In Your Face!

Response to James and a reader's response to that.


Dear James,

If you have READ my credentials CAREFULLY and my responses to other questions, then you would KNOW that I have answered this type of concern before. Obviously, you are not an academic. In fact, you seem to be ANOTHER anti-intellectual who is WORSE than some Fundamentalist Protestants.

Anyway, Christ *did* speak of a "rapture," that is, a "seizing" of believers in Matthew 24:31, and infra. The term "rapture" is taken from the Latin translation of I Thessalonians 4:16, 17, and 18, commonly translated "caught up."

Funny that you should mention "molested" form of Christianity, since ostensibly many parishes have had out-of-court settlements due to the conduct of many priests. Regardless, if indeed Catholicism is *responsible* for such a Protestant form of molested Christianity, then wouldn't the Catholic church be to blame?

What you are saying regarding the interpretation of Scripture within the Roman Catholic Church simply isn't true. The College of Cardinals, the Pope, and the theologians do NOT depend solely upon Jesus. Rather, they interpret Scripture according to Sacred Tradition and Magisterium, too. Where BOTH Protestants and Roman Catholics err on many matters is that frequently, both camps are not aware that religious traditions evolve over many centuries. Christ, in Mark 7:13 repudiated tradition where it conflicted with the written authority (Scripture). Judaism had evolved only 400 years from the last written document canonized as "Scripture." Logic would dictate that likewise Christianity evolved radically from the last New Testament book written over 1,500 years. Surely, a Reformation was in order. Were it not for both the Reformation and Renaissance, the Roman Catholic authorities would have continued to stiffle science, medicine, free thought, democracy, and theology, and burned "heretics" like me or anyone else who disagreed with "his Holiness." Historically (until the last century), the Roman Catholic Church opposed all of these things.

You know this and have no excuse. You and your intolerance are dangerous to free thought.

Next time, get your priest or your bishop to dialogue with me instead of a lowly layman like you. The Roman Catholic Church tradition is indeed renowned for decent scholarship (like Hans Kung, Karl Rahner and Schillibeck). Perhaps the Vatican was right in not allowing laity to do theology, since your pitiful attempt at polemics is a huge waste of my time. Go back to parochial school and get a better vocabulary than the substandard public school crap you are arguing with.

-Richard F. Lee


<< hello I read your response to James Y and I must say I thought it was rather harsh though I can see why you would be upset about being attacked in the way he attacked your religion. According to the early church (Irenious I think thats how his name is spelled) all churches must be in harmony with the bishop of rome to be a part of the church ( this is a rough quote I know but I let a friend borrow my copy of his actual writting) also the Bible supports the catholic churchs claim to be the authoritive teacher of the faith 1tim3:15 ...the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. The bible also supports the use of traditions along side that of the written word 2thes2:15 Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours. And not all of these traditions were written down for us Jn21:25 There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written. Also the New Testament is full of references to traditions that are not in the bible to name only two Jesus mentions the seat of moses and jude talks about a battle over the body of Moses both times assuming the reader knows what is being talked about. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective according to James 5:16 Jesus being the most rightouse man would certinly fill this requirement Luke22:32 I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail that is to say it would be unfallible or as we come to the word infallable it is not the same as being inspired it simply mean that God will prevent the pope from teaching error he has to come to his conclusions the same you or I would have to. Mt16:18 so I say to you you are peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not stand against it....what ever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Protestant churches could not be the kingdom of the Lord because every kingdom divided against its self will fall and protestants are very much divided (Armenian vs. Reformed). Also about the eucharist do you honestly believe that the one who said let there be light could not also say this is my body just as effectivly Jn6:53 Amen, amen, I say to you unless you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood you have know life in you. after this we know many would follow him no longer but what he said next is the kicker he turns to the twelve at this point and asks them the same question I now ask you in his own words Jn6:67 Do you also want to leave? -Aark>>

Greetings Aark,

And thank you so much for writing. I really appreciate it. I assume that this is in response to the "In Your Face" segment. I agree that I was rather harsh and rather unchrist like in my response to James Y some time back. After all, it is called "In Your Face," but I must admit that the talk show host Michael Savage has had a rather negative influence on me. Yes, each of us will be held accountable for every idle word we speak (Matthew 12:36), so I repent. To tell you the truth, I was not hostile because he attacked my religion in any way. Religion is a volatile subject and hostility to some degree must be expected. Rather, I strongly objected to his attack on my scholarly credentials, and I rather doubt he went much beyond high school. I worked my tail off in a secular university, a Jesuit (yes, Catholic) law school, and an interdenominational seminary, and hold advanced degrees. Thus I have no time for those who think they know what they are talking about when they probably haven't read much. Vigorous scholarly disagreement I can handle.

I'm fully aware of Irenaeus, he lived about 185 A.D. and was bishop of Lyon, France. Yes, believe it or not, Protestants actually quote him vociferously. Truth be told, Protestants do NOT object at all to tradition as a source of authority. Many Roman Catholics don't understand Protestantism, since it is generally assumed that we reject tradition. Not the case at all, I assure you. In fact, Protestants affirm the primary authority of the Scriptures, and the lesser authority of tradition and even magisterium to some degree. However, Roman Catholics tend to accept tradition that contradicts the Bible, and not on only a few points. The Roman Catholic church arrogantly claims to speak for God on earth, yet contradicts its own Scriptural text. When tradition and the Written Word disagree (assuming that you accept the divine inspiration of the Bible), who do we go with? Christ dealt with tradition harshly, and clearly broke with it.

