Sunday, May 7, 2017

Chapter 8 - On The Way Back Home - Chapter 8 - How Did Protestantism Come To Exist


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The one great reason why one should enter any church is to seek the salvation of his soul.  On the other hand, the reason why the Catholic Church makes the claim that she alone is the Church in which Christ intended all men should save their souls is that she is the only Church Christ Himself founded, whose teachings Christ commanded all men to listen to and to accept.

For over 1900 years now the Catholic Church has existed since the time of Christ.  In the course of that time various groups broke away from union with her to found churches of their own.  Not one of them can claim then to have had Christ as their founder.  Some broke away because they refused to recognize the Bishop of Rome, who is the successor of St. Peter, as the lawful head of the Church.  The Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church are in this position.  Though these churches deny the authority and supremacy of the Pope, in theory at least they do not deny the doctrines of the Catholic Church.

Other groups however have cut themselves off from the Church in a more complete manner.  These groups not only deny the authority of the Pope but they also repudiate many of the doctrines of the Church.  Catholics call them sects,  meaning cut off.  Against such divisions that might arise in the Church St. Paul warns the Ephesians:  "Be careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,  One Body and one Spirit:  as you are called in one hope of your calling.  One Lord, one faith, one baptism."  (Ephesians 1,4,3-6)

The first great sect to arise in the Church to threaten its unity was promoted by the priest Arius and was called Arianism.  In the fourth century under the lead of Arius, this sect denied that Christ was the Son of God.  After Arianism other sects arose at different times denying this article of faith or that, but none of them was of a permanent character until what is known as the Protestant Reformation which took place in the 16th century.

Protestantism began with Martin Luther who was himself a Catholic priest.  History tells us that he left the Catholic Church, denied the authority of the Pope, rejected one Catholic doctrine after another and finally established his own brand of Christianity, Lutheranism.

Henry the VIII was then King of England and England was entirely Catholic.  Upon Luther falling away from the Church, Henry wrote a book condemning Luther and upholding the doctrines Luther had denied.  But because the Pope refused to grant Henry a divorce from his lawful wife Catherine, Henry subsequently followed the example of Luther and denied the authority of the Pope.  Henry's action led to the introduction of the doctrines of Lutheranism in England and finally to the establishment of the Anglican Church in England.  The division of Christianity under Protestantism had now begun.  Sect upon sect arose until now there are hundreds of different sects, divisions, groups calling themselves Christian churches, all teaching doctrines more or less different and worshipping in different ways.

On the very face of things, this can hardly be what Christ intended.  If the all-wise and all-knowing Son of God went to the trouble of coming upon this earth and taking upon Himself our flesh, becoming man to redeem mankind, He certainly would not have established ten different varieties of Christianity instead of one, teaching ten different doctrines and leading the faithful in ten different directions.  If he did He would have been directly responsible for the woeful state of confusion, disunity and division that exists among the Christian sects today.  Upon establishing His Church, Christ had promised that He would be with her even to the end of the world and that the Gates of Hell, that is the forces of error and division would never prevail against her.  But the Gates of Hell would have prevailed if the Church had even once taught false doctrines or was unable at any time to correct whatever evils and abuses might have arisen in the administration of Church affairs.  And the Gates of Hell assuredly would have prevailed if, to secure whatever reformation was needed, the Church Christ founded must needs be split asunder into a hundred and more different sects, each one having its own particular interpretation of the doctrine Christ taught, each practicing Christianity in a different way.

At the time the Protestant Reformation started, there were undoubtedly things that needed reformation in the Church.  It is reasonable to suppose however, that if reformation was needed, that reformation should have come from within.  After founding His Church, Christ did not leave the Church in the hands of angels.  He left the Church in the charge of the Apostles and their successors.  The Apostles and their successors were men with the weaknesses of men.  Christ had promised them His assistance in order that as far as His doctrines were concerned, the Church would ever teach the truth.  The administration of the Church, however, would remain subject to the weaknesses of human nature.  It is not surprising then that at times this or that scandal would arise.  In His own body of Apostles there was one who had betrayed Him.  But unless the promises of Christ were false, the Church He founded has His Perpetual assistance so that she could correct abuses, remedy evils, overcome scandals, in other words, reform herself if reformation was needed.  And herein lies one of the most fundamental mistakes of Protestantism.  In the supposed attempt to remedy the evils that existed, in the Church, the founders of Protestantism stepped outside the Church Christ founded, they forfeited His assistance and they became an easy prey to the spirit of error, division and confusion that has divided Christianity and goes on dividing it outside the Catholic Church. 

Pray Your Rosary Every Day




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