Mega-church Mania: One Mom’s Observations (she’s a good writer) and Observations from the Early Church

by Steve Ray on June 2, 2014

Mr. Ray,

My eldest daughter invited me to my grandson’s ‘dedication’ at her new place of worship.  Worship? Sorry. Her new place of…..well, the giant Olympic-sized structure that, after being directed in by police/traffic officers, upon entering, reminded me of a mall.  Oh and by the way, I didn’t witness any worship. My 1st thoughts were…”Wow! A frappucino Mass! Where do I get my 3D glasses?” 

Joined daughter, son in law and grandson in the biggest theater I’ve ever been in.  The music was ghastly and horribly loud. I found out later, I could have gotten ear plugs from one of the kajillion ushers. Seriously? I personally choose 11:00 Mass at St. Johns because of the music. So now this place is on strike # 6 or 7.  I’m still giving it a chance as I love my child and grandchild more than life. 

Music’s done. Smoke machine turned off.  Some hip, young guy puts down his guitar and welcomes us to the (lack of) worship service.  A special welcome to us uninformed-not-belonging-to-the-mega-church-there-because-of-the-dedication, schmucks. 

He also welcomed the 4 or so other locations as they are all gathered at their ‘malls’ watching on the big screen. Are you kidding me?!?! He then tells us that this dedication “is not a baptism as they don’t baptize infants. “The Bible is clear that we are saved by God’s grace, not by dedication, baptism, or our own works.”  And that “every baptism recorded in the Bible occurred when someone was old enough to make a faith decision.” 

I got up and walked out. Mostly because my husband wouldn’t let me stand up and yell “LIAR!” “Go home. Open your bible, read it and get back to us.” As today is Sunday and I went to Mass at my church with my live priest and beautiful music and the presence of our Lord and true praise and worship and forgiveness…..I’ll admit to you that I wanted to say worse. In my mind I did.

This daughter was a Catholic.  This daughter knows better.  I felt as though this daughter ripped my heart out and stomped on it.  She claims she ‘switched’ because her husband, while attending Mass with her, was offended and did not feel comfortable because she told him he could not receive communion as he didn’t understand the true meaning. They went church-hopping and ended up at Eagle Brook. Super mega franchise church. Did I say church? My apologies.

Please help me.  I’ve heard you speak at Little Canda, MN.  Which of your books would help me and God help her, my daughter. [Steve here: Crossing the Tiber would be the book. It is my conversion story and has effected thousands to come back to the Church - blessed be God] I say books as she is an avid reader.  Books are best in this case. 

I feel just sick that my grandson is this little nobody in this horrible excuse for a place of worship…or lack thereof.  I so want him to be a part of our beautiful, Catholic family. 

I must say, since I’ve been so very negative, that a good thing did come from this visit……daughters 2 and 3 (who happen to be teenagers, mind you) both stated from the back seat on the way home, “I can’t wait to go to real church tomorrow.” That was huge for daughter #2…..teenage angst and all that. I appreciate any help you can give me.

 

Check out this video from a person who posted it as “This is my church.” This was shared and viewed at all of their campuses (a word they use for all of their satellite “churches”, rather, theaters.

STEVE RAY HERE: The current trend of mega-churches is pretty much an American phenomenon. It is a response to Americans’ desire for entertainment, theatrics, “big exciting stuff” and religion-lite. They don’t want a lot of commitment, history, or quiet. Mega churches replicate the media world. In the first century they would have been similar to the colosseum, the entertainment genre of the day.

I am not saying there is not good being done in the mega churches, there is. But the Church that Jesus Christ founded 2,000 years ago is not about entertainment but about sacrifice, the Eucharist and the liturgy given by the Apostles which has been practiced since the first century. This good mom has described it all very well.

Around 150 AD Justin Martyr described the apostolic Church of the second century following the pattern laid down by the apostles. There was only one church, the Catholic Church. Read this and tell me where you find it today :-)

Early Christians often celebrated the Mass in the catacombs

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.

Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. 

First century bishop St. Ignatius, disciple of the apostles wrote:

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it.

Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

And, 

But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God. … They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes.

So dear mega church friends, where is your bishop? Where is your Eucharist? The heretics of the first century denied the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist. Where is the liturgy of the apostles on your stages? Even imagining Peter or Paul officiating at a Rock Concert church service is unthinkable. 

Thank God for the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church!

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Pattymelt August 6, 2012 at 10:53 AM

My son too left the Catholic Church in order to please his wife whose father is an Evangelical non-denomination minister. Our two beautiful grandsons are not baptized, just dedicated. I pray for the day my son will come back to the Church and bring his wife and sons. Arguing does no good, but I am trusting that God will give the graces needed— otherwise the heartache would be too great.

