Category Archives: Heresy

If the Church Fathers agree, who are we to dissent?

-by Parker Manning

“Imagine a scenario. My name is Parker. Imagine that my twenty closest friends all told you, “Parker’s favorite color is red.” Without even talking to me, you could probably assume that my favorite color is red.

That’s how the unanimous consent of the Church Fathers works, too, when it comes to determining how the early Church practiced and believed.

If it is logical to use the argument, for example, that the first followers of Jesus all said He was God, and therefore we can attest that he did in fact claim that He is God, then it is also logical to use that line of reasoning to believe other things unanimously attested to. As another example, we would say it’s reasonable to believe that baptismal regeneration is correct because the first followers of Jesus all believed it.

Not only would a Protestant be unable to use this argument, but he would have to show why it fails. If it is valid, Protestantism as a whole is refuted. Similarly, we could wonder: if it is acceptable for a Protestant to deny one thing that this community unanimously accepted, why would it be wrong for someone to say that the four Gospels are not Scripture?

Overall, there are three main reasons why the unanimous consent of the Fathers is important for all Christians. First, it just makes logical sense to follow it. Imagine for a second that Jesus teaches His apostles that baptism doesn’t save, and it’s only a symbol. Then the apostles tell their successors the same thing. Then what happens with the successors? They unanimously believe that baptism saves. Did they just not read Scripture? Were they influenced by someone? Why did the apostles choose these people if they didn’t take them seriously? It just doesn’t make sense.

Second, as mentioned previously, you undermine your ability to use Scripture if you are going to use it against the covenant community who gave the scriptures to you. When we use something unanimous (let’s say the Gospel of John) to reject something else that was unanimous, like baptismal regeneration, we erode the foundation underlying both!

Third, if a Protestant is going to claim that the “true gospel” was lost, this would mean that the Great Apostasy is true. But Bible verses such as Matthew 16:18 and 1 Timothy 3:15, among others, refute this.

Lastly, think about how quickly Christianity spread in the beginning stages. Now think about how unlikely it would be that something was unanimously taught by all of the churches that was not taught by the apostles. A supposedly heretical teaching would have to infiltrate not only a few churches; it would need to infiltrate every single church. It’s hard to get the evidence together to claim that a heresy could have permeated the Church in this way.

A Protestant would likely push back here, claiming that although doctrines like baptismal regeneration were unanimous in the early Church, the Church Fathers were all wrong, because that view contradicts Scripture. Putting aside the fact that this Protestant believes that the Church Fathers unanimously believed something that the Protestant believes is so plainly contradicted by Scripture, he also undermines his ability to use said Scripture if he is going to use it against the covenant community to whom the scriptures were entrusted. When this community unanimously says the Gospel of John is Scripture and also unanimously says that in John 3:5 Jesus says we have to be baptized to enter heaven, it would not make sense for us to listen to one statement and not the other. Why can we just pick and choose?

Another thing a Protestant might say is that he doesn’t care about the Fathers; he cares about only the Bible. But this objection doesn’t work because the consensus of the Fathers is the reason we have a New Testament in the first place. How can we trust the Church Fathers’ twenty-seven-book New Testament if they got baptism, justification, and a plethora of other important things wrong? How can we trust the early Church’s particular articulation of the Trinity (three persons in one God, co-eternal and co-equal) when those terms aren’t in Scripture, yet we can’t trust other important things they said together? If these guys are a bunch of heretics, how can we trust anything they said? It simply doesn’t make sense.

Overall, I encourage Protestants to think about how important the unanimous consensus of the Fathers is. Despite their best efforts to prop up Scripture through sola scriptura, Protestants have allowed themselves to reject things in the early Church that were unanimously accepted. In doing this, they undermine their ability to use other unanimously accepted things, like the four Gospels, and call Christianity as a whole into question.

All in all, the question to ask is not “Is this Protestant belief logical?” Rather, it is “Is this belief so persuasive that we can reject all of Church history?””

Love & truth,

Whom do you trust? The Real Presence, the Gospel, and traditional Christianity

-by Joseph Heschmeyer, a former lawyer and seminarian, he blogs at Shameless Popery.

“There are a great many intelligent Protestant Christians, well-versed in Scripture, faithfully seeking to know and follow the will of God, who have concluded that Jesus’ words about the bread and wine of the Last Supper becoming his body and blood are merely symbolic.

What if they’re right?

At first, it seems as though such a revelation would be a tragedy. Receiving the Eucharist is the most intimate encounter with Jesus Christ possible this side of eternity. Suddenly to discover that this intimacy was a sham, and that what we thought was God was actually just bread, would be disheartening, to put the matter mildly. Worse, it would mean that those hours spent in adoration were something approaching idolatry rather than proper worship of God.

But the true tragedy would be greater still—it would mean that the Church has been wrong about the Eucharist from the beginning. For the earliest Christians universally believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The well-respected early Church historian J.N.D. Kelly, a Protestant, has acknowledged that “Eucharistic teaching, it should be understood at the outset, was in general unquestioningly realist, i.e., the consecrated bread and wine were taken to be, and were treated and designated as, the Savior’s body and blood” (Early Christian Doctrines, 440).

Take, for example, the church at Smyrna, in modern-day Turkey. In the latter half of the first century, the apostle John had delivered a message directly from Jesus Christ to the Smyrnaeans, encouraging them in their faithfulness amid their sufferings (Rev. 2:8-11). Shortly thereafter, a student of John, St. Ignatius of Antioch, wrote to this same local church on his way to be martyred in Rome early in the second century.

In his letter, Ignatius warns the Smyrnaeans to “keep aloof from” the heretical Gnostics “because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ” (Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 7). Notice that Ignatius doesn’t feel the need to convince his readers of the truth of the Real Presence. For him, it’s enough to say that since the Gnostics reject the Real Presence, we should not even “speak of them either in private or in public.”

This is the way that Christians approached the Eucharist throughout the first few centuries of the Church. It was not just that a theologian here or there taught the Real Presence, but that it was the Christian position on the topic. In a series of lessons given to catechumens about to enter the Church, St. Cyril of Jerusalem reminded them that “you have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ” (Catechetical Lecture 22). Cyril is comfortable assuming that even those not yet baptized know enough about Christianity to realize that Christians believe in the Real Presence.

Even more telling than the many Church Fathers teaching and preaching on the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is the absence of Christian leaders either rejecting this Catholic position or teaching a contrary position.

If a Baptist pastor got up on Sunday and declared that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, you could expect that there would be angry letters denouncing him as a heretic, or at least seeking to correct him. That’s because Baptists don’t believe in the Real Presence.

The fact that we don’t see this sort of outcry in the early Church is compelling evidence that the early Christians didn’t believe what modern Baptists do about the Eucharist. Rather, they were united in belief about the Real Presence at a time when Christians weren’t afraid to squabble with one another over relatively smaller matters.

Why is this important? Because it means that these Protestants are saying not just “I think Jesus’ words at the Last Supper are meant to be merely symbolic,” but “I think that the entire Church misunderstood one of the most basic aspects of Christianity for centuries.” Call this the “everybody got the gospel wrong” position.

At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “I will not leave you desolate” (John 14:18), a promise not to abandon the Church or to leave us as orphans. Specifically, Christ promised to preserve his Church by sending “the Spirit of Truth,” the Holy Spirit, to “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:17, 26). How is belief in this promise compatible with the idea that the whole Church lost the true meaning of the Last Supper, and that no Christians successfully followed his instructions to “do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:24)?

To be sure, left to our own devices, you and I would get some aspects of the gospel wrong. That’s why there are so many competing Protestant denominations. But the solution to that is to turn to the Church and to have the humility to be guided, rather than trusting that our own reading of Scripture is superior to everyone else’s. This is the model laid out in Scripture itself. When Philip the Evangelist found an Ethiopian official reading the book of Isaiah, he asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” to which the man replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:30-31). But the Protestant view undermines all of this by suggesting that the visible Church, and indeed all Christians everywhere, might be the ones in the wrong.

This is about not just rejecting the Church’s teaching authority, but rejecting all of Christianity prior to a certain point in history. If you can simply throw out all of (say) pre-1517 history as heretical and off the mark, why not throw out all pre-2018 Christianity? What appears on the surface to be a question simply about the Eucharist or the perpetual virginity of Mary is really a question about whether we can trust Christ’s promise not to abandon us, leaving us to our own private theological interpretations.

What’s more, if everybody got the gospel wrong then, what makes us think that anybody has the gospel right now? If we could all be wrong on the literality of the Eucharist for centuries, why couldn’t we be wrong about the literality of the Resurrection or of any other aspect of Christian teaching? If all of Christianity can get the core message of Christianity wrong, then it seems that we simply can’t be trusted to get the basics of Christianity right. But holding that, of course, undermines our ability to trust Christianity itself.”


