Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More Facebook

So I spent the evening debating on Facebook. Most of it was on the topic of human sexuality. But I much prefer the discussions about Christianity. Pasted below is one such (hasty) post of dialogue between myself and Kevin (Facebook members can find the entire thread here):

"and how do we know Christ is the last prophet and the Bible is the final authority." -Kevin

Well, ultimately, it isn't something we can prove. Just as, ultimately, Christ being the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity isn't something we can "prove."

But I think the evidence amounts up fairly well. For both cases.

I'll address (briefly) the case you raise. How do we know Christ is the last prophet? Well, this assumes he was sent by God. And if he was sent by God, then what he said was true. And he claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed to *be* God.

And then, he claimed to build a church (singular) which would last until the end of time.

"He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood 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." -Matthew 16:15-19

There is no reference to future prophets, as always present in the Old Testament there is a reference to the coming of the Messiah.

All of the prophets of the Old Testament were but foreshadowing the Prophet of the New. Even John the Baptist, Christ's cousin was preparing the way for the Lord.

So it doesn't seem to follow that there would be yet another prophet *after* Christ (although this is the belief of Mormons with regard to Joseph Smith).

After Christ, came the Church which he established to guide and protect his flock. He tells Peter, "Feed my sheep...Feed my lambs...Feed my sheep." -John chapter 21

Peter died, but passed on the duty of shepherding Christ's flock here on earth to Linus. Who died, and passed it on to Cletus. Who died, and passed it to Clement...down to John Paul II who died and passed it to Benedict XVI.

You can find the full list here:

"hypothetically, any of the "recent" churches could have been created directly by God to supplement his previous teachings. so even if they are radical, we cant say for nsure they are incorrect" -Kevin

But such a claim would fly in the face of Matthew 16:18 (quoted above) where Our Lord himself says, "the gates of hell will not prevail against [my church]."

A church that claims divine origin has to also claim the church Christ founded collapsed (incidentally, this is the belief of the Mormon church).

But it seems to me, that to believe that, you have to believe Our Lord was either a fool (for making promises he could not keep) or a liar (for making promises he could not keep). I reject both conclusions.

"and for some of the older teachings, its possible the've been lost in translation from the past..how do we knoew this is what was originally taught..over 2000 years its pretty safe to say teachings will change" -Kevin

Then everything gets called into question and no one nor anything (including the Bible) is to be trusted.

But history shows that there has been only one church since the time of Christ: the Catholic Church.

Christ founded it, so I'm in. I don't want to be a member of a church founded by any man or woman. I want to be in the one founded by God himself.


BabyGhost said...

But many other Churches believe they are founded by God too.

Tom & Carrie Herring said...

I can only think of one, or maybe two, that claim that.

Which churches are you thinking of?

BabyGhost said...

Well if you are using "Church" in a denomination sense then yeah I guess.

But my Church believes that it is through God will that we have our Church.

So in a sense we believe it was God who founded our church.

Tom & Carrie Herring said...

Oh yeah -- I mean, all churches believe they are following God's will, and are doing so closer to the truth he revealed than other churches.

So, for instance, the Lutherans (and some other Christians) believe we are saved by faith alone (and they cite the various passages in Scripture to support this belief). But other churches teach we cannot just confess, "Lord, Lord" and think that is enough. We must cooperate with the redemption of Christ; and faith, without works is dead. (These Christians also cite the various Scripture passages to support their belief.)

But Lutherans do not believe God started their church. They realize that their church was started by a Catholic priest named Martin Luther (from whom they get their name).

So it is with all Christian churches. We can all point to an origin, beyond which, our particular church did not exist. For almost all of the 30,000+ denominations, that origin comes down to a man or woman: Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, Wesley, White, Smith, etc. etc. Each one started a church (Lutheranism, Calvinism, Methodism, Adventism, Mormonism, etc). And all of these churches began within the last 5 centuries (some less than a hundred years ago).

