Thursday, June 19, 2008

Catholic Cult Revisited

In our comments, a commenter named Fruit of the Spirit stated that Catholicism is a cult. I referred her to my previous post, where I discuss the criteria for using the term "cult" and concluded that the Catholic Church does not meet that criteria. I asked why she felt we did merit the term. While she did not respond in comments, she did respond on her blog. Fruit of the Spirit has not let me comment on her blog previously, so I decided to respond here.

Here are her criteria:
1: formal religious veneration : worship

2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents

3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents

4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator cults>

5 a: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b: the object of such devotion c: a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion.

The problem is that these criteria are so vague that all but numbers 3 and 4 could relate to almost any religion.

For example, Baptists gather for formal worship on Sundays(#1), they have a system of religious beliefs and ritual (i.e., baptism and the Lord's Supper) (#2). They have a great devotion to the person of Jesus, and to a book (the Bible)(#5). Some also practice the laying on of hands, as a system for the cure of disease(#4).

Apart from a few small groups of Christians, Catholicism is not considered unorthodox because it does not depart from historic Christianity. We do not believe that Jesus was just a wise prophet, but not God, for example. Nor do we deny the Virgin Birth, or the physical Resurrection of Jesus. These basics of Christianity are what are generally referred to as "orthodox" Christianity. In addition, many of our "unorthodox" beliefs are shared by other branches of Christianity, such as the Orthodox churches, the Anglican church, and some branches of the Lutheran church.

Fruit of the Spirit lists several doctrines or practices that she seems to feel are contrary to Scripture, but which we share with other churches.

bow down to idols in the form of statues - The Orthodox churches contain Icons, and some Anglican and Lutheran churches also contain statues.

infant baptism - This is extremely wide-spread in Christianity.

petition & pray to saints - See the Orthodox churches.

petition & pray to angels - See the Orthodox churches.

say repetitious prayers - I would say this is also extremely wide-spread in Christianity. Besides the "big three" of Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran, many churches say the Lord's Prayer every Sunday. I have attended a Methodist church where they said the Doxology and the Nicene Creed every Sunday.

practice of rituals - Again, I think everyone is implicated here. Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Marriage are all rituals.

believe the catholic holy bible is the true word of God - The Catholic Bible is used by more than the Catholic Church. Even the Amish include those "extra" books. And if you think we have a lot, the Ethiopian Church uses an Old Testament which contains 52 books!

the act of confession - The Orthodox churches also practice confession, and some Anglicans and Lutherans use a form of aural confession, which is what is usually meant by this.

My point here, is that I'm not sure why we are a cult, and the Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans are not. Many of our "unorthodox" beliefs are shared by the majority of Christians.

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Tracy said...

Very graciously said Kelly:)

Anonymous said...

infant baptism - I understood that to be the majority view too

believe the catholic holy bible is the true word of God - surely that could be applied to "KJV only-ism"

unknown said...

Wow, I went tho the site and read her post. I am not Catholic and still found it rude and offensive. I'm sorry people feel the need to attack non-Catholics. One thing that I found especially offensive was the part about children being molested. This goes on just as much in Protestant (see I've learned something) organizations as Catholic. I really feel it's just being hidden better but there are many articles out there proving it happens. My question is always the same when I read stuff about Catholics, if you truly believe Catholics are hell-bound why can you not lovingly speak to them instead of the arrogant and rude bashing that you do? That causes no one to want to know you or your god.

angie said...

catthief- my thoughts on the child molestations is this- I'm totally horrified that any priest would do such a thing. Predators are going to put themselves in positions of trust to get access to children, and that includes pastors in other churches, teachers, coaches, boy scout leaders, etc. The stories about Catholic priests hit the front page, and the other stories are found buried in the metro section of your newspaper. Thank God Pope Benedict is now addressing this with candidates for priesthood.

unknown anon said...

Here's the thing about the priest abuse scandals. If you actually read the reporting, you will find that the vast majority of cases now coming out are from before the mid-1980's. There are a lot of reasons for that, but be aware that it's not just in the last five years that the Church has been approaching these problems differently than in the past. Careful research will show that there are VERY few current cases, and when one does pop up, it is handled much differently than the way ALL sex crimes were handled in the past.

In fact, you will find that most cases of clerical abuse of children is now occurring in independent Protestant congregations, where there is less accountability.