Saturday, May 19, 2018

Adventists Are Catholic

Note: Though this is based on an actual conversation, I will elaborate a bit —improving it for clarity.)

Years ago an Adventist asked me how I could become Catholic, when that church was so incredibly wrong that an entire Protestant movement had to be miraculously birthed by God to break the bonds of the people of God under such a tyrant as the pope. The Adventist  brought up all the usual suspects…."They changed the Sabbath to Sunday" as proof.

I had already had this conversation many times with others and it always went the same way—no matter how many facts and texts you brought up, the SDA seemed to understand nothing of other Christian's perspective. They would always bring it back to the mantra, "But the fourth commandment…."

This time, I took a different approach.

"If I am to remain a Christian, I have no choice but to be a Catholic."

The Adventist didn't flinch at that statement but remained silent. I continued, "You should not be trapped into this one concern about the Catholic Church changing the Sabbath. The SDA church doesn't ask a much more obvious question. They accuse us of having changed the Sabbath but in reality according to the Protestant perspective we changed something much, much more important. We changed the very nature of God." The Adventist looked at me skeptically.

"It is true. If you look at the God of the Old Testament, He looks different than that of the New Testament. The Old Testament—the Hebrew scriptures—shows us only one entity of the Godhead. The New Covenant reveals the Trinity."

"You see," I continued, "way before they 'changed the sabbath' (we didn't— but for argument's sake I repeated their accusation) Catholics revealed the triune God of three separate persons, and all that entails— but only one God. That was a revolutionary revelation to the world by the Catholic Church. It was so controversial that this teaching caused blood to be shed. Eventually, all Christians accepted this and no one today would call themselves Christian and say they don't believe in the Trinity. If they did say it, the vast majority of historic Christianity—Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants would claim they were no longer a Christian. The Trinity doctrine is the first definition of Christianity.

Indeed today the Muslim world sees us as polytheistic heretics because they think we rejected monotheism. The early Adventists rejected the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, repeating what all people who reject the Trinity say. They said that the Trinity is a Catholic construct that is not found in scripture. And indeed, you cannot find a clear 'thus saith the Lord' that says there is a three-person Godhead, all co-equal. The Trinity can be constructed through a Catholic reading of scripture, but the Catholic church does not go to scripture for its doctrine of the Trinity. They go straight to the teachings of the Apostles—some of which wrote down nothing. It was a doctrine that was preached, not written down at the time, nor recorded in scripture—it is part of oral tradition."

I pointed out that if Adventists believe Protestants are giving homage to the Catholic Church and refusing to believe the Bible about Sabbath, how much MORE are the Protestants—including Adventists—giving homage to the Catholic Church by believing the Trinity dogma when it is way, way less clear in scripture than the Sabbath. By accepting the Trinity doctrine, Adventists are really Catholic and they just don't know it.

I then told the Adventist that there is something else in which he is more Catholic than he realizes. If he accepts the New Testament as the Word of God, he is a Catholic. Because:

"Think about it: there are no original manuscripts of the New Testament. The Catholic Church burnt the original manuscripts out of respect. (That was protocol back then.) Today, no one has any proof of what those original gospels and letters had written in them. We don't even know for sure that they existed because the originals don't exist! We have no early complete copies of the New Testament until almost three hundred years after Christ's death. The earliest complete Biblical codices are: Vaticanus: AD 325, Sinaiticus, c. AD 350, Alexandrinus c. AD 400-440). There are small papyri fragments of earlier copies that date back to the first century, but they include so few words that they could not be used as evidence to expose any later tampering.

"There were three hundred years of copying, disseminating, translating the story of Jesus and His Apostles without the New Testament being put together in one organized Christian Bible. That is equivalent to the timeframe of a century before the establishment of the United States till today. That is a long time to have the gospels and teachings of the Apostles being circulated without being put together into the Bible.

"The Catholic Church had complete charge of the New Testament we have today—copying, translating, disseminating, and interpreting. The Catholics will vehemently deny that any part of the Word of God was changed, but they can only use insider Catholic testimony to prove this. The Catholic's evidence is of Catholic saints and bishops and teachers who will attest to the Church's vigilant guard over the scriptures. And that proof will never satisfy an Adventist because they believe that the Catholic Church had become the Whore of Babylon by the time the first complete Bible was developed and produced.

