Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Does Catholic Doctrine Contradict the Bible? (Pt 2)

This is the second part to our rebuttal to's introductory treatment of Catholicism. If you're just beginning, make sure you head back and read through Part 1, then head on to read Part 3 and Part 4. Thus far, we've covered calling priests "father", praying the Rosary, and the Catholic Church's veneration of Mary. In this part we will cover Communion under both Species, Saints, the Priesthood, Priestly Celibacy, and whether Peter was married.

Once again, whenever I quote Steve Rudd's words from the original page (linked to in the title), they will appear in blue.

4. Every Christian drinks of the communion cup

Steve Rudd continues his overview of the "false doctrines" of Catholicism by criticising the practice in the Church of celebrating the Eucharist under only one species. He claims as his "Fact" that while Catholics are allowed to eat of the Body of Christ, they are "not allowed" to drink what he refers to as the "juice" that is Christ's blood, saying that it is "reserved for church leaders only."

[Edit: As with Part 1, I'll be inserting notes responding to where author Steve Rudd has altered his initial article to adapt it to my response. He does so regarding Communion under both Species, so that it now says,

FACT: Although Roman Catholics are permitted to eat the bread (body) of the Lord’s Supper, they are generally not allowed to drink the wine (blood) of the Lord’s Supper, as any Catholic knows from his own experience from attending Mass. (Except on rare special occasions.) The laity (the people in the pews) are withheld the cup of the Lord and it is usually reserved for church leaders only. Yes there are denominations within the Roman Catholic "communion" where some RC sects actually offer the juice, but most Mass attending Catholics know they rarely drink the cup of wine.
While it doesn't change my point, it does actually undercut his own. That he realises this is evident in the fact that he calls the parishes that offer the Cup to the Congregation during Communion "denominations" or "sects" within Catholicism. This is wishful thinking at best on Rudd's part. Catholicism doesn't have "denominiations" and condemns sectarianism. While there are "sects" of Christians who call themselves Catholic, to be of such a sect is to be outside of the Catholic Church pretty much by definition. Parishes that offer the Cup are just as Catholic as those that don't. And as I point out below, the Catechism itself endorses communing under both species. Notably, his above edits also demonstrate once more how disingenuous he is in his arguments against the Catholic Church.]

This [that being Rudd's initial assertion that no Catholic layman is allowed to receive from the Cup] is not entirely accurate. Many Catholic Churches, such as my own parish, do in fact offer both the Bread and the Wine (not juice) during Communion. Many others do so on special feast days only, for various practical reasons. While the Church teaches that Jesus is fully present in one or the other species, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does endorse receiving from both species (#1390).

Rudd goes on to claim as an historical note that two early popes allegedly condemned withholding the cup, but that the practice nevertheless began in the twelfth century, and was finally and formally approved by the Council of Constance in AD 1415. He then continues on with his "Question", whether Christ and Paul commanded that every Christian should drink of the communion cup. For his answer, he refers us to Matthew 26:26-28 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-28:
"While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body.' And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.'"

"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup."
I reply, Jesus is present in the concecrated elements, in His entirety, that is, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The Bread does not become only His Body, nor the Wine only His Blood, but just as Christ is alive and dies no more, so He is indivisibly whole in each Eucharistic element. After all, a body without blood is dead, and blood without a body is also devoid of life.

While Steve Rudd is correct in saying that in the first 12 centuries, Communion under both species was typically observed, this was not done because they believed that Jesus was only completely present in the reception of both species, or that He was divided between the Bread and Wine. On the contrary, they referred to this notion derogatorily as "Sarcofy" (flesh eating), and held rather to the belief of the Totality of Christ's presence. In fact, even in these early centuries there were times and reasons to Communicate under only one species, such as taking Communion to the sick.

For a more extensive treatment of the subject, I would recommend the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Communion Under Both Kinds, as well as The Totality of the Real Presence.

