Jacqueline: Dear John, Thanks for your email. I am surprised you are still writing to me.
J. Salza: I have no problem dialoging with someone who loves Jesus. It is not principally about who is “right or wrong,” it is about who believes in the fullness of truth that Christ gave to us through His apostles and their successors. Yes, non-Catholic Christians are loved by Christ and members of His body. But non-Catholics have not yet accepted the totality of Christian truth which has been given by Christ to His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I agree with you that Jesus is everything, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and this is why I have given my life to Him. But as a follower of Christ, I listen to what He teaches in Sacred Scripture.
Jacqueline: Finally we agree on something! We must OBEY Christ to the letter, and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, NOT the way we want to.
J. Salza: But to obey Christ, we must obey the teachings of His Church. Christ intended to leave us a unified, hierarchical and authoritative Church whom He guides into all truth. It is not “Jesus, the Bible and me.” If it were, tell me why there are 33,000 different Protestant denominations? Christ loves us so much, He left us a Church to teach us the entirety of His truth, and protect us from error. God is in fact bound by His justice to provide us a mechanism that keeps us from error. That mechanism is not the Bible, which is subject to many different interpretations. That mechanism is the Church, the Bride! This is proven by 2,000 years of consistent teaching on faith and morals, and further underscored by the continued splintering of non-Catholic Christian churches who all claim to go by the Bible alone.
In John 6:35-66, Jesus says over and over again that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood, or we have no life in Him. But, I know, you Protestants don’t think he really meant that.
Jacqueline: My dear John, I am NOT a Protestant. I was born a Roman Catholic. And yes I agree in the Doctrine of Transubstantiation. I would not bother going to Mass if I did not believe that.
J. Salza: Jacqueline, if you believe in transubstantiation, then you believe that the Catholic Church has a valid priesthood. This makes you Catholic. No other Church teaches transubstantiation (that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, and the bread and wine no longer remain). If you believe in the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation, then why don’t you believe in the Church’s other teachings? If you are Catholic, then why are we debating?
Jacqueline: I also point out that the word “transubstantiation” is not in the Bible, and this was not defined by the Church until late in the Church’s history. This shows that you believe in a Tradition that is found outside of Scripture.
J. Salza: Now you don’t sound Catholic. Where in the Bible does it say that it has to be in the Bible for it to be true? No where. Further, while the term “transubstantiation” was not formally defined until Lateran IV, the Church always taught that the elements of bread and wine miraculously become the body and blood of Christ. If you read the Church fathers, they used different terminology (transform, transmute, convert), but they were all attempting to explain the miracle that the substance of the bread and wine changes into the substance of Christ’s body and blood. Lateran IV settled the terminology, but the doctrine was always there.
Jacqueline: You believe that Jesus gave the apostles the authority to forgive sins, but he really gave this gift to all Christians. We too can forgive and retain sin.
J. Salza: No, that is not so. That is not what the Scriptures say. In John 20:23, Christ only breathed upon the apostles and gave them this authority. He did not grant it to Mary or anyone else. Yes, we can forgive each other, but, unless we are ordained (which gets back to the valid priesthood issue that you have already acknowledged), we cannot sacramentally absolve someone’s sins. You should also consider why your position was never taught by any Christian for at least 1,500 years (in fact, I am not aware of any Protestant church that teaches that all Christians can absolve sin). Also, you will not be able to find any early Church father teaching your position.
In fact, let’s pursue your statement a bit further. You say we all can retain sin. If I confess my sins to God with a contrite heart, do you mean that you have the authority to judge my contrition, and retain my sins against me? That is what you are saying in your comment. This is not true.
Also, if you have the power to bind and loose, does this mean that you can perform the priestly act of consecrating the bread and wine to become the body and blood of Christ? If so, why go to Mass? I don’t mean to be glib, but I hope you can see how problematic it is to accepting some of the teachings of the Church but not others.
Jacqueline: You also always point to Matthew 16:18 to show that only Peter is the rock of the Church. But that verse can be read both ways — Jesus as the Rock, and Peter as the rock also.