Greg Miller August 6, 2012 at 11:03 PM

The concerned mother might also want to consider a book by Gary Michuta entitled, “How to Wolf-Proof Your Kids,” besides Mr. Ray’s book.

floro August 7, 2012 at 3:02 AM

Pattymelt, with God, nothing is impossible. St. Monica, by praying unceasingly for the conversion of her son Augustine, was rewarded by God. You can do the same thing. I will pray for your son as well. God have mercy on us all!

Corey August 7, 2012 at 7:32 AM

I call it “billboard Christianity”. Drive down any road and you’ll see billboard after billboard advertising this “church” or that. We say that with competition, the consumer always wins. When we apply this to our religious life, Christ loses, in the sense of unity. This is what Cardinal Newman termed latitudinarianism or sectarianism. We choose a church based off of music, people, the seating, and now how good the coffee is.

My family was having dinner with a friend of ours who happens to be a non-denominational pastor of a fairly new church. We were discussing the current state of Christianity and increasing persecution. He said he was distraught at how many “churches” out there no longer talk about sin or have an indifferent attitude to Christ. I told him that there is one solution, become Catholic.

Edward Hara August 7, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Steve et al –

The sad part is that the sin of pride has these people so bound. They cannot be reasoned with, they will not listen, they think they know it all, especially in regards to the Bible and Christianity.

I think an Evangelical of any stripe converting to the Catholic faith is a greater miracle than raising the dead. You want to know why? Because the dead cannot resist.

Brother Ed

Pattymelt August 7, 2012 at 9:33 PM

To Floro,
Thank you for your kind words and for your prayers. I truly appreciate them and thank God for them.
Pattymelt

Toniace1 August 12, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Steve Ray is so awesome. AWESOME! Anyways, the best way I heard this described is that people are going to church to find Christ, but a Christ that looks like them–a God that agrees with THEM, looks like THEM, appeals to THEM. Such is the result of our made to order culture: now we have made to order religion. Shouldn’t we go to Church to find the true teaching of Christ, and conform to Him? Try to be like HIM? Emulate HIM? Worship HIM rather than worshiping our images of ourselves? So, where is the true God? Which Church would the earliest Christians of the first century recognize? Which Church has the full presence of Christ in the Eucharist? There is only one, Holy, Apostolic Church. Pattymelt, keep praying, and I will pray for you that your family comes back to the Church which Christ founded with a deeper more fervent faith than ever. Divine Mercy Chaplet–keep praying it for mercy and conversion!! All the best-toniace

rahneel August 12, 2012 at 10:48 PM

Too sad that our christianity is treated cheap by other folks of faith. I hope God would open their eyes and lead them back to the Church founded by Christ himself. Remember the crystal cathedral in orange county, it was founded by a man, see what happened, it had not even survived for a century. Study hard misguided brothers and sisters go back to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. The only way to the fullness of faith that lead to our sanctification.

Robbie J August 31, 2012 at 10:02 PM

Hi Steve. Mega-churches are not just an American phenomenon, it’s happening everywhere – even in my country, Singapore. I attended their “worship” services some years ago (1995) as part of my job. I was dumbstruck by the sheer “hollywood-ness” of the proceedings. That’s not a typo; I mean proceedings. Mind you, I have nothing against the members of that church (some of them are friends). What bothers me is that they have substituted something so sacred (the mass) with something that is trite, that plays on the emotions and is, in one word – loud. Really loud. In all that noise how are we to hear the “soft promptings of the spirit”? I wonder.
God Bless.

Poor Knight for Christ May 20, 2013 at 9:03 AM

“They hastily divested themselves of anything considered
dowdy or old-fashioned in the way of vesture or symbol.
They claimed to have bright services and cheery sermons;
the churches competed with the cinemas; the churches even
became cinemas.” — G.K. Chesterton in ‘The Catholic Church and Conversion’ written in 1926.

Unfortunately, for some non-Catholic denominations this has been a constant problem.

ngrdsawm February 13, 2014 at 2:18 PM

The mother wrote so well about Eagle Brook!!!! I have a brother who goes there and convinced me to go to Eagle Brook for awhile. We were raised Lutheran. I refused to get baptized there and found my way back to an awesome Lutheran church. But it was hard, Eagle brook definitely plants the seeds firmly that you will go to hell for not being baptized as an adult, for being Lutheran or Catholic. It was hard for me to leave. It was kind of like leaving a cult. My brother still is convinced he needs to save me and our Lutheran parents.

