For My Catholic Friends

In the continual effort to find materials that make complicated issues easier to understand, here is another discovery. This short video gives dates and information specific enough to help people understand quite a few things. As far as I know, it is all accurate. Please comment if you think otherwise.

After having “spoken” to a newly made Italian internet friend, it is now more obvious to me that the country where Rome resides is in great trouble spiritually. Statistics show that almost 80% of Italians consider themselves Catholic. My new friend informed me that no one he knows in the age group of 18 to 25 has a Bible. His grandparents and his parents were all atheists until recent medical problems that his father had led his father to have thoughts about God.

My new young friend seems very intelligent. When I asked him who Moses was he had to reach back, as he put it, to childhood memories. I know it is only one person but I’m guessing he is probably indicative of the average Italian and perhaps most Catholics; if they do believe in God it is not because they have studied the Bible on their own but they are believing what the pope or the bishop or the local priest is teaching.

I pray for my new friend and for my Catholic friends that they will trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. 

Chris Reimers

13 Responses to For My Catholic Friends

  1. Tom says:

    Thanks for this good video, Chris. I appreciate how Todd Friel faithfully teaches against RC-ism’s false gospel. Not a popular thing to do in today’s big-tent evangelicalism. I said a prayer for your young Catholic friend. He symbolizes many Catholics in Europe and the U.S. who are nominal in their religion except for “life events” – baby baptism, marriage, funerals. I was definitely an “oddball” exception Catholic when I bought a Catholic Bible at a Christian bookstore in the early 1980s and discovered disturbing incongruity after incongruity regarding my religion and Scripture.

    • Chris says:

      You’re welcome, Tom, and thank you for your continued effort to help Catholics find the truth.

      I think you would be considered even more of an “oddball” if you were in that age bracket today and bought a Bible. It is amazing that you were able to see the incompatibilities between what you were being taught and Scripture. I can only pray that more today will have that same experience.

      Thank you for your prayer for my young friend. He is not afraid to hear what I have to “say” and he is in my prayers as well.

  2. Dear Chris, I had the following thoughts about your Catholic friend and the Catholic church and tradition:

    It is not so unexpected that Catholics do not read the Bible for themselves all that much. The developed tradition was not to do that. The congregation members were never encouraged to read the Bible themselves, even those who understood Latin. The church wanted priests, who had learning, to explain the faith to them. Reading and interpreting for yourself was one of the tenets of the beginning of the Reformation, wasn’t it, and actually propelled translations of the Bible! You’re echoing Luther & co’s radical thoughts in saying “Read!”

    The first Danish (and Norwegians read Danish) Bible translation was printed in 1524. It had been commissioned by King Christian II. It had Luther’s translation into German as its basis.

    And therefore, criticism of this habit can be directed towards the Catholic church, but I think perhaps it should be less specifically directed towards each individual Catholic than what I read into what you say, even in our times! It has not been altogether lazy neglect of religious duty. There has not been, even later, the kind of emphasis in Catholic culture on reading the Bible that has been so prominent in Protestant denominations.

  3. Chris says:

    Hi Marianne. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Your comments about how Catholics were not encouraged to read the Bible themselves are very true. Now that the Catholic Church does most everything in English, I don’t think things have changed much. My guess is that most priests would rather their members come to them for spiritual instruction than to study the Bible for themselves for understanding. In these cases, I would hold such leaders responsible for the lack of this encouragement. I think, as you have suggested, that a great amount of the responsibility for the lack of understanding of basic Bible principles, particularly faith by God’s grace alone, can be laid at the feet of Catholic leaders.

    As my ex-Catholic friend who commented above has noted on his blog:

    “Roman Catholicism has always subordinated the Bible to its Sacred Traditions and Magisterium.”

    There is no excuse for placing followers in such a situation. When “sacred traditions” conflict directly with scripture, it is the sacred tradition that must be jettisoned.

