This letter is certainly food for thought:
Those who are up in arms of the proclamation by the Apostles that the only true faith in the world is that which they taught shouldn’t even bother getting upset. Just chalk it up to old men trying to get a little attention.
For John to even suggest in his second letter that those of us who reject the Apostles’ claims about Jesus coming in the “flesh” shows that he is wholly ignorant of the Scriptures that I have known all my life.
Sorry, let me take that back. I’ve really only known the Bible for the last 13 of my 38 years. That’s because those first 25 years were spent as a die-hard Christian.
That’s right, I was born and raised in the Christian Church. One of the first meetings to build the church I was raised in — the 3rd community church in Corinth — took place in my grandparents’ living room. Many of my Saturdays and Sundays were spent assisting at the liturgies, as the Christian youth organization leader, dedicated student of the Apostles’ writings, and constantly “breaking bread.”
And the reality is that we were never really encouraged to study the Scriptures. Luke even recorded that Philip explained the Scriptures to people, because they couldn’t otherwise understand what they read. The standard practice was for all of us to read the same letters the Apostles wrote passed out by the church, recite the readings from the Torah, and hear a normally bland homily.
That isn’t always the case at some Christian churches. Paul’s disciples will surely have your soul jumping with their strong sermons and willingness to engage the community to get involved in direct action. You’ll even stay up past midnight, and those who injure themselves due to tiredness will be healed.
Yet as I reflect on my years as a Christian, it pretty much was a wasted experience, as there was more identification with the church, and not with Christ.
And that’s why the Apostles are meaningless, along with their decision to re-state the oneness of the “Body of Christ”. Last year, Paul released a document to the Corinthians correcting interpretations of the First Jerusalem Council, which some say modernized the church, allowing Gentiles in. But for hardliners like Paul, the liberals went too far in some of their declarations.
But what ticked folks off was Paul’s assertion in the 10-page follow-up document released this week that the only Apostles that can call themselves true Apostles are ones that can trace their teachings back to Jesus Christ. He even calls the rest “false apostles” and “deceitful workers.”
Peter has backed this up, calling teachings other than theirs “damnable heresies.”
This is nothing but a naked attempt by Peter and Paul to “own” Jesus by virtue of the Christian Church considering the Apostles to have been given authority to teach by Jesus. He refuses to acknowledge the reality that Jesus didn’t consider a truth to be most important. What was? Love your neighbour. Love God. With all your heart, mind, and soul.
It doesn’t matter what the Apostles have to say, or for that matter, any other religious leader. All who follow Jesus – Gnostics, Judaisers, Nicolaitans – believe in Jesus Christ and what He had to say, not what a man of God has to say. This is not an attempt to completely dismiss religious leaders, but is further evidence of what happens when ego is more important than the work of Christ.
Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Nowhere does it say that Peter, Paul or anyone else can supplant Jesus as the leader of the church.
It is these kinds of missives by the Apostles that do nothing to support or build the community of faith. All it does is divide.
Non-Apostolic leaders: Don’t buy into the foolishness. Let the Apostles keep running off at the mouth and making pointless declarations. If you keep bringing good news to the poor, setting the captives free and assisting those who seek to know Jesus, then you’ll make more headway in doing the work of Jesus than any 10-page document will.
Is that how we should respond?
Roland S. Martin, a contributor to CNN, has pretty much said that. Except he aimed his statements at HH Pope Benedict XVI and the recent statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The letter you see above is a parody of Martin’s letter, written by me, to depict what an early dissenter from the Apostolic faith may have said back then.
Martin’s blog contains the same CNN article.
The original Christian Church wasn’t named “Catholic” back then – that is a name that was applied a bit later, and became more concrete as time went on. Should we expect the Christian Church of the twenty-first century to view itself any differently than the Christian Church of the first century? The way Catholics see it, we’re just standing up for the same truth that the Apostles did. To acknowledge those who have gone their own way as part of the same Church would be to deny the Apostles who didn’t compromise on this issue either.
I admire the Pope and the CDF for their clear statement. I also admire them for acknowledging that those who, for no fault of their own, are outside of the original Christian Church, are still our brothers and sisters in Christ, albeit separated. Like the Gnostics and others, they’re perfect brothers and sisters in Christ, but in imperfect union with the original faith.
For more commentary on Martin’s objections, go to Jimmy Akin’s blog.
Comments imported from the old blog:
Posted by Mike Petrik on July 15, 2007
Bravo! Well done.
