READ THE NEW TESTAMENT
The article “The Infiltration and Subversion of the Catholic Church” by Mike Mains in the TBR July/August 2022 issue was very interesting but there are factual problems with it. He has lots of truths about the Catholic Church, but even more errors. It seems the author does not know the New Testament.
First, I was born and raised a Catholic and remained so until I was 31 years old. I am currently 84 years old and a disabled veteran. I have a B.A. in theology and a master’s degree in Christian education. I preached for the Church of Christ for over 38 years. I went to the Sunset School of preaching from January 1971 to January 1972 and studied every book of the Bible.
Here are a few errors I want to correct:
- The Catholic Church was not established as such until A.D. 606.
- Read carefully Matthew 16:18 from a Greek Bible and you will find that Jesus did not declare Peter the pope. Verse 18: “You are Peter,” or “Petros,” which means very strong or a stone, but one that can be picked up and cast. “Upon this rock I will build My church.” The word for rock in Greek is “petra”—a very large rock or bedrock, something that cannot be picked up and cast aside.
- Also read Matthew 23:1-12. The terms rabbi, teacher, father, reverend … these are titles used mainly by the Catholic Church. Read 1 Timothy 4:1-8.
All of these practices preceded the Catholic Church.
A few more things. Catholic titles for Mary include “Mother of God,” “Queen of Heaven” and “Our Mediator” or “Intercessor.” But where are any of these titles found in the New Testament? Mary is also referred to as a “perpetual Virgin”—but the New Testament clearly says she had seven children.
Good article, but Mr. Mains needs to read the New Testament more carefully and, preferably, from a side-by-side Greek-English translation.
There are good reasons why the Catholic Church was infiltrated so easily—and why I left it years ago. It is not the true church.
This response addresses in detail the many errors found in a Letter to the Editor section of the January/February 2023 issue. This letter displays a very incipient grasp of theology, consistent with the rampant theological errors of the 1970s. In fact, it shows an ignorance of both history and the Bible.
First, we will address the crucial distortion or desertion of history when he asserts that the Catholic Church was not established until A.D. 606. It is certain he is not aware of the Fathers of the Church, who were eminent Catholics (many of them bishops) who wrote during the first centuries of the Christian era. For instance, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, in his letter to the Smyrnaeans (one of the seven letters he wrote on his way to martyrdom, at the time when the Church was being persecuted by the Roman Empire), wrote “Wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”
Saint Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John, was born in Syria around the year 35 A.D. and served as the third Catholic Bishop of Antioch in the year 67 until his martyrdom around the year 107 A.D. Another ancient Christian Father, Saint Augustine, the Catholic bishop of Hippo (born in 354 and died in 430), in his letter, “Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental,” stated:
“No one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion. For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church.”
And consider the Edict of Milan, issued in June of 313 A.D., when the Roman Emperor Constantine ended the persecution of the Catholic Church within the Roman Empire. This proclamation granted Catholics legal rights and directed the prompt return of their confiscated property. Were all these men (and we could cite many more) deluded, inventing a non-existent Church that was not established until A.D. 606? Absolutely supine ignorance of history!
Next, we will address the grave errors regarding Sacred Scripture. The Letter to the Editor beckons us to: “Read carefully Matthew 16:18 from a Greek Bible and you will find that Jesus did not declare Peter the pope. Verse 18: ‘You are Peter,’ or ‘Petros,’ which means very strong or a stone, but one that can be picked up and cast. ‘Upon this rock I will build My church.’ The word for rock in Greek is ‘petra’—a very large rock or bedrock, something that cannot be picked up and cast aside.”
Where do we start our corrections? First, we would start by agreeing that the New Testament in its vast majority was written in Greek, the prevalent language of that time, although some early Fathers of the Church claim that the Gospel of Matthew was written in Hebrew and perhaps also the Letter to the Hebrews written by Saint Paul. That, however, is the extent of our agreement, as we can see that the writer’s understanding of the Greek language is incipient, starting with the fact that in Greek (as in Spanish and other Romance languages) nouns have genders observed in their preceding articles and generally assigned by their endings; for instance, in Spanish a tree is masculine (el arbol) and a table is feminine (la mesa). Thus, it is imperative that a male, such as Simon the son of Jonas, be addressed in the Greek by using the male ending “os” instead of the female ending “as” when his name was changed from Simon to Petros, instead of Petras, which would have a feminine ending.
