Anti-Catholicism – An offense towards Ttruth.
In misunderstanding, chaos and bitterness truth does not live. When knowledge brings understanding, empathy, correction and clarity, it paves way for the Gospel. However, knowledge which pre-judges misleads and harbors malice is nothing but empty knowledge, vain and useless.
Anti-Catholicism is precisely that type of knowledge; false-truth that injures, condemns and distorts. Diverse things create opponents of the Catholic Church; wicked priests, inept teachers or passionless laypeople who have harmed souls, cumbersome teachings that are pressed upon too harshly. Understandably, many leave the Church due to these. Then the unjustifiable; laziness which holds personal preference above God, infantile spirits denying instruction, deceitful and attractive pathways that whisk one away to an easy Gospel- often incomplete, disorderly and breeding animus towards the Church.
Those consumed with attacking the Catholic Church often lack qualities of truth. They choose words over deeds; they contradict themselves by their own teachings and preferences. They divide, choose popular avenues, engage in rebellion contrary to Christ, prefer people with knowledge and status, ignore many teachings of the apostles and often deny sinfulness.
Offenses against Truth committed by Anti-Catholicism.
-Faulty or deceitful use of Scripture
-Exaltation of Scripture
– Denying Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:18, lack of trust in God.
– Refusal to engage the other party
-Lack of tact, rudeness, hostility
-Ill speech against Christ’s servants
-Magnification of the Church’s wrongdoings and unfair application
-Disrespect for Mary, mother of Jesus
-Neglect of personal holiness “Pharisee-ism”
Whether well-intentioned or spiteful, some opponents of Catholicism may offend the truth in various ways. Not everybody criticizing the Church means offense, indeed some are very godly people. Indeed, mistakes occur in the Church which must be spoken against.
These offences are mostly committed unawares. However, some opponents of the Church use deceit, bullying, confusion and unfairness in their criticisms, turning mere critique into vile behavior. Nor do all perform every offense. Sometimes, just two or three if deeply-ingrained, can suffice to erode spiritual life and regard for truth.
“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.” – Proverbs 4:1
“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” – Hebrews 13:7
The priestly hierarchy of Catholicism is often subject to attack. Opponents believe the church should be egalitarian, congregational and individualistic. They despise any vestige of power in the church, dislike priests – especially bishops, and tend to struggle with authority.
However, the New Testament itself speaks of ministerial offices in God’s church; elders who teach, deacons who serve and bishops who rule. In fact, the bishop’s office is usually described as not only magisterial but governmental. They are called “guardians of the flock.”
Certainly, the Apostle Peter advises church elders not to “Lord over the flock”. Indeed, a bishop who belittles or subordinates others abuses his authority and doesn’t please God. However, the existence of ecclesiastical hierarchy isn’t based on subjection. It’s not there to enslave or demean anyone but rather is for edification, unified teaching and doctrinal preservation.
Under bishops, the Church defined a majority of Christian doctrines which are taken for granted. The human and divine nature of Christ, His deity, the Trinity and the New Testament Canon itself are gifts from this conciliar, hierarchal church. Without such a foundation, Christian teaching becomes flimsy sinking back into the past.
Why the objection?
People who have anti-clerical tendencies usually misjudge the clergy’s role, struggle with obeying authority-figures or perhaps suffered past-mistreatment by a priest. Many scowl at ministries being off-limits to others, elaborate priestly vestments or respect shown towards a bishop. Some fail to realize that in God’s eyes, they are just as important and loved. The Bible is correct when describing all people’s equality before Christ. When misinterpreted, this teaching means something entirely different; a church-society without defined roles. Samewise, Scripture teaches that not all share the same ministries or gifts. Being in the Body of Christ does not mean everybody gets elected bishop, no, rather everyone has unique offerings. When these gifts are used properly, Christ’s mission is fully realized.
