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Church History Forum: history

by Catherine Frakas 12 Nov 2001

history QUESTION from conrad on April 19, 2002 Hi to all,
Before i was converted to being a Bible baptist, I study my Bible and found out that the Catholic church teaching is contrary to what the Bible is teaching though she is claiming to be of the Lord Jesus Christ. And my convictions was confirmed when i began to study about the church history since during the past centuries the catholic church sponsored the killings of all non-catholics thru the so called inquisition. Do you think i can accept the catholic church as a Christian church whose teaching and practice is contrary to the Bible? Thank God we have freedom of religion today which the Baptist fought for during the past centuries. If not maybe i would be hunted by your so called Holy Catholic Church. Now do you understand why many Fundamental Baptists call the Roman Catholic Church of the Devil? Now do't misunderstand me i don't hate the Catholics, i love them, I am praying for my Catholic friends to know the Lord. What i hate is the Catholic Church system which enslaved them and prevent them from knowing----------
ANSWER by Q & A Staff on April 21, 2002 Dear Conrad, Your question was truncated but I will answer the part that came through. It is clear that you are addressing an issue more of theology rather than history, but I will address both aspects.
Your grasp of the facts of history is vey much in error. One should always read the Catholicaccount before making a judgment. The Catholic Church never sponsored the killing of all non-Catholics, please see the Vatican II document Decree on Religious Liberty“ and you will see for yourself. I will deal later on with the issue of the Inquisition.
You are very much in error about the Catholic Church. If you did know about the Catholic Church, you would know that she is the Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Rock of Peter (Matt. 16:18) You would know she is the pillar and foundation of truth“(1 Tim. 3:15). You would also know she is made up of saints and sinners, to be separated out on the day of judgment, hence any evil acts committed by her members through history do not change the fact that she is the Bride of Christ, and His Mystical Body; therefore, holiness is an attribute of hers that she can never lose, as through her the grace of Christ comes to sinners. Saul, Saul why do you persecute ME“ we read in the Book of Acts, not Why do you persecute My people“, but ME“! The Church is in a very real sense the Body of Christ, through which Christ is sacramentally present in the world. This is something that Baptists simply do not understand. You do not understand properly the nature of the Church, else you would not say you cannot accept the catholic church as a Christian church“.
Let me ask you something, Conrad. Where was the Baptist sect hiding for 16 centuries before John Smith came along at the start of the seventeenth century? And where did the Baptists fight for freedom of religion, as you suppose, when they only came into existence in the 17th century? There is no trace of distinctive Baptist groups for all these centuries. You should have a look at the writings of the Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter, on Apostolic Succession, on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, of Sacramental Penance, of Baptismal Regeneration, of Infant Baptism. The Baptist beliefs are nowhere to be found. Works such as JM Carroll’s Trail of Blood“, which attempt to trace Baptist origins to New Testament times, has been thoroughly refuted by reputable Baptist scholars.
If you Baptists cite the Bible in support of your distinctive beliefs, let me put the following to you: why do you think your sect’s beliefs are the correct interpretation of Scripture? Why not the Presbyterian/Methodist/Lutheran/other Baptist/ in fact why not any of the thousands and thousands of sects that are out there? Do you have any idea how to know which is the true Church? Using the principle of Bible Alone“ you have no objective measure of knowing which interpretation is the true one. So when you say I study the Bible and find out the Catholic Church teaching is against the Bible“, what you really are saying is I study the Bible and find what the Catholic Church teaches is against what the Baptist sect I belong to tells me the Bible teaches.
Conrad, you have been led into error. I suggest you get a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read it prayerfully. You say the Catholic Church teaching is contrary to what the Bible is teaching. So perhaps you would like to tell us all how the Baptists interprets Matthew 16:18 or Matt. 18:18. How about the Bread of Life Discourse in John 6? Isn’t it ironic that we in the Catholic Church take Jesus at His Word in these verses, but you Baptists like to pick and choose, and then you are the one who tell us the Bible is against the Catholic Church? Then why do you say the Catholic teaching is contrary to Scripture?
