Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Episode 3, Part 2

This is the second part of my apologetic analysis of John MacArthur's skewed and often biased view of what Catholicism is. 

4:20-5:02 - “It’s pretty remarkable that when the out-going Pope, Ratzinger, resigns because it is the only way he can clean out the Vatican. He designated what existed in the Vatican as ‘the filth.’…he had been complicit in it for so long, that the only way for him to get rid of it was for him to resign.”

“…How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall!...”

“Yes, it is a great crisis, we have to say that. It was upsetting for all of us. Suddenly so much filth. It was really almost like the crater of a volcano, out of which suddenly a tremendous cloud of filth came, darkening and soiling everything, so that above all the priesthood suddenly seemed to be a place of shame and every priest was under the suspicion of being one like that too.” 

In context, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated that “the filth” that was in the church was – specifically speaking – those priests who had committed sexual abuse AND NOT, the priesthood at large. Mr. MacArthur is painting with a broad brush here; he is literally stating that the vast majority of priests are, not only tormented and miserable but, pedophiles and homosexuals as well. Such gross generalization is unbecoming of his argument due to the fact that, as I have already pointed out in the previous post, there is a virtual statistical similarity between Catholic clergy who commit sex acts with minors and heterosexual men at large. This statistic was even mentioned by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in a 2013 letter addressed to Piergiorgio Odifreddi, a militant atheist who wrote Pope Benedict in 2011 about some questions he had concerning Benedict’s writings from 1968 to the present. In what can truly be called a remarkable apologetic writing, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated the following regarding the sexual abuse within the clergy:

Neither is it comforting to know that, according to research, the percentage of priests who commit these crimes isn't any higher than the percentage of other similar professions. Regardless, one shouldn't present this deviation as if it were something specific to Catholicism.”

You hear that Mr. MacArthur? In 2013 the Pope stated the actual and verifiable truth that the number of those who commit pedophilia within the Catholic Church is consistent with that of men of all other professions. Therefore Mr. MacArthur, I must ask: if about 3% of priests violate minors and, statistically speaking, 3% of all other men do as well, what are your thoughts on the men in your congregation who too are “filthy?” Are they, as you stated, “tragic and desperate” because of the unnatural imposition of a forced celibacy like the Catholic priesthood? If not, then what would explain their sexual inclination towards children? In 2008, your weekly audience was 8,258, ranking you #68 out of the top 100 Largest Churches in America, if that number has stayed the same since 2008 then, mathematically speaking, this means that to this day you have at least 248 pedophiles in your weekly sermons. Do you speak to these “filthy” parishoners in the same manner as you are speaking about Catholic priests, that is, in a tone unbecoming of a pastor? Do you speak down to them in the same fashion as you are speaking about the Catholic priesthood? Do you mock them and belittle them because of their disordered behavior? Since you are part of the “true church” and you are offering up “true Christianity,” how would you explain the 3% of men in your church who are – statistically speaking – violating minors? Or, are there no such people in your congregation?

There are no homosexuals in Iran...or at Grace Community Church; and there are definitely no pedophiles there or in Iran either.

The fact of the matter is that there will always be wolves among the sheep. Judas is plain biblical proof of this fact. Amazingly what Mr. MacArthur doesn’t state is that, during the final 2 years of his pontificate, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI defrocked close to 400 priests on grounds of sexual abuse of a minor!

Hardly the act of someone who was “complicit in it for so long.” And why does Mr. MacArthur state that, that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was complicit with the child molestation? Simply put, before he became Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome and, it was his job to know of all of the allegations brought before any ordained religious person in the Catholic Church. Or, at least, that’s what those who wish to tarnish the good work of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would have you believe.

In reality, while he was the head of the CDF, from 1982-2005, the CDF WAS NOT the office which handled sexual abuse allegations. It wasn’t until 2001, that Cardinal Ratzinger convinced then Pope St. John Paul II to transfer all sexual abuse cases to the CDF. Prior to 2001, the CDF’s involvement in sexual abuse was rare and very limited to priests who violated the Sacraments; in particular, the CDF became involved in the sexual abuse case of Marcial Maciel – a notorious priest who sexually abused boys – only after several men came forward with the help of a canon layer and stated that Maciel had abused his authority by sexually abusing young men as well as abusing his priestly capacity by absolving and forgiving them of their sins through the confessional, which was a clear violation of Canon Law 1378. The same thing occurred in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee with Lawrence Murphy, a priest who was using the Sacrament of Penance to absolve his victims. In both of these cases, the canonical and civil statute of limitations had run its course but, when Cardinal Ratzinger found out that they violated the sacrament and their priestly duties, he concluded that there was no statute of limitations on the offenses against Murphy or Maciel. Additionally, one of the things that Cardinal Ratzinger did as head of the CDF, was to lengthen the statute of limitation for sexual abuse allegations from 5 years to 10 years after the victims 18th birthday. Article 5 the Substantive Norms listed in Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela states:

Criminal action for delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by prescription after ten years…prescription begins to run from the day on which the minor completes the eighteenth year of age.

By extending the time limit, Cardinal Ratzinger’s directive actually facilitated the Church in her proceedings against clerical sex offenders due to the fact that previously hampered prosecutions could now be looked at within a new time frame. Additionally, Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela required bishops to report all cases of clergy sexual abuse to the CDF which stopped the common practice of simply sending priests to therapy and reassigning them. So important is this provision that our current Pope, Pope Francis, reiterated this Ratzinger-borne decree ahead of his meeting with sexual abuse victims just recently.

Upon becoming Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger did more to help heal the wounds inflicted by the wolves of the church than any modern day Pope:

- He asked for frequent updated reports from the German bishops as to what and how they were doing to address sexual abuse in their archdioceses.