    Many protestant teachers continually remind church members or followers to study the Bible for themselves to see if what is being taught is truth. At the same time, this blog contains much more criticism of protestant “leaders” than it does of Catholic ones only because it is Protestantism that I grew up in. Today, there are many leaders in Protestant Churches teaching heretical views.

    If it appears that my intention here is to criticize the average person who enters into a Catholic church, then my goal is misunderstood, and maybe because of how I have misworded something.

    The reason for this post is the hope that by viewing such a video that someone who goes to Mass might understand what Todd Friel says towards the end of this video:

    “We would love to see the very heavy work-righteousness yoke that the Catholic Church has laid on your shoulders replaced with the easy burden and light yoke of Christ Jesus.”

    He then asks Catholics to find a church that teaches “Sola” and “Tota” (only and completely) scripture.

    My prayer is that average Catholic would wake up to the problems in the traditions they believe in and find true hope in Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection once and for all.

    Thank you for sharing the Norwegian history with me.

    “The first Danish (and Norwegians read Danish) Bible translation was printed in 1524. It had been commissioned by King Christian II. It had Luther’s translation into German as its basis.”

    I can only hope that more Norwegians, along with more Americans, would dust off their Bibles and study them for themselves in our times.

    • Some further thoughts – Is this bearable, Chris? It is way too long (a major fault of mine):

      a)
      I am sure your intention was not to be down on individuals, Chris. My own formulations should anyway have been different in emphasis, so I will try again:

      Yes, a LACK of knowledge of the contents of the Bible, even of central parts of the New Testament, has certainly been spreading in most countries of Europe in the last decades. I see a tremendous difference between the generations here in Norway and no doubt there has been something of the same development even in the south European countries. And the spreading of atheism goes hand in hand with that, of course, partly as a cause but then again as an effect (if you don’t know anything about it, then of course you do not believe in it).

      Perhaps in Catholic culture there is even less individual resistance to fall back on when the powers and coercive influence of the church fades? – because they do not have a strong tradition of individual Bible reading, nor what we had in Norway way back: a tradition of communal Bible reading:

      b)
      From 1736 in Denmark-Norway (in union until 1814) and later in Norway, confirmation was obligatory until 1912! That necessitated children learning to read, because as Lutherans the children were going to have to read the Bible and be examined on it! So there was general literacy in the population from very early. (Yes, no individual freedom in matters of religion! I know that shocks Americans. But it at least had some important, positive ‘side’ effects.) Reading was taught in school, or in places where there was no school in early times, it was taught by a sexton or other functionary of the church.

      Certainly in 1950 there would still be a Bible in practically every home, even to provide a self-evident groundwork of general understanding of the culture which everybody was familiar with whether devoted or not, and ‘Bible history’ was taught as a matter of course in every school in my childhood (although children who were not Lutheran Christians were exempted).

      c)
      About the translations of the Bible into Danish and Norwegian:

      Danish and Norwegian are closely related dialects, descended from Old Norse. Written Danish and one of the two written standards of Norwegian are still almost identical. While Norway was in union with Denmark, the administration language was Danish, easily pronouncable in Norwegian. The Danish translations of the Bible served for Norway too; some editions after 1814 had some minor adaptations. In 1904 came the first edition independently translated into Norwegian.

      I have read around a bit since my last comment, and find that the story of the early translations of the Bible into Danish is more complicated than my first source said: It seems right that the very first such translation is from 1524, but it was neither as good as it could be nor was it complete. Only five years later a better one appeared, and the whole Bible in Danish came in 1550 under king Christian III. Ar least that one directly built on the one by Luther into German.

      In other words, there was a lot of translating and printing going on in those years, with the Bible as a/the central object! (Gutenberg’s invention of a printing press with movable type, which made it much much cheaper to produce printed text, and the proliferation of printed text, took place around the middle of the 1400s).

      • Chris says:

        Bearable is never an issue with you, Marianne.