Mary McIver June 2, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Steve, it was great meeting you Saturday in Ann Arbor. I talked my son into upgrading some of his Logo/Verbum software so that I can use it :) I mentioned a similar situation to you on Saturday so this one today really speaks to me!! thank you for posting this.
God Bless you and your work abundantly.
Mary

Jim b June 2, 2014 at 2:45 PM

The woman who wrote this needs to chill out a bit. While not ideal, as I am a catholic, the family is still attending A church and getting the bible, albeit interpreted a different way. I highly doubt Jesus would have stormed out, but is in fact delighted that a large group is getting to know Him. The Catholic Church states that all Christians are Catholics, some just have to return home. I think prayer and council are more called for here, rather than storming out.

STEVE RAY HERE. I UNDERSTAND HER SENTIMENTS COMPLETELY. ONE WHO’S NEVER HAD FAMILY LOST TO THESE GROUPS MAY BE MORE SYMPATHETIC. HOWEVER THOSE WHO’VE LOST FAMILY MEMBERS ARE MUCH MORE INVOLVED AND THEIR OPINIONS ARE RESPECTABLE. I AGREE WITH HER.

Anniebelle June 2, 2014 at 3:42 PM

I would love to re-post this but since so many of my closest family members go to just such a mega “church” I wouldn’t dare. They constantly talk about pastor’s powerful “message” and how wonderful the service was, passing out CDs of his messages as often as possible. My nephew, God bless him, attended once because a family member was in a play for the service. He was appalled. They thought they would reel him in with a coffee mug and CD. Praise be to God, he has come into the fullness of the Catholic Church where His Real Presence and Truth reside. It is heartbreaking to see so many Catholics run into the arms of these churches, leaving the precious Truth behind, I guess because it is so easy and demands so little of you in return. Just have fun, get involved, and for goodness’ sake bring in your quota of new members! God help us.

Peter June 2, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Jim b,

Having recently attended my granddaughter’s “dedication” I can assure you these people are getting another interpretation, however, isn’t improper interpretation (taught as fact) called heresy? Heresy doesn’t help anybody, it hurts them.

Eddie June 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Dedication?!!

Where is that in the Bible?

Acts 2: 38-39
38Peter [said] to them, “Repent and be baptized,* every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.u 39For the promise is made to you and to YOUR CHILDREN and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.”

1 Peter 3:21
This prefigured baptism, which SAVES YOU NOW. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God* for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Appaling what is happening to the Body of Christ .

Mike June 3, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Steve (or anyone reading this please read this in its entirety). I am having a difficult time coming to terms with being able to call people outside of the Catholic Church, Christian. I say this because if we were able to travel back in time to the first century (heck even back to the beginning of the 16th century) and we were to say that the Eucharist is not the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord, that baptism doesn’t save you (or that babies aren’t to be baptized), that works play no part in salvation, etc., then we would be called a heretic, not a Christian. Reading the Church Fathers seem to make this plain and clear along with reading scripture saying we need to hold to the Traditions and doctrine taught by the Apostles. Why the change in classifying. Heresy is heresy, correct? Or does the term heresy not apply to someone who has never accepted the Catholic Church as the Church Christ founded? Any thoughts?

David June 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM

I’m having a hard time stomaching the fact that every single person on this post (including the author) is passing substantial judgment on an individual church based purely on the tirade of one disgruntled mother. By virtue of having a big building, lots of lights and “loud music” the church must be a bastion of heresy incapable of genuine worship or evangelism in the name of Christ.

We’re painting with broad strokes here, folks. After reading through all of these comments, there seems to be an incredible amount of pride taken in the Catholic church, rather than in Christ. “Therefore, as the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.’” Take pride only in the Lord, only in Christ. Not in the church or the church structure, but in Christ, his death and resurrection so that you may be forgiven and have eternal life. Not in the saints, not in the traditions, not in the words of prophetic authors, but in Christ.

De Maria June 3, 2014 at 11:14 PM

Hi David, I’m addressing your comment directly, but I’m also speaking to Jim b, whose comment was similar to yours.

You said:

David June 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM
I’m having a hard time stomaching the fact that every single person on this post (including the author) is passing substantial judgment on an individual church based purely on the tirade of one disgruntled mother.

Maybe you ought to take a step back. Because you are talking about a mom who’s heart has been broken and who is concerned that her children and grandchildren are no longer in the House of God.

by virtue of having a big building, lots of lights and “loud music” the church must be a bastion of heresy incapable of genuine worship or evangelism in the name of Christ.

