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Why does the Catholic Church believe that it is the only true Christian church?

Q. Why does the Catholic Church believe that it is the only true Christian church? What about other churches?

Jesus said:

"thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18, KJV)

"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:20-23, KJV)

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:19-20, KJV).

Jesus established only one church, the one He founded on Peter, the rock. He prayed that all His followers would be one, and He promised that He would be with His Church until the end of the world. This was recognized by Saint Paul when he wrote:

"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called to one hope when you were called -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:3-6, NIV).

One faith means one set of beliefs, one set of doctrines; doctrines which never change. There is only one Catholic Church but there are over 26,000 Protestant denominations today; each separated from the other by differing doctrines. Each of these denominations can be traced back to a single individual who was not Saint Peter or one of the apostles.

Every Christian church possesses some of the truths revealed by our Lord but only the Catholic Church can trace its origins all the way back to Jesus and Saint Peter through the rite of ordination; the laying on of hands and passing on of episcopal responsibility and authority. Because only the Catholic Church can be traced all the way back to Jesus, only the Catholic Church can be said to possess all the revealed truth. After all, Jesus founded the Church, promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it (which means that it would be perpetual and not teach error), and promised to be with it until the end of time. Not at the end of time, but continually until the end of time. Either the Catholic Church was and is the one true Church, or the Bible is wrong, or Jesus lied.

Recommended reading:
l Hayes, Rev. Edward J., Hayes, Rev. Msgr. Paul J., & Drummey, James J., Catholicism & Reason, Prow Books,
Libertyville, IL 60048, 1981, pages 91-154
l Nevins, Albert J., Answering A Fundamentalist, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN 46750, 1990, pages 31-40
l Schreck, Alan, Your Catholic Faith, Redeemer Books/Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, MI 48107, 1989, pages 39-55
l Drummey, James J., Catholic Replies, C. R. Publications, Norwood, MA 02062, 1995, pages 58-59, 90-94, 108
l Rumble, Rev. Dr. Leslie & Carty, Rev. Charles Mortimer, Radio Replies, Third Volume, TAN Books & Publishers,
Rockford, IL 61105, 1979, paragraphs 462-463

Upon this rock I will build my church

Q. When Jesus told Peter "Upon this rock I will build my church," is Jesus the rock or is Peter?

The passage being referred to is Matthew 16:18 and it is Jesus who promises to do the building on the rock which is Peter. To better understand what is being said, let's look at the verse in its larger context.

"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' ‘But what about you?' he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, ‘you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter (Peter means rock) And On This Rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades (hell) will not overcome it (not prove stronger than it). I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be (have been) bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be (have been) loosed in heaven.'" [Matthew 16:13-19, NIV (parenthesis contain footnoted interpretations from NIV text)]

"Christ" means "anointed one." At the time of Jesus, the term "anointed one" had become synonymous with "king." By declaring Jesus to be the "Son of the living God," Simon has directed attention away from kingship (who would lead the people to victory on earth and liberate them from the Romans) to his divine relationship with God. This is the revelation to which Jesus refers when he says "this was not revealed to you by man . . . " Peter had just shown that God the Father is using him as an instrument of His revelation.

Only in this place in the four gospels is Simon identified as "son of Jonah"; in the two other occurrences where his father is identified, he is identified as John (John 1:42 and 21:15-17). Jesus has just used the title "Son of Man" for himself, which means "one like a man"; could it be that Jesus is saying that Simon is to be "one like Jonah?" Jonah was the one who preached the impending destruction of Nineveh and effected the repentance of the people. This was an early type of the role which Peter was to play in the Church, leading people to reconciliation with God.

"Peter" means "rock" as the footnote indicates. The Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) word is kepha which is transliterated in some texts as "Cephas" (John 1:42; 1 Corinthians; Galatians). Some will argue that the Greek text of Matthew has petros (pebble) for "Peter" and petras (large rock) for "rock" but this is inconsequential. In the time of Jesus the two words were used interchangeably, the distinction being that petras is the feminine form of the word and as such it is not applied to a male. Christianity has enough problems without inferring Peter was effeminate. Since Jesus spoke Aramaic and kepha is not gender specific, the word play is obvious, unlike the English where "Peter" is substituted for "rock." This name

change is very significant because no one had ever been named "rock" before; it's like naming the anchor man on your tug-of-war team "post"; it signifies what he is to do.

In the four gospels, the Greek word ekklesia, translated here as "church" appears only twice; here and in Matthew 18:17:

"If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or tax collector." (NIV)

From this, it is clear that the term ekklesia applies to the visible gathering of the community of Christians.

