Response to an Assertion why a Protestant Does Not Convert to the Catholic Matt1618

Response to Arguments on Justification, Hebrews contradicting the Mass, the Eucharist, and Unenthusiastic Catholics

I received an email from a Catholic a few years back, who had encountered a Protestant who was reluctant to enter the Catholic Faith. He had seen the arguments of the Catholic faith but was unpersuaded. He gave me a detailed writing of a fellow who gave a multitude of reasons why he refused to enter the Catholic faith. He asked me to respond. I did respond, but since I have not posted new apologetics article in years I sent an email to the Catholic to pass on to the Protestant and did not make it public. I sent an email in response and this person passed on my response to the person in question. I emailed the respondent a few months later to ask if the fellow had read my response, and he said he did, but gave no response back to me. Now, since he did not respond back to me, and I am now posting apologetics writings again on my web page, I do want to post my response, but I do not want to post the fellows name, respecting his privacy. I will change his name to Joe. He is the Protestant who gives reasons for not joining the Catholic faith. He sees some of the contradictions within Protestant theology, and claims he is open to the Catholic faith but thinks that Luther’s view on justification is more assuring and is disturbed by finding many Catholics who are not enthusiastic about their faith, and that stops him from becoming Catholic. Here is my response. It is edited with a few corrections, additions. I will change the name to Joe so his name does not become public. I will quote Joe in green, my response is to the Catholic, so I do not respond directly to Joe. Any quotations from other authors will be maroon, Scriptures that I quote will be in black. Blue will be my own writing.

Joe I understand doesn't like the Catholic view and is frustrated by the Protestant view, but apparently eventually defers to Luther, when he writes:

Through my studies of Galatians (which spilled over into the gospels, Romans, and Ephesians) I personally found Luther’s understanding of grace as a marvelous elucidation. With each chapter and verse studied concepts came together in a way that was astoundingly coherent and left me in unbelief of the greatness of God’s love for us.
The greatness of God’s love is true no doubt. However, what is the truth of the greatness of God’s love is paramount. Let’s deal with the issue of Luther providing comfort. Luther did talk about the profound grace of God, but defined it in a way that had never been even thought of in the whole history of Christianity. Saints throughout the ages, from Justin Martyr, to Cyprian of Carthage, to Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, etc., all spoke of the profound grace of God’s love. The idea that grace infusion, works, even empowered by grace, do not play into one’s ultimate justification before God, may give comfort to Joe, but if you look at Scripture as a whole, is a false assurance.

Alistair McGrath, a foremost so-called "Reformed" Protestant scholar admits in his book Iustitia Dei, Vol. 1 the following:

p. 182 "Although Luther regarded justification as an essentially unitary process, he nevertheless introduced a decisive break with the western theological tradition as a whole by insisting that, through his justification, man is intrinsically sinful yet extrinsically righteous."

p. 184 "The significance of the Protestant distinction between justification and regeneration is that a fundamental discontinuity has been introduced into the western theological tradition where none had existed before. Despite the astonishingly theological diversity of the late medieval period, a consensus relating to the nature of justification was maintained throughout. The Protestant understanding of the nature represents a theological novum, whereas its understanding of its mode does not."

p. 36 "Augustine demonstrates of iustitia, effected only through man's justification, demonstrates how the doctrine of justification encompasses the whole of Christian existence from the first moment of faith through the increase in righteousness before God and man, to the final perfection of that righteousness in the eschatological city. Justification is about being made just."

p. 185 "The medieval period was astonishingly faithful to the teaching of Augustine on the question of the nature of justification, where the reformers departed from it."

p. 186 "The essential feature of the Reformation doctrines of justification is that a deliberate and systematic distinction is made between justification and regeneration. Although it must be emphasized that this distinction is purely notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two within the context of the ordo sautis, THE ESSENTIAL POINT IS THAT A NOTIONAL DISTINCTION IS MADE WHERE NONE HAD BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE. A FUNDAMENTAL DISCONTINUITY WAS INTRODUCED INTO THE WESTERN THEOLOGICAL TRADITION WHERE NONE HAD EVER EXISTED, OR EVER BEEN CONTEMPLATED BEFORE. The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification - as opposed to its mode - must be regarded as a genuine theological novum."

p. 182 " Although Luther regarded justification as an essentially unitary process, he nevertheless introduced a decisive break with the western theological tradition as a whole by insisting that, through his justification, man is intrinsically sinful yet extrinsically righteous."

So apparently Joe, though uncomfortable with the word dancing that he admits that Protestants do, is banking on a tradition that may give him comfort, but was a theological innovation. It may give him comfort that one does not have to worry about one’s holiness (Heb. 12:14), putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:16, 24, Rom. 8:13) as bound to one’s justification before God, and is banking on a theological novelty to provide him comfort, but this theological tradition was invented in the 16th century. I personally do not want to stake my theological certainty on a novel understanding of Scripture.

This comfort is that man is intrinsically sinful but externally righteous is not actually found in Scripture, and I understand that Joe did not want to get into Scripture, but I need to, in order to respond. I am sure that Joe is aware that Jesus says that ‘unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, you will never inherit the kingdom of heaven,’ Matthew 5:20. Apparently it all comes down to Joe (and Luther’s) interpretation of Romans and Galatians as covering justification, and all the rest of Scriptures have to conform to this selective interpretation of portions of Romans and Galatians. It may give comfort, but it is a false comfort. Now, a Lutheran/Reformed view of Romans 3-5, and usually Galatians 2-4 is what it basically comes down to. However, All of Scripture is inspired, not just those specific portions of Scripture. This novel view of justification makes a narrow use of a few of Jesus’ teaching on the necessity of belief, being conformed to the Lutheran/Reformed view of Romans 3 & 4, and Galatians 2-4. In my view, this does not cut it. Yes, those passages must be examined, but not everything must be fit into a square peg of Joe/Luther’s interpretation of specific passages. The Protestant view (understanding that there are many, many Protestant versions, as Sola Scriptura, a theological novelty in and of itself produces many views, but here focusing on this specific interpretation), fits everything else around their interpretation. That is what Luther, Calvin, and Joe have done, as well as modern Protestant apologists, for example James White (Roman Catholic Controversy, p.147) writes:

We must allow the primary expositor of this issue (justification), in this case, the apostle Paul, to speak first; his epistles to the Romans and the Galatians must define the issues, for it is in them that we have direct discussions exactly how justification takes place. Once we have consulted these sources, we can then move on to garner other elements of the biblical revelation that are found in tangential ways elsewhere.”

