In a four part series at The Christian Post (blog), entitled ‘Why I am not a Catholic’, by Michael Greiner, a preacher and blogger from Western, PA, embodies the latter. It embodies everything that you hear from both former Catholics who left the Church because ‘they discovered the truth of the Bible’, and from Protestants who ‘know the truth of the Bible’ and reject the Catholic Church. What these arguments of Greiner don’t gloss over is the arguments of those who left the Catholic Church because they couldn’t get a divorce, or get re-married, or because they couldn’t believe priests could fall into sinful acts, or other excuses contrary to the graces of humility and fortitude.
I’m just going to offer a snippet of Greiner’s crux of the matter in each of his four posts and briefly comment on them. I encourage you to actually read his excuses and discern the real reason why he is no longer a Catholic, and I also deeply encourage you to offer prayer and sacrifice for him that God to fill him with the humility and understanding he needs to come back home. Offer a decade or an entire Rosary for our Mother’s intercession in his journey home. This article is not an apologetic defense of his series, because what a insurance adjuster doesn’t do with a car that has been totaled is try to repair it. Similarly, there is ho hope for Greiner’s bad Catholic theology. All I could do here was suggest reading for a better understand of what we actually believe. I think that if he actually knew what he wasn’t Catholic, he’d become Catholic. I think those are the same conclusions that Randy arrived at with his response to Greiner in Why Michael Greiner Is Not Catholic (Yet!)
Why I am not a Catholic, Part One:
In Part One Greiner glosses over his upbringing as a cradle Catholic (one born into the faith). He says his entire family is Catholic, but that they hardly ever went to Mass, until he turned twelve when they went every week at the unction of his father, but that only lasted for a year. In this part he gives credit to an experience after Mass that happened when he was 17, after he left home – it was Christmas eve:
I remember going to church, but this time, I really wanted to hear from God. I don’t know why. I just did. My girlfriend and I found a church (I had never been to one in the area we were living before) and parked my car there and went inside. I was under dressed. This was because I didn’t own any “dress up” clothes. I had left home on less than good terms and didn’t take much with me. My usual clothing consisted of Levi’s and a Van Halen T-shirt.
But what struck me that night wasn’t the way people were dressed, but rather how bored they all looked. Here I was looking for God, and very conscious of the fact that I was an “outsider” in their church community. They were insiders, dressed nicely, and looked tired and bored and as if they were going through motions. After about a half hour of this, I found myself becoming angry. What was I doing here? I said to my girl-friend, “Let’s get out of here.” We went back to my car, but couldn’t leave. The parking lot was so full that I had to stay until after the Mass so everyone else could come out and move their cars. We stayed in the car.
You wouldn’t believe how common it is to hear a story just like this from former Catholics; that they went to a Mass one day and felt some kind of way that they didn’t like, and because of that they broke communion with the Catholic Church. What they never can tell you, if you ask them, is the true source of feeling they felt, or even whether they took the time to truly discern and test whether that feeling was rooted in God’s grace or in Satan’s machinations.
The other common element of Greiner’s introductory story is that he admits that he was not educated in the faith. He says that he spent some months during that year of regular Mass attendance when he was 12 – leading up to his confirmation, by attending Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes, which are geared towards school age children to learn the ‘basic’ doctrines of the faith. It was then that he says he learned that the ‘wafer’ served at Mass is the Body of Christ.
So, you know how this story goes from here right? We’ve all heard it before from cradle Catholics. Mr. Michael Greiner is going to take the Catholic education he received at twelve years old, along with a uncomfortable feeling he had at a mass one day, and realize that it is all wrong when he ‘discovers’ the truth of the Bible.
“Do you know why I came back to the Roman Catholic Church?” he asked. “No,” I replied (but you are going to tell me, aren’t you?). “It was because of the Eucharist. It is there that I truly commune with Jesus.” For those not initiated in Catholic tradition, the Eucharist comes form the Greek word for grace. It would translate, loosely, the gift, or the gracious gift, thankfully received. That is what Catholic’s call “the Lord’s Supper.”
Being as tactful as I am, I said, “Thanks, but I don’t do wafer worship.” He kept his powder dry and said, “It isn’t wafer worship, it is…..blah, blah, ….whatever.” I prayed, “Please have the DMV call one of us away.” The discussion ended politely when one of us had to go. He recommended a book to me that I still have not read (“Rome Sweet Home” or something like that –crazy, in the Bible, Rome represents the evil Empire and Jerusalem the good city….but that’s neither here nor there).
The Catholic church taught me that when I took communion I was consuming the actual body of Christ (we rarely got the body and the blood, wine was only for sometimes). This was a sacrament. In other words, “grace” came through taking it. By taking the Eucharist, or the Communion, I was receiving Christ regularly, and regularly receiving grace and forgiveness. In fact, I was sinning when I missed Mass (Catholic for “church service”), because I was neglecting the Lord’s body.
The Catholic conception of the Eucharist is a blasphemous abomination, and it is wafer worship. Why do I say that? The liturgical Mass portrays an altar, where Christ’s crucifixion is reenacted. But this is not merely symbolic. The Priest has the power to transform, through the Mass, the bread and wine into the body of Christ. God forbids this. In Hebrews, we see that Christ was crucified once, for all. It is blasphemous to suggest that this is an on going event (See Hebrews for more, esp 6:6).
