Response to a Fundamentalist
heard of a situation where a
young woman was threatened by her Fundamentalist boy friend, that if she did
not forsake her Catholicism, it was over. She apparently gave in, I suppose
partly from listening to her emotions, which you cannot always do. She
apparently wished to stay with her Catholic faith, but she was being
pressured to change and leave it.
Nobody owns another person's soul! But it appears, in a way, the
young man now possesses hers. It has to hurt her family. Had I a daughter
who left the faith, it would wound me, as it is a serious matter,
not one of unconcern because it could affect her eternal soul.
In ignorance of truth,
he needs a better grasp of history.
He ought examine the evidence
and unveil the truth.
A person can be sincere, but be sincerely wrong. For example,
persons with color blindness can subjectively say they see a certain color,
be sincere, but be objectively wrong. In religion people can be sincerely
wrong. Persons can see things wrong, be blinded by believing what others say
in error, or not seeing things correctly all by themselves.
He belongs to a Fundamentalist Bible Church, so let's consult the
Bible. In Matthew's Gospel, there are a couple quotes that are almost like
bookends embracing what to believe. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, "I say to
thee thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the
gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of
the kingdom of heaven..." At the end of his Gospel, Jesus says, "Go,
therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe
all that I have commanded you; and behold I am with you all days, even unto
the consummation of the world."
This seems pretty straightforward:
Jesus is founding a church
upon Peter, He
says evil won't undo it, He
gives Peter keys of authority, and, in
the teaching the observance of His commands, He says He'll stay with them
till the end of the world. The above
quotations are from Christ's own lips. In my wife's native
country ― it was formerly the crown colony of British
Honduras ― they had a different way of referring to quotation
marks. They called quotation marks "lip marks," more
descriptive than our own term. Considering these quotes are coming from Christ's
lips, then why are some unbelieving and diverging from what He's
established? The punctuation mark we call a period, British
Hondurans called a "full stop." Christians who follow Christ should come to a full stop here and
consider what Christ is saying.
Delving Deeper into Bible History
But let's delve deeper into this matter. The Bible wasn't always
there. Jesus commissioned his Apostles to teach, so the Catholic church was
a going concern years before a word of St. Matthew's Gospel was written in
42 A.D. and 55 years before St. John's was written in 97 A.D. The Council
of Hippo in 393 fixed the Canon of the New Testament and the
Council of Carthage in 397 confirmed the Canon, which
books comprise it..
The Right Rev. Henry G. Graham (footnote 1) in his book, Where
We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church, says that before this
collection of books was settled by the Carthaginian Council, there were
three classes of books out there for the Catholic church to sift through,
which we know from early Christian writers like Jerome.
Class 1 consisted of books
acknowledged as Canonical and written by Apostolic persons. It included the
four Gospels, 13 of the Epistles of Paul, and the Acts of the Apostles.
In Class 2 were
books that were disputed, acknowledged in one place and rejected in another.
These included the Apocalypse of St. John, the Epistles of St. James, St.
Jude, the 2nd of Peter, 2nd and 3rd of John, and the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Graham wrote that
some of the books in this category that we recognize as
the inspired Word of God, were once "viewed with suspicion, doubted,
disputed, as not possessing the same authority as the others."
Also in this class of books, Graham said
"some were to be found which are not now in our New Testament at all, but
which were by many then considered to be inspired and Apostolic, or were
actually read at public worship of the Christians, or were used for
instructions to the newly-converted..."
Among these were the Shepherd of
Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabus, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, St.
Paul's Epistle to the Laodicians, the Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles,
Apostolic Constitutions, the Epistle of St. Clement and others.
In Class 3 were
books "floating around before 397 A.D.," and not seen as
"having Apostolic authority..." Even described as
"spurious and false." These included about 50 Gospels (like that of James
and Thomas), about 22 Acts (of Pilate, of Paul and Thecla, and others) and
"a smaller number of Epistles and Apocalypses" which were condemned and
The Church didn't just slap
things together but exercised care, even as you see by evaluating works
attributed to Sts. Peter and Paul
That was the New Testament. Regarding the Old, in the early days
of the Church I've seen it stated that there were two versions of the Old
Testament used by the Jewish people: the version in Hebrew used in
Palestine, which lacked seven books (Judith, Tobias, Baruch, Sirach, Wisdom
and 1 & 2 Machabees, and portions of others), and the version in Greek, used
by Greek-speaking Jews outside of Palestine, containing these seven books.