Sola Scriptura – Illogical

-by Parker Manning

“One of the biggest things that separates Protestants from other Christians is their belief regarding the authority of Scripture. Protestants will claim that only Scripture is infallible—the only thing that cannot be wrong.

Protestant apologist James White defined sola scriptura in a debate with Jerry Matatics in 1992. Here he is making his case:

The doctrine of sola scriptura simply states that the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the regula fide, the rule of faith, for the Church. All that one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture and in no other source. That which is not found in Scripture is not binding upon the Christian conscience. . . .

The Bible claims to be the sole and sufficient rule of faith for the Christian Church. The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement. Their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation. Their authority is not dependent upon man, Church, or council. The Scriptures are self-consistent, self-interpreting, and self-authenticating. The Christian Church looks to the Scriptures as the only and sufficient rule of faith, and the Church is always subject to the word and is constantly reformed thereby.

There are a few things that a Catholic would agree with White on here. For instance, no Catholic will claim that Scripture’s authority relies on someone believing that those specific books are inspired. The Church did not make the canon inspired; the Church articulated which books are inspired. Regardless, in this article, I will explain why the claim that Jesus taught that only Scripture is infallible makes little sense logically.

First, let’s remember that Catholics believe that Scripture is infallible. As St. Paul says, it is “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). However, Catholics would claim that Jesus also left an infallible interpreter on earth.

Setting aside theology from a logical perspective, sola scriptura makes little sense. Let’s say that James White and other Protestants are correct when they claim that Jesus did not leave an infallible interpreter on earth. Now consider that Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, told us things like “If you blaspheme the Holy Spirit, you will never be forgiven” (Matt. 12:31, Mark 3:28-30, Luke 12:10) and “Unless you are born of water and the Spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Both of these statements are ambiguous, with extensive connotations. What makes this even worse is that Protestants disagree on what these verses mean. Lutherans will say that in John 3:5, Jesus is saying people have to be baptized to be saved, whereas other Protestants, such as James, would say that that is not the case.

What are we to make of this? Are we to conclude that Jesus made these statements without clarification and encouraged us to figure it out independently? And if we are wrong, send us to an eternal torment? Nonsense—Jesus would have done no such thing.

This poses another problem for Protestants regarding their belief in Scripture. Sola scriptura requires the essential things to be evident in Scripture. As many Protestants have said, “The main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things.” If two Protestants disagree on a verse, what happens? They would likely claim that they are not disagreeing on something that is salvific, and that is what is meant by importance. But the above two verses are salvific. Jesus says we must do something (be baptized) and must not do something (blaspheme against the Holy Spirit) to enter the kingdom of heaven. If we fail to follow these commands, we will not be saved.

So a Protestant will struggle to explain why these verses are unimportant. I doubt that many of them would try. However, a significant problem still needs to be solved. If these verses are important, and everything necessary is clear in Scripture, we should not have disagreement in Protestant circles about what these verses mean. But there is disagreement.

For this reason, a Protestant is left with three options:

  • Claim that these verses are not essential or salvific. This is impossible and would be going against explicit Scripture.
  • Claim that the Protestant who disagrees is misreading Scripture. It would be hard, in the framework of sola scriptura, to make this charge with charity, or even for it to make sense. So if Protestants do not want to go this route, they are left with option 3 . . .
  • Admit that sola scriptura is false.

As you can see, Protestants are in a pickle. And the problems continue: a Protestant is going to claim that sola scriptura is not ahistorical, and that believing that Scripture is the sole infallible authority does not mean we ignore history. But at the same time, Protestants like James White will deny baptismal regeneration despite it being unanimously accepted in the Patristic Era. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s a Protestant historian on the subject: “From the beginning baptism was the universally accepted rite of admission to the Church. . . . As regards to its significance, it was always held to convey the remission of sins” (193-194).

A Protestant who believes in the salvific nature of baptism would likely be on my side in this scenario. However, the problems continue beyond there. Even sola fide (faith alone), the most essential doctrine in Protestant theology, said by Luther to be the article upon which the Church stands or falls, was unknown in the early Church.

For instance, Protestant author Alister McGrath admits in his book on the history of the Christian doctrine of justification that sola fide was a “theological novum.”

A fundamental discontinuity was introduced into the Western theological tradition where none had ever existed or been contemplated. The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification as opposed to its mode must therefore be regarded as a genuine theological novum (186).

Notable anti-Catholic Church historian Peter Schaff also admits in his book about Church history that those looking for the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone in the Church Fathers will be “greatly disappointed.”

The doctrine of the subjective appropriation of salvation, including faith, justification, and sanctification, was as yet far less perfectly formed than the objective dogmas, and like the case, must follow the latter. If anyone expects to find in this period, or any of the Church Fathers, Augustine himself not excepted, the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone, as the “articulus stantis aut cadentis ecclesiae” he will be greatly disappointed (588).

All in all, I would encourage Protestants to think about the conclusions they are making when they say that Scripture is the only infallible authority on earth. In their attempt to prop up Scripture to the highest degree, they are making Jesus out to be an unusual leader who makes ambiguous statements with extreme implications and leaves no infallible authority to tell us what he meant. It also seems clear that despite Protestants’ best efforts in claiming that sola scriptura is not anti-tradition, Protestant theology as a whole embraces even the most wholly absent doctrines in the Patristic Era.

Love & truth,

The Obstinate Heretic

-by Steve Weidenkopf

“THE MYTH: Martin Luther was a simple reformer who desired to rid the Church of corruption and abuses, but when he challenged the pope on the issue of indulgences he was unjustly condemned, which forced him to break from the Church.

THE REAL STORY: This narrative is false. Luther was an unrepentant heretic whose teachings caused irreparable harm to the Catholic Church and Western civilization. When Pope Leo X (r. 1513-1521) recognized the danger of Luther’s teachings he strenuously and patiently urged his repentance.

Giovanni de’ Medici came from one of the most powerful families in Italy. His father, Lorenzo the Magnificent, was a diplomat, politician, patron of several great Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, and ruler of the Florentine Republic. From an early age, Giovanni was molded for a life in the Church. He was created a cardinal by Pope Innocent VIII at the age of thirteen but did not officially assume the functions of the office until he turned sixteen.

In 1513, the College of Cardinals sat in conclave to elect the successor of Pope Julius II. The cardinals were divided between a candidate favored by an older faction and Giovanni, now thirty-seven, who was favored by the younger faction. Eventually, Giovanni was elected and took the name Leo. Considered the last of the Renaissance popes, Leo X focused on political affairs throughout his pontificate but did not ignore the reform movement initiated by his predecessor. He oversaw the completion of the Fifth Lateran Council, which issued several reform decrees in response to ecclesiastical abuses rampant at the time. Leo is perhaps best known for his 1515 decision to continue the practice of granting an indulgence to those who contributed alms to a construction project he inherited that needed more funding: the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Indulgence preachers were sent to regions throughout Christendom, including Electoral Saxony, home of an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther.

Luther took issue with the practice of granting indulgences and with certain Church teachings, and in 1517 published his opinions and complaints in his infamous 95 Theses. He also sent a copy to Archbishop Albert of Mainz, who forwarded the document to Rome, which is when Leo first heard about the monk who was to cleave Christendom. At first Leo believed the issue to be a quarrel between the Augustinian and Dominican religious orders (most indulgence preachers were Dominicans), so he ordered Luther’s superior to “soothe and quiet” the man. But Luther continued to advocate his heretical opinions by publishing several works in the spring of 1518.

Although Luther’s 95 Theses contained multiple heretical opinions, the most dangerous was his rejection of papal authority. Luther asserted the pope had no authority to dispense the merits of the treasury of grace to the faithful in the form of indulgences in order to remit the temporal punishment due to sin already forgiven in the sacrament of confession. This was not simply a sharp rebuke of an ecclesiastical abuse—Luther’s writings were an attack on the office of the papacy and of papal authority given by Christ in Matthew 16:18-19. In his Sermon on Indulgences and Grace Luther declared he did not believe indulgences had any benefit for the souls in purgatory, and in his Explanations of the Disputations on the Power of Indulgences he denied papal power extended to souls in purgatory. Luther’s attack on papal authority paved the way for his later demolition of the entire sacramental system and call for a national German church separated from Rome. Luther’s teachings were not reforms intended to return the Church to its pristine state but rather a rebellion designed to destroy the Church and create a new entity in Luther’s image.

