Dear Sir, I am trying so much at this point to phrase this write-up with a certain sense of respect because you rightly deserve it as an elder. But sir, did I hear that you uttered atrocities in your church, and about the Catholic Church? Tell me sir, are these your words: “All Catholics will go to hell”, “They are not Christians and have never been”, “The Pope is an anti-Christ and the Catholic Church will soon declare for Satan”, “They don’t believe in heaven. They believe in purgatory, the purgatory they invented”?
If the above are not really your words, then, I am sorry, you may ignore the following, but if they are indeed your words, Mr. Okotie, then I am sorry you may wish to consider the following:
First, your case reminds me of the pitiable and miserable condition of many Christians in this country, and indeed beyond. The deceit in which they have been plunged into in the name of Christ is indeed appalling. The desire for God has been shifted to the desire for pride, for success and for wealth, which the so called pastors and preachers preach in many forms, but this time instead of God being the end, He has become the means. A lot of times I hear people quote the passage of the scriptures that states: “Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven, and its righteousness and every other thing will be added unto you”. Matt. 6:33, and yet give to this passage another meaning, one that focuses the attention more on the things to be added than the God to be sought. And so they read into the passage, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, BECAUSE every other thing shall be added unto you’. Not only that, people no longer desire or seek for sound doctrine, for the truth of scripture, but are comfortable wherever it is said that all is well, wherever miracles are performed, or wherever their conscience finds an apparent peace as a result of not being pricked by the word of God that is indeed sharper than a two-edged sword.(Heb 4:12). This reminds me of the fact that it was even prophesied by the apostles and writers of the scriptures, and that of St. Paul especially, in 2Timothy 4:3, “For a time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings”.
This is seen in the very fact that these days and since the time of the protestant reformation, everyone is a teacher, everyone is called by God, and everyone has been told to found a Church. A lot of Churches now exist, not on the foundation of Christ as founder but on the ideas, beliefs and teachings of one man or a group of men, who not only have abandoned the teachings and traditions of the apostles themselves but have created their own and what they feel is right, and many follow them today. These pastors have even claimed infallibility more than the pope himself has ever claimed, they have even claimed impeccability, something which the Pope has never claimed in the 2000 year history of the Church, yet they accuse the Catholic Church when she teaches that the Pope is infallible. Not to go into a lot of other issues, I rather address your statements and their consequences.
YOU HAVE PUBLICLY SHOWN THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW THE SCRIPTURES, yes, because if you did, you would have known that it is one of the central teachings of Christ whom you claim to preach that it belongs to no one, except God, the prerogative to judge the state and the fate of any man’s soul. It may help to remind you that our Lord taught, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not and you will not be condemned”. (Luke 6:37, Matthew 7:1). It belongs therefore to no man, to seize the prerogative of God to judge. It belongs to God alone. But what have you done sir, you have proclaimed judgment upon all Catholics by that atrocious statement, “All Catholics will go straight to hell”, you have therefore implicitly proclaimed yourself judge over their souls, omniscient as to know their fate in the future and at the end of time. I am sorry sir, but that prerogative does not belong to you in any way. And hence, that statement was futile and useless. It holds no water. I would also like to use this opportunity to remind all Christians that when our Lord taught about not judging, he not only meant that we shouldn’t be the judge of others, he also meant and the scriptures teach, that we also shouldn’t be the judge of ourselves, no matter how much we think we have done, or no matter how good and righteous we think we are, it is humility not to proclaim that our souls will go to heaven on the last day, because we have a master, we should live a life of total surrender to him for it is he who knows and sees all things even our most secret thoughts, he knows us more than we know ourselves and also we are not omniscient as to know the consequences of all our actions. No man is perfect! Even the popes whom you condemn know this, Pope John Paul II throughout his life, was very frequent at the confessional, making reparations not only for his sins but also for the sins of his flock. He understood that we all are sinners in need of God’s constant grace and mercy in our lives, and there never comes a time in our lives when we will have had enough of it. So “who are you to judge whether he stands or falls. And stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand”. (Romans 14:4). The scriptures also say, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. (Rom. 3:23). “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us”. (1 John 1:8). “For we all make many mistakes”. (James 3:2). Even St. Paul has this to say, “… but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the lord who judges me”. It is to you therefore that St. James addresses when he writes, “have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:4). In all these, sir, you have erred by your statement.
