Are Catholics Christ?
A Roman Catholic Response
by Bill Rutland

This response was initiated by a series of e-mails between myself and Mr. Rick Jones of Chick Publications.  Mr. Jones is the author of a book entitled Understanding Roman Catholicism published by Chick Publications.  In an e-mail to me Mr. Jones wrote:

"So please, if I am wrong about chapter 33, please explain what those three quotes mean. If I am wrong, I will change the book." ?

This is my response to Mr. Jones.  I quote from chapter 33 of Understanding Roman Catholicism by Mr. Jones’ kind permission.  The full text of the book can be read at http://www.chick.com/reading/books/160/160cont.asp



The premise of chapter 33 is that the Catholic Church teaches that Catholics are Christ (with a big "C").  In order to establish his point Mr. Jones constructs a straw man which he then proceeds to knock down.  His argument rests on three quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, one from paragraph # 795 and two from paragraph #460.  Mr. Jones opens with these words:

"Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ." Pg. 210, #795

Wow! Notice that Catholics are not merely Christians, they have become "Christ himself."

Let’s look at the full citation the is referenced above:

Christ and his Church thus together make up the "whole Christ" (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:
Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man.... The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church.
Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.
Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.
A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter."

It is obvious in context here that this paragraph is not trying to teach that Catholics are Christ, but that they are part of the body of Christ which is His Church. It is of interest that Mr. Jones stops his quotation just before the text begins to explain its self, "For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man.... The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does ‘head and members’ mean? Christ and the Church. Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself."  The believer is one with Christ because through the Church he has become part of Christ’ body.

To further establish this we can look to the internal logic of this section of the Catechism.  The paragraph in question falls under a section entitled "The Church - the Body of Christ."  it must be noted that this section speaks not of the individual believer alone, but the believer as he relates to the Church.  Four distinctives of the Church are given:

1.  The Church is communion with Jesus (CCC 787-789)
    Jesus established His Church through His disciples and those who would follow them.  They are brought together in the bond of faith and love. "As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: ‘By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.’"(CCC 788) and; "The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ." (CCC 789)

2. The Church is "One Body"(CCC 790-791)
    Next the Catechism establishes that as believers we enter into a mystical unity with Christ, "Believers who respond to God's word and become members of Christ's Body, become intimately united with him: ‘In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification.’"(CCC 790).  This unity does not do away with the diversity of the believers, but unites them, "the unity of the Mystical Body triumphs over all human divisions." (CCC 791)

3.  "Christ is the Head of this Body" (CCC 792-795)
    It is in this section that the paragraph in question (795) appears.  Starting with paragraph #792 we learn that, "Christ ‘is the head of the body, the Church.’  He is the principle of creation and redemption. Raised to the Father's glory, ‘in everything he [is] preeminent,’ especially in the Church, through whom he extends his reign over all things."

In paragraph #793 we are told that, "Christ unites us with his Passover: all his members must strive to resemble him, ‘until Christ be formed’ in them. ‘For this reason we . . . are taken up into the mysteries of his life, . . . associated with his sufferings as the body with its head, suffering with him, that with him we may be glorified.’"

Paragraph #794 sets the stage for the quotation referenced by Mr. Jones; "Christ provides for our growth: to make us grow toward him, our head, he provides in his Body, the Church, the gifts and assistance by which we help one another along the way of salvation."

Now we come to paragraph #795, of which Mr. Jones cites only a small portion.  In the textual and logical context that I have just laid out it becomes obvious what the statement, "Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ" means.  Not that the believer supplant Christ or becomes another Christ, but that we may, "participate in the Divine Nature." (2 Peter 1:4)  In Christ we are called together in a unity of faith to be His Body, the Church. St. Paul expresses this same thought when he says to the Corinthians:

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.  I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.  Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. (1 Corinthians 10:14-17)

Again St. Paul writes, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (1 Corinthians 12:27)  To the Ephesians he writes:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,  which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:13-23)


Our Lord Jesus Himself promised this mystical unity when He said:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  (John 15:1-5)

This doctrine is not unique to Catholic theology.  The Protestant scholar, the late Augustus Strong writes:

The Church, in the large sense, is nothing less that the body of Christ - the organism to which he gives spiritual life, and through which he manifests the fullness of his power and grace.(Systematic Theology, page 888)

4.  The Church is the Bride of Christ (CCC 796)

This section of the Catechism ends with a representation of the Church as the Bride of Christ.  Here very clearly we see a contradiction of Mr. Jones’ accusation that the Catholic Church teaches that Catholics are Christ.  In to opening sentences of paragraph 796 it states:

The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist. The Lord referred to himself as the "bridegroom." The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride "betrothed" to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him. The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb. "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her."He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:

Please notice here that the Catechism is saying that our unity with Christ is relational.  This is important for the understanding of all that has proceeded. The distinction of the believer and Christ remains intact, yet by relationship as the Bride of Christ the Chuech becomes one with Him.   

