"The Roman Catholic Church will stop at nothing within its power to impose its pro-natalist agenda on the American people and their government."
So we learn from the newsletter published by the Democratic and Secular Humanists of Greater Boston, which continues with these gems culled from Stephen Mumford's The Pope and the New Apocalypse: The Holy War Against Family Planning:
"The interests of the Vatican have superseded the best interests of the United States and the American people in matters concerning the dilemma of world population growth and its relation to our national security."
"If the destruction of U.S. Constitutional and representative democracy is found by the Vatican to be necessary to achieve its goals, the Church will not hesitate to attempt this."
Mumford is the president of the Center for Research on Population and Security. The newsletter calls his analysis "frightening, disturbing, and deeply important." We don't know how important this nonsense will be, but we agree that it's frightening and disturbing.
Dave Hunt is angry. Protestants are letting him down. Today's "climate for Protestant-Catholic 'unity' is a slap in the face of the Reformers, all of whom were convinced that the Roman Catholic Popes were antichrists." But things have been different with many of the Reformers' heirs.
"Even Billy Graham, in 1948 at the start of his celebrated career, identified Roman Catholicism as one of the `greatest menaces faced by orthodox Christianity.'" Today "Graham refers favorably to `the new understanding between Roman Catholics and Protestants' and sends converts back to the Catholic Church."
"Don't ever forget," Hunt warns readers of the newsletter of his Christian Information Bureau, "that every belief upon which Protestantism was founded and for which the martyrs gave their lives was rejected by the Council of Trent."
Every belief? Does he mean beliefs such as the "fundamentals" adhered to by all Fundamentalists--the deity of Christ, the historicity of his Resurrection, the Virgin Birth, the atonement, the inspiration of Scripture, and a literal return at the Second Coming? These also happen to be core beliefs of Catholicism. Were they rejected by Trent? If so, will Hunt be citing any document from Trent rejecting any of these doctrines? (Don't hold your breath.)
Sorry, but you missed it. The Fifth World Congress of Christian Fundamentalists was held in London from July 16-20. Featured speakers were Bob Jones, of Bob Jones University, and Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland's chief Catholic basher.
Registrants to the World Congress of Christian Fundamentalists were able to walk over to Fleet Street and visit the Protestant Truth Society book store, where titles such as these could be purchased (the descriptions are from the Society's catalogue):
"Battle of the Celtic Church, Peter Trumper. A short history of what happened in the church from 300 A.D. to 700 A.D., prior to the dark winter between the 7th and 14th centuries."
"Let's Look at Lourdes, Muriel Webber. Considers the attraction of Lourdes and Fatima, where the worship of the creature is encouraged, rather than the Creator. Illustrated."
"Stormy Petrel, Helen I. Needham. Tells the true story of a 19th century Priest, Charles Chiniquy, sent by the R.C. Church to colonise Central Illinois. After finding Christ as Saviour he became a courageous minister, championed by Abraham Lincoln."
Not all fuzzy thinking comes from England. Some is home-grown. The "Sounding Board" department in the June 1990 issue of U.S. Catholic was titled "Let Everyone Come to Communion."
The author, Fr. Richard T. Szafranski, is "embarrassed" by the national hierarchy's guidelines on receiving Communion. You'll find the guidelines printed at the back of most missalettes. They say that only Catholics not conscious of serious sin may receive Communion. "My only hope is that Catholics who read [the guidelines] will be equally offended and reject them as contrary to what sharing the eucharistic meal is all about," writes Szafranski.
What's the big deal? he asks. "Who would [open Communion] hurt? The church? Jesus?" He says "it is high time that Catholics offer a standing invitation to all who worship with them to come up and share the bread and the wine." (Well, if it's just bread and wine, why not?)
"Others argue that inviting non-Catholics to Communion expresses a unity that does not exist. What kind of unity? Do all Catholics have unity in belief about Eucharist?" Apparently not, as suggested by Szafranski himself. His two-page article betrays no solid belief in the Real Presence, and he does not cite 1 Corinthians 11:30, which says that anyone who takes Communion unworthily "is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." "Unworthily" means disbelievingly or in the state of sin.
After "Sounding Board" comes "Feedback," a poll of U.S. Catholic's readers on the subject covered in "Sounding Board." The results might throw one into despair if he didn't know U.S. Catholic, despite its name, isn't mainstream, and its readership isn't remotely representative of American Catholics. Still, the numbers are discouraging:
"Letting everyone indiscriminately come to Communion would cheapen the sacrament." Disagree: 55%.
"I believe Jesus doesn't want sinners to receive his body and blood unless they repent." Disagree: 47%. (See 1 Cor. 11:30 again.)
"Along with Father Richard T. Szafranski, I think the Catholic Church should let everyone come to Communion." Agree: 53%.
"I have judged myself unworthy of receiving Communion at times." Disagree: 22%. (Does this mean 22% of U.S. Catholic's readers believe they never sin?)
"The Mass' statement of faith before Communion, 'Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed,' is sufficient preparation for all who wish to join in Communion." Agree: 44%. (In other words, forget confession.)