Secondly, sir, it may pay to remind you that our lord also said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when there is the log in your own eye?” (Mathew 7:3-4). I am trying so hard at this point not to cast accusing fingers at you for your many public and open defilements of the teaching of Christ in cases like divorce, (Matt. 5:32, Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:9) which you have been involved in twice, because I am not perfect, and I am guilty of many sins. But from the passage of scripture above, it is clear that our Lord warns us to look rather introspectively and discover the unworthiness within each one of us, and realize that we really are not lord over others, or better than them morally speaking. Your case is a typical example. It reminds me of the Pharisees against whom our Lord spoke in the scriptures.
Again, an extension of this point, which many Christians, especially in Nigeria, are guilty of is the fact that in panic at the end times, which shouldn’t be, they point accusing fingers at people, naming them the Anti-Christ, leaders and governments, people they really do not know anything about. The Anti-Christ is an enemy of Christ, against his principles, his teachings, indeed, his person, his mission, and his vision. The Anti-Christ is associated with the Devil and his angels, but these are not the only things that are Anti-Christ. There are also many things in our lives that are anti-Christ, telling lies, stealing, cheating, greed, pride, selfishness, quarreling, fighting, jealousy, envy, malice, slander etc, all these are definitely anti-Christ, against Christ’s teachings, principles, vision and mission. Christ is the enemy of sin. This is the more reason why all Christians should quit searching for or pointing accusing fingers at others and naming them anti-christs when deep inside of them, they carry one thing or another, one fault or sin, belonging to the original Anti-Christ- the devil.
A final note on this issue, and a major one, is that you, sir, do not know the Bible so well, as to know that not everything revealed by God are to be found in its pages. The authors of the scriptures did not write everything they knew, or wanted to communicate. This is essentially because their prerogative was to go and teach all nations, cf Matthew 28:19-20, and this, not exclusively by writing. We read in the sacred pages that they went about preaching, with word of mouth and not even all of them wrote, they didn’t go about writing because Christ did not say to them, ‘go and write to all the nations’. The few apostles that wrote didn’t even write everything and they know themselves that they didn’t write everything. They wrote sometimes in answer to questions raised where they had already gone to preach or as catechesis to teach the sayings and works of Jesus, what we now call Gospels, or to settle disputes, and give instructions in places they didn’t have enough time to stay and preach. We see this clearly in the scriptures because the authors themselves admit it. We read in John 21:25, “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written”. Sometimes we fail to realize that Our Lord spent three solid years with his apostles, and in his mission, years too much for the relatively little accounts of his works as relayed in the Gospels. We read also that there were several things the apostles wanted to relay but didn’t consider writing the best option. An example is in 2 John 1:12, “There are several things I have to tell you, but I have thought it best not to trust them to PAPER and INK. I hope instead to visit you and talk to you PERSONALLY so that our joy may be complete”. Also read 3 John 1:13-14, “I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon and we will talk together face to face”. This is not all, we read as St. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “Hold to the TRADITIONS which were taught by us, either by WORD OF MOUTH or by letter”. We also read, “Maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you”. (1Cor 11:2). And yet again in 2 Tim 1:13, we read, “Follow the pattern of the SOUND WORDS which you have HEARD from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus”. You may also wish to read 2 Thess. 3:6. All these buttress my point. In line with all these, the Catholic Church has always taught that both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, as handed down by the apostles, constitute equally the sacred deposit of the Word of God. Taking one alone and excepting the order would lead to a misinterpretation, and hence a misunderstanding of the divinely revealed message. The more you understand this, sir, the more unlikely it would be that you would repeat the mistakes which you have already made in this respect.