You ignored the part of her message which says:
He then tells us that this dedication “is not a baptism as they don’t baptize infants. “The Bible is clear that we are saved by God’s grace, not by dedication, baptism, or our own works.” And that “every baptism recorded in the Bible occurred when someone was old enough to make a faith decision.”
I got up and walked out. Mostly because my husband wouldn’t let me stand up and yell “LIAR!”

I can pinpoint a couple of false doctrines there. So, she is right to be upset. And someone else in the comments mentioned that this organization is focused on bringing Catholics out of the Catholic Church. So, more reason to be upset.

So far, I think her response seems reasonable. I can’t think of a devout Catholic being in the same situation responding in any different manner.

We’re painting with broad strokes here, folks.

No, we’re not. We’re painting with measured strokes which describe precisely what is happening in many places around the world. This is not the worship presented in Scripture. Or if it is, show me where it is.

After reading through all of these comments, there seems to be an incredible amount of pride taken in the Catholic church, rather than in Christ. “Therefore, as the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.’” Take pride only in the Lord, only in Christ. Not in the church or the church structure, but in Christ, his death and resurrection so that you may be forgiven and have eternal life. Not in the saints, not in the traditions, not in the words of prophetic authors, but in Christ.

Are you Catholic. The reason we boast in the Church because the Church is the Body of Christ. The Priests of the Church are Christ’s ambassadors who speak and act in His name. How do you separate Christ from His Church?

Eph 5:

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

David and Jim, there is a grain of truth in your objection. We shouldn’t judge other people. All of us will stand before the Just Judge on the Last Day.

Having said that, I myself am a parent and I certainly don’t want my children being fooled into leaving the Household of God where we walk with the Saints in this world and joining an organization which tickles the ears and teaches the doctrines of men. No sir. I think Gal 1:8 says very plainly.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria June 3, 2014 at 11:17 PM

Steve,

I don’t know if you prayed for me or what, but after I told you that I hadn’t been to your forum because my arms hurt when I typed, my arms felt much better. I am, however, still taking it easy.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Bill912 June 4, 2014 at 9:15 AM

Who wrote that such a church “must be a bastion of heresy”, etc.? People pointed out the errors taught in various mega-churches.

The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ, established by Him, given His authority. In “taking pride” in her–I would phrase it, “giving thanks for her”–people ARE taking “‘pride’ only in the Lord, only in Christ”, as Christ and His Church are one.

Brandi June 4, 2014 at 1:04 PM

I have a dear friend who was raised Catholic but now attends one of these mega-churches. I went to service with her one Sunday. It was overwhelming at first, being seated with thousands of other people, and it did feel like a concert. I was impressed when they showed a video sharing what they have done in outreach ministries to help the poor and improve neighborhoods. You could tell there was a lot of heart and people wanting to make the world a better place.
Then the pastor started talking about Jesus and his brother and Jesus’ other siblings. My mouth fell open. I had only come into the Catholic church the year before but I knew that Jesus had NO other siblings and what the true meaning of “brother” was culturally and linguistically. My heart started racing and I looked to my friend to see if she caught this error in teaching. She showed no such shock. I scanned the faces of people around me – no one else was having the same reaction as me. They just sat with their coffee and smiled.
I cannot tell you what the rest of the sermon was about. All I could think was that thousands of people where just taught this error. I was shaking as I walked out. My friends were all excited to get my opinion about their church. I tried to be gracious, but with wavering voice I said, “Jesus did NOT have any siblings.” They looked at me like a tarantula was sitting on my head. My friend said that the pastor must know what he was talking about because he went to school for it. To be kind, I let the topic go for the moment and I knew I would have to clarify my statement later.
I know my friend loves Christ. She WHOLY supports me being Catholic. She is a great witness to faith, but I know that this mega-church is not teaching her or anyone else the truth.

David June 5, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Brandi,

Most scholars believe that Jesus did in fact have “brothers” in the literal sense – meaning, children born of Mary and Joseph after Jesus was born. Do a little more research. While there is disagreement, it is not at all uncommon (or unreasonable) to hold the belief that where Jesus’ “brothers” are mentioned in Scripture (James, Joseph, Simon & Judas: Matthew 13:55. Matthew 12:46, Luke 8:19, and Mark 3:31 say that Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see Him. In John 7:1-10, His brothers go on to the festival while Jesus stays behind. In Acts 1:14, His brothers and mother are described as praying with the disciples. Galatians 1:19).

Again, while I understand that some people (especially Catholics) disagree as to whether they were actually brothers, half brothers, or cousins, your level of outrage (to the point of no longer being able to pay attention to the pastor’s sermon) seems to be a bit overblown.

STEVE RAY HERE: David, thanks for you comments and your irenic tone. Much appreciated and respected.

