confusing antiquidated language and verbosity, to miss any facts presented. He may come away from the book with a negative impression of the Catholic church but has little inkling of any the specifics of the matter. Of course, the result of giving the reader a negative impression of the Catholic church is the goal of such a book, and specifics really aren't that important to the author. However, I can't help being reminded of a passage in the C.S. Lewis book, THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS where the experienced demon reminds the novice that if he does not have truth, confuse the issue!
The classic example of out of context quoting is as follows:
"Out, out damned spot!"
You English scholars might recognize this as coming out of McBeth (which it does) but just reading the passage, might not someone not familiar with the play, mistake that to mean a person chasing their dog out? One time I called the "DIAL AN ATHEIST" (their answer to the "Dial a Prayer phoneline). I was surprised to hear the speaker quote the Bible extensively to DISPROVE that Jesus was God! So much for out-of-context!
There is also the issue that if a church professes to follow the Bible, one might not be driven to attack other churches but rather simply show people where ONE's church teaches the Bible well! This is typically the path I follow when talking to others about the Catholic church.
I found it interesting that in the introduction of the FATAL FLAW written by a man claiming to be an ex RCC priest, this ex priest ends his intro with a disclaimer which reads as follows:
"While I may differ somewhat with some of the particulars of this timely, urgent work...".I can't help wondering WHAT particulars he disagrees with and if he has shared his feelings with White, did White accept the possibility that White might be wrong on a few things? It just seems ironic that the very man he obtained to write the introduction, does not agree with him on various things.
Mr White's opinion of the Catholic church is presented in the first part of THE FATAL FLAW:
"The Roman Catholic Church is not in possession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and cannot, be considered a Christian church" THE FATAL FLAW p 19Unfortunately, his opinion of other Protestant churches is not much higher as he seems to feel that they are 'tainted by the Catholic church'. Page 22 of the Fatal Flaw states:
"Biblical doctrines of God's sovereignty, man's inability, the definite, specific work of Jesus Christ on behalf of His People, God's efficacious and effective grace, and the perseverance of saints in holiness, are rarely heard from modern Protestant pulpits."He goes on to condemn the modern Evangelical churches thusly:
"Modern evangelicalism has little to say to Roman Catholicism since it agrees with Rome on most of the basic issues of the Gospel"In the end note, he adds (on page 200 #20):
"It is with great sorrow that we say that entire dominations, which once stood for the Gospel of Christ have, over the last century primarily, abandoned their call, denied the Gospel and have become, by and large, little more than social clubs... Many do not even deserve the name of 'church'Mr White's condemnation of what seems a rather large group of churches seems at best, questionable judgement and at worst, questionable Christianity. It seems in direct opposition of the words of Jesus in the Bible: John 10:16:
"Other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My Voice and there shall be one fold, one Shepherd" <King James Version abbrev. KJV>
The opinion about the Catholic church tainting other churches and few true churches being around any more (and condemning large denominations) is not a new one. Jack Chick, publisher of obscene comic books attacking the Catholic church (and proven to be lies by a Protestant magazine) agrees with that and mentions that opinion in several of his leaflets. Chick, thrown out of the Christian booksellers as well as the Southern Baptist church, can console himself on the way to the bank. Formerly a smalltime publisher, his obscene comic books sold by the thousands and enabled him to move into a million dollar facility a couple of years ago. As the Sunday Visitor (a Catholic weekly newspaper) remarked, rather acidly,
"AntiCatholicism has always been good business!"Basically my rebuttal will be on the major points of doctrine handled in THE FATAL FLAW. I will use the Bible and share the Catholic viewpoint on them. If anyone has any specific questions about things I have not covered in the series (of which this is the first installment), please do ask them and I will try to answer them as best I can. Unlike Mr White, I do not have the need to push anyone to change their religion or spiritual path. I am only presenting this viewpoint here in answer to those who have inquired. I feel that everyone has the right to worship (or not worship) God without harassment from others. But on the other hand, I do feel that the Revelation of God, the Holy Trinity and Salvation of Jesus Christ claimed in the Bible is true and when asked to share about this, I do.
"...Purgatory and the related doctrine of indulgences..."Indulgences are not related to purgatory at all except that Catholics believe that people do not DIE when they die here on earth, and thus, can be helped by the prayers of the faithful. Indulgences were simply a measurement (and a rather poor one, if you ask me, which was easily misunderstood by outsiders) of HOW MUCH your prayers are helping you and / or your loved ones, both living and dead. Why mother church felt she should give people this reassurance of the MEASURE of their help was probably because most people are not comfortable with unknown quantities. Also assigning more years of help to certain prayer functions, the church was able to teach people who might not study the catechisms nor deep theology (most people are in this group!) an idea of which prayers were best in bringing a person closer to God.
The same idea is followed today by the Evangelical church when wealth and health are promised to those who faithfully follow the Christian way of life. Watching channel 21 or the 'religious' channel reveals a large percentage of testimonies from those stating all the health and wealth which has come their way since their conversions. The indulgence measurement method of rewards for Christian living harkens back to a time when men were less concerned about earthly rewards and more concerned about spiritual rewards.
