Thursday, July 26, 2007

Letter To The Editor

On Sunday, in The Eagle, there was a letter to the editor about the Vatican's recent document on the Church and it was not kind. You can read it below and following it you can read my response that I wrote to him, which was published today (Thur).

Only way to know

Pope Benedict XVI claims that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church on Earth, having "the fullness of the means of salvation." All other churches "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense" because they do not have apostolic succession, he said.

Not only have popes and councils contradicted their teaching, they have, on occasion, had as many as three men claiming to be the pope at the same time. Who rightfully had "apostolic succession"? The Roman Catholic Church's claim to "apostolic succession" was time and again based upon political expediency, avarice, hunger for power and every base manipulation to which man is capable of descending.

If the Roman Catholic Church's basis for being the "true church" lies in its ability to trace the lineage of its bishops back to the Apostles, don't bet the farm. The Scriptures never teach a "succession" to the original apostles (Peter's confession of Jesus - not Peter - is the "rock" on which the church is built). The Scriptures claim that the Scriptures alone hold the "fullness of the means of salvation" because they teach the truth regarding Jesus. Popes and councils have originated doctrines foreign to the pages of the New Testament. If you can't find it in the Bible, then it's not from God and must be discarded as a man-made invention.

I have all confidence that the New Testament has a clear succession to the autographs written by the Apostles and prophets. And that's the only succession that matters. I believe there is one true church, and that church's distinguishing features can only be determined by matching its practices with the New Testament. This is the only way to know which church is the true church today.

CHARLES DURHAM Jr., minister
Twin City Church of Christ


As one of the few Catholics who have ever had the honor of leading prayer in a Church of Christ worship service and preaching before a Church of Christ gathering, I would like to express my great respect for the beliefs of minister Charles Durham (Eagle, July 22), whom I consider a brother-in-Christ. With that said, I believe my brother misunderstood what the Vatican intended with the recent document on the church.

Just as most evangelical Protestants wouldn't say that members of a para-church organization aren't any less Christian because they aren't attending what is commonly defined as a "church," so the Catholic Church isn't saying any individual is any less Christian because he or she isn't formally a member of a church (in the strict way "church" is being defined in the document). Salvation, grace and a person's standing with God isn't being questioned. It is merely asking an ecclesiological question: What does it mean to be a "church"?

The answer to that question can be summed up by saying that the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist makes a church a church. I certainly wouldn't expect Durham to agree with the Catholic understanding of that statement; otherwise, he would have to consider becoming a Catholic.

This document has said nothing new. It merely restated what the Catholic Church has always taught about ecclesiology.

Unfortunately, I don't have room to go into what I consider to be the historical errors he makes in the letter, so I would like to formally invite Charles Durham to lunch (my treat) to discuss these matters and any other issues he would like to raise. A brother should do no less. Peace.

Assistant director
of campus ministry
St. Mary's Catholic Center


Devin said...

Did you ever get a reply? :)

Marcel said...