"But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. " (2 Cor 11:3-4).The houses in my town were recently pamphleted by a local Baptist congregation. The anonymous "missionary" left a Jack Chick tract and a copy of his church's newsletter on every door, including mine. In response, my husband and I sent his church some Catholic apologetics booklets and pamphlets. I also read the newsletter he left, to find out what his congregation believes.
One of the articles in the newsletter, entitled "Cult or Denomination?", states that the above verse (2 Cor 11:3-4) is a God-given litmus test for discerning a "cult". It argues that any religion - even the big ones like Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism - which preaches "another Jesus", has "another spirit" and presents "another gospel" is a cult (a highly questionable use of the word cult, which generally refers to a new, small religious sect, not a millenia-old world religion!).
The article goes on to state the following:
"Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox claim to worship the Biblical Jesus but in practice turn Him into a wafer god worshipped and eaten by 'the faithful'. Thus dispensed of, He is largely replaced in practice by a pagan goddess called the Virgin Mary who becomes the advocate, mediator and comforter"The articles Is Marian Devotion Pagan? and "Mariolatry"??? refute the charge that the Virgin Mary is a "pagan goddess" whom Catholics "worship". So the present article will focus on the "another Jesus" argument.
Errors About the Orthodox
I should begin by pointing out that the anonymous author of this article manifests a basic ignorance of Eastern Orthodoxy. Although our Eastern separated brethern share our belief that the Eucharist is Christ's true Body and Blood, they do not use an unleavened host ("wafer", as he puts it) in the Sacrament. Instead, they use a small loaf of leavened ("raised") bread, to signify the fact that Jesus has risen. Nor do they have a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament outside of the Divine Liturgy; they usually do not keep and venerate It in a tabernacle or display It in a monstrance, as Catholics do. So if anything, they could hardly be accused of worshipping a "wafer"
Also, although Orthodox Christians do consider the Theotokos (Mother of God) an intercessor, they don't generally call her a "Mediatrix". In fact some of them even object to that term! That's yet another factual error in just that short section of the article. This Baptist author criticizes the Eastern Orthodox without even knowing what he's criticizing! If he's got that wrong, what else does he get wrong? A lot, as we shall see.
"Wafer god"??? Try Christ the Living Bread!
In fact, the Baptist author is right on only one thing: we Catholics do adore the Blessed Sacrament - not as a "wafer god", though, but as Jesus Christ! For Jesus Himself said that It is His Body and Blood:
And as they were eating, He took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is My body." And he took a cup, and when He had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And He said to them, "This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many". -Mark 14:22-24Jesus says "This is My Body". Not "This symbolizes my body", or "This represents my body", or "This is an emblem of my body", or even "This contains my body". No, He said "This IS My Body", and since He is God whatever He speaks becomes so: "So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10-11).
If God Incarnate picks up a piece of bread and proclaims "This is My Body" it becomes His Body! Whether we can understand how it happens or not doesn't matter. We cannot understand how God created the universe out of nothing, but we believe it because the Bible says He did (Gen 1:1). So why can't we believe that the same God can change bread into His Body and Blood? We must take God at His word.
Jesus said to them: "I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." (John 6:48-52)Here He says "I AM the living Bread"; not "My word is the living bread", not "Your belief in Me is the living bread". Then He says that the bread He will give is His Flesh! He does not say "The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My written word". He says that the living bread, the Bread of Life, is His Flesh! Catholics take Jesus on His word here.
Then Our Lord gets even more explicit:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." (John 6:54-59)Jesus could not have been speaking symbolically here, for His listeners took him literally and left, but He never corrected their literal interpretation. He let them go, then turned to His apostles and said "Will you also go away?" Surely, if they misunderstood, He would have corrected them as He had earlier corrected Nicodemus (John 3:3-8) and the Samaritan Woman (John 4:10-14) when they misunderstood His words. The fact that He did not correct anyone in this case shows that those who left understood Him, but could not accept it (John 6:60).
