A Mormon- Catholic debate


#1

Hello everyone,

It is a big favor to ask, but I just came across the text from a debate between a Mormon and a Catholic regarding apostolic authority. After having read through the LDS apologist’s case I think he made a decent argument. However I would like to get your thoughts on his arguments. Here is the link:

transporter.com/Mormonism/Keys_Debate.htm


#2

I think you would need to post what points you agree or disagree with, in order to acclimate a discussion. :slight_smile:


#3

We may have both a Catholic and a Mormon in the White House soon. Doubt they will debate their respective faiths. Just sayin’.


#4

Thanks for the link Both parties do a nice job on presenting their ideas and of course I appreciate the LDS perspective as superior, simply because it references actual historical comment and illustrates where the changes took place. So far I have not read anything new but his organization of the material is well done.

My objection to the LDS approach in this debate is simply a personal one. I like to compare but I resist being so bold as to say the Catholics are wrong or the LDS are right. I prefer to simply illustrate the differences and hope we can simply work our way through them. However, I believe that to be the difference between a discussion forum and a debate forum.


#5

This question is at the core of the LDS-Catholic debate. Was there a great apostasy or not? Was there a need for a restoration or not?

Both Churches hold that Peter was given all the keys of the priesthood. In fact, in Mormonism, Peter, James, and John constitute what would be the equivalent of the first presidency of the church with Peter constituting the office of the Prophet or President of the Church. There is a agreement on the fact that Peter was the visible head of the church on earth but the disagreement comes in whether or not the keys were passed on by the laying of hands during the days of the early church or whether that priesthood authority was not passed on and therefore allowed to die. Again, both churches believe that apostolic authority is only passed by the laying on of hands by those with the proper priesthood. In fact, the LDS claim that when the priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith, Peter, James, and John came and laid their hands on his head in order to confer the priesthood upon him.

To me, there are many cases in the scriptures where apostolic authority was passed on to others by the apostles themselves. I find it much more logical to say that Peter passed on his priesthood keys while still here on earth during the days of the early church rather than Peter passed on his priesthood keys while appearing as a resurrected being 1800 years after the establishment of the original church.

Also, the issue of a complete and total apostasy can be argued to be false because even LDS doctrine states that the three nephites who were themselves priesthood holders in the apostolic office never tasted death and are therefore still on the earth. This means that, in LDS doctrine, there were at least three people on the earth with proper authority throughout the time known as the great apostasy.


#6

We have nothing to learn at all from the Mormons.


#7

Mormonism is incompatible with Catholicism.

Mormonism is a fantasy cult invented by a violent sex offender from upstate New York named Joseph Smith. If Smith were alive today, he would be in the state penitentiary for statutory rape and a host of other crimes. Smith ended up dying in a gun battle with rival Mormons at a jail in Carthage, Illinois, where he had been imprisoned for destroying a rival Mormon’s printing press. Eastern Protestants found Mormon heresies to be so intolerable that they kicked them out to the Salt Flats of Utah. It is sort of scary to think that the next President of the United States could be a high ranking member of this cult.

Mormonism has many similarities with other secret occult societies like Scientology and Freemasonry. These cults are just different shades of the occult. In these occult secret societies, the lower echelons and degrees know very little about what occurs upstairs, unless they are vetted. The lower levels usually engage in occult acitivites that are popularly termed “white magic” (L. Ron Hubbard, for instance, seems to have borrowed many concepts from “Cosmic Christians” like Rudolf Steiner and from notorious occultist Helena Blavatsky) while the upper echelons MUST worship Satan to maintain their power. I think that the Satanic component to Mormonism is rather clear in that Joseph Smith recieved the golden tablets from a demon named Moroni (in this regard Mormonism shares a similarity with Islam in that the founders of both religions recieve a message in private from a demon disguised as an angel). It was the Devil who taught the doctrine of exaltation to Adam and Eve with the appeal to be like God. Mormons, Freemasons, Scientologists and all other occult varieties of the coming “new age” have tasted the same fruit of the tree and want to bite into it.


#8

[quote="Callvenus, post:5, topic:297399"]
This question is at the core of the LDS-Catholic debate. Was there a great apostasy or not? Was there a need for a restoration or not?

[/quote]

No apostasy. This one of two foundation stones of Mormonism that don't hold any weight.

Both Churches hold that Peter was given all the keys of the priesthood. In fact, in Mormonism, Peter, James, and John constitute what would be the equivalent of the first presidency of the church with Peter constituting the office of the Prophet or President of the Church.

James and John were Bishops as were the rest of the 11 disciples. The 11 are the royal court as prefigured in the OT Davidic Kingship. St. Peter was the Prime Minister.