According to the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, there are now 963 million Catholics, 378 million Protestants (including Anglicans), and 180 million Eastern Orthodox. This means Christians are 33% of the world's population, with Catholics about 18%.
Well, it's good to be set straight. Subscribers to Plain Truth, the magazine of the Worldwide Church of God, founded by the late Herbert W. Armstrong, have been informed by Joseph W. Tkach, the editor-in-chief, that the Worldwide Church of God "is non-denominational and entirely nonproselytizing. It does not seek aggressively to convert anyone, or in any manner solicit members." And all this time we thought Plain Truth was published precisely to make converts!
Free Bibles: We have on hand about 80 copies of the George M. Lamsa translation of the Bible. This is the translation from the Aramaic. It is published in paperback by Harper & Row and retails for $24.95. We'll send a copy to the first 80 people who request one and who send $5.00 to cover shipping and handling.
Warning: This is not a Catholic translation, and it isn't a Protestant translation either. It's idiosyncratic and not entirely trustworthy. (Lamsa was a little odd and was not reluctant to let his biases guide some of his translating.) You wouldn't want to make this your regular study Bible, but serious Bible students (and anyone who collects translations) will want a copy.
"Jack T. Chick's cartoon gospel tracts are small, no bigger than your open hand. They slip easily into the margins of the everyday--waiting rooms, phone booths, gas-station johns. You could ignore them if you wanted, but that's their secret. You won't. There's nothing better to do, so you pick a Chick tract up and leaf, and you barely notice the slight stutter of vertical hold as you slip out of the margins of the everyday into the heart of a different world."
So writes Julian Dibbell in a recent issue of L.A. Weekly.
"Maybe it's not the kind of world you want to be in," he continues. "Paranoia reigns here--demons watch your every move, vast conspiracies span history and the globe....
"Still, the contents of these communiques tends to matter less than the act of communication itself. They are, in this sense, as abstract as the two-line fishes clandestine Christians drew in the ground to identify themselves to one another as they moved through the hostile Roman Empire. And in this Godless age they serve much the same purpose, except that these fish aim not only to identify but to seduce.
"And they do seduce. Chick tracts printed in more than two dozen languages (including Tahitian, Luxembourgian and Surinamese Dutch Creole) ship by the millions each year, winning thousands of souls over to born-again Christianity."
Dibbell goes on to tell what little is known about the secretive Jack Chick, who "hasn't given an interview in 25 years." Chick served in the Army during World War II, stationed in New Guinea, and had a born-again experience in 1948, when he was 24. He trained as an actor, and he was told the Communists won China because they used comic books to inculcate Maoism. That made him think comic books were the way to go.
Soon he had written "This Was Your Life," his first comic book (more than 40 million copies of it are now in print). Since that first effort have come dozens of other comic books, some of them, such as the Alberto series, being overtly anti-Catholic. (Many others are at least implicitly anti-Catholic).
Chick's operation is headquartered in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and its mailing address is in Chino. These towns are eastern suburbs of Los Angeles. (Chino, perhaps appropriately, is the site of a major prison.)
Chick himself is rarely seen and doesn't want to be seen. His sidekick, Alberto Rivera, who pretends to be an ex-Jesuit and who, according to Dibbell, is an ex-insane asylum inmate, likes to be seen--and heard. And they both like to see the comic books as widely distributed as possible. This wish, as least, seems to have been fulfilled.
Occasionally we get inquiries about denominations calling themselves the "Church of Christ." These denominations differ among themselves in beliefs, but they all seem to have at least one common belief: The Bible proves that each of them is the Church established by Jesus.
Here's the thinking: Romans 16:16 refers to the "Church of Christ." That's the proper name the Bible gives to the true Church. How can we identify that Church today--how can we distinguish it from the thousands of denominations? Easy. Just look for one called the "Church of Christ." Once you've found it, you've found the Church Jesus established.
Pretty nifty thinking, eh? There are two problems with it.
First, there are lots of competing outfits going under the name "Church of Christ." Some of them are descended from the nineteenth- century Campbellite movement. Some aren't. Some have loose connections with that movement, such as the Philippine-originated Iglesia ni Cristo ("Church of Christ" in Tagalog).
Second, Romans 16:16 doesn't refer to the "Church of Christ" (singular). It says, "Aspazontai umas ai ekklesiai pasai tou Cristou" ("All the churches [plural] of Christ salute you").
This isn't a suggestion that our Lord founded more than one Church. When we see "churches" in the New Testament, we are to understand those as local manifestations of the one Church (Matthew 16:18: "I will build my church"--singular).
There was a Christian outpost in, say, Ephesus, so we read about the Church at Ephesus. There was another outpost in the district of Galatia, so we read about the Church in Galatia. These are not separate churches founded by Christ, but part of the one Church, just as the Church in today's Bogota is the same Church found in Melbourne and Hoboken and Rome.
In any event, the New Testament doesn't contain the phrase "Church of Christ," and, even if it did, the phrase wouldn't refer to the denominations going under that name today.
Don't let yourself be bamboozled. If you're a Catholic, you're already a full member of the real Church of Christ. Perhaps that Church doesn't use "Church of Christ" as an official title, but it's the official (and only) Church Christ established.