Friday, April 25, 2008

Did the Catholic Church Kill Jesus?

Yea, you read that right. I recently received a request to respond to the following argument:

"Correct me if I am wrong: was it not a Roman Emperor that sentenced Christ to death on Calvary? Now for the serious question: if I am correct, which I may not be, but if I am, then would that not make the Emperor an Italian? Now, why are they making such a positive thing about the head of the church, which is an offshoot of the old Roman Empire, with headquarters in Rome, being here celebrating the death of the Lord? I know that the Lord rose from the dead and is alive according to gospel, but all the same they are the ones who sentenced him to death, and now they make themselves out the lord of lords. Just seems strange to me that they can celebrate the Pope this way and still preach the very word that the man they sentenced to death preached. Did you ever think of it? Would shed a whole new light on the religion, wouldn't it?"
There's a lot going on in this argument, so let's take it one thing at a time.

The first error I see is in attributing Christ's death solely to the Roman emperor, when in fact many people had a role to play in the death of Jesus. For one, certain religious leaders of the Jews were involved:

Mt 26:3-4 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Ca'iaphas, 4 and took counsel together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.

Jn 11:47-50 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation." 49 But one of them, Ca'iaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all; 50 you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish."


Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator or governor (not the "emperor") was the one who actually declared the death sentence (cf. Mt 27:2; Lk 3:1; Mk 15:15; Lk 23:24). Of course, Judas played his part, when he betrayed Jesus with a kiss for only 30 peices of silver (cf. Mt 26:14-16,47-49). St. Peter implicates Herod and the Gentiles as well (cf. Acts 4:27-28).

But, ultimately, if we're going to point the finger at anyone, we should point it at ourselves. It is because of the sin of all mankind (not just a select few) that Jesus had to suffer and die on the Cross. I suggest that any person who attempts to place blame for the death of Jesus should first take a hard look at himself.

If that weren't enough, we also have a case of "guilt by association." Here is the logic involved:
  1. The Roman Emperor killed Jesus
  2. The Catholic Church is Roman
  3. Therefore, the Catholic Church killed Jesus
I've already shown how the first premise in the syllogism is incorrect. Let's move now to the second one.

First of all, even if the Church were "Roman" (I will show here shortly why She is not), this would not make Her guilty of the death of Christ. The Roman Emperor and the "Roman Catholic Church" are two very different things. You can't apply the guilt of one upon the other simply because both are Roman. That's like saying all of the Apostles betrayed Jesus because Judas was an Apostle and he betrayed Jesus. See what I mean?

Of course, this syllogism also breaks apart because the Catholic Church is not "Roman." Instead, it is UNIVERSAL. The Church is worldwide, and that's just the Church on earth! There's also the "Church Suffering" in Purgatory and the "Church Triumphant" in heaven. So, to say that the Church is simply "Roman" betrays an ignorance of the makeup of the Church.

Secondly, even as far as the Church on earth is concerned, there is more to Her than simply the Roman Rite. There are also several other Catholic Rites that fall under the Antiochian, Byzantine, and Alexandrian family of liturgical rites (cf. Catholic Rites and Churches). I dare say an Eastern Catholic would be offended if you said he was "Roman Catholic" because he would see that as a blindness to his own rich, liturgical traditions.

Finally, this argument is ahistorical because the "Catholic Church" did not even exist when Jesus was put to death. The Church did not form until Jesus poured his Spirit upon his disciples at Pentecost. This, of course, was long after he had been condemned to suffer the death that God had planned from the beginning.

That last point is an important one. When we attempt to assign guilt for the death of Jesus, we have to keep in mind that Jesus went willingly to the Cross, in accordance with God's divine plan. No one forced Him to do anything against His Will, especially not the Catholic Church.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

18 comments:

No Fluff Required said...

True.

Scripture is clear that

God the Father was pleased to crush Him: Is.53: 4; Is 53:10; Acts 2:23; don't forget Jn 3:16

Jesus rendered Himself a guilt offering in obedience to the Father: Is 53:10; Phil. 2:8

Romans (godless men) crucified him:
Acts 2:23
Jews (religious leaders and countrymen) set him up:
Acts 2:23

While we were yet sinners Christ died for us: Rom. 5:8

Anonymous said...

