My Dear Catholic Friend,
I thank you so much for your letter. You have been wounded by the article Christianity vs. Catholicism and I derive no joy from this. Unfortunately there were many, of your religion and others, who shared your hurt and anger. Yet I do not regret writing Christianity vs. Religion (Issue #7 of The Main Issue) though I did so with much apprehension. I know there are many who were helped.
There has probably never been a paper like Christianity vs. Religion, at least not one placed in the hands of the general public. Issue #2, Jehovah’s Witnesses: Christian or Cult? likewise offended many who had the same affection for their religion as you do yours. Like yourself, some accused me of false information and evil intent. One gentleman asked me, “What kind of an animal are you?”
It was my intention with Issue #7, Christianity vs. Religion, to lump all religions together, at least the major ones, so people caught in one religion could identify with those ensnared in another. The Catholic might realize that he and the Mormon have much in common (as does the Mormon and the Jehovah’s Witness, and the Jehovah’s Witness and the Mason, etc.). For most of these religions are much alike, each claiming to have a special status with God, and insisting that obedience to its rules is a requirement for salvation.
While your faith, Catholicism, claims to be the one true church of God using as an argument it is the oldest religion calling itself Christian, the Jehovah’s Witnesses likewise consider themselves to be God’s organization on earth, they being the true sheep of His pasture and everyone else goats. The Mormon Church has convinced its people that it is God’s one true church and they have a ‘witness in their bosom’ to prove it. While the Masons claim to respect every other religion they actually believe they alone have the light and everyone else is in darkness. Then there are the Moonies, the Worldwide Church of God, Christian Science, etc., etc., etc.
As a Catholic who believes all other religions are, to say the least, inferior to your own, you must see so clearly the absurdities of the claims of other religions mentioned in Christianity vs. Religion. From the outside looking in, you might wonder how people could believe such fantasies. But can you not also see they look upon your religion with equal amazement, and marvel that someone would actually believe the things you believe? I did hope that, just possibly, someone as yourself might realize that since so many people in all of the other religions have been duped, perhaps you too have been likewise deceived. You might think, If it happened to them, maybe it happened to me as well. Of course, your letter reveals that, for yourself, this did not occur. You conclude, I assume, that Yes their religions are all false and they are deluded, but mine alone is true and I alone am on the right path. How fortunate that of all the faiths in the world, I just happened to be born into the right one!
I ask you to consider the possibility that the reason you are a Catholic today is simply because you were born into Catholicism. The same is true of most Catholics, or they became so because their husband/wife was Catholic. My wife became a Catholic because I was one. She wanted to be of the same faith as me and her children and was therefore easily persuaded. People, generally, believe not according to reason, but convenience. People follow after the one or the group most dear to them. It matters little whether that person (i.e. pope, deacon, pastor) or that group (i.e. church, religion, cult) they love is true or not. With some determination and manipulation the shoe can be made to fit the foot.
When a person is convinced their spiritual leader(s) is God’s appointed agent (i.e. the pope being the “Vicar of Christ on Earth,” the Mormon president being the prophet of God, the governing body of the J.W.’s being God’s ruling authority, etc.) that person lets down her defenses. She is afraid challenging the teachings of her religion is thereby challenging God Himself. This person has to be convinced her spiritual leader and teacher is supposed to be none other than the Holy Spirit.
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1Timothy 2:5) This one Mediator promised “He would never leave us, or forsake us.” (Hebrews 13:5) He is with us by His Spirit “who will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13) That is why John could declare (1John 2:27), “the anointing that you have received from Him (Jesus) abides in you and need not that any man teach you…. the same anointing teaches you all things, and is truth, and is no lie.” The man who has accepted man as teacher and director of his life is in spiritual bondage, the worst kind of bondage. That man must somehow be persuaded to remove his loyalty and trust and dependency from man (pope, pastor, church, whatever) and place that loyalty, that trust, that dependency on Jesus Christ, who will in response give His Holy Spirit. My question to you is Who is your teacher, man or the Holy Spirit?
I wish you could see what is so obvious to an outsider – if you were born into, say, Mormonism you would be a Mormon today. (The same is true if the Mormon were born into Catholicism.) Perhaps you would have written me a letter defending Mormonism with the same passion and non-Biblical logic (no offense intended) used to defend Catholicism. You would be quoting the Book of Mormon, and telling me of this witness you have in your bosom.
