Wednesday, August 3, 2016

David Cloud, Ecumenism, and Catholic Brothers in Christ

The caption read, “This is why we don't listen to the Gaithers” and the link led to a long article by David Cloud on why the Gaithers are not model Christians ("disobedient to the Word of God").

Cloud dives into several topics, but most of it can be boiled down to addressing false ecumenism (compromising truth for the sake of a false sense of unity) and a trend in this “judge not” mindset, where people are confusing the right judgment of actions with the wrong judgment of a person's soul. Whether the Gaithers are actually guilty of these, I didn't really see. It would be nice to hear both sides before making a judgment, and I'm simply not familiar with the Gaithers.

However, on those two important topics, I do agree with David Cloud's overall position.
This notion that we can all come together in different faiths with different views about what Truth is, and have “unity”, is false. We cannot compromise Truth for the sake of unity, because in doing so we render Truth meaningless. Ecumenism, TRUE ecumenism, on the other hand, is imperative to the Christian faith whose unity is the desire of Christ. Christ founded ONE Church, prayed for it's unity in no less a way in which God the Father and God the Son are united, and this call for unity is carried through the Epistles of Scripture and Christ's Holy Church (Jn 10:16, 17:17-23; Eph 4:3-6; Rom 12:5, 15:5, 16:17; 1Cor 1:10, 12:13; Phil 2:2, Col 3:15; etc...and the writings of St. Cyprian [250 ad], Tertullian [197 ad], St. Hillary [c.300's], etc.). True ecumenism seeks to bring people with differing beliefs together and flesh out Truth, for the sake of Truth, and be united in that uncompromising Truth. It is part of the Great Commission to “...go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you...” (Mt 28:16-20). Yet, we can't very well make a disciple of someone without delving into ecumenical dialog, can we? Let me think now...when was the last time a pagan decided to become a Christian just because I told him he should?

I also like how he points out that Scripture does, indeed, call us to “judge” actions. Many times throughout the Old and New Testaments we are called to rebuke the sinner and not suffer sin upon our neighbor (Mt 7:5, 18:15-17; 1Cor 5:1-13; Gal 6:1-2; James 5:19; Lev 19:17; 1Thess 5:14; 2Thess 3:14; Col 3:16, etc). We are indeed told not to judge, lest we be judged (Lk 6:36-38), but Christ was not talking about discerning whether or not an action is wrong. We are supposed to judge actions, just not people. I was unclear in Mr. Cloud's final thoughts on the homosexual that the Gaithers had apparently promoted. I believe he would agree, however, that it is the sin of homosexual acts which are an abomination, and not the persons themselves.

Where I take issue with David Cloud is in his treatment of Catholics and the teachings of the Catholic Church. He apparently does not believe we are Christians, judging by his comment, “Gaither’s friends...are ecumenical and accept Roman Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ in spite of Rome’s false sacramental gospel and its heresies pertaining to the papacy, Mary, the priesthood, etc.” He also mentions a Priest who allegedly said that “purgatory is necessary for salvation”, as though this is a Catholic doctrine.

For starters, I highly doubt that Father Tom Forrest said that purgatory is necessary for salvation. That would be a gross misunderstanding in what we believe about purgatory, and about salvation. Purgatory, of course, is the final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The official doctrine of the Church, that Fr. Tom Forrest would have known, says, “All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030).

The Catholic principles for Purgartory are deeply rooted in Scripture. Straight from the Bible we see, explicitly:
-that a man can be punished for his sin AFTER he has been forgiven (2Sam 12:13-18);
-that there is a place where a man, after he has died and is saved, can suffer loss as through fire (1Cor 3:13-15);
-that there is a place, or process, where the SPIRITS of *just* men are made perfect (Heb 12:22-23);
-and that nothing unclean can enter Heaven (Rev 21:27).

Where is this place that Scripture tells us about, where the SPIRITS of JUST men are made perfect, where a man, though he is saved, can suffer loss as through fire? Is it Heaven? No. We don’t suffer loss in Heaven. Is it hell? No. No one gets out of hell. The Church has given the name “Purgatory” to this place, or process, where our souls are made clean…because nothing unclean shall enter Heaven (Rev 21:27).