These writings were studied in Rome, and in July 1518 a formal charge of “suspicion of disseminating heresy” was lodged against Luther. He was ordered to come to Rome to answer the charge within sixty days. Luther refused to leave Germany, claiming ill health and a fear for his safety. Although Leo could have enacted sterner measures against the recalcitrant monk, he chose the path of mercy and sent a personal envoy to meet with Luther and bring about his reconciliation.

Thomas de Vio, O.P. (known as Cajetan) was a proponent of Church reform and a Dominican, who had been master general of the order for a decade. Cajetan traveled to Germany, believing he could convince Luther to cease his heretical teaching. When the two men met in October 1518, Cajetan approached Luther in a friendly and fatherly manner but Luther was obstinate in his denial of Church teaching and shifty in his answers. Unfortunately, his patience worn thin, Cajetan lost his temper and yelled at Luther, who responded in kind. At the urging of his superior, Luther later apologized to Cajetan for his outburst, but he held the Dominican in contempt, writing later, “He sought to turn me aside from the Christian faith, I doubt whether he is a Catholic Christian” (The Revolt of Martin Luther).

Leo promulgated a bull on indulgences a month later in which he reiterated Church teaching, so that Luther and others could not feign ignorance. Despite this papal document Luther continued to preach against Church teaching.

Given Luther’s recalcitrance, on June 15, 1520 Leo issued the bull Exsurge Domine. In it Leo urged the Lord to arise and vindicate the cause of the Church against the heresies emanating from Germany. The document listed forty-one teachings contained in the works of Luther that were “either heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth.” Leo bemoaned the fact that Luther did not respond to repeated attempts at reconciliation, including the request to come to Rome in person to discuss his teachings. He expressed regret at the situation but recognized his duty to safeguard the faithful from heresy. Leo included one more exhortation to Luther to recant, giving him sixty days to do so or else incur excommunication.

Luther responded by publishing a treatise entitled Against the Execrable Bull of Antichrist. He called Leo the Antichrist and wrote the purpose of the papal bull was to “compel men to deny God and worship the devil” (The Cleaving of Christendom: A History of Christendom). Later in the year Luther staged a public burning of Exsurge Domine and told his followers that whoever “does not resist the papacy with all his heart cannot obtain eternal salvation” (Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes).

SUMMARY: The real story of Luther and the pope illustrates the patience and mercy exhibited by the Church at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The Church was not a corrupted institution resistant to reform and Luther was not a simple reformer. He was an obstinate heretic whom Leo urged repeatedly to repent. Unfortunately, Luther refused to listen.”

Love & truth,

The Pagan Christ

“Atheists who believe that Jesus never existed (called mythicists) claim there are damning parallels between the story of Jesus and stories of other “dying and rising” gods. You’re likely to come across mythicist arguments through online videos such as Zeitgeist, which claims:

  • The Egyptian god Horus “was born on December 25 of the virgin Isis-Meri . . . at the age of thirty he was baptized by a figure known as Anup and thus began his ministry. Horus had twelve disciples he traveled about with, performing miracles such as healing the sick and walking on water. . . . Horus was crucified, buried for three days, and thus, resurrected.”
  • The Greek god Dionysus was “born of a virgin on December 25, was a traveling teacher who performed miracles such as turning water into wine.” Zeitgeist also claims that the Roman god Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25.
  • Ancient pagan cults also worshiped the “Sun” by mourning when it dies in the winter and celebrating when it “rises” in the spring to bring forth new crops.

Although similarities among beliefs can be evidence that one culture was the source for another culture’s belief, in many other instances, it can lead to a bad case of “parallelomania.” Biblical scholar Samuel Sandmel says this happens when a person falsely believes that cultural borrowing has taken place and tries to prove it with highly implausible parallels. Straining to make connections, the “parallelomaniac” ignores more plausible explanations for why two different religions might have similar beliefs, stories, traditions, or customs.

In some cases, the imagined parallel simply doesn’t exist at all. In others, the alleged parallels are so trivial that they don’t really serve as evidence for culture-borrowing. Or it might, on closer inspection, turn out that the borrowing happened the other way around (e.g., paganism borrowing from Christianity). Or the borrowing might be real but related only to non-essential areas of belief.

When we apply these alternative explanations, we see that neither Catholicism nor Christianity can be explained as a mere offshoot of older pagan practices.

Many of Zeitgeist’s claims about ancient non-Christian religions simply aren’t true. There is no evidence the Egyptian god Horus was baptized, had twelve disciples, performed miracles like walking on water, or was crucified. In at least one instance, a deity that is supposed to parallel Jesus turns out never to have existed in pagan mythology. Zeitgeist claims that “Beddru” of Japan and “Crite” of Chaldea inspired the Jesus story, but there is no record of any deities by these names having a cult of worship.

Why would the producers of this film, or other mythicists, make up stuff like this? Odds are, they acted in good faith but uncritically followed older, amateur scholarship that had a bad habit of using poorly documented sources.

Many of their claims about Horus, for example, come straight from self-anointed (and long discredited) scholars from the nineteenth century, such as Gerald Massey. Contemporary Egyptologists do not trust his work today, and even Massey’s peers rejected his scholarship. The renowned British Museum Egyptologist Archibald Sayce, for instance, commended an 1888 article for its “through demolition of Mr. Massey’s crudities [and] errors.” His colleague Peter le Page Renouf said of Massey that “no lunatic could possibly write more wild rubbish” (1,101).

When we turn to anti-Catholicism, we see similar uncritical reliance on shoddy scholarship. This is evident in claims from Jack Chick tracts, such as, “The Holy Eucharist is placed in the center of a sunburst design called the monstrance. . . . Who dreamed this up? The Egyptians called it Osiris long before the popes called it Jesus.” Sure enough, Gerald Massey claimed that, in Egyptian worship, “flesh and beer were transelemented or transubstantiated by the descent of Ra the holy spirit” and that this sacrament was “continued by the Church of Rome.”

Chick further claims that the eucharistic host has the monogram IHS on it because in Egypt these letters stood for the gods Isis, Horus, and Seb. However, there is no evidence that ancient Egyptian religion had anything like the Eucharist, much less a host that included a monogram with the Latin letters IHS. (In reality, these three letters are often found on eucharistic hosts because they are derived from the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek.)

Another fiction is the claim that Nimrod and Semiramis were married Babylonian royalty who created a “proto-pagan Catholicism.” This isn’t possible, since, as modern scholars agree, they didn’t even live during the same period. Other claims, like “Catholic confessionals have a Babylonian origin,” ignore the historical reality that the Church practiced the sacrament of confession without confessionals for centuries. The regular practice of confessing privately to a priest in a reserved place was introduced into the Church through Irish missionaries in the early Middle Ages, not a Babylonian cult in late antiquity (CCC 1447).

In many cases, the alleged parallel between Christianity and paganism exists only in the creative mind of the parallelomaniac. In some other cases, though, the evidence from primary sources is accurate—and so a genuine parallel does exist—but the parallel is so trivial or general that it says nothing about any cultural borrowing. Ancient pagan deities, for example, may have performed miracles just as Jesus did, but we’d expect that any story about deities interacting with human beings would include miraculous details. So those similarities don’t suggest any borrowing.

Other alleged parallels are true only if you really strain your eyes and your reading comprehension. For example, mythicists say the Persian deity Mithra was born of a virgin (just like Jesus!), but the ancient source actually says that Mithra emerged fully grown from a rock (62). This is a “virgin birth” only in the most contorted sense of that term.

Similarly, that sun and son are homophones is true in English but not most other languages, including ancient languages like Greek or Hebrew. A similar error occurs in the identification of Easter with Ishtar (and honestly, the two sound similar only if you are prone to slurring your speech). Even more fatal to this alleged parallel is that nearly all European languages call the celebration of Christ’s resurrection a variant of the Latin word pascha. Christ is our new Passover (or paschal) lamb, as St. Paul describes him in 1 Corinthians. 5:7. (Easter comes from older Germanic words signifying springtime and the dawn.) 

Modern scholarship has also shown that Christian and Catholic beliefs are primarily rooted in Judaism, not paganism. In his study on ancient resurrection belief, T.N.D. Mettinger put it this way:

There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on myths and rites of the dying and rising gods of the surrounding world. While studied with profit against the background of Jewish resurrection belief, the faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus retains its unique character in the history of religions (221).

It’s reasonable to expect human beings in different eras and cultures to exhibit similar religious tendencies, because it’s in our nature. God created us to be religious. The Catechism puts it this way:

In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being (28).

C.S. Lewis reached a similar conclusion when he said that God had revealed himself indirectly to pagans through their myths and that the Gospels were now God’s direct revelation. They were, as he said, “myth become fact.” I’ll close with his advice that shows that Catholics and Christians have nothing to fear from “pagan parallels”: “We must not be nervous about ‘parallels’ and ‘pagan Christs’: they ought to be there—it would be a stumbling block if they weren’t. We must not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome” (59).”