Not surprising is the fact that spiritual rewards are not considered precious in our materialistic humanistic world, thus few people care about indulgences anymore. Also contributing to the modern disinterest in indulgences is that fact that spiritual rewards cannot be measured in YEARS since YEARS only exist on earth and thus YEARS can only be used to measure concrete events and not spiritual events.
In the time of Luther, almost 500 years ago, some Bishops abused indulgences, attaching large quantities of prayer help if the person gave money. Indeed, this was one of Luther's complaints and certainly a valid one, although, keep in mind that the Evangelical church does acknowledge blessings to be attached with the donation of money, especially in a tithing situation. Also, keep in mind that the Evangelical church will promise CONCRETE amounts of blessings (usually material) when their members tithe. Same idea, only SOME Bishops in Germany, almost 500 years ago, took it to an extreme. Probably today, those same individuals would have been TV evangelists. Big deal. You will ALWAYS find those types of individuals in the church. And that does not PROVE OR DISPROVE the truth of the church. It merely fulfills the prophecy of Jesus about the wheat and the tare.
"The reign of God may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds through his wheat, and then made off. When the crop began to mature and yield grain, the weeds made their appearance as well. The owner's slaves came to him and said, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where are the weeds coming from?' He answered, 'I see an enemy's hand in this'. His slaves said to him, 'DO you want us to go out and pull them up?' 'No', he replied, 'pull up the weeds and you might take the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then, at harvest time I will order the harvesters, First collect the weeds and bundle them up to burn, then gather the wheat into my barn."Basically, today, indulgences are granted in terms of years of TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT. And this is the CRUX of Mr. White's disapproval of both purgatory AND indulgences (by the way, few in the church think of indulgences today - we, eventually, can handle unknown quantities better than our forefathers and are content to realize that prayers HELP (period!).). And the problem is with the WORD, 'temporal punishment'. White feels the following: (page 75, THE FATAL FLAW)
"The concept of sin being partially forgiven, that is, the guilt and eternal punishment being remitted in Christ ... but the stains of sin remaining, requiring a further purging of the person's soul"Let's take a closer look at TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT. 'Temporal' means ON EARTH. 'Punishment' is suffering and pain, associated with the commission of sin. 'Sin' is defined as that which is against God's Plan or what could be called DIVINE PROVIDENCE. In the Garden of Eden, Adam is told by God to NOT SIN. God explains this is because 'sin is death':
"You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. from that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it, you are surely doomed to die." (Gen 2:16-17)Note in the above, God doesn't say that HE, God, will kill the man. He says that the man is DOOMED to die as a result of his sin (in this case, symbolized by the act of 'eating' from the wrong tree). A modern exposition of the deadly consequences of sin is the movie, 'Body Heat' - both protagonists ruin their lives by getting deeper and deeper into sin. This movie would be a most beneficial teaching tool about the consequences of sin or TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT, if not for the fact that church people are often a bit uptight about explicit sex and language in movies. A pity.
The same holds true for us today. The plain and simple truth is that, apart from the emotional hoopla of 'religion', 'sin' is unhealthy stuff which is why religions other than Christianity have pretty much the same 'rules' against certain practices and indeed, even some NON religions hold to these rules (such as the Greek Stoics etc).
Unfortunately, many adults are existing in the childish idea that 'punishment' means a spanking from daddy and that God takes the cruel daddy role in our adult lives. Nothing could be further from the truth although if 'daddy' has been fair and chastised his offspring for moral issues rather than for inconvenience issues (i.e. ice cream on one's shirt or bothering mommy and daddy or talking too loud, and the like, are not moral issues and yet comprise the greatest percentage of children's chastisement), the child has an easier time learning that committing certain acts can cause consequences.
For Mr White to intimate that those who are 'born again' Christians, outside the Catholic church, will somehow AVOID this temporal punishment i.e. the consequences and suffering attached to certain acts which the church calls 'sin', seems a bit far fetched.Is he saying that those who commit fornication and become pregnant will 'miraculously' become UNpregnant upon confessing the Lord? Or that a man who kills another man will not have to suffer remorse and pain for his act, plus years of prison, if he is a 'born again' Christian and that the man he has killed will miraculously become alive again?
There is no evidence whatsoever that God removes this TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT or suffering associated with the consequences of sin, from Christians or anyone else. There is no evidence that Divine Forgiveness associated with a commitment to Jesus Christ, will remove these consequences, either. Divine Forgiveness means that we are assured that our turning away from God in committing certain Acts which we know to be abhorrent to God, will not keep us from being with Him in Heaven. It does not mean we will not suffer at all from the consequences of the act committed. And then, too we are told that these consequences like any other type of suffering when united with God and offered to God, can bring us closer to God. To wit:
"Moreover, you have forgotten the encouraging words addressed to you as sons: 'My sons, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord nor lose heart when He reproves you; for whom the Lord loves, He disciplines; he scourges every son he receives'. Endure your trials as the discipline of God who deals with you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?" (Heb 12:5-8)
"-We even boast of our afflictions! We know that affliction makes for endurance, and endurance for tested virtue, and tested virtue for hope." (Romans 5:3)
"But if we are children, we are heirs as well: heirs of God, heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with Him so as to be glorified with Him. I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us." (Romans 8:17-18)Practically speaking we can say, that most suffering is caused by either our sin or that of someone else. Think about it. Would there be so many starving people if Americans took the millions of dollars spent on feeding their pets each year and used it to feed PEOPLE instead? Would there be horrible diseases like AIDS and VD if sex was only practiced within the framework of a marriage or serious commitment, in the ways which God originally intended it to be? Would there be homeless people if we would just share a bit of our good fortune with those not so fortunate? How much teen suicide was there when parents were around more (before the advent of the working mother) to guide and comfort their adolescents... when holding a family together was more important than the greediness of having material things which are really not needed?