The problem is that there are many other teachers on salvation/justification besides Paul. We are led to believe by White/Luther/Calvin that Jesus, who specifically is asked about what one must to be saved (Mt. 19:16-22, Lk 10:22-25), indeed anwered that question. He did not say ‘another fellow down the road is ging to anwer this question better when he writes the answer down. Wait til his writing are distributed.’ Other times on his own authority he gives information on that issue (John 3:16, Mt. 25:31-46, John 5:24-29, John 6, Matthew 5, 10 etc.), it is unreasonable to suspect he didn’t give a complete answer. We are led to believe that Christians did not really know how to be saved until almost 20 years later after Jesus died, to find out how they really are to be saved. The people who apparently died between 33 AD, and before getting access to Paul’s writings many years later, they really did not know how to be saved. Only then did an imputation of an external righteousness come to be written by Paul, though even McGrath admits that that view did not come til 1500 years later. Christians needed to know how to be saved before Paul converted to Christianity, let alone wait for him to write and his writings be spread, and it is quite presumptuous to think otherwise. The Catholic view is the one that gives credence to all teachers on justification, and doesn’t attempt to fit everybody else around Romans 3-5, Galatians 2-4. It is not fair to James, to interpret James 2 by Romans 3. I will disagree with Catholic attempts to interpret Romans 3:28 with James 2, but this is a much more preponderant problem with Protestants defending Sola Fide. Scriptures in and of themselves, are equal, and Paul is not any more inspired than John, or Peter’s epistles which directly speaks on what one must do to be saved. No doubt he went in more depth on the issue than other writers, because he wrote more than others, but the others are just as inspired when they write on the issue.

Only the Catholic interpretation can truly combine Romans 3-5, with Jesus saying that to enter life one must keep the commandments (Mt. 19:16-22). Jesus’ words are just as important as Paul. Jesus is not relegated to second fiddle, as is the Protestant view. Jesus says that what separates the sheep and the goats is what you have done and did not do (Mt. 25:31-46). James says that we are not justified by faith alone, but by works James 2:24. Peter writes that you must supplement faith with self control, godliness, and other virtues in order to enter the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:4-10). The Catholic view gives these passages equal credence, and not somehow conformed to Joe/Luther’s interpretation of certain passages in Romans and Galatians. BTW, passages of Romans 2:6-13, 6:1-4, 8:2-17, 13-14, Gal 5-6 are just as important as Romans 3-4. Those passages are of equal credence and show that one must work within God’s grace to actually achieve salvsation. Those Scriptures show that Paul himself when writing about justification, shows that faith is not the only instrument of salvation. And the Catholic view is that justification is not God just looking away from how horrible we are, but he makes us sons to be co-laborers with God to make us righteousness, the very righteousness that Jesus said we’d have to have in order to surpass the Pharisee righteousness in Matthew 5. There is no such thing about Christ’s righteousness being imputed to our account, as the way to stand before God’s judgment.

A meddlesome pest in this process of understanding the view of justification from the Catholic perspective is “word dancing.” Word dancing is dodging and side-stepping hard topics of interpretation by appealing to ambiguous passages, Greek verbiage and terminology, and quotation of Church fathers that align with a given perspective. Word dancing is one of those frustrating activities that both parties do. Catholics talk about how they tend to the more literal interpretations of scripture, like Matthew 16:18, John 3:5, John 6:53, 55 and others. However, all of a sudden they dip into things that seem completely obscure and so beyond literal it’s staggering, like the Marian doctrines, purgatory, prayers to the saints, and others. The point then arises over the authority of tradition. These doctrines are defended by appealing to ambiguous scriptures and combining them with tradition practiced by Church fathers, resulting in beliefs that are beyond anything hinted at in scripture. Reading through the Church fathers reveals that many of those beliefs are present in some of them, but not all of those beliefs are present in all of them. In the end then, Catholics dance around the historical data and tradition to try and prove completely non-literal interpretations, but in the deepest spiritual matters the literal interpretation is all of a sudden sufficient

I understand the concept of word dancing and have used that argument myself. The Catholic view has never been that to establish doctrines it must be explicit in the Bible, as if that is all the Catholics are arguing, and then totally shift to supposedly ambiguous interpretations of other Scriptures to establish other doctrines. If some passages are clear and unambiguous, as the ones he mentioned are, the Catholics will agree that they are clear, and are in concert with Catholic teaching. Those passages are taken literally, and it is Protestant word dancing that jumps around the clear passages in Matthew 16:18, John 3:5, James 2:24, John 6:52-53. However, that does not mean, nor has the Catholic position ever asserted, that all doctrines must be establishes by clear and concise passages. The Bible is a fount of wisdom and the Church, and it’s tradition have gone into Scriptures that are sometimes not so clear, but developed more clear understanding of passages that are not so clear. John 3:5 teaches clearly of baptism, and has unambiguously been understood to teach the necessity of baptism through all the Fathers who wrote on the subject. No one gave the Protestant interpretation of John 3 in 15 centuries. Now Matthew 16:18 is also pretty clear, and though different Fathers taught different aspects of interpretation of Matthew 16, they interpreted Peter as being the rock of Matthew 16:18 (though allowing other interpretations of the rock as well).

Let me take the example of purgatory for example. I think it is not so obscure, just going by Scripture. But there are many principles established in Scripture for example, that point to the need for purgatory. The passages are explicit in Scripture that establish principles such as:

1) God is truly holy
2) No one will enter heaven unless one is truly made holy.
3) We will be judged by all our actions.
4) Scripture makes a distinction about degrees of sin.
5) There are temporal punishments for sins.
6) There are Scriptures that do at a minimum infer purgatory for example 1 Cor. 3:10-17, specifically v. 15, Matthew 5:25-26, and other passages.

St Augustine, Tertullian, many other Fathers, by the way did not think those passages were completely obscure. I go through each of those steps in my article on purgatory: purgatory.html

There actually is also a pretty explicit passage in what the Fathers accepted as Scripture, in 2 Macc 12:44-46. Why is that not brought into play? The Lutheran Scholar Sundberg in his book ‘The Old Testament canon of the early Church’ relays that Luther was losing a debate on purgatory because 2nd Maccabbees explicitly teaches purgatory, but decided to throw it out as a desperate dodge grasped at the straw of the ancient Jewish caveat against the inclusion of these works."

The fact is that in 2nd Maccacbees there is a passage that is an explicit reference to purgatory, but because of that in and of itself, is one of the main reasons that it is not in the Protestant canon. But the main idea that there are sometimes principles that are found in Scripture, that point to specific beliefs, even if they are not explicit. Fathers are used as a source to confirm this tradition.