From the above discussion, it is clear that it is Jesus who was promising to establish a visible Church on earth with Peter, the Rock, as its visible earthly anchor. The Church was not to be established on Peter's faith, which we know faltered when he denied Jesus 3 times, but upon Peter the individual who was leader of the Apostles and an instrument of the Father's revelation. As it says in Ephesians 2:20:

"Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone" (NIV).

Although this answers the question, let's look at the rest of the scripture passage from Matthew 16:

"the gates of Hades will not overcome it" means, very simply, that death will not overtake the Church. Hades, translated in the footnote as "Hell" was the abode of the dead, Abraham's bosom. It was the place where all departed souls went after their earthly life because heaven was not yet open (this event happened with Jesus' death on the cross). When Peter died, the role of leader would be taken by another; the office would not cease when the occupant died. This means that there will always be a visible head who, like Peter, will be an instrument of the Father's revelation and guidance; Satan will not be able to expropriate the office because it is divinely protected. This type of perpetual office is not foreign to the Holy Scriptures: Isaiah 22:19-21 describes the replacement of Shebna with Eliakim as the head of the palace of the house of David; and Acts 1:20 describes where Peter, as head of the Apostles, calls for a replacement for the position which had been occupied by Judas Iscariot ["his bishopric let another take" (KJV)].

The "keys of the kingdom of heaven" are the symbol of authority given only to the most trusted servant. Again, this is not an image which is foreign to Holy Scripture: It is used in Isaiah 22:22 where Eliakim is given the key to the house of David (a perpetual office since David has been dead for several hundred years), and in Revelation 1:18 where Jesus, who will judge us, is depicted as holding the keys of death and Hades.

Finally, the "binding" and "loosing." Very simply put, he who has the ability to bind and

loose, has the ability to make the rules. As the visible head of the Church on earth, Peter is given the ability to make the earthly rules for the operation of this Church. This doesn't mean that he can change the rules that we have received from God (such as the ten commandments and all the others contained in Holy Scripture) but he can make such determinations as the length of the fast before receiving communion and whether priests should be allowed to marry. This binding and loosing also has an Old Testament parallel in Isaiah 22:22 where Eliakim, having received the keys, has the power of the keys explained "what he opens, no one can shut, and what he shuts, no one can open." This means that Eliakim alone among the servants has the ability to determine who is admitted and who is excluded from the house (kingdom) of David. The authority to "bind and loose" is also given to the Apostles in Matthew 18:18, with one significant difference: Only Peter has been given the "keys," the symbol of ultimate authority.

Recommended reading:

  • ●  Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 440, 442-443, 552-553, 765, 881, 1444

  • ●  Jaki, Stanley L., And On This Rock, Trinity Communications, Manassas, VA, 1987, pages 71-92

Tradition and scripture or scripture alone?

Q. Why tradition and scripture rather than just scripture?

Q. Does the Bible support the use of oral tradition?

Occasionally one will encounter an individual who says "If it isn't in the Bible, I don't believe it." This presumes that everything Jesus said and did is recorded in the Bible. However, we all know that Jesus didn't make His graces dependent upon the ability to read or own a Bible. Jesus didn't command that His Apostles go and write down everything He had said so that people can read it. Rather, Jesus said "Go and baptize! Go and teach!" (Matthew 28:19-20) His truths were to be spread, as was obviously necessary before the invention of the printing press, mainly by the spoken word. It is true that some of the Apostles and their companions did commit to writing many things about the life and doctrines of our Lord. The oral teachings of the Apostles are just as truly the Word of God as their written words that we find preserved in the New Testament. This fact is evidenced by the following scriptural passages:

"Jesus performed many other signs as well--signs not recorded here--in the presence of his disciples." (John 20:30, KJV)

"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, and which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." (John 21:25, KJV)

"hold fast to the traditions you received from us, either by our word or by letter." (2 Thessalonians 2:15, KJV)

And in Luke 10:16 where Jesus says "He who hears you, hears me." (KJV)

"I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete." (2 John 1:12, NIV)

"I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face." (3 John 13-14, KJV)

These last two passages can be especially appreciated if you remember that family members communicate best by talking to each other rather than passing notes back and forth. By the New Covenant we were all made members of God's family (as opposed to belonging to His book-of-the-month club). The bare essentials to receive God's favor are contained in the Bible but this doesn't mean that God, in His loving generosity, has not provided abundantly far more for those who will avail themselves of it. Nor does it mean that all of us can read it to ourselves and understand the words contained in the Bible, as Acts 8:30-31 so clearly enumerates in the story about the Ethiopian eunuch. Remember that 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is useful; it doesn't say or even imply that it is the exclusive source.

