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Is Jesus Christ the Catholic Church? Bruce Tarahill

Christ might be, but Jesus the Nazarene would shudder and turn in his Talpiot grave at such a suggestion. Jesus’ message and purpose were abandoned and forgotten by the Church long ago.

A completely new religion founded on a mythical figure called Christ took their place. Paul was its instigator, but it quickly gained momentum and power, emerging in the 4th century as the official religion of the Roman empire - Christianity became ‘catholic’, meaning universal.

The process began sometime in the 30s CE whenPaul came out from ‘Arabia’.

nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother.

(Galatians 1:17–19)

During his three years in ‘Arabia’, Paul claimed to have experienced Elijah-like visions of a spirit-being that he called the “risen Christ” and, because this occurred on or near Mount Sinai, the apparitions became conflated with YHWH. Paul began to associate Jesus—whom he had never met in the flesh—with the Divine. Jesus was now dead, in any case, leaving the road ahead clear for Paul to embellish as he would. And embellish he did.

We have no sure way of knowing what Paul experienced in his sojourn in Arabia, but the connections with Moses and Elijah seem too direct to ignore. There is a sense in which Paul, fortified with the extraordinary revelations he says he received from Christ, thinks of himself as fulfilling the roles of a new Moses and a new Elijah. Like a Moses figure, he became the mediator of a new covenant, drawing together a new nation of Israel defined by faith in Christ and under the “Torah of Christ”.

Like any self-styled prophet (think Muhammad or Joseph Smith), Paul felt impelled to spread his ‘revelations’ far and wide. The result is Christianity. It has nothing to do with the historical Jesus or his teachings (which, as we know, were essentially Jewish), everything to do with Paul. He literally invented a new theology for a new religion.

The indigenous Torah went out the window along with Jewish conceptions of God. New scriptures were commissioned or created—and so sprang up the idea of Gospel (‘good news’, another invention of Paul’s), and all founded on the Pauline conviction of a quasi-divine Christ clothed in “life-giving spirit”.

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam [ie. Christ] became a life-giving spirit.

(1 Cor 15:45)

The rest is a story of consolidation. Paul’s theology was further elaborated. The final paradigm-shift occurred when notions of a novel “triune God” were codified, fixed and given the sanction of the Roman emperor at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. Like some Caesar, Christus was officially accorded the status of Divine.

Of course this is a simplification focusing only on the “main branch” which supplanted all others. There were many other cults operating on ideas of Jesus as divine, semi-divine, or fully human. Chief among these were the various Gnostic offshoots, later to be branded heresies by the Church and mercilessly hunted down. The only group following Jesus’ true teachings, and fully honoring his name and place in history, were the Ebionites(also called Nazarenes), led by Jesus’ brother James the Just.

So, first, I'll point you to the answer of James Hough for the question actually asked - yes, in a sense, Christ is the Church.  In another sense, the Church is the Bride of Christ.  In neither sense is the Church identical with the divinity of Christ (which should be obvious), but in theology, not every "is" is a logician's "is" of total identity.

Then... because you seem to have asked me at least in part to highlight your own answer, below... I'll go through that and respond to each piece.  Perhaps it would be better as a comment, but itwas your A2A, so here goes...

The Council of Trent in 1545 -1563 233 uttered the curse upon those who will not believe the teachings of the Catholic Church.

I assume that you mean "anathema" (which is not exactly a curse, but that's neither here nor there).

And, yes, those who willfully reject the teachings of the Church are anathematized - which would bea problem, if and only if the Church's teachings are not correct.  You'd have to establish that first.  Because if the Church's doctrines are truly of God, then it is entirely appropriate to condemn their willful rejection as sin.

Curse also applies to those who believe that only a man is justified by faith is (Canon 9)

You're damned if you believe that faith alone in Jesus' merits you have sins forgiven (canon 12)

Again, leaving aside the question of what "anathema" actually means (it's not a curse and it's not a sentence of damnation)...

Let's first give the actual text (according to the most common English translation):

CANON IX. If any one shall say, that by faith alone the impious is justified; so as to mean that nothing else is required to co-operate in order unto the obtaining the grace of justification, and that it is not in any respect necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

CANON XII. If any one shall say, that justifying faith is nought else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or that it is this confidence alone by which we are justified; let him be anathema.

The "faith" that is condemned here is the purely intellectual sort of faith that the Protestant Reformation was perceived to be preaching (whether they actually were or not is not relevant here).

