The Bible Supports Science, Over Faith;
THE SECOND COMING OF GOD TO EARTH,
IN THE SCIENCE OF GOD;
The “Day” When “Judgement” Comes;
Vol. 6 The Harm Done
Nothing but God – No
Church or Apostle – is “Perfect,”
Says the Bible, God –
Roman Catholic Catechism
[CONTENTS* AUTHOR’S ROUGH DRAFT *; edited by author, to p. 6, 10/18/07; then 69 END. CONTENTS: Sec. 1 CHURCHES NOT PERFECT; Sec. 2 The PERFECT – 16-33; Sec. 3 The Catechism 33-69 END. Eliminate crit. of “holy”? Or put in question marks. To avoid another argument]
The Apocalyptic, Heaven-Shattering
No Priest, No Church, is Perfect:
Bad things in Churches,
According to the Bible Itself
Many of us have recently begun to see sins and errors, in Christianity, or in the churches. Recently, Catholic 1) priests were found to have been sexually molesting little boys and girls. And 2) worse, essentially all our bishops knew about this, but lied, to cover it up or “whitewash” it. But that isn’t the end of the story; all this should lead many, to another and worse discovery: 3) if even our priests are bad, and all our bishops can lie to us, then … how reliable is our religion? What else have priests done that was bad? What else have bishops lied to us about? Could 4) major elements of Christianity itself, have been a lie?
From the newspapers recently, the lid began to come off the scandals of religion; as the world began to discover that many of our Roman Catholic priests were child-molesters, it also began to discover that not only our holiest priests, but even our highest religious leaders – our bishops – were simply not reliable. As we discovered that our priests were child-molesters, we also found out that practically every single bishop had such cases in his own diocese … but covered it up. Essentially, all our holiest bishops – including the Pope; the “Bishop of Rome” – knew about such things, but lied to cover it up; our bishops assuring us constantly, that our Church on earth was holy, and “perfect”; or linked indissolubly, to the ideal Church “in heaven.” Even though essentially all our bishops knew better.
But even that is not the end of this revelation; because after all, if all our holiest leaders can abuse us, and then cover it up, lie – or in biblical language, “whitewash” their sins – then after all … could there be more, even deeper and far more devastating sins, in our holiest men and angels and churches? Could there be longstanding, covered-up sins and errors, deep in the heart of Christianity itself?
In fact, the recent molesting priests scandal and cover-up, may have a useful purpose, theologically; it will have been a relatively non-traumatic to begin to introduce millions believers, to one of the major concepts of contemporary theology: the finding that after all, our holiest men and angels, have never been quite as “perfect” or holy as they proudly claimed to be. That they have always sinned and erred. And furthermore, they have sinned, they have not been “perfect,” not just in their personal behavior; but also in their sermons and homilies, their sayings about God. Just as the Bible warned, we are finding today, Apocalyptically, that “all have sinned”; even our holiest men and angels. And not just in their personal behavior and peccadilloes; but they have erred, even in their allegedly holiest and most “inspired” “doctrines.” Indeed we will find, our holiest men and churches have erred finally, even in the very picture of God, the “Christ” that they delivered to millions, in church services, for the last 2,000 years.
Finally, the recent uncovering of sins in our Roman Catholic Priests is just the tip of a giant iceberg. But at the same time, it is a useful and even relatively gentle way, to introduce a billion faithful, religious believers, to some things long known to the cognoscenti, and to our scholarly theologians: that neither our holiest men and angels, nor most of their allegededly most “holy,” “sacred,” and “perfect” doctrines about God and Christ, have ever been as entirely “perfect,” or good, as so many have too-proudly, too-vainly, pretended.
Indeed, the gradual uncovering of child-molesting priests, c. 1975-2010, is a cloud with a silver lining; because even as millions of faithful believers are witnessing the demolition, the dissolving of their own over-confidence in their Church, and its theology, many can also – at long last – pass through this painful Apocalyptic revelation. To at last, see a more modest, truly humble vision of the Church, and their own Tradition. At last. One that will allow millions to be introduced finally, to a real humility at last. And for that matter, all that may allow millions to burn away many of their religious-based vanities and delusions; to see a second, better, more humble Christ.
. . .
And so the present crisis in the Catholic Church in fact, can all be turned to good purpose. Probably one major legacy of the “scandal” in the Roman Catholic Church, c. 1996-2010, will be … leaving behind at last, a rather “full”er, clearer uncovering and “confession” of, at last, human weakness and sin; and not just sins in “secular” persons, or in the laity; but even in the highest individuals and holy traditions, within the Church itself. Just by reading the newspapers, or watching TV, or watching the Internet, today practical everyone on earth has at last seen what many theologians and philosophers have long known: that clearly, 1) our holy men were never quite entirely holy, sacred, or perfect. Or furthermore, 2) even our highest holy “leaders” on earth, often sinned. While we will show here, they likely 3) sinned not just in their own personal behavior, but also in their presentations of church doctrines; and 4) even in the picture of God that they offered to us.
The present scandals could 5) become, in fact, the beginning of a startling, apocalyptic, but constructive change in the Church … and in all of Christianity. It could be the moment that opens up to all of us, the most “blind”ly faithful, a far more realistic, sophisticated, and true vision of God. Or indeed finally, it 6) can be seen as the beginning, of a major event foretold long ago in Biblical prophesy. Amazingly, we can look into the Bible itself – and find that amazingly, the Bible itself often warned over and over, that there have always been sins and errors, in just about every element of church life: sins and errors in priests, prophets, apostles, saints, angels, spirits and inspiration, Grace, etc.. And as it turns out, it is only those who see this – who can see sins not just in everybody else, but see and confess sins, even in themselves – and even in their idea of God, of what is most holy and “perfect” – who can be said to have begun to have passed through Purgatory “fire”; to come at last to the second, truer vision of God or Christ, that was foretold for us, so many centuries ago.
But especially, for now, it is time for all our churches to begin to see the sins, of … the churches themselves, in particular. After all.
The Churches Are Not “Perfect”;
The Churches Have Sinned – Said God
The Bible itself often warned specifically, about holy men; and more specifically, about “churches.” Especially the Bible warned about their illusion or delusion, that they are often “perfect.”
The fact is, God himself often found sins even in the very first, original Christian churches. The Bible found great sins, even the very first Christian churches, that were apparently founded or overseen by some the original twelve apostles, themselves; even these were found to have flaws.
John for example, found flaws, sins, even in the original Christian churches in Asia Minor/Turkey; even those churches that must have been founded or overseen, by St. Paul and St. John themselves. Furthermore, not only were the churches often bad, but even the very guiding spirits, the very angels, of the first Christian churches – even churches overseen by the apostles themselves; and the foundation of our present-day Christian religions – were said by God himself, to have been partially, bad:
“To the angel of the church in Sardis … I have not found your works perfect” (Rev. 3.1, .2).
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus …. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested throse who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false…. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2.1, .2, .4).
“To the angel of the church in Thyatira … I have this against you….” (Rev. 2.18, 20).
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum … I know where you well, where Satan’s throne is…. Repent then…. (Rev. 2.12, 13, 16).
“I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues” (Mat. 23.34 NRSV).
“They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God” (/churches; John 16.2).
(“I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly”; Isa. 1.13).
Here God warned about bad things in churches; even in Christian churches specifically. Even in the angels that oversee them.
Perhaps there were two good churches; and yet, we cannot be sure today, that we have an unbroken tradition to them, and know what they really thought. In any case, we know that many other churches – even those founded, and overseen by the original apostles themselves, like John and Paul – failed; were bad.
2) Among other sins, many early churches were often guilty of major heresies, major doctrinal “apostasies” and “desertions. Many churches were deserting what Paul taught them for example; even for “different” gospels than the ones that were sometimes approved by Paul, for instance:
“To the churches of Galatia: … I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel” (Gal. 1.6).
This is amazing; even in spite of all kinds of alleged special protections of the Holy Spirit, inspiration, grace, baptism, and whatever… still, churches are failing, sinning. Even in the time and under the direct supervision of Apostles, like John, and Paul.
3) And of course, if churches monitored by the saints in person, were often bad, then of course, present-day churches, monitored by ordinary priests, can often be bad too.
4) Many churches today, will admit that they can err in minor matters; but they will claim they cannot err in major “inspired:” “doctrines” and so forth. And yet we will have found that no one can ever be sure whether a given doctrine really is “inspired” by the holy spirit, and not a false spirit, pretending to be the Holy Spirit.
5) Then too, finally, see the Catholic Catechism, below; where the Catholic Church itself notes that it is itself, imperfect – as are we all – until the Second coming.
6) Especially it is hard to imagine how the Church can really protect itself from error – when the very apostle credited as the first pope, founder of the church – St. Peter himself, even in the Bible, made errors so severe, that Jesus himself called St. Peter “Satan” (in Mat. 15.23).
Catholic priests like to dishonestly stress misleading parts of the Bible; like the part in Matthew, where Jesus seems to express full confidence in Peter, as the “rock” on which Jesus’ future (Catholic) church will be based. But as is typical of them, priests are dishonest here; and do not quote or adequately stress, what happened right after that apparent endorsement by Jesus, of Peter and his church. Priests do not mention the moment when a) Peter turned on Jesus, and “rebuked” Jesus, or began to tell Jesus that Jesus was wrong; telling Jesus that Jesus was wrong on a major doctrinal matter (the necessity of the resurrection). And priests don’t stress the moment when b) Jesus therefore ,rebuked Peter in turn; so that Jesus effectively revoked any apparent support for Peter and his Church. Jesus in fact c) even calling St. Peter, the first Pope and founder of the Church, “Satan”:
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death [/gates of Hell] shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven….’ From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem…. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him…. But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men” (Mat. 16.21-23 RSV).
Amazingly the Church entirely ignores this part of the Bible. And the Church often claims it is “infallible,” when speaking “ex cathedra,” and so forth; due to the “inspiration” of the Holy Spirit. But we will elsewhere have found errors in the doctrine of inspiration, etc.. Since among other things, the Holy Spirit is often present, but still somehow does not help us; as in the case of the Jews “perishing” in the wilderness, as Paul noted; or in day to day life. While it seems that many times when someone thinks the Holy Spirit is entering and “inspir”ing and protecting him or her, it is really a “false spirit,” pretending to be the Holy Spirit.
7) So it seems clear that churches and their founders, even their very angels, are often bad; but what then about other possibly more reliable things? What about, say, the congregations?
The congregations, the people, the “members” of the church, are important, to be sure. In fact, many parts of the Bible say that the people, the congregation, are the real church:
“You are the body of Christ” (1 Corin. 12.27).
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple” (1 Corin. 3.16).
“Do you not now that your body is a temple” (1 Corin. 6.19).
“Know that your bodies are members of Christ” (1 Corin. 6.15).
“As one body, we have many members” (Rom. 12.4).
Yet as it turns out though, there are few if any, wholly good people; “all have sinned.” And since the church in turn, is composed of these people? Since we hear all that we know about “the church” and God, through these sinful people (even sinful priests at mass, etc.)? Then thus again, in effect, no churches on earth are all that good.
(Though elements, members of the Catholic Church, sometimes make the argument that only the “members” of the church are bad, but the Church “itself” is good, finally see problems with that argument below: finally, the Church is so intimately made up of its “members,” that no real or practical distinction is possible between members and any church “itself.” So that, if all members being merely human are sinners, thus any church as it presents itself every day, is always tied up, in many sins and errors. (Indeed, see Paul on the people as the temple, building on his “foundation,” below (from 1 Corin. 3.9-15). Many might have thought and said, that somehow – through the temporary “inspiration” or protection of the Holy Spirit for example – that in spite of being composed of fallible, sinful humans, the Church might somehow remain absolutely reliable, and holy. But as it turns out, that is not the case.
8) Many homilies have tried to establish that parts of the Bible, support the concept that churches can be “perfect,” say. But let’s look at that more closely, here and now. What we find is that any references to any “perfect” church, as it turns out – like Eph. 5.27?- refer to a hypothetical church that merely may be”.
“That the church might be presented before him, in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5.26-27; Rev. 21.1-10).
9) Many priests and churches, of course, will as usual, try to “twist” all this, and “whitewash” it. They will continue to be proud and vain, and assert their own perfection.
10) And to do this, churches will typically, dishonestly quote misrepresentative parts of the Bible; parts that seem to say that some church, for example, is the “pillar” of the truth:
“I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the Pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim. 3.14-15).
Note here however, that after all, this quote is a) about the “household of God,” which is not definitely a church; but might be say, the few reliable companions of God in heaven itself. While b) in any case, painful judgement is to come, even on the “household of God” we find in the writings of Peter (q.v.).
c) Then too, if the household of God is a “pillar,” read next what the rest of the Bible says regarding “pillars,” and other constructions of one stone upon another:
“Erect no graven image or pillar” (Lev. 26.1).
“The pillars of heaven tremble” (Job 26.11).