In 1962, when I graduated High School and most mothers in a two parent family were not working, teen suicide was a rarity. The Catholic church extends this TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT or consequences from the commission of sin to PURGATORY. And why would this be true? Because which of us dies, totally unattached to earthly pleasures, selfishness, gluttony, vanity and a multitude of other problems associated with the daily commission of sin? And when we enter Heaven, we know, according to the Scripture, we have been made perfect:
"But nothing imperfect shall enter it, nor anyone who is a liar or has done a detestable act." (Rev 21:27)PURGATORY is the moment between we die and when we go to heaven, in which GOD MAKES us perfect and ready to enter Heaven. According to the Bible, it has always been felt that this 'purging' of imperfections might be accompanied with suffering.
"In the land, says the Lord, two thirds of them shall be cut off and perish and one third shall be left. I will bring the one third through fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined, and I will test them as gold is tested. They shall call upon My Name and I will hear them. I will say 'They are My People', and they shall say, 'The Lord is my God." (Zech 13:8-9)We don't really know what the nature of this perfecting us is like. But that God must 'make us ready' to enter Heaven, we do know, and several Bible passages suggest there might be a place or dimension when we go to have God make us ready to enter Heaven. Mr. White in THE FATAL FLAW quotes one such passage:
"but whoever says anything against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, in this life or the next" (Matt 12:32)but there are others. One clear place to me is the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man.:
"From the abode of the dead where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus resting in his bosom." (Luke 16:23)The rich man questions why he is in torment and Lazarus is not. Abraham answers him with:
"'My child,' replied Abraham, ' remember that you were well off in your life while Lazarus was in misery. Now he has found consolation here, but you have found torment." (Luke 16:25)In other words, while the rich man was 'living it up' and not especially doing anything to help Lazarus, Lazarus was suffering at the door of the rich man's gate. The message of the story was 'you had it good in life so now you must suffer whereas Lazarus did his time or suffering in life so now he has it good'.
Most people assume the rich man was in hell. But this doesn't make any sense. Would Abraham have called him the familiar 'my child' if he were among the damned? And why would the rich man go to hell for enjoying comforts in life? Why would he go to hell for not helping Lazarus? Gosh, if not helping the poor is an offense which sends us to hell, then, none of us have a chance!
Also, in hell, people cannot see God or any manifestations of God. So, according to what theology has always taught, the rich man could not have talked to Abraham OR Lazarus, if in hell. I think the rich man was in PURGATORY. He was therefore, 'saved' but was being made perfect in suffering by God. In PURGATORY, since all are saved, they can talk to God and those in heaven when God permits. So, how do 'indulgences' help people in PURGATORY? Well, when a person prays, he becomes closer to God and therefore, more spiritually sound.
Since we are all related to each other in the Mystical Body of Christ, when ONE of us becomes more spiritually sound, it helps the rest of us in the Mystical Body. It is sort of like having a skinned knee. A badly skinned knee can make you feel rather poorly although the injury is in just one part of the body. And when that knee gets better, the whole person feels better. I feel that the indulgence system of measurement was always poor because time in PURGATORY, being outside the frame of reference of hours and minutes which we spend on earth, cannot be measured in earthly years.
Therefore, in today's time of enlightened science, when people are more aware of the restriction of 'time' as we know it, on earth, indulgences do not give the consolation they used to give. But the idea is still sound. Prayer can make TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT or the consequences attached to certain acts considered sin, easier to bear and even lighten it, in this life. And it would be like God, in His Kindness and Generosity, to allow us to lighten the suffering or purging of those we love, in the next life. Mr. White in THE FATAL FLAW states on page 85:
"For the Christian, the whole concept...seems so foreign... that it is difficult...to begin to conceive of the dread that can take hold upon a person's soul when faced with the near certainty of PURGATORY."I do not understand why this dread would be there. The saved person would know that God would be kind in all His Dealings and since a person in PURGATORY is saved, and has put himself totally in God's Care, it would seem that he would still be far happier than ever is possible on earth. Modern catechisms explain that part of the pain of purgatory is caused by our own imperfections when we are confronted with the pure Beautiful Light of God at death. It is like when sunlight is shining into a room, you can suddenly see how impure the air is, filled with thousands of dust particles which were not seen in diffused light. In the Bible we read:
"But who will endure the day of His Coming? And who can stand when He appears? For he is like the refiner's fire or like the fuller's lye. He will sit refining and purifying and he will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord." (Mal 3:2-3)Laudislaus Boros, in THE MYSTERY OF DEATH (Herder and Herder, 1965) has this to say on page 139:
"To encounter God in Christ's Eyes of Fire is the highest fulfillment of our capacity for love and also the most fearful suffering our nature has to bear. Seen in this way, PURGATORY would be the passage which we effect in passing through the purifying fires of Divine Love. The Encounter with Christ would be our PURGATORY."Wilhelm in CHRIST AMONG US, page 419-420, states:
"Those passing through this PURGATORY state know clearly that they are saved, God's love overwhelms them, and they have a joy more intense than anything on earth. PURGATORY has been described as a 'place' where we would go for a certain amount of 'time' to be purified by 'fire'. We must not misunderstand this - PURGATORY is certainly not hell for a short time, nor a vast torture chamber where God revenges Himself upon trapped souls nor is there TIME in our sense in this PURGATORY state. These metaphors attempt to describe the paradox of purgatory-a state of joy and yet of suffering."It is interesting that Mr. White in THE FATAL FLAW claims the above text as one of his sources and does occasionally quote from it but seemed to neglect to quote the more understandable explanations given above, in HIS book! To sum up, when we die, we die imperfect. We enter Heaven perfect. There must then, be a space of time in which God makes us perfect. This space is what the Catholic church calls, PURGATORY. All other explanations, descriptions etc which have come down through the ages attempt to explain what this space in which God perfects us, is like. We are only given the information which strongly suggests this SPACE called PURGATORY is there. The rest is left to our imaginations until such time as we may encounter it.