- He met with the Irish bishops in order to address the sexual abuse allegations in Ireland.

- He spoke openly, bluntly and, clearly about the sexual abuse to the American bishops during his visit to the U.S. in 2008.

- He has met with victims of sexual abuse both privately and publically to apologize on behalf of the Church in the U.S, AustraliaIreland and, Malta.

- He met with abuse victims on numerous occasions.

- He help set up the child protection officers in England and Wales.

- The current VIRTUS training program in the U.S.A. came about when the United State's bishops responded to Pope Benedict's call to put safeguards in place to help children and at-risk adults.
Indeed, one could successfully argue that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s pontificate was pre-ordained by God to address the sexual abuse crisis that had been bubbling up in the Church for several decades - a crisis that came to a head during his pontificate. But, what about the charge that MacArthur makes that the only way for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to purge "the filth" was by resigning from the papacy?

While it is true that, once a Pope dies, his whole staff within the Curia also leaves, it has never been officially stated that Benedict left because of this - the official reason for his departure was due to health reasons. But, let's just entertain MacArthur's presupposition and, if for only a moment, let's say that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI left to get rid of those within the Vatican walls that hid or supported sexual abuse of a minor.

Knowing what we know now about how hard he fought both as a Cardinal and Pope to help the Church and the victims of sexual abuse, would his resignation from the Papacy in order to "clean house" really have been a bad thing? If Mr. MacArthur is right and he did in fact leave for that reason, doesn't his abdication actually stand for something good? Honestly ask yourself: what kind of a man leaves the highest available position of his profession for the greater good? The answer is simple: only a man who truly believes that what he is doing is right would do such a bold move. Only a humble and honorable man would ever even think of letting go of such a prize as the papacy! How many men throughout history have coveted that office for their own nefarious gains and yet, Benedict let it go in order to unburden the Church from those who would seek to destroy her? If Benedict's only recourse was to secede from the office of the Papacy, then how much stronger is the Catholic case made in Matthew 16:18, where Jesus establishes the Church upon Peter and states that nothing shall ever prevail against it? To be sure, if Mr. MacArthur's hypothesis is to be believed then, Benedict's resignation actually bolsters the Catholic claim that the Church is protected and guided by the Holy Spirit and, if in order to protect the Church a Pope must resign then, the Holy Spirit must've moved Ratzinger to do such a thing. In other words, the Bride of Christ was shielded from evil men because one man surrendered himself to the will of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Benedict XVI, a.k.a., "God's Rottweiler." Rottweiler characteristics include: loyalty, strength, a natural instinct to protect their families and, ferocious in their defense. A very apt description of our Pope Emeritus! 

6:09-7:18 - “[The Catholic Church’s] deception lies in the fact that it’s an apostate, corrupted, heretical, false kind of Christianity, it is the kingdom of Satan wearing a Christian mask. The true church of the Lord Jesus has always understood this, it’s always understood that Catholicism began to form itself in the 4th century, all the way to the Reformation – even through what was known as the Dark Ages, say from 400 to 1500 leading up to the Reformation – genuine Christian believers always set themselves against the heretical system that was developing, that became known as the Roman Catholic Church. It was always rejected by the true church and the Roman system was always going after Huguenots and, um, Waldensians and, um, Anabaptists, those who took issue with the system in favor of the truth.”

While I have already done numerous post that clearly depict Catholic beliefs prior to the 4th century*, I believe that, among all of the things that are truly Catholic, nothing else screams Catholicism more than the Mass. If we did an inventory of all of the things that Protestants simply don’t understand or, better stated, misunderstand, the Mass would certainly be on top of that list. So, in order for me to debunk Mr. MacArthur’s claim that Roman Catholicism “began to form itself the 4th century,” let us look at how the Early Christians worshiped in the year 155 A.D.

In that year, St. Justin Martyr wrote his First Apology to the Roman Emperor Antonius Pius (b.86 A.D. – d.167 A.D.) in order to set straight the record of who the true Christians were and what they believed in, primarily due to the fact that they were being unjustly persecuted and maligned by people within the Roman empire. In what is hallmark of apologetical works, the First Apology rationally and vehemently defends the true Christian faith; St. Justin Martyr runs through a slew of defenses ranging from Christians being called “atheists” for not believing in the pagan Roman gods to, not worshiping idols, the Resurrection, celibacy, and even, the prophecies of God the Father, God the Son and, God the Holy Spirit; that last one is very interesting to note since the doctrine of the Trinity wouldn’t be made into Church doctrine for over 200 years and yet, it is clearly seen by the early Christians that somehow, there is a tri-unity of God which manifests itself and has reveled itself to the Church and her believers!

When one goes through St. Justin Martyr’s seminal work, there is one chapter towards the end that many Protestants tend to over look or, skip entirely, and that is the 67th chapter which is entitled, “Weekly Worship of Christians.” If in fact Mr. MacArthur’s church is the “true church” and the way they worship at Grace Community Church is “true worship” then, it is only fitting that, St. Justin Martyr’s view of how the Christians worshiped God in 155 A.D. should be strikingly similar to how MacArthur leads his worship services. So, let’s see what Justin Martyr wrote in the early half of the 2nd century in regards to how the Christians honored, praised and gave homage to the Lord (with my emphasis):

“…And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons…Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.”