On the other hand, let's pretend this Priest really said that. Why does that make the Catholic Church wrong, just because a Catholic said something that the Church doesn't teach? Should we judge the Church based on those who don't teach what the Church teaches? Let me ask more pointedly, shall we judge the first Christians by the actions and beliefs of Judas? Shall we judge the veracity of Christ's Church on the actions of ALL but one of His Apostles abandoning Him at the cross? No. We should go by what the Church actually teaches.

Secondly, how are Catholics not “brothers and sisters in Christ”? We ARE Christians, afterall! Here's a question for Mr. Cloud, and ANY Christian reading this who doesn't think Catholics are Christians: what makes a person a Christian? Please answer this directly, and cite the passage from Scripture by which you answer. (You can post in the comments...they are always open for anyone, no registration required.)
Catholics are indeed Christians. We profess our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at every single Mass. Many of us profess Him every single day, multiple times per day. So, if that doesn't make me a Christian, please tell me, citing the pertinent Scriptural passage, what does? (Seriously, I would love to go into this more deeply.)

And what, exactly, is so “false” about a sacramental Gospel? Does Mr. Cloud even know what “sacramental” means? Did he not study the history of the Christian faith which has been filled with Sacraments from the very beginning? For those who may not know, “sacrament” means “mystery” or “the sign of something sacred and holy”. God's creation of man, and our redemption, was done in a visible manner (our physical existence and visible love for God and others, for example) to signify something invisible (our spiritual existence with God, for example). The Sacraments were given to us by Christ as visible signs which effect the invisible graces they signify. In other words, they are God's way of giving us invisible grace through a visible sign in a visible world full of visible people who live much of their lives responding to visible things.
There are seven Sacraments, and they are all rooted in Scripture (and the teachings of Christ's Holy Church) and given to us by our Lord to help us live out our relationship with Him. They are:

Baptism – by which we are washed from sin, reborn as sons of God, and made members of Christ. Some Scriptural references to Baptism are 2Kgs 5:14; Ez 36:25-27; Acts 2:38-39, 16:15,33, 22:16; 1Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27; Col 2:11-12; 1Pet 3:20-21; Jn 3:5,22-23; Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:16.

Confirmation – by which we are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:15-18, 19:5-6; Hb 6:2 speak to this.

Reconciliation (Confession) – by which we are reconciled to God after having committed sins after our Baptism. You can find this (with its “shadow of the good to come”, Hb 10:1-2) in Lv 5:4-6, 19:21-22; Mt 3:6, 9:6-8, 18:18; Mk 2:7; Jn 20:21-23; Acts 19:18; 2Cor 5:18-19; James 5:16; 1Jn 1:9-10.

Eucharist – by which we unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life. This source and summit of Christian life comes from Christ and can be found in Jn 6:31-70; Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:17-20, 24:30-35; 1Cor 10:16-17, 11:23-30, and is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament.

Matrimony – by which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership for life and order their new life, as one flesh, for the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. This can be found in Gen 2:18-25; Mt 19:5-6; Hb 6:2.

Holy Orders – by which certain Christians answer God's call to enter into the apostolic ministry of His Church. Gen 14:18; Ex 19:22; Psalm 110:4; Malachi 2:7; Jn 20:21; Acts 9:17, 13:3, 14:23, 20:28; Eph 4:11; 1Thess 5:12; 1Tim 1:6, 4:14; Titus 1:5; Hb 5:1, 7:17 are great examples of this.

Anointing of the Sick – by which the ill/dying are commended to the suffering and glorified Lord, that He may raise them up and save them. This Sacrament is found in James 5:14-16; Mt 10:8; Mk 6:13,18. See also Rom 8:17; Col 1:24; 2Tim2:11-12; 1Pet 4:13, etc...

These are not only rooted in the Scriptures, but they have been a part of Christ's Holy Catholic Church for 2,000 years. How the teaching of Scriptures can be a “false gospel” is beyond me. And how Mr. Cloud missed these in his Bible is even further so. I wonder if Mr. Cloud realizes that his rejection of the Sacraments is a novel and gradual teaching of man beginning no earlier than the 16th century? Christians have been participating in Sacraments for as long as there have been Christians.