I still consider myself a catholic but right now I am thinking about how the church as a heirarchical/political organization seems to be killing Jesus. Of course the clergy are all human and therefore imperfect, but it seems that what is conveyed to the laity at Mass is expressed in such a dated, tiresome and/or abstract way that it is becoming irrelevant to youth. We attend weekly Mass at many parishes (we have lives that do not lend themseleves to consistent parish involvement) and only rarely do we find a priest preaching in a way that seems inspired and genuine. Although some prayers and hymns can be quite moving, "approved" liturgical music and prayers often seem so limited and sterile. My children have been bored away from the church. Now that they are away at college I suspect the thought of going to Mass on Sunday is quickly rationalized away as they are too busy in spite of our life-long modeling of this obligation. I'm thinking a lot about George Carlin lately, and his anger at the hypocrisy of virtually all religions and their practitioners, and about the many other comedians and public figures who at best, respectfully ignore the merits of attempting to live a life of faith. Somehow I believe the church is attempting to preach the Good News in the Worst Way. Sorry. Thanks for letting me vent. Maybe I need to start my own blog about this sort of thing.

phatcatholic said...

I think the key here is to learn more about the Mass and what is truly taking place there. Too many people put too much stock in the homily. If the priest isn't a good preacher, it's enough for them to leave the Church altogether! What they fail to realize is that the most important part of the Mass is not the homily, it is the Eucharist and the "one sacrifice for all" that we offer to the Father. You learn more about that -- as well as the Liturgy of the Word and the various words of the priest and the responses of the faithful -- and I dare say the Mass will take on a whole new meaning and significance in your life.

It's not too late, my friend! Pick up "The Lamb's Supper" by Scott Hahn, and "If Your Mind Wanders at Mass" by Thomas Howard and start reading!! Both books are very accessible to the modern reader and both were very influential in my own conversion from a luke-warm Catholicism to a true passion for my faith.

Good luck to you!

shawn said...

Before anyone attacks. I do admit I know very little about the catholic religion . But I do print bibles and bible study book for all religions. And the catholic versions are the only bibles that have change the 10 commandments. They add another line after removing the second commandment. And they made the last one into 2 to cover for the removal of the second commandment. My wife is catholic and we don't see eye to eye on this . But I tell her from my point and view your church is praying to and idolizing saints. And have and do the doings of a man who is appointed the leader of your religion. Which is against the second commandment. I just was curious why they would think that is right when it is clear not to follow or worship false idol's.

Nicholas Hardesty said...

shawn ... thank you for your comment. To clarify, no one has changed the 10 Commandments. Turn to Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21 in a Protestant bible and then turn to the same passages in a Catholic bible. They read exactly the same. We have the same word of God on the moral law.

What is different is the catechetical tool that we use to teach people these laws. The Commandments are not numbered in the Bible. We have added the numbers and summarized each commandment in order to make them easier for people to remember. So, Catholics number and summarize the Commandments differently than Protestants do. But, that does not mean that we condone idol worship or that we are trying to hide God's word from people.

The reason the Catholic list is different is simply because if God says, "I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other Gods besides me" that obviously means that you shouldn't make idols to worship. Why create a second Commandment that says the same thing as the first? It makes no sense.

Furthermore, Catholics don't worship idols. We don't worship the saints. We don't worship statues of the saints. We simply are not engaged in idol worship. Ever. We respect and honor the saints, but we do not worship them.

As for the pope, obeying his authority is not idol worship because we do not worship the man. Instead, we respect his office and the God-given authority he possesses. For more on the authority of the pope, see my 4-part debate on the subject, which begins here:

http://phatcatholic.blogspot.com/2007/08/peter-first-pope.html

Finally, regarding your tenth commandment, it is broken up into two in our list because coveting your neighbors wife is not the same as coveting your neighbor's goods. Coveting another's wife is lust and adultery. Coveting his goods is greed and envy. The Protestant numbering basically implies that a person's wife is his property. I'm afraid it is YOU that has a lot to answer for!

Anonymous said...

Why do catholic need to pray to Mary or Baby Jesus?

Nicholas Hardesty said...

"Need" is the wrong word to use regarding prayers to Mary. Catholics are not strictly bound or required by Canon Law to pray to Mary. We pray to her because we want to and because we can.

Why do we want to? Because we love her and we know that her prayers are very powerful. We can we? Because death does not separate us from the Body of Christ.

Regarding prayers to the Christ Child, Jesus is God at every stage of His life. Every second of the day He is God. And so, He can be prayed to at any stage in His life.

