EDITOR NOTE: The inspiration for this post came, oddly enough, from the misfortune of an elderly Canadian farmer who this week found himself up-side-down in a combine for 24 hours before help arrived. It appears (thankfully) he’ll survive, but the story reminded me of the overturning of life, both positive and negative, I found within my own week–mostly on the subject of our holy religion:
–After over 500 years of Protestant rule in England, Pope Benedict XVI humbly walked into Westminster Abbey and proclaimed–not once, but twice–himself the Successor of Peter and the one responsible for Christian unity (to applause…).
–On the other side of the pond, apostate Catholics busied themselves in Minneapolis as they organize meetings in an attempt to separate the Catholic Church in America from her spiritual ties with Rome. Good luck with that one…
–On the domestic front, I and a young fellow worker are initiating a conversation on many subjects concerning politics and religion. Coming from bible alone background my highly intelligent new friend recognizes, as I myself do, our theological differences. But, for me, it’s simply refreshing to talk with youth about such matters. Many youth today could care less about discussing matters concerning the primordial meaning of their lives: to come to know, love, and serve God in this life and be with him forever in the next.
–And then, there was the confused comments I found on the blog this week about the relevancy today of Gnostic women priests from the past…(?)
All in all, these subjects each boil down to questions regarding truth. And specifically, the truth about the Church Jesus founded.
Timely then, was this weekly e-mail update post I received this morning from the most worthy convert blog, Bread From Heaven. The post reproduced here from BFH is entitled:
Which Church Did Jesus Start?
What follows is a transcript of Patrick Madrid’s CD: Why I Am Catholic When I Could Be Anything Else
Jesus founded a Church.
Mt 16:17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Let us do a thought experiment and suspend judgment about which Church is the church that Jesus founded.
Mt 5:1“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.14″You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16″Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
The Church that Jesus is establishing is VISIBLE so that the Father will be glorified. Now this passage is not necessarily about the Church but why would Jesus give us a advice that he Himself would not take? Why would he tell us to be visible and yet build a Church and leave us all questioning which Church it was? Does that make any sense?
Now why would Jesus go to the trouble of establishing a Church and then make it so obscure and difficult to find that no one could know if they were in the True Church or not? Does that make any sense?
Jesus said, “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket”
So why would he allow His Church be so difficult to find among thousands of competing beliefs that it is equivalent to lighting a lamp and putting it under a basket?
Mt 16:17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
We see here that Jesus declared His plan to build His Church. Whichever Church this is, that He is establishing, it is His Church. He started this Church. No other human being would be able to claim to have started this church.This also is a church that is being built by Christ. Although the members of this church are human the builder and perfecter of this church is Christ Himself.
Mt 28:18 “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
First Jesus declares, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore..”
Go ….Why?Whenever you see the word “therefore” you have to find out what it is there for? And the rule of thumb is that the answer can be found in something previous to it. And there we find Jesus saying
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
So because of the authority given to Jesus He is sending the apostles out into the world with a certain authority. Some may argue that that is stretching it. Jesus isn’t exactly saying that there. I believe He is but we can bolster that with passages such as Luke 10:16:
And Jesus said, “”The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”
Mt 16:19“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
And also to the Apostles:
Mt18:18“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
So there are a number of places where it is clear that the disciples were being sent forth with the authority of Christ. And they are being sent forth to the whole world. Not to just one country or town. Not to just this race or that, or a certain era in time, but to everyone, in the whole world, for all time, until the end of time. Jesus’ Church is a universal Church. This is not a church that convinces people to say the sinner’s prayer and then moves on. This church makes disciples…..of all nations. This is just another way of saying, “Make Converts”. When you convert someone you bring them in to the Church. And the doorway into the Church is the doorway of baptism, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Mt 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Next we see that this is a teaching Church.
“…teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.”
So, Jesus gave commandments for the apostles to teach. They were not just suggestions. These are teachings Jesus commanded the disciples to pass on. So, when this church, whichever this church may be, goes forth and teaches; what she is doing is not saying, “This is what we think should be taught.” But rather, this is what Jesus Himself taught us. And we are simply passing that on to you.
And then Jesus says, Behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Think about what that means. What must it mean?
Jesus Christ was neither a liar nor a fool. So since He was not deceiving us when He said those words, nor was He mistaken, we can rely on what He said about being with this Church that He was going to establish. That must mean that never could there have been a time nor will there ever be a time when this Church stopped or fell away or was ever vanquished by anything, because Jesus was going to be with it to protect it.
So, now lets get into the heart of the thought experiment. Let’s consider where we are today. The Catholic Church is one Church among many other churches that claim to be the true church. It is visible. People can see Catholic Churches in their town. There are Catholic schools and universities, there is St. Peter’s in Rome, etc.these all make the Catholic Church visible.
But we are not just talking about buildings. The priest, bishops, and pope are all visible. The lay people may not be prominently visible but if you are friends with a Catholic their catholicity becomes visible, sooner or later, either by seeing a crucifix around their neck, a rosary on their car mirror, pictures or statues in their home, praying with the sign of the cross, etc.
And the Catholic Church is visible in a particular way in its teachings. If you go into a town and ask for the Church where they confess their sins to a priest, and they pray for the dead, baptize babies, believe in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, teach that the mass is a sacrifice, begin and end prayers with the sign of the cross. What church are they going to send you to? No one is going to send you to the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church or any church other than the Catholic Church.
It is also visible because it has distinctive Catholic teachings. You might even say peculiar Catholic teachings that are unique to the Catholic Church. But there are other churches out there and some do and believe in one or two of the distinctive Catholic teachings.
So, let’s continue with our thought experiment. Let’s roll the clock back 50 years. The Catholic church is there but there are no Calvary Chapels. Chuck Smith was alive and probably still Catholic. But he hadn’t yet founded the first Calvary Chapel. It was founded in 1965.
Let’s go back 200 years to the year 1810. The Catholic Church is there. The pope, the bishops, the teachings, you’ll see all those outward signs of the presence of the Catholic Church we mentioned above. But there is something you will not find, no matter how hard you look, in the year 1810. You will not find the Mormon Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It did not exist. It had not been founded yet by the man who would establish it, Joseph Smith. There also were no Jehovah’s Witnesses in the year 1810. Charles Taze Russell, the man who would start that religion had not been born yet. There were no Seventh Day Adventists, because Ellen Gould White had not started that religion yet. There were no Christian Scientists because Mary Baker Eddy would not found that church for another nearly 70 years, in 1879.
But now let’s go further. Let’s go to the year 1510. Again, the Catholic Church was visible alright, a lot like today. It was a very messy time. There were priest scandals, the lay people were not well catechized in the faith, tumult and tension in the Catholic Church. But you can see it in 1510, the pope, the bishops, saints and sinners and everyone in between. But there is something you can’t see in the year 1510. Protestantism. It just did not exist. Luther would not pound his 95 Theses on the door of the church for another seven years. Calvin, Zwingli and many others had not yet begun to break away from the Catholic Church or the Lutheran Church. Think about that. In the year 1509 Protestantism did not exist anywhere in the whole wide world of Christiandom. No Presbyterians. No Baptists. No Methodists. No Lutherans, etc.
And if you keep going back in time you will find that the Catholic Church has always been in existence since the time of Jesus’ resurrection. The Pope, the bishops, the teachings, etc. You find popes making decisions and bishops from across the world sending to Rome or traveling there themselves to get a decision from the Bishop of Rome. Who does not want to belong and trust the Church that Jesus Christ founded. Why would anyone prefer a Church started by a man?
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