Crossed The Tiber
An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism
- Name: Russ Rentler, M.D.
- Location: Pennsylvania, United States
I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Was St Ignatius a Wayward Disciple? An Unusual Proof of Eucharistic Doctrine
Many non-Catholic Christians insist that the meaning of John 6 regarding the body and blood is strictly metaphorical and that the early Christians always and only believed in a symbolic interpretation of the Lord's supper.
Now we know that most of the New Testament epistles were written as corrective exhortations, encouragements or gentle rebukes, and sometimes not so gentle ones ; "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?" If a congregation of the early church was doing something wrong, Paul or John or James was going to send them a letter letting them know how it should be. When Paul encouraged the believers to "not walk in the lust of the flesh", you know they were having problems with greed and lust and immorality. When he rebuked the Galatians for listening to the Judaizers who insisted they needed to be circumcised in order to be Christians, he straightened them out with pretty emphatic language: "As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!" Yikes!
Another time, when the heresy arose that Jesus didn't come in the flesh, but was spirit only(Docetism), John wrote his epistle to clarify what the true apostle's teaching was.
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. "
So if the true apostolic teaching espoused that the Eucharist was strictly symbolic, why didn't any of the epistles include rebukes and corrections to those "heretics" in the early Church who believed in a literal interpretation of John 6? From Ignatius, a disciple of John we actually read the opposite scenario:
"They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again... Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." (Epistle to the Smyreans)
John wrote his epistles around the same time that Ignatius wrote this 100-110 AD. It is possible John wrote his gospel in 90 AD but his epistles came a bit later. It is clear that being Ignatius's teacher, John would be aware of his teachings and letters and vicea-versa.
So why in the world didn't John set him straight and tell him he was wrong about his view of the Eucharist? Was Ignatius a "wayward" disciple? Maybe John would have said something like this to him: (Pretend there is a flashback dream sequence here)
"Hey Ignatius, how long have I been with you? Man! Are you dense or something? Too much olive oil in your ears? I just read your letter rebuking those who thought that the Eucharist wasn't Jesus' body and blood! No, my young friend! I told you that the bread and wine at communion are not the flesh and blood of Christ, just symbols! How could you mess this up so soon after I told you how it was? Ignatius, I don't want to brag or anything, but just to refresh your obviously faulty memory- I was "the disciple whom Jesus loved" and he let me lay my head on his breast at our last supper together. If anyone understood Jesus teaching about his body and blood it would be me. Yeah I know that my gospel makes it sound like Jesus meant to eat his actual body and blood, (he did tell us 4 times), but I got the straight scoop from him later on."
(End of flashback sequence)
If the early Church was in error by believing that Jesus body and blood were truly present in the Eucharistic celebration, the apostle John would have known about it and surely would have been the one to set them straight. Moreover he would have ensured his disciples, such as Ignatius, understood the teaching that the Lord gave to him and the other 11 disciples.
Yet we read nowhere that John, nor Peter, nor James nor Paul, or any other New Testament letter rebukes the Church for their belief in the Real Presence of Christ in communion. To the contrary, we read Paul's letter to the Corinthians sternly warning them that they were abusing the Lord's supper and incorrectly discerning His body! No stricter warning can be found given that he justified the authenticity of this teaching by telling them that the Lord himself gave him this:
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
So in conclusion, no where do we see the New Testament writers describing Communion as symbolic and all Christians after John until the 1500's teach that the Eucharist was indeed the body and blood of our Lord, not just a symbolic commemoration. As I have said before, If Christ promised to lead his Church in all truth , how could they have gotten such a crucial doctrine wrong so soon, and how could this false doctrine have then continued unchallenged for almost 1500 years?
Did They Try to Win You Back?
I was talking to Prodigal Daughter today and we both thought it was interesting that when we became Catholic neither of us had a discussion with evangelical friends that attempted to win us back to the evangelical faith. In the past I have mentioned the "silence" that other blogger-converts have talked about once they became Catholic, but does anyone recall any lengthy discussions with protestant friends who attempted to convince them they were going down the wrong road?
I did have one talk with a physician colleague that I had been friends with for 15 years and when I explained to him that I had just become Catholic he said "that's the worst news I have ever heard." He then started to berate Scott Hahn as being an imbecile when I told him about his writings and conversion story. But no one tried to actually convince me to stop pursuing Catholicism.
Why was that? Did they feel I was deceived beyond hope? Or did my ex-Catholic friends fear I might be onto something and start to avoid me so they wouldn't have to think about it? I don't know. Have any of you been successful in sharing your reasons for conversion with protestant friends in a meaningful way?
One evangelical woman who was a nationally known writer and speaker found out that her friend had become Catholic. She kept after her and started reading all she could about Catholicism to get her friend to reconsider. She is now a Catholic and doing her best to share the marvelous news about Jesus and His Church to friends and family in her twilight years.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I sent my friend some scripture and Catholic teaching on the relationship between faith and works in salvation. He said he would pass it on to his friend and told me that he himself has struggled for 30 years to find faith.
Would you, my kind readers, please keep him in your prayers? Thanks so much.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunset Over the Blue Mountains
Friday, June 04, 2010
"The More Catholic the better"
Thursday, June 03, 2010
John Calvin Made Him Catholic!
"So then we must ever come to this point, that the Sacraments are effectual and that they are not trifling signs that vanish away in the air, but that the truth is always matched with them, because God who is faithful shows that he has not ordained anything in vain. And that is the reason why in Baptism we truly receive the forgiveness of sins, we are washed and cleansed with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are renewed by the operation of his Holy Spirit.
And how so? Does a little water have such power when it is cast upon the head of a child? No. But because it is the will of our Lord Jesus Christ that the water should be a visible sign of his blood and of the Holy Spirit. Therefore baptism has that power and whatsoever is there set forth to the eye is forthwith accomplished in very deed."
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
St Justin Martyr
This is what he wrote to describe Christian worship about 55 years after the last books of the NT were written:
No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.
We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.
The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.
On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen”. The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.
The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.
We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.
These writings destroy the notion that the early Christians sat around and had an informal bible study as their service.