Saturday, July 15, 2006

Thank God for history. . .

I must preface this post with this: I used to listen to Chuck Smith and bought a few of his talks on cassette tape. I thought he was so brilliant. He may very well be an intelligent man, and a good Christian with a good heart, but like so many, COMPLETELY WRONG about the Catholic Church. I know because I was wrong about the CC too. . .for years!

While going through my closet and cleaning out a wide assortment of books accumulated over the last 30 years, I came across a little book by Chuck Smith, of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, CA. This is not going to be a bashing commentary on him, but more on the gratitude I have for 2000 years of history of the Catholic Church. My gratitude is expressed everywhere on this blog site. Also on my blog, Kid Sis of St. Clare.

The book titled: What The World Is Coming To is 207 pages. The table of contents was where I decided to go first. The book is comprised of Chuck Smith's 22 commentaries on the 22 chapters of the book of Revelation. I quickly scanned down the list to find chapter 13. The Antichrist. I wanted to see if he'd written anything about the Catholic Church in that chapter. This book was first printed in 1977 so I figured I'd find some misconceptions about the CC in that chapter. I didn't find any . . .there. However, in chapter 17, lo and behold, the chapter titled Counterfeit Church was a page and a half directed toward the Catholic Church. This is an excerpt quoted exactly as written from pages 154,155. Chuck, I pray you have or will speak to someone in the CC who can help you get your facts straight. I do hope you have changed or will change your mind from what you wrote 30 years ago. Here is the excerpt:

"The priesthood didn't exist in the early Church but did exist in the Babylonian religion. The introduction of idols, the introduction of penance, even the worship and the rituals themselves, all had their origin in the Babylonian religion. These were gradually introduced and made part of the Church. They were not existent in the early Church but became a corrupt form or worship. The Lord calls them spiritual "fornication." This is actually the worship of God in unprescribed ways and manners. The Israelites sought to do this in the Old Testament. They were worshiping God after the ways of the pagans and heathens rather than after the way God had prescribed through Scriptures.
During the period of the great Inquistions, millions of true and faithful believers in Jesus Christ, who were looking for the simplicity and beauty of worshiping Him, were martyred. It is a fact of history. It's the black and dark history of the Church that we hate to acknowledge. But you cannot deny the facts.
We do not seek to speak against our Christian brothers, and there are many beautiful Christian brothers and sisters today within the Catholic Church. I am so thankful for the revival that is taking place within the Catholic Church and I rejoice in what God is doing there. He is drawing out His overcomers. He is drawing them unto Himself. The spiritual revival within the Catholic Church today is unparalleled in its history.
In the Vatican, several thousand charismatci Catholics gathered together in St. Peter's for mass, worshiping God, and singing some of the choruses from Calvary Chapel. Pope Paul encouraged these believers to receive all the spiritual gifts and to become4 more fervent in tehir worship of God. Then he surprised them all by ending his speech with "Praise the Lord!" God is moving by His Spirit within that system. I've been praying for that for years and I'm thrilled to see it.
Nonetheless, the history is still there. That we cannot deny."

Okay, for all the "Chucks" out there, who write books with possibly good intentions, but yet so misinformed about the C.C., I'm here to say "Thank God for the 2000 year history of ONE TRUE CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH. THE GATES OF HELL HAVE NOT PREVAILED AND WILL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST HER." First of all, your claim in your book that there was no priesthood in the early Church is fallacious. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The one priesthood of Christ

1544 Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the "one mediator between God and men."[15] The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, "priest of God Most High," as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique "high priest after the order of Melchizedek";[16] "holy, blameless, unstained,"[17] "by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,"[18] that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.

1545 The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ's priesthood: "Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers."[19]

There were some good things about the Charismatic movement in the Church, you're correct. There were also grave atroscities against the 2nd Vatican Council documents by bishops and priests and lay people who took it upon themselves to start interpreting those documents to mean "anything goes" now. It was not only a "silly season" of the Church in many ways, but a sloppy season, and I dare to say, dangerous season.

Many wolves dressed in wooly coats crept in and wreaked havoc on many Catholics and many left the Church because of their sloppy theology. I know, because we left after only being involved in the Charismatic group for 2 + years. We left because the Truth was being abused and not being told. It is a fact that I was drawn away to a more pentecostal expression found in another fellowship where it was even more "lively" and the music was "better." I was shallow and I admit it. But I had no idea we were leaving Jesus's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity either. I was ignorant of that fact. Just because guitars came on the scene and nifty bright artsy felt banners hung from the walls and ceilings in the new 'hip and with it' sanctuary, did little to keep seekers of the Truth there. The Truth, as it is being proclaimed now, had it been fully explained to me then, might have kept me there.

