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What is a Protestant?

A Protestant is a person who belongs to a church that originated as protesting the Catholic Church.  A person who belongs to any church that is separated from the Catholic, Anglican or Eastern Church.  You might say, “Well, I don’t protest anything.” or “My church doesn’t protest anything.”  You have to go back in history to find out.  If you go back to the Reformation time period, around 1517 AD, this is when the Reformers began their protest against the Catholic Church and the Pope.  It started as an effort to reform the Catholic Church but then this dissent began to grow into protest against the authority of the Catholic Church.  (Yes, both sides had issues and faults.) You might not even be aware of the history of your church.  I encourage you to look into it.  Where did your church start and by whom?  Why?  If it started after the year 1500, then it more than likely is a Protestant Church.  It may have come from another church, which came from another church but this splintering off is not what Jesus wanted.  He wanted unity.  One faith, which means we all agree on the doctrines.

The problem is we don’t all agree.  WE HAVE A UNITY PROBLEM!  You might say, “Well, we agree on the important things, right?”  No, not necessarily.  Look at Baptism, we can’t even agree on the formula of this important sacrament.  Do we dunk, sprinkle, squirt?  What age can be baptized, infant, adult, teenager?  What formula do you use, “In the name of the Father?”  “Or the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit?”  Can we be baptized more than once?  Who determines the correct and truthful answers to these questions, the Pastor of any church, ourselves, the Bible?  What if the answers differ?  Who’s right???? It’s all so murky like a thick fog.

How do we find the truth of what Jesus really taught?

We need an authority who knows the truth to clarify it for us.  We wouldn’t go to our Algebra teacher in high school and say, “Well, I’m going to interpret the chapter in the book on my own and try to solve this equation 2x +6 = 18.”  If we didn’t know what the principles were for solving the equation, we would come up with the wrong answer.  We need a teacher who understands it and can demonstrate it correctly in order to understand the process.  This brings us to the right answer regardless of what numbers you plug into the equation.

The Catholic Church is the teacher and authority of the truth of what Jesus taught.  He was the one who gave the Church the authority until He returns.

Do you need the authority of the Catholic Church?  The simple answer is “Yes”.  Why?  Because if you don’t have it, then you are wandering around in the desert trying to find it.

If you are searching for the pure church, Jesus’ church, then this is the question to ask:

“Who’s your authority?”  Ask your church this.  Ask any church this.

If they say, “the Bible”…wrong answer, because the Bible is not self-attesting.

If they say, “the pastor”…wrong answer, he is a fallible man.

If they say, “the Synod”…wrong answer, this was not instituted by Jesus, but by man.

This only right answer is, “the Catholic Church instituted for us by Jesus Christ as our authority”.

The word {Protest+ant} broken down means: One who protests.  If you belong to a church that has a history of protesting the Catholic Church but you say, “Well, they don’t protest anything now.”  I ask you, by their very existence and separation from the Catholic Church now, aren’t they protesting?  Any separation is a protest.  Any separation is disunity.  Do you want to belong to and profess that?  You are still a sister or brother in Christ but separated from Jesus’ Church, His authority.

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What happened on Holy Thursday?

Holy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter and is very significant, because it is when Jesus instituted the priesthood of the Catholic Church along with it’s authority.  Jesus celebrated the Passover with the twelve apostles in the upper room.

During the Last Supper, Jesus said, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you.”  When supper was ended, Jesus said, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Do this in memory of me.”  Jesus was telling the apostles to “Do this in memory of me.” giving them the authority of the priesthood to celebrate the Mass and consecrate the Eucharist, calling on the Holy Spirit to come and transubstantiate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.  This authority is passed down through the laying on of hands in an unbroken line from the apostles to the priests, bishops and the pope today in the Catholic Church.

Anyone who has broken from this line loses the authority from Jesus to change the bread and wine into the Holy Eucharist, leaving them with an unconsecrated but blessed bread and wine.  This is not the same as the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.  This blessed bread is not the same bread that Jesus was talking about in John 6 and does not have the same life in it as the Eucharist has.  The Eucharist has Jesus’ life and heart in it.  It is really Jesus.  This is why the Eucharist is not the same as communion bread in other churches…It is all because of the authority that Jesus gave to the priests, and the priests alone.

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Who’s Your Authority?

This is a deep question to ask yourself and others.  No matter what your religion, ask yourself “Who’s the authority in my/your church?”  You might say, the pastor, the Synod, the Bible, or a leader who started your church.  If someone comes to your door and wants to offer you literature or talk to you about your religion, ask them the question of authority.

If the answer is the Bible, then lets look at the history of the Bible.  The Bible was put together in the year 382 at the Council of Rome, in the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church is still the authority of interpreting Scripture.  There is nothing in the Bible that states that the Bible is the only authority and source of truth.  The Catholic Bible is the New American Bible.  Other translations of the Bible such as the New World Translation or the King James Version have had books and parts of Scripture removed or changed to fit their doctrines.  The King James Version has had seven books removed.  Most people think that the Catholics have added books but this is not true.

If the answer is a pastor, Synod, or leader of your church, then this can create a pitfall of individual interpretation of the Scriptures.  If we all interpret the Scriptures on our own, then we can end up with several different meanings. These people are well-meaning but how can you be certain that you have the right interpretation? I found an exercise in the book, Where Is That in the Bible? by Patrick Madrid. See below:

If someone wrote the words:  “I never said you stole money.”  Sounds like it would be simple to understand, right?  I’ll write all possible interpretations with different emphasis and see what you think.

  • I never said you stole money.  Meaning someone else said that you stole money.
  • I never said you stole money.  Meaning he thought it but didn’t say it.
  • I never said you stole money.  Meaning he said that someone else did.
  • I never said you stole money.  Meaning he thought you lost it.
  • I never said you stole money.  Meaning he thought you stole something else but not his money.

See how just a little emphasis on a different word can cause a different interpretation of the small simple sentence.  Patrick Madrid asks, “Which would you say is more likely to be open to misinterpretations, this six-word sentence or the Bible?”  You can go to 4 different churches on the same street, on the same Sunday and get four different interpretations and sermons on the same Scripture reading.

If your authority is the Catholic Church, then you are following the Bible which says, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”  Luke 10:16.   “I am writing you about these matters, although I hope to visit you soon. But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.”  1 Timothy 3:14-15.   The Catholic Church was given the authority through Jesus when he said, ” I will give you (Peter) the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  Matthew 16:19.  (See below picture for more.)

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St. Peter with Keys to the Kingdom

The Protestant churches reject the authority of the Catholic Church but yet declare that the Bible, that the Catholic Church put together 1500-2000 years before their existence, is their sole source of Scripture and authority.  The true authority is the Catholic Church, including the magisterium (Apostolic line of Popes, Bishops, Priests) and the Catholic Bible.  In rejecting this authority, a person can easily be led to error in their faith because of individual interpretation.  When you read the Bible with the understanding of the Church, you see faith in a different light and it makes much more sense.  There is a universal understanding of Scripture and Tradition instead of scattered meanings.So when you ask the question, “Who’s your authority?”, be sure you get the answer of “the only church Jesus gave authority to…the Catholic Church”.  If not, then it falls flat.

 

Photo credit: The Vatican