        Thank you for this interesting information. I’m just heading out the door to meet with my sister and I will give a better response later in the day.

        God’s blessings…

      • Chris says:

        I have had some time to look at your comment, Marianne, and thank you for sharing your thoughts along with interesting religious history of Norway. Your point about Catholic culture never having had an emphasis on individual Bible reading is a good one. I would think that the lack of such reading, with the ebb and flow of the church’s influence, would result in what we see today.

        What you have shared about required confirmation in Norway, until 1912, is an engaging fact. That Norwegian Lutherans had communal Bible readings and that Bible History was taught to most in 1950 shows how quickly things can change.

        Most public schools in America said a Christian prayer at the beginning of the school day until 1962. That was the year our Supreme court ruled that school-sponsored prayer in public schools violated the First Amendment of our constitution. I was a small fellow when the ruling came down but I am under the impression that it was not overly popular at the time as many public schools ignored the decision and continued opening school days with Christian prayer for many years to come. Many think this Supreme Court decision was the beginning of a continuing but steeper decline in Biblical literacy and Christian beliefs in the U.S.

        You might be interested to know that I was confirmed in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in my eighth grade year. From what I can recall, it was pretty orthodox theology that we learned and very educational. Why that particular church decides to teach this type of thing when students are least likely to pay attention is beyond me. At the same time, I think it is a noble attempt.

        It is nice to know that the Bible was very important to Norwegians for hundreds of years. The huge differences you have seen in Bible literacy in your lifetime is something I have also witnessed here in the U.S. I think it is the world’s greatest tragedy. I also think that no one can really quantify the repercussions of such a collapse.

        • Perhaps I have misled you slightly about “communal Bible readings”. I was thinking mostly of children being taught in school, being given a ‘Christian upbringing’ and also many families read from the Bible to their children on occasion, especially at Christmas, and also at Easter and Whitsun, I suppose. But I would not say Norwegian society on the whole was ‘voluntarily’ very active religiously. Actually, in former centuries there were serious controversies about lay teaching and preaching outside of the official Lutheran church, cf ‘Konventikkelplakaten’, the Conventicle Act:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conventicle_Act_(Denmark–Norway)
          which forbade getting together for religious services outside the official Lutheran church except if approved by the local Lutheran minister.
          A very famous preacher who was severely punished for preaching – imprisoned several times – was Hans Nielsen Hauge
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Nielsen_Hauge
          His influence, in spite of official sanctions, was considerable.
          So the whole history of Christianity, interpretations, conflicts and legislation, is complex in Norway as in many other places.

          • Chris says:

            Thank you for this interesting and educational comment, Marianne. I did not know any of it.

            Looking at the wiki link you shared, it appears that by 1850 some “dispensations were granted for the establishment of church congregations outside the state church.” The entry also helps one to see, as you have mentioned, the complexity of the history of Christianity in Norway.

            I had to check the link on Hans Nielsen Hauge, of course. People like him are always fascinating to read about. An article that I found about him said that:

            “Because his preaching coincided with the years during which many Norwegians were immigrating to America, the Haugean influence on Lutheranism in America has been considerable.”

            This article about Hauge was also very interesting:

            https://religionunplugged.com/news/2019/5/29/hans-nielsen-hauge-an-early-norwegian-entrepreneur-evangelist-revered-from-oslo-to-minnesota

            I also stumbled on the fact that Oslo was once named “Christiania.”

            Thank you for sharing!

  4. Marianne Skanland, Oslo, Norway says:

    Chris, in the last comment above, says:
    ‘I also stumbled on the fact that Oslo was once named “Christiania.” ‘

    I am terribly slow and dense at times. I remembered that you had written something about the older name of the city of Oslo, something I just did not understand the point of in the context when I first read it. Now suddenly I have woken up:

    You may have thought that the city name Christiania was given to it as ‘Christ’s city’?