And if you were raised in the Kingdom Hall you would be standing on the street corner with an Awake! magazine in your hand. It would be almost impossible to rescue you, for in your mind you would be fully persuaded. If you happened to have read Jehovah’s Witnesses: Christian or Cult? it would have had little effect. In your conditioned sight I would be a heretic, a mere pawn motivated by satan. So what, you would reason, if the founder, C.T. Russell, perjured, gave false prophecies, made embarrassing claims about himself (as well as his Miracle Wheat, his changing “most accurate” measurements of the pyramids, etc.), and so what if this spokesman of God was divorced by his wife because of “conceit, egotism, domination, and improper conduct in relation to other women.” You might have written me a letter saying, as you did on page two of your letter:
“I won’t belabour all the juicy stories, those that are true and those that are products of malevolent gossip – suffice to say that there were popes [presidents?] that were scoundrels. But despite this the Church [Jehovah’s Witness Organization?] stands to this day. A miracle? Well, Jesus promised that He would be with His Church [Organization?] until the end of the world and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Oh the gates of hell have surely tried, but despite those individuals who chose to behave shabbily, the teachings of the Church [Organization?] remain intact from the beginning.”
And so what if there were so many false prophecies throughout the history of the Watchtower Society. Perhaps you would have written, as in page five:
“It seems that whether you like it or not God was to continue using weak men to do His work.”
Do you hear me? Your logic may convince the uninformed, but it is not Biblical. Your words and God’s words are different. Contrary to your logic, the same logic other religions use, Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruits…a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit.” If Catholicism is a good tree it cannot produce bad fruit, but because it has produced bad fruit it has proven itself to be a corrupt tree, and cannot be the one true church of God you say it is. That, my friend, is Bible. That is God’s perspective. That is truth.
In Issue #2 I wrote of a young man approached by a group from a cult, overwhelmed with attention, drawn away from his sphere of influence, manipulated by the giving and withdrawing of approval and affection, and thoroughly brainwashed by an unceasing assault of cultic logic to the point where his family and friends became his enemy and the cult leader became his lord and savior. I was making the point that those raised in a religion have much in common with this young man. Though the indoctrination process is less harsh, it starts from childhood and is non-ceasing. I know it is hard to see, but you too have been programmed. Your influence comes from one direction. Your perspective is a perspective that has been induced upon you. You have simply become the voice of another. Your logic is a product of a person in bondage. You say what one would expect someone of your upbringing to say. If you were on the outside looking in at yourself you would see it so clearly.
A young man, a Seventh Day Adventist, phoned to share his belief that Christians are to keep Saturday as a day of rest. The Seventh Day logic goes something like this: The true church of God can be easily identified because the true church of God obeys God’s commandments. Since one of the Ten Commandments commands people to keep the seventh day (Saturday) holy, and since the Seventh Day Adventist are the ones who obey that command, they therefore must be the true church of God. And if you want to belong to the true church of God you better become a Seventh Day Adventist!
When I pointed out to the caller Romans 10:4, “Christ is the end of the law,” and Galatians 3:24, “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we may be justified by faith,” he replied, as every good Seventh Day Adventist would reply, that the law referred to in these verses must not have referred to the Ten Commandments but only the dietary laws and the civil laws. I explained how Paul settled the same dispute arising in his day (Romans 14:5,6): “One man esteems one day above another, another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regards the day, regards it unto the Lord; and he that regards not the day, to the Lord he does not regard it.” Now that is very plain language, easy for anyone to understand – except if you happen to be a Seventh Day Adventist! The words of Paul prove God does not require Christians to hold one day above another, not Saturday, not Sunday, not Monday or Tuesday; however, if a Christian should decide to do so, that’s okay. That young man simply refused to accept these simple words of Scripture.
I am trying to help you to see something by holding this young man up as a mirror to yourself. I do no want you to see the conditioned mind of the Adventist, but your own cultivated conceptions.
The Adventist would have no problem with Matthew 1:25, “[Joseph] knew her [Mary] not until she had brought forth her firstborn son.” Nor would anyone else have a problem with this verse….. except perhaps if one happened to be Catholic. Since the Word of God smacks against the Catholic doctrine that Mary is a perpetual virgin, you say (page 10): “The word ‘until’ that you referred to suffers the same inexactitude in its translation into English.”