This becomes evident if you also realize that Jesus, when speaking to his apostles (who were mostly fishermen), spoke to them in their common language, Aramaic. This you can see in John 1:41-42 (Literal Standard Version) that states: “This one first finds his own brother Simon and says to him, ‘We have found the Messiah,’ (which is, being interpreted, Anointed One) and he brought him to Jesus: and having looked on him, Jesus says, ‘You are Simon, the son of Jonas, you will be called Cephas,’ (which is interpreted, a rock).”
Cephas is Aramaic for rock. Saint Paul actually uses that name in 1 Corinthians 15:5: “and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve” when speaking of the resurrected Jesus. The Aramaic settles the matter that Jesus was changing Simon’s name to ROCK and not stone as the writer insists, once again ignoring that the Greek language has a word for stone, namely, LITHOS, where we get our word “lithography” (from Ancient Greek λίθος, lithos ‘stone’, and γράφειν, graphein ‘to write’), which is a planographic method of printing. This bears repeating: it was ROCK and not “stone”!
Now, regarding the writer’s reference to Matthew 23: 1-12, he states that “the terms rabbi, teacher, father, reverend . . . these are titles used mainly by the Catholic Church. Read 1 Timothy 4:1-8. All of these practices preceded the Catholic Church.”
Here he forgets to mention that, in the same book of First Timothy, the apostle Paul sends anyone who wants to find the Truth to the Catholic Church (the only Christian church in existence at that time). Saint Paul did not send people to read the Bible (the canon of whose books was only officially determined by Pope Damasus I at the Council of Rome of 382 AD, again before A.D. 606, with Pope Damasus I being the 37th Bishop of Rome, with the present Pope Francis being the 266th).
Indeed, 1 Timothy 3:15 declares: “in case I am delayed, so that you may know how to behave in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”
Furthermore, the use of the word “father” (from which the name “Pope” or “Papa” comes) is due to the intentional link that Jesus, the founder of the Catholic Church, made with the words in Isaiah 22 where the unfaithful prime minister (mayordomo) is removed and a new one is put in his place.
Isaiah 22:21-22 states: “and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.”
These verses contain phraseology similar to (and reminiscent of) the words of Jesus to Peter in Matthew 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
This is why in many of the paintings and statues of Peter, the first Pope, he is shown holding the keys. Notice also that the individual in Isaiah was to become “a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah;” this is why Catholics since the beginning of the Church and the Apostles called priests “father.”
In fact, in 1 Corinthians 4:15, Paul refers to himself as “father” of his congregation! Since he could not have been disobeying the Lord and Savior who appeared to him on his fateful trip to Damascus, the literal proscription against calling a religious leader “father” cannot be the correct interpretation of Christ’s admonition recounted in Matthew 23:9.
But the writer’s most grievous error lies in attacking the supreme reverence Catholics have for our Blessed Mother when he mentions that “Catholic titles for Mary include ‘Mother of God,’ ‘Queen of Heaven’ and ‘Our Mediator’ or ‘Intercessor’. But where are any of these titles found in the New Testament? Mary is also referred to as a ‘perpetual Virgin’—but the New Testament clearly says she had seven children.”
The titles of Mary are not just traditional but biblical and historical. Historically speaking, the Hebrews had a custom (present in other neighboring peoples of the time) called the Gebirah, attributed to a queen mother, which the Strong’s Lexicon translates as “lady” or “queen.” The word Gebir denotes a man of great power and influence, and thus the Gebirah bore a similar relationship to the reigning king of Israel. Notice that the title was given to the mother of the king and not to his spouse (or spouses as the case was for Kings David and Solomon).
Let us recall that Bathsheba was the wife of King David and that the passage 1 Kings 1:15 states: “And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king. And Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou?”
Notice how Bathsheba herself bows before the king, his spouse. Not so when she approaches Solomon his son, the king in the next chapter. In 1 Kings 2-18-19, the text states: “And Bathsheba said, well; I will speak for thee unto the king. Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a throne to be set for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right hand.”