In sum, however, since the Catholic Church does not forbid the reception of Wine, but for various pastoral reasons accepts as valid Communion in One Kind, Steve Rudd has no real case for complaint. The Catholic Church does not contradict the Bible on this issue. [Edit: One might ask Mr. Rudd why it is that they don't use wine at all in his communion service, since that's what Jesus Himself prescribed, but rather they use grape juice instead.]

5. All Christians are saints

Mr. Rudd declares, with absolutely no regard for how a term can be used a different way in a different context, the "Fact" that the Church uses the title "Saint" specifically for those who have died in friendship with Christ--or, in his characteristically simplistic way, "The Pope says only very special dead Catholic people qualify to be called 'saints'. He uses the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pointing out that, while she was alive, Pope John Paul was unable to canonise her. Rudd thus concludes that normal Catholics in the pew are never referred to as "saints".

This dubious point leads to Rudd's four questions--all basically the same, the first of which revolved around whether every living Christian in the church in Corinth called a saint. For his answer, Steve Rudd directs us to 1 Corinthians 1:2:
"To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours."
My answer to his question is, of course, YES, but rather than giving an extensive reply after each question, I'll conclude at the end.

His next absurd question is whether Paul wrote the book of Ephesians to dead saints, and then referring us to Ephesians 1:1:
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus."
With a sigh, I supply the obvious and inane answer of NO, and withhold further comment until this list of specious questioning has ended.

In the same manner, Rudd continues, asking whether the average Christian in the church at Philippi called a saint, in distinction to bishops and deacons. In "answer", Rudd quotes Philippians 1:1:
"Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons."
Wait, hmm, NO, actually. The lay people together with the bishops and deacons were called saints. In fact, that Paul singles out Bishops and Deacons in this passage seems to me to demonstrate their specific role and ordination in the early church--titles with more weight than's denomination seems to give them.

The final question in Rudd's line of reasoning asks whether every Christian living in Rome was called to be a saint, and refers us to Romans 1:7:
"to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Ironically, Rudd gaffed on that last one. We are indeed called to be saints. Future tense, if you weren't paying attention! (Note, the word "as" does not exist in the original Greek of Romans 1:7, so translations variously put "as" or "to be" in between "called" and "saints".)

What Rudd fails to understand is that the Catholic Church uses the term "Saint" in reference to those who died in God's friendship, in a different (fuller) sense than it is used in the Bible. Conversely, the Church does not deny that we are all saints, in a manner of speaking, who have begun to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

A Saint, literally, is a "holy one." Because at our baptism we were cleansed from our sins, and reborn into the image of Christ, we are saints! However, because we are still fallen, sinful human beings, we are not yet completely holy. Therefore, the term "saint" or "holy one" can only apply to us in a limited sense.

For those who have died in Christ, once they have entered the Presence of God, having been completely sanctified (made holy), they truly are Saints in the complete and literal sense of the term: Holy People! Because there is no sin, nor occasion for sin, in Heaven, it is only those people in Heaven who are completely holy and free from sin. Therefore, in that sense, only those who have died and arrived in Heaven are "Saints".

Absolutely, all of us who are yet alive are called to be saints--to live a holy life and continue the process of sanctification. But even St. Paul himself claimed that he had not yet arrived or attained that calling while he was yet alive (Philippians 3:12-14).

Again, I fail to see where Steve Rudd's complaint is with the Catholic Church's use of the term Saint. The point is that early on, the Church wanted to honour those it knew had died in God's friendship, and whom it knew were now in Heaven. They wanted a term for such people, and, perhaps, "Heaven-dwellers" was simply too much of a mouthful. So, after, I'm sure, careful reflection, they used the term "Saint" to refer to these people, and in so doing, altered its meaning slightly from it's former use. There is nothing strange about this. Think of the Trinity, a word used to describe the Oneness of God's being, and threeness of God's Persons. Originally, though, "trinity" simply meant any group of three things. What a word typically means, and what it means when applied to a specific situation, can often be two different things.