What gives Baptists or anyone else the right to make merely symbolic the texts of Scripture, or to say the Catholic Church is interpreting the Scriptures wrongly? Is the Catholic Church teaching contrary to what the Bible teaches, or contrary to what the Baptists say it teaches?
Look at James 2:24 you see a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone“. The astonishing confusion among the post-Reformation sects as a result of trying to distort this verse into a faith alone“ theology, instead of taking the verse at face value, as the Catholic Church does (which isnotthe same as teaching salvation by works) is evident when you pick up the phone book and look at the list of churches.
Even Martin Luther once said faith alone saves [Romans 3:28] and faith alone does not save [James 2:24] If anyone can reconcile these two verses, I’ll put my doctor’s cap on him and let him call me a fool“. Well, you know something, the Catholic Church can reconcile these two verses, without any difficulty whatsoever, simply by understanding that the works“ condemned by St. Paul are works done under the system of LAW, and hence attempting to obligate God to reward man; whereas the works cited by James in James 2:24 and also by Paul in Romans 2, are works done under the New Covenant system of GRACE, which do not obligate God, rather God in the Scriptures Himself promises to reward those who persist in doing good (see e.g. Romans 2:6-8). it is such a simple solution, but non-Catholic groups cannot see it because they approach the Bible with a preconceived idea of faith alone“, among other errors. Luther himself left out Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation. Why do you think he was wrong, and why is your opinion of the Canon of Scripture, or any Baptist’s, better than his? So you cannot tell for certain even which books belong in the Bible, without the infallible guidance of the Catholic Church, which decided this issue in the late 4th century.

The reason I am making a point of faith alone“ and Bible alone“ is because these are the two principal errors that non-Catholic sects, including Baptists, fall into. In particular, Bible alone“ (also called sola scriptura) is the single most important reason for denominationalism factionalism, because it puts the interpretation of the Bible at the mercy of each individual reader’s interpretation. In contrast, once one has recognized that Christ established a Church and appointed Peter as the leader and the Apostles and their successors as teachers, rather than having people in New Testament times picking up some letters of Scriptures (which they did not even know were Scriptures till Pope Damasus I pronounced the canon of the Bible in 382AD !!) and trying to figure out the gospel message. We see St. Paul preaching the gospelHe never told people to try to figure out the gospel just by reading his letters. Christ Himself never told the Apostles to write (except the Book of Revelation, which He told John to write).
We even see in Acts 17 when Paul is preaching that Jesus is the Christ, and the Bereans read the Scriptures to see if this squares with what they read. However, and this is the point so many non-Catholics miss in regard to the Bereans, the OLD Testament Scripture, while prophesying of the coming Christ, neveranywhere in the Old Testament identified the Christ with Jesus of Nazareth. It was St. Paul who gave the Bereans this teaching, and the Bereans checked to see if it fitted the prophecies; they could not check from the Old Testament Scriptures whether Jesus was the Christ, because it is nowhere mentioned there! They needed the oral revelation, as given authoritatively by the Catholic Church.
Furthermore, if the Bible says the Catholic Church teachings are wrong, then please explain to us all why the Catholic Church has made such efforts through history to defend it from those who would misinterpret it? Why are there several readings from the Bible at Mass, if the Catholic Church has been teaching error? Why has the Catholic Church been so keen to make translation of the Bible available from long before Reformation times (example: Rev. Graham in his book Where we got the Bible“, lists the following translations even before the time of Wycliffe: Spanish, Italian, Danish, French, Norwegian, Polish, Bohemain, Hungarian, English Graham. He also notes that there were in fact 18 German editions of the whole Bible before Luther, the first one being at Strasbourg in 1466.) Wouldn’t you agree this is strange activity for a Church which is supposedly teaching against the Bible?