It’s so difficult to know where to start with Greiner’s twelve year old understanding of Catholic theology. It’s so troubling to hear that an adult wouldn’t take the time to better understand what his Church actually teaches before he condemns it. It would be like you selling your brand new car for one dollar because the engine wouldn’t start one day. You thought it was broke, but turns out that it didn’t start because you didn’t put gas in it. That’s Michael Greiner’s story.
For a more in depth understanding of what the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is please read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You can also check these links on my blog:
- Proofs of the Catholic Church – #4 : The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the New Covenant Seder/Passover Meal
- Proofs of the Catholic Church – #5: It all Stands or Falls on John 6
- How the Ascension of Lord and the Holy Eucharist are Dependent on Each Other
- On the Feast of Corpus Christi and Pickle Farming
Why I am not a Catholic, Part Three (The Heart of the Matter):
Greiner starts off this part with the usual mishmash about the sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church being what Jesus condemned the Pharisees of. I found it really funny while reading this series that for a guy who condemns the Pope (the Bishop of Rome), Michael is sure doing a good job setting himself up as his own pope. Worse than his understanding of the Holy Eucharist, is Greiner’s understanding of what we as Catholic believe about divine revelation.
THIS IS exactly why I am not a Catholic. The Catholics have the Bible and that is good. I Learned to respect the Bible through the Catholic Church. But they also elevate the traditions of popes to equality with Scripture in their authority. They believe the worshiper is not responsible to understand and choose the Bible over Roman tradition, rather the worshiper must trust the church to interpret the Bible for him. In other words, he must trust the authority of the men of Rome over the plain teaching of the Bible.
As I wrote in my book, ‘Dead on Arrival: the Seven Fatal Errors of Sola Scriptura’, “The Catholic Church, being the true Church of Christ, founded by the Apostles themselves, never needs to defend why She believes in two distinct modes of transmission of divine revelation; those being: (1) Sacred Scripture, which is “the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit” (Dei Verdum 9); and (2) Sacred Tradition, which consists of what the Apostles themselves received from Jesus’ teaching and example and handed on to us through their successors, as well as what they learned from the Holy Spirit. Neither does the Protestant religion (if there is such a homogeneous thing) need to defend why, as a postbiblica religion, it believes in the sole authority of the Bible. That is, it is understandable why the Catholic Church, as a prebiblica religion, does not rely on sacred Scripture-alone as its only source of truth, but why Protestants, whose religion was started with the Bible in hand, insist on being strictly a people of the book.”
For a clear understanding of what we believe as the Church who actually wrote, preserved, protected, propagated, and canonized the Bible about Divine Revelation and our interpreation and relationship with it as a people a God, just read Dei Verdum (The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation).
Why I am not a Catholic, Part Four (Final Part, and Why it Matters):
In this final part Mr. Michael Greiner begins frothing at the mouth as his type usually does, while launching into the typical rants and lies against the city of Rome, the Bishop of Rome, some claim that the Church hid the Bible from people, and calls for the Pope to repent. Well, just read the snippet for yourself:
And so the Bible, which leads people to truth and salvation, has been kept from the people by Rome when it suited them. What is to stop the same from happening if Rome had a mind for it? When will Rome repent and say, “We were wrong?” When will they say, “We were wrong for saying that the Bible needed to be in Latin, and not in the language of the people?” History tells the story of who Rome is today. We must look at the big picture. Repentance must look at the big picture, because little has changed in the system of ancient authority.
Every teaching of Rome is suspect and subject to biblical scrutiny. Paul told us that we were to hold to the gospel that he preached, and oppose any who brought another gospel. Paul’s gospel is in the New Testament. What has Paul’s gospel got to do with a “Queen of heaven” and praying to her (yes, it is praying – at least if you define praying as talking to someone in heaven who hears but doesn’t talk back to your human ear)? What has Paul’s gospel got to do with the endless recitation of “Hail Mary’s?”
Ok, so we moved on from a twelve year old’s understanding of Catholic theology to a kindergartner’s understanding of Church history and Biblical history. I actually have to take a moment here to apologize to all twelve year olds, because my youngest daughter is twelve and never attended CCD – was just taught the faith by me and has a better grasp on it than this guy.
Notwithstanding whether Greiner is actually smarter than a fifth grader, the question remains how much does he really think of himself as his own pope? Does he actually believe the Church who God called to put the Bible together doesn’t actually believe it? Does he actually think that the Church who protected and preserved the Bible for nearly three hundred years before it was canonnized actually not understand it better than some guys who took seven books out of it about five hundred years ago? Doesn’t Greiner realize that all the Churches he’s read about in our Bible and the Churches that St. Paul started is the same Church that began calling itself the Catholic Church as early as 107 A.D.? Does arrogance and pride know no limit?
Mr. Michael Greiner, the problem isn’t the Catholic Church or what we have believed for nearly the past 2,000 years, the problem is you and the personal issues that you are dealing with; namely the spirits of rebellion, pride, and arrogance. Christ Jesus has given you the Catholic Church as a gift, and has preserved it for you for 2,000 years; even in the midst of an entire world attacking it within and without. In the midst of over 30,000 Protestant denominations teaching over 30,000 doctrines, can’t you see the miracle and beauty of one Catholic Church, one faith, one Lord, one Baptism, and one God? The first grace I had to pray for during my conversion to the Catholic Church was the grace of humility. Humility allows us to live Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.” i encourage you to do the same.
We are all praying for you to return home :). Blessings and Shalom