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A REVIEW OF:
What Think Ye of Rome?
By Dr. Bill Jackson and Ken Samples
Different Types of Catholics (Chapter 8)
K EN SAMPLES does a good job of defining the diversities within the Roman Catholic Church; and his statement, "Today the Catholic Church is incredibly divergent" is true, and also interesting. Since Webster defines divergence as "differing from one another," you have to ask “how much divergence can there be for any semblance of unity to remain?” As we explore Samples' explanations of the different types, we may find the Catholic Church guilty of schism instead of unity.
[Note: This schism issue is also interesting considering the fact that Catholics often refer to Christians as “divided,” “in discord,” and “not in unity with each other.” Now, even though this is true—discord and divisions concerning Christianity in multiple aspects—many Catholics use this as “proof” that Rome is the true Church, and Christianity is just a “divided mess with too many different beliefs.” In light of their beliefs/statements, and the intents of them to disprove Christianity, it is important to consider the following article and realize that the same faults are present—seemingly to an even greater extent, in the Catholic Church.
Different views are just a fact of human nature—no matter if one is in the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, or has different views. This just goes to show how important the BIBLE is in deciding the TRUTH about matters! Making the Bible THE HANDBOOK for life would be the one and only solution for a society that is in constant turmoil! M.W.]
It is one thing to be united in acknowledging John Paul II [formerly] unitedly as your pope, but if, in theology and practice you are diverse, that note of unity has a rather hollow tone to it. The group called “traditionalist” by Samples would be the likes of the publishers of “The Wanderer,” and they freely admit to a group they call the “Amchurch,” who have, in their opinion, already received ipso facto excommunication because of theological and liturgical deviations.
We want to PAY A LOT OF ATTENTION TO THESE DIVERSITIES because without understanding them (as Samples well noted), we won't understand modem Catholicism. More importantly, understanding these will give us a better handle for Roman Catholic evangelism.
In our study, we will use the same designations as Samples used.
1. ULTRA-TRADITIONALIST CATHOLICS. The best example of this group is the St. Pius X Society founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Samples well notes of them, "They are extremely critical of the changes brought about by Vatican II and wish the church would return to its earlier course.” To be more precise, perhaps it could be said that they believe the church that has expelled Tradition is not truly representative of the Catholic Church (although they still hold allegiance to the pope). Other ultra-traditionalist groups do not; some follow the course chosen by the Catholic Church of St. Joseph, Cicero, IL. THEY PUBLISHED IN THEIR CHURCH BULLETIN, (7/30/72) THAT PAUL VI WAS THE ANTICHRIST BECAUSE HE CHANGED THE MASS FROM LATIN TO ENGLISH (which was the “abomination of desolations”). Another group that borders on being ultra-traditionalist promotes the apparitions to Veronica Leuken in Bayside, NY. They are kinder to Paul VI; they claim he was kidnaped and secretly locked in the Vatican while a look-alike took his place and enacted all the modern legislation that is abhorrent to them.
Samples says "their influence within the church is not of great significance.” This is the decision of most ordinary conservatives (called traditionalists by Samples), but might not be entirely the case. While relatively few would follow an excommunicated archbishop, the teachings of the St. Pius X Society are well received in many general Catholic quarters.
Archbishop Lefebvre ordained many priests and was admonished, but never disciplined, by the Vatican. As he was nearing the end of his life, he realized his society would die off if there were no bishops—as a priest cannot ordain a priest. Therefore, contrary to the pope's express command, he consecrated six bishops, after which the pope promptly excommunicated him. To this day, the Society of Pius X claims this excommunication was invalid, and claim therefore to still have communion with Rome. For centuries, Latin was the only liturgical language of the Roman Catholic Church, and was supposed to prove the universality of the Church. The following is from An Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism, p. 145: "The Latin language is what we call a dead language...because a dead language does not change: another reason why the Church uses it, that nothing may change in its divine service...The living languages...are always changing a little."