Love and truth,

The Mormon Christ


“I’ve heard Mormons say they worship the same Jesus we do and so they are Christians. After all, their church is “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.””


“Just because someone says he’s a Christian doesn’t make him a Christian, because a Christian must be validly baptized and believe in the God of Christianity. The Catholic Church holds Mormon baptisms invalid because, even though the baptismal formula they use is correct, the meaning of the words “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” are so alien to Christian belief that they essentially belong to another religion.

When it comes to Jesus, Christians believe he is fully human and fully divine, and he has always been divine given that he is the second person of the Trinity, God the Son. Mormons, however, believe that Jesus Christ was once an “intelligence” such as us who existed from eternity. He was not always divine, and he was not always the Son of God. Instead, God chose him to become the “firstborn” among the intelligences by giving him the first spirit body. In 1909, the Mormon Church’s leadership released a statement that read, “The Father of Jesus is our Father also. . . . Jesus, however, is the firstborn among all the sons of God—the first begotten in the spirit, and the only begotten in the flesh. He is our elder brother, and we, like him, are in the image of God.”

Instead of being completely different in kind from human beings, this counterfeit Christ is different from us only in degree (hence the term “eldest brother”). He is just a more exalted spirit-child of God the Father, which reduces him from being the eternal creator of the universe to being merely one highly praised part of it, which is antithetical to true Christian belief.”

Our Eldest Brother

“Once a young woman sitting next to me on an airplane noticed I was reading a book about Mormonism. She said she had recently joined the Mormon Church (the official name for Mormons is “members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” which some people abbreviate to “LDS”)164 and so we struck up a conversation. She said she didn’t like it when people held ignorant views toward Mormons and I agreed that bigoted attitudes are unacceptable.

“I mean, we all believe in Jesus, so isn’t that what matters?” she asked.

I gently explained to her that Christians and Mormons don’t mean the same thing when they refer to the person of Jesus. Gordon Hinkley, the former president of the Mormon Church, even said, “As a church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say.”165

Christians believe there is one God who exists as three divine, eternal persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that only God is eternal (see Psalm 90:2). Mormons, on the other hand, believe there are an infinite number of “intelligences” that have existed for all eternity. God, whom Mormons call “Heavenly Father,” transforms these intelligences into human beings and the faithful Mormons among them will become gods in the next life, going on to create more human beings who will continue this cycle of “exaltation.”166

Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was once an “intelligence” like us who existed from eternity past. He was not always divine, and he was not always the Son of God. Instead, God chose him to become the “firstborn” among the intelligences by giving him the first spirit body.167 In 1909, the Mormon Church’s leadership released a statement that read, “The Father of Jesus is our Father also. . . . Jesus, however, is the firstborn among all the sons of God—the first begotten in the spirit, and the only begotten in the flesh. He is our elder brother, and we, like him, are in the image of God.”168

Instead of being completely different in kind from human beings, this counterfeit Christ is only different from us in degree (hence the term “eldest brother”). He is just a more exalted spirit-child of God the Father, which reduces him from being the eternal creator of the universe to being merely one highly praised part of it.

But how can that be true if . . . . . . There Is Only One God?

Mormonism can best be described as a kind of henotheism, or belief in the existence of many gods (in this case, infinitely many), only one of whom deserves our worship. Mormons strive to become “exalted” and develop into a god just like Heavenly Father, who was once a man like us. Joseph Smith even said at a funeral for Mormon elder King Follett, “You have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you.”169

Christians, on the other hand, are monotheists who believe there is one God, though he exists as a Trinity of three persons, each of whom equally possesses the divine nature.170 And although Mormons will tell you that they, too, believe in “one God,” what they mean is that they believe in one collection of gods. For Mormons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (or “the Holy Ghost”) are three gods who cooperate so perfectly they might as well be one God. But this is like saying that a perfectly cooperating baseball team has but one player.

If God or Heavenly Father used to be a man who was later exalted into godhood, then the entire universe would be without an explanation, because we could always ask the atheist’s favorite question: “Who created God?” Positing an infinite cycle of men becoming gods does not explain the existence of the universe any more than an infinitely long chain could explain why a chandelier is hanging in a room.171 It has to be attached to the ceiling, and likewise, the only explanation for why the universe exists at all is because the God of Christianity, who just is perfect existence itself, created it.

Scripture also clearly teaches there is only one God, and we are to worship him alone. There’s no doubt that the early Israelites were also henotheists, because they were often tempted to worship other gods that they presumed really existed. But through gradual, divine revelation God’s people came to understand that Yahweh was not only superior to all other gods—he was real and they were not. In Isaiah 45:5, God says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.”

In Isaiah 43:10 God declares, “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” This can’t refer to false gods or idols, because many of those are still “formed” to this day. Instead, the Bible teaches that no other god besides the one true God has ever existed, and no other god ever will exist. Even scholars who reject evidence for practices of monotheism early in the Old Testament agree that the prophet Isaiah is a witness to God’s people having finally rejected the existence of all other deities except for their own God Yahweh.172

The New Testament also firmly teaches not just that Jesus is God, but that there is only one God. Jesus described God as “the only God” (John 5:44) and “the only true God” (John 17:3). St. Paul describes God as “the only wise God” (Rom. 16:27) and the only being who possesses immortality (1 Tim. 6:16). St. Ignatius wrote in the early second century that the early Christians were persecuted because they “convince the unbelieving that there is one God, who has manifested himself by Jesus Christ his Son.”173

If there is only one God, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are fully divine and distinct from one another (which we will discuss in the next chapter), then the doctrine of the Trinity logically follows. Jesus could not have been an “intelligence” that another god elevated to divinity, but must instead be an inseparable part of the one, Triune God who alone has eternal, necessary existence.

. . . The Bible Teaches That Jesus Created All Things

Mormons believe that the world is eternal—that it never had a beginning—and God is just a being who exists within it. The God of this world created it in the same way a baker “creates” a cake—by combining pre-existing ingredients. Eric Shuster, a Mormon convert from Catholicism, writes, “Latter-day Saint doctrine holds that the universe was formed and organized, not created ex nihilo, ‘out of nothing’ as Catholic doctrine holds. This is not an insignificant difference.”174

Christians, on the other hand, have always believed that God created all things out of nothing at some point in the distant past. Hebrews 11:3 says that “the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (in some other translations, “was not made out of visible things.”). The Shepherd of Hermas, an early Christian writing from around the year A.D. 80, says, “First of all, believe that there is one God who created and finished all things, and made all things out of nothing. He alone is able to contain the whole, but himself cannot be contained.”175

According to Mormonism, in the beginning Heavenly Father sent the pre-incarnate Jesus (whose name at that time was Jehovah) and the archangel Michael to form our world from pre-existing matter. But this contradicts Isaiah 44:24, where God says, “I am the LORD, who made all things, who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth—Who was with me?” Colossians 1:16–17 also tells us that it was through Jesus that all things were created, Jesus is before all things, and in Jesus all things hold together.176

If God was alone when he created all things, then he did not receive help from separate spiritual beings like Jesus or Michael the Archangel. And if he truly created all things, then he did not form anything from uncreated matter. Finally, if the New Testament tells us that Jesus created all things, and the Old Testament says that God alone created all things, this must mean that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament who would gradually come to be revealed as three distinct persons who exist as the one God that created the world.

Reducing Jesus from being our Creator to only our “eldest brother” leads to an interesting consequence: Jesus becomes not only our brother but the brother of Heavenly Father’s other spirit children—which includes the fallen angel Lucifer. Mormons say this doesn’t mean that Jesus and Satan deserve the same respect, are similar in status, or that Mormons worship Satan. Nonetheless, Jesus and the devil are both God’s spirit children—along with us.

Some Mormons cite the Bible’s description of Jesus as “the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29) and the “firstborn of creation” (Col. 1:15) as evidence that he was created to be our “eldest brother” and is not himself the eternal creator of all things.177 But Romans 8:29 refers to how Jesus was the first human to take part in the glory of the resurrection—not that Jesus was created. That verse says God planned for others to be “conformed” to Christ’s image, becoming his brethren by sharing in the future glory that he first received.

Regarding Colossians 1:15, the term firstborn doesn’t always mean “the oldest child within a family.” The Greek word for “firstborn,” prototokos, can refer to a special position that is worthy of honor and privilege. For example, in Psalm 89:27 God says of David, “I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” Obviously, David was not the first king ever to reign on earth. And we know that he was the youngest son in his family, not the oldest (1 Sam. 16:11). The psalm here indicates how he was placed in a position of preeminence or authority over all other kings. And just as the firstborn of kings is the one who rules over kings, the firstborn of creation (or Jesus) is the one who rules over creation.

