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                A Catholic Response to a Fundamentalist
     I 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.   Because of it's seriousness, it's matter that can result in a wound for a parent that never heals.

      He's in ignorance of truth, and needs a better grasp of history.  He should look into 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.
                                                        Almost like Bookends
     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 rejected.

     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.

  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.
                                                     A Little Summary

From The Faith of Millions
: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion by Rev. John A. O'Brien, PhD

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 New Testament.
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 invented.
     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 Church.
                                                  Both Scripture and Tradition
     Fundamentalists believe the Bible is the only rule of faith, following the concept of 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 standing on?
Sola 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 this book."
                                                 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 the 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 languages.
     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 misunderstanding.
     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 Jesus.
      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 here 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.
                                                                                                                
John Riedell

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.

 

 

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