"this is the first of the two ways we will demonstrate the fatal flaw of Romanism <sic>: here is a way of propitiation, of satisfaction for sins other than the final and completed work of Christ on Calvary." (F.F. p. 71)Mr. White in THE FATAL FLAW, obviously considers that Christ only made the sacrifice ONCE, IN earth time, at one moment by being crucified. This would not set Christ apart from many other men who did the same thing and indeed, this was one thing which confused me when I was a Protestant.
Also, this doctrine of the sacrifice which takes one moment in time, has opened the door for such misunderstandings as comparing Christ to great men like Martin Luther King and Gandhi, and also, movies like 'The Last Temptation' which portrays Christ as almost backing out of the one sacrifice He was about to do.
This belief of the once and all over thing brings up another problem. It denies the Divinity of Christ! Christ, as man, did, in fact, complete the portion of His Sacrifice on earth, 2000 years ago but Christ, as God, planned this sacrifice from the beginning. The Catholic church teaches that Christ is ALL God (as well as ALL man), with all of God's attributes including infinity. Christ as man, existed in a finite manner. Christ as God exists infinitely, omnipresent, omnipotent.
When God has an idea, it is a creation. Christ had the idea of totally giving Himself to us from the very beginning. The earliest Biblical prophecy suggests this. Therefore, it wasn't just a ONE time sacrifice. It's an ONGOING sacrifice which will continue, in God time, until the end of the world. The Catholics, in Mass, are NOT recreating the sacrifice. They are drawing attention to the ONGOING sacrifice which Jesus gives us, AS GOD. And it is THIS sacrifice (and not the liturgy itself) which DOES effect the total forgiveness of our sins. The reason we say that the Liturgy forgives our sins because within the framework of the liturgy, WE renew our commitment to Christ and our desire that He enter our hearts.
Whether Mr. White in THE FATAL FLAW interprets the Bible the same way which the Catholics do or not, he should admit that there is Biblical evidence to support the Catholic belief system. The Catholic interpretation of the Bible comes through Apostolic Tradition. i.e. for the first 150 years, the church was passed down solely through the words and teachings of the Apostles. It was the Catholic church who finalized the canon of the New Testament in order to preserve the important teachings of the church in ages to come. But in John it states:
"There are still many other things that Jesus did, yet if they were written about in detail, I doubt there would be room enough in the entire world to hold the books to record them." (John 21:25)One might ask the question, was anything which Jesus did or said unimportant? (remember Christians believe He is all GOD as well as all man!) Where were these things not written down, preserved and passed on to successive generations? Apostolic Tradition! In breaking off from the Mother Church, the Protestants sometimes reinterpreted things and thus, it was easy to see how such erroneous doctrines as predestination (a sort of Christian elitism!) arose! Regarding predestination, the doctrine which teaches that God has planned for a few elite to be saved and the rest to perish, Mr. White in THE FATAL FLAW has this to say:
"The Bible does not present God as one who HOPES to save, or just wants to save, but is hampered-no utterly frustrated- in a large portion of cases-by the almighty will of the creature, man. The God of Scripture is powerful to save, and when He sets His lovingkindness <sic> upon a person, and intends to bring that person to glory, He shall never ever fail of His goal." (F.F. p 90)Such 'loving kindness' sounds more like conversion at GUNPOINT to me! Predestination denies the doctrine of man's free will completely. Also, why did Jesus go through all the trouble of telling us we have the CHOICE if indeed, we have no choice in the matter, as the above seems to suggest? Was Jesus a liar then? You see how persons can swear up and down that they follow the Bible totally and then get SO FAR AWAY from the original meaning!
Mr. White in THE FATAL FLAW does grudgingly admit that the Catholics claim their doctrine from the Bible, in the chapter entitled, "Twisting the Scripture". However, his illustration of HIS explanation of the chapter of John 6 as portraying a symbol rather than the REAL Body and Blood of Christ is lacking.