“The pillars of the land will be crushed” (Isa. 19.10).
“Cephas [St. Peter] and John … were reputed to be pillars…. But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned” (Paul, in Gal. 2.9 RSV, 2.11 NRSV).
“There will not be left here one stone upon another” (Mark 13.2).
Furthermore, the insufficiency of “pillar”s extends not only to pagan pillars; St. Paul found that Cephas or St. Peter – said to be founder of the Church – was a “hypocrite,” and therefore merely a “reputed” pillar:
“Cephas [St. Peter] and John … were reputed to be pillars…. But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned” (Paul, in Gal. 2.9 RSV, 2.11 NRSV).
11) Then too, as regards pride, claiming they are good, even the only true churches, any churches say in effect, that they are “first” with God. But if so, then remember: Jesus warned that those who think they are first, are last in the end. (Mat. 20.20-28, Mark 9.33-35, 10.31-44, or possibly Luke 13.23-30; not Mat. 20.1-14). In the end, those thought to be “wise” are found to to “fools”; those “noble,” found to be scoundrels (q.v.).
12) In any case, too, Solomon himself wondered openly, whether God would really live on earth; whether the maker of the entire universe, really needed a temple at all, to dwell in (q.v.):
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kings 8.27). (Cf.: “Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place”; 1 Kings. 8.30).
13) Many parts of the Bible in fact, question whether God really needs a church; since in part, God is already everywhere, in heaven and earth. Where by the way, he sees the sins of our holy men, among other things:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kings. 8.27).
“Am I a God at hand, says the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!'” (Jer. 23.24-25).
God fills the “earth” and not just heaven; God is also “above all heaven”s too. And therefore, he sees the lies, the blindness of alleged holy men and “prophets” who see God primarily in the Church; and not in the world, where God is (among other places).
Indeed we will add below, while our preachers concentrated on “religion,” “church,” and themselves failed radically to see God in the “world,” in science and nature, finally in any case, in the End, in the final city of God on earth, many say, we will be rid of such things. In the end, now, there are no temples, or churches (“And I saw no temple in the city”; Rev. 21.22, below).
14) How good are churches? Consider next, among the many warnings about false things throughout religion – and in every element that makes up a church, from priests to scripture (all except God himself); from “priests” to “prophets” to apostles like Peter, above – warnings about any place that claims to be a temple of the Lord:
“Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple [or church] of the LORD…'” (Jer. 7.4).
15) To try to defend their own churches, most preachers will sooner or later quote the part of the Bible that speaks of Jesus’ “zeal” for this Church. As usual though, our preachers here are being extremely dishonest; as usual, they are quoting only misleading parts of the Bible. Here actually, is the fuller quote; which makes it clear that any “zeal” Jesus had for the church, meant zeal for … punishing bad things in it:
“Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for thy house will consume me'” (John 2.12-17).
Jesus himself was clearly not an unqualified fan of churches; Jesus himself found great sins in the church of his own day (money-changers etc.). To the point that he himself not only criticized the church, but made a whip, and whipped people out of the church. Preachers of course continually mis-quote this and twist it; asserting that Jesus here expressed “zeal” for his church. Priests as usual, lying; presenting one major reading of the text, the one that flatters their vanity; while they neglect to note that Jesus expressed his “zeal” for the church … by continually noting sins in it, and personally flogging many in it.
16) While for its own part remember, it was the priests – and the church – of his time, that had Jesus arrested; on charges of heresy; on charges of going against the church of his time. Just before the church of his time, had Jesus arrested, and killed. This would not seem to recommend churches, highly. Indeed, if anything it seems to identify them as the great enemies of Jesus.
17) Many churches will say they are one of the few good churches. But related to this, note some logical implications from the fact that there are many different churches; and most of them have somewhat different doctrines. Yet each of them claims to be absolutely right. But now use a little logic: logically, if any one of the churches or denominations is right, then all the rest are wrong. So which one of the thousands of churches is right? Most must surely be largely, wrong.
Many will just then go on to say of course, that is is their own church – say, the Catholic Church – that is the one right, perfect one. But we will see, this is not what the Church itself even said, in its own catechism.
Nor did the Bible finally, support any churches at all, that firmly. As we will have just found, here.
Indeed, we would suggest, given all the times the Bible warned about “all” sinning, and sins in all the things churches follow – saints, angels, apostles – for any Church to very strongly assert its own authority, is not just for that church to say in effect it is “first” with God (and thus duplicating the sins of the Apostles, above); bit is also to commit in effect, the sin of “pride,” and “vanity”; to fail to be “humble.”
18) In fact, finally, Paul said clearly, that we are not supposed to fully trust churches; but that churches are to be “test”ed, according to what kind of “work” they have done:
“You are God’s field, God’s building. According to the commission of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it…. Each man’s work will become manifest; for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built n the foundations survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that your are God’s temple…?” (1 Corin. 3.10-16; Rom. 15.20).
“Test everything” (1 Thess. 5.21).
“Understanding … science” (Dan. 1.4-15).
19) As the culmination of all these warnings about false things in churches, some say that finally, God, the new heaven, will come down to earth again, creating perhaps a perfect church;
but only one day, at the End of time (Rev. 21.1-11; see Church, below). As the new heaven comes down to earth:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among morals. He will dwell with them'” (Rev. 21.1-3, 22).
Many churches claim this is about a church in heaven; but note, the word “church” is not used here; only a holy “city,” new “Jerusalem,” in heaven.
20) There are many warnings in the Bible about churches. So many that finally, for these and many other reasons no doubt, the Book of Revelation finally says that there are to be no churches or temples, in the ideal city of God, in the End:
“I saw no temple in the city” (Rev. 21.22 NRSV).
Early Biblical Conclusion
Our churches therefore, often proudly trumpet themselves as wonderful and so forth. But that isn’t what the Bible itself said. And indeed why finally, might there even be, no temple or church at all, finally, in the end?
There are many reasons why there might not even be a church in the end, at all. Mainly, a) because, as the Bible often said, God “fills all things” in heaven “and earth”; therefore as Solomon (below) and Jeremiah and Isaiah began to see, there is less need for churches; since God is everywhere. And Revelations confirms this (Rev. 21. 22).
b) Furthermore we add, God, good, is everywhere in particularly
evident way, we add here, when God comes to earth; or when the people are educated in practical knowledge, and come to see the nascent good that is in material Nature; and learn to bring it out, by making useful machines, technology, and out of that, making massive prosperity. So that God is evident enough here on earth to many.
Indeed, as science and technology bring people all over the world a degree of affluence, freedom from starvation (as they have, for now, since about 1980 or so), then it becomes even easier (and more incumbent yet, for them to see God – or Good, prosperity – in the “world” around them. When through science you see good in Nature, and then through technology see material prosperity for yourself there too, then after all, then you clearly see God, Good, his promises prosperity, around you on earth, at last.
At c) which point, there is less need for Religion; for constantly, repeatedly (religion; re-leger) praying for, begging for, God and Good; since you have it, around you, with you, now. God’s promised rewards; seeing God in all the world, or universe.
So indeed, churches at this point, are redundant, and even small-minded, mentally simplistic and reductionistic to the point of producing extreme spiritual poverty; as if we could only or primarily find God or good, say, in a bread wafer … and not, as it really is, in every single thing, in a vast and complicated universe. (Cf. Hostess “Twinkies”).
A New Authority Beyond the Church?
A Second Coming of Course, of God;
The Science of God
21) Finally, in fact, we will see, God told us in effect – given all the a) stress on science; and b) Paul speaking of “test”ing the church and so forth specifically – the only even fairly good church, if any, would be one based not on “faith,” but on the “science” of God.
22) While even then, ultimately, all science is humble, and should never become too grand an institution. Since science is ultimately humble, in that it knows that even its best ideas and theories are often flawed; so that all science therefore, is always, explicitly, open to new discoveries, and revisions. Thus, real science is systematically humble, even about itself and its own “holiest” doctrines. And therefore, science should not ever become the kind of prideful and dogmatic church that we have had in the past.
23) In any case, finally, were also many warnings about priests, ministers, and so forth, in the Bible too (q.v.); about every element that churches follow. So what should we say? If everyone they followed could be false, of course, our churches themselves could not have been protected from error.
24) So indeed, we should never follow churches or priests – or what they say about God – faithfully at all. Instead, we should … have faith only in God in himself; God as he exists totally apart from all the flawed concepts apostles and churches have of him.
God perhaps, to be sure, may be strictly or largely, unknowable, to us mere humans. But with this open attitude, we will always be open to … new and better ideas. Even finally, a New heaven, a Second coming.
On the “Perfect”:
Is Anything In Christianity, On Earth,
“Perfect?” Short of God Himself?
What Did the Bible Actually Say,
Ignoring the hundreds of warnings from God, about bad things in every aspect of Judeo-Christian religion, from priests and prophets, saints and angels – and specifically, churches – many churches will then go on to say that they themselves are still, more or less “perfect”; or some synonym of perfect, like “holy,” “sacred,” etc. Or that they have some special “grace” or “gift,” like “baptism” or “election,” or a special “Eucharist,” or “sanctification, “inspiration,” “anointing,” saving “blood,” or some other special gift, that protects they themselves from sins or error. But as we will see here, that none of these gifts really permanent, protect anyone absolutely, from sin and error: you can take communion in a church service for instance … and still fall into sin as you walk out into the church parking lot. And indeed, not only are there endless warnings from God that all have sinned, even churches; finally, let’s spend some time showing how God concerned himself with one particular vanity of priests churches: the idea that they are, specifically, “perfect.”
Clearly, we will have to conclude in the end, that even the Bible itself warned that no church or churchgoer or priest or bishop, is ever really “perfect.”
Consider indeed, what the Bible itself, said about churchgoers, churches, holy men and angels in general (as we noted earlier). And then consider what it said specifically, about the “perfect.”
1) Remember first of all, that much of the Bible says that “all” have sinned; and indeed…
2) Hundreds of parts of the Bible said that a) even our holiest saints and angels in heaven sinned. Therefore b) it is impossible that our churches – who after all, follow the saints and angels and so forth in heaven, so faithfully – could have escaped sin. When the very saints and angels they followed, were themselves, flawed.
3) For this reason, other parts of the Bible tell us that, no one is “good” – and therefore perfect – but God himself:
“No one is good but God” (Mark 10.18).
4) Likewise, we found elsewhere that even “all” in heaven itself are to fall (Isa. 34.4).
And if all in heaven are to fall, of course, it is hard to see what human beings on earth could be perfect. Especially those that religiously followed, after all … figures in heaven (Isa. 34.4; Mark 13.31; 2 Peter 3; Rev. 21).
5) To be sure, parts of the Old Testament seemed to suggest Old Testament “law” was perfect:
“The Law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19.7).
If at times the “law” of the Old Testament was thought to be perfect, however, St. Paul himself later attacked law. Or claimed Christianity “fulfilled” and went beyond, with a “new covenant” of “Grace” etc. – the “law” or “Torah” of Moses; of the Jews; of the Old Testament:
“For the law made nothing perfect” (Heb. 7.19).
“The law has but a shadow of the good things” (Heb. 10.1; from Platos “cave,” his Theory of Forms).
“All those who rely on works of the law are under a curse” (Gal. 3.10).
“A man is not justified by works of law” (Ga. 2.16).
“For Christ is the end of the law” (Rom. 10.4).
Then with perfect shamelessness, with the very “seared conscience” that is condemned elsewhere, Paul twists the other way to be sure:
“Gentiles do by nature what the law requires” (Rom. 2.14).
In what position does Paul and the Bible eventually end up? Everywhere and nowhere; finally it is at least our choice. Though finally if anything, we do not have to follow the churches very, very closely.
6) Indeed, especially given all these warnings about bad things in churches, angels, even earlier religious “law,” it would just on the face of it, seem extremely arrogant and immodest – that is to say, it would seem to commit the sin of Pride and vanity – for any priest or church – or anyone – to claim to be “perfect.”
The Bible itself often noted that those who said they were “perfect” were arrogant and too proud – and furthermore, the sin of declaring one’s self “perfect” is of course, a sin that results in real punishments from God. Often indeed, the Bible also made it clear in various examples, what one penalty of declaring one’s self “perfect” specifically, will usually be:
“O Tyre, you have said, ‘I am perfect in beauty'” (Ez. 27.3).
“Sink into the heart of the seas on the day of your ruin” (27.27).
“Because your heart is proud” (28.1).
It is hugely vain, “proud,” for our preachers and churches to think that they themselves – especially we religious leaders, or our churches – are perfect. And what is more, as they said “pride comes before a fall”; pride is actually, the great sin of Satan they often speculate.
And there is a great Natural penalty here, just in the course of ordinary life and its rules: the more proud we are, the less capable we are of examining ourselves, to locate our occasional errors. Thus we become locked in to our own sins. We are vain. We are like the Emperor, in his “new clothing.”