From Albuquerque Journal, 3/21/92, Page D4. "Immaculate Conception Celebrates Latin Mass. (Rev. Sidney) Lange (S.J., Immaculate Conception Church's pastor) said he likes the Latin rite, because it contains a kind of reverence that transcends the senses. 'I think the Latin Mass brings people closer to God in a mystical way,' he said, 'and it seems to remind Catholics of the stability that characterized the church prior to Vatican II...' Kelly Walters, chairperson for the Latin Mass at Immaculate Conception, said,...‘I feel I am communicating with God in a closer way at the Latin Mass.'"
2. TRADITIONALIST CATHOLICS. Ken Samples has well described traditionalist (or conservative) Roman Catholics. This group "adheres to the whole of creedal Roman Catholicism and obedience to the church as interpreted by the pope.” The size of this group and their complete obedience to papal decrees is a question which will probably never be answered. Richard McBrien (who is on “The Wanderer's” theological hit-list) DESCRIBED AMERICAN CATHOLICS AS BEING "SELECTIVELY OBEDIENT."
A Time/Life poll published 10/9/95 shows 70% of American Catholics were in favor of allowing Catholic priests to be married. 60% wanted women priests; 69% were in favor of allowing divorced Catholics to marry in the church. (These are all forbidden by the pope.)
The question was asked, "Do you think Catholics should always obey church teachings on such moral issues as birth control and abortion, or is it possible for them to make up their own minds?" Only 15% said one should always obey, and 79% thought they should make up their own minds.
When asked, "Do you believe it is possible to disagree with the Pope on official positions on morality and still be a good Catholic?," 80% said "Yes.” 59% of Catholics admitted they have used artificial means of birth control.
Andrew Greeley's observations about American Catholics may make sense. He said, that although they don't believe everything or practice everything, most American Catholics "just like being Catholic" [traditionalism!]
3. THEOLOGICAL LIBERALS. An influential American is Richard McBrien, a Catholic priest and theologian from Notre Dame. The efforts of these, and many who are similar, is recalled in Dietrich von Hildebrand's book “Trojan Horse in the City of God.” Von Hildebrand writes, "This new Trojan Horse bears enemies that continually strike at the heart of the [Catholic] Church, spreading confusion and heresy, and leaving Her in disarray. But unlike the enemy that took Troy, this enemy doesn't carry a sword...It hides behind certain modern ideas which seem beneficial to the Faith, but which, like the Trojan Horse itself, bear within themselves the seeds of destruction."
Among the seeds, the author numbers the following: “criticism of Tradition, stark contrast between what Vatican II actually said and how it's been interpreted, ‘progress’ applied to Catholic moral and doctrinal teaching, false charity shown toward heresy, ecumenical dialogue with non-Catholics, and relativism supplanting objective truth—even among Catholic theologians...”
Mother Angelica countered, "I know enough theology to know when they're wrong, and, so far, liberal Catholics have been wrong on everything."
Where have the liberals been wrong on Catholic theology?
The Catholic Voice, 12/31/79: "With the approval of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican has stripped a noted Swiss-born religious thinker, Father Hans Kueng, of the right to teach and declared that he can no longer be considered a Catholic theologian. The 51 year old scholar has been accused of denying papal infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council...";“...To make Vatican II just a conservative Council on the lines of (Pope) Pius XII is just historical falsification."
Cases of objectionable practices occurring in Catholic churches abound. Liturgical abuses are common; ONE PRIEST GOT INTO TROUBLE BECAUSE HE OMITTED THE USUAL DESIGNATIONS FOR THE TRINITY IN A BAPTISMAL SERVICE in Massachusetts. Diocesan officials said the baptisms were not valid because the words "Father" and "Son" were not used...
We constantly read of homemade liturgies, innovative Eucharistic prayers, and unauthorized practices which either make the sacrament invalid or illicit. In the Light of the World Catholic church in Littleton, CO, at a Mass which I attended, several things occurred. They used an altar girl (this was before any permission had been given), a woman read the Gospel, and communion was handed out to the congregation much like a Baptist Church.