There is a agreement on the fact that Peter was the visible head of the church on earth but the disagreement comes in whether or not the keys were passed on by the laying of hands during the days of the early church or whether that priesthood authority was not passed on and therefore allowed to die.

Christ would not set up his church, to be with it until the "end of the age" and the "gates of hell would not prevail" and not set up a succession. Just the opposite. Church history shows Jesus protecting his church from all herasys and using apostolic succession as a test:

"But if there be any (heresies) which are bold enough to plant themselves in the midst Of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men,--a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. …To this test, therefore will they be submitted for proof by those churches, who, although they derive not their founder from apostles or apostolic men (as being of much later date, for they are in fact being founded daily), yet, since they agree in the same faith, they are accounted as not less apostolic because they are akin in doctrine…Then let all the heresies, when challenged to these two tests by our apostolic church, offer their proof of how they deem themselves to be apostolic. But in truth they neither are so, nor are they able to prove themselves to be what they are not. Nor are they admitted to peaceful relations and communion by such churches as are in any way connected with apostles, inasmuch as they are in no sense themselves apostolic because of their diversity as to the mysteries of the faith." Tertullian, Prescription against the Heretics, 33 (A.D. 200).

Again, both churches believe that apostolic authority is only passed by the laying on of hands by those with the proper priesthood. In fact, the LDS claim that when the priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith, Peter, James, and John came and laid their hands on his head in order to confer the priesthood upon him.

Heresy. There was no apostasy and why would it take Peter, James and John to confer the priesthood? Any one of them would be able to do it as the priesthood was conferred to the disciples by Christ himself.

To me, there are many cases in the scriptures where apostolic authority was passed on to others by the apostles themselves. I find it much more logical to say that Peter passed on his priesthood keys while still here on earth during the days of the early church rather than Peter passed on his priesthood keys while appearing as a resurrected being 1800 years after the establishment of the original church.

So we're back to why do Mormons believe in Joseph Smith despite all the contradictions and proven falsehoods?


#9

I am most interested in your responses to the claims made by the LDS apologist. Here are his specific arguments:

transporter.com/Mormonism/brb_rebut.html
transporter.com/Mormonism/brb_response.html

Rather than knocking down Mormonism with overused rhetoric I would appreciate it if we actually addressed the arguments this man is making.


#10

[quote="truthseeker32, post:9, topic:297399"]
I am most interested in your responses to the claims made by the LDS apologist. Here are his specific arguments:

transporter.com/Mormonism/brb_rebut.html
transporter.com/Mormonism/brb_response.html

Rather than knocking down Mormonism with overused rhetoric I would appreciate it if we actually addressed the arguments this man is making.

[/quote]

So pick a specific claim and let's discuss. ;)


#11

First, what is “the Church” (Greek ekklesia = “assembly”) that Jesus spoke of? Steve’s interpretation suggests it was “the Church” in its manifestation as an earthly organization. However, in a broader sense, “the Church” is much more inclusive. Two of the earliest post-New Testament Christian writings, The Pastor of Hermas and 2 Clement (both early second century) claimed that God created the Church even before he created the world. "She was created first of all… and for her sake was the world made."1 "Moreover, the books and the apostles declare that the Church belongs not to the present, but existed from the beginning."2 Paul wrote, “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:3) The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews went on: “But we are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and in an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:22-23) The message here is clear. “The Church” is not just an earthly organization - it existed before the foundation of the world, and it exists with the saints of all ages, both those who are on the earth and those who have passed on. Therefore, even if the Church as an earthly organization disappears and reappears periodically, the Church will always survive!

But is there any reason to believe Jesus was speaking primarily of the earthly Church? On the contrary, the text says that “the gates of hell {Greek hades = “the world of the dead”} shall not prevail against it.” What are “the gates of hades”? Hades is not hell - it is the underworld, and in early Christian and Jewish thought it was believed to be a place of waiting where the spirits of the dead, both the just and unjust, remained until the resurrection. (If Jesus had been speaking in Roman Catholic terms he might have said, “the gates of Purgatory shall not prevail against it.”) Thus Tertullian (ca. 200 AD): "All souls, therefore; are shut up within Hades: do you admit this? (It is true, whether) you say yes or no…"3 The “gates of hades”, then, represent the “powers of death”, as Steve’s quotation of the verse from the RSV indicates, and “the sting of death is sin”. (1 Corinthians 15:56) Thus the text seems to be a promise of protection from the powers of death and sin for Christ’s assembly (ekklesia) of believers. For this reason Michael M. Winter, former lecturer in Fundamental Theology at St. John’s Seminary (Roman Catholic), in his excellent scholarly defense of the papacy, admits that "although some writers have applied the idea of immortality to the survival of the church, it seems preferable to see it as a promise of triumph over evil."4