This latter version, was called the Septuagint (Latin, septem
is seven and septuaginta is seventy) and was translated about 150
years B.C. An ancient tradition holds that it was done by 72 Palestinian
Jews in 70 or 72 days. This tradition indicates that in that time, these
seven books were regarded as Biblical in Palestine.
St. Jerome, who died in 420 A.D., translated the Bible into
Latin, and used the Septuagint. His translation was accepted by the
Church as the official Latin translation of the Bible. Long centuries
afterwards, in the 16th Century, the Protestant reformers translated the
Bible into German. Their Old Testament was from the Hebrew not the Greek
version. So the Protestant version, like the Hebrew one, lacked the seven
books contained in the Greek and Catholic Old Testament.
A Little Summary
The Reformers may have felt the Hebrew
was closer to the
original, but keep in mind, it was Palestinian Jews who translated the
Septuagint Old Testament. Should a person not want to accept a
Catholic source, then consider what a former Protestant minister, Paul
Whitcomb had to say in The Bible Made a Catholic Out of Me. He
said that the Septuagint "was the version most popular with the
Apostles. Proof of this is seen in the fact that of 350 quotations of
the Old Testament found in the New Testament 300 were taken from the
Septuagint." That's a little better than an 85%. The Apostles certainly
didn't shy away from the Greek version. To argue against the
Septuagint, would be to argue strongly against the Apostles.
From The Faith of Millions:
The Credentials of the Catholic Religion by Rev. John A. O'Brien,
1. The Catholic Church pre-existed the Bible.
2. The New Testament was written entirely by Catholics.
3. St. Peter, the first Pope, authored two epistles.
4. The Catholic Church determined the canon or list that constitutes the
5. The Declaration of the Catholic Church that the books of the New
Testament are inpired by God constitutes the sole authority for the
belief by Catholics and Protestants of their inspired character.
6. The Catholic Church preserved the Bible, protected it from
Barbarians, and copied it in her monasteries before printing was
Without the Catholic Church would there even be a Bible? The
Bible was not written all at once, as a single volume. It was a collection
of writings done
over a period of time,
that were put together
by the Catholic
Both Scripture and Tradition
Fundamentalists believe the Bible is the only rule of faith,
following the concept
sola Scriptura, scripture alone. They believe
everything for salvation is in the Bible. Catholics believe in both
Scripture and Tradition.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:15 it says, "So then, brethren, stand
firm, and hold the teachings that you have learned, whether by word or by
letter of ours."
Fundamentalists say Jesus condemned Tradition.
He condemned that which voided God's word.
The Gospels are,
in fact, oral
Tradition written down. Indeed, the Canon of the New Testament is a
Catholic Tradition that Protestants follow. The list of books did not arise
from the words of Scripture. There is no Scriptural "table of contents" in
the Bible. If they don't want to accept this Tradition, then what are they
scriptura non sufficiat
(scripture alone doesn't suffice).
If Fundamentalists hold that they are obligated to observe
Sunday, then where in the Bible does it say this? It doesn't; its says in
Exodus 20:8, "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day." The Sabbath is
Saturday (In Spanish Saturday is Sabado). It was the Apostolic Church
that changed the day to Sunday, on the authority it received from Christ, to
honor the day Christ rose from the tomb and to signify that they follow the
New Law of Christ, not the Old Law. Sunday observance is Tradition.
Something else to consider: at the end of St. John's Gospel, he
says, "there are also many things that Jesus did which are not written in
What About Some Guidance?
St. Peter said that there are in the epistles of Paul "certain
things, hard to understand which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they
do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." (3:16) Elsewhere he
says in 1:20, "no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation."
Then see what Martin Luther said. At first Luther said the Bible could be
interpreted by everyone "even by a humble miller's maid, nay by a child of
nine." However, by 1525 he deplored the anarchy which his private
interpretation had given rise.
I might add, how many of us could even read the languages in
which the Biblical books were written. I seems to me we
need to rely on those who have a knowledge of the languages.
Most Fundamentalists claim the
Holy Spirit guides them in interpreting a text, but with the devil seeking
whom he may devour, common sense should tell one there is also an unholy
spirit who'd love to misguide them. So a yellow light of caution here.