In other words, no one is saved merely by "believing in" Jesus, but only by an active faith - a faith that impels action.  Or, in Scriptural terms, a living faith saves, but not a dead faith (James 2:24-26).

As Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15), so the Council of Trent condemned those who would say, "I have no need for rules or works - I have faith, and so no matter what I do, I am saved."

It's not that works save us - they don't.  But according to both James and Jesus, if a man says, "I have faith" but his "faith" does not cause him to do any works, then it is a dead faith - afalse faith - and it cannot save him.

And the Church also rejected the doctrine of "irresistible grace" - in other words, grace is not simply something God does to us with no action at all on our part.  God does all the work of salvation, but we must freely accept His grace, by being willing (with His indispensable help) to amend our lives.

You're damned if you believe that believing is deleted guilt and the debt of eternal punishment and that they have not remain no guilt and no punishment in Purgatory (canon 30)

Again, first let's look at the real text:

CANON XXX. If any one shall say, that, after the grace of justification received, unto every penitent sinner the guilt is so remitted, and the penalty of eternal punishment so blotted out, that there remains not any penalty of temporal punishment, to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be laid open; let him be anathema.

Now, this isn't some Catholic invention.  It's Scriptural.

Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Matthew 12:32

[E]ach man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15

Otherwise, what will those do who are baptizedfor the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?

1 Corinthians 15:29

So, we have Jesus speaking of some sins that will be forgiven "in the age to come", we have Paul speaking of a purification by fire, in which unsatisfactory works (i.e. sins) will be burned away (as a means of salvation, not for those condemned to eternal damnation), and we have Paul speaking of the living undergoing "baptism" (in this context, "suffering" - see Mark 10:38-39, Luke 12:50) on behalf of the dead, and Paul affirms that this will benefit the dead.

Then, of course, there's the Scripture that Luther and Calvin decided to cut out (but that every Bible for over 1,000 years had contained until the so-called "Reformation"):

On the next day, as had now become necessary, Judas [Maccabeus, not Iscariot] and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kindred in the sepulchres of their ancestors.

Then under the tunic of each one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was the reason these men had fallen.

So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden;

and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen.

He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin-offering.In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection.

For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.

But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.

2 Maccabees 12:39-45

In short, purgatory is not a belief that Christ's sacrifice was insufficient to save us from all our sins, but rather a belief (based on what Scripture itself says) that there are temporal consequencesof sin, which must be purified from our souls "as by fire" before we may enter into the Kingdom - for "nothing unclean shall enter" (Rev 21:27)

It is cursed who does not believe in Jesus truly present body and soul in the Eucharist.

The actual text:

CANON I. If any one shall deny, that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are verily, really, and substantially contained the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but shall say that He is only therein as in a sign, or in figure, or virtue; let him be anathema.

Again, not something we made up...

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will beguilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.

Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29

I'm not going to get into the whole Eucharistic argument right here and now (because it would be a post unto itself), but basically, when the Lord and Savior of all Creation says, "This is My Body" and "This is My Blood", we're not going to turn around and say, "He must have been kidding."

The Catholic Church has missed the second commandment destatora

RKC instead of the second commandment installed was third. The tenth commandment was split into the ninth and tenth.

No idea what "destatora" is, but yes, we number the Commandments differently than Protestants.

We number them in the same way that Augustine did, and (actually - little-known fact) the same way Luther did.  And the combination of "no other gods" and "no idols" into a single commandment is the traditional Jewish numbering as well (and you'd think the Jews themselves would know a bit about Mosaic Law... right?).

Also, the numbering is traditional only - the Church has no official position on how exactly the Commandments are divided, so if a Catholic wanted to use the (non-Lutheran) Protestant numbering, he could.

As for "splitting" the Ninth and Tenth... well, let's just say that the Church which supposedly "hates women" (nuh-uh!) finds it a bit demeaning to lump "wife" together with "possessions and livestock".  The Ninth considers lustful coveting, while the Tenth deals with avaricious coveting.

A violation of this commandment can be seen at every step - every Catholic church is full of sculptures, idols. Every Catholic home has several sculptures, pictures.

The second commandment of the Decalogue which are omitted:

(Exodus 20: 4-5)

Let's get this Scripture in clear English... and expand it to verses 3-6:

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

So, first, let's get the obvious out of the way - God did not prohibit any and all images for any purpose, He prohibited idols.