However, this is no small matter for Catholics. It is a dogma of the Church and was accepted by all Christians until Protestants protested and began interpreting the Bible differently than it had been for 1500 years. We all know the passages that refer to the “brothers of the Lord” but one needs to study that in it’s historical and theological context and not just jump to the conclusion that Mary had other children St. Thomas Aquinas does a good job explaining and defending the ever-virginity of Mary and answers the objections to the doctrine.

That many Protestant scholars believe Mary had other children means nothing to me or to Catholics who disagree with much of what “modern scholars” espouse as truth. One excepts their own understanding of Scripture or is faithful to the 2,000 year teaching of the Catholic Church – the Church, by the way, that determined which books belonged in the New Testament.

Cody June 5, 2014 at 2:39 PM

David,

You do realize that if those modern scholars who say that Jesus had brothers actually read the whole Bible they would find that all the brothers that Jesus supposedly had are listed as having either a different father, or a different mother.

David June 5, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Steve,

Thanks for the response. I will certainly do a bit more digging and read about what St. Thomas Aquinas had to say about it. I mean no disrespect to the Catholic Church and do not mean to downplay the significance it has played in the spread of the Church throughout history – I myself am an Evangelical Christian who attends the “mega church” addressed in the Mom’s article (which is why I’ve had interest in this post). That said, I come from a Catholic background and have many members of my family who are devout Catholics. I have a great deal of respect for them and their faith and frankly find far more in common with the faith of my Catholic family members than differences.

Thanks again for the forum,

David

De Maria June 5, 2014 at 7:30 PM

David June 5, 2014 at 10:36 AM
Brandi,

Most scholars

Most Protestant scholars. But not any Catholic scholars.

believe that Jesus did in fact have “brothers” in the literal sense – meaning, children born of Mary and Joseph after Jesus was born. Do a little more research.

Ok. Here we go.

First, the word “brother” has meant much more than “brothers of the womb” from time immemorial. Good friends call themselves “brothers” even today. And a closer examination of Scripture proves that James, Joseph, Simon and Jude are sons of another Mary, not Jesus’ mother, but Jesus’ aunt.
Matthew 13
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Jude:

However, these brothers and sisters in Christ, fail to realize that the word “brother” has meant much more than “brothers of the womb” from time immemorial. Good friends call themselves “brothers” even today. And a closer examination of Scripture proves that James, Joseph, Simon and Jude are sons of another Mary, not Jesus’ mother, but Jesus’ aunt.

First, we see that Jesus’ mother has a “sister”. From Catholic Tradition, we know that Jesus’ mother is an only child. So, her sister is really a cousin or other close kin:

John 19 25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen.

We also note that this Mary is always mentioned with Mary Magdalen. The two must have been close friends:

Mark 16 1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus.

Note that in this verse she is not called Mary of Cleophas, but Mary the mother of James.

Mark 15 40 And there were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joseph, and Salome:

Here she is the mother of James and Joseph and Salome. The mention of Salome explains the “sisters” of Jesus. Since Mary the sister of Mary His Mother is also His sister or kin.

Matthew 27 56 Among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Luke 24 10 And it was Mary Magdalen, and Joanna, and Mary of James, and the other women that were with them, who told these things to the apostles.

Sometimes she is called “the other” Mary.

Matthew 27 61 And there was there Mary Magdalen, and the other Mary sitting over against the sepulchre.

OK, so far we’ve established that James and Joseph are the sons of the other Mary. Not of Jesus’ mother. What about Simon and Jude?

Luke 6 16 And Jude, the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who was the traitor.

Well, Jude is the brother of James. He says so himself:

Jude 1 1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James: to them that are beloved in God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.

And, although Simon the Zealot is rarely mentioned, when he is mentioned, he is always grouped with either James or Jude.

Luke 6 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who is called Zelotes,

Acts Of Apostles 1 13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James.

If we review the listing of Apostles, we will see that the Apostle mentioned as Thaddeus must be Jude and Simon the Zelotes must be Simon the Cananean:

Mark 3 16 And to Simon he gave the name Peter: 17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he named them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: 18 And Andrew and Philip, and Bartholomew and Matthew, and Thomas and James of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Cananean:19 And Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Matthew 10 2 And the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, 3 James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, 4 Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Acts Of Apostles 1 13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James.

Luke 6 13 And when day was come, he called unto him his disciples; and he chose twelve of them (whom also he named apostles). 14 Simon, whom he surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who is called Zelotes, 16 And Jude, the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who was the traitor.

So, we see that James, Joseph, Jude and Simon are related to Jesus. But they are not the sons of Mary, but her distant kin and thus also Jesus kin.