Those who say they are perfect, therefore, commit the sin of a) Pride and vanity, the failure to be “humble”; and furthermore we now add, these are sins that are severely punished by God. And by the way, we will add among a dozen other objections, it would be b) “presumptuous” too; in that c) only God will “judge” in the end who really was good – or perfect – or not.
7) Especially when even a major apostle like Paul – the Apostle and saint, who wrote more than half the books of the New Testament – admitted himself that, even as he was writing them, he himself was not yet “perfect”:
“Not that I … am already perfect” (said St. Paul, Gal. 3.12).
The Apostle Paul admitted that, even as he wrote half the books of the New Testament, he was not yet “perfect.” It would seem very arrogant therefore, for any ordinary Christian – or even the most extraordinary Bishop – to say he himself, or his church, is “perfect” today.
8) Indeed, given all the Biblical warnings that “all” have sinned, the act of a any human at all, or any institution at all (short of Christ himself?) declaring himself – or one’s church – “perfect,” commits the sins of a) heresy; b) “presumption,” as well as the c) “Pride” and “vanity” noted above. Anyone who says he or his church are “perfect,” or anying like that, is obviously wrong, anything but d) “humble,” as God had commanded us to be.
9) To be sure, much of the Bible was written in such a way, as to allow two or more possible readings; one of which might seem to tell us to absolutely trust and follow and obey our religious authorities. But in fact, we will find here, the Bible was actually written, edited in such a way, as to speak to two different kinds of people. First, it was written a) with some phrases that could be taken simply; as stressing their own authority to bully the public, and get the people and “child”ren, to follow clerics, our lords, authorities. Parts of the Bible were written in such a way as to appear to assert that our clerics, preachers, are absolutely good and holy; and to tell us – or children – to follow their authorities religiously. Even telling “slaves” to obey their “masters” (q.v.; clearly relating to serfdom). In effect indeed, the Bible was written so as to give clerics some lines, that could be used by clerics, to order other people around, and claim they had authority from God, the Lord, to do so. Since indeed, there are a few lines in the Bible, that can be read in such a way; in such a way as to give the impression, at first, on the surface, that the Bible and our religious authorities were absolutely firm authority, and should be followed with total “faith” and obedience.
Indeed, one level of, one voice in, one interpretation of, the Bible, is quite authoritarian and patronizing; telling us to follow civil authority absolutely. This is the level of the church designed to guide children and immature adults; telling them to listen to their “father” and authority, and follow the rules and laws.
And to be sure, as part of this, one reading or level of the Bible, inf act does seem at first, to give readers even the impression that the Bible was guaranteeing to believers that, among many wonders, specifically, if believers did this or that – especially, if they gave everything they owned to the church – they might, or “may” be, made “perfect”:
“Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mat. 4.48).
“That you may be perfect and complete” (James 1.4).
“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess…” (Jesus, Mat. 19.21).
Yet b) better, more adult readers, should now note that the Bible usually lends itself to at least two readings; to at least two levels of understanding. More specifically, we will have been showing in our books here, that finally in the second and more “mature” reading, the Bible actually criticizes itself – and its own holiest men and churches; its own authority. Amazingly, the second and more mature reading of the Bible, shows the Bible itself … allowing that there have been sins and errors, even in our greatest religious and biblical authorities, and in their allegedly most inspired doctrines. In fact, the second reading of the Bible ends up opening up the way, for more “mature” persons as Paul called them, with – as they say today – “well-formed consciences,” to have far more individual freedom and digression, even in matters of “law.”
So in fact generally speaking, there are actually two levels in the Bible at least; one level that a) is addressed to children and simple adults, and tells them to have faith in authority and obey their rules and laws, religiously. But b) above and beyond this though, throughout the entire Bible there is another second voice, that is directed toward more mature adults and people with good “judgement”; that allows that after all, even our highest authority figures, even our holiest men and angels in heaven, occasionally make “mistakes” and are not “perfect,” even in their highest rules and “law”s. So that for this reason, individual churchgoers, persons of good will and good judgement, are to be given some “freedom” from the rules and “law”s of the churches (if not really the laws of our government); to move on, to another way of life.
And so, though most priests read the Bible to us, as emphasizing tis own authority, or the authority of the church, there are actually, two tracks, two voices in the Bible; and finally of course, it is the more mature, “second” reading of the Bible, that eventually triumphs in the Bible itself, overall; that trumps the “child”like, “blind”ly faithful, rule-following voice. And in the specific case we happen to be discussing here and now – the matter of the “perfect” – the Bible at first, seems to suggest our authorities are perfect and should be followed absolutely. But then next, seems to … say something quite different than that; begins to confess the sins of our authorities.
Specifically, our example above – telling us to “be perfect” – at first, to a superficial reading, and as quoted to us by generations of priests, could be read (and usually are read, by proud priests) as telling us that we and other authorities can “be perfect.” But now, take a second look at these quotes; in light of the consistent message of the Bible that “all have sinned,” even our highest apostles and angels in heaven itself; that no one is Good except God himself; that even St. Paul was not “perfect.” In light of this side of the Bible, in order to be consistent with that side of what the Bible said about religious authority, finally these quotes should clearly be read as calls, exhortations, encouragements to try to be perfect. But there is no assurance here that you will actually achieve this ideal goal. Rather, this just points us to an admittedly unattainable goal; perfection being something that we should aim for, but never expect realistically to achieve.
Look in fact at the language regarding perfection, above; in fact, it is often tentative. We are given directions from priests that you “might be” perfect; or try to “be perfect.” The fact is, the goal of pursuing perfection, is not even firmly endorsed here; but rather, the Bible at times, even merely entertains this goal as something that some people might want, without specifying that it is a goal we should try for: “if you would be perfect,” it advises, then we should do this or that. Here there is no absolutely firm assurance that your attempt will be successful, after all. While in phrases like “if you would” like to try to be perfect, the Bible does not even explicitly endorse this goal; but merely said that some others might like to try for it.
Then finally, even command to “be perfect,” indeed, is not necessarily, really telling us to be perfect exactly, or that it is an achievable goal. Consider for example, the command of a mother to a two year old, to “be good.” Note that here, there is not necessarily any real assumption that a two year old can perfectly, actually, achieve that ideal goal; of being wholly good. Indeed, to be absolutely good, is an unattainable ideal.
Indeed, only God himself is good.
So that perfection, might be something to aim at … but without expecting that you will actually be able to achieve it. Rather as if you were in an archery contest, aiming at a target 500 feet away; you probably don’t expect to ever hit the target in the bullseye; but nevertheless, you aim for the bulls-eye, as your ideal goal.
Thinking of the ideal, helps us aim (in some cases). So that even if, being imperfect human beings, we will inevitably fail to achieve that perfection, still, it is useful (many think) to at least aim at that, as our ideal goal.
The Bible indeed told us over and over elsewhere, that we are only human, and will make mistakes. So that finally, any apparent exhortation to “be perfect” must be understood to be an ideal – but in actual practice, unattainable – ideal. While indeed, given the history of mankind, the assumption that one is perfect, is clearly, arrogant and prideful.
In the end, there is nothing in the rest of the Bible to reassure us that the attempt to be “perfect” is anything but, indeed, an unattainable ideal. That this is nothing more than an ideal – but of course, humanly attainable – goal. Since only God himself is perfect; and it is the height of arrogance to say of ourselves, that we have achieved perfect unity or identity with God himself.
Perhaps many of us might try to be perfect; but there is nothing even here, that says firmly, that realistically, anyone can attain that goal. cc) If any preacher says he has attained that goal, full “perfect”ion in every respect (and not just one or two minor perfections, plural, as in the Catechism?), then ask him a few Ph.D.-level, vocabulary questions, and science questions; and give him some difficult math questions. And see if he gets the right answer every time. Then ask him to walk on water, and see if he can do it. If not, then he is not God; or one with God. Or in other words, not “perfect.” Instead, he is merely an incredibly arrogant and prideful man.
In fact, we will find below, God told us that no one is perfect till the end of time.
c) Then too, note that the Bible itself often warned about churches and preachers and holy men.
d) While note too, that here, the church is sometimes saying we “might” be perfect, particularly, if we give all the money we have to the church. But at times, the church resorted to threats to get all your money; telling us that God or his apostles, would kill you, if you did not do that; which does not seem “perfect”:
“There was not a needy person among them, for as many were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need…. But a man names Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds…. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filed your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land…?’ When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.… After an interval of about three hours his wife came in … Immediately she fell down at his feet and died…. And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things. Now many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles” (Acts 4.34 – 5.12; see also original Passover).
e) Here by the way, apparently the Catholic Catechism toys with the idea that one might be “perfect” in some particular quality – charity, whatever. But that only implies one dimension, one aspect of us is perfect; not all of us. Certainly, the idea that one could be made perfect by giving all your money to church, conflicts with aa) the assertion that one might not be entirely good in your “heart” even after such external shows; while bb) many of us indeed are offended by the implication that one could in effect, thus, buy your way into heaven, with money. (Cf. the selling of “indulgences” by the Church).
10) At times to be sure, a) it was said in the Old Testament, that we must offer “perfect” sacrificial animals to God:
“From the herd of from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there must be no blemish in it. Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs, you shall not offer to the LORD” (Lev. 22.21-22).
But b) later God punished those who worship a golden calf, as if it was perfect, among other things; perfect enough to be thought of as a god.
While c) God put down those who worship “beasts.” (Or who by the way, drink their blood; eating meat with blood not drained from it).
And finally d) God later told us that no ancient animal (sacrifice) was entirely good:
“And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins” (Heb. 10.11 ff).
11) In fact, the Bible began to note that not only apostles like Paul were not “perfect,” above, even by their own (infallible?) admission; but priests specifically were, specifically, not “perfect”:
“Now if perfection had been attainable thru the Levitical priesthood … what further need would there be for another priest (Heb. 7.11).
Churches Not Perfected
12) Some preachers will admit finally that only the sacrifice of Christ himself was truly perfect, and good enough.
13) To be sure, then our proud and vain preachers, will try to say that a) the sacrifice of Jesus, perfected in turn, say, believers, and even the Christian priesthood:
“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for all sins … by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified…. ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more'” (Heb. 10.11-12, 14, 17).
“I have seen a limit to all perfection” (Ps. 119.96; note double meaning).
But b) if perhaps in ancient times, many old sacrifices were indeed, said to be “perfect” (Lev. 22.21), finally again, Christianity eventually claimed that only God or Jesus himself is perfectly good:
“One only is Good … and that is God” (q.v.).
“The Rock, his work is perfect; for all this ways’ (Deut. 32.4).
“This God – his way is perfect’ (2 Sam. 22.31).
Many c) preachers will assert that Mat. 5.48 said that they can be “perfect.” But likely the this phrase presented perfection, as an ideal and probably unattainable goal; not as something already attained. As Paul will make clear, when he notes that he himself was not yet perfect, even as he was in the act of writing his half of the New Testament. Finally then no doubt, are called to try to be perfect, without any indubitable assertion that anyone actually attains this goal:
“Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mat. 5.48).
d) Partially recognizing only God as perfect, to be sure, next however, many different elements of Platonic and other religions – like Christianity – came to assert that there was somehow, a way for ordinary humans, to join to that perfection in the sky; in the heavens. And thus, become perfect ourselves. Specifically, adopting Plato for Jews, Christianity came to assert that when we accepted the sacrifice of Jesus specifically, access is given to us, to a kind of perfection; through the self-sacrifice of Jesus. And Paul and others, adapted Judaism, to the ideal of ideal immortal forms in heaven; or as Christianity, Paul said it, a “God” in heaven; suggesting that if we become self-sacrificing, we can in some way, become as perfect as some ideals, some people like Jesus and God; and in this way we said to joint them – or float up into the sky, or the heavens. Somehow joining Jesus, to be immortal in the heavens with him. And there, many said, we ourselves might be as perfect as Jesus was.
But to be sure, isn’t it massively proud again, to claim to be as perfect as Jesus or God? Many parts of the Bible suggest only God himself is perfect, or perfectly “good,” say.
Indeed, God told us to observe what “comes to pass” in real life; and that experience teaches us that whenever you tell someone they are perfect and cannot sin, they get arrogant … and begin doing what they like; sinning even. While their proud assertion that they are perfect, merely makes them blind to their own errors (as Jesus often noted of say, scribes and Pharisees).
Therefore our preachers themselves, even in their doctrines, began hedging on their pretentious claims of perfection; noting that this or that special gift from God – like say, communion or the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper – though it removes say, original sin, (the crime, penalty inherited from the sin of Adam the first man), still, it does not guarantee that through temptation, we can still walk out of the church after communion … and still sin, even in the church parking lot. Indeed the Catholic church suggests that nothing even removes original sin; that we still often have “concupiscence” (as the Church calls human lusts or whatever), apparently even after all the many sacraments, like “baptism” (Catechism, p. 871; ref. sec. 1264, 1426, 2515).