One passage that creates a problem for the Catholic view is Hebrews 10. For the Catholics to hold that sanctification (I know the topic is justification for the heading, but the purpose here is to demonstrate the problem I encounter with interpretation) is a continual process they must start to divide, separate and create distinctions that aren’t readily visible. Most commentators I’ve read try to establish differences over the use of the verb tenses of “sanctified” in Hebrews 10:10, 14, and 29, which are in the perfect, present, and aorist tenses, respectively (Sungenis, 2000). When a Catholic approaches other passages like Galatians 3:24-26 the same dance is performed. (Protestants do this when they are faced with tough passages like James 2:24 or Revelations 3:5.) I’m not saying the Catholic interpretation here is wrong, but I’m saying that the same word dancing and scripture dodge-ball Protestants do, Catholics do. Overall though, my studies of both Catholic and Protestant exegesis have led me to believe that each view must perform word dances to be sustainable. And the only difference is that the Catholic makes the bold claim of having the absolute interpretation.
Catholics will just conclude that the passages in question for example, do not teach what the Protestant will infer from it. For example Hebrews 10:14 is used to attack the Catholic Mass because Jesus sacrifice was once and for all somehow means that endurance is not necessary, nor is the sacrifice to be applied to benefit people on the path to their salvation. What the Protestant infers from this passage is that because of his sacrifice, that destroys any idea of ongoing grace and sacrifice being necessary (for salvation). In my view this conclusion is a stretch, which infers that this teaches that endurance is not necessary, and that sacrifice is no longer necessary, and that somehow Christ’s righteousness gets imputed to one’s account. One does not have to word dance to think that passage does not infer that. Hebrews is rife up and down with the necessity of obedience, and the real possibility of losing salvation in fact in this very chapter of Hebrews 10 (2:1-3, 3:1, 5-6, 12-14, 16-19, 4:1-3, 11-14, 6:4-6, 9-12, 10:22-29, 35-38, 11:4-8, 12:5-11, 12-17, 25-26). The Catholic will note that in Hebrews Jesus is termed a High Priest, who as High Priest offers gifts and sacrifices (Heb. 8:3, 5:1-3). And now Christians currently have better sacrifices (9:23). And that one must hold fast the confession of faith, (10:23) which speaks of the very need of endurance. That also if one sins deliberately after receiving the knowledge of truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (10:26), which obviously infers that if one does not sin deliberately there is a sacrifice for sins. Of course all sin is deliberate but the immediate context is ‘forsaking the assembly of believers’ and ‘profaning the blood of the covenant’ which speaks of forsaking the sacrifice of the Mass. Right after that he writes about the blood of the covenant, which of course hints at the Eucharist (Heb. 10:29, Mt. 26:28). So all a Catholic will say in Hebrews 10 is not to infer something way beyond what it says. By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. There are no multiple offerings of sacrificial animals. Jesus died once and no longer has to die. The issue is that the Catholic will say to appropriate that righteousness is indeed a process, and is ongoing, as is clear from the rest of Hebrews, and specifically in this chapter.

Of course Galatians 3, the Catholic does not word dance but affirm what it says, as Trent teaches that faith is the ‘foundation and root of all justification’ (Trent, session 6, Chapter 8).

The reason this is such a problem is that there is no standard of what enough “good works” or “charitable works” is for justification. Each individual in Catholicism is told to have hope in God’s grace and mercy that it will be enough. And each Protestant much keep asking different pastors if they’re truly saved because they still sin all the time. “Did they really believe? “ My point is that no measuring stick is given other than to be Holy as God is Holy and since that is an impossible task for humans to measure up to, we are left with no way to achieve it and a sense of doubt in our salvation. A believer is left continually walking with wonderment about his salvation or continually questioning the truthfulness of his acceptance of God’s gift. This is the reward we receive for the views available and what an unsatisfying treasure it is.

I’m tired of this ballet of technicalities, attempting this fine turned, meticulous, lawyer-like dissection of terms and doctrines. Catholics and Protestants are both guilty of word dancing; dividing up doctrines into more and more isolated terms in order to establish some method of justification for a belief system that appears contradictory from every ordinary perspective. It is this word play that precludes me from considering the Catholic doctrine of justification to be any more superior of an interpretation than forensic justification.

He charges Catholics with word dancing, Catholics just say that the passages that he quotes, do not go beyond what they say. For example quoting Galatians 3 and Romans 3 to say it does not say faith ‘alone’ is not word dancing, the passage does not teach it, nor does it infer justification by faith alone to the exclusion of grace empowered works. Whereas specifically James exclusively writes that one is not justified by faith alone. He specifically bars the Lutheran interpretation, and we all know what Luther thought of James. He agrees that Protestants do word dancing but because he likes Luther’s assurance, he’s not going to go with the Catholic view? Paul said to work out one’s salvation with fear and trembling because it is God work within us to will and work for his good pleasure and we must hold fast to it, to withstand God’s judgment (Phil. 2:12-16). He tells the Philippians to hold fast the word of life, otherwise he would have worked in vain. The possibility of losing salvation is indeed real, and there are no two ways around those passages. For just a list of passages from Jesus, to Paul, to Peter, to Hebrews, to the epistles of John, James, with few comments are here: The word dancing express is when Protestants say that those passages don’t mean what they say. Now, as a Catholic we have hope, but no absolute assurance. I am sure Joe would like to have assurance and that would bring comfort, but if that is a false assurance, as the saying is nowadays, ‘why go there’? Is there doubt in the Catholic view? Sure. But as a Catholic we have access to the sacraments that are not only biblical, besides baptism, the Eucharist, but also the sacrament of penance, forgiveness, instituted by Jesus himself in John 20:22-23. We can have a certainty of forgiveness in that sacrament, as long as we are real with God himself and we confess our sins. The Eucharist is another sacrament that also helps in the forgiveness of sins (Mt. 26:28, Heb. 10:26). Now, do we know that we will not mortally sin? Of course not, that is why we must still persevere in the faith, as Paul himself writes in reference to his own uncertainty (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
Appealing to God’s grace to perform the good works and appealing to the work of baptism that allows the change from original sin to new creature, does not cover up the reality of what is being expressed – work hard enough and do enough good or fear damnation. Look at Canon 24, from the Council of Trent, "If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema" (Slick, 2010). It is clear the message is that works earn justification - which is the same as the Old Testament Jewish belief.
Why did Paul write work out your salvation with fear and trembling if he did not mean it? For it is God at work within you, to work and to will, for his good pleasure (Phil 2:12-13). He means it, and because it doesn’t make Joe feel comfortable does not make it untrue. As Paul writes, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me (Gal. 2:20). Paul writes ‘for anyone who thinks he stands, take heed, lest you fall’ (1 Cor. 10:12). Now, Jesus says to enter life, keep the commandments (Mt. 19:17), but also says ‘apart from me you can do nothing’. (John 15:5). John himself writes that we are to keep his commandments and they are not burdensome (1 John 5:3, though Jesus forgives and cleanses us from sins, 1 Jn 1:9). God’s grace is what enables us to keep the commandments, and it is not earning per se, it is a Father who rewards his own sons for faithfulness.

