Don’t Follow Peter Because of Judas?
The Catholic Church is one of the largest unified religious institutions in the world and is comprised of more than half of the people who identify as Christian. They claim unbroken succession from the current Pope back to the Apostle Peter. It seems inevitable that over the course of 2000 years, scandalous people will emerge. How could they not in such a long-standing institution?
But regardless of size or history, you will find imperfect people in all religious groups. One of the original twelve Apostles betrayed Christ, one denied him and nine others fled after his arrest. Only John remained with Christ at the foot of the cross. None-the-less, these imperfect men became the early church fathers appointed by Christ to spread Christianity far and wide. If God didn’t choose to work through imperfect people, He wouldn’t have a lot to work with.
As Jimmy Akin posits in the below video, no church is without sinners and it’s not the moral failings of some, but overall the teachings as a whole that should be evaluated. Will there be Judases who betray Christ? Yes. Will there be Peters who deny Christ and then repent? Yes. But that does not negate Christ’s promise that he would build his Church and that the “gates of hell will not prevail against” it? He didn’t promise that church leaders wouldn’t sometimes fail. He promised to protect his Church until the end of time.
There is some really good scholarship on the history of our imperfect church, but there is also a lot of flawed propaganda. My hope is that academically rigorous sources are consulted when people are investigating popular claims and making decisions that impact their eternal fate.
Seven Lies About Catholic History: The following is an interview of Dr. Diane Moczar who is a historian, author, and college professor. Dr. Moczar debunks revisionist history using research from non-Catholic historians. She exposes the propaganda we have heard over and over by the enemies of the Church. Misrepresentations that have been told so loud and so often that people just accept it as truth without ever doing any true research. This is a must listen to for those interested in history.
Keeping the Faith: Scandals in the Church: With all the scandals in the church it’s easy to become discouraged. Remember one of the original twelve was a traitor. Remember that Catholic priests don’t offend at a higher rate than the general population and actually offend at a lower rate than clergy of other denominations. Remember that most offenders were once victims themselves. Remember to pray for all religious (Catholic and non-Catholic alike) as the devil knows that tempting one leader to stray will steal away a large number of souls from God.
Scandals Caused Me to Leave the Church: Catholic Answers live addresses a caller’s concern about scandals in the Catholic Church. What percent of Church leaders do you think are corrupt? Remember that even 16% of the Apostles betrayed Jesus. The Catholic Church is the largest single religious institution in the world, inevitably you will find imperfect people here (as in all religious institutions). The devil hates the church. he’s going to continue to attack us and some will continue to fail. Jesus promised that he would build his Church on Peter and that the “gates of hell will not prevail against” it. The only church that can trace its lineage back to that promise that Jesus made is the Catholic church. It’s not the moral failings of some, but overall the teachings as a whole that should be evaluated. Will there be Judases? Yes. Will there be Peters who fail and then repent? Yes, there always will be, but that does negate Christ’s promises to protect the church as a whole.
What About the Bad Popes: Catholic Answers live addresses the bad popes of history showing that in the history of the church we’ve had over 265 popes and 99% of them have been solid, scholarly, saintly men of God.
Why do you think that the Catholic church gets so much press on the bad stories? Why do you think we get singled out? Bishop Peter Christianson of Idaho believes that it’s more than just the fact that we are the world’s largest religious institution. It is in part because if you can weaken in the minds of people who the Church is… a Church who can teach with authority granted by Jesus on morals.. a Church with strong chain of leadership that has gone unbroken for more than 2000 years… then it eases the consciences those who do not want to bend a knee to God or live conscientiously with a set of inconvenient morals.
Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners (Mark 2:13-17)
13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Bearing False Witness by Rodney Stark: Highly regarded scholar and religious sociologist, Rodney Stark shows:
Instead of the Spanish Inquisition being an anomaly of torture and murder of innocent people persecuted for “imaginary” crimes such as witchcraft and blasphemy, Stark argues that not only did the Spanish Inquisition spill very little blood, but it was a major force in support of moderation and justice.
Instead of Pope Pius XII being apathetic or even helpful to the Nazi movement, such as to merit the title, “Hitler’s Pope,” Stark shows that the campaign to link Pope Pius XII to Hitler was initiated by the Soviet Union, presumably in hopes of neutralizing the Vatican in post-World War II affairs. Pope Pius XII was widely praised for his vigorous and devoted efforts to saving Jewish lives during the war.
Instead of the Dark Ages being understood as a millennium of ignorance and backwardness inspired by the Catholic Church’s power, Stark argues that the whole notion of the “Dark Ages” was an act of pride perpetuated by anti-religious intellectuals who were determined to claim that theirs was the era of “Enlightenment.”
Seven Lies About Catholic History: Infamous Myths about the Church’s Past and How to Answer them by Dr. Diane Moczar.
Religionless Spirituality: Dr. Tim Gray explains why “spiritual but not religious” falls short when viewed in light of what Jesus said in scripture. As part of this audio, he has a great section on why it makes no sense leave the Church just because there are sinners in it. Using historical examples and scripture passages, he makes a strong case for drawing near to the Church regardless of its imperfect members.
Newsweek: Priests Commit No More Abuse Than Other Males or Other Clergy: The Catholic sex-abuse stories emerging every day suggest that Catholics have a much bigger problem with child molestation than other denominations and the general population. Since the mid-1980s, insurance companies have offered sexual misconduct coverage as a rider on liability insurance, and their own studies indicate that Catholic churches are not higher risk than other congregations. More here: http://www.newsweek.com/priests-commit-no-more-abuse-other-males-70625
And What About Wealth and Charity?
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Is there a concise way to respond to criticisms of the Church’s Wealth
Extravagant Lifestyles of Mega Pastors to be Exposed by Richard Dawkins Foundation