He does not answer the questions about why Christ allowed so many disciples to walk away and turn away from Christ's teachings rather than correcting them. He chops up the chapter as to obscure the meaning. Is this not an example of 'twisting the Scripture', the very thing he accuses Catholics of doing?
THE FATAL FLAW does have one redeeming quality, however. Long quotations are presented from Vatican II and other Catholic works. It is my suggestion that the reader avoid Mr White's laborious and confusing verbiage and simply read the quotations as s/he might possibly get a taste of the beauty of the doctrine of the Mother Church! For further information about the Catholic church, I would suggest the book, CHRIST AMONG US by Anthony Wilhelm. This book is available at the King's House in Scottsdale and the Autom Company in Phoenix, among others.
SALVATION BY GRACE ALONE refers to the belief that we, by ourselves, can NOT save ourselves but this is only accomplished by the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Catholic church as well as the Protestant churches do teach this doctrine!
SALVATION BY FAITH ALONE teaches that good works do not mean anything and our salvation only happens when we profess a belief and faith in Jesus. This doctrine not only leaves the door open for people to indulge in all sorts of 'sin' after they are 'saved' with the certainty that no matter WHAT they do, they will still 'go to heaven', but also, condemns about 3/4 of the world who do NOT PROFESS Jesus Christ as the Savior.
SALVATION BY FAITH AND GOOD WORKS teaches that our GOOD WORKS are the OUTWARD SIGN of our faith. They are the necessary sign as, as we can only know the actual temperature by looking at a thermometer, so our good works tell just how much faith we have. Also, this doctrine does not condemn anyone who does not have the Gospel of Jesus since the reasoning is that IF THE GOOD WORKS ARE EVIDENT, that person DOES have the faith whether he knows Jesus or not. This is the underpinning of Salvific Universal and the doctrine of 'Baptism by desire' being valid as well as 'Baptism by Water'. Our GOOD WORKS are our ONLY outward sign of whether we are REALLY COMMITTED TO JESUS or not!
First we will examine the Biblical underpinnings for the Catholic Doctrine of Salvation by FAITH and GOOD WORKS. The best place to start might be to examine WHY some Protestants believe that good deeds are not important nor even noticed by God. This doctrine is based on two primary Biblical passages. We will look at the Old Testament one first.
"all of us are like unclean men all of our good deeds are like filthy rags" (King James Version <KJV>: IS 64:5)Indeed this looks like the Bible is officially agreeing with Martin Luther, that man can do NO GOOD of his own and is basically evil. However, it should be noted that the translators of the KING JAMES VERSION, did not have a good knowledge of Hebrew verb structure and that this was one of 30,000 errors which were corrected in the later REVISED STANDARD VERSION in the 19th century. Translated correctly, the passage reads:
"All of us HAVE BECOME like unclean men. All of our deeds are like filthy rags" (Revised Standard Version: IS 64:5)The reason the translation is important is because ISAIAH was NOT talking about ALL MANKIND! He was talking about (one of his favorite subjects in that book!), men who had FALLEN AWAY FROM GOD!
The second passage teaching the basic evil of man is Romans 3:11. This passage reads:
"There is no just man, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one in search of God. All have taken the wrong course..."Exegesis is the study of verses in the Bible and their origin and the framework in which they were written etc. In doing a bit of research on this passage, we find that it is a 'Catena' which was a popular form of hymn in those times. It is composed of the first lines of several psalms. Therefore to get the real meaning of this passage, we must go back to the psalms from which the passage was taken.
The first line of this catena ("There is no just man...") was taken from ps 14:1-3. This psalm reads in part:
"The fool says in his heart, 'there is no God'. Such are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is NOT ONE WHO DOES GOOD! (2) The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there be one who is wise and seeks God. (3) All alike have gone astray; they have become perverse; THERE IS NOT ONE WHO DOES GOOD, NOT EVEN ONE"The psalmist was talking about men who REFUSED TO BELIEVE in God and not ALL men! Now, least James will say 'Oh, that is just what the Catholics say', I will add that in the Thompson Chain Reference version of the King James Bible, Romans 3:11 has a note by it, saying 'See PS 14.1'!
Now we can see that NOWHERE in the Bible does it say that the works of men do not count at all, but where does it say that they do count? Following is a list of passages and this is only a partial list!
In Matthew 21:28 and following, Jesus tells the parable of the two brothers, both asked by their father to do a task. One brother says he will do it and never does it. The other brother says he will not do it but ends up doing it. Jesus then asks:
"'Which of the two did what the father wanted?' They said, 'The second.' Jesus said to them, 'I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came preaching a WAY OF HOLINESS, you put no faith in him but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did believe in him."In Matthew 25:31 and following, Jesus divides the 'sheep from the goats' (sheep are heaven bound, goats are not) by their works:
"For I was hungry and you fed Me, Thirsty and you gave ME to drink."He then talked about the goats who were to be cast into the outer darkness:
"Out of My sight, you condemned, into that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink. I was away from home and you gave Me no welcome, naked and you gave Me no clothing...I assure you that as often as you neglected to do it to one of these least ones, you neglected to do it to Me.' These will go off to eternal punishment and the JUST to eternal life."NOTICE: the ONLY criteria the Lord will use (according to this passage) to decide who goes to heaven is WORKS! NOTHING ELSE!
