Welcome to my new blog. Through this blog, I hope to draw Christians closer to Christ and to His Church—that ancient, orthodox church that has existed since Christ birthed it on the cross; that Church which Christ leads through his vicar in Rome and the bishops united with him; that Church which Christ nourishes through the saving work of his seven sacraments—the Holy, Roman Catholic Church. If this blog is to be successful in its mission, it can only be through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the intercession of all God’s saints and angels. Most especially, I ask for the intercession of our Queen Mother, Jesus’s mother, Mary. I also ask for the intercession of St. Francis de Sales, whose missionary work at the time of the Protestant Reformation led to the return of 72,000 souls to the Catholic Church. He accomplished this in only four years. Finally, inspired by the evangelistic spirit of our late Holy Father, John Paul the Great, I ask for his intercession that many souls will be drawn into full communion with the glorious Bride of Christ so that the New Evangelization he ignited may spread like wildfire throughout the United States and the world.
Finally, I offer this blog because I take Christ’s high priestly prayer—that we may be one as He and the Father are one—seriously (see John 17). Jesus prayed that his followers would be one so that the world may know that the Father sent Him. If the world continues to see Christians divided into 30,000+ denominations and contradictory teachings, let us not be surprised when we are laughed at rather than listened to (1). The burden is on us to discuss the differences that divide us, and I invite those who can’t imagine a united Christian church to consider for a moment if Christ ever prayed in vain (2).
Granted, some individuals—such as the Protestant “reformers”—choose to turn away from Christ’s true church for a variety of reasons, and in doing so, they cause scandal in the church, tearing the gown of Christ’s Bride (3). The choice that today’s Christians are faced with is whether they will remain loyal to the “institutions of division” (John Paul II, Ut unum sint) these individuals established, or rather if they will make the difficult and awesome choice to return home to the One, the only, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic Church. This Church contains the full deposit of faith—the faith of our fathers, the faith that was left once and for all with the saints (Jude 3). It is a faith that has been taught unchanged for 2,000 years (the church is catholic in space and time), and it is a faith that is attracting thousands of Protestant pastors and laymen (even entire congregations!) to return to the Church.
The posts in this blog will fall into seven basic categories:
1. responses to attacks on the Catholic Church, especially regarding her teachings on faith and morals
2. strategies for explaining and defending elements of Catholic teaching
3. meditations and commentary on the teachings of the early church fathers
4. short reviews of Catholic and Protestant books, tapes, articles, and websites
5. responses to attacks on human life, especially pre-born, fetal human persons
6. meditations on the Church’s teaching on sexuality, with special emphasis on John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
7. general criticisms of uniquely Protestant traditions and doctrines, and occasionally, specific criticisms of the teachings of a particular Protestant church’s website, tracts, or sermons.
Many Protestant churches actively seek to pull Catholics out of the Catholic Church through subtle (and at times, not-so-subtle) attacks on Catholic doctrines. It is not surprising to find Protestant churches whose membership is well over 50% ex-Catholics. While I am thankful for the clarity and zeal with which many of these churches teach certain Christian doctrines (such as the existence of Hell and the lordship of Christ), I can not stand by and let them pull Catholics out of the one true Church or make it more difficult for people to enter the Catholic Church through false characterizations of her teaching.
Contrarily, if small groups of Catholics each made a point of choosing local Protestant denominations to share their faith with, much headway could be made in reconciling these partially separated members of Christ’s body. This blog is meant to be a model for how Catholic Christians may productively reach out to members of Christian denominations in an offensive (rather than defensive) manner. In the past thirty years, hundreds upon hundreds of Protestant pastors (and thousands of laymen) have converted to the Catholic Church. Their conversion stories often include a Catholic who actively reached out to them to dispel their misconceptions about the Church. Encouraged by this fact, I hope that this blog will help ex-Catholics and non-Catholics come to a better—a true—understanding of what the Catholic Church teaches. After all, there is only one reason to join the Catholic Church: she is true.
(1) The idea that the world can “see” a united Christian church speaks to the fact that Christ’s church is both visibly and invisibly united. Many Protestant Christians argue that the unity of Christ’s church is the invisible unity of all believers, but this contradicts Christ’s prayer that the church be unified in a way visible to non-believers. The assumption that the “church” can simultaneously be invisibly, spiritually united yet visibly shattered is a paradox that no Protestant has ever satisfyingly explained. In fact, this error leads many Protestants into another error: if the unity of the church is a spiritual unity based on the believer’s faith, then Christ’s assurance that the church would contain both wheat and chafe is rendered as meaningless. Christ never distinguished between a visible “church” and the true, invisible church. All of his statements about the Christian church suppose that it is both visible and invisible, spiritual and corporeal, a body and a soul—pairs that are inseparably united (see, for instance, Matt. 18). Only when the “reformers” decided that they no longer wanted to remain obedient to the authority of Christ’s church did they invent the doctrine of an invisible-only church. This doctrine, however, is a tradition of men and is not supported by any historical evidence until the Protestant “Reformation.”
(2) When God prayed "let there be light," remember what happened? How much more powerful and efficacious then would Christ's prayer be, especially when he backs it up by offering his own sacrifice on the cross the next day? A glance at the Catholic Church's unity of doctrine and moral teachings for the last 2,000 years proves that Christ's prayer was not in vain. He has been faithfully teaching his bride an unchanging message since He founded Her 2,000 years ago.
(3) I put “reform” in scare quotes because I’ve never understood how you can reform an organization by leaving it. Even if “reforming” the church required leaving it (which it couldn’t), there would be no reason to stay outside it once the church cleaned up its act (which it did—at least partially…as long as I am a member of the church, it will need more reform). The fact that the reformers didn’t return signals that their break with the Catholic Church was motivated by something other than a sincere impulse to reform Her. Rather, they introduced dangerous new Christian doctrines that divided Christians rather than drawing them closer to Christian unity. With the continuous splintering of denominations, what is needed today is a reformation of the “Reformation,” in which Protestants protest the failure of sola scriptura and resubmit their obedience to the authoritative Sacred Traditions (including the Bible) maintained by the Holy Spirit through the authoritative Magisterium of Christ’s Church.
In this sense, I hope that this blog helps people become true Protestants. True Protestants protest sin—including the sins of our fathers that have led to so much division. All sin divides: it divides marriages, families, relationships, and now Christians. True Protestants need not protest the Catholic Church as an institution, though they should always protest any sin they find in the Catholic Church, or in any other church for that matter. (For instance, the Protestant Reformers were right to protest the abuse of indulgences that was occurring in some Catholic parishes in the sixteenth century—an abuse that the Council of Trent decisively put a stop to.) Likewise, I hope this blog helps people become true Evangelicals—evangelical on Christ’s terms rather than ours. If we start with Christ’s prayer in John 17, that means first and foremost working on reestablishing true, visible Christian unity, so that the world may know that the Father sent Him. Having faith in Christ means that we must have faith in the possibility of this unity and work toward it (or else we render Christ’s prayer in John 17 as utterly naïve).
Many Protestant’s believe that the Catholic Church teaches false doctrines, but all too often, these Protestant’s have been given a false understanding of the Catholic Church’s teachings. Some people hate the Catholic Church and spread lies about Her teachings, lies that innocently filter into the perspectives held by well-meaning Protestants. I beg my Protestant brothers and sisters not to accept every accusation made against the church as true. If you want to know what Catholics really believe, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, conciliar documents, and papal encyclicals—all of which can be read free of charge at www.vatican.va. As for the doctrines that are not misunderstood yet still denied, I stand ready with a reason.