UNITY IN THE CHRISTIAN WORLD:
HOW FAR BACK DOES YOUR CHURCH DATE?
WHO FOUNDED IT?
Protestantism, like Humpty-Dumpty, had a great fall since it made its appearance in Germany a little over four centuries ago. It broke into so many parts that efforts to put it together at various ecumenical conferences have failed. The latest attempt was made last month at the Conference of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, in Lund, Sweden, which was dealt with editorially on this page of The Pilot two issues ago.
The editorial declared that "Catholics must not allow themselves to be uninterested in any movement that seeks unity," despite the fact that "we know" that unity in the Christian world "is to be obtained by return to the historic faith of Christendom," which is the faith proclaimed by the Catholic Church.
The Pilot statement echoed the declaration of Pope Pius XI, who said the unity, which must be doctrinal, worshipful and governmental to fulfill the prayer of Christ, "that all may be one" (St. John 17:21), can only be brought about by a "return to the Apostolic See" which is "the root and matrix of the Catholic Church, not with the idea and hope (in the minds of Protestant unifiers) that "the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth, will abandon the integrity of the faith and bear their errors, but to subject themselves to its teaching authority and rule." His Holiness proceeded to say to the leaders of Protestantism who endeavored to include the Catholic Church in their attempt to unify the Christian world, that "since the Mystical Body of Christ, that is to say the Church, is like a physical body a unity, a compact thing, it would be false and foolish to say that Christ's Mystical Body could be composed of separated members."
The Church of Christ, which Pope Pius XI said is "like the physical body, a unity, a compact thing," may also be likened to a corporation, in fact it is a corporation in the spiritual sense of the term. It differs from a legal corporation in that it is indestructible, as Christ is its Head; and the Holy Spirit indwelling brings to its mind all that is to be taught in matters of faith and morals (St. John 14:16).
A corporation, as we all know, is a society made up of individuals who act as a single person. It is self-perpetuating, having the capacity of succession, of filling vacancies without injury to its existence as a corporation, as was exercised by the Apostles in the selection of Matthais "to the ministry and apostleship from which Judas hath by transgression fallen" (Acts 1:24-26).
A legal corporation is the creature of the State, whereas a Divine Corporation, such as is the Catholic Church, is a creature of God.
Christ's indestructible corporation was made up in the beginning of an hierarchical Twelve with Apostle Peter in Jurisdictional command. This supreme authority was delegated to Peter by Christ in the giving of His "keys" (St. Matt. 16:19), and the superintendency of the Good Shepherd's flock, that is the Church of Christ, when He said: "Feed My sheep, feed My lambs" (St. John 21:15-17). This made Peter the Shepherd of Christendom, as is his 261st successor, Pope Pius XII.
The corporation analogy, which Holy Writ warrants, puts to shame the assumption that the 250 Protestant denominations in our country are parts of the Church Christ established because they profess belief in Christ, even though, as Protestant Episcopal Bishop Robert Brent said, "one church categorically denies the Christ in the neighboring church."
The Protestant ecumenical conferences, such as the one held last month in Sweden, attempt to further a world federation of churches in the name of Christ, with the understanding that their doctrinal differences are not to be infringed upon, by the institution of "a pan-Protestant or a pan-Catholic Church," to quote the Protestant Rector of the Trinity Church of Boston. This is simply amazing, considering that the varying Protestant sects accept the Old Testament, along with the New Testament, as their rule of faith, which is a repudiation of religious splinter churches individually or in unity.
Protestant acceptance of the Old Testament as part of the Bible, involves belief that there was only one religion that could rightly claim to have been God-revealed during pre-Christian times. That was the religion of the Children of Israel. All other religions were rightly considered to have been man-made, as Catholics hold all Protestant churches to be. This exclusive claim prompted the Children of Israel rightly to declare the religious world, in pre-Christian times, to be divided between "Jews and Gentiles."
This God-made religion was an organic, authoritative, sacerdotal, sacrificial religion. Its authority centered in a Mosaic hierarchy of which High Priest Aaron, and his 82 successors, were the popes.
Jewish Divine worship during pre-Christian times centered in the priest-offered sacrifices recorded in the Old Testament, especially in the Book of Leviticus. The Old Testament is recognized by Protestants, as well as Catholics, to be a prophetic and historical forecast of the coming of the Christ; of the institution of a religion of a higher order which existed potentially in the Judaism it displaced. Was this displacement of Old Testament Judaism by the Christianity recorded in the New Testament, an evolutionary transformation, as seen in the Catholic Church, or was it a devolutionary transformation from exclusiveness to diversity? from unity to multiplicity? from authority to anarchy? such as the world witnesses in the 250 sects known as Protestantism.
If Christ came, as He did, to fulfill the prophesies, then must there be a more perfect, unified, authoritative hierarchy and priesthood, with a more perfect Sacrifice (such as the Sacrifice of the Mass); with a more perfect means of passing through life to eternal happiness (such as abides in the Sacraments) than obtained in Old Testament Judaism. Where, save in the Catholic Church, can this be found? Nowhere! Hence to obtain unity that is truly Christian, the conferees in the World Council of Churches, and other Protestant unity-seeking groups, should harken to the pronouncement of Pope Pius XI, echoed by The Pilot, and "return to the historic faith of Christendom," the Catholic Church, to which their pre-16th century forebears belonged.
HOW FAR BACK DOES YOUR CHURCH DATE? WHO FOUNDED IT?
1-Christian Science, Mary Baker G. Eddy, Boston, 75 years ago.
2-Jehovah Witnesses, Pastor Russell, Pittsburg, 78 years ago.
3-7th Day Adventists, Ellen Gould White, Battle Creek, Mich.,
110 years ago.
4-Adventists, William Miller, Boston, 114 years ago.
5-Mormons, Joseph Smith, Fayette, N. Y., 114 years ago.
6-Plymouth Brethren, John Nelson Darby, Ireland, 127 years
7-Disciples of Christ, Thos. Campbell, Washington, Pa., 145 years ago.
8-New Jerusalem, Emmanuel Swedenborg, London, 167 years ago.
9-Prot. Episcopal, led by Dr. William White, New Brunswick, N. J., 170 years ago.
10-Universalist, John Murray, Gloucester, Mass., 174 years ago. 11-Unitarian, John Biddle, London, 180 years ago.
12-Methodist, John Wesley, England, 210 years ago.
13-Shakers, Ann Lee, England, 280 years ago.
14-Quakers, George Fox, England, 307 years ago.
15-Baptist, John Smyth, Amsterdam, 348 years ago.
16-Congregationalist, Robert Brown, Holland, 372 years ago. 17-Presbyterian, John Calvin, Geneva; John Knox, Scotland, 394
18-Anglican, Queen Elizabeth and House of Parliament, England,
395 years ago.
19-Lutheran, Martin Luther, Germany, 434 years ago.
20-Catholic, Jesus Christ, Jerusalem, 1921 years ago.