Monday, January 28, 2008

Pastor Mike's Attack on Catholics (1)

In this installment I examine Pastor Mike’s screeds and assertions made against Catholicism. This is under his “False Doctrines” page, specifically headed up: “Is Catholicism Christian?”

In a way the header itself is daft, since historically we know that Roman Catholicism was the FIRST manifestation of Christianity. It is somewhat amusing to behold a latter-day “saved” nouveau Protestant screeching that the original church is "not the Christian one". This is somewhat like a current day Baltimore Ravens football fan saying HIS team has the real hold and claim on the Cleveland Browns’ history and records (since the Ravens left Cleveland and the original Browns!)

In fact, as we know, the Ravens left all the Browns history and records intact. They knew - even at the mundane football level- THEY were the ones breaking away and they had no innate claim to them, By the same token, ALL the breakaway Protestant sects have no more claim to the authentic Christian message and path to truth than say, revolutionary Americans (ca. 1776) had the right to call themselves "England" and "English people".

But let’s see what claims Pastor Mike has to make. He begins by giving the reason for his page:

FIRST AND FOREMOST to expose Catholicism for what it IS NOT - i.e., BIBLE BASED CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE

This is balderdash, given that it was the Catholic monks and scribes who FIRST translated and prepared the earliest biblical manuscripts. It was also these early monks, scribes who also separated out the various books, to determine what would not be included. For example, the apocryphal books were omitted, as were the Gnostic texts (Gospel Of Thomas, etc.)

If Pastor Mike had the least grain of sense to work with he’d realize he’s complaining about a Book that the Catholics ALSO accept and originated! He’d have more basis if he defended the Gospel of Thomas, for example, and made hay about the RC Church excluding it. He doesn’t He’s carping about the original Church-religion and the SAME book that has passed down to him, only different in emphasis in its .

In his next section, the brain-addled Pastor really goes off half-cocked:

It's really no different than the hundreds of people that were taken in by Jim Jones and his " Peoples Temple " , where approx. 900 of his 'parishioners' committed mass suicide in 1978 . I'm sure that the MAJORITY of them were no different than you or I , and perhaps were 'looking' to find TRUE Salvation , AND inner Peace , with the exception that THEY were decieved by his false teachings , and BELIEVED HIM when he told THEM that HE was "Jesus" . likewise with David Koresh , Charles Manson , and of course , the (now deceased) ATHEIST cult leader , Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Well, here he’s wholesale conflated atheist (Madalyn Murray O’Hair), Jim Jones, David Koresh etc. with an established religion that has existed for over two thousand years. If the first criterion of sound mental discrimination is proportion and the ability to parse it, Mike strikes out on all counts.

Jim Jones and David Koresh weren’t so much guilty of “false teachings” as they were egomania. Jones, in fact, began much like Pastor Mike, sticking to the “straight word” of God in the Good Book. Taking it as inerrant. At some point, however, his ego grew out of all bounds and he began to regard himself as “God”. This is not at all analogous to the pope – whose “Holy Father” appellation merely pertains to being a de facto head of a flock, in these case the world’s 800 million Catholics.

Murray O’Hair had NO teachings at all, since like me she was an atheist. She accepted science and its principles, and the only reason Pastor Mike would rail against her is the same reason he rails against me – he can’t tolerate the fact that science exposes him and his beliefs as fraudulent.

Mike’s folly goes on unabated:

My Catholic 'Brothers and Sisters ' , "Ignoring " these FACTS will NOT change them !! I BEG of you all - to AT LEAST - READ THE HOLY BIBLE - AT LEAST see what GOD HIMSELF says

Here, he continues demonstrating that he’s lost all touch with even immediate reality. He tells anyone who will listen that “ignoring these facts will not change them” BUT he hasn’t presented any facts about the Church itself. He’s assembled a hodge podge of unrelated extreme examples and tried to uphold them as analogous to RC Church teachings. They aren’t! Neither Jim Jones nor David Koresh bear any analogy to the Pope. Indeed, truth by told and from an analogy standpoint, Pastor MIKE has more in common with Jim Jones than the Pope does.

The Pastor also makes a common error of rank fundies, taking the Bible as something his “God’ literallyy wrote verbatim, as opposed to very fallible humans. He doesn’t seem to get it that “”God” didn’t just zap ten thousand ancient scrolls with lightning in the English language which were later assembled into 66 books.

No. Humans had to first enter remote caves near Qumran and recover hundreds of scrolls. These were on parchments, and written in the language of the time – Aramaic. These were then translated. The parsing of the many scrolls also showed they themselves had been subject to different interpretations and re-translations. Out of a morass of competing works, a final “Bible” materialized, but it is wholesale the product of human beings, not any divine entity.