4. POLITICAL LIBERALS. The strongest aberrant political movement is Liberation Theology. [Note: “Liberation Theology” is defined as: “A form of Christian theology (developed by South American Roman Catholics) that emphasizes social and political liberation as the anticipation of ultimate salvation”]
This can be described as "the social gospel in a cassock" or "a Roman Catholic movement dedicated to correcting the social abuses originally caused by the Roman Catholic Church.”
...From New Evangelical Christianity Today, 5/15/87: "Liberation Theology is Remarkably Protestant" by C. Rene Padilla, general secretary, Latin American Theological Fraternity. "...hundreds of thousands of Catholic base communities—small groups who gather to read and study the Bible have sprung up throughout Latin America...True, some liberation theologians espouse dangerous and wrong theology, de-emphasize personal salvation, or have used the gospel solely for political ends...[However] (Brazilian priest Leonardo) Boff compared the Catholic hierarchy to the organization of the Soviet Communist party, and denounced the infallibility of the pope...Liberation theologians are also encouraging the Catholic laity to study the Bible...” (Author's Note: we do NOT endorse Padilla's thinking [and for that matter, all newpaper etc. articles are stating the particular Catholic group’s beliefs, not personal beliefs!])
From Albuquerque Journal, Section D, Page 3, 11/27/93. "Brazilian Ex-Priest In High Demand As Leader.” “Theologian Leonardo Boff sipped a draft beer and explained why he still celebrates Mass 17 months after quitting the priesthood. There are two churches,' the father of Liberation Theology said. 'I resigned from the official church, but not from the popular church...”’
In an article for the C.E.C. magazine, Greg Wysocki wrote, "Liberation theology [like all Catholic ideology] is opposed to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Liberation comes through the regenerative work of Christ, not from an external liberation...'"
5. NEW AGE CATHOLICS. Roman Catholic Jesuit priest Pierre Tielhard de Chardin is often called the father of the New Age movement. He wrote that he “dreamed of a time when every man would realize his own godhood.”
It is possible to find booklets advocating Transcendental Meditation in many Roman Catholic churches today. TM, as most people know, is a Hindu concept also closely allied to Buddhist meditation aimed at opening the mind to anything and everything with no regard for past sin or future judgment, and the result will be world happiness, peace and health. The aim of this meditation is often called "Self-realization.” IT IS NOT DIFFICULT TO SEE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SELF-REALIZATION, REALIZING YOUR OWN GOD-HOOD, AND THE POPULAR 20TH CENTURY CONCEPT, SELF ESTEEM.
Another Hindu philosophy is unearthed in "Silva Mind Control.” The Philippine Star (a respected national daily paper) 8/25/94, reported: "Jose Silva, founder of the world-famous Silva Method [received] the Special Apostolic blessing bestowed on him by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of (Silva's) 80th birthday recently...Reports reaching Silva International say Vatican has given its approval to the Silva training course."
The Tara Center calls their New Age ecumenical Messiah Lord Maitreya. He is [SUPPOSEDLY] a world teacher for all humanity, a modern man concerned with modern problems—political, economic, and social. Since July 1977, he has been emerging as a spokesman for a group or community in a well known modern country...
Karl Adam, a Roman Catholic priest and historian, in The Spirit of Catholicism, wrote in 1928, "A religious historian of the fifth millennium AD will, without difficulty, discover in Catholicism conceptions and practices which will [be derived] from India, China, and Japan.” A GREAT DEAL OF NEW AGE THINKING IS DERIVED FROM INDIAN AND CHINESE MYSTICISM.
A very interesting New Age prototype can be seen in Adolph Hitler. A close study of his thinking indicates he was immersed in Hindu philosophy, yet by religious structure he was a Roman Catholic. It is also interesting to see Hitlerian concepts of genetic control, euthanasia, and racial supremacy surfacing in many places today.