. . . It’s Praiseworthy to Pray to Jesus

In Revelation 22:13, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Jesus is not one more god in an infinite line of gods nor is he a created being. He is instead eternal like the Father, who is also described as “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:6). Jesus is the one true God we worship, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

But although Mormons pray to the Father, they do not pray to the Son, because from their perspective Jesus is closer to our level of existence than to Heavenly Father’s. When they are asked why they don’t pray to Jesus, most Mormons will say something like, “Jesus taught his disciples to address their prayers to ‘our Father.’ He never told us to pray to him.”

Yet it doesn’t follow that just because Jesus explicitly taught one way to pray that all other ways of prayer are unacceptable. For instance, Mormons give thanks to Heavenly Father even though Jesus never mentioned thanksgiving when he taught us the Lord’s Prayer. It seems more likely that Mormons only pray to the Father because they are following a prescription in the Book of Mormon where Jesus says, “[Y]e must always pray unto the Father in my name” (3 Nephi 18:19).

But before he was martyred, St. Stephen prayed directly to the ascended Jesus, saying “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And Paul wrote, “[M]ay our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father . . . comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word” (2 Thess. 2:16–17). Notice that Paul does not ask the Father “in Jesus’ name” to comfort believers. He instead petitions both the Father and the Son. In his commentary on Thessalonians, Gene Green notes:

To address prayers to the Lord Jesus (so 2 Thess. 3:5,16) in the same breath with God the Father implies a very high Christology. This prayer would be proper only if the apostles held to the divinity of Christ. This point is even clearer in the prayer of 2 Thessalonians 2.16, where the order of the names is reversed.178

As I once said to two Mormon missionaries, “I appreciate that you’re trying to share your faith, but I love being a Christian. The reason I could never become a Mormon is because I would miss the relationship I have with Jesus Christ. I love praying to Jesus and knowing he isn’t ‘a god’ but, as the apostle Thomas said, ‘My Lord and my God’” (John 20:28).


164 Although Mormons call themselves a “church,” strictly speaking they are not a church because they do not possess valid holy orders or even valid beliefs about central Christian doctrines like the Trinity. But for sake of simplicity, I use the term “church” to describe their organization. Also, in 2018 their president Russell Nelson released a statement expressing a preference for people to call that church by its full name and no longer by any “Mormon” nickname. In my own writings on the subject, I will still use terms like Mormon and LDS for readability and because I don’t think they’re offensive. In conversations with individual Mormons, I’d recommend following their lead about which terms they prefer, since not all of them may agree with the new change.

165 Gordon B. Hinkley, “We Look to Christ” Ensign (May 2002). Available online at:

166 St. Athanasius said, “[W]e become by grace what God is by nature.” (De Incarnatione, I). In other words, God gives us his divine life so that we resemble him but we never become him. Renowned historian of Christianity Jaroslav Pelikan says that the doctrine that men could become like God in holiness (what is called theosis) was, among people like Athanasius, “not to be viewed as analogous to classical Greek theories about the promotion of human beings to divine rank, and in that sense not to be defined by natural theology at all; on such errors they pronounced their ‘Anathema!’” Jarolslav Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (Yale University Press, 1995), 318. In other words, the Church Fathers would not have recognized the Mormon doctrine of exaltation as being a variation of their doctrine of theosis. Instead, they would have considered it heresy.

167 The Mormon sacred text Doctrine and Covenants describes Jesus telling Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon faith, “I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn; And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn. Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth” (93:31–33).

168 “Origin of Man” Improvement Era, November 1909, 75–81. Available online at: man?lang=eng.

169 Joseph Smith Jr., “The King Follett Sermon,” Ensign, May 1971, 13. Available online at:

170 Joseph Smith said of the Trinity, “[T]hree in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. . . . All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God—he would be a giant or a monster.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 372. But each person of the Trinity is not a part of God. Instead, each member is God, and because of this each member of the Trinity deserves the same level of worship, including the second person of the Trinity who became the man Jesus Christ.

171 For a more extended discussion of this argument for the existence of the traditional monotheistic God see Trent Horn. Answering Atheism: How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2013), 123–136.

172 Robert Karl Gnuse, No Other Gods: Emergent Monotheism in Israel (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 1997), 84.

173 Letter to the Magnesians 8:1. 174 Eric Shuster, Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, Inc: 2009), 62. 175 The Shepherd 2:1.

176 This passage is so damaging to people who deny the Trinity and the divinity of Christ that some, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, mistranslate it to say Jesus created “all other things,” even though the Greek words for other (heteros and allos) are not in the original text.

177 Other critics cite Revelation 3:14 because it refers to Jesus as “the beginning of God’s creation. But in Revelation 3:14, the Greek word translated “be- ginning,” or arche, can also mean ruler, source, or origin. Indeed, in Revelation 21:6 the Father calls himself “the beginning,” but this does not mean the Father had a literal beginning. What this verse means is that Jesus is the source of all creation.

178 Gene L. Green, The Letters to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2002), 176.

Horn, Trent . Counterfeit Christs : Finding the Real Jesus Among the Impostors (pp. 93-99). Catholic Answers Press. Kindle Edition.

The Mormon Christ

-by Isaiah Bennett

“How can you possibly deny that we are Christians,” Mormons ask, “when even our church is named for Christ?”

“We acknowledge him to be the Creator of this world.”

“We rejoice in the great atonement he wrought.”

“His name is on nearly every page of the Book of Mormon, which we call ‘another testament’ to him.”

“We conclude all our prayers in his name.”

“You cannot doubt that we love and serve him.”

We don’t, in fact, deny that many Mormons try to love and serve the Lord Jesus. Active members do genuinely try to make him and his will a center in their daily lives. But as with many other Mormon beliefs, the teachings on Christ are a maze of misunderstanding, misdefinition, and misapplication. Mormon scriptures are contradictory, and Mormon prophets deny, redefine, or ignore one another’s teachings.

Brief Catholic View

The Catholic apologist Frank Sheed uses the term “double stream” to help us understand the union of human and divine in Jesus, as expressed by his words and actions. At times Jesus Christ speaks or acts simply as a man. He is tired, hungry, or sad. He prays to God the Father. He expresses feelings of grief in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:38) and abandonment on Calvary (Matt. 27:46). Christ, in his human nature, was a man like us in all things but sin (Heb. 4:15).

At other times he says and does things that go far beyond the words and actions of a mere man. He demands his followers love him above all others, even family. No one who comes to him will be confounded. All must learn of him, for he is the way, the truth, and the life. “No man has ever spoken like this!” He sealed his words with divine signs: giving light to the blind and life to the dead. Because he possessed a divine nature as well as a human one, Jesus accepted without hesitation the adoration of his followers (e.g., John 20:28-29).

The gospels are replete with accounts of the apostles’ stumbling attempts to understand their master. While at times he evinced “merely” human compassion for a hungry crowd or a widowed mother, he responded in a manner truly divine: He fed the crowd and raised the dead son. He gently reproved the mother of James and John, saying it was not his but his Father’s decision to grant a place of privilege in the kingdom (Matt. 20:20-23). Soon after, however, the Lord claimed authority to judge all men, to separate them, and to usher them to seats of glory or places of torment (Matt. 25).

This “double stream” is braided not only through the words and actions of the Lord Jesus but also through the meditation and reflection of his apostles and evangelists. Thus, Paul can affirm that Christ emptied himself of glory, took on the form of a servant, and humbled himself (Phil. 2:6-8), while also proclaiming that in Christ “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9).

Mormon Teachings on Jesus Christ

The Son Was Made by a Divine Man and Woman

According to Mormons, Jesus Christ is their elder brother, since he was the firstborn in the spirit world. That is, God the Father and one of his heavenly wives begot Christ’s spirit at some point in the eternity before earthly creation. This was made possible because the Father, who had previously lived, died, and was resurrected in some other world, had finally attained divinity for himself. As part of the blessings of godhood, he was given an eternal wife or wives with whom to procreate spirit children.

The Son—and All Created Things—Pre-Existed from All Eternity

The Mormon church correctly teaches that the Son exists from all eternity. It makes two mistakes, however. First, it holds that the Son’s pre-existence was only as vague, unformed matter until his heavenly parents begot his spirit. Second, Mormons believe that his pre-existence-as they define it-is the pattern for all created beings. Thus, for Mormons, every person has existed from eternity; each spirit came into being in heaven by the union of God the Father and one of his heavenly wives. That spirit is eventually placed into the human body created by earthly parents.

Jesus Christ can be called the “firstborn” only because his was the first “spirit body” formed by his heavenly parents. There then followed the “spirit bodies” of all other rational beings.

