More Word Games


Goya – Court of the Inquisition

In several posts to this board I have described some of the ways Catholic spokesmen and apologists play at word games in their efforts to defend or promote Catholicism. Taken at face value, their arguments generally appear to be sound and biblical, as do so many of the doctrines of their apostate church. Upon closer examination, however, it soon becomes apparent that they have learned well the teachings of their master, the father of lies.

In an early incarnation of the PTG Message Board that Catholic apologists frequently visited, a person who described himself as a “Bible Christian” provided examples of Catholic word play for us to examine. This fellow, whom I shall call “BX", responded to these words that I had posted:

While it may be true that Mama Church does not claim to be perfect—at least not in so many words—she does come really close to doing so. Take a look at the recent flood of pseudo-apologies that flowed out of the Vatican and dioceses around the world. I believe I have read most, if not all, of them and I cannot recall reading in any of them that the Catholic Church was guilty of any wrongdoing. In every case that I can think of, the individual proclaiming the 'apology' acknowledged that some in the Catholic Church had been bad boys or girls, but the Romish Church itself was always innocent of any blame.

And, of course, Mama Church does insist that when it comes to teaching on matters of faith and morals she indeed does have a perfect score. And why shouldn't she? After all, she claims that her Magisterium is preserved from error in these matters by the Holy Spirit. To quote the Blues Brothers, she is on a mission from God; or so she says.

In his response to this, BX carved out a single phrase, to which he then presented an argument that was not germane to the phrase when read in context. (My words in black; his in brown)

I cannot recall reading in any of them that the Catholic Church was guilty of any wrongdoing.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that her members are sinful:

Notice the how BX failed to respond to the statement he had taken out of context from my earlier post. If you will return to my words quoted above, you will see that I had pointed out that, in their many recent apologies, Catholic spokesmen had freely acknowledged that some in their church had done wrong. I had added that I could not recall having seen one of these acknowledge that the Catholic Church had ever done wrong.

In his attempt to refute my out-of-context words, BX responded with a non sequitur informing that the Catholic Catechism teaches that her members are sinful. The sinfulness of Catholic faithful was not at issue here. I had addressed the alleged perfection of the Catholic Church, not the state of holiness of her membership. BX provided an example of the way some Catholic apologists work by responding to a question or charge that was never made, thereby shifting the focus of readers away from the issue at hand.

To support his statement, BX quoted from the Catechism. Interestingly, while the quoted words indeed confirmed what had not been at issue—that members of the Catholic Church are sinners—they also confirmed my contention that Mama Church is separate from the men and women who are her members. I submit that the words I have italicized appear to support a claim that the Catholic Church is perfect.

827. "'Christ, 'holy, innocent, and undefiled,' knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.'[LG 8 # 3; Cf. UR 3; 6; Heb 2:17 ; Heb 726 ; 2 Cor 5:21 .] All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.[Cf. 1Jn 1:8-10 .] In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.[Cf. Mt 13:24-30 .] Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ's salvation but still on the way to holiness: The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.[Paul VI, CPG # 19.]" [Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd Ed., © 1994/1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.] (Italics not in original)

In the italicized sentence, notice how the hierarchical entity that is the Catholic Church clearly establishes the distinction between herself and her membership. Though quite a number of her priests and bishops have recently been shown to be anything but holy, in this instance, they are not to be considered as “the Church.” For those whose memories date far enough back, it is just like that little disclaimer at the end of the Mission Impossible assignment tapes: “If you are caught, the agency will disavow any knowledge,” or something like that.

How about those words, “at once holy and always in need of purification?” Mother Church is holy, but everyone in it is in need of spiritual cleansing. Same game. Same players. Same rules. Does the world "holy"Should we understand that to be holy is to be perfect? Here's how one dictionary defines the word:

1. Dedicated to a religious purpose or a god.
2. To be revered according to a religion.
3. To be perfect or flawless.
4. Separted or set apart from something unto something or someone else.
5. Set apart or dedicated for a specific purpose, or for use by a single entity or person.
6. (slang): An intensifier in an interjection.
Holy cow, I can"t believe he actually lost the race!