I know full well the biblical passages you have listed, and can readily find them in Greek since this is the original language of the New Testament. Christ said in Mark 7:13 that the word of God was "of none effect" because of tradition. This does not mean that all tradition is wrong, but rather that tradition is subordinate to the written Scripture. When Christ dealt with the temptation in the wilderness, (see Luke chapter 4), his source of authority was Scripture alone, not tradition passed through a chain of authority like Apostolic Succession. You are correct in mentioning the "seat of Moses" that Christ mentioned. He affirmed that indeed the Pharisees sat in the seat of tradition that began with Moses (see Matthew 23:2) but he also warned that his followers were not to do what they did. Furthermore, the famous incident wherein John the Baptist affirmed that people could be called the children of Abraham WITHOUT an authoritative succession demonstrates from the biblical text that succession isn't necessary to be a follower of God (see Matthew 3:9).

Although the early church indeed recognized that the See of Rome was the first among equals and true that the church maintained unity, such an organic unity would be a mistake today. All religions tend to evolve with time into centralized structures. Early Christianity was no exception. However, I can say that Irenaeus was simply wrong. The history of the Papacy has had its ups and downs. There have been good popes, but when evil popes reigned, it meant tyranny for all. Pope Innocent III is only one example. He authorized the slaughter of more Christians than any Roman emperor ever did.

You said that "Protestants could not be the kingdom of the Lord because every kingdom divided against itself will fall and Protestants are very much divided (Armenian vs. Reformed)." You thus label the kingdom of God the Roman Catholic Church. However, you should know that the Eastern Orthodox Church has a stronger claim to Apostolic Succession than the Roman tradition, and would maintain that it is the Papacy, not the Patriarchs, who are divided. The Vatican's solution was to excommunicate them in 1054 A.D. Does this solve the problem? No. The Vatican maintained at one point that excommunicating them to Hell solved the problem of unity of the church. This is a nonsequiter in logic.

If the Pope is infallible as you say in matters of faith, then what is he doing associating with nonmember heretics of Protestantism who are not a part of the Kingdom of God as you say? Pope John XXIII called Protestants "separated brethren," and Vatican II has gone so far as to declare ALL Jews, Muslims, and even Protestants as "saved" people. Karl Rahner, a Jesuit theologian whom I studied briefly when at the university maintained that heathen are "closet Christians," they just don't know it.

The unity of the Roman Catholic church is more mythical than factual. Peter De Rosa, author of "Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy" states that the Vatican and worldwide Catholicism is greatly divided. In the past, when the Vatican had political control, it silenced internal opposition through the Inquisition. De Rosa is no anti-Catholic bigot, he is a former Catholic priest and now a lay Catholic. He is a graduate of Gregorian University in Rome. Popes make grave mistakes, he said. "They have erred tragically not only in their personal lives but in setting forth Catholic doctrine on faith and morals." A unified church in the form of Roman Catholicism in the West opposed until the 20th century all freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Yes, the Reformation was divisive on many fronts, but it birthed the Enlightenment and Freethought. Science and medicine flourished when a highly centralized religious structure was fragmented.

As surprising as it may sound, multiple views such as Armenian vs. Reformed, etc. speak to the health of the church, not necessarily weakness. When free thought and questioning are allowed, truth can be arrived at in time. I maintain that "unity" need not be a structural unity. Structural unity that holds together over 1.5 billion people is more of a facade than a reality.

You mentioned John 6:67. I gave my answer to this one previously, but here it is again. John 6:63 holds the answer to this entire passage; "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

His words are "life" and thus believing in him is "eating" his flesh and "drinking" his blood. John's gospel is notorious for metaphors. Jesus called himself a "door" in John 10:7. Is Jesus now a wood structure with hinges and a knob?

I asked Dr. Robert Stacey, an English historian and church history expert on the meaning of the Eucharist in the earliest Christian community. He stated that "Absolutely not" that the Eucharist was originally a literal consumption of flesh and blood. It was the communal aspect of a shared meal that reminded them of Christ, but quickly evolved into a belief in the literal flesh and blood of Christ and a sacrifice. Remember Hebrews 10:12, Christ offered ONE sacrifice for sins Forever. Transubstantiation contradicts this plainly. The book of Hebrews was accepted as canonical in the Roman Church, but curiously the Roman Church authorities didn't exegete this passage and apply it to their understanding of the Eucharist. The Church Fathers including Justin Martyr affirmed the doctrine of the Real Presence, but they were Gentiles who lived after the New Testament period. Christianity evolved from the time of Christ and Paul by the time they received it. No religion, whether it be Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, or anything else remains unchanged over any period of time. Protestantism evolves as does Catholicism. Roman Catholicism, contrary to being a "divinely inspired religion" handed down unchanged through time is simply a faith that borrowed from many sources as did Judaism. Early Christianity was pragmatic, and took ideas from any source that worked for it. I don't speak from a Protestant bias, but rather as one trained in a basic understanding of Comparative Religion trained under Harvard professors. Although I have no desire to destroy anyone's faith, many good Catholics and Protestants have lost their faith once they studied Comparative Religion in a more unbiased, nondogmatic, secular environment where faith beliefs are subjected to science, sociology, and anthropology.

Thank you for writing.



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