The Statue of Liberty is not a violation of the First/Second Commandment, nor is the Mona Lisa, nor is the Polaroid of me as a baby.

How do I know for sure?  Because Godcommanded the making of images "of anything that is in heaven above" for non-idolatrous purposes:

And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat.

Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends.

The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.

Exodus 25:18-20

And "that is in the earth beneath":

And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”

So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

Numbers 21:8-9

So, either God is the author of confusion and contradiction, Who commands what He has forbidden... or else the image itself is not the problem.

Second, Catholics do not worship any of the images we have in our churches or our homes, nor do we "bow down" to them in any other way.

We kneel before them sometimes, but that is because kneeling is the posture of prayer, and we use the images as reminders of the goodness of God when we pray.

Feel free to make counter-argument if you wish, but I'm telling you, I've been a Catholic all my life and I've never been even a little bit tempted or confused to treat the images of the Saints or of Christ crucified as divine, rather than merely asimages of holy men and women or of the Crucified Savior.  And I help in the Catholic education of teens in my parish, and I guarantee you we teach them the same - that the Saints are not gods, and that the crucifix is a picture, not Jesus Himself.

We only "bow down" to two things: the altar on which the sacrifice of Calvary is made present to us (just as the Israelites would bow down to the Ark - because it was where the Lord would become present to them, not because He was necessarily there at that moment), and the Eucharist which is the very Lord Himself.

How can RKC contradictory! First, he says in his teaching that the only way to salvation, and then declares that despite other religions can lead to salvation!

No one comes to the Father except through Christ.  That we know, and that we believe.

We also believe that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded before His Ascension, and therefore the primary and normative vehicle of that salvation.

However, Christ is not limited:

When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them

on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:14-16

In other words, it is far easier to be saved withexplicit faith in Christ (i.e. literal intellectual belief combined with the will to follow Him), but it ispossible that someone who has the will to do what is right (i.e. to follow the Law which God has written on the hearts of Man) might be adjudged righteous by God in the final judgment.

In such a case, that person still would be saved by Christ (for there is no other salvation but Him alone) - but by his or her inchoate longing for Christ, not by personal and conscious knowledgeof Him.

before he spoke them: we have a common God. The only true God put on a par with demons.

We have a common God, because there is only one God to have.

Therefore, any religion which worships anything seen as good at all (i.e. any religion except theistic Satanism, basically) is attempting to honor God.  Not because they're right about Who He is and what He is like - but because there is no one else for their worship to point to.

Imagine that we both pledge civil (not religious) allegiance to "Bob", the ruler of our country.  You may think Bob is a tall, thin man with blond hair, who likes tennis and prefers all his citizens to wear hats.  I may think that Bob is a short, fat, balding man, who likes reading and listening to jazz, and prefers all his citizens to shave their heads and leave them uncovered.  But there is only one Bob, and so, if we meet Bob, one of us will be wrong - but if we both sincerely pledged our allegiance to Bob, the person, not to the Idea-of-Bob in our heads, then whichever of us is wrong will simply accept that he was wrong, and start obeying the real Bob.

Likewise, if a Hindu is sincerely seeking God (i.e. the supreme Creator and Ruler of the world), and not simply seeking the Idea-of-God in his head, then if he were to meet the real God, he'd basically wind up going, "Oops, sorry Lord - I had some mistaken ideas about You, but now that I see I was wrong, I'd really like to serve You the rightway."  And God, Who doesn't blame people for honest mistakes, would say, "Of course, My child - you spent your life trying to honor Me in the best way you knew how, and now that you know better, you can love better."

It is true, of course, that many non-Christians willreject God when they meet Him - because their real devotion is to the Idea-of-God that they have in their heads.  This may be true of some Christians, too (and I don't know if such "Christians" will fare any better - that's up to God's wisdom and mercy).

But most other religions are not worshiping demons - at worst, they're worshiping false ideas of God which may or may not have been given to them by demons.  Conscious and knowing demonolatry is quite rare.

No church is not the way to salvation.

The only way to salvation is Jesus Christ, not the church!

Why does it have to be one or the other?

We believe that our salvation is through Christ alone, and that the Church is the institution He founded to act on His behalf in the world, and tolead people to Him.

If the Church is not necessary, why did Jesus bother founding it?

And before you argue that He founded only an "invisible" Church - just the "body of all believers" - take note that priests ("presbyteroi") and bishops ("episkopoi") are featured directly in Acts and in the Epistles, and that St. Polycarp - a direct disciple of St. John - and Polycarp's own student, St. Ignatius wrote of the need to obey bishops, even as early as 90 A.D.