The Trent canon 24 did not come out of the blue. There is a chapter from which that was based on. Unfortunately Protestants, as Joe did, was just quote in horror a canon without seeing what the basis for that canon was. Chapter 11 of the sixth session of Trent was the basis for that canon. Quoted in that chapter was 1 John 5:3, Matt. 11:30, Jn 14:23, Mt. 6:12, Rom. 6:18,22, Tit. 2:12, Rom. 5:1 f., 8:17, Heb. 5:8, 1 Cor. 9:24, 26, 2 Pet. 1:10, Psalm 118:12, Heb. 11:26, Mt. 10:22, 24:13, Rom. 14:4, Phil. 1:6, 2:13, and 1 Cor. 10:12. Much of that chapter was quoting Scripture after Scripture, including quoting Jesus himself, Hebrews, Paul, Peter, the epistle of John. Peter says that by good works that makes your calling and election sure, Paul that we must discipline ourselves to attain the prize of salvation, those who obey will get salvation, etc. BTW, the Old Testament is inspired Scripture as well, and what it teaches on justification is not false, otherwise it would not be inspired. Now the way to denigrate the truths of those Scriptures is just to say ‘well the Catholic Church teaches work righteousness.’ In my opinion, that is not wise.

That is not a prudent way of assessing truth. BTW, it is an inspired Psalm that teaches, as David does, Psalm 7:8: ’The Lord judges the peoples, judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is within me.’ He judges what we do, not on somebody else’s righteousness getting put onto our own account to cover up our own wickedness. When Paul was talking about all Scripture was inspired the only Scripture he can talk about is the Old Testament and what it teaches is true on salvation.

The other thing that must be noted when Joe speaks of the Catholic view of ‘works’ justification, the forensic view is utterly absent when Scripture speaks of God’s judgment. Such as when it is talking about what separates one going from heaven to hell, in Matthew 25:31-46, in the sheep and the goats is based on what people did or didn’t do. Jesus makes his defining judgment based on whether they have done good (to heaven) or bad (to damnation) (Jn 5:29). In Christ’s judgment is based on we have done, good or evil as indicated by Paul: 2 Cor. 5:10, Romans 14:10-12, 1 Cor. 3:13-17. Other writers speak similarly: Revelation 20:12-15, 22:12-14, 1 Pet. 1:13-17, Acts 24:15, also shows that we will be judged, go to heaven or hell, based on our deeds. Not one judgment passage is there an indication that the defining reason for one going to heaven is based on faith only, and based on a foreign righteousness getting imputed to one’s account. Forensic justification does not line up with any of these judgment scenes. Catholicism recognizes these passages, the Forensic view does not.

It is apparent in the New Testament that even while the apostles were still alive, they were fighting all sorts of bad beliefs and traditions happening within the new church. The point being, that everybody, Catholic and Protestant alike, approach the scriptures wrestling with how to properly interpret certain passages. Interpreting some verses differently produces vast chasms in the basic doctrines of salvation, sanctification, and justification. Each side offers distinguished Greek scholars combined with complex contextual analyses, each side quotes Church fathers, and each side draws different conclusions on the matters of importance.
The thing is, in reference to views on justification, there was no dispute among those Christians of the first centuries. McGrath admits that. They would all of course affirm that faith is important. And Protestants might assert that a statement of a Father that affirms that whenever they assert the necessity of faith, that implies faith alone. However, of course you will not find Fathers teach that one is intrinsically sinful but credited as righteousness, with an imputation of an external righteousness. Just as in the New Testament, where they referred to the apostles and elders, in the early Church following the New Testament, there was a succession of bishops who had the authority. St. Clement of Rome speaks of the authority of bishops that are passed on that succeeded the apostles. St. Ireneaus gives a full rundown of that, including the list of the bishops of Rome, and how they must be in tune with that authority. Against Heresies Book 3 chapters 2, 2-3. So the early Church had a living authority to make judgments. And as noted by Protestant apologist Alister McGrath, the Fathers did not assert, or give a hint of one getting an external imputation of righteousness that covers over how sinful we really are. It is the Catholic and Biblical view that showed that works, staying away from sin, and being conformed to Christ’s image was a necessity to being justified (not merely sanctified).

This is supposed to be the visible body of the invisible God, since Christ has departed. However, my experience from the numerous Catholic churches I’ve attend from Pennsylvania to Minnesota, from Colombia, South America to the Philippines is that the services are entirely individualistic in atmosphere. Each mass is supposed to be a “celebration” but when experienced seems like nothing more than a monotonous repetition of special words in ritualistic manner. I used a very subjective word there, “seems”, to describe the atmosphere. Though it is subjective it does not mean it is not powerful feeling. Instead of becoming part of a community of love, building each other up and encouraging each other, it “feels like” the most disconnected and self-centered body of believers I’ve been a part of.

Now, I cannot deal with what Joe has experienced. And to be sure, not all Catholic Churches bubble over with all people who seem to love all. What is most important is truth, and the way that we worship. Is the worship that we partake of, that which can be traced to the apostles, or new creations as of the 16th century or some derivation of that? The altar call and salvation prayer, is a 20th century creation. Now, the bottom line is what is most important. Whether all the people are lively and all have love for everybody within the Church, or is whether the worship that the people partake in, is the true worship created by Christ and his church, and passed on throughout the ages. This repetition is biblical repetition of truths that need to be repeated. In Revelation there is repetition, (Rev. 14). Revelation 4:8 declares:
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"
Prayers said at Mass reflect the worship of God in heaven. Heavenly worship comes down to earth at the Mass, even if it includes prayers that are repetitious.