Yet Scripture clearly states the Son created all things and is himself uncreated: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:16-17).

We do well to remember the distinction presented earlier between Christ’s divine and human natures. As the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of the Father, Christ exists eternally. There never was a time when he was not. Because God is perfect and therefore changeless (change implying a movement either toward or away from some ideal or perfection), the Son did not undergo a “reformation” of component elements, bringing him into self-awareness or personhood. Jesus possessed both a divine and a human nature from the moment of his earthly conception. He did not grow into divinity either before or while living a mortal life among men.

Mormons admit Christ became God before he took on a mortal estate. Sometimes, though, their terminology is reminiscent of Greek or Roman mythology. One Mormon writer phrased his view this way:

“Mary, heavy with child, traveled all that distance on mule-back, guarded and protected as one about to give birth to a half-Deity. No other man in the history of this world of ours has ever had such an ancestry-God the Father on the one hand and Mary the Virgin on the other. . . . Jesus lived in a lowly home, the only man born to this earth half-Divine and half-mortal” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 10).

Contrast this with the Catholic belief that Jesus Christ is fully divine (Col. 2:9) and fully human (Heb. 4:15).

The Virgin Birth

Active Mormons claim God the Father (and his heavenly wife) not only brought forth the spirit of Christ in the pre-existence, they believe the Father also directly participated in the Lord’s earthly conception. This inventive doctrine, understandably, raises the ire of many devout Christians, particularly as it has found expression in the theological discourses of some Mormon prophets and apostles:

Brigham Young: “The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband. [The babe in] the manger was begotten, not by Joseph, the husband of Mary, but by another Being. Do you inquire by whom? He was begotten by God our heavenly Father” (Journal of Discourses 2:268).

Joseph F. Smith, sixth Mormon prophet (speaking to young children): “You all know that your fathers are indeed your fathers and that your mothers are indeed your mothers. . . . You cannot deny it. Now, we are told in Scripture that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. Well, for the benefit of the older ones, how are children begotten? I answer just as Jesus Christ was begotten of his father” (Family Home Evening, 1972, 125).

Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon apostle and theologian: “Christ is . . . the Only Begotten Son . . . of the Father. . . . Each of the words is to be understood literally. ‘Only’ means only. ‘Begotten’ means begotten; and ‘Son’ means son. Christ was begotten by an immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers” (Mormon Doctrine, 546-547).

Orson Pratt, early Mormon apostle and theologian: “The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of husband and wife: hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father” (The Seer, 158-159).

Mary thus had two husbands, the Father and Joseph. In the Mormon view, she was perhaps the only woman in history lawfully permitted to engage in polyandry.

In trying to describe how Mary, in the process of natural intercourse with her glorified Father and God, could remain a virgin, McConkie resorts to redefining the term. A virgin, he implies, is a woman who has not had sexual intercourse with a mortal man. The Heavenly Father is a resurrected, immortal man. Therefore, there was no loss of Mary’s virginity (The Mortal Messiah, vol. 1, 314). This is another example of how Mormons hijack and redefine orthodox Christian terms.

Jesus Christ: A Subordinate God

Catholics adore God alone. We give full worship and obedience to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three are co-eternal, all-holy Persons. We pray to each member of the Trinity. We seek to cultivate a relationship of love and reverence with each Person.

This cannot be said for the Mormon. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a second God. There was a time in which he, as God, did not exist, but had to await the organization of his spirit by his heavenly Father and Mother. Thereafter, he was obedient to the heavenly Father in all things and progressed to eventual godhood (Mormon Doctrine, 129), working out his own divinity. Now he has now achieved a fullness of exaltation and is spoken of as God. But he was not always so.

Within the past year (written 9/1/1999), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints changed its logo, now writing the name “Jesus Christ” larger than the rest of its title. The purpose for the change, the church said, is to emphasize its allegedly Christ-centered character. Yet this same church forbids prayer to Jesus Christ.

Not only does Mormon theology teach Christ’s inferiority to the Father, it insists he be excluded from the honor accorded the Father, the supreme God. Therefore, all prayers, whether personal or public, are to be addressed to the Father only. No one is to pray to the Son or the Holy Ghost. Though his picture adorns most Mormon homes and chapels; though he is referred often in the Book of Mormon; though every prayer and testimony is concluded “in the name of Jesus Christ,” Mormons are forbidden to pray to him.

Mormon theologian Bruce McConkie informed an audience at Brigham Young University: “We worship the Father and him only and no one else. We do not worship the Son and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. I know perfectly well what the Scriptures say about worshiping Christ and Jehovah, but they are speaking in an entirely different sense-the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to Him who has redeemed us. Worship in the true and saving sense is reserved for God the first, the Creator”(“Our Relationship with the Lord,” BYU Devotional, a March 2, 1982 monograph).

He may know “perfectly well” what the Scriptures say, but his interpretation of them is deficient. The Greek proskunéo refers to adoration or worship. As such, it is used in reference to God the Father throughout the Bible. But it is used in reference to the Son as well. See, for example, Matthew 2:11; 8:2; 9:18; 15:25; 28:9; 28:17; John 9:38; and Revelation 5:14.

Yet McConkie proclaimed a subordinate Christ to the BYU student body: “Though Christ is God, yet there is a deity above him, a deity whom he worships. . . . All of us, Christ included, seek to become like the Father. In this sense the Firstborn, our Elder Brother, goes forward as we do” (6-7). In other words, the Son worked out his own salvation, in part, by worshiping the Father.

Jesus Christ: Husband and Father

At this time, the Mormon church has no official position on whether or not Jesus Christ was married or had children. However, the Mormon leadership was not always so circumspect.

Orson Hyde, apostle under Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, declared Christ was not only married but was a polygamist who fathered children: “It will be borne in mind that once on a time, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and on a careful reading of that transaction, it will be discovered that no less a person than Jesus Christ was married on that occasion. If he was never married, his intimacy with Mary and Martha, and the other Mary also whom Jesus loved, must have been highly unbecoming and improper to say the best of it”

President Jedediah M. Grant, member of the First Presidency with Brigham Young, on the ultimate cause of the Lord’s crucifixion: “The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion, was evidently based upon polygamy, according to the testimony of the philosophers who rose in that age. A belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were ‘Mormons’” (Journal of Discourses 1:346).

Many are familiar with LDS preaching on the great benefits of family. Jesus, many members think, must have shared fully in those blessings. Although large numbers of Mormons believe this notion of Jesus as husband and father, it has not been elevated to the level of universal doctrine. It’s not discussed much, if at all, with outsiders.

The Mormon church has recently added the subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” to its Book of Mormon. In light of Latter-Day Saints teachings on the Son of God, it would be more accurate to say they present to the world a “Testament of Another Jesus Christ.””

Love & truth,

We are not sufficient unto ourselves to love

-by Corrado Giaquinto, “Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Contemplating the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” c. 1765, oil on canvas, 171 cm (67.3 in); width: 123 cm (48.4 in), private collection, please click on the image for greater detail

“O Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place our trust in Thee!” -traditional added at the end of McCormick family grace

-by Dr Kody Cooper

“What is June for? The sixth month’s name derives from the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter and goddess of marriage and fertility. June was a time for the seeds of new life: sowing crops, weddings, and the beginning of fruitful marriages. In short, June has long been associated with love. And indeed, in the late modern West, we are presented with two rival visions of love to celebrate in June, each with its own sexual ethic and account of the virtues: Pride, which contends “love is love,” and Humility, which proclaims “God is love.”

The denomination of June as a season of “pride” can be traced back to the Stonewall riots in June 1969, which followed upon a police raid of a gay bar. The following June, gay-rights activists organized a commemorative march and demonstration in New York City, and activists adopted the moniker “Gay Pride.” The man who takes credit for coining the term explained his reasoning: “The poison was shame, and the antidote is pride.”

Hence, Pride Month was born of a desire to combat shame within the gay community. This desire can be understood in light of the Christian sexual ethic that had informed American mores to a degree but had already been rejected by many American elites.

In the traditional Christian view, temperance is a cardinal virtue, and shamefacedness is an essential component of it. Temperance considers the pleasures of touch, particularly the pleasures of the table and the bed. The temperate person exercises moderation in these pleasures, avoiding both excess and deficiency. Integral to temperance is shamefacedness, a kind of fear, which is an aversion of desire away from some evil. Shamefacedness is the fear or recoiling from some action that is disgraceful.