Now, factor in the facts that the Apostles are known as Jesus’ brethren. And that Mary is frequently in their company. And you will understand why, the Scripture says, His mother and His brothers in reference to people who are distant kin and close friends.

Matthew 28:10
Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Is that enough research?

While there is disagreement, it is not at all uncommon (or unreasonable) to hold the belief that where Jesus’ “brothers” are mentioned in Scripture (James, Joseph, Simon & Judas: Matthew 13:55. Matthew 12:46, Luke 8:19, and Mark 3:31 say that Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see Him. In John 7:1-10, His brothers go on to the festival while Jesus stays behind. In Acts 1:14, His brothers and mother are described as praying with the disciples. Galatians 1:19).

In fact, it is unreasonable. Your tradition discarded the Sacred Traditions of Jesus Christ upon which the New Testament is based. That is why you err. If your theology were anchored to the Traditions of Jesus Christ, you would not make this mistake. But, Protestants, unreasonably, make up their religion as they go along. Scripture says that this is unreasonable:
2 Timothy 4:1-5
King James Version (KJV)
4 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Again, while I understand that some people (especially Catholics) disagree as to whether they were actually brothers, half brothers, or cousins, your level of outrage (to the point of no longer being able to pay attention to the pastor’s sermon) seems to be a bit overblown.

That goes to how much we love Jesus Christ. We can not bear for anyone to treat Him as though He were a mere man. We love Him with a jealousy that Protestants can’t understand. That is why we can’t bear that any should charge that other mere men should corrupt the pure womb where He was made flesh.

You will find that amongst Catholics, Brandi’s response to this abhorrent Protestant doctrine, is not unusual.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Tom Govern June 5, 2014 at 10:30 PM

God bless the mega churches, they keep people in the fold until they really understand what worshiping God is about. Our job is to show them the Catholic faith and how it really fulfills what they are looking for, including fallen away Catholics.

David June 6, 2014 at 12:18 PM

De Maria,

While I do not appreciate the lack of respect shown for my “abhorrent Protestant doctrine” that, contrary to your vociferous accusations, are based in Scripture alone (the literal “Word of God”) rather than in man-made church traditions, it is clear that you and I are at an impasse and there is no further need to engage one another in dialogue lest we both end up with a more disillusioned view of each other’s beliefs than we (you) appear to already have.

I will leave you with this – the link to what appears to be your website (by clicking on your name) states that you have been “Washed, Sanctified and Justified in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.” This is precisely the issue I have with Catholicism. Again, with all respect and reverence owed to your tradition and the role it has played in the spreading of the Gospel throughout the world, such a statement strikes this “abhorrent Protestant” as dangerous. I have not been washed, sanctified, and justified in the sacraments of any church or institution, only through the Sacraments (for lack of a better short form-word) of Jesus Christ. One is not “washed, sanctified and justified” because of any particular institution but because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – to blur the lines between whether a church tradition or Christ himself “saves” is a dangerous practice that could very well leave the significance of Christ overshadowed. One does not have the opportunity to be baptized, share in communion, repent of one’s sins, partake in marriage and have the promise of eternal life but for the grace and mercy offered by Christ as played out in His death and resurrection. The Church is the Bride of Christ, but is not Christ himself. Without Christ the Church is nothing. We must never confuse those two things.

That is, at least, in my “abhorrent protestant” opinion.

Rob Sardegna June 6, 2014 at 12:52 PM

David:

But they ARE the same.

Gen 2:24: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, AND THEY BECOME ONE FLESH.”

In opposition to your comment, please allow me to quote St. Joan : “Christ and the Church: They are one. Let’s not complicate things.” With repect, I’ll defer to her view over yours, especially since her view is backed up by Scripture.

And the are more scriptures than I can shake a stick at in the Pauline letters referring to the Church as Christ’s body. Here’s just one example: “I Rejoice in my sufferings for in them I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is the Church.” Col. 1:24.

So you see, while the Church is the Bride of Christ, it is also Christ’s body, because in a marriage the two become really and truly, though in a mystical way, one. You have fallen prey to the common Protestant “either or” misconception. Actually, it’s “both and.”

Another instance of your falling into the same error is when you oppose Scripture with man-made church traditions. You err in assuming that all Church traditions are man-made. After all, is not the canon of Scripture a tradition of the Church?

I agree w/ you that De Maria’s wording is unfortunate – if he indeed said it. We are indeed washed in the blood of Christ. But HOW are we washed in His blood? By what means does Christ “wash” us? Answer: the sacraments.

