Monday, August 29, 2016

I'm WIth Solidarity

So this is it for me. This is the LAST election I will vote Republican in. My sole purpose of voting Republican is to try to stop Hillary Clinton, whom I believe to be the greatest evil in this entire 2016 election cycle. Regardless if she wins or loses, my vote for Donald J. Trump in November will mark the end of a 28-year long Republican voting streak.

I started voting Republican in 1988, the first election I could vote in. 2016 will be my last year voting Republican. I am now a registered member of the American Solidarity Party (ASP), as well as a delegate in their convention that formulated the current platform, and in upcoming elections I will vote accordingly as the party is able to get candidates on the ballot. As a Catholic Christian I believe it is my obligation to do this. I can no longer settle for a coalition party (like the Republican Party) that only supports half of what I believe in, and even then, mostly just in lip service. America now has a truly Christian political party, and that's the one I'm going to be working with in all future elections, and in between.

I hope other Christians will join me in this.

I would have gleefully done a write-in vote for Mike Maturen, the ASP's nominee for president, had the stakes not been so high in this election cycle. I see Hillary Clinton as such a great evil to be opposed in this election that I am willing to vote for somebody I don't particularly like, in the hope of stopping her, or at least denying her an electoral mandate in November. I am thoroughly convinced, that barring a miracle, Hillary Clinton will win the Whitehouse. I am currently giving her an 80% chance of success. That doesn't mean that Trump can't win. He still has 20%, but the odds are stacked against him.

I can't help but seeing some similarities between this election, and the German election of 1932. That was the last election Germans had before the Nazis removed all hope of a free and fair process. During that election, the ballot was split between eight major political parties. Of which, six got over 1 million votes. If just three of those six had allied behind one candidate, they could have stopped Adolph Hitler from ever becoming the Chancellor of Germany, and possibly prevented World War II, the Holocaust, and the disruption of hundreds of millions of lives around the world. That however, didn't happen. The 1932 German election serves as an object lesson of what happens when voters are unwilling to soil their hands a little and vote for somebody they don't like, all for the sake of stopping somebody who is infinitely worse. I am a student of history. I learn from history, so I don't repeat it. Sadly, however, that means I am doomed to helplessly watch as others repeat it.

Now I am not calling Hillary Clinton a Hitler. She is not. I don't think she wants to kill practising Jews, Catholics or even Evangelicals for that matter. Actually, I think she is rather indifferent toward them. However, at the same time, I also believe that once she is president, she will enact policies that hurt these groups, and she won't care. While I don't think she's going to be "hunting" anyone down, I also believe that any cries of religious discrimination will fall on deaf ears with that woman. Frankly, she just won't give a damn. She'll enact the largest abortion-supporting policy in this country's history and she'll make practising Catholics, Evangelicals and Jews pay for it. When we complain about that, she'll just laugh. No, I mean it, she will literally laugh, as in "ha ha" for the cameras. She will mandate that churches and synagogues hire homosexuals and transgenders for their staff, and when we complain about it, she will ignore us, stacking the courts to back her decision. She will enact tough anti-homeschooling laws, and when we complain about it, she'll say its just for the sake of the children. I tell you, practising Catholics, Evangelicals and Jews will have no recourse with this woman, and no way to have their grievances addressed.

On the subject of war, however, I'm not so sure. She and Hitler may have a lot in common. Just like Hitler wanted a pan-European hegemony, Clinton will seek to back America's geopolitical hegemony in places we have no business. I see confrontation with Russia as an inevitability. I see further support of ISIS by means of covert money being sent to ISIS-related military groups in Syria. So when it comes to war, I really don't know what to expect with a Hillary Clinton presidency, but I sense something very negative and ominous on the horizon.

So there you go. These are my reasons for supporting Donald J. Trump in this election cycle. I wish I could say it's for positive reasons concerning Donald J. Trump, but it's not. For me its very simple. He's not her. Therefore he gets my vote.

After that, it's goodbye to the GOP, regardless of the election results. They have failed me. They have failed every single one of us. Every Catholic, and every Evangelical, and every practising Jew, who has ever voted Republican in the hope of stopping abortion, same-sex "marriage," and curbing the decline of America's moral decay, has been let down. It's time we realise the Republican Party used us. They gladly accepted our votes, failed to act upon our wishes, and then told us we had to buy into their Libertarian economics of big business and low wages. They espoused Christian values on moral issues, but attacked them on economic issues. Between the GOP and the Democrats, the American middle-class has been gutted, and with that so as the traditional American family. So in 2016 I'll vote for the last Republican in my life -- Donald J. Trump -- and in 2018 I will vote Solidarity. The same goes for 2020, 2022, 2024 and so on.

Sorry Republicans! You took my vote for granted. Now this is what you get.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

Please share this story. Social media links provided below for your convenience... 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

We Should Welcome Hebrew Catholics

A Family Passover Seder Table Setting.

I always get into trouble when I start up a conversation on this topic, but the reason why I keep doing it is because I think its important. The topic is Hebrew Catholics. Within the Catholic Church there appears to be two extremes of thought.

The first extreme is the older one, which holds to the notion that when a Jew converts to Catholic Christianity, he should leave behind all that was of his Jewish heritage and ancestry. He should, in effect, forget that he was ever a Jew and just go on being a good Catholic. Any attempt to commemorate his Jewish heritage is considered "judaising" and is immediately condemned as a form of heresy -- even apostasy.

The second extreme is a newer one, but also a very old one, which holds to the notion that Catholicism must change to accommodate Jewish converts and make itself more "Jewish friendly." This usually consists of having parish-wide Passover seders and/or celebrating other Jewish customs on a parish-wide level.

I believe both extremes are wrong, but it is the latter one that that I have the most experience with.

Evangelical Protestants have taken this latter extreme to new heights by creating what is called "Messianic Judaism," which is really nothing more than Evangelical Christianity that has been re-branded as a form of "Judaism." In these Messianic "synagogues," as they are called, which are really just Evangelical churches, all members are encouraged to wear traditional Jewish worship attire, including tillit (prayer shawls), veils for women and kippa (yalmukah or skullcaps) for men. Jesus' name is replaced with Yeshua. The Holy Spirit is referred to by the Hebrew term Ruach Hakodesh. Worship is held on Saturdays instead of Sundays, and a good number of members practise kosher dietary laws. Some of these "synagogues" have even adopted Orthodox Jewish liturgical practises.

Back when I was an Evangelical, I flirted with Messianic Judaism quite a bit, because I found the liturgical aspects fascinating. In fact, you could say that Jewish liturgy, given a Christian illumination, actually played a significant role in my decision to become Anglican, and then eventually become Catholic. In spite of that, however, I was always amused by how many Evangelicals would suddenly "discover" their "long, lost Jewish ancestry" after joining one of these "synagogues." The pattern was predictable. They would go in as Evangelical Christians, professing to be Gentiles by heritage, then over time start calling themselves "Messianics." After a while longer... lo and behold!... they "discovered" some long lost ancestor from 200+ years ago, they never knew about before, who "just happened to be Jewish." So naturally, that must mean they're Jewish too. From that point on they begin calling themselves "Messianic Jews." Later I came to understand why this was happening. Messianic Judaism (Evangelical Christianity given a Jewish look) is probably the epitome of judaising. You see, the definition of judaising is: "to conform to the spirit, character, principles, or practises of Judaism." In other words, when Christians (who are not Jewish) are encouraged, or even pressured, to start acting like Jews by practising customs and rituals associated with Judaism, that is the definition of judaising. Saint Paul, the apostle, and the first Church Council in Jerusalem (recorded in the Book of Acts), utterly condemned judaising. The Church can never do it.

What does that mean however? It means that the Church can never encourage or pressure non-Jews to start behaving like Jews. The problem with these Evangelical "Messianic synagogues" is that their entire function and purpose is to accommodate Jewish converts to the point where non-Jewish Christians feel pressured to adopt Jewish customs and traditions themselves. In fact, non-Jewish Christians are often made to feel like they're somehow "less than faithful" if they don't. This is why so many of them adopt Jewish practises, start calling themselves "Messianics," and then suddenly "discover" their long, lost "Jewish" ancestry, so as not to feel left out or "second class."

What the Evangelicals have done with "Messianic Judaism" is the extreme form of what some Catholics are doing with their accommodation of Jewish converts. Granted, Catholics usually never go as far as Evangelicals do, but the spirit of judaising can still be there, and yes, it is wrong.

So what is the balanced approach?

Here's the deal. Saint Paul and the Council of Jerusalem absolutely condemned judaising. There is no question about that. There are no exceptions to it. It is condemned, and it is heresy to practise. But what exactly is judaising? As I defined above. Judaising is: "to conform to the spirit, character, principles, or practises of Judaism." By that is meant generally to conform the Church as a whole, and specifically to conform non-Jewish Christians. In other words, if you tell non-Jewish Christians that they should adopt Jewish practises, you are judaising. Likewise, if you change the character of Church devotion or liturgy, so as to pressure or coerce non-Jewish Christians to start acting out Jewish practises, even if its unintentional, you are judaising.

So to summarise, judaising simply means making non-Jews act like Jews. What it does not mean, however, is allowing Jews to act like Jews.

The Catholic Church, in order to remain Catholic, must always have a universal appeal. It must appeal to non-Jews alongside of Jews. It must be a religion that non-Jews can easily adopt, without having to feel like they're changing their culture and diet to do so. To simplify, the Catholic Church, in order to remain truly Catholic, must be a Church for all peoples. It cannot allow itself to become solely a Church for only one type of people.