Yet, o! fan of the Bible, you accuse the Catholic Church of unscriptural practices, I only wish you could show me, where in the scriptures, a beauty pageant was done in the house of God.
YOU HAVE PUBLICLY SHOWN THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW CHRISTIANITY. Well, that is already obvious, from the fact that your statements show a next to nothing idea of Christianity’s origins, and its history. If I may guess, you probably picked up the bible and scanned through its pages, and maybe read a few critics. The statements you made were those I, as a young child asked many years ago, and have long ago answered, or rather, gotten answers to. Though you are much older, it’s not too late to do the same. An idea of Christianity’s history would have let you know that the belief that Christ is truly present in the sacred host, the bread and wine, after the consecration, the thanksgiving, which in Greek means EUCHARISTIA, from where the Catholics, get the word, Eucharist, stemming from the fact that four of the scripture writers describe that whenever Christ undertook this miraculous process he gave thanks. (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, and 1 Cor. 11:23-29), that this belief was present from the very beginnings, and essentially characterized Christian worship cf Acts 2:46. In fact, we read that when Christianity entered the Roman Empire and faced terrible persecutions from the Emperors of Rome, one of the accusations hauled against them was that they were cannibals, that they gathered together to eat the flesh of a man. This goes to even show that the Eucharist was at the heart or center of their worship, for the Romans to have picked on this so easily.
Christ himself had told us in John 6:53-57, and very explicitly, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.” Probably Sir, you would be among those who would leave Jesus as in John 6:66, saying, “this teaching is too hard, who can accept it”. (John 6:60). Like you said it is a ritual, a sacrifice, you mean that in the way the unbelievers meant it in John 6:53, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”, and yes it is indeed the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, the same sacrifice performed on the cross of Calvary for our sins, a sacrifice which every one stands to benefit from, to be put right before God, to be sanctified and made whole in the Spirit. And like those who walked away from Christ as he taught this, Christ will not call you back because he was not mincing words, he meant what said, and said what he meant.
Secondly, if you knew Christianity, you would have known that Christ built his Church on a confessor, not a confession, a rock, whom he named, a man, whom he called, Peter. Of course Christ is the chief cornerstone and the head of his body the Church, but he himself built his church on Peter when he said, ‘You are Peter’, (Matthew 16:18) from the Greek petros which means rock, remember that it was Christ himself who gave Simon the name Peter, and it takes a simple study of the Bible to show that whenever God changes someone’s name, a responsibility is usually attached to it. Such responsibilities involve and are usually geared towards the fulfillment of the coming of his kingdom on earth. You will do well to remember at least the change of Abram’s name to Abraham. We see that Christ was also meant to establish or found a Kingdom of God’s People even in the Old Testament, in the prophecies about Christ in Isaiah chapter 7, when it was said that his kingdom will have no end. Christ was to establish a kingdom, and that which he has established when he said, ‘I will build my Church’, (Matthew 16:18) from the Greek ecclesia.
Again Christ says to peter; ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven’, (Matthew 16:19), we see a similar situation in Isaiah 22:15, “Thus says the Lord God of hosts, ‘Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him’” Thus the Lord cursed the self-seeking steward of the house of Judah and appointed a new one in his place, and then we read in verses 20-22, about this new steward of the kingdom, ‘in that day I will call my servant Eliakim the Son of Hilkah and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your belt on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a servant to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. AND I WILL PLACE ON HIS SHOULDER THE KEY OF THE HOUSE OF DAVID; HE SHALL OPEN AND NO ONE SHALL SHUT; AND HE SHALL SHUT AND NONE SHALL OPEN’. Not only this, he says to peter again, ‘whatever you shall bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven’, a very clear indication that Christ is speaking clearly to peter, giving to Peter the authority to exercise, as pastor and shepherd of his flock in his name. We also see this in John 21:15-17, when he says to peter three times to feed, tend and look after His sheep. Trying to get round it or twist it to suit a purpose is wrong and untruthful. The pope sir is a name meaning papa, or father, which we give to the successor of that shepherd of Christ’s flock, who today is Pope Francis. Seeing that neither you nor your Church can trace her origins to the early apostles, the Catholic Church is more verified than your Church and the Pope more consolidated in the authority of Christ than you are or have ever been.