The highest authority of every true believer is God's Word - the Bible.

Really?  Because the Bible didn't even exist for the first 50 years or so of the Christian faith, and acomplete Bible (even unbound) didn't exist until the Second Century (since Revelation was only written in the last decade or so of the First Century).

The highest authority is not merely God's written Word, the Bible, but God's Word, the Logos, Christ Jesus.  And that Word, Jesus, saw fit to establish a structure and a teaching authority to persist beyond His departure.

Sola Scriptura is not only nowhere in the Bible - it's positively anti-scriptural (by which I imply nothingabout the motives of "Sola Scriptura Christians" - I'm merely pointing out that the doctrine is contradicted by Scripture).

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.

Matthew 28:19-20 [not "writing down all that I commanded" - simply teaching]

He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me.

Luke 10:16

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to thetraditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

[B]ut in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

1 Timothy 3:15

[A]nd what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also

2 Timothy 2:2 [not "write" - "entrust", and not "what you have read" - "what you have heard"]

In the Bible, baptism is not mentioned anywhere as a condition of salvation.

Flatly false.

Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ

1 Peter 3:21

Also, as I mentioned over and over - faith in Christ requires obedience to Him, and He Himself said,

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Matthew 28:19

Also, apparently Peter and Philip were both really confused about the teachings of the Lord Whom they had followed - because every time they convert someone, all throughout Acts, they immediately baptize that person (I can provide a list, if you like).

As to your extended discourse about the fact that you never felt God in the Sacraments, but now youfeel God's work in your life - all I can say is that faith is not about feelings.

I often don't feel God's presence in the Eucharist either - that doesn't mean He's not there.

And maybe you really are happier and more faith-filled now than you were when you considered yourself Catholic - there are innumerable examples of exactly the opposite as well.

Anecdotes are not argument.

As for your complaints against devotion to Mary, you sent me a separate ask for that specifically, so I'll address it over there.

God bless you - and maybe someday he'll lead you back home.



James Hough

Catholic who teaches Catechism, RCIA, and Prayer classes.

119w ago

Yes, Our Blessed Lord is the Catholic Church.  There are also numerous other ways of referring to it, but Our Blessed Lord, Himself, in Acts 9:1-5 refers to Himself as the Church when He addresses Saul and asks why Saul is persecuting ME.  Acts 9, Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision 1752 (DRC1752).

St. Paul later develops this idea in Colossians 1:15-2:3, particularly 1:18,  "He (Jesus) is head of the body, the Church"; (1:24) "what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church....": Epistle Of Saint Paul To The Colossians.

Pope Pius XII develops this idea more fully: Encyclical of Pope Pius XII "On the Mystical Body of Christ" on June 29, 1943  MYSTICI CORPORIS CHRISTI.

EWTN briefly discusses it here: The Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ.



Jim Noblett

I know some things. I don't know other stuff.

125w ago

I'm assuming that you're asking 'does the Catholic Church represent true Christianity?'

I believe there are hundreds of millions of Catholic people who truly love Jesus.  But I do not feel many of the doctrines of the Catholic Church represent the truth about him and his father.  One of those doctrines is alluded to in my last sentence.  The Trinity (The belief that Jesus, God,  and the Holy Spirit are one individual ) is a major part of Catholicism,  and I do not believe it is true. I'm aware of a few verses that when taken by themselves might seem to support that belief,  but I think these verses are not taken in context.  For example John 10:30, Jesus says 'I and the father are one.' Who wouldn't think that is Jesus saying he is God? But if you read further he explains what he meant in that verse. In John 17:11 Jesus is praying to God and he asks that his father watch over his disciples and help them be one, just as we are. So then it becomes clear that he and his father were not one as in the same person. But they were one in the same way that he wanted his disciples to be.  They were in agreement.

I believe this doctrine has caused much confusion about something very important,  which is truly getting to know God and his son Jesus.  Jesus said that people must worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). So just by this doctrine alone, I do not believe that Catholicism can represent true Christianity.  Again this is not an attack on Catholic people.  Even Jesus' own apostles were often mistaken about many of the things he was teaching them. But it is on each of us individually to make sure the things we are taught are true and align with the accurate knowledge about God and his word the Bible (2 Corinthians 13:5). Otherwise, as Jesus said in Matthew 15:9, our worship, while sincere, would be in vain.

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