Now this doesn't mean that the Catholic Church, in certain places, can't take on the cultural flair of the people who live there. For example, Catholic churches in Ireland have a very Irish flair. Catholic churches in Mexico have a distinctively Mexican flair. There are even certain uses and rites that appeal to specific cultures as well, having been born of those cultures. However, in spite of all this, the Catholic Church remains universal. No convert is expected to take up strict dietary laws, or exchange the culture they observe in their home, for another completely foreign to them. For example; as an American of north European descent, I could join a Byzantine Catholic Church if I wanted to, and worship God according to Byzantine Catholic ways. In my private home however, aside from some Byzantine prayers I might use, my life would essentially remain north European in style and character. I could continue to use traditional English prayers and devotions as I like, and have some tea and crackers in the afternoon, which I enjoy from my British heritage. I could continue to eat pork, sausages, schnitzel and bacon cheeseburgers, which is something very important to a Swedish-German American. I would not have to change my manner of dress, or be expected to wear anything distinctive in public or private. I would continue going to Oktoberfest in the fall to celebrate my German heritage, Yulefest in December and Midsommerfest in June to celebrate my Scandinavian heritage. In other words, I am still very much connected to my ancestral culture, and a good Catholic at the same time. See? The Catholic Church is universal. I don't have to become something I'm not to be a good Catholic Christian. The apostles saw this cultural flexibility as absolutely essential to preaching the gospel and saving as many souls as possible. They did not limit the gospel only to people who were willing to become culturally Jewish.

So judaising is about making non-Jews act Jewish. But judaising has nothing to do with Christian Jews who just want to be themselves by acting Jewish.

What does this mean?

It means if a Jew converts to Catholic Christianity, he can go on observing certain Jewish cultural norms, provided these in no way interfere with his newly adopted Catholic Christian faith. In other words, the Catholic Church just treats Jewish converts the same way as she treats everyone else. That is the balanced approach.

What we have to understand is that there is a culture that surrounds Jewish communities. Yes, the religion of Rabbinical Judaism played a significant role in forming that culture, but just because that religion played that role, doesn't mean the Church should obliterate the culture. That's not her way. It never has been.

So to summarise, a Jew can convert to Catholicism and become a Hebrew Catholic, maintaining many cultural traditions he/she is accustomed to, so long as it is understood that these cultural traditions in no way contribute to their necessary religious obligations as Catholics, and they in no way make them "superior" Catholics for observing them. They are just cultural traditions. So for example; if a Hebrew Catholic wants to keep kosher, observe Passover and other festivals privately in his own home, and wear a yalmukah and tillis during mass, all of this would be acceptable, so long as he understands that this does not contribute to his religious obligations as a Catholic, nor does it in any way make him a "superior" Catholic for practising them. It is just a cultural expression.

Could non-Hebrews participate in these activities as well? Yes, but a word of caution is in order here. Non-Hebrews might be easily misled, even unintentionally, into believing that these Hebrew traditions somehow contribute to their religious obligation, or in some way make them "superior" Catholics. I say this only from experience, because I've watched it happen. Hebrew Catholics should take extra care to make sure that any Non-Hebrew, who joins in their celebrations, is not doing so for misguided reasons. Priests and bishops should be especially sensitive to this as well, pointing out the teachings of Saint Paul and the Council of Jerusalem.

Does that mean that some Catholic parishes might actually take on a Hebrew cultural flair? I suppose one could, but only if said Catholic parish happens to be erected in a heavily populated Jewish area, with primarily Hebrew members. The same would be the case with any culture. However, it would be wrong to give a Catholic parish a Hebrew cultural flair if it's not primarily a congregation of Hebrew origin. Take for example places like Tel Aviv, or even some neighbourhoods in New York City. We could possibly see Hebrew Catholic parishes develop organically in these places, but its pretty hard to imagine them developing anywhere else. That being said, the sacramental nature of said parish would have to remain totally untouched by Jewish cultural norms. Any Catholic would need to be able to receive the sacraments there, comfortably, regardless of his cultural heritage or sensibilities. Likewise, there is no way the sacraments could be connected to Hebrew rituals in any shape of form. The two would have to be totally separate. Just like they are with the cultural rituals of other peoples.

So with that I will introduce the following videos. I am not alone in this opinion. I'm not just "winging it" here. I'm in good company. Cardinal Raymond Burke, a pillar of orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the Catholic Church today, while he was Archbishop over the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, had quite a bit to say about this topic...

1 of 5

2 of 5

3 of 5

4 of 5

5 of 5

We simply have to understand that what we're talking about here is nothing new. The early Church was highly accustomed to the mingling of Hebrew and non-Hebrew Christians. They laid out the rules very clearly in their time period. Hebrews can be Hebrews. They're allowed to express their cultural norms. However, they must freely associate with non-Hebrews as brothers, and are never allowed to impose those cultural norms on non-Hebrews. Nor are they permitted to think their cultural norms somehow make them "better" than other Catholic Christians. They don't. A Hebrew Catholic is no different than an Irish Catholic, or Italian Catholic, or German Catholic, or a Catholic who follows the Anglican Patrimony, or the Byzantine Rite, etc. We are all just Catholics, and none are "better" than the other. Our justification/sanctification is dependent on our union with Jesus Christ, not the particulars of the cultures from whence we came.  So long as we follow this rule, I think we will be balanced.

Along that line an organisation has developed that functions much like a support group for Jewish converts to the Catholic Church. It's called the Association of Hebrew Catholics. This was the organisation that provided the interview with Cardinal Burke in the videos above. The organisation simply helps Catholics, of Jewish heritage, express and live out that heritage within the context of "keeping it Catholic."

I bring this up because I sense that in the years ahead, we may be seeing a larger number of Jewish people convert to the Catholic Church. We need to be prepared for them, and we need to know exactly where everything stands. Again, this is nothing new. They're very old rules actually. It's just that we haven't had need to use them for a long time. I think that is about to change, and with that understanding, we should welcome Hebrew Catholics with open arms.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

Please share this story. Social media links provided below for your convenience... 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Shocking Truths for Christians

The following are shocking truths that every Christian should know. Surprisingly, many Christians are completely unaware of these things, especially in North America, and a great many Christians have no interest in learning them at all. However, they are essential to our faith as believers in Christ, and no Christian should be without knowledge of them. Read on to learn the shocking truths that every Christian should know...

Did you know the Bible says we are NOT saved by Faith Alone?

The Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther (AD 1483 - 1546), made "Faith Alone" (Sola Fide), one of the "Five Solas" of Protestant theology. He even added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28, in his German translation of the Bible, thereby changing the whole meaning of the verse.
Original Greek version…
λογιζόμεθα γὰρ δικαιοῦσθαι πίστει ἄνθρωπον χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου. 
Common English translations...
(NIV) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
(NRSV) For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
(ESV) For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
(NASB) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
(RSV) For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.
(KJV) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 
Martin Luther's German translation…
So halten wir nun dafür, daß der Mensch gerecht werde ohne des Gesetzes Werke, allein durch den Glauben. 
English equivalent...
For we account a man to be justified by faith alone, without the works of the law..
Do you see how he added the word "alone" here. It changes the meaning of the verse. Most Christian denominations today developed their salvation theology (soteriology) around Martin Luther's Five Solas, which means that most Christian denominations, particularly those in the United States, teach some form of salvation by Faith Alone. But what does the Bible really have to say about this. We see above how Martin Luther mistranslated Romans 3:23, but to do this, he had to completely ignore James 2:24…
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Throughout the whole New Testament, the authors speak of faith and works operating together in the life of the Christian believer, and that in the end, Christ will judge us not only by our faith, but by our works of love as well…
For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body. -- 2 Corinthians 5:10
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. -- Galatians 5:6
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. -- 1 Corinthians 13:2
 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. -- John 14:15
And behold, one came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” -- Matthew 19:16-17
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. -- Philippians 2:12
He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. -- John 14:21
For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. -- Romans 2:6-8
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. -- Ephesians 2:8-10
Salvation (justification) does not come by "faith alone." It never did. The whole thing is based on a mistranslation of the Bible from one man back in the 16th century. Does your church or denomination teach salvation (justification) by "faith alone?" If so, your church is going against the plain and clear teaching of the Bible. Sadly, many Christian churches in North America do just that.

Did you know that nowhere does the Bible say to use the Bible Alone?

That's right. There is not a single Biblical passage that says the entire Christian faith is contained solely in the Bible Alone. Go ahead and try to find one -- just one. You won't be able to. Yet, the majority of churches in America teach that we must only believe what is written in the Bible Alone. Where did they get this idea? Obviously, it didn't come from the Bible, because it's not in there.

Actually, the got it from a single man living in the 16th century. Yep, it's Martin Luther again. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) was another one of his Five Solas. He had not a single verse of Scripture to back it up, but in spite of that, millions of people embraced the idea. So what does the Bible actually say about this?
I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. -- 1 Corinthians 11:2 
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. -- 2 Thessalonians 2:15 
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. -- 2 Thessalonians 3:6 
But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. -- John 21:25
As you can see, the Bible plainly teaches that the word of God is revealed to us not only through the pages of the Bible, but also through the oral traditions handed down from the apostles. But how can those oral traditions be known today? The early Christians, specifically those of the early Church, who suffered persecution for their faith at the hands of the Pagan Roman Empire, recorded for us how this works...
"The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the apostles, and remains in the churches even unto this present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with the ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition." 
-- Origen, Fundamental Doctrines 1:2, written in AD 230. 
So there you have it. This was written back when Christians were being fed to lions in the Roman circuses and burned alive as torches for Caesar's gardens. The early Christians followed not only Scripture, but also the oral tradition of the apostles, handed down to them through an order of successors. These successors were known as bishops. We read about them in Scripture...
The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. -- 1 Timothy 3:1 
For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain. -- Titus 1:7
You see, a bishop is a "little apostle" in the sense that the apostles gave the bishops their apostolic authority, entrusting them not only with proper interpretation of Scripture, but also with the oral traditions not contained in Scripture.