If a person wants to know the meaning of something, you follow
intent and meaning of the words the writer used. In Scripture, certain words
understood one way today, meant something else as used anciently. We need a
guide that has a knowledge of the old languages. The Catholic church goes
back to those times, and it has grown with the Scripture and it original
In Acts 8:26-40 it tells of an Ethiopian in carriage on a
desert road. An angel sends Philip to the road this royal minister was
traveling, and the Spirit tells him, "Go near and keep close to his
carriage." Philip hears him reading from the prophet Isaias, and asks
him, "Dost thou understand what thou art reading"? The Ethiopian said, "Why,
how can I, unless someone shows me." He asked Philip to get up and sit with
him. Beginning the passage "He was led like a sheep to slaughter...", Philip
"preached Jesus to him." Passing by some water the Ethiopian asked to be
baptized, and when they came up from the water, the Spirit took Philip away.
Like the Ethiopian, we should be humble enough to be shown the meaning of
words we're not familiar with or that are unclear.
A Few Misunderstood Words
The Bible says Jesus had brethren, but these were not
siblings of Jesus. To understand this, one should know that the Bible needs
to be interpreted according to the meaning the words had when it was
written. The term brother, or its plural brethren, had a wide meaning in
Biblical times and was not limited to brothers of the same parents. Brother
could be used for cousin, a kinsman, friend or even an ally. Jesus spoke
Aramaic, and neither that language nor Hebrew, had a special term
for cousin. Those who spoke these languages, used "brother" for a cousin, or
used a circumlocution, like "the son of the sister of my father," a
roundabout way of speaking.
The writers of the New Testament used the Aramaic equivalent of
brethren, for both cousins and sons of the same parents. When Scripture was
translated into the Greek, the writer followed the same pattern, favoring
the use of adelphos (which usually had a narrower meaning like
brother does in English) instead of anepsios which means cousin in
Greek. You can see in this, their effort to be faithful to the original
usage, even though it is not as precise.
There is a misunderstanding about the way the Jews used the term
first-born. The Biblical term for the first produce of a harvest is
"first fruits," and the Israelites were required to offer the first fruits
of grain, wine, etc. to God. The first born of humankind and beast
belonged to God. The animals born first were slain sacrificially but God
didn't require the sacrifice of children. They were redeemed or bought back
from His possession by the offering of a lamb as a substitute. The story of
Isaac and Jacob reflects this. This practice was still in force during the
time of Christ. The first born for the ancient Jews was the child opening
the womb, sanctified under Mosaic law. The first male child of a marriage
was the first born, even if he were an only child.
Another consideration is this: if
Jesus had brothers, other siblings, then why did John the son of Zebedee
take Mary into his home when Jesus died? Why not His "brothers"? He had
none. Mary was not his biological mother, but Jesus looked out for his
mother as an only Son, then suffering and dying for all mankind. He assigned
the role to John. This fact alone argues against the brethren
Interestingly, there was a funerary inscription found in Egypt,
which referred to "a woman who died during the birth of her 'first born.' "
It's obvious, she didn't
bear any more sons.
The word until is to be understood by what it meant at the
time, not by what it suggests today. It does not mean that up to a point it
was one way, and after that, it was another way. It does not imply Mary was
no longer a virgin after the birth of Jesus. The teaching of the Catholic
church is that Mary was a virgin, before, during and after the birth of
For someone having trouble believing
Mary was always a virgin, think of how this lends credibility to her
being such a special person. Consider that the virginal conception of Christ was extraordinary: it didn't happen in the
usual way but in a miraculous way. Consider as well,
that after His Resurrection, Jesus passed through an locked
door, or possibly a wall, to where His disciples were gathered. This affords
support for what is quite plausible: that Jesus passed through the wall of
Mary's body to be born.
Light passes through a window without breaking the
glass, leaving it intact. The light can produce warmth and illumination
following its passage. You might, in a meditative way, imagine the Light of
Christ passing into this world, as if through a beautiful Nativity window,
to produce the warmth of His love and the illumination of His Wisdom.
Fundamentalists believe Mary was a virgin until after she gave
birth, but do they realize there is something beautiful that redounds to God's glory, about the
perpetual virginity of Mary, that her womb was always and only dedicated
to Him, and was
never in contact with the taint original sin. With her perpetual
virginity and immaculateness, the devil could never cackle in hell,
and throw it up to Christ, "Ha, ha, your own mother was once tainted with
the sin that I instigated, to which Adam and Eve succumbed." Never was she
under the shadow of this or any other sin, even beyond Christ's birth.