St. Justin Martyr starts off by saying that the early Christians worshiped on Sundays, which is in perfect accordance with what Scripture states in Acts 20:7 as well as tithing on Sundays mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 by St. Paul. Plus, we also have Traditional-Scriptural support for St. Justin Martyr from St. Ignatius of Antioch. In chapter 9 of his Epistle to the Magnesians, written around 117 A.D., St. Ignatius states that:

“If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death…”

The term that one must notice here is that St. Ignatius uses the term “Lord’s Day” as being the new day of the new Sabbath, he is the first Early Church Father to use this term only after St. John the Apostle stated it in Chapter 1 verse 10 of his Apocalypse.** Therefore, at the very least, we can say that St. Justin Martyr believed in what St. John, who was an Apostle of Christ and an author of the New Testament writings, believed in; as well as also observing what the early church before him taught about keeping the new Sabbath day. All in all, such adherence makes him St. Justin Martyr a valuable eyewitness to Christian history. But, unfortunately for Mr. MacArthur and all other Protestant denominations, the worship service as described by this eyewitness of Christian history and of the early Church and of the early Christians, was 100% Roman Catholic!

To begin with, St. Justin Martyr states that the worship service is constituted from two main parts: one part to read the “memoirs” of the apostles and of the prophets and another in which bread and wine are brought in and distributed amongst the Christians. If we look at the Order of the Mass we can clearly see that the Roman Catholic Mass contains the Liturgy of the Word – in which there are Old Testament and New Testament readings – and, the Liturgy of the Eucharist – in which bread and wine are offered, prayed over and then dispensed. Additionally we know that what St. Justin Martyr describes is a Mass due to the fact that, after the writings of the apostles and the Old Testament prophets have been read, there is a homily - the sermon that follows the reading of the Gospel at Mass - and, after that, the president (think priest) prays over the offering and, at the conclusion of his prayer, the faithful all say Amen or, as it is commonly called today, the “great Amen.” 

I debated the Roman philosopher Crescens and won. He got jelly and told the Roman prefect who told me to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. I told him to "shove it" because the only real sacrifice is that one done at the Mass. I was then beheaded. No prob tho, that single act of martyrdom made me a Saint. Bite me Crescens. #hatersgonnahate

But, some cynics might say, “No! You are wrong! The early Christians didn’t literally think that Jesus was in the bread and wine! They understood those to be symbolic representations of Jesus' sacrifice and not a Sacrament!” To which we can look at Chapter 66 of First Apology aptly entitled, “Of the Eucharist,” in which he states (my emphasis):

“And this food is called among us Eχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone...”

Take a good hard look at the words of a martyred saint and note at just how Catholic the belief in the Eucharist is! St. Justin Martyr here states that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Jesus and, more importantly, he states that this command was given to the Apostles. In other words, he states that ONLY the true Christians – “those who believe those things which are taught to be true” – can partake of this meal in which the Real Presence of Christ is present and, all of this true Christian worship was handed down by the Apostles, undoubtedly, through Sacred Tradition.

Additionally, we know with 100% certainty that the weekly worship of Christians was a Sacrament because St. Justin Martyr states this to be the case in the 65th chapter of First Apology which is entitled, "Administration of the Sacraments."  In it he states the following:

"There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands...And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion."

It is clear to see that, according to what St. Justin Martyr states in 3 chapters of his book (chapters 65-67) there is: 1) an administration of a Sacrament, 2) bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Christ and, 3) that this is the way that the Christians worship every Sunday. And so now we come to the big question, does Mr. MacArthur believe in worshiping this way? That is, does he worship like the original Christians and the Roman Catholic Church worship to this day? Nope, not at all. The official Grace Community Church’s stance on the Mass is that it is a heresy! And as far as MacArthur is concerned, much like all other Protestant denominations, the Supper of the Lord it is simply “symbolic.”*** 

We can thus make the historically accurate and factual case that, Mr. MacArthur's 60 year old church CANNOT be the true Church of Christ due to fact that his worship service - if it so can be called - is NOTHING like the original worship services that the early Christians practiced, whereas, the Roman Catholic Mass is. 

Not pictured: "Church History: according to John MacArthur

So, now that we know that there is absolutely no way that MacArthur's man-made church could ever be part of Christ's true Church, there is one last question that we must answer: why did he mention that the Catholic Church persecuted groups of "true believers," i.e., the Huguenots, Waldensians and the Anabaptists? Well, to begin with, Mr. MacArthur never states who these groups are and what they believe - the reason he does this is two fold: 1) by mentioning groups of "true believers" to his audience, they are quickly led to believe that they may share some common lineage in aligning themselves against the Catholic Church and, 2) by not explaining who these groups are, MacArthur is preying upon the ignorance of his congregation in order to convince them of his deluded misrepresentation of what Catholicism is. For these reasons, it is only fitting that we quickly look at who these groups are and why the Roman Catholic Church was - to use MacArthur's words - "always going after them."

When we look at the Huguenots, Waldensians and the Anabaptists, we aren't looking at a certain group of "true Christians," what we are looking at is a group of man-made false religions and, chronologically speaking, the Waldensians first came about in the late 12th century when a man, Peter Waldo, took Matthew 19:21 literally and sold off all of his holdings in order to serve Christ. As a rich land owner at the time, many people marveled at such a feat and, consequently, began to admire him. That's when Waldo started down the road of heresy. You see, after giving up all of his worldly possessions, he began to preach the Scriptures to people without any theological or pastoral background and, even more abhorrent was the fact that, he preached from a vernacular error-prone "bible" and not from the Latin Vulgate, which was the common and ordinary standard of the time.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking, some of you who read my blog are probably saying: "So what if Waldo preached without Rome's consent? He was being moved by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel and there is nothing wrong with that!" Well, truth be told, there was much more to Waldo's personal interpretation of Christianity then just that. Due to his personal and fallacious view of what he thought the Scriptures were saying, the Waldensians came to believe in the following: They rejected private property, condemned tithes, believed in only 2 sacraments (Baptism & the Eucharist), held that an unordained layman could absolve sin but a sinful ordained priest couldn't, they rejected indulgences, fasts, ceremonies of the Church, did not believe in the differences between mortal and venial sins, claimed veneration of sacred images to be idolatry and, they condemned all oath taking to be unlawful.