It helps to understand that the Bible itself wasn't compiled as a single book until the late 4th century. Prior to that, the Bible existed in separate scrolls, and each church had a different number of them in different regions of the world. So for example; prior to the late 4th century, Christians in Spain might have a completely different Bible from Christians in Italy, and Christians in Greece might have a completely different Bible from Christians living in Egypt. Everyone had a different Bible, and this is why three church synods were held in Rome, Hippo and Carthage, in the late 4th century, to determine once and for all what the Christian Bible is supposed to look like. After this, the Bishop of Rome (sometimes called the Pope) took the recommendations of these three synods and made the Bible we know today as the official Christian Bible for all Christians. Its the same Bible most Christians use today, except for many Christians in North America. They often use a shorter one.

So does your church teach that we must only believe what is in the Bible Alone? If so, your church isn't following the Bible.

Did you know that most Christians in North America don't even use the complete Bible?

Yes, it's true. Many Christians in North America today don't even have a complete Bible. It's been shortened and truncated -- specifically missing seven books from the Old Testament, and entire chapters from the books of Esther and Daniel. It's very sad, you see, because most of these Christians don't even know their Bible is incomplete. Here are the books most Christians are missing...
  1. Tobit
  2. Judith
  3. Wisdom
  4. Sirach
  5. Baruch
  6. 1 Maccabees
  7. 2 Maccabees
  8. Chapters 10 - 16 of Esther (including the dream had by Mordecai, contents of the decree against the Jews, and a copy of the decree in favour of the Jews)
  9. Chapters 2, 13 and 14 of Daniel (including the prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon)
If these books and chapters aren't in your Bible, you're missing the complete Bible. It's not your fault. You were robbed. Who robbed you? Once again, it was that German Protestant Reformer named Martin Luther, who removed these books and chapters from the Bible by none other than his own self-given authority in the early 16th century. Many other Protestant churches followed his lead, so that even today, five centuries later, most Bibles sold in North America are missing these 7 books and additional chapters to Esther and Daniel. You can read more about this here.

You see, these books were part of the Christian Bible for over 1,500 years. It's only been in the last 500 years that these books and chapters have been removed by certain Bible publishers after promptings from Martin Luther. If you want the complete (unabridged) Bible, you can read it for free here. Or you can purchase a copy of one here or here or here.

Does your church use a complete and unabridged Bible? If not, your church doesn't have the full Scriptures.

Did you know that literally ALL CHRISTIANS prayed to Mary and the Saints prior to the 16th century, just 500 years ago?

It's true, and there is so much historical record to support this, that it seems almost silly to post it here. Feel free to check your local library to see if this is true. You'll probably be shocked to discover that literally ALL CHRISTIANS prayed to Mary and the Saints prior to the 16th century, and even that first generation of Protestant Reformers (including Martin Luther) held to strong Marian devotion. So for simplicity's sake, I'll just cite a few references from the ancient Church...
"For as Eve was seduced by the word of an angel to flee from God, having rebelled against His Word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying his Word. The former was seduced to disobey God, but the latter was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin Eve. As the human race was subjected to death through [the act of] a virgin, so it was saved by a virgin." -- Irenaeus, Against Heresies, V:19,1 (written in AD 180) 
"Under your mercy we take refuge, O Mother of God. Do not reject our supplications in necessity, but deliver us from danger, [O you] alone pure and alone blessed." -- Sub Tuum Praesidium, Egypt 3rd Century, From Rylands Papyrus 
"O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides." -- Athanasius, Homily of the Papyrus of Turin, 71:216 (AD 373)  
"Recalling these and other circumstances and imploring the Virgin Mary to bring assistance, since she, too, was a virgin and had been in danger, she entrusted herself to the remedy of fasting and sleeping on the ground." -- Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration 24:11 (A.D. 379) 
Why did they do this? It's simple really. You see, true and authentic Christian theology teaches two things. The first is that physical death has lost its sting and means nothing to Christians. Our place in the Mystical Body of Christ remains intact even after our death. The second is that all Christians are connected to each other through the Holy Spirit, and that those who have died are more in tune with the Holy Spirit in death than they ever were in life, which means they can hear our prayers and requests. So just as one living Christian asks another living Christian to pray for him/her, so to a living Christian can ask a deceased Christian (such as a Saint) to pray for him/her as well. To deny this is to deny the power of Christ over death.

Sadly, in recent centuries, following the Protestant Reformation in Europe, many Protestant Christians gradually adopted Muslim-like beliefs that there is a vast separation between Christians who are living and dead, and there can no longer be any communication between them. This defies the plain teaching of Scripture and the Early Church, and denies the power of Christ over death, but sadly, that's what many Christians believe now, especially many in North America.

Does your church encourage prayer to Mary and the Saints? If not, your church isn't following the Bible or the faith of the early Christians who suffered and died for the faith.

Did you know that up until just 500 years ago, literally ALL CHRISTIANS believed the communion bread and wine become the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ?

Yes, that's right. All Christians believed this, up until just 500 years ago, when some Christians began denying it. Now, in North America, most Christians deny it entirely, in spite of what the Bible says...
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. -- John 6:52-57 
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” -- Matthew 26:26 
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? -- 1 Corinthians 10:16 
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement upon himself. -- 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
The early Christians, who died for their faith in the Roman Coliseum and circuses, firmly believed this, and even wrote it down for us in their own words...
"For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." -- Justin Martyr, First Apology 66 (AD 110-165) 
"He acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as his own blood, from which he bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of creation) he affirmed to be his own body, from which he gives increase to our bodies." -- Irenaeus, Against Heresies,V:2,2 (AD 200) 
"They [heretics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again." -- Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 7,1 (AD 110)
Again, these were the Christians who suffered and died for their faith at the hands of the Pagan Roman Empire. They died believing the bread becomes the literal flesh of Jesus Christ, and the wine becomes his literal blood. In fact, that was one of the charges the Pagans levelled against them -- cannibalism.

Does your church teach that the bread and wine in communion are the literal body (flesh) and blood of Jesus Christ? Or does it teach that its only symbolic? If its the later, your church is not following the teachings of the Bible or the early Christians who died for the faith.

Did you know that up until just 500 years ago, all Christians confessed their sins to a presbyter or bishop (priest)?

The practise comes straight from the Bible. Jesus entrusted his apostles, and their successors (the bishops, as well as their presbyters), also known as "priests," with his own power to forgive and retain sins...
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” -- John 20:20-23
Yes, it's true, and there is so much historical information to prove this, that it would be ridiculous to cite it all here. Again, just go to any local library to look it up and see for yourself. Instead, I'll just cite one of the earliest sources from a Christian who lived during the time when Christians were dying for their faith in the Roman Coliseum and circuses.
"In addition to these there is also a seventh, albeit hard and laborious: the remission of sins through penance... when he does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord." -- Origen, Homilies on Leviticus, 2:4 (A.D. 248)
Does your church offer private confession opportunities with a presbyter or bishop, who has the authority to forgive sins on Christ's behalf? If not, your church isn't following the faith or practise of the early Christians.

Did you know that all the early Christians followed the Successor of Saint Peter, who is known as the Bishop of Rome (a.k.a. The Pope)?

Yes, it's true, and this comes from Jesus Christ's words to Peter when he said...
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. -- Matthew 16:18-19
Keys were a Biblical symbol of authority, which a Jewish king would give to his prime minister. (See Isaiah 22:21-22) How was this interpreted by the early Christians, who gave their lives for their faith in the Coliseum and circuses of Rome? Read it for yourself, in their own words...
"The Church of God which sojourns in Rome to the Church of God which sojourns in Corinth....If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger." -- Clement of Rome, 1st Epistle to the Corinthians 1,59:1 (AD 96) 
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Most High God the Father, and of Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is sanctified and enlightened by the will of God, who formed all things that are according to the faith and love of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour; the Church which presides in the place of the region of the Romans, and which is worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of credit, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love..." -- Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans, Prologue (AD 110) 
"Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorised meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organised at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolic tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere." -- Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:3:2 (AD 180) 
"And he says to him again after the resurrection, 'Feed my sheep.' It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church's) oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? This unity firmly should we hold and maintain, especially we bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the episcopate itself to be the one and undivided." -- Cyprian, The Unity of the Church 4-5 (AD 251) 
"Stephen, that he who so boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid...Stephen, who announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter." -- Stephen I of Rome, Firmilian to Cyprian, Epistle 74/75:17 (AD 256)
The earliest Christians, the most faithful among us all, who gave their lives to lions in the Roman Coliseum and circuses, and allowed themselves to be burned alive as torches in the gardens of the Caesars, all professed obedience to the Bishop of Rome (The Pope) as the Successor of Saint Peter the Rock. Their testimony is undeniable. This was part of the faith they died for. Does your church profess loyalty to the Bishop of Rome (The Pope) as the Successor of Saint Peter? If not, your church isn't following the example of the early Christians who sacrificed everything for the faith. Sadly, many North American Christians profess no loyalty to the Bishop of Rome, and are ignorant of both the faith and sacrifices of the early Christians.