Rather she was always radiant with the light of grace.
Her womb was a special dwelling place for His unborn self, and
Him alone. Her womb was, in fact, the first tabernacle where Christ of the
Eucharist is kept today. The tabernacle today is reserved for Jesus alone,
and her womb was reserved for Jesus alone.
To insist that Mary had other children after Jesus is to take
away from Him.
More about Misunderstanding Mary
Karl Keating in
Catholicism and Fundamentalism - The Attack of "Romanism" by "Bible
Christians," says for the Fundamentalist the Marian doctrines are "among
the most annoying of the doctrines people identify as peculiarly Catholic."
He says they disapprove of talk about Mary as the Mother of God. They
disbelieve in her Immaculate Conception, in her Assumption into heaven and
that she was a virgin her whole life.
The mother of God is supported by Scripture. When Mary
visits Elizabeth, her cousin says, "And how have I deserved that the mother
of my Lord should come to me?" One might contend how can Mary be older than
God? She isn't, but there's a distinction between nature and person. A
mother is always the mother of a person, and Mary is the mother of the
Person of Jesus Christ as God and Man, even though He preceded her. Christ
honors His mother and it behooves us to imitate Him in honoring her. It's
unthinkable that He did not. It does not behoove us to slight His mother.
What about the belief in the
Immaculate Conception? Let us approach the subject this way. If you were
to ask for water, would you prefer water in a glass that was shiny clean or
in one that was dirty? You'd want the shiny clean one: clean water in a
clean glass, to have an uncontaminated drink. Christ was a holy and perfect
Being coming into the world. Why should the vessel He's coming in, Mary His
mother, be contaminated by sin? Why not a holy and humanly perfect vessel
surrounding Him? In this way He's untouched by original sin, which stains
the rest of us. Being wrapped in holiness, redounds to His glory.
Mary's Immaculate Conception preserved her from original
sin, but it didn't preserve her from needing a Savior. We are cleansed of
original sin in Baptism ― washed, if you will ― Mary in light of her special
role to come in the fullness of time, was kept free of original sin from the
first instant of her being. She wasn't stained or besmirched, but
pre-redeemed through the intervention of God in human and salvific history.
Imagine a forest path with a pit covered with fallen brush and leaves. We
walk along the path and fall in and need to be saved, by being pulled out.
Mary is held back and prevented from falling in. She is saved in this way.
This honor to Mary, honors God! And His life and hers are forever
intertwined in their mother-son relationship.
Eve was created with sanctifying
grace and she could've gone to heaven without passing through death. She did
not have to suffer; she just had to obey and fulfill the will of God. She
could've entered heaven maybe as simple as walking across a bridge. How much
more should Mary be assumed and taken body and soul into heaven, she,
who did the will of God, became the mother of Jesus, and suffered in sorrow
herself. She had more reason to be afforded this honor than Eve would've.
It makes sense that her uncorrupt life was not allowed to be corrupted in
tomb but taken up to heaven.
Divergent or differing beliefs are not from the Holy Spirit. But
is something definitely endorsed by the Holy Spirit: "And Elizabeth was
filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out with a loud voice, saying,
"Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!"
Instead of leading a young lady away from the Church Jesus
founded, causing pain in her family and perhaps the loss of her soul, the
young Fundamentalist should be invited to
seriously consider the true Church Jesus
founded, and follow in the footsteps of
Rt. Rev. Henry Graham. It's the right path to salvation. It's truly what is fundamental,
not diverging from the true Christian foundation.
1. From Catholic Answers website: "Henry
Grey Graham was a son of the manse. The Grahams, and before them the Lawries,
had provided a line of ministers, father and son in uninterrupted succession
for more than 200 years, from about 1685 until 1903. Henry Graham was the
last of that long and proud tradition. He was ordained Minister at Avendale
Old Parish Church of Scotland, Strathaven before his reception into the
Roman Catholic Church in 1903. For almost 30 years, until his death at the
age of 85, in 1959, Bishop Grey Graham was parish priest of Holy Cross,
Glasgow. Marked by a deep personal piety, he was a model pastor, who had
dedicated his life to the preaching of the Gospel in season and out of
season". Bishop Grey Graham, 1874 - 1959 - An Essay on His Life and Times.",
Hugh G. McEwan.