Next Mr. Jones turns his attention to paragraph # 460:

"My church cannot possibly teach this," Catholics often argue. But two additional catechism quotes further prove this is official Catholic doctrine.

"For the Son of man became man so that we might become God." Pg. 116, #460

"The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods." Pg. 116, #460.

Even nominal Catholics know this is utter nonsense. So the million dollar question is, "What are these quotes doing in the book of official Roman Catholic doctrine?

Again we need to look at the entire paragraph:

The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."  "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."  "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."

By reading the entire paragraph Mr. Jones’ argument is weakened significantly.  Mr. Jones condims the Church for using the word "gods" to describe believers, yet the Church is only following the language of the Bible.

 "I said, `You are "gods";  you are all sons of the Most High.'"
(Psalm 82:6)

Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, `I have said you are gods' ? If he called them `gods,' to whom the word of God came--and the Scripture cannot be broken-- what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, `I am God's Son'?" (John 10:34-36)

In the Biblical view all believers are "gods", not in the sense of divinity, but relationship.  We have, "by entering into communion with the Word" been lifted out of the sin of Adam and have been "born again"  into the new life of Jesus Christ.

Commenting on Psalm 82:6 the late Protestant commentator Matthew Henry states:

The dignity of their character is acknowledged (v. 6): I have said, You are gods. They have been honoured with the name and title of gods. God himself called them so in the statute against treasonable words Ex. 22:28, Thou shalt not revile the gods. And, if they have this style from the fountain of honour, who can dispute it? But what is man, that he should be thus magnified? He called them gods because unto them the word of God came,...

It is in this way that the Catechism uses the term "gods".  Mr. Jones asks:

Even nominal Catholics know this is utter nonsense. So the million dollar question is, "What are these quotes doing in the book of official Roman Catholic doctrine?


We could very well ask Mr. Jones why the Bible uses the exact same terminology?  Mr. Jones admits that his view is not the understanding of  "even nominal Catholics."  If the Catholic Church is teaching that Catholics are "gods" and "Christ", then apparently the teaching has been lost to all except the good people at Chick Publications.

The logical structure of paragraph 460 is built on the very first sentence (left out by Mr. Jones’ quote):

The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."

In the mystery of the incarnation believers have become the sons of God through  partaking in Christ’s divine nature.  Jesus takes on our nature so that we may take on His.  Does this mean that we are gods in the classical sense of the word?  Certainly not!  But we are the children of God through the incarnation and the sacrifice of the cross and the victory of the resurrection.

Mr. Jones now goes on to refute the straw man that he has constructed:

According to Jesus Christ, all who claim to be Christ are deceivers:
"For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Matthew 24:5
Jesus warned about being taken in by these deceivers:
"Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ…" Luke 21:8
"Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not." Matthew 24:23

I fully agree!   As I have already shown the Catholic Church teaches that in Christ’s Church we become a part of His mystical Body.  But no where does the Church teach that we become Christ.

Mr. Jones continues:

Yet the question remains. If the Catholic church does not believe this, then why are these quotes in the catechism?
Many Catholics have written me, asking "How could you write such a thing? We don't believe that." But I did not write the catechism. I only quoted it. And they never answer the question, "If your religion does not believe these doctrines, why are they in your book of official doctrine?"
Some Catholics accuse me of twisting the words. If you feel this way, please go back and read the quotes again. They are direct, easy-to-understand statements. It is impossible to twist them. So the question remains, "Why are the quotes there?"

Here is a classic example of shifting the argument in which a passage is quoted (out of context), and one’s own interpretation is applied.  When the interpretation is challenged the claim is made that "the text speaks for its self."  No defense is given of the interpretation, the burden of proof is shifted to the challenger because it is much easier to attack someone else's position than it is to defend your own.  It is interesting that of the 2,865 paragraphs in the Catechism, Mr. Jones builds his whole argument on two paragraphs, and those are not even fully quoted.  

Next Mr. Jones compares the Catholic Church to Mormons and New Agers:


At least false cults like Mormonism and occultic New Agers admit teaching this unbiblical doctrine. They completely reject Bible verses like:
"… I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me," Isaiah 46:9
Roman Catholicism also rejects such verses, for there is only one answer to the question at hand. These quotes appear in the catechism for one simple reason… because they are official Roman Catholic doctrine.