Another reason why He could not have meant it figuratively is that, in that culture, the term "to eat ones flesh" figuratively means slandering or falsely accusing someone (see Psalm 27:2). Was Jesus saying "He who slanders me will have eternal life"? Of course not! So He must be speaking literally; He wants Christians to partake of His Risen Body and Blood, so that we might abide in Him and He in us (vs 57). This is how we become one Body in Him and with Him:
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (I Cor 10:16-17)The Bible says that the Eucharist is a "participation" in the Body and Blood of Christ! How can that be if it's "just a symbol"? You cannot actually participate in something by partaking of a mere symbol of it, and not the real thing. And how can a mere symbol of Jesus' Body actually make us one Body in Him? The "symbolic" interpretation of the Eucharist is anti-biblical!
How about this verse: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (I Cor 11:27). If Jesus Body and Blood are not truly present then we cannot become "guilty of profaning His Body and Blood" by receiving Communion unworthily. But if the Eucharist is truly Jesus' Body and Blood, then receiving Him unworthily is definitely a profanation! Some of the Corinthians were getting sick and dying (vs. 30) because they were receiving Jesus' Body and Blood unworthily, not because they were receiving mere symbols unworthily.
Or how about this one: "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body" (I Cor 11:29). This verse is self-explanatory. Christians must discern the Lord's Body in the Eucharist. We must recognize Him in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:35).
An honest reading of all the verses regarding Communion proves that the Bible teaches that the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus. Nowhere does the Bible say "the bread we break is just a symbol" or "the bread and wine are emblems of His Body and Blood". That's an unbiblical, anti-biblical heresy fabricated by Ulrich Zwingli less than five centuries ago! Christians before then believed the Scriptural truth that Jesus Christ is truly, objectively present in the Blessed Sacrament.
And if He is truly present then He can be worshipped! When Catholics adore the Blessed Sacrament we do not intend to worship a "wafer", we intend to worship Jesus Christ Who is truly present there, even as He said. The author of that article does not know it, but what he scornfully calls a "wafer god" is the true Jesus of the Bible whom he claims is his Savior! The Bible tells us so.
If only he were Catholic, he would know the same intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ which we Catholics enjoy in Holy Communion. By rejecting Mother Church He deprives Himself of the Eucharistic Lord. How tragic!
The "Catholic Jesus" is the Real Jesus!
Of course, we do not worship Christ only in the Blessed Sacrament. That is one of many ways in which He manifests Himself to His Church. The Baptist author believes that Catholics reduce Jesus to a mere "wafer" in order to "dispense with" Him so that we can all go worship Mary instead. Practicing Catholics will recognize how ridiculous that characature is! It ignores numerous Christ-centered devotions such as the Stations of the Cross and the Sacred Heart, and the fact that the Mass, which is the center of our Faith and focal point of our worship, is offered to God, not Mary!
The author of the article ignores the fact that Catholicism predates Protestantism, and that the so-called "reformers" learned about Jesus from the Catholic Church. So if we don't have the true Jesus, then neither do the Protestants! In fact, since we are the original Church, which can trace its history back to the Apostles themselves, if we don't know the true Jesus then no one knows the true Jesus!
Protestantism derived all its truths from Catholicism; indeed, its entire existence is dependent upon the Church. Even many hymns which Protestants sing at their worship services are Catholic in origin. Take for instance "All Creatures of Our God and King", a popular one among Protestants, which is based on St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of Brother Sun. If an anti-Catholic who holds to the "another Jesus" theory wants to be consistent, he should stop singing "All Creatures of Our God and King" from now on, because it praises the "Catholic Jesus"!
Of course, that would be foolish and unnecessary, since the "Catholic Jesus" is the same one worshipped by other Christians!