The book of James (not a popular one in the Protestant church) has much to say about works vs faith and it would be best to read the entire 2nd chapter. I will quote a bit of it here:
"Be ye DOERS of the word, and not hearers ONLY, deceiving your own selves" (KJV)James 2:14:
"My brothers, what good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it?" (New American)
"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith and have not works? Can faith save him?" (KJV)James 18 and following:
"To such a person one might say 'You have faith and I have works-is that it?' Show me your faith without works and I will show you the faith that underlies my works! (19) do you believe that God is one? You are quite right. The demons believe that and shudder. (21) Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that WITHOUT WORKS, faith is idle? Was not our father Abraham justified by his works when he offered his son, Isaac on the altar? (New American Version)"
"Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect" (KJV)The passage goes on to mention Rehab, a prostitute who was justified just because she gave help to the men of God. Taken in context this passage AGREES with what Jesus said about the sheep and the goats. The Bible is as a whole and does not contradict itself!
Back to Matthew, Jesus has this to say (Matt 7:21ff):
"None of those who cry out, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the KINGDOM of God but ONLY the one who does the Will of my Father in Heaven. When that day comes, many will plead with Me, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your Name? Have we not exorcised demons by its power? Did we not do many miracles in Your Name as well?' Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Out of my sight, you evil doers!' " (New American Version)The KJV says almost the same words but differs in the last sentence which seems to expresse the idea even better:
"And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you,: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity!" (KJV)Some argue that the Will of the Father is to have faith but I will argue back that these people who are clearly going to hell, according to Jesus, had lots of faith - they were working 'miracles' in Jesus' Name and 'casting out demons by its power'. Does that not take faith?
It should be pointed out that the pharisees were the most religious people in the world and did everything according to the Bible yet Jesus condemned them on many occasions and said if they did not mend their ways, they would end up in hell.
There are many more Biblical underpinnings for the importance of works in our salvation and I will furnish these for those interested parties.
I will take a bit of time to look at the practical implications of churches which teach that works, although you SHOULD have them, aren't at all important and not doing good works does not endanger our salvation in the least. Practically, man would rather not bother to do good works as this is a big job. So the faith alone doctrine is popular, indeed, I wish it were true myself.... much easier to go around preaching instead of examining the evil in my own life!
In the book, DOC by Watson, the case of Dr Story is examined. Dr Story took advantage of Mormon women (who were somewhat innocent about sex) to rape them when they were on his examining table, telling them he was 'dilating them'. Needless to say, he LOVED pelvic exams and gave them at every opportunity, especially to attractive young women!
The interesting thing is that Dr. Watson was an elder of a reformed Baptist church (he hated Mormons, by the way and considered them as hellbound) and was able to continue his sick actions all the while professing belief in God and being assured of his salvation. Why? Because his church teaches that man can do no good anyway and salvation is only a function of faith. Story had lots of faith and was not worried!
It is my belief that the faith alone doctrine is not only un Biblical, and illogical, but it can be a dangerous detriment to one's spiritual walk. For while attending church and preaching to others, a person, disregarding of their own sins (which are indicators of their LACK of faith) can waltz him/herself into hell!
That is one reason why the Catholic church has emphasized the importance of works. The works, they feel (as it says in the book of James) SHOW how much faith a person has:
"Show me your faith without works and I will show you the faith which UNDERLIES my works!" (James 2:18)And if the works are not present, the person has NO FAITH, regardless of what s/he says with his mouth!
Another Protestant argument has been that the works follow faith automatically. That just doesn't work out as many who have been hurt in churches will attest to. But what does the Bible say? Philippians 2:12:
"So then, my dearly beloved, obedient as always to my urging, WORK WITH ANXIOUS CONCERN TO ACHIEVE your Salvation..."If works automatically followed faith, why did Jesus so emphasize works in most of what He said. He obviously felt that WORKS was something we had to WORK at and NOT something which came automatically!
There are many more Biblical underpinnings to this doctrine salvation by faith AND works - if you are interested, please drop me an email and I will upload a complete list. (note: email@example.com)
The next 'chapter' will be on Communion and what the Catholics teach about it. Reading the entire chapter of John 6 would be a good preparation for this discussion...