Faulty or deceitful use of Scripture.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” – 2 Peter 1:20
Some pastors and teachers from various Christian denominations tend to exaggerate, misinterpret or piece together Scripture in a way that makes the Bible seem to condemn Catholicism. Common examples are misuse of two verses:
In Matthew: “Call no man your father” or Paul’s famous warning to Timothy about “Those who forbid marriage and abstain from meat”. To uneducated viewers, this certainly looks bad for Catholics- except that in neither verse, is Catholicism or the Catholic Church the subject. Jesus’s teaching in Matthew enforces the supremacy of God’s fatherhood; that no other fatherhood should come first. God always gets prime honor above earthly men. It means that and nothing more. Paul’s letter isn’t speaking of Catholics at all. A sect known as Gnosticism was spreading; leading Christians astray by teaching that a wicked god created the world and all physical matter is evil. They forbade all adherents from marriage.
These examples show rather dishonest tactics. Pastors who should otherwise know better and understand the context of Scripture- and indeed some who do know what Jesus and Paul were actually talking about, distort sacred readings just a bit to serve their agenda. Keeping people out of the Catholic Church equals more members for them. In attacking Catholicism, stretching truth is not off limits for the man who can convincingly spin Scripture.
Exaltation of Scripture.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17
Many opponents of Catholicism, particularly from Protestant groups, have a strange habit of exalting Scripture declaring it as the only authority for believers. Whenever reading “the Word of God” they think written pages forgetting that the Word of God existed before any language or text. An odd exclusion of any teaching source besides printed, bound Bibles causes misunderstanding of God’s nature and ignorance of history.
After the death of Christ, the apostles did not carry around Bibles or even scrolls. They preached orally and spread the faith by word-of-mouth.
Moreso, when reading “Scripture” these people assume a fully-competed Old and New Testament. The New Testament is a product of the Church. In the 4th century, all the New Testament Gospels and letters were gathered, decided upon by council and put into the Bible we have now. Moreover, dangerous assumption that the only Word of God is written Scripture contradicts what history tells us about Christians. Throughout early centuries, a majority of Christians were illiterate. Few if any possessed written Bibles. They learned the Gospel in Churches, hearing it read aloud and seeing it pictured in stained-glass.
Absurdly, some pastors go so far as to claim God’s only communication with believers is via written Scripture. If this is true, then Christians for centuries have been hopelessly lost in darkness- even the apostles themselves.
God’s Word is a Being, transcendent, beyond paper and letters. His Spirit communicates with believers everywhere. Whether people are illiterate, blind, handicapped, lost in the wilderness or without a Bible, God still speaks. Christ’s sacrifice and the merits thereof bring salvation- not Scripture. Helpful, wondrous and invaluable as it is, Scripture doesn’t teach everything, it can’t deliberate in church councils or suffer martyrdom.
From a Living God, the Living Word, grace, salvation and mercy comes.
Denying Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:18, lack of trust in God.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18
“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to
behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 3:15
“I solemnly tell you that whatever you as a Church bind on earth will in Heaven be held as bound, and whatever you loose on earth will in Heaven be held to be loosed.” – Matthew 18:18
“Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.” – Matthew
Some try to discredit the Catholic Church by citing its instances of corruption and failure to uphold the truths it teaches. But, they go even further saying the corruption and failure had been so bad, God removed His favor from the established Church and inspired Martin Luther’s Reform.
Based on Scripture alone, one of Luther’s favorite ideas, this belief can be reduced to a lack of trust in God Himself. In Matthew’s Gospel, we find first mention of “the church” when Jesus blesses his apostle, Peter and promises to build His Church- then promises it will be protected from the very powers of hell.
If one understands this Scripture, Jesus by His grace and omnipotence, vows to build the Church, protect it from demonic powers and preserve it. For how long?: “Unto the end of the world.” Jesus says he will be with his people, the church “always” not- “until the 1500’s when your clergy goes corrupt and I get sick of you.”