Of course, we know that He is now a man. He is no longer a child. But sometimes, in prayer, it is helpful to think of Jesus as a Child. For example, one could pray to Christ as child to be with our children, to help each of them to be the kind of child that He was. Children also relate more to Jesus as a child. Surely there is nothing wrong with this.

Nicholas Hardesty said...

*Why* can we ...

Anonymous said...

For sure theres a verse in the Bible that you can only be save if thru Jesus Christ only.... So why need to pray to Mary.... It is useless.... And for sure Jesus will not happy that you are praying to Mary..... And not only to her including all the saints...

Anonymous said...

Exodus 20:4-5 and Mark 3:31-35 a very nice verse.... God bless

Nicholas Hardesty said...

Exodus 20:4-5 is irrelevant b/c it concerns the making of idols to worship, whereas we don't worship statues and we don't make them to be worshiped.

Mark 3:31-35 doesn't really prove anything. Jesus is simply emphasizing the importance of believing in Him.

Anonymous said...

if your church are teaching people to pray to Mary n idols such as the Saints by kneeling down then that is called "Worship"! You do make them for Worship!
Respecting someone does not need for us to kneel down n pray to them bec if u do that is a form of worshipping!

Nicholas Hardesty said...

Anon ... just because you bow or kneel before an object or person, that does not mean you are worshiping that thing. The action has a different meaning depending on the intention for it. We don't intend to worship the statue when we kneel in front of it, therefore we are not worshiping it.

If every bow and kneel constituted worship then you would have to charge a lot of good and holy people from the Bible with idol worship. Lot "bowed himself with his face to the earth" before the angels that visited him in Sodom (Gen 19:1). Joseph's brothers "bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground" when they came to him for food (Gen 42:6). Saul "bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance" before Samuel (1 Sam 28:14). Bathsheba "bowed and did obeisance" to King David (1 Kings 1:16), as did Nathan (vs. 23), Ornan (1 Chron 21:21), and even the entire assembly (1 Chron 29:20). David himself bowed down before the temple of the Lord (Psa 138:2). The sons of the prophets at Jericho "bowed to the ground" before Elisha (2 Kings 2:15). King Nebuchadnezzar "fell upon his face, and did homage" to Daniel, and even commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him! (Dan 2:46). Even Jesus Christ himself will make those of the synagogue of Satan to bow down before the church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:9).

Are all of these people idol worshipers? I kinda doubt it.

Anonymous said...

What can i say.i dont believe in religion.i was a catholic all my life.never found true meaning in it.jesus is the answer.wow how come i never knew jesus as my personal lord and savior.i want to reach out to allcatholics who love jesus to come out of her and worship the one true God.destroy your images and pagan rituals and see the holy spirit is alive.there is salvation outside the church.i know there are good people in it.plz brothers n sisters.open your eyes.join the movement one catholic at a time.look and see how they worship mary its awful how they walk on their knees to pay tribute.with tht alone their worshiping a demon.catholic means many pagan religions mixed into one with christianity at its lead!!

Nicholas Hardesty said...

Anon ... I'm afraid you never really knew the Church that you left. Everything you said here about Catholicism is false and can be easily disproven.

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

My goodness, so much ignorance about the Catholic Church... Only the Devil himself could be behind this sheer mass of misinformation and the willingness so many people have to accept it.

Anonymous said...

first it doesnt matter if the Catholic religion is universal because the worship is the same no matter what. ethnicity doesnt define a religion. belief, practice and worship does. with that being said the Roman Catholics did kill Jesus. thats why Jesus on numerous accounts called out those priests and pharises when they questioned Jesus about how he handled his disciples and how he performed miracles on the Sabbath. Jesus told them how they did things according to tradition but ignored his teachings and he brought out to them how their father was wicked because they worshiped other Gods which was Gods very first commandment. its no different now. look at the different idols worshipped by the Catholics. its clear they practice this same act to this day. kneeling down or bowing to an idol is worship. its the very same thing the Israelites did that caused them to lose Gods favor

Nicholas Hardesty said...

Anon ... How could the Catholic Church have killed Jesus if it didn't exist yet? The priests and pharisees who played a role in putting Him to death were JEWS, not Catholics. How is this not blatantly obvious? As for the "idol worship" charge, I already responded to that in my previous comments. You need to go back and read them.

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