"A Christian who freely neglects for a long time the reception of the Blessed Eucharist, is morally unable to preserve himself in the state of grace for any long time." (Ott FUNDAMENTALS OF CATHOLIC THEOLOGY)The reasoning behind that quote is found in John 6:53
"Thereupon Jesus said to them: 'Let Me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have NO LIFE in you.'" (New American)LIFE is defined to a Christian as the grace which Jesus gives us when we allow Him in our hearts - Catholics call this condition of being really alive, a 'state of Grace'. And if you think the King James Version (KJV) reads differently from the 'Catholic Bible' here is the same passage from the KJV (John 6:53):
"Then Jesus said unto them, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you.'"This is an example of the type of thing I found all through THE FATAL FLAW. The quotes themselves, are good quotes, but often the difference in terminology as well as Mr White's 'explanations' of what he THINKS the passage means tend to give the reader the wrong impression. But the big question remains and that is -- Why do Catholics teach that the Communion is REALLY the Body and Blood of Christ. Again, for the explanation, we must go to the Bible. Although there are several passages which can be quoted, the most detailed is the 6th chapter of the Gospel John. In that chapter, Jesus is preaching and He says: (all of the following is taken from the KJV)
"I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My Flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (verse 51)The Protestants say that Jesus is speaking figuratively here. As a matter of fact, many beautiful sermons have been woven from that verse and that explanation would be fine if one does not read the following verse which says:
"The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying 'How can this man give us HIS flesh to eat'" (verse 52)Now obviously the Jews thought what Jesus was saying to be literal and they, understandably had many problems with it. And if what the Protestants say is true, then the Jews WERE misunderstanding it and one would expect Jesus, in His Answer to clarify it. Afterall, if one does any amount of Bible reading at all, one can easily say that Jesus was never shy about saying 'You have misunderstood me...'. (see Matt 22:29 for one) But surprisingly, Jesus does not tell them they have misunderstood. Instead, in the next verse, he confirms what He originally said:
"Then Jesus said unto them, 'Verily, verily I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, ye have no life in you.'" (verse 53)And He goes on to say:
"'Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my Blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.'" (verses 54-57)Note, He DID NOT CORRECT the LITERAL understanding of His Listeners! In verse 60, it says:
"Many therefore of His Disciples, when they had heard THIS, said, 'This is a hard saying; who can hear it?'" (verse 60)These people who were listening were NOT just casual observers. They were DISCIPLES - followers of Jesus. And with this little bombshell, He lost 'many of them'!
"From that time, many of His Disciples went back and walked no more with Him." (verse 66)CERTAINLY, if they had misunderstood, He would not have allowed them to walk away... it would have been the easiest thing in the world for Him to say 'But I don't mean that literally!'. But HE DIDN'T SAY THAT! Jesus identified HOW we were to eat His Body and drink His Blood on the night of the Last Supper.
"During the meal, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to His Disciples. 'Take this and eat it,' He said, 'this is My Body'. Then He took the Cup and after giving thanks, gave it to them. 'All of you must drink from it', He said 'for this is My Blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.'" (Matt 26:26ff)A Presbyterian Minister once told me that she didn't believe it became Jesus' Body and Blood because that sacrifice had not been made yet. I would answer her, is anything impossible with Jesus? THE WILL TO SACRIFICE HIMSELF, that decision had been made long ago. Man did NOT sacrifice Jesus. Man has no power over Jesus! Jesus SACRIFICED HIMSELF out His Love for us. To Wit:
"[Jesus said to Peter] 'Put back your sword where it belongs...Do you not suppose I can call on my Father to provide at a moment's notice more than twelve legions of angels?'" (Matt 26:52)
"Going back into the praetorium, he [Pilate] said to Jesus, 'Where do you come from?' Jesus would not give him any answer. 'Do you refuse to speak to me?' Pilate asked him. 'Do you not know that I have the power to release you and the power to crucify you?' Jesus answered: 'You would have no power over Me whatever unless it were given you from above.' " (John 19:10-11)According to John 1:1 and following, Jesus, identified as the Word existed with God from the beginning:
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was WITH God and the Word WAS God." (John 1:1)
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14)So, when in the Old Testament, God promised to send a savior, a Messiah, and described some of the hardships of this Messiah therein, Jesus had ALREADY MADE THIS DECISION to sacrifice Himself:
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Is 53:3)Jesus' sacrifice is NOT SOMETHING which happened and ended in a few hours 2000 years ago. It is something which He is doing constantly until the end of the World. Another thing to think about is that Jesus was/is ALL God, ALL man. (not half and half!). He therefore existed on earth but also exists in the God dimension which is infinite and timeless. His decision to sacrifice happened as man and as God. The sacrifice on earth took place 2000 years ago. The sacrifice in the God dimension is not bound by time. Only thinking of Jesus as existing in this earth dimension is like denying His Divinity! So, it was quite natural for Him to give His Body and Blood at the Last Supper BEFORE the earthly incidence of His Sacrifice just as it is quite natural for us to have the Last Supper NOW, 2000 years after his sacrifice! It is clear that the early church thought of the Last Supper as more than a mere symbol:
"Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." (1 Cor 11:27)
"For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body" (1 Cor 11:29)(Both of the above were taken from the King James Version)
Damnation to himself? From just performing what could be called 'bad liturgy' in our modern days? The above passages would be senseless UNLESS it is, AS JESUS SAID, REALLY His Body and Blood!
NOTE: NOWHERE in any of the Communion passages, is the word, 'symbol' used! A gross omission, I am sure according to Protestant doctrine!
A Catholic painter was arguing with a Presbyterian about the Catholic Doctrine of Communion. He took a piece of paper and drew three pictures. One of Jesus, one of John Calvin and one of Martin Luther. Under Luther's picture, he wrote 'This becomes MY Body' and under Calvin, he wrote, 'This is a symbol for My Body' and under the picture of Christ, he wrote, 'This IS My Body'. Holding the finished artwork up to the Presbyterian, he asked, 'Now, whom do YOU believe?'