The point is that:

  1. The Bible, Word of God that it is, doesn't claim to be the sole source of information but instead documents certain happenings and the establishment of a teaching authority within His Church; and

  2. Dependence upon the Bible as the sole authority in essence says that Jesus' word is not to be trusted when Jesus says that He will be with His Church (as it baptizes and teaches) until the end of time (Matthew 28:20).

The Bible is not a catechism or theological treatise where one can go for quick easy answers. It's too bad that it isn't, but wishing it was (or pretending that it is) doesn't make it so. Attempting to use the Bible in this manner is to misuse Holy Scripture. The truth is there, but we must know how to get at it as, in many cases, it is not presented in a straightforward manner readily understandable to the 20th Century Christian. This is because the sacred writers depended heavily upon 1st century (and earlier) Jewish traditions, customs, and beliefs which are not necessarily recorded in the Bible. It is important that we also consult the other historical writings to find, and therefore learn, how the writings (now part of Holy Scripture but only important writings at that time) were understood and taught by those to whom the writings were addressed.

"If it isn't in the Bible, I don't believe it" may seem reasonable to the one saying it, but it is a self-contradicting statement because nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Bible is the exclusive authority. Thus, the person saying this believes something which is not in the Bible. In fact, the Bible says that the Church is the authority: "the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth." (1 Timothy 3:15, NAB)

Recommended reading:

  • ●  Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 74-87

  • ●  Shea, Mark P., By What Authority?, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN 46750, 1996

  • ●  Currie, David B., Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA, 1996, pages 51-62

  • ●  Hardon, John A., S.J., The Catholic Catechism, Doubleday, New York, NY, 1981, pages 41-52

  • ●  Tradition, Bible, or both?, A Catholic Answers Tract, P.O. Box 17490, San Diego, CA 92177

  • ●  What's Your Authority for That?, A Catholic Answers Tract, P.O. Box 17490, San Diego, CA 92177

  • ●  McGuinness, Msgr. Richard M. & Quill, Rev. John A., Who Needs The Church? I Have a Bible, A Defending the Faith Tract, World Apostolate of Fatima, Washington, NJ 07882, 1992

  • ●  Nunez, Luis S., "St. Paul's Scriptural Arguments for Tradition", The Catholic Answer, Volume 10/Number 3, July/August 1996, pages 32-35

  • ●  "Not by Scripture Alone", This Rock, The Magazine of Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization, November 1996, pages 36-38

The Eucharist

Taken from I’m Glad You Asked!; St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS. Access the entire document at http://www.scborromeo.org/glad.htm

Q. Why do you believe that it is the Body and Blood of Christ?

Q. Where is the proof of the Eucharist in the Bible?

As I have said before, you cannot use the Bible to "prove" anything to those who choose not to believe. That said, there are many passages which show the Eucharist to be much more than a symbol very clearly.

The first place to look is John 6:25-71 where Jesus promises the Eucharist. This account, which occupies 2/3 of the chapter, describes Jesus' exchange with a crowd of disciples; probably numbering several thousand as this event follows the feeding of the 5,000 (most of the preceding 1/3 of the chapter) and these disciples have followed Him seeking more of this miraculous bread. After all, Moses provided bread for those who followed him during their wanderings in the

Read more: The Eucharist

The Crucifix, A Reminder of what Christ did for Us

Q. Why do we have a cross behind the altar?
Q. Why do Catholics celebrate the death of Christ more so than the resurrection?

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states "There is also to be a cross, clearly
visible to the congregation, either on the altar or near it" (number 270). The Latin word
translated as "cross" is crux which to Catholic Christians means the object carrying the body
of our crucified Savior; what is also known as the crucifix, a cross with corpus attached.

The Catholic Church leaves the corpus on the cross not because we worship a dead Christ or
celebrate the death of Christ more so than the resurrection, but as a reminder of what He did
in our behalf. It was through His death on the cross that we were redeemed. In Catholic
spirituality, the cross and resurrection are inseparable for Christ, and also for those who would
be His disciples. To have the light of the resurrection without the cross was impossible for our
Lord and we are all called to follow in His footsteps. We are all told to pick up our cross and
follow Him (Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). Sacrifice, as we are reminded by
the presence of the corpus, is what He did for us and is what we are called to do if we are to
truly be His disciples.

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are
children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in
his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:16-17, NIV).

It is His sacrifice on the cross which we re-present to the Father at each Mass as we join with
Jesus in His eternal presentation of His sacrifice in heaven as was witnessed by Saint John:
"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne"
(Revelation 5:6, NIV). In short, Jesus couldn't separate His crucifixion from His resurrection,
and neither should we. In the words of Saint John and Saint Paul:

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life" (John 3:14-15, NIV)

"but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to
Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 1:23, NIV).

