Most Christians who choose a denomination other than the Catholic Church are typically acting out of a desire for freedom. That’s understandable, since freedom is one of the deepest longings of the human heart. We must be free in order to be happy. But are these individuals really gaining freedom or have they been deceived?
The truth is, if you believe that Christ is your Saviour, your only logical choice is to adhere to what He is currently teaching (and has always taught) through His Catholic Church. Just continue reading and decide for yourself.
Few Christians would question that Christ ordered his disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to make more disciples. But what Gospel is to be preached? There are so many variations: Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, United, Mennonites, Baptists, etc. There are about 30,000 Christian denominations, despite the fact that Jesus wanted us to be one. It’s a shame, but it’s true. There’s only one Bible, but so many different interpretations. Who’s right? Who to believe?
It’s important to remember that Christ explicitly delegated His teaching authority to humans. Not just to the Twelve, but also to the Seventy. He told them: “Whoever listens to you listens to me” (Luke 10:16). Notice how Christ makes no distinction between His preaching and theirs. When they preach, it’s as if Christ Himself was speaking. Even Judas, who betrayed Jesus and committed suicide, was part of this group that was given infallible teaching authority. The same is true of Peter the denier and Thomas the doubter.
But how could their teaching be as good as Christ’s when humans are so prone to blunders? Quite simply because the accuracy of the teaching rested on the power of God, not human capabilities.
So what happened to this infallible teaching authority over the centuries? Did it disappear? Just consider this: Jesus spent His life preaching a Gospel that brings us eternal salvation. This Gospel was of the utmost importance to Him and for us. He died for it. Wouldn’t an all-intelligent and all-loving God find a way to make sure that this Gospel could be taught accurately to future generations? Having the New Testament helps because it provides a written record. But it’s clearly not enough given the huge variety of contradictory interpretations of Scripture. If they’re contradictory, they can’t all be right. That’s not logical. In fact, even the New Testament explains that reading Scripture is not enough and that you need the proper interpretation to understand it. Remember the Ethiopian eunuch?
Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it.’ So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:
‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.’
The eunuch asked Philip, ‘About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8: 27:35)
Philip, pushed by the Holy Spirit and endowed with the teaching authority of Christ, asked the Ethiopian if he understood the Scripture passage. Why? Because he knew that Scripture can be difficult to understand and the reader could arrive at false interpretations or misunderstandings. The responses and questions of the Ethiopian confirm that he wasn’t clear on the interpretation. This isn’t rocket science, folks. It’s just plain logic. As was eloquently explained by theologian Frank Sheed:
It is not enough to have Our Lord’s words; the words themselves can be only a kind of talisman without the meaning. Without a teacher — to tell us, beyond the possibility of error, which of the various meanings is Christ’s — we should have no revelation but only an ever-growing pile of conundrums. Either there is a teacher now teaching upon earth, guaranteed by Christ as the Apostles were, or there is no possibility of knowing the truth which he saw to be so essential. (Source: Theology for Beginners, p. 118)
Don’t you think it would’ve been dumb or even cruel for God not to ensure that the proper interpretation of the means of our salvation could be accurately taught through the centuries? It would be illogical for an all-intelligent and all-loving God to leave humanity alone to quarrel over the meaning of the Bible, with the risk of even losing the original meaning intended by Christ. Given that Jesus gave the Twelve and the Seventy a power to teach infallibly in His name, is it so hard to believe that He would continue to provide this power to the successors of the Apostles until today? Isn’t that the only logical conclusion? Of course!
The question then becomes: where does this infallible teaching authority reside? St. Paul says that the Church is the “pillar and bulwark of truth” (1 Tim 3:15). But which church was he referring to? That’s easy. There’s only one Church that has been in existence for the entire 2,000 years since Christ: the Catholic Church. Read the history books and you’ll find that every other church appeared much, much later in history, most of them in the last couple of centuries. They were born as splinter groups of the Catholic Church because they decided to deviate from the consistent teaching that had been proclaimed always and everywhere since the Apostles. Not a wise move, if you’re interested in what Christ really taught.
Since the beginning, the Catholic Church has been struggling with individuals or groups that have distorted Christ’s teaching. Read Acts 15 where the Apostles gathered in Jerusalem to discuss false teaching that was being spread among the early Christians about the need to be circumcised and follow other Jewish practices. Likewise, Paul denounces “false apostles” in 1 Cor 11; he complains about “false believers” in Galatians 2; he laments “powerful delusions” leading people astray in 2 Thessalonians 2. As I explained in an earlier post, this antagonism between the legitimate teachers of the real Gospel and the proponents of false teaching continued in the early centuries of the Church. As early as 180 AD, we read that the immediate successors of the Apostles were recognized as having the same authority as the Apostles, and that the Church of Rome was considered the highest authority. Any other teaching was considered a distortion of what Christ meant.
Nothing has changed in 2,000 years. That same teaching authority established by Christ has continued to preach the real Gospel for our benefit, while others have deviated from this teaching and have therefore estranged themselves from what Christ really taught.
It’s true that there have been a few really bad Popes over the centuries. There have also been lots of corrupt bishops and priests. Their lives were very inconsistent with the Gospel. But the miraculous thing is that none of them ever modified official Church teaching to accommodate their decadent lifestyle. In fact, none of the Popes over 2,000 years has ever implemented a new teaching on faith and morals that contradicted earlier teaching. None. Thanks be to God for the consistency of the Holy Spirit, who deserves all the credit for the continuity of the Church’s teaching! Just like in the case of Judas, the Holy Spirit won’t let the vices of individuals lead to distortions of the Gospel message upon which hinges the salvation of humanity.
If you’re an intelligent Christian, you want the real deal, the real Gospel, not some counterfeit or distortion. You want to believe and follow what Christ really taught. The only place to find this is in the Catholic Church, which God created and sustained so that you could enjoy the fullness of the truth of the Gospel. This isn’t a mindless servitude or submission to a man-made institution. It’s the only rational choice for any smart person who wants the real McCoy.