Now these 30,000 churches believe, of course, that they were inspired by God. But there is only one Church which is so bold as to claim, "Jesus Christ himself founded this church." And there is only one church which can trace its history back to the time of Christ.

That's something of a compelling argument, I think anyway, as to which church is right. Because, sadly, we can't all be right. We teach very different things. And God is not the author of confusion.

He started a church. I don't know how else to slice it but to say, "The church God started while on earth is the Catholic Church."

And if that's true, then that's the church I want to be in.

This is one of the arguments Catholics provide for the Church's validity. What do you think about it?

BabyGhost said...

I think we've had this discussion before, and I think that even a Church that can trace its roots back to the time of Christ can change with time and not be the same church it was way back when.

It is a compelling argument, I agree, but it seems to be one of the most used and most misused arguments I've seen coming from many Catholics.

Couldn't it be argued that God founded the faith of the Jewish people, yet ultimately, the Jewish faith isn't the ultimate faith either? According to Christian teachings.

So couldn't it be argued that even if the Catholic church was the one that was founded during the time of Christ, that it isn't necessarily the one true church either?

Tom & Carrie Herring said...

"I think we've had this discussion before"

Really?? When?

"I think that even a Church that can trace its roots back to the time of Christ can change with time and not be the same church it was way back when."


But if you look at the Catholic Church you will note that it has four primary "marks" or qualities (marks that I believe must be present in whichever Christian church is the true church).

(a) It is one church (with one creed and one set of doctrines).
(b) It is holy (because Christ is holy; *not* because of any measure of the holiness of its members). (c) It is catholic (the word means "universal," and the Church Jesus established was known by its most common title, "the Catholic Church," at least as early as the year 107, when Ignatius of Antioch used that title to describe the one Church Jesus founded).
(d) And it is apostolic (that is the apostles were the first bishops, and, since the first century, there has been an unbroken line of Catholic bishops faithfully handing on what the apostles taught the first Christians in Scripture and oral Tradition (2 Tim. 2:2)).

Early Christian writings prove the first Christians were thoroughly Catholic in belief and practice and looked to the successors of the apostles as their leaders. What these first Christians believed is still believed by the Catholic Church. No other Church can make that claim.

Now, man’s ingenuity cannot account for this. The Church has remained one, holy, catholic, and apostolic—not through man’s effort, but because God preserves the Church he established (Matt. 16:18, 28:20).

In this age of countless competing religions, each clamoring for attention, one voice rises above the din: the Catholic Church, which the Bible calls "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).

Jesus assured the apostles and their successors, the popes and the bishops, "He who listens to you listens to me, and he who rejects you rejects me" (Luke 10:16). Jesus promised to guide his Church into all truth (John 16:12–13). We can have confidence that his Church teaches only the truth -- and has not strayed from that truth, as you rightfully wonder aloud.

If the Church strayed from Christ's truth, then passages like Luke 10:16, and John 16:13 make no sense.

"Couldn't it be argued that God founded the faith of the Jewish people, yet ultimately, the Jewish faith isn't the ultimate faith either?"

Yes. But it is not that Judaism is wrong, so much as it is incomplete. Christ brought salvation history (which began with Abraham and the Jewish people) to completion.

"So couldn't it be argued that even if the Catholic church was the one that was founded during the time of Christ, that it isn't necessarily the one true church either?"

I don't think so. I don't think the analogy of

Judaism:the Catholic Church :: Catholic Church:Protestantism

works because of the finality and authority Our Lord confers to his church (Mt 16:18, Lk 10:16, Mt 18:18, Mt 28:18), as well as his promise to never leave us "orphans," but to remain with his Church until the end of time. (Jn 14:18, Mt 28:20)

(Sorry for the long post. You ask deep questions! :))

BabyGhost said...

But didn't God also promise he would never leave the Jews for all time too?

But in doctrine, Catholic and many Protestant churches aren't much different.

I wonder though, the idea that Protestantism is weak because it isn't united, does it have to be? Can't we see each individual church as one united church also?