While some modern day Protestants will look at this list and say, "hey, I agree with all of those things!" The fact of the matter was that the Waldensians were preaching against founded doctrine - doctrine which had been part of established teaching for the salvation of souls by the Roman Catholic Church. If MacArthur is trumpeting the Waldensians as poor souls who suffered at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church, does he agree with the Waldensians in wholly rejecting tithes? Or, does he agree with the Waldensians on only having 2 Sacraments instead of 7? Does MacArthur reject fasting just like the Waldensians even though Jesus told us to properly comport ourselves when we fast? You see, these are things that MacArthur doesn't agree with when it comes to the Waldensians and, when we look at the other 2 groups of "true believers" that MacArthur mentions, we see just why the Catholic Church declared them heretical.

In the early half of the 16th century, the Anabaptists come on the scene and, their heresy of choice is denying infant baptism, declaring themselves to be the one true Church, believed in sola scriptura, as well as, Communism. Here to, the mindful Protestant will again say, "so what?" But, what the modern day Protestant fails to realize is that NONE of the Anabaptist's beliefs or their belief system had ever been a part of historical Christianity up until their movement was invented! Indeed, pro-Protestant historian Thielman J. Van Braght wrote Martyr's Mirror in 1660 and, in it, he attempts to layout a case against the Catholic Church by naming famous martyrs that [apparently] died at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church - specifically, Van Braght's goal is to showcase the RCC as a church that has persecuted...drum roll please...the "true" Anabaptist christians. However, One statement that he makes speaks for the heterodoxy of the Anabaptist movement:

The name Anabaptists which is now applied to them, has but lately come into use, deriving its origin from the matter of holy baptism, concerning which their views differ from those of all, socalled, Christendom.

The simple fact that an anti-Catholic, pro-Protestant writer states that the Anabaptist have different views than ALL of "so-called" Christianity, is proof enough as to why Christ's true Church HAD TO stomp their heretical, newly invented and man-made beliefs. Additionally, while MacArthur is lambasting the Catholic Church for "going after" the Anabaptists because of their views, he grossly omits one fact: PROTESTANTS PERSECUTED THE ANABAPTISTS TOO! Here we note, yet again, at how the learned Mr. MacArthur simply forgets important parts of history in order to advance and perpetuate his toxic view of what real Catholicism is.

Lastly let's look at the Huguenots. The Huguenots also came about in the 16th century as a movement of French followers of John Calvin. They believed in the Calvinistic view of predestination, denied the supremacy of the Pope, free-will, good works, purgatory, the Sacraments and, they also believed in sola-scriptura. As you can see, MacArthur more than likely mentions the Huguenots because they conform to his Calvinist view of Christianity so, by him saying that the Roman Catholic Church "went after them," he is really just defending the same brand of heretical ideas that he agrees with, to wit, he has no case here at all.

One has to wonder though, why didn't MacArthur mention other "true christian" groups? In simply mentioning three heretical movements, one from the 12th century and two from the 16th century, MacArthur does his argument no justice. For if in fact the "true christians" have always been around, why didn't he mention any of the "true christian" groups of the second century, or the fifth, or the seventh, or the tenth? Why did he only mention these three from this particular time in history? Where is his proof that the so-called "true christians" have always set themselves against the Catholic Church prior to the Protestant Revolt? The fact of the matter is that MacArthur cannot name ANY Protestant movements that can clearly be traced to the 1st or 2nd century that have beliefs that he can agree with nor can he show, demonstrably, that the way the early Church worshiped, is the way that current day Protestants worship. 

The Roman Catholic Church can clearly show it's pedigree from the present day to the 2nd century and into the 1st century by the virtue of St. Peter being the first leader (Pope) of our Church and, ONLY the Roman Catholic Church can show that, its form of worship HAS BEEN THE SAME since before the 2nd century. No other wannabe, false religious, Protestant denomination/communion or religious community, can ever say that. 

Damn straight.

*See here and here for proof of Catholicism prior to 325 A.D. Click here for proof of the Catholic belief in the Real Presence of the Eucharist within the writings of the Early Church Fathers that pre-date the 4th century. Click here for historical verification of the Catholic Church’s belief in the deuterocanonical books and how the early Church not only used and read them but, saw them as being inspired.

** The Greek term “τ κυριακ μέρᾳ” or, “ta kuriaka hamera” that used by St. John in Rev. 1:10 is exactly the same term that St. Ignatius of Antioch uses in his letter to the Magnesians.

***An interesting note here is that MacArthur quotes 1 Corinthinas 11:24-26 and, in the audio, he states that St. Paul said, “the bread and the cup are symbols, symbols of the new Covenant” NO WHERE in 1 Corinthinas 11 does St. Paul ever make such a statement! Mr. MacArthur here is simply eisegeting his own personal interpretation into that passage. Additionally, when read in context, St. Paul is definitely talking about an actual meal that carries some significant spiritual weight, why else would he exhort the Corinthians to abide by a proper Eucharist in verses 17-22. Lastly, if this was merely a memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection, why does St. Paul tell us to examine ourselves before partaking of this food? Why does St. Paul say that there is a judgment that will befall those who eat and drink without discerning themselves first in verses 27-31? If the Eucharistic meal is simply “symbolic” and not pertinent to the spiritual well-being of a faithful Christian, why are there such restrictions to it?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Episode 3, Part 1

Now that we find ourselves back in Ordinary Time, I return to the business of defending Holy Mother Church. In this multi-part series, we will take a look at John MacArthur, a Protestant preacher who is not only an anti-Catholic but, a very ignorant one as well. In particular, we will be examining one of his sermons on Catholicism and I will demonstrate as just how wrong he is.