When Jesus came on earth, he came in a manger. When the word became flesh and dwelt among us he was a regular person and most people would not recognize the outer appearance of Jesus as the Savior and God of the universe. The inn keeper shuffled off Joseph & Mary, nothing screamed out of Mary’s womb, ‘Let me have a room at the inn’!

There are hard core Catholic believers throughout the world. This is the liturgy that reflects the liturgy of the early church. St. Justin Martyr gives an account of how the Church worshipped. St. Justin Martyr, chapters 65-67 gives an account of the worship at that time, mid second century. There are set prayers, there are set rituals, and there is a gathering of people in prayer:


But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. 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 he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it]. 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.


And this food is called among us Eukaristia [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. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.


And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. 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. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need, Justin Martyr, First Apology Chapters 65-67, 150 AD.

Even in this passage we see the teaching that in order to enter life we must keep the commandments. We must pursue holiness. Then we see the worship, where the Eucharist is at the core of worship. The Eucharistic prayer, transubstantiation hinted at very strongly. This is my Body means this is My Body. The outlines of the Mass are shown here. This shows that the worship is apostolic, this is in the 150 AD time frame.
D’Souza was writing about a particular movement from Catholicism to Protestantism in Brazil, but the point is easily seen. What happened is that the Catholic Church and its riches have been missed by a large portion of the laity of the church. When these laity, however, encounter the vibrant and active working of the Spirit in a Protestant setting they are attracted to the experience. From lifeless Catholic mass to living, Spirit filled Protestant services.
There is no doubt a vibrancy. There are vibrancy in many churches that are not true. Now, Catechesis is lacking in many occasions in Catholic Churches, sure, I will grant that. The treasures of the Catholic Church are abundant, and there exists a bond that many do not graft themselves into. And I am sad about that. However, feelings, and vibrancy do not make truth. There is vibrancy, excitement in many things. Jehovah Witnesses & Mormons have a zeal to teach what they perceive as truth. They are truly committed, most likely more committed to their faith, to not only Catholics, but most likely Evangelicals. However, what is lacking in Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons is truth. So even if different forms of Protestantism are much closer to the truth, than Mormons, the fact that there may be more vibrancy in many Mormons, for what they see is truth, does not make it right. Unfortunately many Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons are ex-Catholics, however, because those non-Christian sects hold Catholics who’ve abandoned their faith, and excited for their new faith, does not make Jehovah Witness theology or Mormon theology any more true than it does than the fact that different Protestant denominations hold Catholics who have abandoned their faith. This kind of stuff has happened over the ages. Now, many more type of sects have been spinoffs of Protestantism since the advent of Sola Scriptura, including Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses. As Jerome said from a historical perspective, even when there were bishops like Athanasius preaching strongly on the truth of the deity of Christ, the ‘world woke up and groaned to find itself Arian’. Arianism must have had a lot of ‘vibrancy’ to attract so many followers. Perhaps Christian followers in the 4th century thought the worship of those who believed in the Trinity was lifeless. Was the church lifeless? No, one cannot go by outer appearances. However, at the time, this same Church was worshipping Christ. All believed in the sacraments, baptismal regeneration, Eucharistic sacrifice, purgatory, etc. Fortunately the Church survived this, despite the vibrancy of the Arian Church .’ Now I am not saying that Protestants are anywhere near as far off on the central truth of Christianity on the divinity of Christ himself as Jehovah Witnesses, Arians, or Mormons, and in fact that theology renders those sects as non-Christians, which is not the case with most Protestant denominations. But the fact that many leave the truth for falsehood, even if the falsehood is within the bar of Christianity, does not make itself true. And if Joe is looking for truth, ‘vibrancy’ cannot be a guide to truth.

In any case there is vibrancy that can be found throughout the Catholic Church, even if Joe has not experienced it. There are many young people who have joined an orthodox movement with Catholicism, of many wanting to go to the tradition of the older Mass. There is a vibrancy of many who like to restore the traditions of the Mass. There are many who have joined the Charismatic Catholic movement which has a lot of vibrancy. There are many Catholic Churches who have Bible studies. If you attend any pro-life stuff, the core of the pro-life movement is Catholic. Bernard Nathanson and Norma McCorvey, involved in the abortion movement in their own way converted to Catholicism. There is the thing of the Coming Home Nework, Marcu Grodi, a former Protestant Minister, converted to the Catholic Faith and heads an organization that helps with Protestant ministers on the way to converting to, or already converted to the Catholic faith: There is also a Helpers Network, that helps Lay people convert to the Catholic faith. There are converts in my local Catholic Church from Protestantism, including my pastor. So it is not like there is no movement going the other way. There are conversions the other way. These conversions though, is to the truths expounded throughout the ages, not to a novel theology.

The problem often is, on those Catholics who convert to other faiths, that the Catholics do not avail themselves to the huge treasures of the Catholic faith that are absolutely absent in any form of Protestant faith. If you ask a normal Catholic who left the Catholic faith for this supposedly vibrant Protestant alternative, ask them why do the Catholic partake in the Sacrament of Confession. What is the biblical and traditional foundation for that sacrament? They will not know. So they will not have studied what has been available to them and they did not participate in. And in many cases, they will take as gospel the Protestant attack on their former faith. These aspects of Catholicism are now termed ‘man made traditions.’ They will say ‘Catholics worship Mary,’ ‘There is no biblical evidence for the Eucharist, or it being a sacrifice’ Catholic teach a ‘works to earn salvation’, the sacrament of confession ‘is a man-made tradition.’ And the Protestant will go to preselected texts with little context to convince them that they now have a true faith. However, a Catechism was available to all that in many cases the people ignored. The fact is that the Church encourages daily biblical reading, the fact that there is a biblical basis for the Sacraments that the Protestants attack as unbliblical is lost on those who convert to whatever form of Protestantism (or Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons) that they do. They are abandoning a treasury in my opinion for a mere pittance. This is sad notwithstanding D’Souza, who I do appreciate as an author and intellectual.

A lot of times there are many reversions of these people back to the faith, when it is explained to them the biblical basis for Catholic faith and sacraments. The people who abandon their faith for Protestantism do not know Ignatius of Antioch, Pope Clement of Rome of the first century, or Justin Martyr and Ireneaus of the second centuries. They may have heard of Jerome and Augustine, but do not know their writings. The early church had no idea of faith alone, sacraments being symbols, baptism being a symbol, no bishops who had no authority, that is prevalent now among Protestants. They are told ‘go by the Bible alone’ but get them into their specific interpretations, and get them into a Protestant version of the Bible, which is a Bible that throws away 7 books of the Bible, which most saints of the first centuries, used in proclaiming doctrines. Even St. Jerome used these texts for propounding doctrine, and saw these books as the World of God. (A huge study of whether some Fathers rejected the Deuterocanonicals shows that the ones often mentioned as denying their inspiration, did accept them as Scripture, are found here: ) These same Fathers on specific issues taught the reality and importance of purgatory, the true presence and the sacrifice of the Eucharist, Bishop authority over believers, tradition as a guide, from these same bishops who in synods declared the content of the Bible, which included the Deuterocanonicals. However, that is all lost by the ones converting to this supposed vibrant community. Now, if it is vibrant but false, that cannot be a guide to anything true.