Then too, even if one sacrifice is perfect, is it really enough to make us good forever; and just in itself? After all, the Bible makes many other demands: telling us to obey the Ten Commandments, and so forth, as well as accepting this sacrifice. So perhaps after all, even after accepting this or that special “gift” like the special “perfect”ing and “redeeming” “salvation” of the “blood” sacrifice of Jesus – or now sanctification; holiness; sainthood – still, there are yet more things left to do. Before one becomes, one’s self, perfect. Indeed priests in the past, have given us an endless list (q.v.). Why indeed do we try to do so many things to be good – following the Ten Commandments and so forth – if sanctification gave us all we needed at once?
To be sure, the sacrifice of Jesus is said to “perfect” – those who are “sanctified”:
“And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for all sins … by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified… ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more'” (Heb. 10.11-12, 14, 17).
Yet note in this case of the “sanctified,” that first of all, a) the New Testament here was admitting that many of the old priests and sacrifices, were not good.
While b) moreover, the New Testament now added some fine print, some qualifications; by a single offering, Jesus perfected … “those who are sanctified.” So that now we need to ask … who really is “sanctified”?
Sanctification can it seems elsewhere even be lost. Or never really found, if you did not believe in the right idea of God. In fact, even Moses did not achieve real sanctification, and did not really believe in God, said God here:
“And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘ Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not being this assembly into the land which I have given them'” (Num. 20.12).
c) And what exactly is “sanctification”? No doubt, that further quality or demand, is defined in other equally nebulous terms, and associated with still more demands. (As we noted in our sections on “fine print,” and so forth).
d) While indeed, only God himself knows, judges what is good, and what is true – and not deceived; merely “self-righteous” etc..- sanctification.
So that finally, we can never be sure we have gotten to the end, of the endless things we must do, before we are perfect. First, seek “sanctification”? And then, what is that? The path becomes endless we find; the goal of perfection is never fully found.
e) The New Testament Greek words for “sanctification” (hagiasmos, hagiotes, etc…) are related to the words that means “saint” and “holy” (as in English hagiography; study of the saints). While many translations of the Bible tell us that even saints (/angels) in heaven, are often bad.
f) The words for sanctified people, are related to those for “holy” people, and are thought be be about being set off or “set apart” from normal life. But the Bible told us that even if Israel was holy, at times it still sinned.
g) While finally, those set apart are supposed to be “grafted” onto the main root; while indeed, here we are grafting the holy back together with the bulk of practical people; or grafting practical people to the root of the holy, by joining science and religion.
h) While the Bible is full of warnings about bad things even in Christian saints, apostles, priests; even those in heaven itself (See Destruction of Heaven).
i) Often too, by the way, rather ordinary people have more sanctification than priests:
“The Levites were more upright in heart than the priests in sanctifying themselves” (2 Chron. 29.34).
Then too, many temples once sanctified, were later defiled and so forth. Even the Holy Spirit, if it never leaves us, often merely stands by as we are taken over by evil. And even heaven itself is corrupted. So that finally, whatever allegedly permanent salvation or perfect we have, is only technical, and can be lost, or never genuinely acquired.
Many churches say they are uniquely protected by some special saving gift – like sanctification (above). But we will have seen elsewhere, there are many warnings in the Bible about false things in all things in religion; even in Christianity; even specifically, Christian churches. Yet of course, out of vanity, many churches simply ignore these warnings. Or when you tell the people, about all the warnings about churches, individual churches then
claim, that they have some special unique ritual, or sacrament, or special gift, or some such – like “sanctification” – that uniquely protects they themselves if no one else, from sin and error. But we will have found out earlier, that such claims of special, infallible protections for this or that church, are not true.
First, a) most churches claim to have special gifts, protections from error; but we found that the Bible eventually noted common sins in probably every single aspect of religion, churches … from prophets, to apostles, to Christian churches by name.
And in addition, b) we found the Bible itself noting problems too, specifically by name, in every allegedly special saving gift, grace, “covenant,” communion, or action, etc.. Even when such special gifts are fairly good, still often, after all, people invalidate those gifts by having an “impure heart” or some such. Or if there is a wholly good or “perfect” church anywhere, no one but God can “judge” which one it is.
c) So that finally, essentially, we must continually suspect all our churches of sinning; and should not believe the protestations of individual varieties of Christianity, that they themselves have some special saving gift, that protects them from sin and error. Finally in fact, we will have found, even Grace itself can be removed, after all; and God himself can declare even contracts or “covenants” null or broken (see God taking the staff “Grace” and breaking it).
d) Many preachers like to say that they or their churches, are often protected by say, the Holy Spirit. But here again too, the Bible tells us that aa) even the spirit of God itself, failed to protect the people of Moses (q.v.). While bb) we add here, no one can ever be sure whether whatever spirit or “inspiration” our holy men felt, really was the Holy Spirit … or a “false spirit,” posing as the Holy Spirit. Since indeed, Satan’s favorite disguise, is to come to us disguised as the very angel of light; as a preacher or holy man … or no doubt, as the Holy Spirit.
Many preachers would like to say that some special ritual or object or “sacrament” uniquely protects them from error; cc) like say, taking communion, or the Lord’s Supper, or the “Eucharist.” But Jesus himself noted that even at least one apostle, (Judas?), even one personal taking supper with Jesus himself, in person, would nevertheless “betray” him. While confirming this, our own personal experience of what we see “come to pass,” teaches most of us that many people take communion, or the Eucharist, or go through any number of allegedly special saving experiences in church services and so forth … and yet, many people still somehow, sin again later on. Indeed, many people take communion … and then sin even as they exit the church, into the parking lot. (So that today, most churches acknowledge, regarding the allegedly special gifts, that they might remove say, “original sin,” the guilt we inherit from the sin of Adam; but that still leaves – thanks to “concupiscence” and so forth, our own “desires” and “lusts” – us able to sin or err again, on our own. Even after having been “saved,” or having received any number of alleged special protective gifts – like “anointing,” “election,” “Grace,” Baptism,” “blood,” “election” … or “sanctification.” Or whatever).
14) Regarding the origins of Christianity, and its relation to Plato’s theory of forms: basically the New Testament is essentially a Hellenized – specifically, Platonistic – adaptation of Judaism; and from Plato Paul clearly borrowed Plato’s famous “Theory of Forms” as it is called; which says that all things here on earth (which note, would include the Churches), are just “imperfect copies” or “shadows” of the ideal forms, models, in heaven. Indeed, speaking of Jesus himself, Paul – while incidentally, telling us Jesus would not be a traditional “priest” – also tells us that things her on earth are just a “sketch and shadow” of more ideal things, “patterns” or paradigms, in heaven:
“We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne…. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain. But Jesus ha now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant…” (Heb. 8. 8.1, 4-6 NRSV).
“Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified…” (Heb. 9.23 RSV).
“The law has but a shadow of the good things” (Heb. 9.28).
Related to ideal forms in heaven, some might say that Jesus by his sacrifice, “perfected” those who are sanctified:
“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us” (Heb. 10.14).
Yet again, as noted above, there are problems with this.
At times, regarding “perfection,” Paul especially borrowed some ideas from Plato: like his Theory of ideal – perfect? – “Forms” or “paradigms” or “patterns,” in heaven. Yet if there are any perfect things, models somewhere – as in heaven itself – this is aa) first of all an idea more from Plato, than Christianity. While bb) Aristotle argued that Plato’s notion of ideas in heaven was false. While cc) then too, the Bible argued that there were many false things in heaven. Indeed, if there is anything perfect in heaven, it is only God himself; since everything else in heaven is supposed to fall.
And if things that are “sanctified” are perfect … then what is “sanctification” in turn? As it turns out, like all other saving gifts, it is not absolutely reliable; people still sin and err, even after getting even that. While we will find that while we had say, original sin removed by the sacrifice of Jesus, still indeed, people can still sin in spite of that. Some say Jesus will forgive all sins; but … Jesus leaves that to God himself, to “judge,” in the end. While in any case, even if those who follow Jesus will be forgiven … how do you know that your image of Jesus is right … and that you are really, actually, following the right “Christ” … and not a false, earthly priestly image – or imperfect “copy” – of him? A “False Christ”? “Another Jesus” than the right one?
Sanctification can indeed be lost or never really found, if you did not believe in the right idea of God. Finally even Moses did not achieve real sanctification, and did not really believe in God, said God here:
“And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘ Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not being this assembly into the land which I have given them'” (Num. 20.12).
By the way, incidentally, Aristotle criticized Plato, as speaking as if idea forms existed in pure form somewhere, like heaven. As if there could be form without extension; models aside from matter. Aristotle arguing that forms or models exist only by way of nature; as in genes and DNA and so forth. So that the good is immanent, found within things, not eminent or entirely above them, in effect. Or to the point here: there is no real ideal, apart from its members. (See the philosophical discussion on nominalism, and especially the real existence of universals, etc.).
15) In any case, some of us know what we think we know about God,. in large part, from what priests say or speak to us, in sermons. But what did the Bible say about the authority of holy men speaking? Finally among others, James too – James, one of the original Twelve Apostles; who was also a saint; and author of one of the books of the New Testament – admitted that he himself for example, was not “perfect,” when speaking. Even when speaking the word of God, no doubt:
“For we all make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect…. But no one can tame the tongue (said St. James of himself, a saint, and other saints too, in James 3.2, 8 NRSV).
Related to the alleged inspiration of scripture too: some might have thought that in the act of speaking, delivering a sermon – or related to that, writing words thought to be from – preachers might indeed be temporarily inspired, and prevented from making mistakes. But this is not the case said St. James.
While John was to add that there were limitations even in his gospel – and by extension, all gospels. As the end of his gospel noted that no mere book could ever contain “all” that Jesus said of did (q.v.; see our writing on Scripture too).
16) So indeed, “perfect”ion it seems clear, wasn’t achieved even by the original apostles, it seems. Even when they wrote our Bibles it might seem. Even St. Paul – who wrote more than half the books of the New Testament – said he was not yet “already perfect”
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on…” (Php. 3.12). “Put to death … what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and coventousness…. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put of the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator… (Col. 3.5 ff).
Especially, the “Church of St. Peter” should remember that even St. Peter erred horribly, Satanically, even in major doctrinal matters; even after having received the Holy Spirit (as we noted earlier, of Mat. 16.23 etc.). While other saints like James – and many others (see Scripture), seems to have noted that even in the act of writing our Bibles, they were not infallibly protected. As we will see.
While in any case, even if the Bible itself is perfect, still, this does not say that the churches are perfect in interpreting it, presenting it.
17) Amazingly in fact, the Bible noted that no one is as blind as God’s perfect “perfect” servants in fact:
“Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’s servant? Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes… Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?” (Isa.42.19-23 KJE).
So finally, critically, the Bible reviewed specifically, early churches … and explicitly, did not find any of the first churches, “perfect”:
“To the … church…. I have not found your works perfect” (John, in Rev. 3.2).
18) Eventually in fact, acknowledging their own imperfections and sins therefore, our holy men themselves in their wiser moments, began writing often, in a more modest way. In a way that at times confessed their inadequacies; and at times admitted that our holy men only knew, say, “part” of the truth, and saw things only “dimly”; saw an im”perfect view of God:
“Love never ends; as for prophecy, it will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect” (1 Corin. 13.8-9).
Could the Bible say more clearly than this, that almost nothing even in Christianity itself, is perfect?
19) In fact, the Apostle Paul next even acknowledged explicitly, in at least one translation, that if “perfect”ion comes, it comes only later; probably only with the Second Coming, or the End of Time. Some time after the early days of Christianity, Jesus, and Paul. When at last our holy men don’t just see “part” of the whole elephant, but “full”y all of it; and see the lord “face-to-face” at last too:
“For we know only in part; and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete [“the perfect” RSV] comes, the partial will come to an end…. For now
we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully… (1 Corin. 13.10-12 NRSV).
20) So that – as we will note elsewhere – finally, incidentally, even the current Catechism of the Catholic Church for example, admits that its own “sanctity” is “imperfect”:
“The church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect” (Cat. of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., c. 2000 AD, publ. Editrice Vaticana, Pub. no. 5-110, USCC, Wash. DC; ISBN 1-57455-110-8; from “official” 1997 Latin text; sec. 670).
“‘The Church … will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven,’ at the time of Christ’s glorious return. Until that day.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., published by Libreria Editice Vaticana, Imprimi Potest Ratzinger, c. 2000 AD ed.; Latin ed. approved by John Paul II, Aug. 15, 1997 by Pope John Paul II; English Oc.t 11, 1992; Catechsim p. 6).
“The Church .. will not be perfected in glory without great trials” (Cat. sec. 769).
Even the current catechism of the Roman Catholic church, confesses a shortfall in its own “sanctity,” and “perfection.”