If Rudd and his followers have a problem with the Church's beliefs about the Saints, or the process by which a person is declared a Saint, then let them argue that. If, however, their objection is simply to the use of the term, "Saint", then this really does not fall into an issue of Catholic doctrine contradicting the Bible, so much as Catholic word-choice contradicting Steve Rudd's sensibilities.

6. All Christians are priests

Steve Rudd claims that it is a "Fact" that the Pope decided to reserve the title of priest for church leaders only, and claims that the average layperson is forbidden from calling him- or herself a priest.

He asks whether or not Jesus made all Christians to be priests, including the average member in the pew, and attempts to supply us with the answer from 1 Peter 2:5,9; Revelation 1:6; and 5:10:
"You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."

"Jesus has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen."

"You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."
I wonder if Steve Rudd has ever been to Mass? If he hasn't, I'm sure that he would be surprised to know that 1 Peter 2:9 is quoted (pertaining to the whole congregation) during the liturgy. Further, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us of the universal priesthood of the Church. We are not forbidden to be referred to as priests--but it is understood that we are part of the Universal Priesthood, rather than one who has received Holy Orders.

Rudd fails to note in his citation of the above Scriptures, that the New Testament teaching of the Universal Priesthood is taken from the Old Testament. In Exodus 19:6, God says to Moses, "'"For you are to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." Those are the words you are to say to the Israelites.'" Sound familiar?

So the Nation of Israel was to be a kingdom of priests. Each Israelite was a priest to God. And yet, there was a High Priest, as well as an entire Tribe consecrated to the Priesthood, of which the regular Israelite was not a part. Yet, they were all called to the priesthood. As such, we see three levels of priestly ministry in the Old Testament: The High Priest, who was responsible for mediating between God and the Israelite people; the Priests, who served in the Temple offering sacrifices and teaching the people; and the People themselves. What was their priesthood? To show the light of God to the nations, to mediate between the world and God, and bring the world to Him.

Thus, this idea carries into the New Testament. Jesus is our High Priest, who mediates between us and God. Then there is the ordained priesthood, in partnership with His High Priesthood, to proclaim God's word to us and who serve the Church, primarily by offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Then there's each and every one of us. And our role is the same as the Israelites'--to mediate between the world and God, and to bring the world to God.

So YES, Jesus made us all to be priests--but not to the same degree or the same purpose as the Ordained Priesthood. Sorry, Steve, your reading of Scripture is again incomplete on this point.

7. Bishops must be Married.

While Steve Rudd technically has his "Fact" right about Priestly Celibacy, that in AD 1079 celibacy was first made a requirement for priests and bishops by Pope Gregory VII, and that before this time, they had been permitted to marry, it is also a "Fact" that, technically, priestly celibacy is a "discipline" of the Church, not a "doctrine." It could be changed at any time, though that's unlikely. It is not a required belief of the faith that priests must be celibate! As such, whatever Steve Rudd has to say about this particular subject is irrelevant to his Overview of how Catholic faith contradicts the Bible.

Mr. Rudd then asks the question of whether the Bible teaches that a bishop must be married as well as have children as one of the qualifications of being a bishop. In answer, Steve takes us to 1 Timothy 3:2-5, which is a good place to look, since it specifically discusses the obligations of a bishop:
"A bishop, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)"
So, does the text above really say that a Bishop must have a wife and children? NO. It really doesn't. It gives rules for the Bishop provided he has a wife and kids, but many Bishops in the early Church had neither--such as the Apostle John (Bishop of Ephesus) who seems neither to have had wife nor children.

Further, since in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul encourages people to "remain as he is", that is, celibate, because they are more free to serve the Lord, we cannot therefore take his words in 1 Timothy as saying that a Bishop must be married. Rather, we should understand "the husband of one wife" to exclude men from the Episcopate who have divorced and remarried, or who practice polygamy.