This is a bold claim.  Let’s see what the Catechism teaches about God:

"I BELIEVE IN ONE GOD"
These are the words with which the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed begins. The confession of God's oneness, which has its roots in the divine revelation of the Old Covenant, is inseparable from the profession of God's existence and is equally fundamental. God is unique; there is only one God: "The Christian faith confesses that God is one in nature, substance and essence."(CCC 200)

We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple.
(CCC 202)

Over the centuries, Israel's faith was able to manifest and deepen realization of the riches contained in the revelation of the divine name. God is unique; there are no other gods besides him.
He transcends the world and history. He made heaven and earth: "They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment....but you are the same, and your years have no end."
In God "there is no variation or shadow due to change." God is "HE WHO IS", from everlasting to everlasting, and as such remains ever faithful to himself and to his promises.
213 The revelation of the ineffable name "I AM WHO AM" contains then the truth that God alone IS. The Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, and following it the Church's Tradition, understood the divine name in this sense: God is the fullness of Being and of every perfection, without origin and without end. All creatures receive all that they are and have from him; but he alone is his very being, and he is of himself everything that he is.
(CCC 212-213)

"Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD..." (Dt 6:4; Mk 12:29). "The supreme being must be unique, without equal. . . If God is not one, he is not God" (Tertullian, Adv. Marc., 1, 3, 5: PL 2, 274). (CCC 228)

In these paragraphs The Catholic Church firmly maintains that there is one God and He alone is to be worshiped.

Mr. Jones then asserts that the Catholic Church is in fact Satanic:

Throughout this book, you have seen how Catholic doctrines steal honor and glory due to Jesus Christ and give it to Mary, popes, wafers, saints, statues, etc. But this is the ultimate insult.
The Creator of the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, has been dethroned and declared no better than any Catholic on the street.
Where could such an ungodly doctrine come from? Remember how Satan boasted that he would exalt his throne "above the stars of God" (Isaiah 14:13)? This same Satan declared "I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:14). The devil has always longed to be like God. Is this doctrine a clue as to the real father of Roman Catholicism?
Was it not Satan who deceived Adam and Eve, promising they would be "as gods" if they ate of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:5)?
Is Satan still using this same lie to deceive Roman Catholics, promising you that, simply by being a Catholic, you can become God Himself?
You should be outraged that an official Catholic doctrine reflects the desires and goals of Satan, and rejects the teachings of God's Word.

I have already shown the position of the Catholic Church and the complete falsity of Mr. Jones argument. Far from answering the question that he poses in the title of chapter 33, he does little more that make assertions and innuendoes.  I have a question for Mr. Jones.  If the Catholic Church is Satanic, at what point did the "gates of all" prevail against Christ’s Church?  Also, why did this Satanic church spread the gospel of Christ through out the known world of 1,500 years before the reformers?

In closing Mr. Jones asks:

Here is the next question you must answer: "Am I willing to remain in a church that openly teaches outright satanic heresy?"
"But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."
1 Corinthians 8:6

My answer is simple, "No, that’s why I am a Catholic."  I pray for Mr. Jones and all those at Chick Publications.  I pray that they would  quit deceiving all of the good honest people who look to them for answers. Sadly as things stand all that comes out of Chick is hatred and anti-Catholic rhetoric.  I have answer Mr. Jones questions and shown him to be wrong, now I would hope that he is good to his word and changes chapter 33 of his book.

_____________________________________________________________

When I first contacted Mr. Jones I offered him the opportunity to respond to what I had written.  The following is Mr. Jones' response complete and unedited.

Dear reader,
First, please allow me to thank Mr. Bill Rutland for the opportunity to post a rebuttal to his commentary on one chapter of my book, Understanding Roman Catholicism. Such a gracious offer is uncommon and greatly appreciated.
In chapter 33, "Are Catholics Christ?" I quote from the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic church, which contains official Roman Catholic doctrine. The catechism says:
"Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ." Pg. 210, #795
In his commentary, Mr. Rutland suggests that the catechism is not teaching what it clearly states, but instead is teaching only that Catholics are part of the body of Christ. But such cannot be the case. We would all agree that a Christian is a part of the body of Christ. So using Mr. Rutland's interpretation, the sentence would read, "...we have become not only Christians (members of the body of Christ, but members of the body of Christ." It simply doesn't make any sense. The catechism already stated that Catholics are not merely members of the body of Christ, but are something more. What? They have become "Christ himself." It cannot be referring to merely members of the body of Christ because the catechism just stated that Catholics are more than just that. In fact, the catechism repeats, "...we have become not only Christians... we have become Christ."
My Catholic friend, this is why it is so important that you study these issues for yourself. It is YOUR eternal destiny that is at state. Mr. Rutland will stand before God someday and answer for his own life. But you will stand before God and answer for yours. As the Bible clearly states, many well meaning, sincere religious people will be sent to hell. Why? Because they were deceived by a false religion. As I clearly show in my book "Understanding Roman Catholicism," which you can read for free online at http://wwwsvr/reading/books/160/160cont.asp Roman Catholic doctrine consistently contradicts God's Word the Bible. I challenge you, I even dare you, to study the issue for yourself. As you will see, even when it comes to how one gets to heaven, the Bible and Catholicism disagree with each other. With your eternal destiny at stake, please don't simply take someone else's word for it. Look it up for yourself. Nothing is more important.
Thank you once again to Mr. Bill Rutland for allowing me this gracious opportunity to respond to his article.
Respectfully in Christ,
Rick Jones