Conservative Catholic apologists, who try to hold on to their idea that Catholic tradition, the traditional church, is perfect, will sometimes try to assert that the catechism, makes a firm distinction between the church “itself,” and its “members.” But while indeed, the catechism is aware of such a potential distinction, ultimately, it rejects this distinction; you cannot distinguish a church from the human beings that make it up; in part because Paul for example, frequently insisted that a church is its “members”; they are the “body” of christ, the hands and feet and so forth; and no one – not even the “head,” one supposes (cf. Peter, fr. Petra, rock or head; cf. Jesus) – can claim to be entirely separate from the rest of the body. And if one part of the Body is corrupted, then all of it is.
Or indeed, if the catechism does acknowledge such a distinction, separation of the members from the whole, if there is a church “itself” here on earth, then note after all, that the Catechism in fact, finally says that after all, “the Church” is bad; not just its members, but “the Church,” itself.
And of course, no true and accurate catechism, could or should ever firmly say the church was perfect, or absolutely sacred, or holy; not without contradicting the hundreds of parts of the Bible, that warned that there have always been great sins in everything associated with the church, from essentially “all” the highest priests and prophets and angels, even in heaven itself; to numerous churches, even those founded and directly overseen by one or more of the original Apostles themselves (like John, Peter, Paul).
19) And of course, not only the Bible itself, but also history and the observation of what “comes to pass” outside the Bible, in real life, confirms … that our churches have not been perfect; but have contributed to wars and inquisitions and so forth. Indeed most recently the newspapers tell us that priests have been molesting little boys, and essentially all our bishops covered this up, and lied to us; telling us that our church was perfect, sacred, holy … even as they knew better.
So what should we do now? Now that we know?
To be sure, the boundless vanity and pride and presumption of most of our preachers and churches, their desire to present themselves to everyone as being far better than they are, will always reassert itself, in ways as infinitely sly and resourceful as a snake. Preachers will continue to produce one dishonest sermon or homily after another, to try to prove that the Bible offered they themselves – preachers and churches – some way out of the common human condition, out of normal human fallibility. And to do that, they will focus in on this or that word or “gift” in the Bible; which they will construe as giving this or that preacher or church, immunity from sins and error. And yet however, we will be finding here, that ultimately, there is nothing at all, that will do that. Even alleged “perfect”ions are not enough.
No doubt, God himself is infinitely powerful, and God can do anything. God could save all of us from disease and old age instantly, if he wanted, for example. And yet somehow, though God can do anything, there are many things, we find from observing his nature, his universe … that he typically chooses, not to do. God has left us with a universe that seems to behave according to certain natural laws and rules, normally; and it is very, very seldom – if ever – that God chooses to overrule that order. And among many other things God seems to have chosen to stand as laws or rules … is the rule that no mere human being, not even the highest saint or angel, is ever entirely perfect, or infallible. (Excepting only Christ himself? Who is not quite a typical human being, after all). Nor is any human institution ever entirely perfect, either, it seems clear.
So that indeed, any future church, from now on, should never imply or even allow to stand the occasional perception among simple people, that it is itself, absolutely holy and sacred; or any synonym of “perfect.” The fact is, both the Bible itself … and for that matter, the newspapers, common experience of what we have seen “come to pass” among churches, historically, has shown us that … no institution in which human beings play a part, including our churches, are ever entirely perfect.
And for any church or Pope or priest, to ever say otherwise, is for that priest to fall, simply; to fall into the sin of Vanity and Pride. While pride, always indeed, leads to a fall. As we whitewash, fail to address one after another of our sins, any errors we make, the concealed cracks in the foundation, flourish, unobserved; until they finally catch up with us.
Many churches very often insist – in fact, this is one of their favorite sermons – that even if our holiest men and apostles were often imperfect and sinned at times in their own personal lives, still at least, they claim, when these sinning apostles wrote the Bible, these normally imperfect saints and others, were at least temporarily protected from error – or made perfect in their writings at least – by the protection of the “Holy Spirit”; in the doctrine now known as “inspiration.”
Yet a) we have noted earlier, that even the Holy Spirit’s protection and perfection, is not sure or permanent. No doubt, the Holy Spirit could do anything it wanted to; but often it chooses not to. Indeed, there aa) are parts of the Bible showing the people of Moses failing, in spite of having the spirit or breath, wind of God in them; bb) parts of Lamentations warn the spirit, breath, has often left even God’s chosen people, the Jews. And cc) we noted too, that often those who thought they had the Holy Spirit in them, no doubt often really had a “false spirit” in them, posing as the Holy Spirit. While then too, dd) finally, by whatever means, the Bible shows that even the Twelve Apostles themselves are still making mistakes – even after having been “breathed” on by Jesus. Even after – many say – having thus received the Holy Spirit, Peter still sinned, Paul noted. And not just in personal things, but in a major doctrinal matter (the matter of whether Gentiles, non-Jews, could be admitted into communion, meals, with Jews). While those who continue to regard the Apostles as infallible in their formal pronouncements, should note that Paul in the Bible itself – certainly, a serious, formal place – told us he was not yet “perfect” even at the moment he was writing … more than half the New Testament. While the Apostle and brother of Jesus – James – also confessed that “we” “all” “make many mistakes.”
(If the Apostles and the Bible are still regarded as absolute authority; then note this: absolute authority told us firmly, absolutely, that it is not … absolute authority.)
“Perfect”ion therefore, if it come at all ever, does not come until the end of time; said the Bible itself. In the meantime, for any person, or church, to ever declare themselves – or anything on earth at all, short of God himself – as “perfect,” or any similar term like “holy” or “sacred” – is vain and proud, and false and deceitful.
The fact is that our priests and churches have always been, very, very far from “perfect.” Indeed, they will remain partially bad and evil, until the end of time. Said the Bible itself; said God himself. Said even, the Catholic Catechism.
The Catechism of the
Roman Catholic Church –
Admits the Church is Not Perfect;
Not Till the End of Time
Many people admire their churches, as being “holy,” or “perfect.” Roman Catholics in particular, put the greatest emphasis on their “Church,” with a capital “C.” Catholics are taught that their church is the original Christian church, founded by St. Peter They believe that Peter passed on his leadership, by assigning a successor, to come after him; the apostles and priests to come, passing on their holy “tradition,” both by scripture and word of mouth. From generation to general, apostle to apostle, in a process called “apostolic succession.” And, believing they are the original church that Jesus (or Peter?) wanted, Catholics typically do not stress individual Catholics reading the Bible itself; but instead they trust and revere the Church itself, and its various religious rituals or “sacraments,” like the Lord’s Supper or the “Eucharist,” and various ritual acts, like “confession” of sins, saying ritual prayers over and over (like the “Our Father Who art in heaven; the “Hail Mary,” full of grace); often with the aid of ritual beads, like the “rosary.”
Yet the stress in Catholicism is on ritual acts and objects; the bread or “host” is taken literally by many, as being really, actually, the actual “body” of Jesus himself (or the “real presence”); and much of Catholicism seems syncretistically influenced by belief in the magical efficacy of sacred objects; touching a sacred relic, like the bone of an ancient saint, or sprinkling some “holy water” on you, is thought to magically – or miraculously – do wonderful things for you; heal you of illness and so forth. So that many objects are thought to have supernatural powers.
The stress therefore, is the on the church itself – Catholics constantly talk about “The Church”; and on the personality of the priest; and not on the Bible. Catholics do not read their Bibles much. Bible though some say Catholic do at least eventually hear the entire Bible from a line or two quoted in each service, finally, just a line or two a week, in the course of even many years, would add up to perhaps, four or five pages … from a Bible that is typically, about 1,400 pages long. While at that, the lines from the Bible are received often only as paraphrased, summarized, edited, by priests’ homilies. So that if you only listen to homilies and services, even in the course of a “cycle” of several years, you will have heard considerably less than 1% of what God wrote in the Bible.
The great stress by far, is on visible objects, not reading and writing. And indeed, Catholicism was carried all over the world by missionaries, to parts of the world where almost no one knew how to read and write. So that whatever emphasis there might have been on reading the Bible was greatly lessened; and the emphasis was on, simple illiterate people listening to the priest, and doing what he said; while looking at the many statues and paintings of saints and angels and Mary and Jesus and God. While perhaps, touching objects thought to be sacred; like eating the host; touching holy water and relics, and so forth.
Therefore, the stress in Catholicism in particular, was typically – insofar as the way it was taught to the masses all over the earth – on reading and writing. Or on the Bible. Rather, it was on concrete physical objects, like the church; and on the immediate presence of a priest. Therefore, in conversations with Catholics, the phrase “the church” and “Father said,” come up far, far more often than in say, Protestant conversations. And there is proportionately less stress on education, reading and writing, too; and even more stress than most churches perhaps, in total faith, not just in God, but in “The Church.” And the priest, “Father.”
There is great, even enormous stress on “The” Church in Catholicism in particular, therefore. To the point that it almost seems to many Protestants, as if Catholics mistake the Church, and the priest, for God; that Catholics are worshipping the Church and priests, instead of God.
And yet however, we have been finding here, above, that if only our Catholics had read their Bibles – which after all, they acknowledge as the word of God – then they would have discovered many warnings there, about … priests and holy men and churches. Enough warnings that … they would not be quite so totally trusting and faithful, to their church, as such, and its rituals and objects; and more attentive to … God himself. Indeed, among the many parts of the Bible you never hear much about in church, is the part of the Bible where Peter tells off – or “rebuke”s – Jesus; and then Jesus tells Peter – founder of the Church – that Peter is “Satan” (Mat. 16.23). Surely anyone who actually read and independently thought about this passage of the Bible, should have some hesitations, forevermore, about trusting the “Church of St. Peter,” as it is often called, or its priests, too faithfully, too loyally. Following them so well that when “father” told young boys to engage in sex with him, they followed all too faithfully, all too loyally. (See the Harm Done).
And to be sure, if the ordinary priest and ordinary believer, do not ever hear about such fine points, in their church services, never really adequately hear the warning voice in the Bible itself, about churches and priests, in the fine print of some of its own documents – including even the current Catechism of the Catholic Church (c. 2000 AD ed. – actually, elements of the Church hierarchy, have begun to tentatively, partially “confess the sins of the church” (cf. “Reconciliation and Memory,” c. 1999, International Theological Commission). Amazingly in fact, the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church – the popular, definitive reference summary of what the Church currently believes; often used as a teaching text, in Catechism classes – actually admits, finally, that the Church is not “perfect,” specifically.
Is the Roman Catholic Church, for example, absolutely perfect, sacred, and holy? Given the many parts of the Bible itself that warned about such things – as well as practical experience of sins in the church too – finally, for many good reasons, amazingly, often even a major church like the Roman Catholic Church, will sometimes admit itself, that it is not entirely good, or perfect.
1) The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church says for example, that there might be in effect, really, two Churches; an ideal Church a) “in heaven,” (cf. Rev. 21); a perfect church perhaps, which is identified with, is perhaps one and the same as, God himself. But that perfect church is “in heaven,” as they say. While finally, what we really have here on earth, b) is another church; the Church “on earth.” The earthly institution, overseen in large part by human beings. And the church on earth, is sometimes admitted, to be therefore, often, flawed.
Priests and Bishops, will often misleadingly say that “The Church” is perfect; but when we ask more closely, we find that, technically, a) only the church in heaven is perfect. While b) the church we have – the church on earth – is flawed; as are all earthly or material things.
And so therefore, c) to say “The Church” is holy or perfect, is deliberately misleading or mistaken. Because indeed, only the church in heaven is that; while what we actually have however, here on earth, is just the church “on earth”; the “earthly church.” church which, as our Bishops – and the Catechism – sometimes admit, is not perfect.
2) Catholics should especially note that the Catechism itself confesses, that the Church embraces sinners to her “bosom” (Cat. 670, 677, 825, 769); and thus even the best church shares, is stained by, the sinfulness and error or human beings (as the Church began to partially confess, c. 1998-2000, below):
“‘The Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect.’ In her members perfect holiness is something yet to be acquired” (Cat. 825).
“Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, is at once holy and always in need of purification” (Cat. 827).
Many priests and bishops will try to defend “the Church” as being already perfectly good, today, already. But here a) they are not being entirely honest; when they speak of “the Church” as being perfectly good. They are implying the Church we have, the church on earth is; but b) actually, only the church in heaven is that good.
3) Some will claim a “mystical connection” between the church here on earth, and the one in heaven; and will assure us that this mystical connection means that the church on earth is adequate. But after all, “mystical” means … ill-defined and uncertain. While other the other remarks in the Catechism tell us that in any case, the church in heaven is not fully experienced here yet; not until the End; when heaven comes down to earth.
4) Very often, to be sure, elements within the Church, are very Proud of their church; and they try to defend the Church we have on earth, as wholly good. To do that, particular, our all-too-imperfect priests and bishops, try to assert that there is a church “itself,” that is separate from its “members.”
