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Ann McDonald wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am considering becoming a Catholic though I was raised Protestant. This has caused much confusion among most of my family members as they see Catholicism as a confused religion that allows for idol worshipping, especially in view of the Church's opinions and reverence for Mary.

I was just thinking today.

  • Why would Jesus give us commands that He Himself did not follow?

For example: Honor thy Father and thy Mother. He also tells us to obey our parents and Mary, herself, said she would be called "blessed."

My questions are:

  • In light of this new "revelation," how would you suggest I talk to my family about my upcoming conversion?
  • How do I give justification for Catholic bibles having more books, especially when the church I once attended (a strict Wesleyan one) called those books blasphemous?

Thank you for your time.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Ann

  { Considering becoming Catholic but I'm confused over these teachings. }

Paul replied:

Ann,

Thank you for the important question. It's the kind of question that you'll probably get a long and detailed response from some my colleagues, so I'll give a relatively concise one.

Jesus did obey his mother. Take a look at Luke 2:51. We have to remember this simple concept, that the Church is Christ's body. The Head and Body of the mystical person of Christ have the same mother. This is why she is seen as the mother of the Church: The Church is the body,
the extension, of Christ. To honor and highly respect Mary is certainly not to worship her.
Worship is something that is reserved only for God.

The seven books you speak of are books that were accepted as inspired and part of the bible by Christianity from the beginning, from the time the Scriptures were translated into Greek, called the Septuagint. Protestants rejected these books after the Reformation of the sixteenth century but Catholics still hold these books to be the inspired Word of God. The Catholic Church has the authority, given to Her by Christ, to authoritatively make these decisions.

There are many ways to speak to your family about your conversion. You might begin by reminding them that you must follow your conscience. Another could be to introduce them to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Paul

John replied:

Hi, Ann —

In all fairness, the seven books along with the adjuncts to Esther and Daniel were disputed until 382A.D. when the canon was actually first formalized at the Council of Rome. It's important to note that there were also disputes about New Testament books until that date. For instance, many of the Eastern Churches didn't accept Revelation and some of John's epistles. Jude's epistle was also a "late comer" to the canon along with Second Peter.  Some of the early Christians treated books like:

  • the Epistle of Barnabas
  • the Shepard of Hermas
  • the Epistles Clement of Rome, and
  • Ignatius of Antioch, as part of the New Testament.

Returning to the Old Testament, at the time of Christ, the Old Testament most commonly used by the Jews, was the one found in the Catholic Bible. There was some dispute among the Jewish sects, over certain books and, even then, it was a lot more fluid than you might think. There were all kinds of books floating around that Jews were treating as Scripture in the synagogue.
A lot of time, it had to do with where they were living. Since most of the world spoke Greek,
the Septuagint translation (Alexandrian Canon), which my colleague Paul referred to, was the standard.

Nevertheless, in 90A.D. that changed. The Jews met in Jamnia. They were faced with the fact that their Temple had been destroyed by the Romans. Paul's letters and some of the Gospels were being read in the synagogues so they put together their own canon which rejected anything from the New Testament and anything they did not believe was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic.
The truth be told, they were looking for an excuse to remove Maccabees, because those books described the Romans as friends and allies that help them defeat the Greeks. They wanted no part of that. Nevertheless, they never rejected the doctrines found in those books such as prayers for the dead and dead being able to pray for the living. To this day, the Jews still believe those things.

As a result, there were now two list of Old Testament books floating around. The Alexandrian list and the Jamnian list. Of course, the Jews at this point no longer had any authority to canonize Scripture. That authority was given to the Church but now there were these two list of books.
The Churches closer to Jerusalem and the surrounding area, adopted the Jamnian canon, not because they rejected the other books, but because it was the popular list. Remember, most of these people were Jewish converts. They had a foot in the Synagogue. That didn't really end completely until about 140A.D. By that time, what we call the Palestinian Church had developed a tradition of using the Jamnian list. The rest of the Church was using the Alexandrian list.

As I previous said, the Church finally settled the matter in 382A.D. at the Council of Rome.
Later in 392 and 394, the Councils of Hippo and Carthage concurred with the Council of Rome and in 787A.D. the Second Council of Nicene was the first Ecumenical Council of the entire Church that ratified the canon.

Finally, in response to Luther who ripped out seven books from the Old Testament and was threatening to rip out James and Revelation from the New Testament, the Council of Trent once again confirmed the same list of books.

John

Ann replied:

Wow!

Being a lover of history, I find this information fascinating!

Thank you so much for your insight and assistance!

Ann

John replied:

I gave you the abridged version : ) Check out our data base of answers. We cover a lot of stuff like this and have a lot of historical information woven into our answers. For the record, I was a Baptist/Pentecostal Minister. When I started studying the early Church, I really started to see that Luther and the Reformers, although well intentioned, threw out the baby with the bath water. Eventually, I had to leave the pulpit to return to the Church, as a lay Catholic. So if there is anything I or the rest of the group can do, please feel free contact us.

Also, if you tell us where you live, we might be able to find you a good Catholic parish or prayer group to provide you with some fellowship along the way. Catholic Hierarchy is a great web site for tracking down information on diocesan web sites, their parishes and activities.

I look forward to welcoming you into the Church.

Under His Mercy,

John DiMascio
Note: You may find this posting interesting reading as well:

Ann replied:

  • Know what got me reading about the Catholic faith?

Thank Henry VIII! I love reading about him, his contemporaries and his family and when I really got to looking at the Church, I said, "this makes sense!"

  • Did you ever notice how the Protestant churches have too many answers to any single question?

It' s confusing!

Ann

John replied:

Hi, Ann —

Perhaps you should read Henry the VIII's defense of the Seven Sacraments written in response to Luther; he also wrote tracts in favor of the papacy. The former was recently translated into English by Raymond De Souza. Once he was done, he sent a copy to the current Queen of England who is the Head of the Church in England and "Defender of the Faith." It may be purely coincidental, but around the same time Benedict XVI was invited to make a state visit by
Her Majesty. That sort of visit was almost unimaginable so the Holy Spirit is working there, despite the fact that the Anglican Communion is the denomination that seems to be in the most amount of theological trouble.

John

Eric replied:

Hi, Ann —

A good book on the canon of Scripture is Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger by Gary Michuta.
A very complete treatment of it.

I have no idea why anyone (especially a Wesleyan) would consider the books blasphemous.

If you want to freak a Protestant out, tell them that an Authorized Version (King James Version) was not considered genuine unless it had these books (King James required them). They are relegated to an appendix and not considered canonical, but until recently (the last two hundred years, maybe?) even Protestants considered them worthwhile reading, just not inspired. You can still get Protestant bibles with them.

I'm not sure the Jamnia theory is correct, I have heard respected apologists contradict it.
For details I'll refer you to the book.

Another good quote for Mary is Psalm 45. See how it echoes the Magnificat in the last line:

[The Psalm begins addressing the Messiah.]

9 Kings' daughters were among thy honorable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.

[The Messiah has a queen.]

10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; 11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. 12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.

[People will ask the Queen for favors, and bring her gifts.]

13 The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. 14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. 15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace. 16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.

[The queen will be noted for her children, whom she has the authority to make princes.]

17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.

Hope this helps,

Eric

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