Recommended reading:
l Drummey, James J., Catholic Replies, C. R. Publications, Norwood, MA 02062, 1995, pages 249-250
l Father Sheedy's Ask Me A Question, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN 46750, 1989, pages 68-69



Q. Have you been saved? Is this the same as having been baptized and confirmed?

Q. We are often asked "Are you saved?"

Q. Being saved. Some people believe that once they accept Christ they are saved.

Salvation is not the same as baptism and confirmation. Baptism and confirmation will be discussed further in the chapter titled "SACRAMENTS." To properly answer questions concerning salvation, we must first define the terms. We Catholics and our separated brethren have different definitions for the words we commonly use.

Salvation. Catholics use this term to refer to the whole process, from its beginning in faith, through the whole Christian life of works in love on earth, to its completion in heaven. To our separated brethren this term means the initial step--climbing aboard the ark of salvation--not the entire journey to the final destination. As you can see, the Catholic has a much broader meaning for the term "salvation" or "saved" while our non-Catholic brethren have a much smaller view.

Faith. To the Catholic, this is one of the three theological virtues [faith, hope and charity (love)]; faith is intellectual belief. To our separated brethren it is accepting Jesus with your whole heart and soul. In this case it is the Catholic who has the much smaller view while our non-Catholic brethren use it in a much broader sense.

With these definitions in mind, if someone asks you "Have you been saved?" you can answer "Yes, by the grace of God." This will answer the question from the point of view of the non- Catholic who asked it. A more correct answer, from the Catholic perspective would be "I have been saved from the penalty of sin by Jesus' death and resurrection, I am being saved from the power of sin by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and I will one day be saved from the presence of sin when I go to be with the Lord."

Recommended reading:

  • ●  Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 161, 169

  • ●  Currie, David B., Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA, 1996, pages 109-


  • ●  Kreeft, Peter & Tacelli, Ronald K., Handbook of Christian Apologetics, InterVarsety Press, Downers Grove, IL

    60515, 1994, pages 320-321

  • ●  No "Assurance of Salvation", A Catholic Answers Tract, P.O. Box 17490, San Diego, CA 92177


Q. What is purgatory?
Q. Why do you believe in Purgatory?
Q. What proof do you have of the existence of Purgatory?

By "proof" it is assumed that the questioner is asking "where in the Bible does it say." No one can "prove" the existence of anything, including even the existence of God or of heaven, if the person requesting the "proof" has already hardened their heart to the answer. In order to believe, the gift of faith must be present in the individual.

The word "purgatory" doesn't appear anywhere in Holy Scripture, neither do the words "trinity," "catholic," "protestant," nor "incarnation" but this fact doesn't preclude their existence. Catholic doctrine, based on our Jewish origins, is that at the moment of our death our soul, if perfect, goes straight to heaven; if not quite perfect, it goes to purgatory; if totally imperfect, it goes straight to hell. The concept of purgatory is certainly shown in Holy Scripture, so let's take a look at a few of the words of Jesus:

"And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." (Matthew 12:32, KJV)

"Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou has paid the uttermost farthing." (Matthew 5:26, KJV)

Both of these passages imply that some sins, not forgiven in this world, will be forgiven in the world to come. Is this "world to come" only heaven (the place of eternal joy) or is it possible that there is a place of purification (purgation) as well; a place where the uttermost farthing is paid? Again, let's look at a place in Holy Scripture where heaven is described:

"Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Revelation 21:27, NIV)

Even if we have the smallest unrepented sin upon our soul, we are impure, defiled and cannot go straight to heaven. That is because this unrepented sin is a refection of our pride, a lack of total dedication to God. It may be the smallest of all sins, but it still constitutes a stain upon our soul. So how do we get rid of it once we have passed into the "world to come?"

"No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will

be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (1 Corinthians 3:11-15, NIV)

"For our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:29; Deuteronomy 4:24, KJV)

These verses tell us that upon our judgement, a purification takes place and that God does the purification. That which is unsuitable for heaven is consumed so that only that which is pure remains. Since at the moment of our death we pass from "this world" into the "world to come," this purification must take place in a place other than heaven. We call this place "purgatory," the place of purification. How long does this purification take? No one knows since when we leave "this world" we enter into the world where time has no domain, the Eternal Now.

Recommended reading:

  • ●  Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1030-1032

  • ●  Rumble, Rev. Dr. Leslie & Carty, Rev. Charles Mortimer, Radio Replies, First Volume, TAN Books & Publishers,

    Rockford, IL 61105, 1979, paragraphs 951-969

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