But a) while the Catechism seems at times to hint that its “members” are often bad, first of all, its “members” would no doubt include our priests and Bishops; so should we trust them … when they assure us that the Church is entirely good?
b) Indeed, the Catechism notes everyone might be stained by intimate contact with sinner members, being grasped to its “bosom.” Indeed in fact, many paragraphs of the Catechism, though speaking of it above.
c) For that matter, if your Bishop is telling you the Church itself is perfect, and only its “members” are bad, note that the priests and bishops themselves are after all, themselves “members.” So that therefore, their pronouncements are not to be entirely trusted; since they themselves are imperfect “members.”
Indeed, almost all we know of the church and God, is after all, through priests and bishops; and thus through unreliable witnesses, stained members.
So that therefore, even if there was a perfect church somewhere, we hear about everything though flawed “members” (cf. angels); so that for all practical purposes, the church on earth is, even according to the Catechism, like a sinner itself; it “takes its place” here among sinners.
d) Though many priests will try to take the Catechism sec. 825, as making a distinction between the church and its members, and telling us that the members are what make the church bad :
“‘The Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect.’ In her members perfect holiness is something yet to be acquired” (Cat. 825; Lumen Gentium 48, 3).
But first of all note, this passage does not necessarily make an absolute distinction between the church and its members. Or even definitely say its imperfection, is due to her members.
e) Furthermore, the common attempt by priests – their frequent attempt to distinguish the church itself, from its “members” – is not legitimate biblically. In part, because as Paul began to note, the church is its members.
St. Paul remember, said that the church is its members. The church is a “body” made up of churchgoers – to the point that to try to separate the body, or church – or the head of the church we might add ? – from the other members, would be as if an “eye” or a hand, was to say it was not part of the larger body (1 Corin. 12.15):
h) Many Catholics will try to say that whatever evil there is in the Church, is in its “members,” not in the Church itself. But the Catechism acknowledges that the Church has clasped “members” to its bosom, and thus shares their imperfections. While Paul made it clear the Church is composed inseparably from its “members,” the people; and that we the members should not say we are separate from the other members:
“Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? …”
If therefore, our Bishops try to tell us that they, or the Church, are somehow above its “members,” then Bishops are in effect, going against Paul; who told us that aa) the church is its members. While bb) all the parts of the church should acknowledge their association. Indeed, if the “hand” should not claim to be separate, not even the head of the Body of Christ, we conclude here, should not be telling us it is not part of the body; indeed, even the head of the church, is a “member.” And thus is … stained with the sins of the rest of the body, by the way.
f) The attempt to separate out a “church itself” from its “members” fails therefore, on catechetical terms; in Biblical terms, and finally it fails logically too. Logically in fact, we might add: how can there be a church without members? As if there could be a forest without trees? (From an extension of various ideas: Aristotle’s argument against Plato, and others’ arguments? Against the idea that classes of things, universals or ideal forms, could exist, without material things in which to inhere; nominalism, universals, etc…)
Therefore in effect if any bishop or a Pope or other religious leader, tells us the church or he himself, or a “church,” is over and above and beyond and apart from its members, this is really just the “head” saying it is not part of the “body.” Thus, violating the word of God.
g) In fact, finally the Catechism itself makes it explicit that “all members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners” (Cat. 827):
“The Church … clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.’ All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time” (Cat. 827).
h) It is not really legitimate therefore, to make a distinction between the “church itself” and its “members.” Therefore, though many documents of the Catholic Church will hint at the possibility of making this distinction, finally, it should never quite firm that up. Since that would be against God.
i) And indeed though the (current, c. 2000 AD) Catechism is aware of a potential distinction between the Church and its members, or even if it makes such a distinction, then note finally, it clearly speaks however, of sins in not only its members, but also in “the Church”:
“‘The Church … will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven,’ at the time of Christ’s glorious return. Until that day, she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming….” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., published by Libreria Editice Vaticana, Imprimi Potest Ratzinger, c. 2000 AD ed.; Latin ed. approved by John Paul II, Aug. 15, 1997 by Pope John Paul II; English Oct .11, 1992; sec. 769, from Lumen Gentuim 48).
“Until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world” (Cat. 671, quoting Lumen Geintuim 48 Sec. 3. Cf. 1426; meaning the Church in heaven?).
“The Church .. will not be perfected in glory without great trials” (Cat. sec. 769).
If the Catechism is establishing a difference between the Church and its members, then listen to this carefully then: here it carefully stipulated therefore, that “The Church” – not its members – will “not be perfected in glory without great trials.”
Not just its “members” then, but “the Church” itself, note, is not yet perfect.
5) Ironically therefore, any Catholic who says that his or her church is perfect, is not a good Catholic; is going against the Church.
To be sure, parts of various current church documents, while they do not contradict this, still like to try to be open to the reading, that the Church is perfect; and that it is only its members that are not. (“Reconciliation and Memory” toys with this too; but never firmly defines its position). Yet finally, at worst, the “church with no members” argument, as we might call it, is only one of two available readings; while indeed finally, an attempt to firmly distinguish “The Church” from its composite parts, its members, ultimately conflicts with a) the Catechism, b) the Bible, and c) what real-world experience with the church teaches us.
6) Further confirming this, in fact, the Church began c. 1999-2001, to “confess the sins of the church,” as it was said.
7) Finally indeed – as much of the Catechism noted above – no church can declare itself to be wholly good, without abandoning the Bible itself. The Bible itself clearly notes that the ideal “bride” – the truly ideal church or whatever (perhaps God himself; God supplying the final perfection) – does not come down from heaven, to earth … until the Second Coming, the End of Time (Rev. 21):
“And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21.2 NRSV).
8) Many churches will have historically tried to say that this event, by which this or that church is at last perfected, happened in the past; and that they themselves are already, this perfect bride from heaven, the ideal city already. And yet the test of this, will be to look hard at the churches that claim to be perfect, and see if they really are as ideal as the full kingdom promised.
While in fact, no place on earth, not even Vatican City, as ever been quite as ideal as what was promised there; a city in which there were no more “tears” or “pain”; where the “wolf” lies down with the “sheep,” and the “lion” eats straw with the “ox” (Rev. 21, Isa. 11, 65-66; Rev. 20-21). Indeed, the Pope himself was shot in St. Peter’s square in the 1980’s; which hardly seems ideal. No doubt there were some tears in the Vatican that day. While in c. 1999-225 we found priests were abusing little boys; which hardly seems ideal either. Indeed, no place on earth – and no church – has ever completely fulfilled the promises of God.
9) While likewise, the common attempt to say these were just “personal” sins separated from the Church “itself,” we have seen, is false. Not only because the church is united inseparably from its imperfect “members,” but also because we found that even our holiest apostles were erring, sinning, even when they uttered their most “inspired” utterances.
10) Crucially in fact, the Catholic catechism says clearly that the “Church” is not “perfect.” And furthermore, it will not be perfect, until the Second Coming, or the End of Time:
“‘The Church … will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven,’ at the time of Christ’s glorious return. Until that day…. ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., published by Libreria Editice Vaticana, Imprimi Potest Ratzinger, c. 2000 AD ed.; Latin ed. approved by John Paul II, Aug. 15, 1997 by Pope John Paul II; English Oct. 11, 1992; Catechsim p. 6).
“The Church … will not be perfected in glory without great trials” (Cat. sec. 769).
The Catholic Church therefore clearly says, that all its churches here on earth, are flawed, or partially inadequate; until, as we will see, the “day” indeed, of the End of Time.
Until the final end of time then, the full plan and perfection of God, is “yet to be fulfilled”:
“Through already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled ‘with power and great glory’ by the king’s return to earth….”
Indeed, nothing on earth is fully good it seems, or fulfilled, until we get a “new heavens.” Until that time, the church “carries the mark of this world,” and takes its place among the – not entirely good – “creatures” of this world:
“Until everything is subject to him, ‘until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God … waiting and watching….” (Cat. sec. 671, 672).
“The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historical triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world” (Cat. 677; Cf. Rev. 19.1-9, 13.8, 20.7-10, 21.2-4-12, 2 Peter 3.12-13).
Amazingly therefore, the Catechism itself is clear: the church on earth is not perfect, and it will not be perfect, to the end of time.
As so indeed, finally, the Catechism finally acknowledges, the church is not “perfect” until the end of time, the Second Coming (sec. 677 & 769). And more specifically, it admits that in the meantime, it is “in exile far from the Lord.” Until the End of Time; the Last Judgement. At which time only, is the full “kingdom” achieved. (While indeed there is even a hint that the Church will follow her Lord even into “death”):
“The Church … will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven, at the time of Christ’s glorious return. Until that day, ‘the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this word’s persecutions and God’s consolations.’ Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will ‘be united in glory with her king.” The church, and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials…:” (Cat. 769; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., published by Libreria Editice Vaticana, “Imprimi Potest” Ratzinger, c. 2000 AD ed.; Latin ed. approved by John Paul II, Aug. 15, 1997 by Pope John Paul II; English transl. approved, Oct. 11, 1992).
“The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will
follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historical triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world” (Cat. 677; Cf. Rev. 19.1-9, 13.8, 20.7-10, 21.2-4-12, 2 Peter 3.12-13).
Here in fact, all our major points in this book, are embraced, endorsed, by the Catechism itself. The Roman Catholic Church itself – according even to its own catechism – admits in its Catechism, that the Church is not entirely “perfect” or good; that the church is intimately tied to its sinful “members”; and that it is indeed, in spite of its Eucharist and other sacraments, still “in exile far from the Lord“; and will not be perfected until the Second, “full“er, Second Coming, of God, in the “day” of “Judgement“; a day of “cosmic upheaval” (including we have noted, especially, the destruction of heaven); when our still “imperfect” Church, follows “her Lord in his death”; and we see full good, only when the Lord is “resurrected,” along with a totally “new heaven.”
11) The Catechism itself therefore supports our major points here. But in any case, should we trust even the Catechism though? Or any other words or sermons or homilies, doctrines, etc., of any church? If the church itself is imperfect? Finally, we might listen to our churches carefully … but we should always remember, to have faith only in God himself; not in any church or priest.
12) Remember that the weak link in the chain between God and us, is the priest, the holy man. Whoever in the church tells us that the church is perfect, is himself a human being; and all humans sin and err. Therefore any testimony we hear that this or that church is perfect – is after all, coming from a flawed human being. (While furthermore, we have found here that there is no special quality or gift, that permanently protects any human being, from sinning or erring, even when he or she tries to speak for God (or even especially, at such moments). So that finally, any assertion by anyone, any priest or bishop of holy man, that this or that church is entirely good, or even that this or that word is absolutely from God … is unreliable.
It is no doubt in part because of this very fact, that the Bible told us never to trust the words, “this is the temple [or church] of the Lord.”
13) By the way, for those who still believe in the churches themselves, then note this: the Church itself also confirms that there will be periods of great “deception” within religion, until this is finally cleared up, only – again – at the End of time. When a persecution will:
“Unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception…. The Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism” (Cat. 675).
“Deception” can exist therefore, even deep in our holiest institutions, even in our religion, even in the Christ, the “messiah,” says the Catechism. Confirming the Bible’s warnings of a False Christ and so forth.
14) Indeed, remember, the Bible itself warned that one “day” we are to discover, that the whole earth has been deceived even in its religion, in what it “worships” (Rev. 13). By a false idea of religion, a false idea of God.
15) It is good therefore, that “The” Church therefore, today, might allow hints that it is not perfect. As the church began – albeit equivocally and inadequately – to “confess the sins of the church,” as it was said, c. 1998-2001. (See especially, the document, “Memory and Reconciliation,” c. 1999, International Theological Commission, headed by Cardinal Joe Ratzinger; later Pope Benedict XVI).
16) Until the end of time though – as the church itself now admits – there will be great sins and errors, even in the Roman Catholic Church itself; not just its “members.” Even we have added here, in its most allegedly “infallible” and “inspired” doctrines (which might not have been inspired by the Holy Spirit, but as a false spirit, posing as the Holy Spirit). So therefore, henceforth, none of our churches or priests, should ever declare themselves to be “perfect,” – or any other near-synonym that would imply such perfection; like “holy,” or “sacred.”
From now on, every church and priest, if they exist at all, should constantly, in every single church service, confess that they are not perfect, or absolutely reliable. To claim such perfect, is just Pride and vanity; failing to be humble. And such pride and vanity, prevents us from … learning to see our own sins; and thus prevents us from fixing them. Indeed, legend has it – though there seems to be no specific biblical passage to confirm this – that pride and vanity, was the great sin of Satan. Satan, out of his pride they say, failed to acknowledge the greatness of God; and so Satan and his angels rebelled against God they say, essentially, from Pride.
Yet to this day, and typically, over and over, our churches become accustomed to being taken by the people, as the very voicepieces of God; to the point that churches, priests, and their rituals and ritual, sacramental objects, are all but taken by the masses, as Gods, themselves. In such a climate, it is impossible for priests, bishops especially, to remain humble. And therefore, as long as we have churches, we will have abusive priests and religious leaders. Who over-emphasize and misuse, their own authority.