The Pastor then asks Catholics to consider a few facts.

The Pope claims the place and names that belong to God alone (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, III para. 18). God, the Father: He claims he is "The Holy Father". This is the unique name of God the Father.

This is bollocks. All the places noted existed in antiquity and were named before there was a Catholic religion. For example, the Vatican and Vatican Hill were known to the Mithraist cult. If the Pope appropriated names from anyone, it was from the Mithraists!

The “Holy Father” is no biggie. The Latin for Pope is “Papa”. The RC Church used Latin as its official language. “Papa” translated literally comes out to “Father”. Adding “Holy” before it is in recognition of the Pope’s status, as a descendant of St. Peter.

There is NO “unique” name of God – and the use of “the Father” is purely a colloquial term designed to convey some level of intimacy to an otherwise abstract entity.

Mike continues with his “facts”:

God, the Son: He claims he is "The Head of the Church". This title belongs to Christ alone

Well, as a Catholic for “53 ½ years” Mike ought to know better than this. The Pope does not claim he is “head” of the Church but the spiritual guide-leader for its teaching office, the magisterium. When doctrines are formulated and pronounced, someone – after all – must put the final stamp of approval on them. Since neither God nor Holy Spirit comes down to place a lightning imprint on any document – it is left to the human vehicle to do that.

Now, the use of “head of the church’ is more a popular or colloquial usage.

Mike rambles on:

God, the Holy Spirit: He claims he is "The Vicar of Christ". This is the office of the Holy Spirit alone.

Again Pastor Mike loses it. The word “vicar” is from the French “Vicaire” which translates to “the minister of a parish” (see also the term “vicarage”) Thus, when the Pope refers to himself as “the Vicar of Christ on Earth” (parts Mike left out) he means he is like the minister of a global parish. What’s the big deal? There isn’t any! Mike manages to convert another molehill into a mountain.

Saying it can “only be the office of the Holy Spirit” is therefore obtuse. Indeed, a non-physical entity can hold no “office”.

More bunkum:

The Pope even takes the very name of God. The New York Catechism calls the Pope, "the arbiter of the world, the supreme judge of heaven and earth, the judge of all, being judged by no one, God Himself on earth." THE TRINITY OF GOD IS USURPED IN ROMAN CATHOLICISM!

Now with this Pastor Mike shows himself to be a deceitful instigator of hatred and division – no better than those he unctuously condemns. Indeed, there is NO such thing as the “New York Catechism” there is only the Baltimore Catechism – and unless Mike now has Alzheimers, he ought to have remembered that from his Catholic student days.

Evidently, anti-Catholic groups have latched onto this and are now circulating it around the net. Buyers therefore beware! My brother has fallen in with the Catholic haters, as well as the atheist baiters.

The assertion that the “Trinity of God is usurped in Roman Catholicism” looks like it was lifted directly from one of these anti-Catholic tracts. Seems Pastor Mike is not even able to formulate his own arguments, but has to lift them from second hand sources.

In fact, the RC Church TEACHES the reality of the Trinity in numerous doctrines and it is the ONLY religion that does so! No where in the standard Protestant religions will one find full doctrinal acknowledgement of the Trinity. (Emphasis is almost always on John 3:16 and the importance of the Son) In fact, it was a CATHOLC theologian - Thomas Aquinas – who first articulated the concept in detail. To say now, as Mike does, that Catholicism has “usurped” the Trinity is tantamount to the howlings of a lunatic or a careless plagiarist. I don’t know which.

More regrettable, the Pastor is totally ignorant of the fact that it was the Catholic Church and no other that established the consubstantiality of the (Holy) Spirit with Father and Son. This was at the Council of Constantinople in 381.

Thus, we see the Roman Catholic Church not only first invoked the primacy of the Father-Son-Holy Spirit triad, but later elaborated it (by Aquinas) hundreds of years BEFORE the Protestant Reformation. To hear the ignorant Pastor talk, it was the Protestants and latter day Evangels that discovered the Trinity. (I suppose in the same way that they invented the ‘New York Catechism”)

Protestants themselves – including nouveau Prots like my bro- have nowhere near the respect for the Trinitarian terminology refined by the Catholic theologians over centuries – which seeks a delicate balance of properties within the Trinity. Among the most important, that the Holy Spirit descend THROUGH the Son and not FROM the Son. All of this nuance is lost on Pastor Mike who can only fulminate.

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