From “A Way of Meditating the Jesus Prayer” by Priest Thomas Fidelis, Dove Publications. "One of the more remarkable phenomena of the religious climate of our times is how so many Christians eagerly turn to the Far Eastern religions to aid them in their search for God. Gurus, swamis, and Zen masters also have come to the West and won numerous adherents.
"Nearly all these oriental religions make use of the mantra as the first and principal means for prayer and meditation. A mantra is a sacred word, phrase, or sentence. The meditator constantly repeats this word or phrase. (It) is a powerful aid for polarizing the mind and deeper faculties so that they can transcend their own natural operations, and become one with the sacred.
"The use of a mantra is not new to Christianity. From Apostolic times, the short prayer, 'Lord have mercy' has been and still is used.
"For my formal meditation, I go to a quiet, solitary place, and take up a relaxed sitting position. Closing the eyes, I concentrate my full attention on my eyelids...I tell myself to relax the eyelids. "When the body is completely relaxed, I start the count-down exercise. Beginning with ten, I count down to one very slowly: 10-9-8-7. Here I pause to say, 'I am going down deeper and deeper,’ continuing with 6-5-4.
"Again I stop to say 'deeper and deeper’ then finishing with 3-2-1. At this point, a deep calm has come over me...
"Now I let the Jesus Prayer come on itself. My chosen formula is Christ—Mercy, inhaling on Christ and exhaling on Mercy. For a few minutes, I breathe the prayer in this manner. As this continues, the breathing becomes slower, until it is hardly noticeable, with the words also getting fainter, more refined. It is at this deep interior level that sometimes the word Christ fades out, leaving me in a sort of felt-immediacy of the Person of Jesus. By experiential faith, I am consciously aware of His Sacred Presence. Thus the prayer mantra has accomplished its work, leading me into the felt-presence of the Mysterious One, the Personal Reality behind the Name...”
Quote from “The Different Drummer” by Dr. M. Scott Peck, "Meditation can be best defined as the process by which we can empty our minds...what Zen Buddhists call "No Mind.' Its goal is to make the mind like a blank page...The virtue of meditation is that whatever comes into our emptiness is beyond our control."
From “The Sacramento Bee,” B1,B9, April 13, 1992. "Is Priest a 'Danger' to Catholicism?” “Theologian espouses Creation Spirituality...At his Oakland institute, Fox has assembled a faculty that includes an American Indian shaman, a Yoruba priestess, and a witch named Starhawk...Fourteen books by Fox have sold more than 700,000 copies...‘It's a theological Okefenokee Swamp,’ says the Rev. Mitchell Pacwa, a Jesuit priest and professor of Scripture and Hebrew at Loyola University in Chicago. Pacwa studied Fox's writings and discussed them in a recent book, Catholics in the New Age...'CHRISTIANS SHOULD KNOW THAT THIS IS NOT CHRISTIANITY, AND DON'T MIX THE TWO UP...If you're going to make a choice for the New Age, then go ahead.’"
6. CHARISMATIC CATHOLICS. This movement, which began in 1969, has become a source of much consternation and confusion among God's people. Their emphasis is to underline love as the only criterion for fellowship among spiritual people. While this sounds harmless and attractive, a love that is not founded upon scriptural truth is a product of the human nature and cannot be compared to the love that is of God. OUR LOVE MUST BEAR SCRIPTURAL SCRUTINY, and although the outcry is that too much probing will tarnish the love, if the love be of God, close inspection will only serve to demonstrate its true nature.
We are commanded to “prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21), and to “try the spirits, whether they be of God” (I John 4:1). We know that Satan can transform himself as “an angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14), and so can his ministers. It is only the searchlight of Scripture that can discern the truth about this movement.
Charismatic Catholics do not like anyone to probe beneath their thin veneer of love to find out their true doctrinal foundation. They desire fellowship on the lowest planes—common feelings, experiences, and phrases that sound religious and can mean anything. Because of this, it is imperative that we look carefully, praying that the knowledge God imparts will not only clear our thinking, but will also help us to minister the truth to charismatic Catholics and others in love.