"Yet, Adventist have to trust the Catholic Church who originally taught that the New Testament was the Word of God. No Protestant would have ever heard of the New Testament nor it being the Word of God if it weren't for the Catholic Church. God placed today's Adventists in a situation where they must trust the Catholic Church—at least for the first thousand years—to have preserved God's written word."
"But God, not the Catholic Church, protected His holy Word." The SDA protested.

"Can anyone prove that?" I inquired.

"Well, there is no proof, but I know it." He argued, "The book inspires me every time I read it. I just know it in my heart because the Holy Spirit tells me."

I explained to him that Muslims think the same of the Koran, as do Eastern religions of their sacred books. There is no empirical proof that the Bible is the Word of God except for what the Catholics originally taught. "So if you believe the New Testament is God's Word, you are a Catholic and don't know it."

My SDA friend at this point became more quiet than I had ever witnessed from him. I don't think his silence indicated that he could not come up with an argument against me, I truly think he was non-plussed because he thought I had gone crazy. And I was about to make it worse.

"I have to be Catholic," I stated, "because I believe that Jesus really lived, died, was raised from the dead and was God—the actual only begotten Son of God."

"You don't have to be Catholic to believe that," he broke his silence.

"Yes, you do." I responded with emphasis, "Putting aside for the moment our previous argument that the New Testament is a Catholic book—the only way one can know the story of Christ-as-God's-Son is through the New Testament."

I knew that most Christians had never realized that outside of the gospels, there is now very little extant evidence of Christ ever having lived. There are few controversial references by people who had not witnessed Jesus—only heard about Him from His disciples. There are two documents written in AD 93 (sixty years after Jesus died) by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus that mention a man named Jesus. But one of those writings is considered by Jewish scholars to be corrupted by Christian scribes. The other one simply mentions a man named James, the brother of “Jesus, the so-called Christ.” Josephus does not say that Jesus was the son of God, nor does he say that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead.

Around AD 110, Roman politicians, Pliny and Tacitus, may have mentioned Jesus. Tacitus wrote that a man named Jesus was executed during the time of Pontius Pilate. 
But keep in mind that Jesus was a common name and hundreds of people were executed. 
And he did record that he knew there were Christians, but that they held to a dangerous superstition. So that is not proof positive. Pliny wrote that there were pig-headed, obstinate people in northern Turkey that worshipped Christ as a god.

"See that is evidence!" He cried.

"But that is only evidence that there was an historical figure named Jesus. It says very little about his life and death and says nothing about His miracles, His being God's Son and being raised from the dead."

I pointed out that all proof of Christ outside of those somewhat contemporary references comes directly from the Catholic Church. It has the shroud of Turin. It gave us the gospels and Apostles' letters. They had complete control over the information that claims Jesus did miracles, Jesus died for the sins of mankind, was raised, ascended into heaven and was the Son of God.

"If the Catholic Church's records and traditions were erased today, there would be no Bible, no shroud of Turin, no Jesus Christ, Son of God. The story of Jesus was given solely to the Catholic Church to bring to the world." I paused to let that sink in.

"But if the Catholics didn't do it, then someone else would have!" My SDA friend announced with confidence.

"Yes, God could have done it differently, but He didn't. And that does not change the facts. It remains that the Catholic Church had complete control over the story of Christ as it is given today. They had complete access and control over the translations, copies and interpretation of New Testament for almost a thousand years after the death of Christ. It was the Catholic Church who said the Bible was the Word of God and it was the Catholic Church who gave us the Trinity dogma." I reasoned as my friend became quiet once more.

"So in the end," I explained, "I am left with only one church. One church. And if Catholicism isn't God's church, then the Bible isn't God's Bible and the Trinity isn't God. If I am not Catholic, I then have no where but to go back one more step into Judaism and Christianity is nothing but a made-up story by the Catholics." I looked at my friends intently as our conversation took a few more twists and turns till I made a refrain.
"Forget the Sabbath issue," I ended with, "Adventists have bigger fish to fry first. If you think you are rejecting Catholicism by worshipping on Sabbath, you are wrong. If you accept the Trinity doctrine, if you think the New Testament tells a true story of Christ, then you are giving homage to the Catholic Church. Adventists are Catholic, they just don't know it."

My friend is still SDA, but since that discussion, he is okay with me being Catholic.

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