Did you know the early Christians called their churches "Catholic?"

The word "Catholic" is Greek and means: whole, complete, unabridged and universal. In other words, a Catholic Christian is one who believes the whole, complete, unabridged and universal faith taught by Jesus Christ and his apostles. If we likened the Christian faith to a salad bar, the Catholic Christian is one who goes through the bar and takes a little helping over everything offered on the bar, leaving nothing behind. Many Christians, especially those in North America, are not "Catholic," which means they pick and choose from the salad bar that which they like and don't like. They treat Christianity as if it were a buffet, wherein one can pick and choose what to belief based on personal preferences. That's why there is only one Catholic Church, but many different kinds of non-Catholic (or Protestant) churches. There are as many Protestant churches as there are different opinions about what to believe and reject. This problem is nothing new. The early Christians dealt with it as well. But for those who chose to accept the whole and complete Christian faith, leaving nothing out, the word that was used to describe them was "Catholic."
See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. -- Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8 (AD 110)
Ignatius was a bishop in the Early Church who oversaw the Church of Antioch. He was ordained a presbyter in his youth by Saint Peter the Apostle, and then later made a bishop by Saint John, the youngest Apostle. The words you just read above were written by a man who was made a bishop by the same man who wrote the Gospel of John, three Biblical epistles, and the Book of Revelation. Ignatius was captured by Roman authorities during one of the early persecutions of the Church. He wrote these words as he was being taken back to Rome to be executed in the Coliseum. These were some of his last words, before he was mauled to death by lions. You have just read above, the last words of a man who died for the Christian faith, and was made a bishop of that faith by a major author in the Bible. Now you know the shocking truth.

What will you do now?

Will you ignore his words? Will you just pass them off as irrelevant? Will you ignore everything written here, including the writings of others who suffered for the faith, and the words of the Bible itself? What will you do now?

Sadly, many Christians will just ignore all this. It's easy. Many have been doing it for some 500 years, and in North America for some reason, many Christians find ignoring history and the Bible especially easy. Some however, a few of you, will not ignore these things. Some of you will take action. Some of you will make the necessary changes in your lives. I don't know who you are, but I do know you're out there, somewhere.

If you would like to learn more about what you can do, I encourage you to talk to a Catholic Christian priest about it. I will make some recommendations below...

  1. First, check and see if there is one of these parishes near you. I recommend trying to go here. (click here)
  2. Second, if nothing is available nearby, I recommend going here. (click here).
  3. Third and lastly, if none of the above are available nearby, I recommend going here. (click here)



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

Please share this story. Social media links provided below for your convenience... 

Sunday, August 07, 2016

New Catholic Church in Republic Missouri

The Little Portion - A Former Franciscan Retreat Centre
Now Serves as Saint George Catholic Church

It is with great pleasure that I announce to my readers the establishment of a new Catholic Church in Republic, Missouri. Nestled deep within the Ozark Mountains of Southern Missouri, a new kind of Catholic Church is making its debut to the area. Saint George Catholic Church is a Roman Catholic community of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. It is currently meeting at the old Franciscan Retreat Centre on the south side of the City of Republic.

What does that mean?

This is a jurisdiction under the pope and the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), established by former Anglicans who have now become Roman Catholics. Back in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI established an apostolic constitution called Anglicanorum Coetibus (meaning "Groups of Anglicans") which would create ordinariates (diocesan-like structures) allowing these converts to have their own jurisdiction under Vatican supervision. These ordinariates would overlap regular dioceses, applying specifically to persons and parishes that are part of it. It's sort of like a religious order, which any Catholic can participate in, and in which regular laypeople can become members along with clergy. More information about ordinariates can be found on this Wiki article here.

Saint George, being an ordinariate parish, uses a slightly different liturgy than what one might find in a regular diocesan Catholic Church. The liturgy is called Divine Worship, and it's a Vatican approved version of Anglican liturgy. Basically, the form and structure of the mass is very similar to a regular Catholic mass. What's different is the language. Divine Worship uses traditional English, such as "thee" and "thou," instead of modern vernacular English. I've written an extensive explanation of traditional English, which you can read here. It's really quite beautiful, and it adds a new dimension to Catholic liturgy not seen before. Some Catholics might call this type of liturgy more traditional. Others might call it more modern. We like to think we've brought together the best of both worlds. If, however, one truly wanted to put a name on this form of liturgy, the best would probably be "Anglican Patrimony." That's because while it is most certainly Catholic, it also has an unmistakably English (Anglican) flair to it. There is, of course, a very good reason for this. Divine Worship was created for the ordinariates, which in turn were created primarily for former Anglicans who became Catholics.

So what's wrong with the Roman liturgy? Why do Anglicans want to bring their own?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Roman liturgy. In fact, Roman liturgy is quite beautiful, as is the Roman Patrimony. However, part of the ecumenical vision of Vatican II was the reunification of Christians under the pope, and that means acknowledging that former Protestants have something of value to offer to the Catholic Church.

This isn't the first time this has happened.

For example, Eastern Catholic churches have been reunited with Rome for centuries. In contrast to the Eastern Orthodox, these Eastern Catholic churches returned to the pope after having been separated for centuries. They include such Christians as: Byzantines, Armenian, Chaldean, Melkite, Syriac, just to name a handful. (The Maronite Catholic Church is an Eastern church that never separated from Rome in the first place.) Each and every one of these churches is under the pope and the Vatican. They are all fully Catholic, and can receive communion in any Roman Catholic Church. Likewise, Roman Catholics can receive communion in any one of these Eastern Catholic churches as well. This is what real unity looks like. Unity is not the same as uniformity. Unity is when you bring different people together under one common faith (the Catechism), and one common authority (the pope). That's unity. On the other hand, uniformity is when everybody looks the same, and does everything the same way, with no variation between them. When we think of uniformity, a good image to conjure is that of the army. In the army, everybody wears the same uniform, marches the same, salutes the same, and follows the exact same protocols. That's uniformity. Uniformity works great for the military, but that's no way to run a religion. The Catholic Church is a unity not a uniformity, and it's important to understand the difference. If you want to learn more about the Eastern Catholic churches, you can read this Wiki article about them here. Below is a wonderful introduction video to Eastern Catholicism...

These videos will explain in greater detail...
Light of the East - Part 1
Light of the East - Part 2
Eastern Catholic Rites - QandA
An Eastern Catholic Liturgy

Currently, there are no Eastern Catholic churches in the Ozarks. So Catholics in this area are not used to seeing them. However, they do exist in St. Louis and Kansas City. So when an Ozark Catholic makes a trip to one of these cities, it is lawful and permissible for him/her to visit and receive communion in one of these Eastern Catholic churches. In St. Louis these include the following parishes: St. Raymond Maronite Cathedral, St. Louis Byzantine Catholic Mission, and St. Mary's Assumption Ukrainian Catholic Church. In Kansas City there is: St. Luke Byzantine Catholic Church, and New Martyrs Ukrainian Greek Catholic Mission.

The Second Vatican Council envisioned some kind of a similar setup for former Protestants within the Catholic Church. Herein, so long as Protestant converts adhered to the same Catholic faith taught in the Catechism, and were willing to submit to the same Roman Code of Canon Law that all Roman Catholics must submit to, they could presumably bring with them some of their Protestant customs and traditions, provided they were fully compatible with Catholicism. In other words, there are some Protestant customs and traditions that Protestants hold in common with the Catholic Church, but may have been forgotten in the Catholic Church since the days of the Reformation. These customs and traditions could then be revived in the Catholic Church, under new jurisdictions created for former Protestants. The whole idea is very similar to the Eastern Catholic churches, but instead of having entirely different rites, these jurisdictions and traditions exist as subsidiary (commonly called a "use") to the Roman Rite. So for example; Anglicans have very elaborate customs and traditions, many of which have much in common to Catholicism. Under an ordinariate structure, created by Rome, former Anglicans could bring many of those customs and traditions (including an entire liturgy) into the Catholic Church. The parishes they create would have a very Anglican look and feel to them, but they would be entirely Roman Catholic.

Again, the purpose of this is not to add some novel innovation to Catholicism. Rather, it is to revive something that was lost in Catholicism after the 16th century Reformation. Prior to the 16th century, for example, English Catholicism (Anglo Catholicism) had a very unique look and feel to it. It even had its own Vatican approved liturgy called the Sarum Use. All of this was lost when King Henry VIII stole English Catholicism by breaking with Rome in AD 1534. Anglicans preserved much of this throughout the centuries, but it was lost to mainstream Catholicism. So in a way, the Catholic Church is just welcoming back what is rightfully hers to begin with.

So is this just for former Anglicans?

No, as a matter of fact, many Catholics enjoy the traditional English look and feel of the Divine Worship liturgy. Regular diocesan Catholics are free to attend mass at St. George, meet their Sunday obligation, and get more involved if they like. The English style of liturgy is attractive not only to former Anglicans, but to other Protestants as well. At Saint George, we even have some former Baptists who are members. This is likely because we all share traditional English as a common cultural heritage. Most people are familiar with the traditional English of the King James Bible, Shakespeare and classical English poetry.

Is it hard to understand? Well, maybe you should be the judge of that for yourself. Below is a short excerpt from Divine Worship: The Missal...

Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with thy Spirit.

Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is meet and right so to do.

Priest and People together: 
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts:
heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High.
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the Highest.

Now was that hard to understand? If English is your native language, and you have at least a small familiarity with traditional English literature, you shouldn't have any problem with it. This is traditional English liturgy.