Rudd's next question is whether the Bible, in the next chapter of Timothy, says that forbidding to marry is a doctrine of demons. In answer, he shows us 1 Timothy 4:1-3:
"But the Holy Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth."
YES, in fact, this passage does say that forbidding to marry is a doctrine of demons. However, since both Paul and Jesus laud the virtues of a life devoted to celibacy, those who refuse to marry are not therefore following doctrines of demons. Further, the passage here applies to all marriage in general, and not to the issue of Clerical Celibacy. Besides, no one in the Catholic Church is forced to be celibate against their will. There is a very elaborate discernment process when one looks into becoming a priest, and all the while, it is their choice to do so or not to.

Besides, it's an odd thing to accuse the Church of doing, forbidding marriage, when Catholics are the most vocal advocates of traditional marriage and its sanctity.

8. Peter was married

Steve Rudd dubiously claims that it is a "Fact" that many Catholics apparently believe that Peter was the first Pope (which we do) and that he was not married (which I personally have never heard anyone so idiotic as to claim). Rudd then quotes an unnamed "Roman Catholic leader" as saying, "if Peter had a wife when he first met Jesus, he got rid of her quick!" Personally, I'd like to know what "leader" said that! It is not a fact that "most" Catholics believe Peter was not married. Those who do are simply misinformed.

Rudd plainly asks us, "Did Peter have a wife?" and then directs us to Mark 1:30 for the answer.
"Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her."
Since clerical celibacy was not made a discipline of the Catholic clergy until the Middle Ages (as Mr. Rudd himself states above), the question of the first Pope's married life is rather irrelevant.

And yet, Rudd presses on, with question number 2, asking whether Paul said all the apostles including Peter had a right to be married, and taking us to 1 Corinthians 9:5 for his answer:
"Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?"
Again, YES, he does. This whole argument is absurd and a big non-sequitur since Peter's married life is not a question of Catholic doctrine, and therefore cannot contradict the Bible. So really, Steve, what's your point?

(As a side note, I wonder whether Steve Rudd's denomination actually has an office of "Bishop"? According to the Who We Are section of their webpage, which states that their churches have "no man or group of men, who legislate for the church," they sure don't seem to. So much for being the same church as the Bible, as they claim...

Why do they spend so much time criticising the Catholic Church for allegedly contradicting the Bible's teaching on Church leadership, when they don't even have that same Church leadership that is described in the Bible? Though I'm sure they justify it somehow... A paper for a later time, perhaps.)


(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations.
Catholic Distinctives: Sacraments--The Eucharist and Holy Orders.
Catholic Distinctives: The Communion of Saints.)


Anonymous said...

I agree with Steve Rudd totally, and I was born into the Catholic Church and ministered in it for 20+ years. Only the Bible is the Authority, and only Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the sinless spotless Atonement of our sins, and the only mediator between God and Man is to be exalted and glorified!! May God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be exalted and glorified!! Amen.

Gregory said...

Dear Anonymous,

thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you come back.

I'm wondering, though, if you come back, whether you'd consider leaving a name, and an argument.

After all, I too believe that only Jesus is the sinless, spotless atonement for our sins, and the only mediator between God and Man, and only He (with the Father and the Holy Spirit) are to be exalted and glorified. So I'm not sure where your contention is with me, or the Catholic Church, on that point.

As for the Bible being the only authority, where does the Bible itself teach that? Where do the early Christian writers make that statement? Where does anyone make that claim in the first 1500 years of Church history? In other words, what is your authority to claim that the Bible is the sole authority? Because, let me assure you, the Bible itself never makes any such claim. Therefore, to believe that the Bible is the sole authority is to believe that on an authority outside of the Bible. Hmm...

Anyway, I hope you come back. I'd love to enjoy discussing this with someone who "ministered in [the Catholic Church] for 20+ years."

God bless

Anonymous said...

I left Rudd's sect (the Protestant Church of Christ) for the Catholic Church of Christ.

Gregory, I think you'll be glad to know I've tackled Rudd pretty well here:


Gregory said...

Wow Pat! That's awesome! Welcome home :D I look forward to reading your article!