A friend of mine, a Presbyterian minister and I once had a long discussion about the Catholic Communion Doctrine. The discussion went on for two hours, and included my showing him the various Biblical underpinnings. Two years later, that same man came up to me and said 'Remember that discussion we had on Communion?' I answered I did. He continued, 'I have studied it intensively for two years, reading the texts in the original languages and have come to the conclusion that what Catholics teach about Communion is correct'.
(In relating the above two anecdotes, I am reminded of a criticism White made of me, something to the effect that my writings are all anecdotal. Yet, he belongs to a church which emphasizes the emotional approach to God as the ONLY approach for the reason that through scholarly means, man can sometimes make dreadful mistakes!) This still leaves a large question. IF the bread and wine REALLY become Christ's Body and Blood, truly, is it something which would, if our stomach is pumped, show that we were performing cannibalism?
Why did Jesus use this way of bestowing this special life giving grace upon us, a way which is seemingly so difficult to understand? I will answer the last question first. The difficulty that the Jews had with Jesus telling them they were to eat his Body and drink His Blood was not with the manner of the act but rather by that statement He was proclaiming Himself a God.
The liturgy of performing a sacrifice (a sacrifice cooked the animal and a holocaust destroyed the animal by fire) and then, consuming the remains was a popular and meaningful liturgy in Biblical times. By eating the remains, the people felt that they became one in spirit with the god being sacrificed to. Because YHWH was a different kind of God and considered untouchable by the Jews, holocausts were the popular liturgy rather than sacrifices. In other words, Jesus was telling us that HE was our sacrifice and we could become ONE in spirit with Him by eating His Body and drinking His Blood! Preposterous? Absolutely!
"Yes, Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and an absurdity to Gentiles" (1 Cor 1:23)But the Love of God knows NO BOUNDS! (by the way, I learned about this sacrifice and eating the remains from an antiCatholic pamphlet by Keith Green which goes to show that God's truth will out anyway! The pamphlet ministered to me as I was amazed at the tremendous love of God. And not believing that God would go THAT far is a great stumbling block to many Christians who reject this healing sacrament of love).
"He that eateth my Flesh and Drinketh my Blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." (John 6:56)Now I will deal with the first question about the form of the Communion. It, to our sight, remains bread and wine, having the physical properties of bread and wine. But, in every other way, it is the Body and Blood of Christ. White makes mention of the fact that in the Catholic church, Communion was given under one type only, the bread for almost 1000 years. This is true and was a decision of practicality - the numbers receiving Communion made offering a cup difficult. Reasoning was (as White mentioned) that since the Body and Blood of Christ is that of the Resurrected Christ (so, no! Catholics are NOT performing cannibalism!), it cannot be divided and it is totally present in each, the bread and the wine.
"At His Resurrection, our Lord's Soul was reunited to His Body and blood, never to be again separated; so that where His Body is, there also is His Blood, His soul and His Divinity." (THE BLESSED SACRAMENT by Fr. Michael Muller CSSR)In the Vatican II church, Communion under both Species is quite common at least at Sunday Masses although many Catholics still do not take the Cup for fear of bacteria. It has been established, however, on a physical level, that wine is somewhat antiseptic of itself. On a spiritual level, would Jesus give us a tarnished Gift?
The first 1.5 years that I took the Cup, I caught NO FLU or cold or anything which was going around! Because of the sacredness of the Sacrament, we cannot use the nice little glasses which the Protestants and Mormons use as we feel it would be too prone to spilling etc. In going up to Communion, the Priest or Eucharistic minister holds up the Host or Cup and says 'Body [Blood] of Christ'. We answer 'Amen' or 'Yes I believe' or another affirmation of our belief in this precious Gift of Christ. Christ typically asks an affirmation of our Faith before giving us a gift of grace. We affirm our Faith in Jesus Christ and His Love at every Mass. This, then, is the Catholic altar call. Questions still remain. For one, if the bread and wine are really changed, why doesn't God just change them all the way so we could see them and thus, believe. One reason is, if the Body and Blood of Christ ARE the RESURRECTED Christ, imagine how awesome they would be if man were allowed to see the Sacrament as it really is! It would be blindingly bright. Would man dare to take Communion in that kind of splendor? I think not. But under the lowly disguise of bread and wine, man does dare to take the Holy Sacrament and is well nourished by it. Also, if we saw it as it really is, we would lose our free choice in believing, its awesomeness would be that great. And seeing how awesome, the Sacrament looked, we would be very fearful and would not approach at all.
"with regard to sinners, Jesus renders them a great favor by concealing Himself. You know that the best remedy for weak eyes is to exclude the light. We cannot look at a very bright object without our eyes being dazzled." (THE BLESSED SACRAMENT by Fr Michael Muller CSSR)To close, here is another way of looking at Christ's continuous sacrifice of love for us:
"Every day Jesus wakes up and says to the Father, 'How shall I sacrifice myself for my Loved Ones today?' and 2000 years ago, the Father said 'Today, My Son, You shall be crucified!'" (from a sermon by Fr Henry Wasielewsi, priest-diocese of Phoenix)Return to Net Abbey home page