J. Salza: No, it can’t. When you read Matt. 16:18-19, you can see there is an exchange of titles – Peter says, “You are the Christos!” and Jesus says, “You are the Petros!” Also, the Greek demonstrative adjective “tautee” is used to describe “Petros” which means “this very rock,” or “this same rock,” in reference to Peter. Peter is the only referent for “this,” which means Peter is the rock of Matthew 16:18.
Are you saying you believe in the Eucharist, but not that the Church was built upon Peter?
Jacqueline: Further, ALL the Apostles were equal in authority. Peter did not have precedence over the others. They were all one. Matter of fact, the leader of the first Christian Church in Jerusalem was James, and not Peter.
J. Salza: This is also not true, and certainly not biblical. Go to my site and see the link PRIMACY of PETER. Peter was the chief shepherd of the apostles. Jesus only prays for Peter, that Peter may strengthen the rest of the apostles (Luke 22:31-32), and charges Peter in John 21:15-17 to “feed my sheep,” “tend my lambs,” “tend my sheep.”
Most importantly, while all the apostles were granted the authority to bind and loose, only Peter was given the keys. Read Isaiah 22:19-22. The keys symbolized authority over the household of God. The keeper of the keys served as the chief steward, or prime minister of the house. When Christ gave Peter the keys, he was appointing him chief steward over the Church, which is the kingdom of heaven. Also, Peter’s keys symbolize the use of dynastic succession, just as in Isaiah 22:19-22 (keys pass from Shebna to Eliakim). Peter was the chief steward of the new Davidic kingdom, and these keys have passed to 263 successors over the last 20 centuries.
Also, where in the Bible does it say James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem? Where does it say that Jesus gave James the keys, charged James to strengthen the rest of the apostles, and commanded James to tend the sheep? If James was the leader of the Church at Jerusalem, then why does Peter (not James) do the first order of business at the church in Jerusalem right after Pentecost by initiating a successor to Judas? (Acts 1:15). Why is Peter (not James) the first person in the Church at Jerusalem to preach the Gospel after Pentecost (Acts 2:14)? Why does Peter (not James) declare the Church’s first anathema of Anaias and Sapphira (Acts 5:3)?
Why is Peter (not James) the first one in the church at Jerusalem to teach about salvation for both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 10:34-48; 11:1-18)? Why is Peter (not James) the one to resolve the Church’s first doctrinal debate at the council of Jerusalem, and the whole assembly kept silent (Acts 15:7-12)? If James is the leader, why does he only speak after Peter’s definitive teaching on circumcision, only to acknowledge Peter’s definitive teaching (Simeon Peter has related…) Acts 15:13-14? Why does Paul spend 15 days with Peter in Jerusalem (not James, who was the bishop of Jerusalem) prior to beginning his ministry, even though he was directly converted by Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:18)?
I believe that you are a sincere Christian, but I sense that you are not getting your information from a thorough study of Scripture, but from anti-Catholic sources.
Jacqueline: Yes all Christians have the power to bind or loosen. It’s a Spiritual power that was given to ALL Christians. The problem is that most Christians don’t know how to utilise this power.
J. Salza: Where does it say all Christians have the power to bind and loose in the Bible? It doesn’t. Moreover, if this were the case, you would have to be able to show me from the Bible how to properly utilize this power. But, of course, this is not in the Bible either. Binding and loosing are rabbinical terms that are reserved for the leaders of the Church. See for example Matt. 23:2-4 – Jesus acknowledges the Pharisees authority to bind and loose under the Old Covenant. Not all Jews had this authority, only the successors to the seat of Moses. Similarly, only the apostles, and not all Christians, have the binding and loosing authority of the New Covenant.
In Matthew 18:18, Jesus gives His other apostles the authority to bind and loose in heaven what he binds and looses on earth, but he only gives the apostles this authority collectively. He gives Peter alone the power to bind and loose individually. The apostles can only bind and loose when united to Peter. Ordinary non-ordained Christians have no power to bind and loose.
Jacqueline: Yes we have that power too!
J. Salza: Again, were does it say that in the Bible? Also, point me to an early father or doctor of the Church that agrees with you. See my comments above.
Jacqueline: We are also not born again by baptism, but by accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior.