The other thing is how lifeless is the Catholic Mass as compared to the ‘vibrancy’ of the Protestant churches. In the Mass, people believe that what is happening is something that has lasted for 2000 years. Heaven on earth is experienced. We are connected to the whole body of believers throughout the world as well as Saints in Heaven, even if it does not seem so. Heaven comes to Earth. Jesus Christ comes down Body Blood Soul and Divinity to his people, and people can partake of Jesus himself. Catholics experience Jesus as High Priest, making present his once and for all sacrifice. He is the risen Lamb, literally in the Catholic Mass. Reverence is something that is called for in the Catholic Mass, that is not found in the Protestant service that proclaims as truth, a real absence of Christ in their celebration of the Eucharist, in most cases not done every week, even if they have one (Lutheran understanding aside).

In the book of Hebrews, the author is writing to address the issue of Jewish Christians that were a part of the church but still felt the need to offer sacrifices for their sins. Therefore, the author builds his argument for Jesus’ priesthood and the greatness of His ministry in order to establish the truth and validity of His sacrifice for us. The point the author of Hebrews tries to make is simply that if the believers really believed in the saving work of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross then they’d never offer a sacrifice for their sins again. Even though they were a part of the church, their life choice showed that they did not fully believe in its teaching of Christ’s sacrifice and therefore rejected Christ’s blood, leaving no hope for their salvation. When I walk into a Catholic Church I find seats filled with people that embody what was happening in the church addressed in Hebrews – people are listening and partaking in the activities of the service, but never believing it and allowing it to affect a person’s life.
Joe unfortunately is making rash judgment about people who partake of the Eucharist. Many Catholics confess their sins to get ready to partake of this holy meal. They go to confession to get their sins forgiven by Christ through the sacrament he himself established (John 20:22-23) to get ready for the meal because they do not want to commit a sacrilege by unworthily partaking of that meal (1 Cor. 11:27-29). Unless Joe follows every person who goes from Mass to home, it is kind of rash to say, their worship of Christ does not affect a person’s life. There are many who do so.

Unfortunately part of this critique is a misreading of the author of Hebrews. Jesus is a High Priest, and an eternal High Priest, in the order of Melchizedek, as is mentioned in the Eucharistic prayer. Now I will refer to Paul as the author, but that is arguable. Jesus sacrifice is once and for all time. The Old Covenant, animals were sacrificed to atone for sins, though they did not truly atone for sins. It did not cleanse. One animal sacrifice would not cut it. A new animal sacrifice would have to happen. Paul does indeed contrast the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. However, Jesus is an eternal High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek offered a sacrifice of bread and wine in Genesis 18. That pointed to a greater fulfillment of Jesus offering a sacrifice in the form of Bread and Wine, but transformed into his Body and Blood (Mt. 26:28, Mk 14:22-24, John 6:51-58, 1 Cor. 10:16, 11:23-26). It is fulfilled in Christ who is a high priest much superior to the Levitical priesthood (Heb. 5, 7). Now, when Paul writes that he no longer needs to offer sacrifice daily, the Levitical sacrifice entailed the killing of animals daily, Heb. 7:27. In the new covenant, there is no more killing necessary. Jesus’ sacrifice is once and for all. It has already happened. But that once and for all-time sacrifice is still being presented in the Mass, otherwise he can no longer be a priest, a high Priest at that. People in Hebrews wanted to go back to the animal sacrifices and were forgetting that Jesus once and for all sacrifice, was being represented in their worship. Paul writes that now there is an altar from which the Levitical priests have no right to eat (Heb. 13:10). Of course those in the New Covenant do have a right to eat, that which is Christ’s Body and Blood. Altar in the Old Testament always refer to a real sacrifice, so indeed Hebrews 13:10 infers a true sacrifice is offered in the New Covenant. In Hebrews 8:1-3 Jesus is termed as a current high priest, who is a minister in the sanctuary presently. It is necessary that he has a sacrifice to offer, right now. In Hebrews 9:23, it says that we are to be purified with better sacrifices (currently) than the old rites. In Hebrews 10, it says that are to hold to the confession of faith (v. 23), and do not forsake the assembly of believers (v. 25). Paul was getting on them, not because they were going through the motions, but the people forsook assembling together for worship. Those who do not forsake such assembling together have a sacrifice for sins, unlike those who forsake the assembly of believers, a mortal sin, and no longer have a sacrifice for sins (Heb. 10:26).

Now do some Catholics go through the motions, as Joe suggests? Sure. Do some not recognize the great gifts, that are given through the Sacraments established by Christ? Of course that is so. Do many Catholics in the Philippines not partake of or be fully in tune with the greatness of these gifts? Sure, but does that make another religion because in his view, more vibrant, true? No it does not. Outer appearance does not make it right. Again, the fact that the world woke up Arian did not make the Arian religion in the 4th century true.

As a Catholic the Eucharist is the pillar of mass, yet it often gives the impression that the action of receiving it is worth celebrating rather than the Eucharist itself, the true body and blood of Christ. Meaning, the lifeblood of Catholic mass has run dry and in its place we find a withered and lifeless organism. The Catholic faith is described like a plant that grows, organic and dynamic, but there seems to be no life in this plant. When the Eucharist has not become the body and blood of Christ to the believer, then the very purpose of being a participant in mass has vanished. Who should be held accountable for this shift? Each person always is accountable for their own attitude, but the Church should be held accountable for the shift in focus among its leaders.
Ok, from the outside, one may get the impression of that. But impressions again do not make reality. The fact is that the worship which is entailed in the Mass is heavenly driven, even if to Joe it doesn’t give that impression. This is heavenly worship. It is not lifeless if Joe truly understands what happens. This is Jesus himself who as an eternal High Priest who gives of himself to his people in every church, where the Priest, who represents Christ, says ‘This is My Body.’ Every time the priest, who has the power that was passed down from the apostles themselves, says “This is my Body’, what was bread and wine, becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ himself. Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity. The Church recognizes the true vitality of its prayers in concert with saints and angels, as reflected all through the book of Revelation, through the heavenly worship of the Lamb himself. This is the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:12). What St. Justin Martyr proclaims, truly happens. He is still the Lamb. He was just not killed and was a lamb, he no longer suffers being killed. He is now a Lamb, but a risen lamb, standing, (Revelation 5:6), which Protestant theology can not take into account. He is a Lamb now, but a Lamb but as the creatures who worship before the lamb (Rev. 5:8-9) this ‘dead’ Church is not dead. Now, do all Catholics appreciate this? No. If some do not appreciate this beautiful treasure, that does not do away with the reality of what is happening. We have an altar that a supposedly live’ Protestant, just like the Levites, does not partake of (Heb 13:10). What happens is that, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. And there are many, despite what Joe sees on the outer appearance, who do appreciate this, and are happy to partake in this most blessed meal. The supposed vibrant churches in some cases miss all this. And that is what Joe turns to?