The part of temperance that deals with sex is called “chastity,” and it is the virtue by which reason governs sexual desire. The traditional Christian understanding of sexual desire is teleological. It is a gift from God imbued with intrinsic meaning and purpose: to join man and woman in the special bond of marital friendship and that is typically generative of new life. In short, sex was understood to be unitive and procreative such that in the marital act, lovers fully gave of themselves to become “one flesh,” a unity that imaged Trinitarian Love. Chastity therefore meant checking desires for sex that strayed outside of this order, and the chaste person exercised virtue when he recoiled at—was ashamed of—such actions. On this view, heterosexual and non-heterosexual persons alike were required to govern their desires by the virtue of chastity.

While the intellectual and social seeds of the sexual revolution had long been germinating, the 1960s saw the Christian understanding of sex overthrown. In 1964, most American states had laws on the books that restricted access to contraception, for contraception thwarted the teleological purpose of sex. But in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Supreme Court struck down anti-contraception laws as violative of the Constitution, upending the classical Christian natural law logic that such laws presupposed. With the recently invented technology of the birth control pill now widely available, no longer was it presumed that sex was essentially tethered to procreation. Rather, sex became a form of recreation for the expressive self. And this, quite logically, led the gay community to wonder: Why should expressive individualism and recreation be restricted to married heterosexuals?

The promoters of Pride worked out socially and morally what was already implicit in the new legal order. The law is a tutor, and it taught that sex was no longer essentially unitive, procreative, and marital. Why then should homosexual sex be considered shameful? Of course, residual shamefacedness about gay sex remained ingrained in the mores of many Americans. But such attitudes, increasingly cut off from the Christian understanding of the meaning of sex—and the vibrant institutions that embody and sustain that vision—were readily redescribed as “poison.” The antidote was to call for a new virtue: “pride.” Pride functioned as a new sort of fortitude: the habit by which members of the gay community would individually and collectively come out of the closet with confident self-assurance and claim their equal rights in a transformed social order. The older shamefaced attitudes that had been parts of temperance would now increasingly appear as vices: the ignorant prejudice or animus of bigots.

Pride’s popular slogan “love is love” is thus a fitting shorthand for its sexual ethic. Because sex is not inherently a one flesh union of husband and wife, but rather an avenue for self-expression and recreation, no one form of romantic love has any moral superiority over any other. They are all equally “love” and therefore should be treated with absolute moral, social, and legal equality.

The contrasting vision of Christian Humility is “God is Love.” It is antithetical to love as conceived by expressive individualism because Love Itself calls the beloved not to self-expression, but to humble obedience—that is, to make a gift of oneself as an abode for Him to reign in our hearts (John 14:23-24). The Church proclaims this message to the world in the month of June in a special way that is deeply intertwined with the story of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the beloved disciple of Christ’s Sacred Heart.

Born on July 22, 1647 in France, Margaret Mary was still very young when she consecrated herself to God: “O my God, I consecrate to Thee my purity, and I make Thee a vow of perpetual chastity.” In offering up her sexuality as a gift to God, she was given the lifelong gift of chastity and an accompanying “horror” of “anything against purity”—and provided an example of holiness particularly relevant to all whose vocation is not to marriage.

Her Divine Suitor eventually directed her to join the Visitandines. Already extremely advanced in the spiritual life—she had had several visions of Our Lady and Our Lord—obedience was an ongoing drama. Our Lord asked of her various prayers, sacrifices, and penances, but they sometimes conflicted with the commands of her superiors. When the saint beseeched Christ for help, he replied to her that she should do nothing of what he had commanded her without her superiors’ consent: “I love obedience, and without it no one can please Me.”

Humble obedience and the sacrifice of the desires of the self are thematic in St. Margaret Mary’s life. She struggled interiorly to heed Christ’s commands and acknowledged her weakness and inability to do what He asked without His aid. She had entered the convent on one condition: that she could never be forced to eat cheese, to which she was extremely averse. When her Sovereign Master asked her to eat cheese at a meal, she resisted for three days, until in answer to her prayer the Lord said: “There must be no reserve in Love.” She ate the cheese, and recalled that “I never in my life felt so great a repugnance to anything.” Indeed, to conform her more perfectly to himself, Christ identified all that was most opposed to her predilections, and increasingly required her to act contrary to them.

This and many other sufferings conformed her to the crucified Christ and were the essential preconditions to the revelation of His Sacred Heart, which involved such ecstatic spiritual delights that she could not describe them. Christ revealed His Heart to be as a mighty furnace, a throne of flames shining like the sun, encircled by a crown of thorns with the Cross seated upon it. The saint was asked to honor His Sacred Heart with a feast day that would fall in June, in order to manifest to mankind anew His infinite love for them. This would ultimately be fulfilled two hundred years after St. Margaret Mary’s death, when Pope Leo XIII raised the feast to a Solemnity in 1889.

Christ’s Sacred Heart—as both His literal heart of flesh and the self-sacrificial gift of himself for the world that it symbolizes—burns with a love of charity by which he has a just claim on our hearts, on the obedience of our wills. Its radiant brilliance reminds us that God’s love radically extends to all persons, regardless of any predilections they might have that do not conform to His will. It is only through our free choice to nail the desires of the self upon the Cross that His Sacred Heart is permitted to be enthroned in each of our own.

While the contrasts of Humility’s vision with Pride’s are apparent, we should note that, for many, the celebration of Pride Month can be well intentioned. The desire to show compassion, as well as to be acknowledged, recognized, and affirmed, are healthy in their root because they stem from the fundamental human desire to be loved and cared for. Pride’s vision of love is fundamentally flawed, but not because persons who do not identify as heterosexual are of any lesser dignity. From the traditional Christian perspective, it is flawed in as much as it was built upon a rejection of the moral order that God established and the refusal of humble obedience to and reliance upon the One who sacrificed Himself to help us fulfill it. Pride’s vision of love must end in disappointment. For by His Sacred Heart, Jesus loves each of us infinitely more than any creature could, including ourselves. It is humbling to admit that we are not sufficient unto ourselves to love. But our Divine Lover promises a joy beyond anything worldly love promises, if only we will offer ourselves as gifts to Him, and allow Him to transform us into the beautiful creatures we were created to be.”

For the love of God and willing the good of others,

The dark side of the rainbow

Whatever happened to sin?

-by Dr Matthew Petrusek

“The month of June is Pride Month. You may have noticed. For thirty days, corporations, universities, local businesses, community organizations, and government institutions take a break from their perennial praise of the LGBTQ+ movement to demonstrate (especially to those surveilling online) that they are really, really—really—committed to the cause. Although the symbol of Pride has struggled to keep up with the exponential growth of qualifying identities, celebrants communicate their fidelity in the form of rainbow-saturated company logos, sidewalk displays, oversize billboards, and even Pride-themed onesiespick-up trucks, and ice-cream.

But what, precisely, is being celebrated? There are numerous bumper-sticker responses: “love is love,” “acceptance,” “being who you are,” and even, incongruously given the corresponding statistics, “joy.” But how does any of this relate to pride—pride in what exactly? Examining the assumptions and implications of the Pride movement leads to some unsettling conclusions.

Before digging deeper, it’s important to separate Pride ideology—a system of thought that seeks to advance specific cultural and political goals—from individuals who do not fit traditional sexual and gender categories. It’s likely you know someone, are related to someone, or maybe even a parent to someone who’s in this group. You likely love them very much and they may, indeed, be exceptionally lovable. You certainly don’t want to hurt them, and, in fact, that may be the reason you’ve hesitated to say anything about their professed identity. Setting aside the scurrilous knee-jerk accusations of “hatred” and “phobia” that inevitably accompany any skepticism, or even, ironically, curiosity about the meaning of the Pride movement, the search for clarity should recognize that addressing the topic honestly may cause real, even if unintended, pain to good people. And so it goes without saying, to draw on Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, that truth must never be separated from charity.

But who I am to say anything about the “truth” of Pride? Though this question is usually taken as a blow in defense of the movement (Who are you to judge?), it, in fact, opens the first line of critique: What separates Pride from traditional hetero-centric morality? In other words, what makes Pride ideology true, or at least truer, than competing worldviews in such a way that its advocates are not merely imposing their values on society because they have the power to do so?

It’s important to keep in mind that there are only two possible responses to the question of moral truth: either (a) it doesn’t exist (thus all truth is relative), or (b) it does exist, meaning that there are moral principles that are universally, objectively true. Pride ideology often finds itself in the first category, moral relativism, under the declarations, “This is my truth” or “This is our truth.” Those may sound like objective truth claims on the surface; however, if there is no “the truth” lying beneath “my/our truth,” then there is no way to distinguish it from an expression of emotive preference. If this is the case, then the whole Pride movement would be based on an irrational (or at least a-rational) imposition of will on those who disagree with it—which, in turn, would render it analogous, in both method and substance, to how tyrants and bullies operate (“Obey and celebrate me because I say so”).