The Body of Christ like other bodies heals from its injuries. If Jesus stayed with his own apostles despite their sins, ignorance and faults, didn’t he remain with their successors despite their corruption, cruelty and foolishness? Moreover, the entire Church was never corrupt. Indeed throughout history, great, holy people rose up and sparked renewal. In the Old Testament, God said He will spare Sodom if: “ten righteous men are found.” Even during darkest periods such as The Crusades and Inquisition, Catholicism certainly had more than ten righteous men!
God does not abandon his children because they sin. No, He endures with compassion and mercy. The Body of Christ is always going to have tares among the wheat and Jesus Christ, its Head, will suffer those tares for the wheat’s sake.
Those who say God left the Catholic Church for the Reformation forget another important point: breaking something won’t fix it. Now, the Reformation began on noble and honest ideals but actually resulted in so much chaos, infighting and division, Martin Luther himself lamented over it. Soon after Luther’s momentous break from Roman Catholicism, people in his own congregation squabbled and left for any of the various churches that suddenly appeared throughout Europe.
The mark of Christ’s church was, is and always will be unity. This unity endured all the attacks hell could bring against it and that is why Catholicism still stands, not because of powerful bishops, cunning popes or zealous saints. No, it’s here because Christ promised.
Refusal to engage the other party.
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” – Romans 12:18
In order to refute something, a person must understand what it is he’s refuting. The saying goes “Learn your enemy.” Why anyone thinks they can effectively argue against Catholicism by avoiding it, refusing to learn about it or snubbing its adherents, is baffling. Ignoring Catholic sources or testimony does not protect one from error, it plunges into deeper error. With excuses like “Catholic sources are wrong”, “The Catholic Church lies” or “I’m ex-Catholic so I know what I’m talking about” these people tread along eyes and ears closed unable to preach any truth at all.
Lack of tact, rudeness, hostility.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29
“for your own judgement will be dealt–and your own measure meted–to yourselves” – Matthew 7:2
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
Some people in their criticisms and attacks on Catholicism are uncharitable, belligerent and even cruel. They call names and insult the Catholic Church, its members and ministers. These accounts of “preaching truth” are nothing short of disgraceful. No message needs be antagonistic- especially the Good News of Jesus Christ. People who think they can convert others by force and arrogance become no better than the idolaters, inquisitors and fools they accuse Catholics of being.
There’s little else to say on this topic but a warning that anyone who conducts their ministry this way is offending the very God they claim to serve.
Ill speech against Christ’s servants.
“Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” – Romans 14:4
“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” -Matthew 12:30
Nobody has to like the pope however on that same token, nobody needs to slander, insult or mock him either. The fine art of civilly disagreeing has been lost upon our culture. Finding an influential figure distasteful, intellectually unsatisfying or opposed to everything you stand for, does not waiver common decency and fairness.
Hard opponents of the Catholic Church seem to enjoy defaming its ministers. Innocence or guilt usually doesn’t matter. If one priest or bishop is bad- they all are. We often forget priests and popes are human beings who feel and make mistakes. Getting so lost in the attacks, people reduce them to nameless, faceless epithets of everything they disdain.
A common, thoughtless accusation is that the Roman Pontiff is the Anti-Christ. Speaking scripturally, there’s no basis for granting him this label. John’s letter says: “He who denies God is come in the flesh has the spirit of the anti-Christ.” This eliminates the pope right away. Usually this idea is rooted in anger, suspicions left over from Reformation-days and plain ignorance. In fact, most people who call the pope “anti-Christ” tend to also see the US President and various world and religious leaders as “anti-Christ.” It’s a name they give when no rationality can be found.
Moreso, speaking badly about ministers or workers in the Catholic Church reflects badly on the speaker himself. It shows he is too petty for intellectual argument and must attack the conduct of other people.
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” – Exodus 20:16
“A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit.” – Proverbs 26:24
It’s one matter to attack wrongdoing and inconsistency within the Catholic Church but entirely another to make up wrongdoings and inconsistencies. Most people base arguments on factual evidence. Striving to oppose and discredit Catholicism, a rare few actually invent lies about its teachings, practices and history. There are actually numerous examples of this, too many and too complicated for presenting them here. They range from assertions the Catholic Church is paganism disguised, that the pope is an object of worship and that the apostle Peter was never in Rome. One of the many will be mentioned: Belief the Catholic Church was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine.