The Catholic worship reflects the worship found in Ignatius of Antioch, who was mentored by the apostle John himself:

Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrneans 6:2 -8:2, AD 107:

6:2 But mark ye those who hold strange doctrine touching the grace of Jesus Christ which came to us, how that they are contrary to the mind of God. They have no care for love, none for the widow, none for the orphan, none for the afflicted, none for the prisoner, none for the hungry or thirsty. They abstain from eucharist (thanksgiving) and prayer, because they allow not that the eucharist is the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which flesh suffered for our sins, and which the Father of His goodness raised up.

CHAPTER 7 7:1 They therefore that gainsay the good gift of God perish by their questionings. But it were expedient for them to have love, that they may also rise again. 7:2 It is therefore meet that ye should abstain from such, and not speak of them either privately or in public; but should give heed to the Prophets, and especially to the Gospel, wherein the passion is shown unto us and the resurrection is accomplished.

CHAPTER 8 8:1 [But] shun divisions, as the beginning of evils. Do ye all follow your bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles; and to the deacons pay respect, as to God's commandment. Let no man do aught of things pertaining to the Church apart from the bishop. Let that be held a valid eucharist which is under the bishop or one to whom he shall have committed it.

8:2 Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be; even as where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church. It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve, this is well-pleasing also to God; that everything which ye do may be sure and valid.

So the reality is this: The Catholic Church, has the true body and Blood of Christ. Those who do not hold to that, as St. Ignatius mentions, hold to a strange/heterodox teaching on the grace of God. The Eucharist gives grace. The passion is shown to us in that Eucharist. Joe by his questioning the outer appearance, goes along with the opponents of Ignatius. Where a worship that is approved by the Catholic Church, there is Jesus Christ himself: In his fullness. It is not lawful to be in worship not validated by the Catholic Church, according to the to be martyred Saint. Now, does that mean that there is no grace found in Protestant churches? Of course, there is some, but does Joe want to be in concert with the early Church, or in concert with those who hold heterodox/strange teachings on the grace of Christ (according to Ignatius).

How can life be drained from a church that is built on some of the greatest saints and richest understandings of Christian belief? Quite simply, it changed focus and began to worry about the number of members. Priests that have no passion take the reins of a parish. Bishops and Cardinals looking at ways to increase the presence of Catholicism and seeking to expand the Church into new locales, neglect the spiritual state of the flock. I’m not accusing any specific individuals, rather pointing out how this happens. It is a simple process of seeing numbers instead of seeing lives, serving from duty rather than love, and performing rituals of obligation rather than celebration.
How can Joe make such a generalization? The priests who have served the Churches I have been in, through the last twenty years, from young and old, and the pastors/assistant pastors of the Church, all have loved Jesus and the Church that they serve. One such model pastor has encouraged others to become priest as he has, and has preached solidly on the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the younger priests who serve, are generally more orthodox than the older ones, and have a great devotion. Are there some who ‘have no passion’? Of course there are, but I would say it is wildly unfair to generalize about them, for they have taken it upon themselves to devote their whole livelihood to the service of God and his Church, that they have no passion. I would say that the vast majority of those who have turned their backs on regular careers, turned their backs on having any marriage, and devote themselves to being ministers of Christ and his Church, as an instrument of Christ enable those to get their sins forgiven, and becomes the instrument of Christ in making bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, have great passion. If they had no passion they would not have chosen the career that they did. Now, it is a hard job no doubt, and do they always show that passion? Of course not, but I would say it is in the minority, those who do not have passion, in the service that they have.

Now the Philippine thing I can not comment on. But as is known, just because someone prays before a statue, does not mean that they worship the statue. If someone kneels before the issue of the image of a saint, the person is just praying for the saint to pray for them. The statue reminds of the example that they gave us. If it is an image of Jesus, it can just be a remembrance of his incarnation, and actual worship of him, and praying to him. But I suppose that is not happening. Not having studied this issue of the image in the Phillipines, I cannot give any comment on. If it is treated as an idol, that is something that the Bishop needs to condemn more vociferously than he has, but I do not know of it, so I refrain from comment.

The leadership of the church should be held responsible for the easily distorted understanding of Santo Niño. We need not direct our blame to the free choice of people to sin, for we all know that is present, but rather we she turn our focus to irresponsible actions of the leadership that was established to protect the people. These types of decisions hurt the image and integrity of the Catholic Church, even more so since they are not unique experiences to the Philippines. A person can claim ignorance of it, but that does not forego the responsibility of the Church to the people.
Ok, if that is the case, it is true. Bishops need to assert over deviations from the faith, no doubt. If that is what it does, it does hurt the image and integrity of the Catholic Church in that area, no doubt. Again, not familiar with that situation, so it is hard for me to comment on that. I am not familiar with this specific situation of Santa Nino. Bishops at the time of Arius at the times of other heresies throughout, have often lacked courage. In the New Testament itself, we all know for example that Paul laments in the Galatian letter Peter James, John, and Barnabas’ weakness in dealing with the circumcizers (Galatians 2). The very same Paul who was critical of them, forced Timothy to be circumcised and appeased the Jews, not setting a good example to anybody and was not strong leadership, Acts 16. Paul complains about the Galatians, writing, ‘who has bewitched you.’ In the letter to the seven churches, there were severe problems in all of them (Rev. 2-3). Paul lambastes the Corinthian Churches for their tolerating of sin (1 Cor. 5 for example). There was a toleration of wickedness when if the leaders were doing their job that wouldn’t have happened, or at least not tolerated. In the first centuries heresies were arising all over the place. As noted, St. Jerome noted the world woke up Arian. There have been heresies throughout the world that have lasted throughout the years and throughout history bishops have at times been reticent to take on heresies and make corrections.

