Catholic Faith: Blog
This Catholic Faith Blog is Maintained by the Catholic Rebuttals Research Team. Here You Will Find Responses to Reader's Questions, Catholic Commentary and Other Resources!
Recently, A Catholic Rebuttals reader asked posed to me the following:
“My son has turned away from the Catholic Church because he feels that the Catholic Church insist that…
1. He cannot have a direct relationship with Christ because he must go through a priest.
2. The Pope is called the ‘Vicar’ which he interprets as "Christ on Earth."
3. The Eucharist is not transformed into the body and blood of Christ; the Catholic Church is not the first church because many families practiced the faith in their homes.
4. The bible verse "And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it" is technically incorrect because Jesus called Peter “Simon” after he denied him three times. Any rebuttals?”
Sounds like our friend’s son has some serious questions concerning the Catholic Faith. Let’s try to our best to point him, and his father, in the right direction.
Rebuttals to Question 1: Matthew 18:15-20 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Also, read through our post on priests and Apostolic succession here: http://www.catholicrebuttals.com/priests.html
Rebuttal to Question 2: Ignatius of Antioch once said, "See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Whatsoever [the bishop] shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid." ~ Ignatius of Antioch , Bishop and priest, died in 107 AD.
Regarding the Papacy, review this post: http://www.catholicrebuttals.com/papacy.html
Rebuttal to Question 1,2 and 4: Paul encourages his disciples to call him ‘father,’ in 1 Corinthians 4 : 14. Priests are our spiritual fathers since they teach us how to worship God the Father. Aren't we humans capable of relationships with more than one person at a time? I can love my wife, my children, siblings, and my paster all at once. This doesn't take away my love from my wife or Jesus for that matter. A priest is Jesus’ representative, he is Christ’s Ambassador, (one who sits or takes the place of the one who has the Authority).
Can a man not be forgiven for his sins? Can a great man fall, get up and still accomplish great things? The Pope is the official Authority by secession from the first Pope, Peter. Paul addresses Peter several times as “Kepha” which he (St. Paul) might have used this word to emphasize St. Peter's role as the Rock or leader of the Church; which Jesus says He will build His Church on Kepha (ROCK), such as emphasizing that he had to even rebuke the 'Rock' of the Church. Yes, Peter sinned against Jesus by denying him; however, Jesus knew his heart… forgave him… and still called him to lead the Christian Faith and Catholic Church. What’s that say about a Pope’s humanness? Peter was the first and most influential Pope. He walked with Jesus and his sin lead to Jesus’s death on a cross, yet he was forgiven, fueled by the Holy Spirit and helped to change the course of history forever as the ROCK of the Church.
In Corinthians 5:17, Jesus gives the Apostles the power to forgive sins by binding and loosing. In Matthew 18:8 and John 20:22 Jesus said to his Apostles to go and teach all nations. We see in Matthew 28:19 that we most certainly can and must have a personal relationship with Jesus. However, in order to have the type of relationship with Him, Jesus says, we must do what He commands us to do. Matthew 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, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Whenever you confess your sins to the priest you are in fact confessing to Jesus, it is he who absolves your sin in and through the priest .
Jesus has two natures, His human nature and his divine nature. We humans also have two natures, our human nature (I call this one lower nature) and our supernatural nature(I'll call this one our higher nature). Our higher nature is supernatural because we have a soul which is where God’s grace resides, so to speak. When Jesus was addressing Simon Peter about his sins of denying Him, He called him by this name because He was talking to Peter’s lower nature which can be sinful. Keep in mind that Peter had not yet experienced the Holy Spirit at Pentecost yet. After Pentecost Peter and the others received the Holy Spirit which empowered them to be bold in their faith and carry out what the Lord had commanded. After Pentecost in Acts 10:13 Jesus calls him “Peter” in a dream giving him instructions.
“There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering.” ~ Cyprian, Bishop he died on September 14, 258
Rebuttal to Question 3: Yes, the early Christians having Mass in homes. This was a normal practice in the beginning. It stands to reason as the community grew larger the houses where to small to accommodate everyone, so larger building where erected which became our church buildings. Notice how these Churches resemble a home; whereas the alter is the dinner table and the congregation is the family gathered around it - “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” ~ Ignatius of Antioch, Died 107 AD
Here are Justin Martyr’s words (born in 100 AD and died in 165 AD) about the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist - “Not as common bread or as common drink do we receive these.....We have been taught that the food that has been Eucharistized by the word of prayer, that food which by assimilation nourishes our flesh and blood, is the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus.” He believed what the Catholic Church teaches to this very day, that the true presence of Jesus is found in the Eucharist - body, blood and divinity. Here is some more reading on the Eucharist: http://www.catholicrebuttals.com/eucharist.html