Furthermore, there are numerous allusions in the early Christian literature to Christ, when he died and went to hades, breaking down the gates of Hades and leading out the faithful to glorious resurrection. For instance, Athanasius related the following tradition: "He burst open the gates of brass, He broke through the bolts of iron, and He took the souls which were in Amente {the Coptic equivalent of Hades} and carried them to His Father… Now the souls He brought out of Amente, but the bodies He raised up on the earth…"5 Therefore it is clear what Jesus was talking about when he said “the gates of hades” would not prevail against the Church, and to apply this statement to the perpetuation of the earthly Church would make no sense.


#12

Rewriting will post in a minute.


#13

[quote="truthseeker32, post:11, topic:297399"]
if

[/quote]

In Steve's opening statement he showed that Christ built his visible Church and there will be successors to the Apostles until Christ returns again. And the Church is Christ. I don't see anything in Barry's rebuttal that refutes what Steve claimed.


#14

What is there to debate unless you want to put historic Christianity up against an angel named Moroni that delivered some golden tablets outside of sacred scripture and tradition?


#15

Here is one point that I found interesting based on my own interactions here on this forum.

Steve Clifford presenting the Catholic perspective makes this observation:
Barry acknowledges with the above statement that he knows where the crux of the debate lies. We can debate endlessly about a variety of side issues such as Purgatory, Bishops vs. Apostles, Papal infallibility, gifts and miracles, “development” of the Papacy, the nature of God, and so on. However, the question still remains: "Did Jesus Christ leave His entire flock without any earthly shepherds for almost 1,800 years of total apostasy or did He keep His promise to be with His Church until the end of time through apostolic succession?"
As I compare the common points of discussion in the two author’s efforts I have to read the above point as so much posturing. He has categorized several components as “side issues” and that they are not worthy of the distraction they provide from the core discussion of an Apostasy. Thus he has contrived to minimize points of discussion which might refer to these terms. Let’s look at one that he takes exception to and that is Barry’s insert of a parenthetical side comment of no significance or impact on the nature of the point that Barry is really making in his.

Steve, after pointing out we don’t want to waste time discussing purgatory states:
Barry is also in error when he tries to equate “Hades” to the Catholic teaching on “Purgatory”, which is a place for purification after death for those who die in God’s grace and friendship but not totally purified in the holiness necessary to enter heaven. Those who go to Purgatory are assured of their eternal salvation, but after death they must first undergo purification (like a refiners fire), so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. On the other hand, those who are in “Hades” cannot leave and must endure eternal torment.
This feint is preceded by an appeal to the traditional dogma and then this nonpoint is hyper-emphasized to magnify the discussion point as being about Barry’s mistake on purgatory as if this error is somehow going to undermine the entire argument that Barry follows with. However, is this a legitimate observation? Let’s review the actual quote that Steve is referencing:

As stated by Barry:
But is there any reason to believe Jesus was speaking primarily of the earthly Church? On the contrary, the text says that “the gates of hell {Greek hades = “the world of the dead”} shall not prevail against it.” What are “the gates of hades”? Hades is not hell - it is the underworld, and in early Christian and Jewish thought it was believed to be a place of waiting where the spirits of the dead, both the just and unjust, remained until the resurrection. (If Jesus had been speaking in Roman Catholic terms he might have said, “the gates of Purgatory shall not prevail against it.”) Thus Tertullian (ca. 200 AD): "All souls, therefore; are shut up within Hades: do you admit this? (It is true, whether) you say yes or no…"3 The “gates of hades”, then, represent the “powers of death”, as Steve’s quotation of the verse from the RSV indicates, and “the sting of death is sin”. (1 Corinthians 15:56) Thus the text seems to be a promise of protection from the powers of death and sin for Christ’s assembly (ekklesia) of believers. For this reason Michael M. Winter, former lecturer in Fundamental Theology at St. John’s Seminary (Roman Catholic), in his excellent scholarly defense of the papacy, admits that "although some writers have applied the idea of immortality to the survival of the church, it seems preferable to see it as a promise of triumph over evil."
Observe how a minor, passing, off the cuff comment is blown up in Steven’s rebuttal as if it is a worthy focus point of the debate, when in reality it is absolutely of no significance whatsoever. Is Barry’s comparison correct - not suitably - Does it matter? - It’s a parenthetical moment and not part of the debate as a point of fact.