First of all, there is no evidence Constantine started any church. In the 300’s, he legalized Christianity. What he legalized was an obscure religion centered on Jesus of Nazareth who died and rose from the dead. They met on the first day (Sunday), recited prayers and partook of what they self-described as “the body and blood of Jesus.” These Christians kept rigorous morals and considered martyrdom a most-holy act, so holy they revered gravesites and remains of those martyred. Once able to worship freely in pubic, Christians understandably built large churches, put vestments on their priests and paraded around.
The greatest refutation of this idea however are early Christian documents which describe sacraments, a priesthood, bishops and yes, consuming Christ’s body and blood. Moreover, from the year 117 AD, Christian elders defined their Church as apostolic and “catholic”. These people were already Catholics by the time Constantine legalized them!!
Intentionally inventing alternative history isn’t logical or honest. It accomplishes nothing for the sake of preaching truth. People who perpetuate lies like these aren’t interested in truth. They are false-witnesses who should be avoided.
Magnification of the Church’s wrongdoings and their unfair application.
“Do not accuse a man for no reason–when he has done you no harm.” – Proverbs 3:30
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:15
“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” – Corinthians 4:5
That horrors and crimes occurred within or via the Catholic Church is no secret to anyone who’s ever read a history book. In fact, these appalling events do discourage many from seeking the positive things Catholicism offers. Sometimes we are so outraged at the negative that we won’t or can’t look at the good.
While there is no justification for wrongdoings committed by people in the Catholic Church, there is an explanation. It began in the Garden of Eden, continued through the history of God’s people, Israel’s Kingdom and into Jesus’s days on earth. Jesus removed the death-sentence wrought by our sins but He never removed sin itself. Every person has free will to choose good- or evil.
God’s own people whom He created, called out of slavery and redeemed have perpetuated most-vile, sinful acts. The same happens in the Catholic Church. Time and time, those choosing sin despite their high-calling as saints, clerics and missionaries, disappoint God. Indeed, many Christians probably didn’t make it to heaven. Even for them the gate is narrow.
It’s hard dealing with any church or ministry that violates the Gospel it claims to preach. This also includes other churches besides the Catholic one. When faced with humanity’s great capacity for evil, one must cry with Jesus on the cross: “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
The anti-Catholic role is refusal to take Christ’s attitude. Instead some people fester at the Church’s shortcomings and use them to attack Catholics living today who had no hand in them at all. When refuting the Church, they bring up sin after sin using them as ammunition. Nothing can undo the Crusades; every Catholic must apologize for it. Every Catholic must wage a personal war against immoral clergy or else he is just as guilty. This attitude is unfair and damages truthful dialogue.
The Christian apologist, G.K. Chesterton has said: “Any opponent of the Roman Church in history must acknowledge that in addition to producing great infamies, it produced great saints.”
Fairness is seeing good as well as bad. Just like humans, organizations made up of humans are both righteous and wicked. The truth is, Catholic Church leaders have already voiced apology for past wrongdoings. Faithful Catholics in our time have never declared an inquisition or burned a heretic. Like most Christians, they want to live holy lives and spread the Gospel- and gladly would work with fellow-Christians.
Those sitting in judgment of the Catholic Church should remember they themselves will account to God for every word and deed- and pray that God is more forgiving.
Disrespect for Mary, mother of Jesus.
“Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”
– Exodus 20:12
“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” – John 19:26-27
“For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”
– Luke 1:48
Most opponents of Catholicism, especially if Christian, wouldn’t imagine insulting Mary, mother of their Lord, who birthed the God-made-flesh, raised him and even watched him die. However, some particularly ignorant and mean-spirited individuals don’t hesitate to mock or demean her in their quest for invalidating the Catholic Church and what it believes. They consider Mary as just another foolish Catholic devotion to be knocked down.
