By EXTRA ECCLESIAM NVLLA SALVS
When dealing with Protestants (particularly those in the US), I’ve come to expect a certain degree of ignorance when it comes to authentic Christianity (aka Catholicism). They usually know next to nothing about Church history, Church doctrine, or anything besides what has to be literally spelled out for them in the Bible. I thought I saw it all, but our office received the article “Jesus Christ Was a Free Presbyterian.” I now realize I’ll have to actually lower my standards further.
Before I get into the actual substance of this sermon, I’ll address a couple of questionable stylistic choices. First and foremost, the word “Romish” is not a word, and neither is “Popery.” The author uses the word “Mohammedan” to refer to “Moslems” even though the term fell out of the common parlance some centuries ago. All in all, it gives the vibe of a sheltered, Midwestern “pastor” preaching some nonsense from the local grocery store. This does not surprise me considering that I know what constitutes low-church Protestantism.
So now for the actual substance of the author’s “sermon”: his main thrust is that Catholicism is a demonic path to apostasy from his supposed “genuine” Christianity. He writes, “It is false religion. Romish stances, Romish schoolings, and Romish sacraments are all Satanic subversions of the path that has been laid by Jesus Christ.” This is a tad strange, since the first Christian church was the Catholic Church, the very same institution that exists in Rome. As St. Irenaeus wrote in “Against Heresies,” “…by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul … it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.” For those of you who do not know, St. Irenaeus was a student of St. Polycarp, who himself was a student of St. John the Apostle. The author continues, “Romanism denies the foundation laid by Jesus Christ. For hundreds of years, the Church of Rome has cast the Bible aside and replaced it with priestly worship.” Again, the Church in Rome was the very same Church established by Peter, a fairly well-known follower of Jesus Christ; furthermore, no Catholic “worships” a priest. His hostility towards the priesthood is also rather interesting considering the word “priest” comes from the word “presbyter,” which, as his title states, Jesus supposedly was.
“No faith in idolatry, no faith in sacraments, and no faith in the tricks of the Devil.” Ahh, the good ol’ “Catholics worship idols” cliche. This person gets zero points for originality or accuracy. To be absolutely clear, no Catholic worships idols. Do you worship and bow down to pictures of your family members? Of course not, and neither do we. Like the photos of your loved ones, we use icons and statues to remember our brothers and sisters in the faith who came before us. There is no worship involved, as that is reserved for God.
“A Catholic fundamentalist is one who relies absolutely on the word of the Pope! Who has absolute faith in the saving power of sacraments, and absolute faith in the papal infallibility, and absolute faith that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ.” A couple of things here. Firstly, we do not absolutely accept every word the Pope ever says. In order for what he says to be considered infallible, it must be deliberately invoked by speaking “ex cathedra” (“out of the chair [of St. Peter]). Historically, this has only ever happened twice, and there are numerous rules that must be followed for the statement to be considered licit. But, as I stated at the beginning of the article, I don’t expect this nuance to be completely understood by this particular brand of Protestantism. Secondly, papal infallibility is scriptural: Matthew 16:17-19 reads, ““Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood[l] has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Please note the phrases “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven” and the authority to bind and loose on Earth. This is the basis for Papal Infallibility, something we would see exercised within the first century of the Church.
“He claims to be the ‘Vicar of Christ’—a replacement for Christ.” Vicar means “deputy,” not replacement. It refers to papal infallibility. “My friends, did you know that, when translated into Greek, this title, according to the European Institute of Protestant Studies, literally means ‘anti-Christ’?” This is just demonstrably untrue, like most Protestant “theology”.
He then disputes the True Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist: “The Church of Rome teaches that a priest can summon Jesus Christ down from Heaven at will in order to reincarnate Him as a wafer.” Well, not just the Church of Rome. Every single church (like the Orthodox Churches) has accepted this as Truth for 1500 years. Not only does John’s Gospel make it clear that Jesus is the physical “bread of life” (and that we must eat Him to be saved), but every Church Father accepted this since the first century AD. Some examples:
St. Ignatius of Antioch (student of St. John the Apostle), “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.”
St. Justin Martyr, “ For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.”
So to say that the Eucharist is just a “wafer” contradicts what the earliest Christians actually believed. Lastly, he brings up the sole authority of the Bible (aka “sola fide”); not only was this never believed by any Christian Church for over a millennium, but it isn’t even supported in the Bible itself. In addition, the Bible as we know it today didn’t exist for three centuries. And do you know which institution compiled the Bible, and discerned which texts were considered divinely inspired? It was the Catholic Church, the same very Church that existed since Pentecost and that still endures in Vatican City. As I’ve stated ad nauseum, this demonstrates utter ignorance to history and ecclesiology, though I’m once again not surprised.
All in all, his nonsensical proddie sermon is based on complete ignorance of Catholicism and authentic, orthodox Christianity. It’s based on conspiratorial falsehoods rooted in sheer nonsense and misinformation, likely born from ignorance or a refusal to learn. The Catholic Church is the first true Church, established by Jesus Christ Himself on St. Peter. Outside of the Holy Mother Church there is no salvation, and Martin Luther is burning in Hell for his heresy and schism. I encourage all my Protestant readers to inform themselves of the history of the Faith: what the early Christians believed, what they practiced, and what they wrote concerning the Pope, the Eucharist, the necessity of the sacraments, the importance of the Blessed Virgin, and why Protestantism is a man-made doctrine conjured by a heretical priest (with no one believing anything remotely similar for over a dozen centuries.) Glory love you all.