Anti-Catholics who think otherwise conveniently forget that Catholics read the same New Testament as Protestants do. Every day at Mass we read from the same Gospels they accept; we listen to and believe in the same accounts of the life of Christ on which they base their belief in Jesus. The Jesus we revere is the Jesus spoken of in those Gospels. If we don't have the right Jesus then neither do the four Gospels!
What precisely do Catholics believe about Jesus Christ? It's summed up in our creeds. Here, for instance, is what the Apostles' Creed tells us about Jesus:
I believe...in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,The Eastern Orthodox accept this Creed, too; as do many mainline Protestants. Even those Evangelicals who are opposed to creeds probably would not disagree with what it states about Our Lord. It is an accurate summary of the New Testament teaching on Christ, and all of its assertions can be backed up with Bible verses (see: I Cor 8:6; John 3:18; Matt 1:18; Luke 2:7; John 19:16; Eph 4:9; 1 Cor 15:3-4; Luke 24:51; Col 3:1; 2 Tim 4:1).
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
So Catholics and Orthodox basically believe the same thing about Jesus that mainline Protestants and Evangelicals do. Our beliefs, as expressed in the Apostles' Creed, are firmly rooted in the Bible. So how could anyone say that we worship "another Jesus"?
One of the few areas where Catholics and Protestants differ would be on Christ's Presence in the Eucharist As we have seen, however, the Bible teaches that the Blessed Sacrament is Jesus' true Body and Blood, which is the Catholic position. So if Catholics have the "wrong Jesus" on that account, so does the Bible!
Do you see how ludicrous this argument gets, when taken to its logical conclusion? It ends up completely undermining Christianity and the Bible. Anti-Catholics who believe it are unknowingly sawing off the limb on which their own faith sits!
Who Is this "Other Jesus"?
When St. Paul speaks of those who will preach "another Jesus", he is referring to the early proponents of a movement which later became known as Gnosticism. One of the earliest heresies, it taught that Jesus did not really become incarnate, but only seemed to have a human body (a notion later called "Docetism").
This is the same heresy which St. John warned against, saying, "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist" (2 John 7). The first pope, St. Peter, condemned it saying "There shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them" (2 Peter 2:1).
Elsewhere, St. John mentions another heretical view of Jesus: "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is the antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son" (I John 2:22). This is the "other Jesus" which St. Paul warns against; the "Jesus" of the heretics, who did not come in the flesh, who is not the Messiah.
Does the Catholic Church teach this "Jesus"? Certainly not! The Apostles' Creed calls him "Jesus Christ", thus affirming that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah, and states that He was "born of the Virgin Mary". The Nicene Creed is even more explicit: "For us men and for our salvation (Jesus) came down from heaven, and became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man"!
This is what the Catholic Church teaches! Sadly, this is not what all Evangelicals teach. Many of them do believe that Jesus took flesh of the Virgin Mary, thus becoming a true son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1) and member of the human race. But others have come to believe that Jesus' humanity was created by God in heaven and then implanted in the Virgin Mary, so that Jesus was born "through" Mary, but not of her substance.
This unscriptural notion is soundly, biblically refuted in the article Mother of God (see answer to Objection #4). But here is the sad irony: the belief that Jesus' humanity was created by God, distinct from the rest of humanity, is a modified form of Docetism first taught by a Gnostic heretic called Valentius. Scripture condemns the Docetic heresy, saying that those who believe in it are "deceivers" and "the antichrist" (2 John 7). This indicates that anyone who believes that Jesus did not derive His humanity from Mary may very well be worshipping "another Jesus"!
So while Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and many Protestants and Evangelicals do worship the true Jesus, this may not be true of all within the Evangelical/Fundamentalist camp. I don't know whether the Baptist author falls into that category; I hope not!
In conclusion, the Catholic Church most certainly does preach and worship the true Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man. The "another Jesus" argument used by some anti-Catholics is patently absurd.
| Back: Things Catholics Don't Believe | Next: Eternal Sonship | Apologetics Index | Site Index | Home Page |