Some have the mistaken impression that Divine Worship is really nothing more than a traditional English translation of the old Latin mass (Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite). That is not the case. It does have some points in common with the old Latin mass, but it is in no way a mirror image. Likewise, Divine Worship has some things in common with the new vernacular mass (Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite), but again, it is not a mirror image. Sprinkled throughout the whole liturgy are prayers and traditions particular just to English heritage. That is Divine Worship.

The following is a video example of an entire Divine Worship mass, celebrated recently at Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas. The pastor, Father Christopher Phillips, is a personal friend of mine, and wrote the foreword to my book Catholicism for Protestants...

These videos will explain in greater detail...

The liturgy at Saint George in Republic, Missouri is identical in form. We don't have the same fancy music and sanctuary yet, but with time and growth, that will surely come. Currently, our community is still very small, but we are growing exponentially, and have already quadrupled in size in just one year. For more information about Saint George Catholic Church in Republic, click here to visit the website. Saint George is under the jurisdiction of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, you can click here to learn more about that.

Saint George is under the parochial administration of Fr. Chori Seraiah, who is a convert from Anglicanism to the Catholic Church. He was formerly an Anglican priest, but is now a Roman Catholic priest. He is married and has five children. Many people are unaware that the Catholic Church does allow some married men to become priests. It is rare in the western Roman Rite, but it does happen under special circumstances. Fr. Seraiah, being an Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism, was given special permission by Pope Benedict XVI to be ordained as a Catholic priest. Such is the case with all married priests in the ordinariates. In the Eastern churches (mentioned above) this sort of thing is much more common. About half of Catholic priests in the Eastern rites are married. The other half are celibate. However, in the western Roman Church, priestly celibacy remains the norm for the time being.

Fr. Seraiah maintains a regular blog, attached to Saint George, called Beware Yon Dragons. He offers fascinating insight which I encourage you to bookmark and read regularly.

The ordinariates work as missionary partners with local dioceses. While they are a separate jurisdiction, they work in mutual cooperation not competition. The local Diocese of Springfield - Cape Girardeau has been extremely helpful, generous and accommodating to Saint George Catholic Church. One could not ask for better charity and fraternity.

The primary purpose of Saint George is missionary. Our goal is to introduce Catholicism to the Republic, Missouri area with the hope of making converts therein. As I said above, the Anglican Patrimony has an appeal to many Protestants; not just Anglicans, but also Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals and other Christians. We also serve as a place where Roman Catholics of Anglican heritage can reclaim that heritage, and still remain fully within the Catholic Church. This is something that is long overdue. We also seek to help lapsed Catholics, or those who have not been to mass in a while, to become reacquainted with the Catholic Church, and perhaps consider coming back home. Lastly, we serve as an outpost for regular practising Catholics in the Republic area, who would like to occasionally attend a Sunday mass nearby, or make a regular visit to the Blessed Sacrament for prayer and adoration. So if you happen to live anywhere in, or near, the City of Republic, or if you're just passing through, feel free to stop by and visit Saint George Catholic Church.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

Please share this story. Social media links provided below for your convenience... 

Monday, August 01, 2016

Cartoon Christianity

Chick Tracts found in a public location

You may have see them. Perhaps one was lying on a park bench, or on a public bathroom sink. Some are cleverly placed as reading material for the bathroom stall, sitting atop the toilet paper dispenser. Maybe somebody has handed one to you as a gift. Maybe you found one underneath the windshield wiper of your car after Sunday morning mass. They're actually quite common, and a surprising number of people use them.

They're called Chick Tracts, the product of Jack T. Chick Publications. The mailing address for this company is a P.O. Box in Ontario, California. Though according to an online business listing, it appears their actual office is in Rancho Cucamonga, California. (Not that far away.) They have become extremely popular among Evangelical Christians as an evangelistic tool. They consist of a short cartoon story, printed in black and white, which ends with a call to repent of sin and turn to Jesus Christ as one's "personal Lord and Saviour." The first tracts, printed in the early 1970s, were innocuous, espousing simple Evangelical Protestant theology, in an easy to read form that any child could understand. One such publication was "This Was Your Life!" from 1972. The basic gist of the comic is that a man dies, and his soul is escorted to the particular judgement of God. There he must give an account for his life. If that's all Chick Tracts ever published, there would be no need to write this blog essay. However, they gradually morphed over the following decade into something much more obnoxious.

In the decades that followed, Chick began running tracts on various "false" religions, so as to warn readers about the dangers of various "cults." These include such religions as; Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, etc. However, the one religion these newer tracts focus on the most is Roman Catholicism. In fact, not only does Chick have multiple tracts dedicated to "exposing"  the "false religious system" of Roman Catholicism, but it's also published a series of feature length comic books, illustrated in full colour, dedicated to the same cause. The comic books are based on the testimony of one "Alberto Rivera," who claims to have been a Jesuit priest, and left the "Roman cult" after discovering the truth about Jesus Christ in the Bible. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have been deceived by these publications.

According to Gary Metz in "The Alberto Story," originally published in the 9 edition of Cornerstone, back in 1981, Mr. Alberto Rivera (who was also known by the alias "Alberto Romero") was never a Catholic priest, and had a long history of legal problems including credit card theft, phoney investment schemes, and check fraud. Metz also claims he had been successfully sued for fraud, and warrants were even issued for his arrest. He was also wanted in Spain for similar legal issues. Metz also documented significant discrepancies in Rivera's stories, that make it impossible for any of his claims to be true about his alleged time in the priesthood. The Catholic Church also denies his claim that he was ever a priest. Metz reports that Rivera also claimed he was married to one Carmen Lydia Torres, on an employment application from 1963, in which they had two children together. However, this was during the time when he was supposed to be a celibate priest in Spain. Metz also uncovered that Rivera received his doctorate degrees from a diploma mill in Colorado, and that the time allotted for study was simply not enough time for one to earn real doctorate degrees from an actual university. Was Alberto Rivera (Alberto Romero) a complete and total fraud? Did he pull the wool over the eyes of Jack T. Chick and his cartoon publishing company? Or is Chick Publications knowingly working with a con-man to deceive its readers? You decide.

A great deal of Chick's anti-Catholic propaganda is based on Mr. Rivera's apparent false claims, but Chick doesn't rely on this alone. The publisher also uses claims made by Alexander Hislop's 1853 publication of "Two Babylons" which is pure anti-Catholic propaganda. Most of Hislop's claims are unsubstantiated, and a great deal of his cited footnotes are really just cross-references in which Hislop cites himself as proof of the claims he made. I briefly touched on Hislop's work in my essay entitled "John Hagee & Anti-Catholicism."

To make a long story short, Chick Publications has become something of an anti-Catholic propaganda clearing house. If one were to believe just half of what the publisher puts out, one would be forced to believe that the Catholic Church, particularly the Vatican, is responsible for every evil that has befallen humanity for the last 1,500 years. Communism, Nazism, the Mafia, Occultism, Freemasonry, and Islam; are all supposedly the invention of the Catholic Church. This of course in addition to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy; all carried out by Jesuit spies. The Jesuit order itself is depicted as some sort of Catholic KGB or CIA, which secretly spawns assassinations, riots and wars all over the world. It's really quite comical (no pun intended) to consider the implications of this comic book Christianity, and could be entertaining if so many people didn't actually believe it. Make no mistake about it, this stuff is spiritual poison.

What Chick likes to do is what a lot of propaganda artists do so well. They take the skin of the truth, and stuff it with a great big lie. You see the best propaganda is the kind in which you can't tell the difference between the truth and a lie, just by looking on the surface. It isn't until you dig in underneath that the real falsehoods start to materialise, tangled together with the truth. Because you see, the best lies, are those that are laced with just enough truth to make them more believable.

Such is the case with Chick Tracts. The underlying premise of Chick Tracts is the tired old propaganda of Martin Luther -- an excommunicated Catholic priest who declared the pope as the Antichrist, himself as the sole infallible interpreter of Scripture, and the Jews as a plague upon the earth deserving persecution. Everything Chick Tracts promote, underscores Martin Luther's assertion that the pope is the Antichrist, blames almost every major war on the pope; including World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, the Cold War, etc. Chick publications can be easily refuted with just a modest degree of Catholic education. I won't waste my time trying to disprove all of Chick's ridiculous claims, but I'll be happy to address the falsehoods of just one of its most popular anti-Catholic tracts: "Are Roman Catholics Christians?" This particular tract summarises almost all of the arguments Chick Publications makes against Catholicism, so by addressing this one, I've pretty much addressed them all, including their other anti-Catholic tracts, their "Alberto" comic books series, based on the tall tales of Alberto Rivera (Alberto Romero), and the various anti-Catholic books Chick sells in its bookstore. All of these are just extended versions of what is presented here in this one 23-page tract.

Chick Publications are copyrighted, so I can't reprint the inside pages and art on my blog. I will instead provide you with a link to each page in the tract, as these can be viewed online from the Chick Publications website...