Then again, I was becoming more and more swayed against the CC. so maybe the grace was given and I ignored it and or I wasn't open enough to receive it. All I know is that it was so bland, compared to the church I'd been going to in California, that I longed for the real "Jesus Freak" songs, drums and amplifiers. I wanted to go where it was really rocking with louder electric guitars, not just the accoustic ones. So where does it end up, Chuck? It ends up making Church about "me and what I want. My tastes and my likes and dislikes" and that isn't good. That is when you're ripe for a sneak assault by the enemy. Where he can lead you on a rabbit trail or down a worm hole. You end up with "just me and my Jesus" and "nobody is going to tell me how and where I worship" attitude.

Hence every neighborhood mini mall or movie theater sprouts a fellowship, a "fun fabulous, fantastic, fellowship with Starbucks coffee and the lastest in "worship music." Hip, "with it" preachers who dress cool and talk even cooler! Bands that can really get the congregants "revved up" and then a 45 minute sermon (they have to talk that long because that's what the people pay them for and they need to get their money's worth.) Usually the message is always so great you want to buy the tape and listen to it again. I have a STACK of 'em in a drawer downstairs to prove it.

The messages were fine, in and of themselves, for the most part. There were kernels of truth but mostly certain scriptures, rather than taken in the whole context of a chapter or more. But these messages were NOT THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH by any stretch of the imagination, Chuck. I notice you now claim that Calvary Chapel you started in the 70's, and your ministry, The Word Today, is teaching the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. All the messages are simply different pastors' commentaries on the Word of God as THEY INTERPRET IT. Again, no authority, means NO AUTHORITY. Some might have trouble with the Pope, but yet, they have no trouble "being popes unto themselves." Who then should we believe is really RIGHT, Chuck? You? Why would it be you and not the pastor in the Baptist church? Or the Methodist church? Or the non-denominational independent little flock down the street? Do you see where I'm going with this?

Ecumenism is a great thing and should always be encouraged, but not at the expense of Truth being watered down to attract a crowd. It can become an idol, if that's the case. It's a wonderful thing to praise God with all Christians, it really is. However, if we're unfaithful to Catholic Church doctrine, or dogma as set forth by the Pope and the Magisterium, we are unfaithful to Jesus Christ Himself! He didn't start this Church in the70's, He instituted His Church 2000 years ago. He gave the hierarchy for that very reason, to keep the FLOCK SAFE from winds of strange and heretical doctrines. To be "hip" and to speak "evangelicalese" is not the goal of the Catholic Church Jesus established. To evangelize, yes. It was never the goal of Christ to attract as many followers as he could by becoming "indistinguishable" from the world. He was a radial, counter-cultural force, who overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple and He watered down nothing! The followers who followed Him were following for the Truth they heard from Him and witnessed Him living in those 3 years. Those who were sick knew they needed what He offered them as their Great Physician.

There are many ex-Catholics, and lapsed Catholics, who are now part of, drawn to, or visiting evangelical churches and fellowships, who were either poorly catechised, or just didn't know their faith, or didn't care to learn it. They got swallowed up into the extremes of where the Charismatic movement, in some instances, found itself - in a place God did not direct them to go and with this attitude: "As long as you love the Lord, it doesn't matter where you go." Oh really? JESUS NEVER SAID THAT! IT DOES MATTER! To be a Catholic and to leave the Catholic Church is NOT A GOOD THING. GOD NEVER LEADS ANYONE OUT OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH! Those who think He has led them out are believing a lie. That pervasive attitude did nothing but further divide the Body of Christ! That is not a happy commentary on the Charismatic movement of the 1970's. Happily, there are now approximately 200,000 people returning to the CC a year as reverts/converts. Many protestant ministers, pastors are delving into history and finding the need to "jump the Tiber."