Such very, very proud persons, priests, bishops, though, should read their Bibles a little more closely; like Mat. 16.23, above; where Jesus called the founder of the Church, St. Peter, “Satan.” And the parts of the Bible itself, where our holiest holy men in the Bible itself, often admitted that they themselves were not yet “perfect”:
“Not that I … am already perfect” (Php. 3.12).
The fact is, no priest or church is good, until the end of time. Says the Bible itself; said God, himself (Mal. 3. 3-5; 1 Corin. 13.10; Mat. 5.48).
Change the Word of God
From the Past
17) Noting problems in our traditional, canonical holiest men and angels, eventually some of our priests and religious leaders – including say, Jesus and Paul – began to suggest that parts of religious tradition might be simply, a) “false.” Or b) “hypocritical”; as Jesus began to say of the religious conservatives of his own day, the “scribes and Pharisees,” or “scribes and priests.”
18) So that, while Jesus and Paul appeared to absolutely honor the old traditions, the old “laws,” on the other hand, they at times began to cite minority traditions within the old laws, that might allow a significant shift of emphasis in religion. Jesus noting for example, that not an “iota” of “law” would be changed with him; but then also noting that many Jews did not completely honor even Ten Commandment laws, like the commandment not to work on Sunday or Sabbath. While Jesus allowed his disciples to pick ears of corn to eat on the Sabbath.
Jesus himself then, was said to have “fulfilled” the old “law” or “Torah,” the first five books of our Old Testament … but in some ways, it seems he was allowed, as God himself, to change the old religion, or shift its emphasis.
19) And if Jesus had said that not an “iota” of Jewish “law” would be changed so long as heaven and earth survive? Then after all, we were told, that heaven itself was to perish (Mark 13.31; 2 Peter 3).
20) Then after Jesus, Paul was to carry this even further; suggesting that the new Gentile Christians, were not under the Old Testament “laws,” but were under a “new covenant” or new agreement, contract, with God. (Under “Grace,” or relaxation of some old laws on circumcision, and so forth).
So that many New Testament figures, while claiming to absolutely follow the Old laws of God, did however, begin to shift their emphasis somewhat; and even flatly changing them; like the old command not to work on a “Sabbath” or Sunday; not to even to get food.
Finally, St. Paul was to proclaim a great “freedom we have in Christ”; a freedom to not obey many old “laws”; and even to have an authority that would seem great enough, to even change elements of religion; we being ourselves, through Christ, sons of God too; and therefore, having similar authority and powers, even to Christ, it seems in one reading. Though for a while as “children” we are under strict rules, eventually when we “mature,” we are to have more individual authority:
“When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” (Paul, against St. Peter, in Gal. 2.11 AKJV).
“The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus…. Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father…. But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons…. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God, through Christ…. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years…. I beseech you, be as I am … even as Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3.24-25, 4.1-2, 5-7, 9, 12, 14 AKJV).
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.… For you were called to freedom, brethren…. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Gal. 5.1, 13-14 RSV).
“Let no one deceive you with empty words” (Eph. 5.6).
“The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him [Jesus]” (Mark 14.1).
“When one of this people, or a prophet, or a priest asks you, ‘What is the burden of the LORD?’ you shall say to them, ‘You are the burden, and I will cast you off'” (Jer. 23.33).
“He would not be a priest at all” (Heb. 8.4).
“For with you is my contention, O priest” (Hos. 4.4).
“I reject you from being a priest to me” (Hos. 4.6).
“Now, O priests, this command is for you” (Mal. 2.1).
“Both prophet and priest are ungodly” (Jer. 23.11).
“An abomination is he who chooses you” (Isa. 41.24).
No doubt, to be sure, not everyone is sufficiently mature, or has attained good enough judgement, to be allowed much freedom to bend all of the rules, of religion. Yet the Bible does contain a consistent message of some freedom, from the rules of priests, churches; for all. Not only when the Bible warned that our highest authorities often make mistakes; but also, when it began to speak of “freedom,” beyond the “law.”
21) While St. Peter some say, was given the power to “bind” and “loose” things even in heaven itself. (Mat. 16.) To be sure, right after having been given this power, the Biblical text notes, Peter made such a serious error, went against, “rebuke”d Jesus so strongly, that Jesus called St. Peter, “Satan,” (in Mat. 16.23). So that of course, the power to break or change even religious laws, and so forth, is not to be assumed lightly; nor should we entirely trust those who do this. Any more than we trust legislators today.
22) Still, following (or in part creating) hints in the Bible itself, that after all more modern or contemporary men after Jesus, were given some power to change even heaven itself – and therefore, change religion itself (see also “scribes” given the power to add the “new” to the “old”) – the Roman Catholic Church, often began to give very great powers, to itself; its popes. The power to define – and, though denying it, change – Christianity. Even though to be sure, the Bible warned about abuses of such power; in the very first pope, Peter for instance; when Jesus called the first Pope, or ruler of Christianity, “Satan” (Mat. 16.23).
For these reasons, any assumption or presumption of great powers to change religion, by churches, have never been clearly, publicly assumed; and any and all changes are accomplished with as little publicity as possible; and with numerous sophistical arguments that such things are done in absolute concordance with the old Bible itself, for instance. Just as Jesus in effect most often argued he was not changing any Old Testament rules, or abandoning Judaism to found a new religion – Christianity.
In much the same way, the Roman Catholic Church at times allows that it honors the Bible and ancient tradition; but it also asserts that it has also the right to form a body of serious, later teachings, after the Bible, given outside the Bible – its “Magisterium.” Which by the way, is often stated to be all but perfect. Yet of course, Jesus warned us about St. Peter, and his Apostolic Successors too in effect. And so we should be cautious about such claims. We might note in passing that the word “magi”sterium comes from the same root as “magic” – we should always note again and again… that after all, the a) Bible and the b) Catechism, both, were telling us that the church itself is not perfect. Therefore, its magisterium cannot be perfect either.
c) In fact of course, note that there is a weak link in the chain, often, between us and God. When we hear our priests and bishops tell us their magisterium is perfect, for instance, note that we are hearing, after all, not God himself, but priests and bishops speaking to us. Telling us how perfect our magisterium or church is. While the Bible itself told us that mere priests and so forth, in turn, were not totally reliable. So finally, their assurances that this or that pronouncement of theirs, is perfect, or infallible, are “presumptuous,” and are not in themselves, in turn, sure. Since our bishops themselves are unreliable. Indeed, between us and God are many unreliable agents, messengers or “angels.” And God warned us even about the angels themselves.
d) Then too, we will find, finally the Bible itself warned that no mere words, were entirely reliable; even words alleged to have come from “The Word” himself, God himself, might be falsely attributed to God.
e) For this reason indeed, we are not supposed to fully trust or have faith in any words at all; if Jesus is the “word,” we are supposed however not to trust that the words we hear about him from priests, really are the word … unless or until, we “test everything,” (1 Thess. 5.21), with real “science,” to see if they are really, actually, materially “fruit”ful, in this material earth, in a timely way. And if they are not? Then we are to simply say, that those words are not from God, after all (Deut. 18.20 ff).
f) Many churches indeed, rightly note sins and errors in past churches. And began to claim they themselves had authority – from Paul and Peter and so forth – to subtly add “new” things, or new slants, to “old” religious “laws.” But of course, this was to be done with great humility, trepidation … and was supposed to be overseen by a very careful and conservative “science.” While we find here that in fact, earlier churches, have not really been “full”y in possession of such an adequate science. Indeed, almost no one on earth will ever be “full”y trustworthy, until the End. Therefore, it is also incumbent on all of us citizens, to always examine and re-examine, any alleged laws or rules from churches and other authorities; especially “new” ones. To make sure that they really are good … or not.
g) While, if we now at last have a better, fuller science of God, and now begin to re-examine many of the old new religious powers and ideas, that our churches established, we find that … this examination finds many obvious changes in that process. Especially, in the transition from the Old Testament of the Jews, to the New Testament of, say, Paul and Peter. And then beyond Paul and Peter, to the Patristic “fathers”; and all priests.
Anyone who takes an honest look at the history of the Church, will find many silly doctrines in it and (what was often taken to be) its magisterium, that were later reversed. That is to say, even the most casual survey of church history – one that relies not just on what the church says about itself, but also other sources – we find that the record of what has “come to pass” in the Church – and its allegedly perfect magisterium – was not, after all, entirely good. Any simple honest survey, of past teachings of the church – like aa) past Catechisms, and bb) canon laws, and cc) common homilies – will quickly show that many old rules and teachings of the church, its “Magisterium” – like Canon Law – have often been very significantly changed, over the past 2,000 years. Changed enough, that the new teaching are clearly, in all-but simple opposition to earlier teachings. So that either many teachings of the past, were substantially false; or the newer teachings, are false. While in either case, great changes have often been made in Catholicism, its magisterium; no matter how it tries to finesse this, or obscure this, in the fine print.
Christianity made great changes, when aa) it added the new words, the gospels of Jesus to the Old Testament; when bbb) Paul added to the gospels; when ccc) the churches began to fix the Bible, its canonical contents, c. 367 AD to 382 AD; when cc) the church defined many ideas in the various ecumenical councils, like the Council of Nicea. And more recently, the dd) stress since Vatican II, on eliminating the Latin Mass, was another; ee) the declining emphasis on “miracles” is yet another. (Today, only one or two – or even no – miracles are required any more, for someone to be declared a saint). Most recently, the recent ff) disappearance of “Limbo” for example, was a significant change, for many. (The anti-abortionist church of the holy fetuses, now claiming that fetuses are children, and not in limbo; a position inconsistent with the idea that children were not wholly human before birth and baptism).
Many shifts of emphasis then, have been made by even the church itself. While finally, anyone who says anything else, even a Pope – even an angel from heaven – is a liar, a “whitewasher,” a “deceiver.”
The magisterium or body of teachings of the Church, outside the Bible itself – the magisterium of the church – has indeed, often changed. For one relevant example, see hh) the history of the idea that life begins at conception as one example of the changing position of the Church; from St. Augustine, who seems to follow Aristotle in placing the beginning of the human life or “soul” at about 30 to 40 days for the male; 80 or 90 for the female; to St. Thomas Aquinas’ saying that life begins at first “breath” at birth. These were not only saints; they were cornerstones in the magisterium; and the 1918 amendment to the 1917 canon, stipulated that the Church teaching in seminaries teach Catholicism according to the teachings of Aquinas, canon 589:1; 1366:2. (From “Thomas Aquinas,” in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy). But then the latest catechism, reverses their “teachings” or “magisterium,” and tries to say that human life begins at “conception.” Further, the whole anti-abortion movement, ignore the biblical Book of Numbers, chapter 5; where priests are ordered to administer a “dust” to possibly deceitful women; a dust that will cause their womb to fall if they are lying; a dust that would in effect, be an abortifacient; and would abort a pregnancy.
To try to defend their political stance, against abortion, Catholic priests have made many changes in their estimation of when a fetus, a baby, is “ensouled,” or given a human spirit, and becomes a human being. While ignoring parts of the Bible that would allowed abortion in effect. This then, would be just one very minor example of how the church’s “teachings,” or magisterium, have changed hugely, over time. Indeed, look at changes still in flux, and stipulated in the first “ecumenical counsels,” like the one at Nicea.
Thus any appeal to the “magisterium,” appeals to an historically changing – and therefore not entirely reliable – authority. Priests try to deny this, and show that the old doctrines were the same as today; but indeed, the church’s doctrines were in play, variation, during the ecumenical councils like Nicea, and thereafter; and indeed, the counsels were held for the very reason, of fixing doctrines that had not been fixed before. So that … in effect, doctrines were being changed, from what they were.
Indeed, there was not even a fixed “Bible,” a canon of the Bible, till c. 367, 382 AD; therefore there was no absolute authority in the magisterium after all, before 367. And therefore, no unbroken infallible succession to Jesus. While indeed, if there was an unbroken tradition that goes all the way to St. Peter, then after all, Tradition only goes to a man that Jesus himself once called “Satan.”
So that the Church historically, has often rather reversed many of its rules, or substantially shifted its emphasis, in its magisterium. And therefore the magisterium, is not perfect or eternally certain, either. No more certain or absolutely reliable, than its priests are.
ii) No doubt, it is awkward for churches to admit to changing the word of God; without being charged with “heresy.” For this reason, such changes were worked very carefully, by any number of convoluted arguments and disappearances of prior teachings and documents. Indeed, jj) many priests or apologists, devote all their time, to try to topspin, “whitewash,” “twist” the history of the Church; to try to prove that there were no real changes (and therefore inconsistencies) at all, in Christianity, or the history of the church; from the Old Testament to the New testaments, between Judaism and Christianity; or here we add, between the old teachings – “magisterium”; “tradition” – of the Church, and the latest ones. Yet we will find many changes here.
kk) Then too we will have noted, sec. 24 of the current main catechism (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., 1994-7 Latin, c. 2000 AD English, Libreria Editrice Vaticana), notes that various catechisms change their message, to suit the culture and level of maturity of readers. And if the main catechism itself does not do that, on the other hand, it is only a “norm” for “teaching”; while “norm” in Sociology connotes something that is merely normal practice … but does not infer that such normal practices, are necessarily, good.
