ARE PROTESTANTS CATHOLICS? THE APOSTLES CREED
"To err in opinion, though it is not the part of wise men, is at least human," said Plutarch. But for an assumed-to-be wise minister, whose forte is religious topics of a controversial nature, to err on matters concerning the Catholic Church, that have been explained time without number, is culpable.
We have in mind a three-quarter hour Park Street Church sermon, broadcast two weeks ago, in answer to the question as to which is "the Holy Catholic Church" named in the Apostles Creed. This sermon was the pastor's answer to this column of September 10th, wherein arguments were presented to prove that it refers to the Universal Church under the jurisdiction of Peter and his successors. Hence, when the Park Street Church congregation recited "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church," they befuddled the minds of uninformed listeners.
This ministerial broadcaster contended that "the Holy Catholic Church" is made up of many parts professing belief in Christ, despite their varying theological differences; that "the Catholic Church" is a "multiplicity in unity." From this we must conclude that the Unitarian church (which is an offshoot of the Park Street denomination), that proclaims belief in Christ, even though it denies the triunity of God; that the Seventh Day Adventists, who honor the Jewish in place of the Christian Sabbath; the Christian Science church that stresses Christ whose Divinity with a big D it questions; and the dozens of other man-made churches professing Christ, are all "parts" of the "multiplicity" that make up the "unity," called "the Catholic Church." Well may we answer St. Paul's question: "Is Christ divided up?" (1 Cor. 1-13) by saying YES, doctrinally in Protestant churches.
Surely none of the foremost Christian personages of the early ages believed that a multitude of spiritual weather-cocks moved by every wind of doctrine, and the varying atmosphere of public opinion, are part of "the Holy Catholic Church." They all believed the Catholic Church to be the spiritual society universally under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, occupant of the Chair of Peter that Christ instituted. In the beginning it was known as the Church in contradistinction to the Synagogue. It was referred to as "the Catholic Church" for the first time, in about the year 107 A.D., by St. Ignatius, whom Peter appointed Bishop of Antioch. St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, addressing his catechumens in the year 348, made plain that sects claiming to be "houses of the Lord" are not thereby the Catholic Church, nor part of it. He said: "If ever thou art sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is, for the sects of the profane also attempt to call their dens houses of the Lord. Neither ask where the Church is, but where is THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, for such is the peculiar name of the holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of the Lord Jesus Christ." (Catacheses, XVIII, 26). St. Ambrose of Milan, another Bishop of our Catholic Church, said: "Where Peter is, there is the Church."
Of course the name Catholic is not copyrighted. Hence the Park Street Church congregation can continue to broadcast "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church"; just as the Communists can freely broadcast that the Land-of-Socialism-Applied is a democracy. But one thing we wager, with no fear of losing, that if strangers in Boston were to ask members of the Park Street church "Where is the Catholic Church?" they would not direct them to the corner of Park and Tremont Streets.
The pastor and members of the Park Street church have no legitimate right whatever to say "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church," as that sublime privilege belongs to persons who are members of the Universal Church centered in Vatican City. This statement is based upon the following two of many historic facts: (I) The Creed, composed by the Church, that contains the principles taught by the Apostles, read originally "I believe in the Holy Church"; which everybody understood to refer to the Church under the jurisdiction of Peter and his successors. (II) The term "Catholic"---"I believe in the Holy CATHOLIC Church"---was inserted in Rome, about the fifth century of the era of Christ, to distinguish it from the heretical sects. It was inserted by Rome for the exclusive designation of the Church under the universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. Think this over, Mr. Pastor, for your next broadcast.
To further refute this column, the listeners-in heard the thousandth time refuted declaration two weeks ago, after hearing Matthew 16:18 read, that the Church was founded upon the "confession of Peter," and not the man Peter; a declaration that has been discarded by some leading Protestants, who realized that the confession of Peter is not to be considered apart from the man Peter. Peter confessing Christ is the Rock.