YOU HAVE PUBLICLY SHOWN THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. Your statements about what the Catholic Church believes are even outrageous. This shows that you have not even taken time to study the catholic faith, but are only acting on hearsay or ignorant assumptions. This is very absurd and demeaning for someone who aspires to head a country someday. If you decide to criticize someone or something, the simplest thing one can do is to find out what the person has to say about himself first, or rather understand what the person is trying to say, before launching blind and uninformed attacks. How can an elite pastor say that “Catholics do not believe in heaven”, when there is a whole section devoted to the topic in the Catechism, when priests, bishops, and even popes have talked about that heavenly abode for centuries, when one distinguishing characteristic of the catholic church is the veneration of the Saints, the Church triumphant, who are in heaven? Yes, we believe that there is, for the souls who die in a state of grace and friendship with God but still yet not perfectly sanctified or purified by the Holy Spirit, a place or state in which that sanctification is completed before they enter heaven, a place or state we call purgatory, but even the idea of purgatory presupposes a belief in heaven, for what else is the goal of purgatory than to make an unfit soul fit for heaven? And by the way, this is not an invention in any way, it is a truth of faith, which the Bible clearly teaches in the following passages, Rev. 21:25-27, 1 John 5:17, Matt. 16:27, Rev. 22:12, 2Maccabees 12:45, Matt. 25:34, 41, and 1 Cor. 3:11-15 amongst others. I will treat the issue of purgatory later. This belief is also present in the Jewish Religion that of God’s chosen people of the Old Covenant, from which Christianity takes its roots.
It is also stunning that in some way you feel there is this competition between Our Lord and his mother for our attention. Pity! Unlike you, we Catholics believe that all of us, the people of God are bound together in bond of communion, with Christ as our center. A bond to which death is no barrier, a bond in which we all to a certain degree share in the one mediatorship of Christ, wherein that in Christ, we can pray for one another, and also ask one another to pray for us. Holding a special place in this bond of communion is that woman of virtue, the Mother of God, and rightly so because she gave birth to Our Lord Jesus Christ who is God and has always been even before his conception. She is our Mother, our Queen, Our patroness, and just like all the saints in heaven but to a higher degree, she intercedes for all the elect, all the chosen people of God. (Rev. 5:8, 12:1,17, 6:9-10). That is the family we are born into through baptism, a lovely family where everyone matters and contributes to the well being of the other in Christ. A family, so big, because it does not only cut across nations, it cuts across the boundaries of life and death, of heaven and earth. So sir, it is Christian to entrust myself to the Mother of my redeemer just like it is Christian to entrust myself to my pastor as director of my soul, just that what she and the saints in heaven can do for me, no man on earth can do.
Finally sir, when I think of all the good people in the Catholic Church, men and women who have given their very lives as a testimony, a marturia, to the greatness and transforming power of the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who have spent their whole lives in the service of the poor, the needy, the destitute, the orphans, children and the aged. When I also consider the good the Popes have done and how many a time they have put their lives on the line, in furtherance of the gospel, I only marvel at your statements. Because they remind me of the same accusation laid against Our Lord Jesus Christ as he went about doing good. they attributed the good he did to the devil in Mark 3. And so the Church, the body of Christ must continue to endure allegations such as yours, attributing her good works to the devil and hence blaspheming against the spirit of the Church, the Spirit of God himself. The Catholic Church must tow the lines of her master and groom for she is his body and he is her head. She is the only Church that is infinitely loved and infinitely hated, just as Christ is infinitely loved and infinitely hated.
But sometimes I wonder, Satan is not Charitable, Satan does not love, and Satan will not give his life for the cause of Justice, reconciliation and peace. Satan will not even encourage anyone to do so. But if you still found reason after considering these to say the Catholic Church declares for Satan, then good luck to you, I only would laugh in CHINESE!!! Have a nice day!!!