To escape this assessment, the Pride movement must make the case that they are advocating for something that everyone ought to believe not because they are saying it but because it is, in fact, true. In this case, those who disagree with Pride ideology would be wrong to do so because they would be holding false beliefs. What might those truth claims look like and what implications would they have? Let’s return to some of the bumper-stickers.

“Love is Love”

It’s not clear what this statement means, but it seems to imply at least two things: (1) All individuals’ internal sexual attractions should be considered equally morally valid (if not praiseworthy), no matter who or what the object of desire is (if the movement were only advocating for non-sexual relationships then it would not find opposition, certainly not from traditional morality); (2) All individuals ought to be able to act on those internal attractions whenever and however they desire, provided there is mutual consent and no subjectively defined “harm” occurs—indeed, such sexual expression is to be encouraged and feted.

Are these two statements about love true? That’s a complex question, but let’s assume that Pride ideology affirms them as such. If that’s the case, however, then, given the variety of human beings’ empirically observed (which is not to say natural) sexual proclivities and behaviors, these conclusions necessarily follow: (1) Pride ideology believes that we should celebrate individuals’ freedom to engage in hetero- and homosexual relationships with immediate biological family members; (2) Pride ideology believes that we should celebrate individuals’ freedom to express their desires to have sexual relationships with children (now rebranded as “Minor Attracted Persons”), even if they are not currently free to act on those desires legally; and (3) Pride ideology believes that we should celebrate individuals’ freedom to have sexual relationships with non-human animals, provided they don’t violate anti-cruelty laws. These are the implications of believing “love is love” is true, even if we don’t see them represented on parade floats yet.

“Be who you are”

Drawing on the meaning of “love is love,” this claim implies that individuals’ subjective feelings morally authorize them to (attempt to) appear on “the outside” what they experience themselves to be on “the inside.” This tenet of Pride lies at the heart of transgenderism and, in general, being “queer,” which includes a justification (and celebration) of surgically slicing off healthy breast and genital tissue and forcing women to compete against men in sporting events. However, if it’s true that individuals should be celebrated for making their outside look like their inside—and everyone else must accommodate their wishes—then Pride must also affirm that we praise trans-abled individuals for snipping their healthy spinal cords, trans-species individuals (also known as “Furries”) for demanding societal respect for non-ironically donning animal costumes in public, and even trans-age individuals for dictating that they be cared for like infants, including while in prison. (It is crucial to note that once age, like biological sex, becomes subjective, the moral prohibition against practicing pedophilia dissolves). All this, too, follows from the ideology’s internal logic.


Though this word sounds especially innocuous, Pride ideology transforms its meaning into “Shut up and don’t ask questions, bigot.” To “accept” is not to tolerate; it is to recognize as normal. “Acceptance” thus mainstreams the movement’s definitions of the nature of the human body, the purpose of human sexuality, and the rights of individuals to do as they please according to the dictates of Pride’s principles. At the same time, and consequently, it both stigmatizes what was once considered normal as “abnormal” and marks anyone who critically questions the new normal as a bigot (for only a bigot would be against “acceptance”). In other words, “acceptance” is both the shield and weapon of Pride: it protects the movement from scrutiny by tarring all objections, a priori, as prejudiced.

Holding tight to the distinction between ideologies and individuals, it’s important to highlight that there are some people who, though they fall outside traditional gender and sexual typologies for various reasons (though most likely not genetic ones), are resisting elements of the Pride movement. (One such group is called “Gays against Groomers.”) Yet Pride ideology still remains dominant in the US and most of the West, despite the fact that, according to its own assertions, it is either (a) a subjective, relativistic morality that imposes itself on the Pride-nonconforming by the brute force of its cultural and political power, or (b) a putatively universal morality that, based on the logic of its own principles, permits and encourages incest, bodily mutilation (including of children), pedophiliac attraction (if not practice), bestiality, and the silencing of dissent.

In short, a candid assessment of Pride reveals it to be either dictatorially arbitrary or fiendishly depraved. There is no amount of kaleidoscopic fanfare, corporate-sponsored enthusiasm, or coercively moralizing legislation that can wish this conclusion away. To embrace the Rainbow!™ necessarily entails embracing its shadow. Pretending otherwise, fantasizing that we can dethrone heterosexuality and reality-based biology as natural and normative without letting the full panoply of Pandora’s Box of perversion out into the world, is, itself, to be bigoted—against reason and the evidence of our own eyes. ”

For the love of God and willing the good of others,

Quid sit homo? – the body & human composting

-by Sarah Cain

“With its recent legalization of “human composting,” the state of New York joined California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Vermont.

The process goes like this: the body of the deceased is placed in a metal vessel alongside wood chips, alfalfa, and other plant matter. A moderate heat is applied alongside extra oxygen to encourage microbial activity, and over a period of weeks, the human body breaks down into compost, which is then presented to the family. One cubic yard of dirt is given to them, or about three barrels full. Then, presumably, the family can get started with the cabbage patch they had been planning.

You wouldn’t be wrong to think that seems callous. Man as fertilizer cannot be an expression of man as one who shares in the nature of Christ.

Human composting is just one method of what are now being labeled “green burials.” Advocates boast that such methods “give back to nature.” Mushroom suits perform a similar function, wherein the deceased are placed in spore-ridden suits that will help to decompose them. “Alkaline hydrolysis” is all the rave in some (rather macabre) circles. That’s when the body is broken down in a chemical stew, to be disposed of like hazardous waste.

A vast array of disposal options might be helpful if you had a large, valueless item to get rid of. If the item was a broken refrigerator, there’s little to discuss regarding the morality of what happens after it is discarded. But this isn’t a discussion about refrigerators—it’s about human beings. By virtue of that knowledge, we must treat the body with respect, even reverence. Each person is made in the image and likeness of God; he bears a divine reflection. Even more so, by virtue of his baptism, a Christian is a member of the body of Christ. Human composting is a violation of the natural dignity of man and the supernatural dignity of the Christian.

Modern man has found himself back at an ancient question: quid sit homo? (What is man?) The answer that he has come to, if the actions are analyzed for what they imply, is “nothing.” Modernity asserts that man is nothing in his own right. He can and should be reduced to his utility. Thus, when he dies, he ceases to produce, and we can search for ways to use his body while making sure that it doesn’t take up too much space in the ground. It’s one last attempt to get another use out of it.

There’s an inherent shudder when most of us first hear of these ways of treating the dead. One of the consequences of living among (at least the ruins of) a Christian culture is that we “feel” that certain things are wrong even when we’ve lost the words to explain why. Part of the problem is that modern Catholics are too often divorced from the writings of the past to be able to answer the questions that man has long struggled with.

Our forebears knew, as we should, that man is different from animal. He has a higher nature. He has the capacity to reason. He has an immortal soul. He is made in the image and likeness of God, with a destiny to join in union with him. He matters enough to God for God to endure the Passion. Man is not trash, nor plant, nor mere animal, and he shouldn’t be disposed of as if he were. Man has dignity and value simply because of Who created him, Who willed him into being. The dignity that he holds is not contingent on how productive he is.

The secular understanding that deprives man of innate value leads down sinister roads. If he is defined by his output, what of those who are severely ill and thereby dependent? It naturally follows that the secular thesis deprives those people of their rightful protections and submits them to the whims of the capable—perhaps better labeled “the mob.” How about those with intellectual or developmental difficulties? Those still in the womb? All of these groups have little material output, and each has been targeted for termination by the secular world we inhabit, using a vast array of justifications.

Our respect for the totality of the human person necessitates that we treat the dead with dignity and charity. Further, it requires that we bury them in hope of the Resurrection. The act of burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy and recognition of the sacred nature of the body, which is “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19).

One of the ways that our faith is distinguished from paganism is in the elevated placement of man on earth. It might seem paradoxical at first: as Christians, we recognize man’s fallen nature, thus placing him in need of a Savior, but we also value him as higher than other life forms, as each child is made in God’s image. In various pagan sects, nature is of higher value than man, and man becomes merely a parasite, plundering nature’s resources. Nature becomes worshiped as a deity. For these people, “mother nature” is not just a colloquial phrase. Other pagans refer to this false god as Gaia. To deprive man of his dignity and inherent value is thus both paganistic and sacrilegious.

We must do better than the world around us, which reduces man to utility, as in secularism, or to leech, as in paganism. A baptized person is a child of God. Even when the Church permits cremation, he must be set to rest in consecrated ground and buried in hopes of the Resurrection. He is not placed on display in the home, nor scattered because someone believes the act to be pretty. Those of us who live today have a profound obligation to honor the dignity of the man who can no longer speak for himself—certainly not by composting him, but rather by praying for his soul.”

Love & truth,