The real point that Barry appears to be making is significant and is very germane to the discussion. It is that one of the revered Apostolic Fathers - Tertullian has evaluated the key scripture in Matthew and has addressed an interpretation of his day that all of the dead are assigned to Hades and thus a potential comparison exists that “gates of Hades” equals the “powers of death”. Having established that connectivity then Barry wonders how Steve can contrive to see the concept that gates of hell shall not prevail against “it” as if “it” represents the Church instead of the body of believers for whom Christ provides the escape. This then flows towards the focus point as Barry unites 1 Corinthians and Tertullian as the first witness against a “church” interpretation.

Barry then allows a respected Catholic writer to make his point that the promise in Matthew is more likely not a promise to the Catholic Church (that technically is yet to be born) but is instead a much grander and more significant point and consistent with Christ own statements of his mission that it references the fact that Christ will overcome death and hell to save the believers who believe on Christ’s name. This final point is punctuated with a Catholic theologian’s (Winter) interpretation which fundamentally affirms the point.

Michael M. Winter’s allusion is possibly to the verse in Revelation which reiterates in the terminologies of Matthew 16 concerning the keys of the kingdom and their function of ending the prevailing of death and hell as follows:
Revelation 1:18
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Catholic version:

Revelation 1:18 the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.
When Steve responds he never addresses the point of Barry’s rebuttal. He ignores the key fundamental observation that two Catholic theologians both open and close the gate to a possible point that he should consider.

Instead, Steve tows the line and never breaks to acknowledge the point that is made. Thus, at least on this point, it ceases to be a debate and becomes moot in Steve’s obfuscation of the focus of Barry’s observation.

This is just an example of something that occurs over and over on Steve’s part. While from my observation it appears that Barry is very much focused on using the points of Steve’s comments and the dogma as the core of what he is trying to rebut, however, Steve sidesteps the specifics of the debate and simply repeats the dogma over and over as if that alone validates its irrefutability.


#16

What I saw was The Catholic making outstanding points and the Mormon struggling to keep up. As I have said many times: Jesus made a promise. For the LDS Church to be true, Jesus was either a liar, a weakling, or simply a very cruel God."


#17

EllieH, perhaps it isn't posturing but a reflection our faith in Jesus Christ?

From the Catholic POV, either you have faith that Jesus has guided His Church, via prayer, divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, adherence to the Apostolic faith, within a community of believers (the baptized), or you don't.

Your objections only look to me as objections to this faith.

Mormonism requires that you lack the faith that we hold. The foundation of Mormonism is clearly seen by Catholics as a denial of the Holy Spirit.


#18

It may look that way to you however, carefully note I am not criticizing his faith - I am criticizing his debate form. He fails in several instances to pick the key points of the discussion and respond to them. It is not important what his faith is, as we expect that he will defend that perspective in the debate. However, his defense is one of sidestep and obfuscate not one where he addresses the specifics of the discussion.


#19

[quote="TexanKnight, post:16, topic:297399"]
What I saw was The Catholic making outstanding points and the Mormon struggling to keep up. As I have said many times: Jesus made a promise. For the LDS Church to be true, Jesus was either a liar, a weakling, or simply a very cruel God."

[/quote]

Perhaps you might favor us with some examples of the outstanding points made by Steven and Barry's struggle to keep up.

As well you can see why I started my post to a reference of what I have observed on this forum. You have exampled it most clearly and it is this tactic that I observe in Steven's response as well - sidestep ...obfuscate.


#20

I too have spent some time reading the debate, and I see it differently. Although Barry labors hard to develop the notion that Mt. 16:18 speaks to a spiritual “church” only, he simply cannot do so without ignoring the context of the verse. While it is interesting to see Barry create an argument made by pulling pieces from hither and yon, the context of the language cannot be ignored without a significant loss of impact. It is quite clear that Jesus is speaking of founding a visible earthly Church upon Peter (the “Rock”). In a way, Barry’s argument awkwardly backs into the Protestant argument that the “Rock” is not Peter, but a confessional faith in Jesus Christ. While faith in Jesus is certainly necessary for salvation, that is not the point that Jesus is making when He re-names Simon bar Johah as the Rock. Rather, Jesus is declaring His intent to use Peter as his earthly representative with the powers of binding and loosing. Barry’s strained interpretation fails to address this context and in the end I found the argument less impressive than you did.

In the end, it does come down to the question of whether there was a Total Apostacy. There is no historical warrant for such a conclusion. While one could argue that there were periods of Church history in which apostacy by some did occur. It simply is not the case, even from a purely historical point of view, that there was a total apostacy. Barry’s response to this lack of evidence is clever - redefine the Total Apostacy to something less than a total apostacy. Again, I found that argument lacking. You can’t have a partial total apostacy.

Peace,
Robert


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.