Are Roman Catholics Christians?
by Chick Publications
A critique by Shane Schaetzel
  1. Page 1: This is the cover page, which presents the ominous question: "Are Roman Catholics Christians?" Most Chick Tracts follow this basic two-colour pattern of black on one side, and a bright colour of some sort on the other. The rest of the tract is in black and white.
  2. Page 2: The idea is presented that Roman Catholics are not Christians, the false Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) is affirmed here, and the fictional character of "Helen" is introduced. "Helen" is supposed to represent all good Catholics. Now, I have soundly refuted the whole premise of Sola Scriptura in my essay "The Bible Is Not Alone." It basically debunks the premise that Chick Publications takes for granted and just assumes its readers will be acquainted with. The fact that Chick spends almost no time here, trying to back the Sola Scriptura heresy, proves that the intended audience of this tract is Protestants not Catholics. That's not to say Chick doesn't expect some Catholics to read it. But the primary purpose of the tract is to brainwash Protestants, and further root them into anti-Catholic propaganda.
  3. Page 3: Like all good propaganda, page 3 begins with the skin of the truth. Notice however, it doesn't say "Roman Catholic Church," but rather "Roman Catholic INSTITUTION." The idea here is to deny the Catholic Church the identity of anything Christian, and make it look more like an impersonal corporation or governing body. Then it correctly states that baptism is one of the seven sacraments, which is a channel of grace, through which we all hope to be saved. The word "hope" is highlighted here, as if to say there is no guarantee. Again, there is a skin of truth to that. God never guarantees salvation to us, but we do have the "hope" of salvation, if we trust him, obey his commands and receive the sacraments, because God has given us his word on it. It then goes on to describe the old baptism ritual. It says that salt is used, which is correct, but then it says that it is used to "preserve her from future influence by evil spirits" as if to say it's some kind of superstitious thing. This is categorically false. Rather, the priest states what the salt is for in the baptism ritual: "Receive the salt of wisdom, that you may have the taste for things of God." Now the oil does have some connection with exorcism, as was the tradition of the early Church dating back at least to the early 3rd century. The priest recites: "We anoint you with the oil of salvation in the name of Christ our Savior; may He strengthen you with His power, who lives and reigns forever and ever." Here you can see how the skin of the truth is stuffed with a lie. Chick accurately states Catholic practice, but slightly twists its meaning. Then the false Protestant heresy of adult-only baptism is introduced at the bottom of the page, with a Scripture citation (Romans 6:3-10, Acts 8:36-38) which appears to indicate that only one who already believes can be baptised. What this page fails to cite is Colossians 2:11-13 which says that baptism replaces circumcision, which as you may know, is almost always administered to infants. Matthew 8:5, Matthew 15:21, Luke 7:1, Acts 16:31 all indicate that God can use the faith of one person to heal the affliction of another. Original sin is an affliction, so the faith of one (such as a parent) can heal another (such as an infant child) through the sacrament of baptism. Meanwhile Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33 and 1st Corinthians 1:16 indicate that entire households were baptised in the early Church, and that would likely include infants. (Notice that Chick conveniently ignores these passages.) The writings from many Church Fathers, dating before the 4th century, indicate that it was the widespread practice of the Early Church to baptise infants. The subtle implication of this page is that baptism can't possibly save somebody in an of itself. It would appear that Chick Publications forgot the passage of Scripture that explicitly says "baptism now saves you." (1st Peter 3:21)
  4. Page 4: This is the skin of the truth stuffed with a lie again! It states that the Vatican is its own country, which is accurate (skin of the truth), and that the pope is the head of that country, which is correct (skin of the truth). However, it FALSELY states that this fictional character of "Helen" (who is supposed to represent all Catholics), is now a citizen of both the United States AND the Vatican (a lie!). That is an outright lie. Catholics are not citizens of the Vatican. The Church explicitly teaches that Catholics are citizens of the countries in which we reside. Case in point, I am an American citizen, and I am only an American citizen. Being a Catholic does NOT grant me duel citizenship with the Vatican. Now I do have duel citizenship in the Kingdom of God, in a spiritual sense, but the tiny little city-state of the Vatican is NOT the Kingdom of God. The Vatican serves a purpose within the Kingdom of God, but it is not (in itself) the Kingdom of God. As a Catholic, I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God, which means I am a citizen of Heaven, but I am not a citizen of the Vatican. Only a tiny handful of people are Vatican citizens, and those are primarily the people who work in the Vatican. I don't think I would even want to be a citizen of the Vatican. (I hear the income tax rate is quite high there.) The purpose of this page is likely to induce old nationalist suspicions on the part of Protestant readers who may not know any better. The idea is to get Protestant readers to think that Catholics cannot be trusted as Americans, because their loyalties are split between America and the Vatican. Historically speaking, Protestantism has always had religiously-nationalist overtones. This page serves as another example of that.
  5. Page 5: Like all good propaganda, everything on page 4 is accurate, except the following. First, we see the speech bubble of the priest in confession, where he says: "My child, you must say five Hail Marys!" I have never met a priest who referred to me as his "child." They generally don't do that. That's usually a Hollywood thing. The next thing that is wrong is where it says: "Roman Catholicism replaces repentance with the sacrament of penance." This is another lie. Notice the subtlety? Chick spends a great deal of this page telling the truth, but then introduces a single lie to change the whole meaning. The truth is this. The sacrament of penance is part of repentance, it does not replace repentance. Catholics still have to repent of their sins, just like any other Christian. This page then follows with a Scripture passage (1st John 2:1-2) that talks about how Jesus Christ paid for the sins of the world. Again, this is accurate, but the suggestion here is that by engaging in the sacrament of penance, Catholics don't believe this! We most certainly do believe this, and we take it one step further, acknowledging that Christ shared his authority to forgive sins with his apostles and their successors. (John 20:22-23) Apparently, Chick Publications forgot about this passage. 
  6. Page 6: This is a total fabrication. There is no evidence of these claims anywhere in Scripture or in archaeological history. It comes from Alexander Hislop's "Two Babylons," first published in 1853, and he cites no historical or archaeological evidence either. It's just made up fiction. You'll notice that when anti-Catholics delve into history, they often just "wing it," so to speak. The claims they make often have little connection to actual history, and the books they cite are often not recognised as accurate by any real historian. Naturally, Chick has an answer for this. It's all one, great, big, wacky conspiracy, perpetrated by the Catholic Church, of course. In the black box it states that the confessional is not found in the Bible. That's right. The early Christians didn't use the privacy of the confessional box. They confessed their sins to the priest openly, in front of the whole congregation, for everyone to hear. The confessional box was later created to avoid unnecessary burden on the confessor, and sinful gossip within the congregation.  
  7. Page 7: This page reveals a complete lack of understanding, not only of Scripture, but of history too. The official title for a Catholic priest is not "priest." That is just a job description. His official title is "presbyter," often translated as "elder" in plain English, and it does appear in the Bible (Acts 15:6, Acts 15:23, 1st Timothy 4:14, 1st Timothy 5:17-22). As you can see by these passages, the presbyter (elder) functions in the same ceremonial role as a priest, hence the reason why he is often called a priest. However, bishops are called priests too, which again underlines this is a job description, not a job title. This page is careful not to mention the word bishop (overseer), because that word is so clearly used in the Bible that the whole page would be too easily debunked if it did. So it omits that word entirely, substituting the word "pastor" instead. While it is true the Bible never mentions the words "nuns," "monks" and "popes," that doesn't mean these positions aren't legitimate. First of all, the word pope just means "papa" and it is a term of endearment for the Bishop of Rome, who is the successor of St. Peter. Nuns and monks are not official positions in the Church and never were, so they don't need to be mentioned in the Bible. These words describe laypeople, who have dedicated their lives to prayer and service to God. There is some mention of men (Matthew 19:11-12, 1st Corinthians 7:25-38) and women (1st Corinthians 7:34, 1st Corinthians 7:39-40, 1st Timothy 5:5) who are celibate for God. These were early monks and nuns, before the words for them were invented. This tract page suggests that the Catholic Church simply "invented" these things to "impress" its followers, and that it's all used as a method of mind control. This is ridiculous prejudice and paranoia, not to mention conspiratorial. These practices, without the names (because they hadn't been invented yet), are clearly in the Bible. Chick conveniently leaves these passages out of their tracts.
  8. Page 8: This page humorously begins with the statement that the word "Holy Communion" doesn't sound very Christian. I suppose if you're a Protestant Fundamentalist, who lives in a rural part of America, where there aren't very many Catholics, or Anglicans, or Lutherans, etc., and you've never heard the terminology before, this might be the case. Again, I assert this tract's intended audience is Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants. Then it goes into a total fabrication of artificial history. The funny thing is; it appears that Chick is getting its ancient religions confused. Baal was the Semitic god of fertility, not the sun. The sun god was Ra, and he was worshipped in Egypt not Babylon nor among the Semites. The notion that the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation originates in ancient Egypt is laughable, and the mention of Osiris demonstrates only further that Chick Publications literally has no idea what its talking about here. Again, Chick is "winging it" when it comes to history. This is what they call "shooting from the hip." I'm sure real historians and archaeologists would get some good laughs reading this.  
  9. Page 9: Now that the lie was introduced in page 8, it is followed by the skin of the truth in page 9. This page very carefully lays out authentic Catholic teaching. However, while it is true that Catholicism teaches the bread and wine become the literal body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, as taught in Scripture (John 6:36-71, Matthew 26:26, 1st Corinthians 10:16, 1st Corinthians 11:23-29), the Church does not teach that this has anything to do with sun worship, or that there is any connection to the Pagan sun god (which was the Egyptian Ra, not the Semitic Baal, and none of this has anything to do with ancient Babylon, which had it's own pantheon of gods by different names and characteristics). What Chick has done here is connect page 8 (a total historical fabrication) with page 9 (authentic Catholic teaching), in a tapestry of brilliant propaganda that will easily fool anyone who is uneducated in history, archaeology, Scripture and religion. As I said, the intended audience of this tract is Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants, many of whom don't know anything about these topics, other than what is taught from behind the pulpit in their churches.
  10. Page 10: This page is a list of one lie following another. It uses authentic pictures from Catholic worship, but reassigns totally new meanings to them. Again, this is designed to scare the pants off Protestant readers who bought into the lies of pages 8 and 9. Now, whenever they see these items of Catholic worship, it will seem to confirm what they've read herein. Now that's good propaganda! Of course, it's all false. Here are the problems. First, Catholics don't need to be old enough to tell the difference between ordinary bread and a consecrated host. Eastern Catholic Christians, as well as Eastern Orthodox Christians, administer Holy Communion to infants! Second, we do not believe a Catholic priest has "magical powers," nor do we believe he changes the bread and wine into the body of blood of Christ by his own power. Rather, we believe the priest simply has the authority to ask God to manifest the transubstantiation by the Holy Spirit, not magic. God does the work, not the priest. The priest just has the authority to ask. The second lie is offensive and blasphemous. Catholics do not believe that the priest "can pull Christ out of Heaven," nor do we believe he puts him back on the cross, nor do we believe Christ is sacrificed all over again during the mass. The official liturgy of the mass makes it clear that the Eucharist is the living flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, which has already been sacrificed once and for all time on the cross at Calvary, and is now resurrected and living. Once again, the Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist becomes the LIVING body and blood of Christ, and Jesus Christ is NEVER re-sacrificed. Granted, the mass is called a "sacrifice" but not because we believe killing goes on. It is called a "sacrifice" because the one time sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, is brought to us in the form of his resurrected and living body and blood. Now, the comment about IHS having Egyptian origins is another laughable fabrication. Egyptians used hieroglyphics not letters. And no, the letters IHS do not represent Pagan deities either. Chick is "shooting from the hip again." They are rather abbreviations for the Latin phrase In Hoc Signo which means "In This Sign." Incidentally, this lettering is rarely ever used on Catholic crosses and crucifixes. Catholics usually prefer to use the letters INRI, which is again an abbreviation for the Latin phrase Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum, which means "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." This was what it actually said above Jesus' cross (John 19:19). Then the comment "Or Else!" in the last box concerning the monstrance is just ridiculous. They make it sound as if we're gonna "get ya" if you don't bow down. This is unbelievable prejudice in print here. Again, there is no historical or archaeological connection between Osiris and Jesus here. This is just made up history again. Chick is just "winging it."
