Monday, December 6, 2010

Anti-Catholicism and False Witness

Preliminary Notes

I am aware that only a minority of non-Catholics are anti-Catholics, so I would hope the non-Catholic who reads this article and does not hold anti-Catholic views would recognize this article is not directed to them.  I do not hold you responsible for those claims, and believe you seek to do what is right even if you disagree with the Church.

For those who would argue the false claims are true, spare me the unattributed quotes ("Well Pope so-and so said thus and so from some unnamed source") from some unhistorical source ("Well, Rev. Jim Bob said this…!").  If you want to claim the Catholic Church taught something evil, link me the document, not what some person claims the document says.  Likewise, if you want to argue there were real "secret Christians" who taught the truth, again, link me the document and not what some person claims was the truth.  Give me documents where the alleged Papal quote was made, not some quote whose source is simply some other book where we have no idea whether it was in context or not.

I would also hope that all readers who might repeat old tales against the Catholic Church would remember that false witness is a sin, and to repeat something falsely either knowing it is false or not verifying whether it is true is bearing false witness.

  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.  (Ex 20:16).
  • The false witness will not go unpunished, and he who utters lies will perish.  (Pr 19:9).
  • You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.’  (Mk 10:19).


I came across a post by someone who claimed he was not anti-Catholic — and then went on to repeat the tired old canards about the Catholic Church, accusing the Church of being corrupt.  Funny sort of "not-anti-Catholic."

Displaying an ignorance of history and of what Catholics believed, he demonstrated a good deal of prejudice which he apparently thought was true: Of the Church being corrupted by government and "inventing" doctrines, and eventually the truth being rediscovered by Protestants.

I don't see the need to actually link to the site.  The author has said nothing which was not said a thousand times before since the 16th century, so why give his site notoriety?

Now I have no doubt he actually believed this garbage, and so did the people who "recommended" the post to me.

Unfortunately this indicates there are people who rely on the tired old lies repeated over and over, who believe that the Church didn't believe in Transubstantiation until AD 1215, didn't define the canon of Scripture until 1546, and so on.

How Does Anti-Catholicism Differ From Disagreement with the Catholic Church?

I recognize that some people disagree with the Catholic Church on doctrinal grounds and believe the Church got it wrong.  They act in good faith and try to refute the Church from what they believe to be authoritative sources.

However, anti-Catholics are generally people who are not focussing so much on teaching what they believe.  Rather they focus on the alleged wrongs in the Catholic Church.  Hence the label anti Catholic.  They focus on opposing Catholicism, not defending what they believe to be true.

Anti-Catholics generally approach things from the standing that the Church is evil, and try to dredge up the allegations about how the Church "invented" things and burned 20 million people (as Jimmy Swaggart has claimed), was totally corrupted and so on.  When asked to cite sources, either "everyone knows that" or it comes from indirect sources that have unattributed quotes.

Remember, it is no proof to take quotes out of context.  Luther infamously remarked he could fornicate a hundred times a day and not lose his salvation.  He was wrong of course, but he said this as hyperbole of the assurance of salvation and not to give approval to fornication.

"Proof?  We don’t need no Proof!  I don’t have to show you any stinking Proof!”

Of course such claims do not provide any "proof" (I suspect Loraine Boettner would be the common source directly [person read the book] or indirectly [person heard someone repeating claim from book]).  One who believes Catholicism is wrong and is determined to oppose it is often willing to believe any argument claiming to explain how it went wrong.

The problem is, there is no evidence for any "so-called" true church which Catholicism is alleged to have replaced, while the testimony of the Patristics do bear witness to the Sacramental, Apostolic, Hierarchical Church which exists.  So much is the evidence, that many would argue that the Catholic Church overthrew the 'early church' and replaced it (which would make Christ a liar when He said the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church (Matt 16:18) and that He would remain until the end of the world (Matt 28:20).