You say you are a Bible baptist“, but nowhere does the Bible say baptism is by immersion only; nowhere does it say baptism is only a symbol; nowhere does it say the Lord’s Supper is only a symbol; nowhere does it say sola scriptura“; nowhere does it say the Church is the invisible body of believers; nowhere does it say we should figure out the Bible for ourselves, instead of letting Christ’s own appointed Authority to teach us; yet you call yourself a Bible baptist“. There is only one Church which is truly Biblical, and that is the one founded by Christ, the Catholic Church. (It is not a 17th century sect founded by John Smith, with no historical record from before that time.)
On the subject of the Inquisition, you believe a very distorted view of history, which I will address in a moment. But first I would point out that the Catholic Church opposes coercion in the area of religion, and has done so from the earliest days. What was different about the times of the Inquisition was the social order of Europe. In centuries past, religious rebellion amounted to civil revolution, and those who incited religious uprising were in fact terrorists and revolutionaries. The reason for this was as follows: before the Protestant revolt in the 16th century, the whole of Europe was Catholic. Not only that, but the social order was such that the various states of Europe identified themselves with the Catholic faith. Hence any attack by heresy on the Catholic faith was perceived as an attack on the State and even on society itself. This point is crucial. The whole idea of the inquisition was a means of protection for both Church and State against the threat of heresy (and hence social revolution).
The reasoning for the institution of the Spanish Inquisition in 1478 was to root out the false „conversos“, i.e. those who had converted to the Catholic faith from Judaism or Islam but who had not done so genuinely, and continued in secret to practise their old religion. Spain at the time had many such false conversos (tens of thousands, in fact), and they represented a threat to the security of the state. Why? Because Spain, like the whole of Europe, was under threat from Muslim invasion., and had been at war with the Muslims for over 700 years; hence any Muslims who went undetected in Spanish society and gained positions of power, these people represented a very real threat to the possible invasion of Spain by Muslim forces (please remember this was a wartime situation, and security was a paramount issue). The Pope was an overseer and could not control everything that was happening in what was, at the end of the day, an affair of the State; in fact, in one case the pope reprimanded two Dominicans, Miguel de Morillo and Juan de San Martin, for abuse of their powers. In total, there were something like 2000 executions in the Spanish Inquisition, and these were done by the civil authorities, the ecclesiastical tribunal having no part in the executions, but merely in determining if the charges were true or not. (There is one celebrated anti-Catholic source which claims 50 millionwere executed by the Inquisition, but of course this is a ludicrous figure; they would hve had to execute all the Catholics in Europe, and more, to get to that figure!)
I will also point out an error in your reasoning. If you say that the Catholic Church cannot be considered a Christian church because of the Inquisition (and I am not denying that there were abuses), then what do you make of the Protestant churches inquisitions“, in particular John Calvin’s theocratic state in Geneva where in just five years he had 58 people sentenced to death, among then Michael Servetus. It is a fact that in post-Reformation times, the crimes committed against Catholic people by revolutionary Calvinists and other Protestants was truly shocking. Also, the Penal Laws against the Catholics of Ireland and England in the 17th and 18th centuries were horrendous, but no one would say Protestant churches are not truly Christian (even though they have serious defects form the point of view of ecclesiology). (There is an article at my personal website on the crimes committed by the Puritan Calvinists against the Catholics of Ireland in the 17th century here ).
The point is this: would you deny that Protestant churches are Christian churches just because of the abuses of John Calvin in Geneva or the massacres of the Puritan Calvinists in Ireland and England, or the killing by King Henry VIII of England of 3% of the Catholics of that country? So, because there were some abuses in the Inquisition (and I do not condone them),yet it is very wrong to claim that the Catholic Church is somehow not Christian.

The reason why many Fundamental Baptists call the Roman Catholic Church of the devil“. It is because of a) bad theology and b) misreading of history.
With this in mind, I invite you to return to the Catholic Church.
God bless, .
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