Please be patient as I lift up another mirror before you.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own verses to trip over. They cannot accept John 1:1 which says “and the word [Jesus] was God,” because their religion teaches Jesus is not God. So they changed “was God” to “was a god.” I suppose they would consider this verse an “inexactitude in its translation into English.” I pointed out a book in our library listing 26 of the most popular translations of the Bible, and the fact that every one translated it the same, “and the word was God” or a similar meaning. I pressed the point because I reasoned if I could persuade some that Jesus really is God, the Watchtower Society could not therefore possibly be God’s authoritative voice it claims to be (they have repudiated the divinity of Christ since its inception).
For the same reason I am going to press the point that Matthew 1:25 is not an “inexactitude in its translation into English.” If Mary really did have sexual relationship with her husband, as Matthew 1:25 so clearly states, then the Catholic church, which claims infallibility on this issue, cannot be infallible at all. It teaches error. Hopefully that conclusion will set you free from the terrible grip it has on your life.
The same book conveys the fact that every one of the translators translated Matthew 1:25 in such a manner as to convey the truth that Mary had relations with Joseph after Jesus was born. The footnote in your own Jerusalem Bible, a Catholic Bible, makes this statement regarding Matthew 1:25: “Lit. ‘and he did not know her until the day she gave birth.’ ” “Lit.” means the literal translation, or the exact translation. Matthew 1:25, according to the translators of your own Bible and every other Bible I have ever read, is not an “inexactitude in its translation” as you say.
I remember watching this old movie. A detective was trying to convince this girl her boyfriend, I think his name was Johnny, was a bad mobster. He wanted her help in catching her boyfriend. She refused to believe it. He gave much evidence but she would not hear. There were eyewitness accounts but she said they must be lying. He finally sat her in front of a film of her Johnny robbing a bank (I think it was a bank), but she closed her eyes refusing to look. In exasperation, he yanked her head backwards by pulling her hair. Her eyes opened and there before her was her Johnny shooting at police. Finally she was convinced.
What would it take to make you see what is obvious to those on the outside looking in? Your beloved Johnny, the Catholic church, is not what you think. The eyewitness accounts are not false. The atrocious behavior of the one you love dearly is a matter of record – I learned these things in a Catholic high school, taught by a Catholic priest! The Catholic church is apostate and fits the definition of a cult, and the affection you have for it will not change that.
You say you love Christ but do you love Him more than Catholicism? You cannot pledge allegiance to both, for their words oppose each other. To date you have chosen to obey the words of Catholicism over the words of Christ. For example:
You explain why you are justified to call priests “Father” although Jesus said explicitly “call no man Father for one is your Father and you are all brethren.” Listen to your own words to me (page four): “You quoted the passage which said that we should call no man father. (Christ also said that if your hand should offend you, cut it off, or if your eye should sin, pluck it out. How many of your confreres are walking around minus hands and eyes – or are they all perfect now?) I believe Jesus meant to say that all fatherhood comes down to us from God and should be acknowledged as such and be recognized as such. We have to see things as they are and have our priorities right.”
You say, in effect, Yes, Jesus tells us to call no man Father. But Jesus meant something else. That is why I call priests Father. So you rationalize how you can do exactly what Jesus commands you not to do! Anything to please your first love, Catholicism.
Catholicism and the Bible are at conflict. Matthew 1:25 is but one of many examples, but it alone proves that indeed Catholicism and the Bible clash. Both cannot be true. One must go. You are in the same difficult position as those of other religions and cults – you must make a choice.
The teachings of the Catholic church are mostly erroneous, including the doctrine of the priesthood, the sacraments, saint worship, indulgence, the pope, etc., etc. These teachings are at enmity with the Bible. Catholicism will keep multitudes from “the simple gospel of Christ” causing them to perish, not in purgatory, another CC invention, but in Gehenna, “the lake of fire.”
I say in love you are part of the problem. You do not preach Christ of the Bible but (a false) Christ of Catholicism. You are teaching your children, and others, to call evil good. You readily mix the holy with the profane and feed this unhealthy mixture to the ones you love most. Catholicism is an idol in your life, and you encourage others to join in worship of this idol.
Most of your arguments I have not responded to – sufficient to say they are not based on God’s word, and I leave it at that. Also, I thought it best to not include your name.
I again thank you for your letter and regret not being able to print it fully.