Of all of the Protestant pastors that I’ve come across who bash Catholicism and the Catholic Church’s teachings, none can hold a candle to John MacArthur. Mr. MacArthur fancies himself a learned Anti-Catholic Calvinist who heads the 58 year old Grace Community Church in California. Since there are so many misconceptions that MacArthur spews out, this post will solely cover the following topics that MacArthur states are reasons for why the Catholic Church is apostate as well as why all Roman Catholics are destined for hell. Specifically I will cover the typical Protestant view towards Scriptural canon, priestly pedophilia and, priestly celibacy. As stated, this will be the first of a series, so go grab a cola and some chips and prepare to become more learned than the pastor of a man-made church.

0:19-0:30 - “I want to talk to you about the Pope and what is going on in the display of Roman Catholicism in front of us, from the perspective of the Word of God, the Scripture.”

Right off the bat, MacArthur wants to use the Bible to demonstrate how his personally invented and man-made beliefs go against the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church. The irony here is that the Catholic Church PREXISTED the written Scriptures and that, the Scriptures themselves, came from the Catholic Church! While many of the Early Church Fathers differed on what should or shouldn’t be in Scripture, it wasn’t until the papacy of Pope St. Damasus I who, in 382 A.D., called a synod in Rome and explicitly laid out what books were deemed as inspired for liturgical use and practical for the Christian faithful. Later on at an African synod at Hippo in the year 393 A.D., the bishops of northern Africa came together and agreed that the list of Scripture for the church would be the same list put forth by Damasus I in 382. Four years after that, at the Council of Carthage in 397 A.D., the local bishops there stated that the canon which was pronounced by Rome in  382 A.D. - under the supervision of Pope St. Damsus I - was to be used by all the churches in and around Carthage.

In the year 405 A.D., Pope Innocent I wrote to the bishop of Toulouse to answer a question that he had about the books of Scripture that the church is using. In this letter, Innocent I enumerates the same list that his predecessor Damasus I had listed a little over two decades prior. The most surprising thing about this list? IT CONTAINED 73 BOOKS*, the same number of books that the Catholic Church uses to this day AND NOT, the abridged collection of 66 books used by Protestants! Additionally, in that same year, St. Jerome completed the Latin Vulgate, which is the Latin translation of the Bible and THE OFFICIAL Bible of the Catholic Church to this day.

Before Craigslist and Angie's list, there was Pope St. Damsus I's Damasine List!

The reason why Protestants are lacking in their Scriptures is because 1 disgruntled monk, by the name of Martin Luther, unilaterally threw out 7 books that he – a man – deemed unworthy, uninspired and, unbecoming of his personal belief system. Therefore, for Mr. MacArthur to say he’s going to use the Scriptures to show how un-Christian the Catholic Church is, is in fact, a joke. Like I stated before, the Church came BEFORE the codification, compilation and canonization of the Bible! We need only look at Acts 5:1-11 and Acts 8:1,3 to prove this. In Acts 5:1-11, we see that a husband and a wife, Ananias and Sapphira, lied to the Holy Spirit via St. Peter about some money that they had promised to the church. As a result for their lies, they both keel over dead and, what happens thereafter is most interesting: in verse 11 we read (with my emphasis):

“And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.”

In other words, those in the church where humbled at the thought of lying to the leaders of the church for the Holy Spirit, God Himself, dwelt with the head of the church, and in Acts 8:1,3, we read in part (my emphasis):

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem…As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.”

Here we see that St. Paul, before his conversion, was persecuting the church. Why are these 2 passages so important? Well, if we know that the Book of Acts was written in the early-to-mid 60’s A.D. and the last book of the New Testament was written around 100 A.D., these two readings prove – beyond any doubt - that there was a Church before there was a bible, for that reason, it is totally impossible for any Christian to ever state that the bible is the sole foundation of a Christian church! This is something that all sola scriptura Protestants must accept and, even more difficult for them to acknowledge is the fact that the Christian Church of history, i.e., the Catholic Church, was well into the late 4th to early 5th century before it fixed the canon of Scripture. 

This same canon of Scripture is mentioned 1,000 years later at the 17th ecumenical Council of Basel-Farrara-Florence which ran from 1431-1445. The 11th Session of this council took place on February 4th of 1442, in this session, Pope Eugene IV declared a papal bull allowing the Copts to be in communion with Rome and, one of the main reasons for their incorporation, was that they held the same list of Scriptures (all 73 books) which was again listed and mentioned in the Council's documents. And, lastly, the same 73 books are again affirmed at the Council of Trent's 4th Session in 1545; many Protestants like to state that the Catholic Church "added" to the Bible the 7 deuterocanonical books at Trent, additionally, some Protestants will naively state that it was at Trent that the Catholic Church first made their list of Scripture. Both of these illogical and fictional claims carry no hint of truth whatsoever due to the fact that the Council of Trent WAS SPECIFICALLY CALLED in order to address the various heresies of the Protestant "Reformation!" When we look at and study the historical documents that have come from the oldest surviving institution in Western civilization, it is clear to anyone who has some degree of intellectual honesty, that the canon of Scripture - the collection of books used in the Bible - was established by the Roman Catholic Church circa 400 A.D. 

And it was only the Catholic Church being guided by the Holy Spirit through the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition that was able to stay afloat for close to 400 years WITHOUT the Bible. Gee, I wonder how long the average Protestant denomination would last today without their abridged Bible? 

Who Wants To Baffle A Protestant?