Posted by stephen on July 15, 2007
If the Apostles stood up for their teachings, and didn’t consider those who didn’t share their teachings to be part of the same Church, and if they were indeed the one true faith once delivered, then those rejecting the Apostles’ teaching were simply not that true faith.
That then makes us ask – if the original faith survived until today, where is it, and does it make the same claim? Or has it rejected the way the Apostles saw the matter, and accepted all different denominations as equally authentic Apostolic Churches? If the latter, then it has betrayed its roots and the Apostles Jesus left as the leaders back then.
The CDF statement isn’t about whether our separated brethren are true or valid Christians – they are. We know they are, they know they are, God knows they are.
The statement IS about the relationship of the multitude of denominations we have today to the original Apostolic Church. Were the Apostles here today, they would make the same claim. If their Church then is the Methodist church today, then they’d be making that claim for the Methodists. If they were Baptist, it would be the Baptists.
Most Protestant denominations don’t – and cannot – make such a claim. No denomination that isn’t a continuation of the first 500 years of Christianity can. But the Apostles’ Church could, and did. To find the continuation of their Church – the biblical one – we need to find where their claim (and their other teachings and practices) is still maintained.
Posted by Mary on July 15, 2007
(Just what I needed after some disheartening conversations)
Posted by VickiW on July 16, 2007
Oh, I LOVE it! Thank you.
Posted by Jon on July 17, 2007
Stephen, speaking as a current Presbyterian who is sitting on the Tiber with my feet in the water contemplating a swim, I say nicely done!
Actually reading some of the early Christian writings from the 2nd Century I expect that some folks actually did a letter like the one above because the early church fathers wrote responses to it!
I followed a link from Jimmy Akin’s blog to here.
Posted by stephen on July 17, 2007
Welcome home! I hope the journey goes well, and you’re blessed along the way, and find a good home with us!
Posted by will on July 18, 2007
Here’s my gripe…
Saturday is Sabbath….
Sunday is Jesus resurrection day…
IF there were changes it was because the Early Christians worshipped God in thier homes & not the Jews Synagog because they were kicked out of them…
IN MY OPINION & the Opinion of Perry Stone Jr (www.voe.org) God can do His works on Saturday Sabbath or Sunday as long as the Holy Spirit is there…
And I have gone to churches on either Saturday or Sunday & as long as Jesus is worshipped on either day THAT is what matters!
Posted by stephen on July 18, 2007
Yes, Saturday is the Sabbath, but that belongs with the Old Covenant.
Catholicism acknowledges that the Holy Spirit works in other denominations, so we all agree there.
The point is that there was one Church led by the Apostles, and that Church was visible, and had a visible and authoritative leadership, and they were all united in their teachings. Continuing what the Apostles did, and not going our own way, is also important – it’s what Jesus prayed for, and the continued existence of the Apostolic Church is what he promised.
For those who are unable to do his will completely – Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or other – he grants forgiveness. But we shouldn’t declare unnecessary anything that doesn’t rank as high as God himself, if God wills it. His original Church does exist somewhere. We should want to find it. And the Bible and history both point to it.
Posted by Aaron Kraicshtein on October 21, 2007
So true, the 7th day NEVER changed. Yet keeping His commandments does not deturmine our salvation. However, IF you love Him keep His commandments, ordinances and instructions, for if you say you love him and don’t keep His commandments, you (or they) are liers and there is no truth in you (1Jn.2.4). How will anyone enter the new Jerusalem unless they keep His commandments (or Mitzvotiem) not to mention participate in the tree of life? (Re.14.22) So why worry about the seed of Cain, for unless He builds His church, or body of Saints, we labour in vein my friend? Be at peace, only certain eyes can be opened at this time! Shalom, Aaron. (In Yahashua’s name, Omein)
Posted by stephen on October 21, 2007
The commandments Christians follow are greater than the 10 Commandments. We are under a New Covenant, greater than the Old, and under a new law, greater than the old. The 10 Commandments are, in fact, the words of the Old Covenant.
Exodus 34:28 KJV And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
2 Corinthians 3:1-11 KJV Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?  Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:  Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.  And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:  Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;  Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.  But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:  How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?  For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.  For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.  For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
Posted by pavelsara on August 29, 2007
remember the Sabbath day to keep it holly….not sunday, not monday….
Posted by stephen on September 1, 2007
True – for the Old Covenant. There is no such command for Christians, who live under the New Covenant. There is no example set in the Bible by Christians either. Whichever day we keep, we serve God by doing so, says the Apostle Paul.