J. Salza: Where does it say that in the Bible? When Jesus talks about being “born again,” He is referring to baptism. In John 3:5, Jesus says that we must be born of water and the Holy Spirit in reference to baptism, or we cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Jacqueline: I agree! There are 2 baptisms. One with water, and one with Fire –which only the Holy Spirit can give.
J. Salza: This is not what I said, and your statement is also incorrect. There are not two baptisms. There is only one baptism, just as one Lord and one faith. (Ephesians 4:5). Again, your position is not biblical. But hopefully we agree that baptism is salvific, not just symbolic.
In 1 Tim. 3:15, Paul calls the Church (not the Bible) the pinnacle and foundation of the truth. But, I know, you Protestants don’t believe he really meant that.
Jacqueline: And WHAT is the Church? The Church is NOT a building of mortar and stone. The Church is the Mystical Living Body of Christ lead by His Spirit. WE are the Church!
J. Salza: No. The Greek word for Church here is “ecclesia,” which refers to the visible, hierarchical and authoritative Church, not an invisible, ethereal body of believers loosely connected by faith in the Bible alone. Again, if you acknowledge a valid priesthood, then you must acknowledge that Christ divinely instituted a Church as well. What Church? Only the Catholic Church claims and proves to be Christ’s Church.
In 2 Thess. 2:15, Paul commands the faithful to obey Tradition, whether it is oral or written (He never says written alone, and he never repeals this command anywhere else in Scripture). But, I know, you Protestants don’t believe he really meant that.
Jacqueline: Tradition must be faithful to Holy Scripture. No religious denomination can make-up their own Traditions as it pleases them!
J. Salza: Where does it say in the Bible that Tradition must be faithful to Holy Scripture? It doesn’t. This is because Scripture IS a tradition. As we see in 2 Thess. 2:15, Tradition is not limited to what is written. It also includes the oral teachings of the apostles. Because you claim to be faithful to the Scriptures, which oral Traditions do you follow?
Jacqueline: What Signs and Gifts of the Holy Spirit do YOU have?
J. Salza: Wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2 (from the Latin Vulgate which Protestants rejected 1200 years after it was given to us by the Catholic Church).
Jacqueline: Do you believe the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to ALL Christians or only given to a select few?
J. Salza: God desires all people to be saved, and gives all people gifts of the Spirit. But those in full communion with Christ through the Church He founded have a better chance at growing in holiness and achieving the salvation Christ won for them, than those who do not have the fullness of truth.
Jacqueline: If you don’t have any of the Gifts of the Spirit, you have nothing but text-book Theology, and your “christianity” is DEAD.
J. Salza: I like your usage of the phrase “text-book theology.” That is exactly what non-Catholic Christians have – a religion of the book, and not a religion of the Incarnate Word of God as given to us by the living Tradition of the living Bride of Christ, the Church.
Jacqueline: When I listen to American evangelists on T.V. I hear many of them say “God told me this ….” and “the Holy Spirit said to me this and this ….” The question is how come you never hear any Catholic say God/the Holy Spirit told me so and so? How come you never see any Catholic displaying the Gifts of the Spirit?
J. Salza: First, you should not use the word “never” here because Catholics have claimed to be displaying the gifts of the Spirit for 2,000 years. Second, you just got done telling me to avoid the traditions of men, and yet you are deferring to television preachers? God has chosen to speak to us principally through His Church. This is because, in God’s infinite wisdom, He knew that some would be claiming to speak in God’s name, but were not. How come one evangelist says that God told him baptism is only symbolic, but another evangelist says God told him that baptism is actually what saves us? Who is right? Explain what means you have to discern truth from error, if not for the Church?
You only know of transubstantiation because the Church has definitively taught this to us. Even on the most basic question of baptism, these “God-inspired” preachers cannot agree. Christ speaks to us through His Church. This does not mean the Church leadership always behaves properly. To the contrary, I am outraged by some of the scandal in the Church right now. But the issue is the teaching of the Church, and not the conduct of her members. The Church has a deposit of Faith that has not changed for 2,000 years.
As far as what Catholic has displayed the gifts of the Spirit, what about Pope John Paul II? What about Saint Padre Pio (and his gifts of bilocation, stigmata, tongues, and quite probably an empty grave)? What about Mother Theresa and her works of mercy and charity? I could go on and on and on. Jacqueline, come home to the Church of your baptism.