You wrote that "the Holy Spirit is working in this system." Well, I hope so! But it's not a system He's working in at all. He's working in HIS CHURCH, which is not just another 'denomination.' It is the the Church Jesus built on Peter that has not swerved off the path on matters of faith and morals. That is why we have a Pope, and the magisterium. That is the Authority Jesus himself gave to the Church to preserve Her. And that he handed down to his apostles to hand down to their successors. It doesn't mean that wolves and enemy forces don't get in the door and deceive the some of the flock. It is a church made up of sinners afterall.

Not everything was wrong in the 70's and I'm not blaming any one priest or this or that group for our leaving. But MUCH went wrong when the pride of many took over and led others to believe that what the Church had condemned such as birthcontrol, was now "okay, as long as it didn't go against one's conscience." Holy Mother Church NEVER said it was okay to suddenly contracept. To do away with devotions, and to hardly see a rosary being prayed, except by "little old ladies" was a shame. (Thank God for those little old ladies praying the rosary! I might not be here if it weren't for their devoted prayers!) The Church has never said it's okay to make up the rules as you go. She never has allowed women to be priests and never will. She never said, "Play rock and roll and they will come!" She is now cleaning up the house, and sacred Tradition and Orthodox teaching are coming back in a cleansing tide! Many children of Vatican II parents are coming back into the Church for the same reason their parents left or "dissented"... Tradition and Orthodoxy! In plain English - TRUTH. That is what brought us back to the Catholic Church and what will keep us here for the rest of our lives and to join Her, we pray, in Heaven.

I "did it my way" as far as my faith journey went, for 30 years, Chuck. I did learn and grow to some extent in the good churches we were part of, but in a way, I also drifted farther from God and more into myself, since the focus was on externals and "my tastes." The Eucharist, the reverent, holy, liturgical beauty, that so many independent fellowships have no regard for,(and still protest against) is what drew our hearts.
The beauty in Catholic worship, the art, the music, (though not a rock band) is sublime. The churches are built and crafted for the purpose of
drawing one toward heaven, to "ascend" to the Holy, to be inspired toward goodness and the things of God. The crucifix reminds us always of the Love of God for us. To have an empty cross is better than no cross at all, yet somehow, without our Lord on that cross, we might have a tendency to "forget the cost" of the forgiveness we cherish. And to remember that living our faith will cost us and we WILL SUFFER as our Lord said. The statues are "helps" and reminders of our brothers and sisters that have lived and gone on to Heaven and who are praying for our souls to fight the good fight and cross the finish line. None of the art, or the statues are worshiped.

Not that everything I did or got involved in was bad, but the focus was on "me" not Jesus. I heard and learned much about Jesus and heard parts the "good news," but it all falls far short of the FULLNESS of TRUTH found in the Catholic Church. It's not about the music, or how eloquent the priest's homily is, or the videos they might show, but it's about the Eucharist. The bible alone doesn't cut it. It was never meant to be elevated entirely without sacred Tradition. Certainly not everyone's own interpretations of scripture, to the point where we now have over 30,000 denominations in America! Jesus established A CHURCH, not manythousands of disagreeable churches. I know you're a man that loves the Lord,but please, may I suggest you visit some links listed here on this blog and find out the TRUTH about the Catholic Church, before you drag Her Holy Name through a muddy melee of misguided notions.

The Church did not become "corrupt." That does not mean there were no bad popes or people in the Church. Peter denied Christ, but yet, regained his chair. We do not worship Mary. We honor her as Christ honored and still does honor HIS MOTHER. We do not worship or pray to idols. We do not pray to the dead. The Saints are more alive than we are! They're praying for us. We did NOT ADD books to the Old Testament. Luther took them out! He also wanted to remove James and Hebrews and a few others! The arrogant tone the "facts" in your book are stated with, speaks more about you than it does the 'system' you were, and maybe still are, hoping will become "saved" one day. Though you may not have meant your words to sound that way, they do. Who is your authority? The bible? The bible doesn't even claim that anywhere. Are you your own authority? If so, remember, so was Jim Jones, and so was David Koresh. They were "bible believing Christians" who just interpreted the bible "their own way." I pray you are not still spreading these lies. I know your intent was not malicious, but it's very damaging just the same. You'd not even have a bible to read or believe in if it weren't for the Catholic Church, so do remember that and maybe we can praise the Lord together sometime . . .at Mass! Again, I can only say, "Thank God for history!" TRUTH WILL OUT! It always does. And one final thought, if you would take the time to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Chuck,you will understand and perhaps remedy the erroneous "facts" you've written and believed in for all these many years. God bless.

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