I am truly sorry that you left the Church. It really is a tragedy that you have done so. Unless of course the love you gain for Christ in your Protestant tradition – and that’s what it is – ultimately brings you back to the Church with ever more love for Him.

BTW: Can you explain Col 1:24, which i cited above, by means of your Protestant tradition? Good luck.

I shall pray for you.

Rob

David June 6, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Rob,

I appreciate your prayers (truly – I will never shy away from the prayer of other believers, so thank you!).

I actually agree with a large portion of what you’re saying and now feel a need to clarify my comments. While I agree that Christ and the Church are “one” – in referring to “the Catholic church” above I was referring to the institution, not the body of believers. You likely are going to come back and say that the two are inseperable, but I have to disagree.

Where Christ (or Paul for that matter) refers to the macro “capital ‘C’” Church in Scripture, I don’t believe He’s referring to an institution. It is my understanding that the Church refers to the world-wide body of believers. So in Col 1:24, “Christ’s . . . body” is not the (in my view) the Catholic Church, the Protistant Church or any other man-made set of traditions that have been shaped over the ages and are followed to varying degrees by men and women around the world (albiet many traditions are solidly based in Scripture). Indeed Christ came to abolosh the Law and set up the Church. “Christ’s . . . body” in Col 1:24 refers to all believers – all those who are in Christ and therefore part of “the Church.” I’m not trying to downplay the parts of religous traditions that are no doubt vitally important (such as baptism, communion, confession of sins, etc.) I’m trying to make a broader point:

If in quoting St. Joan – you mean to say that Christ and the body of believers that make up “the Church” are one, I absolutely without question agree with you. If by it, however, you mean that Christ and the Catholic Church (and, I’d guess, only the Catholic Church) are “one” I would push back. I’d say you could be correct, depending on the hearts of the body believers in the Catholic Church and whether they are in fact in Christ. I’d also say you may not be correct if those who take part in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church (among which many are also taken in Protestant traditions) are not in fact in Christ. If thier “faith” has become a checklist and they are not united with Christ by faith, I would vehimently disagree with you and say that they are not a part of “the Church” that is referred to in Colossians. Matthew 7:21-23 makes it clear that many people will do much in Christ’s name, but if they are not in Christ they will stand before the Lord and he will say “I never knew you; depart from me.”

My entire point boiled down to one sentence is this: It is not the institution of the lower-case-’c’ church that saves, but it is Jesus Christ and being in Him. It is by grace through faith we are saved, not by actions, not by religious affiliation. Put another way to go back to your Col. 1:24 question: if we are in Christ and are saved, we are a member of the capital-’c’ Church.

De Maria June 6, 2014 at 6:20 PM

David June 6, 2014 at 12:18 PM
De Maria,

While I do not appreciate the lack of respect shown for my “abhorrent Protestant doctrine”

It is a heretical lie. Why should I have any respect for it? You have every right to believe a lie if you want to. But I will inform you that you are placing your faith in a lie.

2 Timothy 4:1-2
King James Version (KJV)
4 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

But you seem to be holding some sort of double standard. Do you reserve the right to come in here and rebuke one of our fellows, chiding them as being, “a bit overblown”, but you don’t want us to let you know that it is repugnant to us that anyone should teach that the pure womb in which Jesus resided was corrupted by sinful humanity?

that, contrary to your vociferous accusations, are based in Scripture alone (the literal “Word of God”) rather than in man-made church traditions,

The doctrine of Scripture alone is a man-made tradition. It is not the literal “Word of God”. The literal Word of God instructs you NOT to hold Scripture alone:

2 Thessalonians 2:15
King James Version (KJV)
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

it is clear that you and I are at an impasse and there is no further need to engage one another in dialogue lest we both end up with a more disillusioned view of each other’s beliefs than we (you) appear to already have.

Ok. Although, I think you’re probably surprised to find out that your beliefs are not in Scripture. And Catholic beliefs are thoroughly Scriptural. This is what is disillusioning to you and why you would rather break off the conversation than to learn something that will bring you closer to God than you have ever dreamed. Only the Catholic Church can bring you there.

I will leave you with this – the link to what appears to be your website (by clicking on your name) states that you have been “Washed, Sanctified and Justified in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.”

Correct, the Sacraments of the Catholic Church are effusions of the Holy Spirit which wash away our sins and imbue us with the Holiness of Christ by our expression of faith, apart from any works on our part. They are the wonderful works of God.

This is precisely the issue I have with Catholicism.