  11. Page 11: While this page accurately cites a canon from the Council of Trent, it horribly misinterprets it. First of all, a canon is not the same as a civil law. Failing to adhere to a canon of the Church does not mean that one will be executed. Granted, some Catholic confessional states in the Middle Ages met out harsh punishments on heretics after they were excommunicated, but this was not the doing of the Church. This was the doing of Medieval governments. You have to remember the times. Back then, there was no separation of church and state. If you committed heresy in the Church, and failed to repent of it when told, the state might consider that treason. Traitors were always dealt with harshly in Medieval times. Sadly, there were many forms of punishment for heresy during the Middle Ages, and on rare occasion that would include execution. Often, if the Church was concerned about unjust punishment from the state, a heretic would be placed under house arrest by Church order, namely for his/her protection from the state or the mob. Yet the simple truth is the inquisitions usually resulted in very lax punishment, compared to Protestant witch trials. For example; during the inquisitions, people caught committing civil crimes would often spout of some heresy or blasphemy upon arrest. This would force the authorities to bring them before an inquisition tribunal instead of a civil court. The reason why they did this is because they knew if they just promised to repent, and threw themselves at the mercy of the tribunal, they would be forgiven and set free. However, Chick is obviously operating on the old English Protestant propaganda that the inquisitions killed hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of "poor innocent Protestants." Modern historians are now revisiting this stuff and finding it to be not only flawed, but in many cases, entirely fictitious. It would appear that far more Catholics died at the hands of the English Protestant monarchs than Protestants in all of the inquisitions combined. For the record, the Council of Trent sentenced nobody to death. That is a lie.  Furthermore, priests and monks did not hold a Eucharistic host in front of people and demand their worship of it or face burning at the stake. The reason why this page says "all this history has been covered up" is because the publishers know it cannot be found anywhere in a real history book. It's a lie -- a total fabrication of artificial history which they made up. They're "winging it" and "shooting from the hip" again. After this ridiculous falsification of history, the ominous warning is given "it could happen again!" with the intent of scaring the reader into fear of the Catholic Church, and Catholics in general.
  12. Page 12: This is probably the only page in the tract that is 100% accurate. It is condescending in the way it's written, using the phrase "wafer god" (notice the small "g" implying a false god) and then putting "God" in quotation marks later, but technically accurate from a doctrinal standpoint. Again, this is taking the skin of the truth and stuffing it with a lie. The lie comes from the previous pages, and now its wrapped in a skin of truth again, to make it seem believable. Now that's clever propaganda! Ironically, Chick cites a passage of Scripture where Jesus actually says "this IS my body" and "this IS my blood." Yet, it highlights every other portion of the passage except this.
  13. Page 13: This page is also accurate, and compatible with Catholic teaching. Again, Chick seems to imply here that Catholics don't believe any of this, when in fact we believe everything written on this page.
  14. Page 14: On this page the lie is introduced once again. On pages 12 and 13 we got the skin of the truth. Now to stuff it with a lie. Page 14 tells us that Catholics believe Jesus is re-sacrificed on the cross again during the mass. We don't believe this, nor is it taught. Rather, we are taught that the sacrifice of Christ was completed, once and for all time on the cross, and that Christ's resurrected and living body and blood is brought to us in the mass. However, on this page, the meaning of the mass is completely twisted, to imply that Catholics believe we are killing Jesus, over and over again, every day during the mass. Then it follows with the old lie of Martin Luther, that the Catholic Church is the "Great Whore of Babylon" and that Catholics should leave the Church as soon as possible, so their souls can "be saved" by becoming Evangelical Protestants.
  15. Page 15: On this page the sacrament of confirmation is totally perverted and has nothing to do with what we actually believe. Officially speaking, the sacrament of confirmation is the same as the "laying on of hands" by the apostles and bishops of the early Church, wherein they asked the Holy Spirit to come upon Christians to enable them to live a holy life and be empowered to witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 19:5-6, Acts 8:14-17, 2nd Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13, Hebrews 6:2). There is mention of it in the grey block on this page, but it is not explained. Besides, this doesn't happen with the "slap." Chick got that wrong too. (I know, "shocking" right?) No, the Holy Spirit is imparted with the laying on of hands, which occurs before the "slap." The "slap" comes after confirmation, from the old form of the Roman Rite, and is not typically done anymore in most Catholic churches. When it is done, it's a gentle pat really, but it's supposed to serve as a reminder that we will be persecuted for Christ. This page says nothing about any of this, but instead makes is sound like a bazaar ritual wherein the bishop somehow slaps the Holy Spirit into her. Then this page goes on to incite fear of Catholics by stating that we are secretly plotting to incite riots and kill (if necessary) on behalf of the Church. This page implies that every Catholic, who has received all three sacraments of initiation, is now a full fledged agent of Rome, ready to do its bidding against unsuspecting Protestants. 
  16. Page 16: This page sums it all up. According to Chick Publications, Roman Catholics are NOT Christians in any sense of the word, and the whole religion is designed as a deception. Another lie is found in the fine print as well, wherein it says that Catholics believe the pope is "the highest, purist form of Godliness on this planet." The Catholic Church does not teach that. It teaches that the pope is the Bishop of Rome and successor of St. Peter, which means he is the prime minister of Jesus the King. It also teaches that he has the ability to exercise infallibility when needed on certain doctrinal matters. This ability is almost never used, and has only been used once in the last 100 years. The word "infallible" (without error) does not mean impeccable (without sin). The Church has had many bad popes throughout its history, and most Catholics know this.
  17. Page 17: This page takes papal quotations out of context and assumes they constitute official doctrinal teaching, which is not entirely accurate. Remember, not every word that falls from the lips of a pope is infallible. The popes have only used infallibility once in the last 100 years. Different popes say a lot of different things. Not all of them are doctrine. The quote from Pope Innocent III in context deals with the rank of the pope over other bishops. In other words, he judges them, not vice versa. The quote from Pope Boniface VIII is from a papal bull, which does not carry the same weight as an encyclical or infallible decree. What Boniface was stating here was what the Church has always taught, and was essentially true at the time it was written. There is no salvation outside the Church. In his time, before the Protestant schisms, all Western Christianity was subject to the pope, so what he said was essentially true. The actual doctrine is that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church, and in modern times, that can pertain to non-Catholics who have received a Catholic (Trinitarian) baptism, and their separation from the Church is through no fault of their own. The quote from Pope Leo XIII comes from his encyclical Preaclara Gratulationis Publicae from 1894. The statement is made in passing, not as a proclamation, because it is already established and well-known doctrine. The papacy is the office of "prime minister" to Jesus Christ the King of Heaven and Earth. That is what this phrase means. Then Chick uses a passage from the Bible that relates to the Antichrist, implying very clearly that the pope must be the Antichrist, according to the teachings of the excommunicated priest Martin Luther, because only the Antichrist would say such things. Of course, I addressed why this is impossible (Biblically speaking) in my essay "Is Pope Francis the Antichrist?"
  18. Page 18: This page completely twists the Church's teaching on purgatory. Purgatory is the front door of heaven. It is not a place of misery. It is a place of decreasing pain and increasing joy as the attachments to this world are burned away, cleansing one to enter heaven. Not every Catholic goes to purgatory anyway. Those who have received full absolution upon death, and have lived holy lives, may not even need purgatory. I thoroughly explained the Biblical nature of Purgatory in my essay entitled "What Is Purgatory?" This page then reinforces the Protestant doctrine of assurance of salvation, eternal security, or what is commonly known as the "once saved, always saved" doctrine. In other words, just say a special prayer, and poof! You're saved and guaranteed heaven.
  19. Page 19: This page completes the fictional life of the fictional character -- Helen -- who is supposed to represent all good Catholics. Her life ends without the hope of salvation, because as the page says, she trusted in the sacraments of the Church rather than the Bible. This is interesting because here Chick Publications directly contradicts the Bible. It says toward the bottom of the page: "salvation only comes through faith in Christ alone" (emphasis mine). Perhaps somebody ought to point out to Chick Publications what the Bible says: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:24, emphasis mine) So now we see Chick Publications not only twisting history, archaeology, and the teachings of the Catholic Church, but now the Bible as well! Then to follow, we have more perversion on the Catholic teaching of Purgatory. I cover the Biblical teaching on Purgatory in my essay entitled "What is Purgatory?" This tract page also states that the Catholic Church perverted the Bible, which again is untrue. History tells us that the Protestant reformers actually removed books from the Bible and changed passage translations. I covered this in my essay entitled "Why Do Catholic Bibles Have More Books?
  20. Page 20: This page is sacrilegious, comparing the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Pagan goddess Isis. It then states emphatically that Roman Catholics are NOT Christians. Again, this is fictitious history here, completely made up, creating "similarities" where they are none. The claim is made in the first box that Mary admitted she was a sinner, and two Scripture references are given to back this. This is clearly a Chick attack on the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. The problem here is that neither passage says she admitted she was a sinner. Luke 2:22-24 recalls the event of Joseph and Mary presenting Jesus in the Temple, and making the ceremonial sacrifice required of all women with issues of female blood flow. The second references is Leviticus 12:8, but here Chick fails to cite the full context. Chick should have cited it as Leviticus 12:2-8, then the reader can see that these particular sacrifices are ceremonial, and are made regardless if the woman committed sin or not. However, that would debunk Chick's argument here against the Immaculate Conception, and the sinlessness of Mary, so Chick opted for a partial reference (without context) instead.  
  21. Page 21: On this page the reader is urged to believe in the Bible not the Catholic Church. A false dichotomy is created here, having twisted Catholic teaching and Scripture in such a way, as to make it appear that they are in conflict with each other, when in fact they are not. This should be no surprise here. Protestant leaders have been doing this for centuries. Chick makes no attempt to hide what they think about Catholicism here -- "evil." Chick also fails to point out that the Catholic Church gave us the Bible in the first place. Once again, see my essay entitled "Why Do Catholic Bibles Have More Books?
  22. Page 22: This page tells us that Jesus Christ "hates" the Catholic Church, and then it says Jesus urges Catholics to leave the Catholic Church and essentially become Evangelical Protestants instead. A passage is given from the Book of Revelation to back this up, which is used in the exact same way Martin Luther used it when he declared the pope to be the Antichrist and the Catholic Church to be the "Whore of Babylon." This is a perversion of the text. The symbolic Babylon of Revelation was a reference to ancient Pagan Rome. The Vatican sits OUTSIDE the borders of that ancient city, ACROSS the Tiber River. The Vatican is only inside the City of Rome today because the city grew over the centuries. The Vatican has nothing to do with the "Whore of Babylon" written of here. Again, Chick is twisting Biblical context and history, but it's not the first to do so. Protestant leaders have been playing this card for centuries. The reader is urged to simply say a special prayer and poof! Salvation is assured automatically, and the reader is now free to leave the Catholic Church without fear of sin by doing so. The intended audience is still Protestant Evangelicals and Fundamentalists here, but the hope is that this tract will embolden them to witness to Catholics, who may perhaps use the tract as a guide.
  23. Page 23: This is the standard ending for most Chick Tracts. The reader (likely a Protestant witnessing to a Catholic) is encouraged to help the Catholic follow four steps to instantaneous and guaranteed salvation. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with the four steps in and of themselves, and they are agreeable with Catholic teaching. However, the prayer that follows the fourth step is insidious. The prayer, which is supposed to assure one of salvation if prayed sincerely, calls for total repudiation and rejection of the Catholic Church. It is followed by a spot to place a check-mark in a box, indicating that one has prayed the prayer, and a place to mark the date. Presumably, the Protestant leading the Catholic in the prayer will then check the box, placing the date on the line, and hand the tract to the Catholic as a perpetual reminder that (s)he has just rejected the Catholic Church and all of its teachings. Then this page assures the reader that if the payer was prayed, and the Catholic Church was rejected, the reader can now look forward to a wonderful new life in Jesus Christ. Then four instruction are given for going forward. First, the reader must get a King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, because Chick Publications teaches the KJV is the only Bible God approves of for English-speaking people. All other English Bibles are of the devil, especially Catholic Bibles, according to Chick. Second, the reader is encouraged to pray every day. This is a laudable instruction, and it even goes on to say "use your own words" which is something we should all do. However, the implication here is that formulated prayers, such as the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary" are deficient in some way. Third, the reader (if a Catholic) is then encouraged to commit an act of sacrilege by denying Catholic baptism, in the form of re-baptism. Of course this is followed by encouraging the Catholic to get out of the "pagan" Catholic Church and plug in with a "real" Bible Church, where the KJV is used and taken as the sole authority. Fourth, the reader is encouraged to tell others about Christ, which is laudable in itself, but the implication is that if Catholic, the reader should go to other Catholics with this tract, and try to pull others out of the Church as well.  
If you're a Catholic who has been reading this kind of material, or is being tempted to leave the Church by somebody using this material, please, I implore you to STOP and think about what you're doing. You are about to make a life changing decision based on a 23-page cartoon comic book, filled with distortions and deceptions. I encourage you instead to take the time to study what I have just written above, and maybe even read some of the other things I've written on this blog, listed on my APOLOGETICS page.