Are Charismatic Catholics Christians? To assume this to be true (as some Christians do) without Scriptural foundation would be to undermine a thorough Scriptural investigation. So we must answer this question using clear Biblical guidelines, and proceed from there.
The Apostle John tells us, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (I John 5:1). The necessity is belief, not profession. It is not whosoever says they believe, but "whosoever believeth.” What must they believe? "THAT JESUS IS THE Christ.” [Let me also add here that believing Jesus to be the Christ, one cannot pray to saints/Mary, or that person has other gods in their life; therefore, they DO NOT accept Jesus as THE CHRIST!] This was the revelation given to Peter by God (Matthew 16:16), and this is still the CORNERSTONE of God's revelations to men today. Whosoever Scripturally believes this great fact is born of God.
In both of these foundation texts, the use of the title Christ applies to Jesus. Today, many do not realize the importance of this title; it is just tacked on to the name of Jesus as a matter of course. It has great significance, for CHRIST IS GREEK FOR MESSIAH, and we understand that believing He is the Christ entails acceptance of and trust in God's revelation of Jesus as Messiah, especially His Deity and Substitutionary Atonement (Isaiah 9:6; 53:4-6).
Lip service may be paid to Jesus Christ, but truly believing in Him means we accept and trust His Messiahship. Charismatic Catholics have no trouble ascribing Deity to Jesus, although their soteriology plainly denies this fact because they do not accept the completeness of His sacrifice for sin. They say that they believe He died for them, but have no heart knowledge of His Substitutionary Atonement. Some will point to their baby baptism as the time they were born-again and became Christians; others their first Communion, when, for the first time, they "received Christ.” Some appear to have a more evangelical testimony and came to Christ later in life, perhaps in response to an altar call. But, the vital question they must answer is where does their salvation come from?
Do they continue to receive propitiation in the Mass? Since their Church teaches that they do, can they deny this and continue to define themselves as Roman Catholics? Does the sacrament of penance absolve from sin? Anyone, whether altar boy, pope, or charismatic Catholic who believes it does, cannot at the same time be trusting the one perfect substitutionary Sacrifice of Christ, and therefore is not born of God according to I John 5:1. One who answers “no” to these questions is denying Roman Catholic dogma, and because of this, is condemned by the Roman Catholic Church to be living in a state of mortal sin.
Feelings, professions, emotions, and experiences are all swept away by the absolute truth of God's Word. A doctrine that tries to SUBSTITUTE a feeling of love for Biblical truth is SATANIC.
To anyone who claims to be a Roman Catholic, and does not believe the Mass is truly a sacrifice for sin, does not frequent Confession, and does not pray to Mary—because Jesus Christ is a perfect Mediator, we would ask the obvious question: is he truly a Roman Catholic?
Possibly he truly trusts Christ but does not have assurance of salvation because of his Roman Catholic background and associations. At best, he is living a sub-par Christian life, in spite of the effusions of human emotion that may gush forth in seeming love and spiritual power. His experiences are just a lot of candyfloss [US=cotton candy] compared to the solid Christian who not only trusts Christ, but has assurance, is learning Bible truth in a local church ([Ekklesia] Acts 2:42) and shares his faith (not his experience) with others (Mark 16:15).
On close examination, we will find that a person who is a born-again Christian, and remains in the Roman Catholic Church, is either IGNORANT, DISOBEDIENT, OR HYPOCRITICAL.
Some converted Roman Catholics may be ignorant of the Biblical command to separate from pagan practices, or they may be ignorant of what the Roman Church really teaches. We can help them by lovingly pointing out the contrasts, and showing them what the Bible says.
Some know the truth, but find it more convenient to remain in the Roman church. These people are DISOBEDIENT to the Word of God. One charismatic Catholic told me that he would come out of the Church "as soon as the Holy Spirit told him to.” I asked him if he was waiting for a personal letter from the Holy Spirit, or would he take what was written to all in II Corinthians 6?