    Sorry. It had a much more worldly origin:

    The old name was Oslo. In 1624 a large part of the old city burned down. The king of the union of Denmark-Norway at the time, Danish Christian IV, started building a new city/city part but moved it to the other side of the fortress. The new part was called Christiania after the king. After 1877 it started to be written Kristiania in official documents. The old part of the city was still called Oslo, though (like Brooklyn being a part of New York, I suppose). From 1925 Oslo became the official name of the whole city.

    (I permit myself to interpolate some royal genealogy, though, which is not quite relevant to questions of Christianity in Scandinavia:

    Christian IV was the ‘renaissance king’ of Denmark-Norway and our longest-reigning sovereign (reigning 1588-1648).

    The Danish kings have for centuries alternated between Christian and Frederik. But the Frederik’s have been lagging behind right from the start in 1448 – King Hans (= John) and his son Christian II came before the first Frederik. The father of the present Queen Margrethe was Frederik IX, but his father was Christian X. The successor to Queen Margrethe is male, so if they had continued the alternation, he would, when he becomes king, be Christian XI. But Margrethe’s oldest son was christened Frederik, promising a balancing with two Frederiks and no Christians, so after Crown Prince Frederik becomes king, the Christian’s and the Frederik’s will be able to follow each other without a gap in the numbering, if they want to and also want to continue that name tradition. – But all this sounds more important than anyone thinks it is!)

    Now, the NAME Christian of course (as I am sure you know, Chris!) stems from Latin ‘Christianus’, which means ‘belonging to Christ’, ‘Christian’. Very many names in the cultural areas where Christianity was spread, are of Jewish or Christian origin.

    Perhaps the one which has spread in most forms is Johannes – Hans, John, Johan, Jens are all in use in Norway.

    But as is the case with names in many societies (but not all), they are no longer thought of as having any meaning. Common Norwegian names are Bjørn, which stems from ‘bjørn’ meaning ‘bear’, Stein is from, and is still pronounced the same as ‘stein’ meaning ‘stone’. The woman’s name Gunn is from common Germanic ‘gunn’ meaning ‘fight, war’. The man’s name Gunnar in Norse meant ‘warrior’, and the woman’s name ‘Gunnhild’ is a combination of ‘gunn’ = “fight’ and ‘hild’~’hilde’, also meaning ‘fight’.

    Particularly this last kind of formation means that at the time it was given as a name, the meaning of the components had been forgotten.

    My own name Marianne has two valid derivations: One is the name of Jesus’s mother, in the form ‘Myriamne’, the other is that it is a combination of ‘Maria’ and ‘Anna’, both names out of the Bible, as we know.

    • Chris says:

      Thank you for this very interesting information, Marianne.

      I did think that “Christiania” was given to the part of Oslo, as you explained it, because of some symbolic connection to a faith and not some king. I find the alternation of Danish King names quite traditional and sensible for history sake. I’m sure it would be quite the scandal if Denmark found itself with a king named Julius or Bob or something like that.

      Recently, in America, there have been quite a lot of youngsters named Gunner. After a little research, I’ve found that the name is a variant of Gunther which means “battler,” “warrior,” or “bold warrior.” Something from the internet says that the name has its origination in Scandinavia. My wife has had at least three students named Gunner and we know of others. I’ve always thought the name was used because there are so many hunters in Arkansas. I’ve never asked anyone why they have used the name so I don’t know why it is selected as often as it is.

      My mother (and father) chose my name to be Chris because I was the firstborn and my mother dedicated me back to God to thank Him for the gift of a son. Neither of my two siblings have a name that can be linked to anything Biblical. Thankfully, they are both believing Christians.

      I have always liked your name, Marianne. I had never thought of derivations but now that I know them I like the name even more.

  5. Dan C. says:

    Depending on where you look, exact dates provided might vary, but the doctrines of the Catholic church presented are accurate. 🙂

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