While its true Christian groups hold varied beliefs about Mary; those pastors who go far as to belittle her role in salvation-history and completely ignore her motherhood commit a grave error. The woman who in Luke’s Gospel said: “Henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” is in fact, seldom blessed by her Son’s followers.
What a pity! What disciple of Christ says: “I don’t like Mary” or “Mary isn’t important.”? How could one dislike the very woman who gave birth to Jesus, loved him, provided for him and watched him become a man?
Sadly, rejecting Catholicism has become synonymous with rejecting Mary. Jesus honored his mother keeping God’s commandment. Instances in Scripture used to “prove” Jesus’s distance towards Mary are gross misinterpretations. At the moment of his death, Christ spoke to her, leaving her in care of the apostle John. Thus, she became mother of Christ’s household forever. Indeed, Mary’s example should lead Christian homes and churches in proclaiming: “My soul magnifies the Lord for he has done wondrous things!”
Neglect of personal holiness, “Pharisee-ism”.
“You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” – Matthew 23:24
“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:5
“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” – James 2:24
How often do preachers against “works-righteousness” target the Catholic Church? They claim Catholicism teaches that men can earn their salvation citing practices such as penance, confession, good deeds and monastic life. Misjudging these beliefs, some pastors write them off or even ridicule them.
Then there’s the group so preoccupied with “Catholic errors” they pay more attention to others’ holiness than their own. Like the Pharisee entering the temple to pray, such people say: “O God , see I’m not like those Catholic idolaters who glorify popes and place men above thee! I tithe; I go door-to-door preaching and study the Scripture every day.” Some churches even take a rather dangerous teaching that “saved” Christians don’t need to worry about sins. Anyone professing guilt or feeling penitent is told they lack faith in Christ’s finished work. They assume when Christ upon the cross said: “It is finished.” Christians were freed from any obligations or duties.
The fact is, Christianity isn’t like that. Jesus himself commanded: “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” Moreso, faith requires obedience. It is a work, an act of trusting God. Christ encouraged people: “do unto the least of my brethren”. Indeed, the Bible rebukes inactive faith and in James’ letter tells us: “Faith without works is dead.”
Based on Scripture, Catholic emphasis on works and mercy is 100-percent correct. But people attacking the Church fail to admit that. They also ignore the real meaning of penance and confessing sins. Most Christian churches do not encourage admissions of sin to each other even when the Bible teaches it. A lot of people feel everything is fine with their souls while admonishing “Catholic guilt”. As these Pharisees praise themselves in the temple, the Catholics sit far behind beating their breasts and saying: “My God have mercy on me a sinner.”
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” – Genesis 1:31
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” – John 14:6-7
Some opponents of the Catholic Church disdain the sacred images and art that adorn Catholic churches, chapels and cathedrals, saying that they encourage idolatry. Indeed, some go far as to claim the very act of making or displaying any image in church is idolatrous. They do this citing a distorted interpretation of the second commandment: “Thou shalt not make any graven images nor bow down to them.” This command forbids the express manufacture and use of images for worship, the making of idols- not pottery, decorations and art.
When God became man in Christ, He showed the world his face. From then on, people would know whom they were worshipping, would know their God had arms, a face, a body and was born from a womb. Moreso, in teaching Jesus’s humanity and life, it became useful and perhaps necessary to incorporate images. In the Middle-Ages and even since New Testament-times, most people were illiterate, unable to read Scripture therefore, drawings and mosaics in early churches served to preach the Gospel in picture-form. Later on, great stained-glass windows, altar-pierces and statues became the Bible of peasants.
Condemning sacred art is rejecting a piece of Christian history and denying mankind’s God-given gift to create art. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians says that all people in the church have various gifts which must be used for God’s glory. Art used for God’s glory is not idolatrous. A thing must be worshipped to be an idol. Catholics don’t worship paintings or sculptures; they see them as ever-present reminders of the Kingdom of God and as thanksgiving to the Supreme Creator.