1:49-4:06 – “And there is no group of people in the Roman Catholic system more tragic and more desperate than priests…because it has been imposed upon them that they should live their lives in unnatural restraint. They should live their lives in a forced celibacy, which leads to horrible sexual perversion and deviation… the massive homosexuality…the pedophilia…the blackmail…while this happens in the world, it happens more under the horrors of this forced kind of celibacy that came in the 1100’s when, the Bishop of Rome, wanted to stop the accumulating wealth of priestly families. So, he came up with the celibacy of the priesthood, confiscated all their properties, all their possessions…he broke the back of those wealthy families, it certainly had no biblical purpose.”

Quite a lot to digest here so, let’s go through these hackneyed accusations and see just how wrong Mr. MacArthur is on each count. First, let’s deal with the myth that priestly celibacy leads to homosexuality and pedophilia…a favorite of the anti-Catholic Protestant.

Saying that the discipline of celibacy in the Roman Catholic priesthood yields men that commit pedophilia is not only asinine but, ignorant. The fact of the matter is that RCC priests and men in the general population HAVE THE SAME PERCENTAGE of pedophilia, which averages anywhere from 3% to 5%. The 1996 book, Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis, was written by Non-Catholic author and scholar, Phillip Jenkins and, it is largely held as one of the best factual books on the subject. In his book, Jenkins went through 40 years of documented abuse cases within the Roman Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Chicago, one of the largest in the country. He found that from 1951 to 1991, 2,252 priest served the Archdiocese and of these, 59 sexual abuse allegations had been made or, better stated: for a 40 year period, only 2.6% of all priests that worked in a Chicago parish MAY HAVE had inappropriate sexual contact with a minor.

I emphasis the “MAY HAVE” because of those 59 cases, we don’t know how many may be false and how many may have been truthful. So, it can be at least stated that between 1951 to 1991, in one of the largest Archdiocese in the country, less than 2.6% of all Roman Catholic priests could be labeled as bona fide pedophiles. This small percentage is also seen in the Boston Archdiocese scandal that first brought this issue to the forefront in the late 1990’s. At its hysterical height, up to 80 RCC priests in the Archdiocese of Boston had been accused of sexual misconduct but, after all of the investigative work and prosecutions, only 4 priests, John Geoghan, Rev. Joseph Birmingham,  Rev. Paul R. Shanley and,  Rev. Ronald H. Paquin were found guilty of molesting young children. These men had all been priests for 30 years, the calculus therefore yields that, 4 out of 80 equates to 5% of the accused priests being actual sexual molestors.

In 2002 the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) enlisted the Jon Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct an independent study on sexual abuse and sexual allegations within the Catholic Church. The study looked at all available information of 14 different Archdiocese from 1950 to 2002 and it found that 10,667 people made sexual abuse allegations against 4,392 Catholic priests and deacons during that 52 year time span. According to the study, that’s approximately 4% of ALL the priests and deacons during the 52 time span that the report looked at!

Just this year, in March of 2014, the USCCB released the findings of an independent audit that was conducted in order to address how to keep children safe from sexual molestation. Its findings were remarkable:

- Of the 38,700 active priests** in all of 2013, only 10 contemporaneous abuse allegations made against priests were deemed “credible.” That’s .03% of ALL priest in 2013

- 2013 saw the “fewest allegations and victims” since annual reports were first started in 2004.

- Of the 40 claims made against the RCC during the report’s auditing period (2011-2013), only 7 claims were substantiated in that 2 year period nationwide. That’s 7 claims for the 38,700 ordained priests** in 2013, or, .02% of all priest.

- Of the 370 allegations leveled against priest in 2013, only 1% of those involved child pornography.

- 40% of all priests who were accused in 2013 were already deceased

- 78% of all priests who were accused in 2013 were either already deceased, removed from ministry, laicized or, missing

- 90% of all abuse accusations from 2013 allege incidents from at least 25 years ago

- 80% of all 2013 investigated cases were either unable to be proven or unsubstantiated, where as 14.6% were substantiated.

As we can see, Mr. MacArthur’s notion that pedophilia is wide spread within the cloisters of the Catholic Church don’t hold much water when dutifully scrutinized. MacArthur is simply buying into his personal hatred for the Catholic Church and coupling it with the one-sided reporting of the media. But, what MacArthur is failing to realize is that pedophilia is also an issue WITHIN PROTESTANT CHURCHES!

While MacArthur is pointing to the Roman Catholic Church, he conveniently forgets (or refuses to acknowledge) what Boz Tchividjian, a Protestant law professor at Liberty University recently said while comparing Evangelicals to Catholics on responding to sexual abuse claims:

“I think we are worse…Protestants can be very arrogant when pointing to Catholics…”

And just who is Boz Tchividjian? He’s none other than the grandson of famed evangelical Billy Graham. That’s right, the grandson of one of the greatest evangelical Protestants that ever lived, has come out and explicitly stated that there is in fact a sexual abuse problem within Protestantism. This is verified by the fact that there are, on average, over 260 documented sexual abuse allegations yearly that come from Protestant churches. This number comes from Church Mutual Insurance Co., GuideOne Insurance Co. and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co., which are the top 3 companies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in America. Additionally, since there is no centralized authority that requires all Protestant churches to report allegations of sexual abuse, it is clear that - among the Protestants - sexual molestation goes vastly unreported; and there is no better example of this under reporting than that of the Southern Baptists.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the second biggest Christian group in the U.S. right behind Roman Catholics, which makes them the largest Protestant body in the U.S., you would think that such a large body of Christians would deem it appropriate to catalogue and record sexual abuse allegations and cases within their denomination in order to bring any wrong-doing to light, right? Well, guess what? The SBC has done exactly the opposite!

In 2008, the SBC rejected establishing a database of clergy and staff who may have been convicted or indicted of molesting minors. You read that right, the SBC opted NOT TO index or record any instances of pedophilia within its ranks and, just one year later in 2009, Baylor University released a study that definitively concluded that sexual abuse in Christian and Jewish churches was more common than previously held and, more importantly, it occurred across ALL religious denominations.

