Credulous Suckers Who Believe Whatever Their Pope Tells Them
One of the frequent complaints one hears about Catholics is that we cannot think for ourselves and basically live on a daily diet of whatever the Pope spoon feeds to us and tells us to think. I’m reminded of this as reader Peter Sean Bradley sends along this latest bulletin from the world of anti-Catholic experts on Catholic faith, wherein Fundamentalist pastor and radio star John MacArthur tells you something I bet you never knew:
That’s why when you go into a Catholic Church you see all the candles everywhere, certain people praying for certain people. As long as the candle burns, the prayer goes on. And as long as the prayer goes on, the merit in the prayer is accumulating on the benefit of the person in Purgatory and the merit is being drawn out of the treasury of merit which merit essentially belongs to Christ, belongs to the saints who have excess merit and to Mary.
I know what you’re going to say. That a candle is a sign of light and hope and that it’s just a gesture of love to God, to his saint, and to the people you are praying for. You might even note that in the Old Covenant, lights were lit in the Tabernacle as a sign of prayer to and love of God. You might even note that the author of Revelation saw the Church represented by a lampstand (Revelation 1:20). You’ll probably even say that the idea of accumulating merit from the treasury of saints just so long as the candle burns never entered your mind (not that there’s no such thing as merit, of course. It’s actually a very sensible idea.).
But what do you know? You’re just a stupid Catholic who believes everything he’s told. The people who uncritically regurgitate whatever MacArthur tells them are way smarter than you. They think for themselves when they cut and paste claims like the one above without a movement of the gray matter. It is as critical, self-aware intellects that they paste and repaste the list of Roman Catholic Inventions , credulously swallowing the urban legend that it comes from a former priest who saw the light and completely ignorant of the fact that it originates with professional anti-Catholic Loraine Boettner. They are also ignorant of the fact that The List contain such obvious falsehoods as:
• Latin used in worship—AD 600 (Response: So why did Jerome translate the Bible into Latin two hundred years before AD 600? And what does this claim signify, anyway? If most people spoke Latin at that time, why shouldn’t Latin have been used in worship? Does Boettner find it sinister that English is used in worship today?)
• Prayers for the dead—AD 300 (Response: This will certainly come as news to Judas Maccabeus who prayed for the dead over four centuries earlier. See 2 Macc. 12:42–45.)
• Council of Valencia places the Bible on the Index of Forbidden Books—AD 1229 (Response: There was no Council of Valencia in 1229 because Valencia was in Moorish hands at the time.)
Or items of numbing inconsequence like:
• Wax candles—AD 320 (Response: Why does this matter? How does Boettner know wax candles were first used in AD 320? Given that the use of electricity was still far in the future and that worship frequently occurred before sunrise so Christian slaves could attend, how else does Boettner expect the Christians to have read Scripture in the dark?)
• College of Cardinals begun—AD 927 (Response: Actually, the term “College of Cardinals” dates from the mid-twelfth century. Cardinals elect the pope. The office was created to protect papal elections from outright meddling by rival Italian clans. It was a creation of human ingenuity in response to a particular need, much like an Evangelical church’s finance council, or a Board of Elders being charged with finding the new pastor at the Baptist church down the street. So why is this particular bit of administrative innovation significant?)
• Baptism of bells instituted by Pope John XIII—AD 965 (Response: “Baptism of bells” refers to a common custom of christening church bells. It’s about as dastardly as breaking a bottle of champagne against the bow of a ship.)
Yes, The List has been a staple on the Internet for so many years that the vast majority of the people who regurgitate it don’t even know where it originates. Yet it continues to circulate, like a bad penny and every e-mails I get with it attached is usually accompanied by unconsciously ironic admonitions to “think for yourself and stop letting others tell you what to believe” from people who are completely unaware they’re parroting something they’ve never thought about or checked out for themselves. Such people typically seem to assume “If there are so many claims against the Catholic Church, it stands to reason there must be something to the idea that Catholic doctrines are basically pagan.” But the reality is that 0x0x0x0=0, not “If you throw enough mud, some will stick.” The reality also includes, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” as Christians ought to know.