“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

May 22, 2009

Mark Shea Perfectly Describes the Kind of Protestant Spam I Also Receive

Behold the Spam of God!

Almost every other day it seems, I will (like thousands of other Catholics) open my email and get something like this specimen (culled from my “delete” file):

Dear Mark, just came from your Website and have some questions. It sounds like you were a “Protestant” before becoming a Catholic? I don’t know which church you were in but I have to question whether you were ever taught the Word of God there? If you had been in a church which taught the truth concerning Baptism according to the Word of GOD and not the “traditions of men” you would have learned that not only does baptism NOT save nor “grant justification” but it is ONLY for those who ARE BORN-AGAIN by the SPIRIT of GOD by placing their faith in the LORD JESUS CHRIST! It is to be symbolic of the new birth ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED by GOD as Romans 6 clearly teaches! PLEASE READ the Gospel of John and pray asking GOD to show you HIS TRUTH - HE LOVES THE WORLD and DESIRES TO SAVE the LOST - which we all are apart from the New Birth which IS FREELY offered to ALL ! Please read and be saved! I will be praying for you in JESUS Name. Carolyn

You have to wonder what is going through the minds of people who write such stuff. What do they think they are accomplishing?

One is terribly tempted to reply:

The Word of God? What’s that? Never heard of such a thing. Is that, like, the Bible? We used to read something called a “Bible”, I think, at our old Church. But that was an awfully long time ago.

Boy, thanks for setting me straight. I have never ever ever heard before that Jesus Christ loves me and desires to save the lost with his free gift of grace! I always thought that I had to perform magical rituals to make God love me. But now that you have so thoughtfully set me straight, I see clearly that when that big black book we used to read in my old church-that-never-taught-me-the-Bible says “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21) what it means is “Baptism does not save you.”

And thanks also for explaining that when Romans 6 says, “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” and “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” this absolutely has nothing whatever to do with Baptism. I really appreciate you setting me straight on that as well.

And finally, thanks for making me see that all that stuff in John 3 about being born again of water and the Spirit really means water and the Spirit are complete opposites.

Golly. It is so good to finally —after all these years—have somebody who really teaches the Word of God clue me in. Who would have thought that all those years of studying…. what’s that big black book called again? Ah! Yes! “The Bible”.

Anyway, who would have thought that all those years of studying the Bible could have left me so totally ignorant of what Scripture really means? Thanks ever so for enlightening me.

Do these people who write Evangelical converts to the Catholic faith honestly believe that they are the first people in the universe to ever suggest reading the Bible? If not, then what are they thinking?

I wonder this even more when I get Godspam from people who assure me they are “writing in Christian love” and then proceed to send me a farrago of raving nonsense and/or documentable lies about what the Church teaches. When you write them back and refer them to biblical and catechetical sources which show a) the fact that Catholic teaching comports with biblical teaching and b) their lies about Catholic teaching (”Mary worship!” “The Pope is sinless!” “The Mass re-sacrifices Jesus!”) are bunk, they write you back with that gooey smile of condescending “Christian love” and inform you (and I quote) “I am not interested in discussing truth issues with Catholic apologists.”

The sheer hermetically-sealed Pride is both astonishing and (as is the doom of Pride) hilariously funny. And the pride is very widespread in the ranks of anti-Catholic types who write in “Christian love”. I discovered this when I posted “Carolyn’s” note. One Catholic reader commented with his tongue firmly planted in cheek:

When I converted to Catholicism, it was the statue worship that appealed to me the most, but banner worship has its appeal as well. Historians have been able to show that pagans also worshipped primitive banners so either one has authentic Catholic-pagan connections.

I also liked that I didn’t have to read the Bible any more and that I would have to earn my way to Heaven. Besides that, I really appreciated the fact that I could check my brain at the door and blindly follow the leaders.

A really cool part of Catholicism is that now I can commit all of my favorite sins and then go to Confession right before I go out and do them again!! Actually, while I was Protestant, I guess I did that too, but without the Confession part. But sitting in that little room just feels so holy, especially with the statues nearby.

The cannibalism aspect, I have to admit, grosses me out a little, but I comfort myself by knowing that it is a false doctrine anyway and so it is only really bread. . . . (continue reading)

Why Mormons Don't Like the Cross

Ever since I began engaging in apologetics with Mormons, back in the 1980s, their skittishness about and rejection of the cross, as a symbol of Christ and His atoning sacrifice, has always seemed odd to me.  After all, St. Paul himself proclaimed to scoffers, "
We preach Christ crucified" and "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 1:23, 2:2).

The rationale I've heard from many Mormons for their aversion to the cross as a Christian symbol has included rejoinders such as, "We don't use them because that's a Catholic thing," and, "Why would I want to see a reminder of the thing that killed Jesus? That's morbid!" The fomer president of the Mormon Church, Gordon B. Hinkley, had this to say: For us [Mormons], the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the Living Christ.”

One Mormon missionary who, along with several LDS confreres, attended one of my parish seminars on Mormonism some years ago, told me in all earnestness, "We don't use crosses because Jesus died on a cross. If your brother were murdered with a knife, you wouldn't hang a little knife on chain around your neck, would you?" I told him that this was precisely the point. "What happened on the cross is, in itself, the reason we Catholics display the cross," I said. "The most important event in history took place on the wood of the cross at Golgotha, upon which Christ suffered and died for our salvation."

I could see from the look on his face that that Mormon missionary didn't accept my reasoning.

In a future post on this blog, I'll supply a prĂ©cis of the Catholic reasons for venerating the cross, whether it be a crucifix (i.e., with the corpus of the Lord affixed) or an empty cross. But for the moment, I think the primary reason, at least from the explanations given by Mormons I've discussed this subject with over the years, is that the cross of Christ is inextricably identified in their minds with the Catholic Church. Until recently, the Mormon Church has been up front in its opinion that the Catholic Church is nothing other than the "counterfeit" church which, Mormons say, arose out of the maelstrom of syncretism, corruption, and heresy which occurred when Christ allegedly withdrew the "keys of authority" from the Church He had established, thus  (c.f., Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1979 ed.], 42-46, 172-174, 712, James E. Talmage, The Great Apostasy [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1968], 130 ff.; and Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1987], 282-288).

In any case, in light of the above, here's an interesting blog piece about Mormons and the cross and why they eschew it. 

Terrorist Threat: "Guaranteed to kill
330,000 Americans within a single hour!"