And what are these “heresies” pertaining to Mary, the Papacy, and the Priesthood? I'm really not sure what he's referring to. I'm not sure he even has a definition for “heresy”.

What the Church teaches about Mary, as Dogma:
-her Immacualte Conception and being saved by God by a special grace at the moment of her conception (Lk 1:28,30,37; Gn 3:15; Ex 25:11-21);
-the Theotokos or “God Bearer”, a.k.a. “Mother of God” (Lk 1:35,43; Mt 1:23; Gal 4:4);
-her Perpetual Virginity (Lk 1:34, 2:41-51; cff. Mk6:3; Mt 27:56Jn 19:25-26, etc.);
-and her glorious Assumption (Rev 11:19-12:1; Gn 5:24; Hb 11:5; 2Kngs 2:11; cff. Mt 27:52; 1Thess 4:17; 1Cor 15:52)
are ALL rooted in the Person of Christ. In other words, Mary is all of those things because of Who Jesus is, and what He did for her.
Jesus is God; Mary is His Mother. Pretty simple to understand, no?
Think of the Arc and what it contained (manna, symbol of the Priesthood, and the written law). Now think about Who Mary contained in her womb, a womb which was hand-picked by God, (THE Bread of Life, THE High Priest, THE Word of God). Pretty simple to understand, no?
There is nothing heretical about honoring Christ's Mother, whom God first honored. And I dare say that no person on Earth can ever honor her more than God did, choosing her to be the Mother of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

The Papacy is not only found throughout Christian history, it also is rooted in Scripture in the words of Christ Himself, fulfilling Is 22:22, when he gave Peter, and Peter alone, the Keys to the Kingdom (Mt 16:18-19) and changed Simon's name to “Peter”. It is reaffirmed by Christ when Peter, and Peter alone, is charged with strengthening his brothers after Christ is to die (Lk 22:32). Peter's primacy is shown in several places in Scripture (Mk 16:7; Lk 24:34; Acts 1:13-26, 2:4, 3:6-7, 5:1-11, 8:21, 10:44-46, 15:7, 15:19, Gal 1:18). Sure, Paul had to rebuke him for setting a bad example regarding the Gentile converts, but even Peter's denial of Christ before the crucifixion didn't stop Christ from making him THE shepherd of Christ's flock (Jn 21:15-17). Peter's name always heads the list (Mt 10:1-4; Mk 16:7; cff. Mt 18:21;Mk 8:29; Lk 8:45, 12:41; Jn 6:69). Peter is named 195 times in the New Testament. That's more than all the other Apostles combined. The Papacy follows from Peter's office, which Christ conferred upon him, and was handed down through the ages via Apostolic Succession...because Christ's Church was meant for ALL of us...not just the first century Christians.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out what David Cloud means by “the priesthood” when it comes to a supposed heresy. My best guess is in regards to confessing sins to a Priest. (Again, my comment box is always open if someone wants to clarify.)
Confessing sins to a Priest is as natural a part of Christianity as being Baptized. When we are Baptized, we are made clean. But guess what? We sin against God at some point in our Christian life (some of us daily). And for that, Christ gave us the beautiful Sacrament that allows us to KNOW, beyond any doubt, that our sins are really forgiven when we confess them. This, also, is deeply rooted in Scripture. Rather than repeat what I've written many time before on this topic, I'll just type the pertinent passages along with THIS link to this short article I wrote some time ago. Jn 20:21-23; Lv 5:5-6; Nm 5:5-10; Mt 3:6, 9:2-8; Acts 19:18; 2Cor 5:17-20; James 5:13-16; Mt 18:18; 1Jn 1:9, 5:16.

I don't see anything at all heretical in any of that. I see sound Christian doctrine which has been handed down from Christ to His Apostles, and from His Apostles to His Holy Church, led by the Holy Spirit for all ages.

The fact is, the Catholic Church is THE Church founded by Christ, and because of that, it is THE Church guided by the Holy Spirit and cannot err in it's teachings on faith and morals, despite the sinners (all of us) within it.
If you think that's a bold claim, I invite you to take THIS little quiz, and I hope you will answer honestly and directly. It's from a friend and the President of the Bible Christian Society, John Martignoni.
May God bless you all!