Source: holy, AllWords.com

I believe that evangelicals have no difficulty accepting these definitions. However, I would argue that, given their allegiance to the many unbliblical dogmas that define Roman Catholicism, it is doubtoful that many, if any, of those who are gathered under the banner of the Roman Catholic Church might be rightly described as being holy.

BX moved on to dispute another statement of mine taken out of context:

Tradition is very important to Catholic doctrine

Tradition is important for every Christian, if we want to be honest with ourselves. To disdain and slam Tradition would be to allow ourselves to fall into basic Christological heresies such as Monophysitism, Nestorianism, and Arianism. We would also fall into Trinitarian heresies such as Modalism (Sabellius).

This is what I had written in response to BX's assertion that the Catholic Church claims to teach Christ's truth infallibly. (For convenience, I have underlined the appropriate section):

That she does. And to back up her claim, she has the infallible definitions of the infallible pope (speaking ex cathedra on faith and morals, of course) and the infallible Magisterium (again in matters of faith and morals). She has the Word of God which, as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, is an amalgam of the Scriptures and Tradition (capital “T”). Tradition is very important to Catholic doctrine, for she could not support her many false doctrines without appeals to the Romish version of Tradition.

Notice how BX blithely ignored the points I was making; that the Catholic Church has declared herself to teach infallibly in matters of faith and morals and that she uses her own version of Tradition (capital “T”) to support many of her false doctrines. Instead, apparently relying on readers to not scroll up to see what I really had written, he posted another non sequitur, making an argument for the usefulness of Tradition (capital “T”) in countering heresies.

I had questioned a statement BX had made that the Catholic Church confers “the life of the Trinity validly by way of sacramentum”

So just what is this life of the Trinity?

Love. It's the eternal begetting of the Son by the eternal Father who eternally pours forth his life into the Son. This is basic Trinitarian theology.

“Eternal begetting.” Interesting turn of phrase. In John's Gospel in the KJV, we see the Logos referred to as the “the only begotten of the Father” (1:14); “only begotten Son (1:18; 3:16, 18). Then, in John's first Epistle, he again uses the title “only begotten Son” (4:9). In the Greek, the word translated as “only begotten is transliterated monogenes.

Let us look at the English translation of monogenes; “only begotten.” Readers who managed to stay awake in freshman English will recognize begotten as the past participle (passive) of the verb beget. And what is the significance of a past participle? It refers to completed action. My Miriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines past participle in these terms:

a participle that typically expresses completed action, that is traditionally one of the principal parts of the verb, and that is traditionally used in English in the formation of perfect tenses in the active voice and of all tenses in the passive voice (My emphasis)

Bottom of Form

How interesting that “basic Trinitarian theology”–Catholic version, naturally—as expounded by BX is not a completed action. Quite the contrary, in fact, for BX informed about an eternal ongoing process; “the eternal begetting of the Son by the eternal Father who eternally pours forth his life into the Son.” How very much like another ongoing process so dear to Catholicism: the so-called bloodless Eucharistic sacrifice in which Catholic Jesus-as-cookie is offered up millions of times daily on Catholic altars around the world.

BX moved on to address my comment concerning his use of the Latin word sacramentum in his statement: “the life of the Trinity validly by way of sacramentum” What I had written was:

I found BX's use of the Latin word sacramentum interesting. It's not a term one expects to see used by someone outside the Catholic Church though, of course, there is no prohibition against such use. It just seemed odd to me that a Bible believing Christian—that is how BX presented himself—would use such a word.

The rules of this board were quite explicit. It did not exist to provide a forum for spreading or defending Catholicism. Such rules should make it apparent to any surfer that the host of the board did not welcome Catholics who would use it to promote or defend Catholicism, no matter how subtly. BX never identified himself as Catholic and, frankly, his screen name suggested to me that he was a Bible-believing Christian, which, I suppose, was the intention. That suggestion was soon given the lie by his referring another visitor to a Catholic ministry and by his recommendation that he read about Saint Joseph, whom BX described as “the model father for us as Christian men.” Clicking on the provided URL whisked me away to John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos (Guardian of the Redeemer). He followed those recommendations with a syrupy bit of “theology” from Saint Lawrence of Brindisi.