While the word "HYPOCRITE" sounds ugly, it merely means play-acting, or pretending to be what you are not. If you are a truly converted child of God, and you attend Mass—pretending to participate, but knowing that it is a sacrifice void of any spiritual benefit, you are play-acting. You are a hypocrite! On the other hand, there are people who are still convinced Roman Catholics; they look to the sacraments to remove sin, and therefore are not relying on the perfect work of Christ. If they pretend to be evangelical Christians, they are hypocrites.
7. CULTURAL CATHOLICS. ..."The majority of Catholics in the world probably fit into the category of cultural Catholics. This group is unlike any other type...Their identification as 'Catholic' is simply more CULTURAL AND SOCIAL than religious. They might rightly be called 'womb to tomb Catholics [tradition!]' They often are born in a Hispanic, Irish, Polish, or Italian family, and are therefore baptized, married, and buried in the Catholic church...but have little or no concern about spiritual matters.
"Cultural Catholics do not understand Catholicism, nor do they seriously follow its ethical teaching. But, they nevertheless have an emotional commitment to the Catholic church. When they attend mass, it is out of habit or family obligation, not religious conviction. Being Catholic to them is essentially a cultural identity..."
Samples goes on to explain that this is not unique to Catholicism, but prevalent in Jewish and many Protestant cultures.
8. ECLECTIC CATHOLICS.
[Definitions of “Eclectic” :
Adjective: “Selecting what seems best of various styles or ideas”
Noun: “Someone who selects according to the eclectic method”
Eclectic method: “Making decisions on the basis of what seems best instead of following some single doctrine or style”]
These are Catholics whose Catholicism is a mixture of Romanism with animistic or pagan concepts. They are found especially in Central and South America, and the Philippines.
"African Cults Gain Ground in Brazil," (Albuquerque Journal, 11/29/88). "At a Roman Catholic church, a priest says mass as the congregation sways to the throbbing beat of the...traditional wooden drums used in Candomble spirit rituals. ‘We want to intensify the religious dialogue with our brothers in Candomble and Umbanda. We have more things in common than divergences,’ says the Rev. Antonio da Silva, a leader of the Catholic church's Association of Black Pastoral Agents. The Brazilian Catholic Church has given up trying to repress spirit cults. Instead, some priests want to 'AFRICANIZE' THE CATHOLIC RITUAL TO COMPETE WITH THE CULTS.
"Da Silva, a doctor of theology and dean of the Theological School for the archdiocese of Sao Paulo, heads a clerical campaign to bring together Catholicism and African religions."
An article in “L'Osservatore Romano” (10 February, 1993) told of the pope's visit to Benin, Africa. He told adherents of voodooism that the Church had respect for the "seeds of the Word" found in all religions. This is in spite of what has always been a Catholic prohibition of voodooism follows: "The Catholic Church looks favorably upon dialog...The Second Vatican Council recognized that in the diverse religious traditions, there is something true and good...Everywhere our attitude is one of respect—respect for true values, wherever they may be found...
"You have a strong attachment to the traditions handed on by your ancestors. It is legitimate to be grateful to your forbears who passed on this sense of the sacred, belief in a single God who is good, a sense of celebration, esteem for moral life, and for harmony in society..."
The letter continues, "The Vicar of Christ on earth shaking hands with, and PAYING HOMAGE TO, THE SERVANTS OF SATAN, and praising their good qualities? Over the years since Vatican II, there may have been intrinsically worse scandals, but have any been so flagrant? The mind reels. Is the Pope in his right mind? Apparently, yes. He has been steadily treating the enemies of Christ like this for years."
We might take a look at Acts 19:18, 19 and see what happened when people were truly saved. They took their paganisms and burned them. The Catholic Church admits taking paganisms and "Christianizing" (sometimes they say "baptizing") them.