It is the king who this time bows before her and seats his mother on a throne at his right hand (the side of power). So it is with Mary, the mother of Jesus, the King of kings. Jesus is our King and Mary is the Gebirah, the queen mother who in the book of the Apocalypse is shown crowned in glory, namely Revelations 12:1: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.”
We know this reference to be of Mary, for the narrative continues in verse 5, stating: “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”
The one who rules all nations with a rod of iron is Jesus, the King of kings. Thus, so far, we have demonstrated biblically that Mary is indeed “Queen of Heaven” and “Our Mediator” or “Intercessor” (just like her prototype, also called a foreshadow, who came to visit King Solomon on behalf of someone else).
Now as to her title “mother of God”, we direct the writer to the Gospel of Luke 1:41-43: “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
The “mother of my Lord” is indeed the “Mother of God”, because her Son Jesus is Lord and God. Notice who is truly making this pronouncement through the mouth of the inspired Elizabeth about Mary: the Holy Spirit (the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, God Himself). So, who has the audacity to refute the Holy Spirit?
Moreover, I challenge the writer, or anyone for that matter, to find the exact text in the Bible where it says that Mary had seven children. Those words do not exist. A person will come up empty-handed, for all he would find are references to Jesus’ “brethren and sisters.”
But it was customary in antiquity to refer to close relatives (such as cousins and nephews) as brothers or sisters. See this in the case of Lot and Abraham. In Genesis 11:27 and Genesis 12:5, Lot is presented as Abraham’s nephew. Nevertheless, in Genesis 14:14, he is mentioned as Abraham’s brother.
This is the case regarding the reported “brothers” of Jesus, James and Joseph, found in Matthew 13:55: “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas,” who in the Gospel of John turn out to be the sons of Mary the wife of Cleophas in John 19:24 (“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene”).
Mark in his gospel 15:40-41 tells us as much: “Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.”
Mary the wife of Cleophas must have been our Blessed Mother’s cousin (or perhaps sister-in-law through a brother of her husband Joseph) when John refers to her as her sister, because no two sibling sisters would have had the same name (once again that tricky use of words when it came to relatives in antiquity lead some to the wrong conclusion).
Finally, regarding the perpetual virginity of Mary, aside from Catholic Tradition, it is attested by the very Bible itself where Matthew 1:23 refers to the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel.”
Observe that this Virgin not only conceives virginally but also this Virgin gives birth while remaining a virgin. This is the meaning of a “sign” that it is not a common occurrence and requires the intervention of God. So, we unite our voice to the early cry from the Eastern Orthodox who refer to Mary as the aeiparthenos or “ever virgin.” The writer then fails by not being able to connect the dots that Holy Mother Church has already established in her Magisterial teachings.
He concludes with: “There are good reasons why the Catholic Church was infiltrated so easily—and why I left it years ago. It is not the true church.”
For one thing, the presence of evil in a group proves nothing, because the band of Apostles included the traitor Judas Iscariot, who could be considered a subversive. In fact, Jesus warned in parables that such is the constitution of His Church, the kingdom of heaven here on earth, in the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:24-30: “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So, the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
The plan is clear: the separation of the infiltrators will be at the final judgment, but in the meantime the good and the bad will live side by side as shown also on the subsequent parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32: “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
Yes, the Church of Christ will have all kinds of birds in it, by design. It is the Church of the saints and the infiltrators.
But in a larger sense the writer fails to acknowledge and appreciate that the founder of the Catholic Church endowed His Church with the gift of indefectibility, when Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
That the gates of hell will not prevail signifies that this Church has an imperishable duration and immutability until the end of time. The First Vatican Council declared that the Church possesses “an unconquered stability” and that “built on a rock, she will continue to stand until the end of time.”
This is why those who have pretended to be the undertakers of the Catholic Church ended up being buried by Her. We will pray and hope that the writer of this Letter to the Editor will, like the “good thief,” find in short time his Catholic bearings in the Church that has survived throughout history and will remain so until the second and final coming of Her Founder.
David L. Vise
Submitted via email