I was baptised a Lutheran at the age of one, and raised an Evangelical Protestant. I used to believe all the nonsense in tracts like this, because I was surrounded by other Protestants who believed it too, and Catholics who didn't know their own faith well enough to defend it. I left it all behind when I began to study the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, ancient history, and the writings of the early Church Fathers. I became Catholic in 2000 and I never looked back. Trust me, the grass is no greener on the Protestant side of the fence. If anything, things are much worse over there. Trust me, I know.

Many Protestant Evangelicals and Fundamentalists believe this nonsense simply because they don't know any better, and it goes along with the anti-Catholic prejudice many of them were taught as children. It would be a mistake to assume that only ignorant and uneducated people use these Chick Tracts. I have known medical professionals to carry them, and I've seen them distribute some to their colleagues in hospitals. Just because one is well educated in a field of a secular study, like medicine, doesn't mean that one is well educated in the field of religion. Suffice it to say that cartoon Christianity is not real Christianity, and Protestants would do well to dispose of their Chick Tracts before they completely discredit themselves with them. This is a fair warning to all Protestants. If you use this garbage, I (and others like me) will obliterate your arguments, like any reasonably educated person should. Not only do Catholics consider Chick Tracts to be rubbish, but so do a lot of Protestants. You use them at your own risk. You may get away with it for a little while, but in the long run you'll be made to look rather foolish, and in the longer run, you'll do more harm than good to your cause.

As for Catholics, I highly recommend that we take them whenever we can find them, and dispose of them immediately before another poor, unsuspecting soul is deceived by the lies therein. Yes, that's right. If you see one on a park bench. Take it, tear it up, and throw it where it belongs -- in a trash bin. If a Chick Tract is laid in any public place, by law it is considered littering. So by law, you have the right to take it from any public place and dispose of such litter in a trash bin. I do recommend destroying it first, however, so some poor unsuspecting hobo isn't deceived while dumpster diving. If one is offered to you, graciously take it, and ask for a couple more if you can. Then tear them up and throw them away, to save others from being deceived by them. As for me, I like to collect them, and keep a small stash to show my children what to watch out for in this world of deception. That way they can be well educated on the various tactics the devil uses to try to pull them out of the Catholic Church.

On a personal note, I always know a follower of Chick Publications when I meet one. How? You ask. It's simple really, because when they learn that I am a former Protestant who converted to Catholicism, and they see that I am very knowledgeable in refuting their ridiculous and paranoid conspiracy theories, they immediately accuse me of being a "Jesuit spy."

So in the interest of full disclosure, I'll lay it all out for everyone to see. I am a Roman Catholic layman, not a priest, and I am not ordained in any way. So I can't be a Jesuit. I am married with children. My wife and I were both born and raised Protestant. I studied to be an Evangelical pastor, before we left Evangelicalism for Anglicanism, and then finally joined the Catholic Church. We converted to the Catholic Church together in 2000. In 2003, I joined the Knights of Columbus and I am in the 4th degree. In 2012 I began blogging about my experiences and had a book published in 2013. From 2010 to 2016 I helped to found a Catholic parish in my neighbourhood. So there you go. That's my whole story. So if you're a follower of the cartoon Christianity of Jack T. Chick, I'm sure that will be more than enough information for you to accuse me of being a "Jesuit spy," and participating in a mastermind plot by Rome, hell bent on world domination. Such is the nightmare world of Jack T. Chick; cartoon Christianity filled with paranoia and wild conspiracy theories, wherein one's own Christian brethren are suspected as one's worst enemies.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

Please share this story. Social media links provided below for your convenience...