Cardinal Newman's Clever Remark

Indeed, the absence of proof justifying such a claim that the 'true' church was supplanted by Catholicism is so total that John Henry Cardinal Newman (a convert from Anglicanism who became a Catholic when searching for the early church) made the following statement about the claims of the early church being corrupted by Catholicism:

And this utter incongruity between Protestantism and historical Christianity is a plain fact, whether the latter be regarded in its earlier or in its later centuries. Protestants can as little bear its Ante-nicene as its Post-tridentine period. I have elsewhere observed on this circumstance: 'So much must the Protestant grant that, if such a system of doctrine as he would now introduce ever existed in early times, it has been clean swept away as if by a deluge, suddenly, silently, and without memorial; by a deluge coming in a night, and utterly soaking, rotting, heaving up, and hurrying off every vestige of what it found in the Church, before cock-crowing: so that 'when they rose in the morning' her true seed 'were all dead corpses'-Nay dead and buried-and without grave-stone. 'The waters went over them; there was not one of them left; they sunk like lead in the mighty waters.' Strange antitype, indeed, to the early fortunes of Israel!-then the enemy was drowned, and 'Israel saw them dead upon the sea-shore.' But now, it would seem, water proceeded as a flood 'out of the serpent's mouth, and covered all the witnesses, so that not even their dead bodies lay in the streets of the great city.' Let him take which of his doctrines he will, his peculiar view of self-righteousness, of formality, of superstition; his notion of faith, or of spirituality in religious worship; his denial {9} of the virtue of the sacraments, or of the ministerial commission, or of the visible Church; or his doctrine of the divine efficacy of the Scriptures as the one appointed instrument of religious teaching; and let him consider how far Antiquity, as it has come down to us, will countenance him in it. No; he must allow that the alleged deluge has done its work; yes, and has in turn disappeared itself; it has been swallowed up by the earth, mercilessly as itself was merciless.' (The Development of Christian Doctrine Introduction, part 6, Emphasis added)

In other words, the alleged destruction of the so-called 'true church' was so total that we can find no evidence that this church ever existed, AND we can find no trace of whatever destroyed this early Church.

I Don't Buy Claims that "Everyone Knows" but Nobody can Prove

That's kind of hard to swallow, isn't it?  Quite frankly, if I see anyone claiming my Church invented doctrine, I want to see the proof of when it was invented, and I want to see the so-called 'true Christians' of the time who were obligated to defend the faith speaking out against it.  We know of the Christians testifying to the truth against the pagans.  We know of them rejecting Gnosticism, Modalism, Donatism, Arianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, Pelagianism and Iconoclasm (among others) — often at the risk (or loss) of their lives.

These saints died for the truth of the faith, and we know of the accounts of their deaths… yet we know nothing of those who were obligated to stand up for the faith, yet stayed silent for over a thousand years.

Why is it, that when three quarters of the Empire became Arianism, it was only Rome which stood as a defender of the Trinity?  In the face of all of these heresies, it was Rome leading the way, supporting those who defended the true faith and saying "No, these are lies about our Lord," to the heresies.

Why is it, we know of the heroism of St. John Chrysostom (AD 349-407) who died in exile because he dared defend the Church against Empress Eudoxia and we know about Pope Innocent I defending him… but we know nothing about the so-called "early Christians" who allegedly held the "true" faith against Catholicism?

Why do we have thousands of pages written by St. Augustine (AD 354-430) against the Manichees, the Donatists and the Pelagians, but not one fourth or fifth century defender of Sola Fide or Sola Scriptura?

Not Argument from Silence

The argument from silence fallacy essentially argues that since there is no argument against a position, it must be true, or because there is no argument for a position it must be false.

However, when there is evidence one way, but none against it becomes apparent that the evidence favors the one way.

Bearing False Witness

To speak truly, one has to say of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not.

If one says something is, when it is not or is not when it is, this is not truth.

Now, if a person knows he is speaking something untrue, he is a liar and bears false witness.  if a person speaks something untrue, thinking it is true, his innocence or guilt will depend on whether it was possible to learn the truth or not. If he could find out and does not, he libels or slanders another and is considered negligent in not checking before speaking.

Now we come to bearing witness against the Catholic Church.  Can one find out what we believe by doing research from credible sources?  Indeed.  One can find out from Catholic sites what we believe about others, and one can seek out unbiased history accounts.

However, if one is known to hate the Church or believe it to be evil, it is possible such a source is not objective.  He might rashly believe the worst about the Church.  He might think his ignorance of what the Church believes in comparison to his personal reading of the Bible means the Church "invented" things.  Or possibly, he might believe that in opposing the "evil" of the Church that a "slight" exaggeration is all right.

However, there is no justification to repeating falsehoods against another, and no justification to repeating negative things about another without verifying them to be true first.

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