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Nigel wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am Catholic and I wanted to know the Catholic Church position on foods mentioned in the PDF document below.

  • [PDF] What does the Bible teach about clean and unclean meats? [File suppressed.]

I believe the information in this document.

Kind Regards,

Nigel

  { What does the Bible teach about clean and unclean meats? }

Mike replied:

Nigel,

This is not my specialty. Maybe one of my colleagues can help out.

I would just say that the issue of clean versus unclean meats is no longer an issue. It was an issue under the Old Covenant but Jesus fulfilled or completely the Old Covenant with His.

These issues are irrelevant for the Christian today.

For my colleagues, Nigel’s PDF document was from the United Church of God.

Mike

Nigel replied:

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your message. I would love to discuss these issues with your colleagues as I clearly see the Lord Jesus did not make unclean meats clean in the New Testament.

It is an issue in when you look at the first Catholic Pope, St. Peter in Acts 10:14 admitting that he did not eat unclean meats almost a decade after Jesus went to Heaven and Pentecost occurred.

Revelation 18:2 is where Jesus inspires John to write about unclean and hated birds.

Regards,

Nigel

John replied:

Dear Nigel,

Read Acts Chapter 10. Peter receives a vision in which he sees so-called unclean animals and is told to kill and eat. At first, Peter says no Lord they are unclean. Then God tells him no animal He has made is unclean.

Jesus Himself said, it is not what you put into your mouth that is unclean, but what comes out of the mouth. (Matthew 15:11)

The dietary laws served a multiple didactic purpose in the Old Covenant. While in Egypt, the descendants of Jacob or the Hebrews had taken on pagan practices. They would slaughter animals like pigs and offer them up as burnt offerings to Egyptian gods like bulls and sheep then they'd eat them.

God, in order to remind Israel that He was the only God, had the Israelites slaughter the animals that the Egyptians considered gods and ate them instead — forbidding them from eating the animals that were offered to these false gods.

In addition, God wanted Israel to do things to remind themselves that they were different and called out from among the nations to be a particular witness. So an external cleanliness, including not eating animals that tended to be dirty in their habits, was to be an external sign of an internal purity. This theme is later developed in the Epistle of Barnabas, which is not a canonical book, but is among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. It gives tremendous allegorical applications of what each animal symbolized.

But today, as Mike said, we live under the Grace of the New Covenant. The Mosaic Law which was meant to be a Teacher, is no-longer in effect.

I hope this helps.

John

Nigel replied:

Hi John,

Thanks for your message.

It was St. Peter, the first Catholic Pope, who said he did not eat anything that was common or unclean a decade after Jesus had gone to Heaven. Then on Pentecost, we realize what Jesus was saying was only an example of how Jewish Christians should treat Gentiles, (read about Peter and Cornelius in the same chapter), and finally we realize the meaning of the dream in verse 28.

Peter, the first Catholic Pope, said I have realized from the dream not to call any man or person unclean, not animals, (as certain animals are still unclean). So Jesus did not make unclean animals clean.

Next, there is Mark chapter 7 and the parallel in Matthew chapter 15. You can tell me about that and I can respond on that too.

You quoted it is not what you put in your mouth . . . from Mark 7:23 but we see the exact parallel verse in Matthew 15:20 where the subject Jesus was talking about was unwashed hands, not unclean animals.

Nigel

John replied:

Nigel,

I apologize but I don't understand what your question regarding Mark 7 and Matthew 15.

  • Can you clarify what you need help with?

Clearly you seem to be on the right path now. You can also look up the texts in 1 Corinthians or 2 Corinthians where Paul talks about eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols.

We're not sure exactly what kind of animal he is referring to but it could be those same unclean animals that I spoke of that the Egyptians would sacrifice to their animal idols and so forth.

The point is that there is great liberty found in Christianity when it comes to these matters.

John

Nigel replied:

John,

I was trying to inform you about your quote Jesus Himself said, it is not what you put into your mouth that is unclean, but what comes out of the mouth.

You can read this from Mark 7 and Matthew 15.

Nigel

John replied:

Nigel,

In context, Yes, Jesus was talking about unwashed hands but again He wasn't talking about hygiene and having clean hands. He was talking about ceremonial cleansing which was a complicated ritual that the Pharisees followed and is very much related to Mosaic ceremonial law.

There is indeed a principle which Christ is teaching in His statement that isn't limited to the ceremonial cleaning of a man's hands but rather, it's what comes out of man's evil heart makes him unclean, not what or how he eats.

John

Nigel replied:

Hi John,

Yes, you are right.

The principle is what comes out of a man evil heart makes him unclean but I disagree with you on what the subject is. The subject is unwashed hands in Matthew 15:20, not unclean animals.

Peter also admitted in Acts 10:28 that he realized the meaning of the dream not to call any man unclean, not animals, as there are certain animals that are already unclean.

  • Can you see now that Jesus never made unclean animals, clean?

Nigel

John replied:

No Nigel.

I never said that. You may disagree with the way I presented the texts but I'm telling you the Church would interpret it in similar fashion.

Secondly, we don't follow Sola Scriptura, we follow Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Teaching Authority of the Church known as the Magisterium.

In those texts, Christ was not strictly talking about ceremonially unclean hands. He didn't say:

  • it's eating with unclean hands that makes you unclean or
  • it's not how you eat, that makes you unclean.

He said it's what you eat . . .

So that includes animals or any other food. Paul also makes it clear in his epistles . . . it's not the food that you eat that makes you unclean.

John

Nigel replied:

John,

I'm sorry but in Matthew 15:20, the comparison is between what makes you unclean and unwashed hands (a little dirt which goes into the system).

Nigel

Mike replied:

Dear Nigel,

I've been reading the dialogue you have been having with John and I think one of the reasons you are having a hard time understanding his pretty clear explanations is that, though you say you are a Catholic, you are using sources from a Protestant congregation, the United Church of God.

  • How do you expect to understand a Catholic answer when you appear to be interested in Protestant theology?
  • If you were a faithful Catholic, why would you read Protestant material?

One of the best statements John has made in the past that has helped me is this:

Catholics and Protestants differ over theology because they base their theology on two good, but different questions.

Protestants ask: What must I do to be saved?
Catholics ask: Who is Jesus Christ?

John loves talking about the Scriptures but this is not a debating forum.

  • Did you see our Questions we will not answer section? (No. # 6 and #7)

We believe in the Church because we know Jesus Christ was/is the True God-Incarnate Man who historically came back from the dead. No one else in history has conquered death and come back to life after dying.

We can also historically show that in line with what Jesus and St. Paul warned us about, there would be many future false Christ’s to come after Our Lord's glorious Ascension into Heaven, one being the United Church of God.

Please reply only if you are interested in a Catholic answer. Again, this is not a debating forum.

Though the Church is the pillar and foundation of our faith (1 Timothy 3:15) we can still show support for Catholic teachings from the Scriptures.

If you are interested in this, check out my Scripture Passages that support Catholic Teachings page below.

Mike
AskACatholic.com Web Administrator

John replied:

Mike,

As a final note, the United Church of God is not even a normal Protestant Congregation they are Judaizers.

John

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