You have an issue with the Truth which the Church teaches in its fullness:

1 Timothy 3:15
King James Version (KJV)
15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

You have an issue with the Wisdom of God which is brought you by the Catholic Church:
Ephesians 3:10
King James Version (KJV)
10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

Again, with all respect and reverence owed to your tradition and the role it has played in the spreading of the Gospel throughout the world,

Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ.

such a statement strikes this “abhorrent Protestant”

You are calling yourself “abhorrent”. Not I. The doctrine to which you adhere is repugnant because it is a falsifying of the Gospel. It perverts the Word of God.

as dangerous. I have not been washed, sanctified, and justified in the sacraments of any church or institution, only through the Sacraments (for lack of a better short form-word) of Jesus Christ.

How do you divorce Jesus Christ from the Sacraments which He gave His life to institute in order that you and I would be saved? Yes, you are in danger. You are in danger because you have rejected the body of Christ which was pierced for you and the blood of Christ which was poured out for you.

Hebrews 10:25-31
King James Version (KJV)
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

You’ve rejected the Sacraments, you’ve rejected the Church, there remains no more sacrifice for the remission of your sins.

One is not “washed, sanctified and justified” because of any particular institution but because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – to blur the lines between whether a church tradition or Christ himself “saves” is a dangerous practice that could very well leave the significance of Christ overshadowed.

Christ saves through His Church.
Acts 2:
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

If you want to be saved, you need to cooperate with the grace of God and let the Lord Jesus add you to His Church.

One does not have the opportunity to be baptized, share in communion, repent of one’s sins, partake in marriage and have the promise of eternal life but for the grace and mercy offered by Christ as played out in His death and resurrection.

That is Catholic Doctrine.

The Church is the Bride of Christ, but is not Christ himself.

Both/And. The Church is the Bride of Christ. The Church is also the Body of Christ.

but is not Christ himself.

Remember what Christ said to Saul:
Acts 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Saul was persecuting the Church. But Christ did not say, “why persecutest thou my church.” Rather, “why persecutest thou me?” Because the Church is the Body of Christ.

Without Christ the Church is nothing.

True.

We must never confuse those two things.

We are not the ones confused. We believe the “literal” word of God. And we believe the spiritual doctrines of God. And we believe the Scriptures, the way the Scriptures instruct us to believe them:
2 Corinthians 3:6
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

That is, at least, in my “abhorrent protestant” opinion.

Again, you are calling yourself “abhorrent”. Protestant doctrines which contradict the Catholic Church also contradict the Word of God, and therefore, are repugnant and I will not bite my tongue. Get away from that false religion and hurry up and get into the fullness of Truth, in the Catholic Church.

Rob Sardegna June 7, 2014 at 4:38 PM

David:

Yes, I would indeed say that the community and the institution are the same, though not entirely coextensive. The institutional church are the leaders of the community, which is the Church.

I would agree that if one merely checks off the sacraments on a list, w/ no real faith involved, then little benefit is to be derived from them. Ultimately, it’s all about faith & being in Christ. W/o faith, we cannot please God, and nothing we do is of any value or merit before God. And little grace will be conveyed through the sacraments. W/o faith, we cannot be saved. But we cannot be saved apart from God’s grace, and the sacraments are the chief means through which God dispenses that grace. How much grace is conveyed, however, and how much fruit the sacraments bear, is entirely a matter of our disposition.

But, regarding your one sentence: How does one get and remain “in Christ”? That’s the real issue. And I’ll bet there’s a huge chasm between us on this one. We are saved by grace and faith, not by works. Hmmm. Where in Scripture does it say that? By grace we have been saved. Yes. Absolutely (Eph 2:8-9). But in context this is talking about baptism and how, through God’s free gift, it saves us from death. We are saved through faith and not works of the law (Rom 3:28). Yes. Absolutely. But in context, Paul was talking about faith in Christ as opposed to the works of the Mosaic law, chiefly circumcision. And nowhere in Scripture does it say we are not saved by good works. In fact, quite the opposite: See James 2:24 and surrounding verses. How are we really saved? By faith working through love. Gal 5:6. Faith and works, the Catholic view.

So, again: How, in your view, does one get and remain “in Christ”?

Oh, and BTW: You haven’t explained Col 1:24. By means of any Protestant tradition of which I’m aware, you can’t. That’s one of a number of reasons why, when I had something of a crisis of faith a number of years ago, I chose – in the end – to remain Catholic. The Catholic need not put certain verses of Scripture on the shelf as it were. That and the facts that both sola fide and sola scriptura are both logically invalid as being self-refuting and contradicted by Scripture.

God Bless!

Rob

tobatz July 19, 2014 at 3:14 PM

David,

…Oh well, De Maria and the others said it all.

May God clear your mind of the cobwebs. Good luck to you.

Tobatz

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