So MacArthur really has no room here in which to correlate celibacy with pedophilia, to the typical Protestant the idea of priestly celibacy is a peculiar one at best but, it does not equate to pedophilia, for if it did, why would the general population of men – who aren’t celibate – commit pedophilia at the same, if not higher, rate then Catholic priests? Likewise with the charge of homosexuality, if in fact celibacy makes priests homosexuals, why is it that the general heterosexual population of men who commit pedophilia is similar to priests? To say that celibacy is associated with pedophilia and homosexuality is to say that men, who are not priests, and who perpetrate sexual abuse of minors, must also be celibate – which is an idiotic statement not rooted in reality.

Whew, that was a lot! I hope that I was able to elucidate some of the truths about what has occurred in the RCC with regards to the sexual abuse scandals and children, I’m certainly not making any apologies for any Catholic priests or staff that have molested children but, what I am trying to demonstrate is that “the sword swings both ways;” in the same manner that some Catholic clergy have committed grave sexual sins with minors, so too have some Protestant religious members. Now that we’ve dealt with that, let’s look at Mr. MacArthur’s comment about celibacy being a medieval era concoction that stripped money from priestly families.

To begin with, celibacy does not mean “can’t get married,” celibacy means that one abstains from sex, regardless of whether one is married or not, additionally, priestly celibacy was not invented in the 1100’s but, 700 years before that! Celibacy became universally practiced in the 4th century when a local synod of 19 bishops and 24 priests convened in Spain in 305 A.D. At the Synod of Elvira, the early church Fathers produced over 80 different canons on discipline, conduct and, order for the Christian community. Canon 33 is the most pertinent to my point, it states:

Bishops, presbyters, deacons, and others with a position in the ministry are to abstain completely from sexual intercourse with their wives and from the procreation of children. If anyone disobeys, he shall be removed from the clerical office.

So, here we see that any ordained man, if he be married, must be celibate – refrain from sexual intercourse - in order to have a legitimate office within the Catholic Church. A decade later at the Council of Neocaesarea in 315 A.D., the first Canon of that meeting decreed the following regarding priestly marriage:

If a presbyter marry, let him be removed from his order; but if he commit fornication or adultery, let him be altogether cast out [i.e. of communion] and put to penance.

I don’t know about you Mr. MacArthur, but that sounds succinctly like priestly celibacy and, 10 years later at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., the 318 Church Fathers declared the following in Canon 3 of that council:

The great Synod has stringently forbidden any bishop, presbyter, deacon, or any one of the clergy whatever, to have a subintroducta dwelling with him, except only a mother, or sister, or aunt, or such persons only as are beyond all suspicion.

In other words, the men of the Church were not to have any women, save family, living with them in order not to cause scandal. Here we see, much to the chagrin of Mr. MacArthur,  that, by the first quarter of the 4th century, celibacy was already introduced into the Church! But don’t think for a moment that priestly celibacy ends there are, if we continue through the 4th and 5th century we see the following (my emphasis):

For it became Him who is pure, and a teacher of purity to have come forth from a pure bride-chamber. For if he who well fulfils the office of a priest of Jesus abstains from a wife, how should Jesus Himself be born of man and woman?
- St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures Book 2, Chapter 12, paragraph 25, circa 350 A.D.

The Lord Jesus formally stipulated in the Gospel that he had not come to abolish the law, but to bring it to perfection; this is also why he wanted the beauty of the Church whose Bridegroom he is to shine with the splendor of chastity so that when he returns, on the Day of Judgment, he will find her without stain or wrinkle, as his Apostle taught. It is through the indissoluble law of these decisions that all of us, priests and deacons, are bound together from the day of our ordination, and [held to] put our hearts and our bodies to the service of sobriety and purity;may we be pleasing to our God in all things, in the sacrifice we offer daily
- Pope Siricius, Directa Decretal, 385 A.D.

In accordance to with this rule Peter and the other Apostles (I must give Jovinianus something now and then out of my abundance) had indeed wives, but those which they had taken before they knew the Gospel. But once they were received into the Apostolate, they forsook the offices of marriage.
- St. Jerome, Against Jovinianus, Book I, paragraph 26, 393 A.D.

If then “he who is married cares for the things of the world” (1 Cor. 7:33), and a Bishop ought not to care for the things of the world, why does he say the husband of one wife? Some indeed think that he says this with reference to one who remains free from a wife. But if otherwise, he that hath a wife may be as though he had none (1 Cor. 7:29). For that liberty was then properly granted, as suited to the nature of the circumstances then existing. And it is very possible, if a man will, so to regulate his conduct. For as riches make it difficult to enter into the kingdom of Heaven, yet reich men have often entered in, so it is with marriage.
- St. John Chrystosom, Homily 10 on 1 Timothy 3:1-4, 397 A.D.

Aurelius the bishop said: When at the past council the matter on continency and chastity was considered, those three grades, which by a sort of bond are joined to chastity by their consecration, to wit bishops, presbyters, and deacons…should be continent altogether, by which they would be able with singleness of heart to ask what they sought from the Lord; so that what the apostles taught and antiquity kept, that we might also keep.
- Canon 3 of the Council of Carthage 419 A.D.

Celibacy was invented in the 1100's! Trust me, my 60 year old church knows more than the 2,000 year old Catholic Church that my Lord established! 

