Ecumenism is the movement and attitude by which we dialogue with other Christians so that they might, through prayer and mutual comprehension, come back to or come into the Catholic Church. Christ wanted for us to be one, as He and the Father are one. The mistake that sin introduced into our existence has caused many believers in Jesus Christ to disembark from Peter’s ship, whether out of ignorance, of failures on the part of Catholics, or otherwise.
With this post we’ve tried to bring you near some arguments that can be useful in offering the truth to our separated Christian brethren and invite them to approach the Catholic Church.
Jesus preached in different spots of the Holy Land and then He sent the Apostles and disciples to spread the Good News. All of them used the Word. According to historical studies, the first Gospel actually put into writing was that of Saint Mark, near the year 70 AD. Between the death and Resurrection of Christ and the writing of Mark’s text, nearly four decades passed, during which time the Church expanded and the first Christian communities were formed. It was in these times that Saint Paul sent letters to the different growing communities. The rest of the Gospels were written in the following order: Saint Matthew’s near the year 80 AD, Saint Luke’s between 80 and 85 AD, and Saint John’s was concluded near the year 100 AD. The legitimacy of these and other Canonical texts was determined gradually. All of this means that, from the moment in which the first text was written, towards the year 70, until the completion of the Canon of 27 books of the New Testament was recognized, at least three centuries passed.
And how was Jesus’ message extended through these centuries until the New Testament was codified? Well, orally. And how was it determined that the texts that today comprise it were a faithful expression of Christ’s teachings? For its perfect correspondence with the oral tradition preserved by the Catholic Church.
Then again, if these different texts of the New Testament were written and collated, how can we believe in scripture without believing that it comes from the true Church founded and held together by Christ, the same one to which He sent the Holy Spirit? Or better yet, why, if we believe in the Gospel, do we not believe in the Church in which saw and preached the light?
From the previous argument springs a second one. While the Church analyzed the truthfulness of the Gospels, through the Christian communities other texts which later got the name of apocryphal began to circulate. This term indicated that the Church considered them false, which means they didn’t faithfully reflect Jesus’ life and teachings, or that they influenced budding philosophies that were incompatible with Christianity.
At the same time, when the truthfulness of the texts composing the New Testament was settled, the falsehood of these other texts that didn’t represent Jesus’s teachings was also declared. Therefore, we could ask: if the Catholic Church as a human-divine institution, founded by Christ, is rejected, why believe in the falsehood of those gospels determined by that same institution that are disbelieved?
And… doesn’t one have to be true? If we ignore the previous argument and decide not to believe in the Catholic Church, whose historical deepness takes us back to the times of Christ, we find ourselves with a variety of confessions that claim to be Christian but which profess different, often incompatible creeds. They all affirm to interpret the authentic sense of Jesus’s teachings, but there’s no way to know which one is the one that is indeed correct, since they can’t all be true.
If we exempt the most ancient communities like the Orthodox and the Coptics, history also guides us towards another piece of evidence: other confessions that call themselves Christian have had a human founder, someone who re-interpreted Jesus’s teachings for himself and then transmitted it to a group of new followers.
Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox, among others, are respectively at the origins of each of the confessions that appeared after the Reformation. Instead, if we follow the genealogy of the bishops of Rome and of the universal Catholic Church, we go back 2000 years all the way to Peter, the first Pope who Christ named as primate.
Many Christian brothers reject the Church because they believe that, through history, She has shown immoral behavior. Although this may be true applied to certain people at certain historical moments, the evil (as a consequence of sin) shows that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. How is that? Simple: there is no human institution in history that has lasted for two thousand years and remains essentially the same. But the Church has done so, and there’s more: an institution that has gone through various crises, threats, attacks and heresies, and has overcome everything and everyone. There’s no explanation of the Church’s existence on a mere human level. God is alive in the Church.
This is an interesting argument. Commonly our evangelical brothers reject all that the Church affirms that’s not explicitly mentioned in the texts of the New Testament.
The paradox of this assertion is that nowhere does the Bible explicitly say that the Bible is the only source of Revelation. Thus, we are before a self-refuting argument. If everything that’s not detailed in the Holy Scriptures is to be rejected, by this same criteria, the very notion of the Bible as the only source of what was revealed should be rejected!
If we abandon the analysis of the text and place our focus instead on history, we discover that the extra-textual element of “sola scriptura” (scripture alone) was an invention of the Reformation, a flawed, human insertion, and never a concept of Christ’s revelation in His Church.
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