Here's how BX dealt with my comments concerning his use of the term sacramentum:

It's not a term one expects to see used by someone outside the Catholic Church though

You mean, "outside of Fundamentalist circles". 'Sacrament' is a word not confined to Catholics.

I find the word "sacramentum" extremely interesting as well, but for a differing reason. Every Covenant is ratified and renewed with an oath, and the Latin word for oath is "sacramentum". If we enter the New Covenant through the sacrificial blood of Jesus, our Lamb, then we would expect for there to be sacramentum to cut and renew the covenant.

His opening was rather straightforward, but then BX elected to return to his tactic of responding to statements or questions that had not been presented.

Did you notice that BX responded to a statement I had not made. My statement referred to the antecedent sacramentum, a Latin term, not the English term sacrament. As I have shown above, such switcheroos are not uncommon when dealing with Catholic apologists.

I suspect that BX tossed in the term Fundamentalist as a pejorative. Anyone familiar with my work should be aware that I am no fan of Karl Keating's Catholic Answers website. I do acknowledge, however, that on occasion it can be a useful resource for those of us who put Catholic doctrine and practice under the microscope. In this instance, I found the site's discussion of Fundamentalism to be an honest look at Fundamentalism down through the centuries since the resurrection of Christ. The article gives a clear indication of at least one of the reasons Catholic apologists tend to dislike those whom the call—often mistakenly—“Fundamentalists:”

…Fundamentalism came to the nation's attention again around 1970, and it has enjoyed considerable growth.

What has been particularly surprising is that Catholics seem to constitute a disproportionate share of the new recruits. The Catholic Church in America includes about a quarter of the country's inhabitants, so one might expect about a quarter of new Fundamentalists to have been Catholics at one time. But in many Fundamentalist congregations, anywhere from one-third to one-half of the members once belonged to the Catholic Church. This varies around the country, depending on how large the native Catholic population is.—From the article, Fundamentalism, at the © Catholic Answers website.

I then made a statement concerning BX's choice of a screen name:

It just seemed odd to me that a Bible believing Christian—that is how BX presented himself—would use such a word.

In his response, BX did a little tap dance in which he developed a bogus argument to the effect that he is a Bible Christian and that the very Bible itself was produced by his Christianity.

That is, if you equate "Bible believing Christian" with "Fundamentalist". I use "Bible believing" for what it infers: "believes the Bible". I am a Bible Christian because my Christianity is the Christianity of the Bible. In fact, my Christianity is the same Christianity as that Christianity that existed for the first twenty years of Christianity before the first epistle of the New Testament was authored by Paul (i.e., 1 Thess). So, you could even say that the Bible is a product of my Christianity, which makes me even more of a "Bible" Christian.

In that BX had 'neglected' to apprise the board of his Catholic affiliation, it appeared to me that he was flying under false colors; coming in as a Bible Christian and surely knowing what connotation that label has for non-Catholics, yet there to promote and defend Catholicism. From that position, I presented a bit of speculative information for the benefit of others reading the board:

Given your use of peculiarly Catholic terms, I am inclined to believe that you are enrolled in the Franciscan school, BX. If that were the case, I find it interesting that you would choose to call yourself a Bible Christian. It is not possible for a person to assent in faith to the corpus of Catholic dogmas and yet be a “Bible Christian;” or any other kind of Christian, for that matter. If you believe me to be in error in this, please help me to discover the biblical sources of just two Catholic dogmas: the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption

Why wonder? Just ask me, Ron. I'm an MA student at Franciscan, studying theology, and the primary text of my studies is the Bible.

BX did pick up on my challenge that he help me to discover the biblical sources of a couple of Catholic dogmas.

Please help me to discover the biblical sources of just two Catholic dogmas: the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.

How did BX respond? He ducked and covered.

The board rules specifically state that there will be no defending the Catholic Church on this board, and I want to respect these rules, if you don't mind.

Thus ended the exchange between a promoter and defender of Catholicism and myself.

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.– Matthew 7:15-20, KJV

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