So, as we can see, Mr. MacArthur has told a bold-face lie in stating that celibacy started in the 12th century when clearly there is historical and documented proof for the discipline of celibacy from the early 4th century but, why would MacArthur lie to his congregation about this? Simply stated, the only reason as to why MacArthur would spit-out such falsehoods is because he is attempting to do what most anti-Catholic Protestants do: they like to demonstrate that important aspects of Catholicism were invented at a later time and therefore have no semblance of the "real" Christian Church of history. Unfortunately, MacArthur is wrong and that old Protestant trick won't work here; honestly, could anyone really look at MacArthur and state that his preaching is inspired if he is teaching error? How could anyone even remotely listen to MacArthur and fully believe him if he's willing to lie about something as trivial, to the common Protestant, as celibacy within the Catholic priesthood? How could anyone trust him to tell the truth? Either John F. MacArthur is a categorical liar or he's selectively choosing that information which would better help out his personal belief system...even if said information is a half truth or no truth at all.

Where, Protestantism > Historical proof

Lastly, let's look at the real reason as to why the Catholic Church decided for a celibate priesthood.

If one were to simply hear the dishonesty that MacArthur is expelling, it would seem as if the Catholic Church forced celibacy upon dutiful priests because they were getting to powerful and rich and, of course, the Roman Catholic Church didn't want that. So, they forced all priests to stop being married so that their children wouldn't live a good life and, forced the priest to be celibates in order to better control them. If that is all that we knew, our level of ignorance would match that of MacArthur.

As I have already demonstrated, the celibate priesthood was already being formed in the Catholic Church by the early 300's A.D. By the time we get to the 11th century, Pope Benedict VIII and Emperor St. Harry II, have convened a synod at Pavia in the year 1022. In this synod, it was decreed that all ordained deacons, subdeacons, priests and, bishops be celibates and marriage was now officially forbidden within the priesthood. But, why did the Church take this extreme step? To sum it up in one word: simony.

You see up until that time priest were allowed to be married and, just like any married man, these pries had sons. And, just like the the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament, these sons of priestly fathers became priests and often times, these priestly sons married the daughters of other priestly families and these families would not only become bigger but, wealthier. And, with wealth, crept in sin. By the 11th century, many priest would offer their services for a fee, some would use their money to buy political power and influence, others would use it to buy ecclesiatical offices or favors and, some of those within the hereditary priesthood, would buy up church land for their own use. In other words, some priests saw themselves as kings who had free reign over their sheep and, with enough money, they had the ability to abuse their standing as they saw fit.

This was the reason as to why Pope Benedict VIII declared an all celibate priesthood, it wasn't that he invented it, as MacArthur would have us believe but, in order to stem the corruption that was starting to flourish, Pope Benedict VIII looked at Church history and saw that the notion of celibacy - which had already been around for over 700 years - was the most novel approach. And, considering that the medieval Church was full of so many scoundrels, imagine how many more Catholic priests, bishops or Popes would've had untold wealth and power during the medieval-renaissance era! The Catholic church would've been awashed in priestly families vying for control a la the mafiosi crime syndicates. 

Therefore the Church, being guided by the Holy Spirit, decided that the only way to maintain the integrity of God's priestly caste was to eliminate marriage from the practice. We see Pope St. Leo IX also championing the case for a celibate priesthood during the Easter synod of 1049 in which he renewed and reaffirmed the discipline of celibacy for ordained men all the way from subdeacon to bishop in order to fight against the corrupt clerical politicos of the time who treated their offices as something that could be sold to the highest bidder. Close to 30 years later, Pope Gregory VII held the first Lenten Synod in 1074 in which he renewed the decrees against simony and the importance of incontinence (celibacy) within the clergy. At the Second Lateran Council, which met in 1139, the Church Fathers decreed the following in Canon 6 (my emphasis added):

We also decree that those in the orders of subdeacon and above who have taken wives or concubines are to be deprived of their position and ecclesiastical benefice. For since they ought to be in fact and in name temples of God, vessels of the Lord and sanctuaries of the holy Spirit, it is unbecoming that they give themselves up to marriage and impurity.

The fact was that the Church organically introduced celibacy for her priests because married ordained men were more interested in taking care of their wives/mistresses as well as taking great pains to secure an inheritance for their children at the expense of the Christian faithful. This is why we have a celibate priesthood; for a priest to not marry and devote himself to the needs of his community and not to those of family life, is indeed, a selfless act that beckons a call to a higher state of morality. As St. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:32-33:

"...He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife."

This is the biblical evidence for having celibacy within religious orders. St. Paul himself declared in 1 Corinthians 3 what the Catholic Church would eventually have to pronounced: married priest tend to care more about worldly and temporal things whereas unmarried priests - by not having the extra avarice - focus more on the Lord and the needs of the Church. 

Here too we see that MacArthur has lied yet again when he stated that celibacy "had no biblical purpose." If St. Paul, who was a celibate man himself and wrote half of the New Testament, stated that remaining unmarried carried a special, grace filled dignity for servicing the Lord, how can Mr. MacArthur - a sola scriptura adherent - proclaim that there is no scriptural purpose or basis for a celibate priesthood? 

The only reason as to why MacArthur would state such a blatant lie is primarily due to the fact that his man-made theology is lacking; so, to give his personal interpretation of the Gospel of Christ more substance and meaning, Mr. MacArthur has to twist history and scripture in order to arrive at his preconceived theological terminus. 

*When counted, we see that the Damasine List contains 44 O.T. books and 27 N.T. books, the additional 2 books of the O.T. are the latter chapters of the Book of Daniel. Daniel 13 = Susanna and, Daniel 14 = Bel and the Dragon. We know that these 2 books were part of original canon because it came from the Septuagint (LXX) which contained these 2 extra chapters of Daniel. Hence 44 O.T. books + 2 extra books from Daniel + 27 N.T. books = 73.
**In order to substantiate the 38,700 ordained priests, we can look at the fact that, as of 2014, there are 38,275 active priests with 497 having been ordained in April of 2013. Considering the fact that the USCCB audit ended in June 2013, the real number of ordained men is actually closer to 38,700.