23) Finally, though, the Church itself – the Catechism itself – is beginning to – partially, imperfectly, equivocally, but in some significant ways – confess that it is not yet “perfect” after all. And indeed, this matches what the Bible itself said; we were warned by God, that our churches would not be entirely honest or good. And that, even if our churches have some limited authority to change old religious ideas, we were warned that the churches would often make many mistakes. While we were told that we need to continually re-examine such shifts of emphasis (and worse), with science; to see whether indeed, they are fruitful changes … or not.
24) The fact is, many sources – the Bible, experience and science, and even the Catechism – tell us our churches are not perfect; and therefore of course, we are allowed – even commanded by God – to examine, question them closely; to try to uncover any false doctrines and so forth. While, when we finally do at last hear this, and follow the “full”er words of God, of the science of God, and do examine the “fruits” of these many various changes – then we will have found here, that some of the changes made in our religion, were not only false; but actually, in many respects, disastrous. Not only not “fruit”ful, but were actually, physically, deadly. In ways our priests have not understood. But that we are about to reveal here, soon.
25) Many of the sins of the church can be seen in existing History. (See “Reconciliation and Memory”)
Finally the Bible tells us not to trust the mere words – even those words alleged to have come from “The Word,” God himself – of preachers, churches, or anyone; instead we are supposed to examine everything in religion, Christianity, with science; to see if it is materially fruitful or not, in real life … or in part, in History. And when we do that, we see … the actual history of the Church, its “works” and what has “come to pass” in its history – from the Spanish Inquisition, to the Crusades, to the current priestly molestation scandal. Which show that often the Church has done bad things, like massacring Jews, and so forth. Including the recent discovery of priests molesting young boys.
26) But we will discover here, some far more destructive sins and errors in priestly changes of the word of God, from the Old to the New Testament especially; especially the inordinate – and in the end fatal – a) abandonment of the Old Testament theology of “signs” and “proofs,” to b) the theology of “faith” in authority; in c) “spirituality,” and a God just in “heaven.” (After Jesus ascended).
As it turns out, these were literally fatal errors. As we will be seeing here, in our writings on the “Harm Done” particularly; and writings on the harm done by the Over-Spirituality of priests (as noted first by James 2.14-26).
27) Perhaps in partial recognition of such things, the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, has redefined and delimited “perfection.” No longer claiming a general perfection for itself, it begins to speak of a sort of limited, local “perfection” – or “perfections,” plural. Which refer it seems to a kind of trueness to type it seems; a perfection that might be nearly found in of all kinds of things. Confirming this, there is a kind of “perfection” that even animals have:
“Each creature possess its own particular goodness and perfection … the eagle and the sparrow” (Cat. 339, 340).
We should be careful even here though. No doubt, the spin-doctors of the church, the priests and apologists, will now feel more confident than ever, in declaring themselves or their church “perfect”; feeling they are deceiving no one. Since they have a special definition of “perfect”; one that defines it as … not so good after all. So that technically, they can call themselves “perfect” endlessly, without, they feel, making exaggerated claims. But this is just playing semantic tricks on the people, of course. And the spin-doctors of the church are fooling no one, as much as themselves. (For which of course, they go to Hell when they die, according to traditional theology.)
To do this, to simply redefine “perfect” as meaning merely, true to type, is of course sophistry; playing word games. Rather like those who re-define “sacred” to mean merely separated from others; and then go on to call themselves sacred. Or theologians who define “God” as what the Jews and Christians believe in, and then speak for “God” in quotes … without however, believing that the Judeo-Christian God is the truth. Yet of course, these various devices are just sophistries; little bits of semi-intellectual dishonesy. Surely the spin doctors of the church themselves, know deep down, these word- “twist”ing, semantic arguments are not honest; they know that most people will take “perfect” to mean … perfect, flawless, after all. They know well enough they will appear to be saying the church is perfect to most people; while deep down they are playing word games. Rather than playing around with, “twist”ing the definition of “perfect,” it would be better, if they would simply begin more frankly to tell the people, that the church simply put, is not perfect at all.
No doubt, in this rather sly definition, you could have a “perfect” rat; or a “perfect” snake; or a perfect disease organism. Yet to be sure … of course, no one should pretend that this kind of perfection, is adequate, for a church; being merely true to type or form or pattern. Since indeed, the normal pattern in churches, is that the always err, and always “fall short of the glory of God.
Democracy and Communism
Finally Kick the Church Out of the State
For centuries, it is clear, our churches resisted any real humility; in that they insisted – or allowed the impression to continue among the people – that they were “holy” and sacred,” or even “perfect.” And so forth. And so – as foretold and noted (below) – we have had many, many massively vain and proud and arrogant priests, and churches. And indeed finally, tired of all this – and the 17th century wars started by religions like Protestantism and Catholicism – finally, by 1776, Democratic governments were being formed … to try to staunch the bleeding, by rigorously keeping churches out of government. And allow popular vote, the people, to run our countries … rather than churches, for example. (Or kings claiming to be linked to God; by the “divine right of kings.”).
28) Protestant churches of course, long away broke away from The Church; asking for in point of fact, freedom from Catholicism and “Popery”; from the “Anti-Christ”ic Popes, as they said. And from the Catholic Bible, with its extra canonical books; which they regarded as a partially false Bible.
No doubt, many of the ideas of Protestantism were rejected by Catholicism. And the proliferation of many different Protestant credos on God, has seemed to Catholicism to discredit Protestantism; since it seems so inconsistent.
29) Yet … given what we have said here, regarding the dangers and sins of religious totalitarianism, the Church should henceforth, be far more humble than it often has been in the past; and which should always allow some significant individual judgement, individual digression, among all its members. Since of course, asking people to perfectly follow an imperfect church, is a recipe for one disaster after another. In the future, our Church should never again be as totally dogmatic as it has been, in the past; but should always allow its people a great degree of “freedom in Christ.”
30) Yet fortunately in fact, things began to change, in the 1960’s; and now there are, recently, elements in for example, Catholicism, that would allow some democracy in the church itself – and with it, the input of science – into religion at last. First, there f) are already elements of Democracy in the Roman Catholic Church, in that Popes are elected; if not by the people at large, then at least by the College of Cardinals.
Given the many sins of our churches … how can we fix them? Actually, the main sin of the church is authoritarianism, dictatorship: having one voice of absolute authority, and not allowing many voices to be heard. So the answer is in part …more democracy.
Regarding “democracy” in particular, while g) though the Roman Catholic Church has often asserted the absolute authority and “infallibility” of the Pope, there h) are signs within the current catechism, passages that can be read to say (in one possible reading), that the opinion of the people is important. That in fact, the total assent of every single one the people in the church, is necessary, before any given doctrine or teaching of the church is to be regarded as true, as infallible, as the word of God:
“The whole body of the faithful … cannot err in matters of belief…. By this … the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium), … receives… the faith…. (Cat. sec. 92-3; from Lumen Gentium, 12; cf. 2035; 889-91, 2081, 891. See also 24: catechism itself admits that teachings will be different, adapted to “differences of culture, age, spiritual maturity, and social and ecclesial condition among all those to whom it is addressed”).
Like most sentences in our holy books, this passage in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, was crafted in such a way, that it to be sure, lends itself to at least two different readings, two or more different theologies; in this case, there are two different readings, corresponding to the absolutists vs. democratic idea of religious management and leadership. The above that is, could be interpreted to say that aa) all the faithful must assent in what other central leaders declare infallibly true; but also bb) it can better be read, really – especially given all the evidence of bad things in churches offered here – as saying the opposite of that: that nothing is infallible in our Church, until every single person in the church, assents to it. While critically of course, in real life, such total assent never happens; it is never the case that all the people in a church of (currently by some estimates) one billion people, agree to any single thing at all. Therefore, the condition for infallibility – total assent of all – is never reached; and therefore, nothing is ever to really be regarded as totally infallible, again.
n) God is perfect … but our churches obviously aren’t. And o) therefore, all our holiest men and religious leaders, our churches, should now finally learn to be really humble – and not imagine or speak as if, they themselves are “first” with God, any more. Instead, p) they should from now on, be truly “catholic” … in the dictionary sense of the term; to be more broad-minded and inclusive; and to allow many more individual (and especially, scholarly, scientific) interpretations of religion; and to finally q) give rather more “freedom” to individuals to interpret and follow what they feel God really said. Particularly to adults; who are assumed to have attained reasonably good judgement – or to have “well-formed consciences” as they say in Catholicism.
Likewise of course, even Protestant and other churches, should often be less dogmatic and authoritarian too.
Amazingly therefore, there is a reading of the Roman Catholic Church’s latest Catechism for example, that have even it, very nearly admitting that it is not yet perfect. A reading that was reinforced when, c. 1998-2000, Cardinal Ratzinger and John Paul II began, as it was said, “confessing the sins of the Church,” with regard to minorities and so forth (in the document “Memory and Reconciliation,” etc.?).
31) But if our churches themselves do not reform themselves sufficiently (without the Science of God and so forth), and do not grant us such freedom, then after all, the Bible – and our governments too – give us some freedom. Indeed, we have noted here, the Bible itself said over and over that there are sins in our holiest men and angels; and therefore, the Bible itself releases us from following priests and churches too slavishly; noting the “freedom we have in Christ” for example.
While indeed, the Bible itself noted that there have always been so many great sins and errors, in old religious traditions, that therefore, one “day,” God is going to destroy our traditional heaven itself. Which would mean of course, being freed at last from deceitful and repressive religious institutions, churches. To a new and better church. Based on a new and fuller vision of God and Christ.
32) To be sure, fearing change, fearing freedom, fearing that freeing the people from bad old ideas, will result in rampant subjectivism, relativism, our churches have often today reasserted their authority – and the alleged perfection of traditional ideas. In at least, semi-affiliated radio networks and so forth.
However, the people should not be afraid of new things; since the Bible itself, even the Catechism itself, authorized them. And since here at last, we have a mechanism for smooth and assured change; taking the churches not in the direction of an ever-increasing conservatism, or spirituality or relativism either, exactly; but instead, toward the science of God. Which is a) conservative in the sense that it only believes things well established, well proven. But which b) has in it mechanisms that would allow for smooth change.
c) And of course, science is not at all “subjective,” but is extremely, objective. Therefore, in the science of God we avoid the excesses of personal subjectivism, feared by many clerics. Science is not subjective; it is not given to every whim of individuals; it is d) not “every man doing what is right in his own eyes.” Rather instead, as defined here, e) science … measures, weighs, all new and old ideas, on one fairly objective scale: looking to see how materially fruitful they are, or not. A f) much, much more objective scale in fact, than the “spirituality” which dominates our priestly intellectuals; which relies totally on subjective feelings.
h) And it is conservative in the sense, among others, that bringing science into religion, was firmly commanded in the Old Testament by God himself; and in the New, by Jesus himself. Indeed, if anything, we are bringing, simply balancing, the Old and New Testament Theologies; the “signs” and “fruits” theology of the Old Testament, with the mixed material signs and immaterial spirits theology, of the New. Indeed, in many ways, we are not doing anything new here at all. But only combining, reconciling, old ideas, at last.
i) And with the science of God, we will also have at last, a mechanism for enforcing real honesty in our churches; a greater honesty than our churches have had, in the past. Since all sciences are always ready to confess their past sins; as part of progressing on to new and better understandings of Truth. Thus at last, then, we will have a religion that does not lie constantly to the people; promising them miracles that it cannot deliver. And we have a Christianity, that can, while holding to the past strongly (even the Bible itself), can at least, modestly, progress.
j) No doubt to be sure, we should not try to live by the latest theory of particle physics; or the latest pop psychology; theories that will be rejected or replaced in ten years or so; that is why we say “classic” science; science well established over dozens, even a hundred years or more.
k) But classic science, is all the science we need, to show that promises of miracles (and for that matter, much of faith and spirituality) are false, and incredibly destructive. So that, the science of God is already good enough, to show us the past sins of our churches.
33) There are great rewards for those who do this. Finally, if and when the church at last follows, if not Biblical scholars totally (given the vagaries of even scholarship), but at least classic, well-established, (not speculative) science, that has stood for hundreds of years – science enough say, to reject miracles – then after all, we will have begun to make the necessary course correction in our “Faith,” in our religion; one good enough to correct many sins of churches in the past. If thoroughly instituted, these changes should be enough to advance us very far, beyond the predominant, false ideas of the present, regarding God and Good; to advance Christianity to the point that … it really is capable, of beginning to realize, the foretold “kingdom” of good, here on earth, as foretold. At last.
As foretold by the Bible itself. By God, himself.