That still does not mean that the Church, which by the Holy Spirit, has not provided the sacraments of salvation to believers, and the truth of the gospels. The Church has produced Councils which have dealt with various heresies over the years. The Church has still been the pillar of truth as Paul writes in 1 Tim. 3:15. The same Eucharist spoken of by Jesus himself in the gospels, that Paul writes about in 1st Corinthians 10 and 11, is mentioned by Ignatius, Ireneaus, Cyrpian of Carthage, Cyril of Jerusalem, Augustine, and throughout the centuries. Despite many errors and persecutions, it has survived and continues to survive. Joe seems to believe that these problems aren’t supposed to be. In a fallen world, those problems will arise.

Though I understand the need for an inerrant interpretation of scripture and the need for an authority that can express inerrant doctrines, I don’t see that the Catholic Church has reason to believe it has done just that. Which is more likely? That the Jesus was the only inerrant source of theology (with His Holy Spirit guiding the writings of the apostles) or that for 2000 years no human being has implanted some fleshly interpretation and doctrine into the Catholic Church. Based on my understanding of humanity, I would say it is much more likely that the former is true rather than the latter.
Then what is the alternative? He admits that the Church makes sense but gets the idea that errant theology will get in. If errant theology was meant to get in his Church, he in fact left us orphans (Jn 14:18), which he promised he wouldn’t do. He said he would leave a Holy Spirit that would guide into all truth (Jn. 16:13). If Jesus is the only inerrant source of theology, why did he pass it on to the apostles? Why in reference to sins did he say ‘If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained?’ He gave people authority to forgive sins. He uses authorized people to do his work. He could have written everything himself and given a set of instructions for all to follow if he thought that was the way his truth was to be passed on. But he did not. Why did he commission them to preach if Jesus ‘is the only inerrant source of theology?’ If he used apostles and other disciples to write ‘inerrant sources of theology’ that shows Jesus used his apostles and others to do this. He left it to the Church to be inerrant sources of theology to decide which books were and were not Scripture. And Joe knows that. Why did Jesus not write a thing, but only orally taught, and depended upon apostles to write the stories about himself, and establish worship? He left it up to his 12 apostles. He said ‘He who hears you hears me (Lk 10:16).’ After, he said ‘This is my Body’ he said ‘Do this in remembrance of me. (Lk 22:19)’ So he had the apostles do this. He gave the apostles authority to pass on this teaching of his true Body and Blood. So he was reliant upon men to be ‘inerrant sources of theology’ on these important matters. Jesus commissioned the apostles not himself when he said in Matthew 28:18-20:
18 All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.
He is with the apostles then, he promises to be with each generation. If errors have been taught, how can he say he’s with each generation, when people can never trust anybody, and it ends up being up to themselves to interpret what Jesus really means?

Now that is not meant to be the “knock-out punch” by any means, its sole intention is garner attention that when faced with this issue one must consider more of what is possible and compare that to what is demonstrated by reality. Seeing that humans can error, then the place to look to validate the data as to whether or not that has occurred would be around the world within the Catholic Church (as well as the historical record of the Church). This is where we find things like the lifeless service, individualism, and the idol of worship of the Philippines to be a convincing picture that error has indeed infiltrated the Catholic Church.
Yes, humans can error. But as most Christians believe, humans wrote the 73 books of the Catholic Bible, 66 in the Protestant Bible, but they all accept the Bible as an inerrant source of theology. That is how the Scripture is inspired of God. If they were inerrant there, why is that inerrancy only limited to these books? These books as we know, need an interpreter. So it is inerrant in truth, if it can be truly understood. Did Jesus mean it when he said that he would send the Sprit to guide unto all truth, John 16:13? I think he did. Did Jesus say he would be with his people in all generations? How could he if he left them no sure guide? Paul writes it is through the Church that the manifest wisdom of God might be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places (Eph. 3:10).’ If even principalities and powers in heavenly places get instructed by the Church, then surely those on earth will be so instructed. If the Church is indeed the pillar and foundation of truth, as Paul writes (1 Tim. 3:15), then it really is. But the Church is in the world no doubt. Not all efforts by all bishops are successful, because we are in the midst of a fallen world. If the Church established by Christ with the Pope’s blessing in an authoritative manner actually teaches that ‘idol worship’ is ok, then you have found an error. But as we know that has not happened. There is no lifeless Church when Jesus himself truly gives us his flesh to partake of that he promised in John 6. When we have an eternal Priest Jesus, who as High Priest, must offer sacrifice, offers that once and for all sacrifice through the Church that he established throughout the world, when we have an altar where sacrifice is offered (Hebrews 13:10), it is not a lifeless service. He promised to be with his followers til the end of time, how could he be with those, if we can not be sure of what is true?

Why be a Catholic? Saint Faustus of Riez writes in approximately 495 AD:

‘Ask yourself, then, you who have been regenerated in Christ, how great and how celebrated are the achievements of the divine blessing, and do not judge it extraordinary or impossible that what is earthly and mortal should be changed into the very substance of Christ…

By a hidden purification you deserved to be transformed from a son of perdition into an adopted son of God. Retaining all your physical dimensions you have visibly become greater than your former self without any quantitative increase, and while retaining your original personality you have become a very different person by the workings of faith. Nothing has been added to your stature externally, but you have undergone a complete interior transformation, as man has become the son of Christ and Christ has taken form in the soul of man. Just as without bodily perception, you have been rid of our baseness and invested with a new dignity, just as Christ has healed your wounds, cleansed your stains, and washed your uncleanness, without any help from your eyes or your senses, so when you approach the holy altar to be nourished by the food from heaven, contemplate, adore and marvel at the sacred body and blood of your God, grasp it with your mind, take it to heart, and above all absorb it into your interior being. ‘St. Faustus of Riez, A Homily on the Body and Blood of Christ I, in Hamman, The Mass, 234. , as footnote 73 in Adoration: Eucharistic texts and prayers throughout Church History, Compiled by Daniel P Guernsey, Ignatius Press, San Francisco California, 1999), pp. 56-57.

How can any Protestant service be any more vibrant than this?

To all visitors Grace of Christ to you!

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2015 Response to an Assertion why a Protestant Does Not Convert to the Catholic Faith ... Matt1618... This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

Work completed Thursday, December 17, 2015