This essay simultaneously answers two semi-related questions readers have sent me, and it shows how the Protestant Church of Christ’s (CofC) preference for anti-Catholic doctrine is more attractive than the purity of God’s written word. The questions are summarized as:
1) Which Bible version does the [Protestant] Church of Christ use?
2) How do Catholics view Mary in light of Mark 3:20,21 – in how Jesus’ family thought He had lost His mind?
The CofC has changed its own understanding of the word “denomination”; it implies that its own autonomous (congregational) structure is somehow immune to Protestant disunity. The CofC loudly disparages the “denominational” or “religious” world around it (and claims that the CofC is not part of it), but the CofC’s reliance on both Catholic and Protestant labor can only be ignored by the most ardent ideologue. For if there were no Catholic and Protestant labors, the CofC could never: A) Claim the Bible as Scripture, B) Use Protestant-created Bible versions as its holy writ, and then, although unknowingly, C) Acquiesce to modern Protestant theologies.
I have already shown how members of the CofC are generally (not thoroughly, of course) disinterested in scriptural and historical reasoning in regards to where the Bible came from, its origins, its purpose, and its canonization; and therefore, this essay will most likely be dismissed as well – if such people even read this. I write to people I understand: people who insert reason into their religion, theologically-minded Catholics and members of the Protestant Church of Christ who pursue truth. So, for them, there is a self-evident reality that saturates the first question that a reader asked me as put forth in the introduction: “Which Bible version does the CofC use?”
The fact that I could answer my reader by telling him the CofC uses the Protestant Bible presupposes other facts. Such other facts include the CofC’s shared Protestant qualifier: absorption of the Protestant – not Catholic – canon is not only an admitted sympathetic theoretical acceptance (Reformed traditions of men who abridged the historical Christian canon, and then present it as the “true” Bible), but also a reliance on Protestantism’s self-presented infallibility in discerning the canon (though the original Protestants were not nearly as certain of their conclusions as today’s Fundamentalists). And as such, this example alone illuminates the CofC’s marriage with the Reformers’ removal of seven books of the Old Testament, and baptizes the “restoration movement” into the panoply of Protestant sects. For there is no “Church of Christ” Bible, but there is certainly a “Catholic” Bible and there is a “Protestant” Bible.
But my reader’s question was, “Which version of the Bible does the CofC use?” For if there is anything universally known about the CofC, it is that it is a Protestant sect that uses the Protestant book. And equally known is Protestantism’s tradition of developing Bible versions that change the meanings of the original text. And with such a background, sects are able to use versions that support preferred theologies. So, as far as the CofC’s preferred version, the CofC cannot claim a “correct” version because it has not developed a version of its own. One might wonder how the “true Church” must rely on the work of apostates, but the fact that the CofC is not able to provide an authoritative version should suggest that it is not the true Church – that a piggy-backing on other Protestant versions of the ancient texts (which piggy-backs on apostate Catholic labor) lessons the CofC’s appeal of its claimed status as “the Lord’s c(C)hurch”. And this fact is why the CofC skirts its inability to produce a version by claiming the original autographs are the only truly authoritative texts.
With little choice, because the CofC membership does not study the original languages, its laity must rely on the work of apostates in order for its preachers to preach their private interpretations of the written word of God. And because of Protestantism’s tendency to produce ever-changing versions of God’s written word, the CofC is not able to claim an authorized version without discounting what vast segments of its community have come to own and love. Though it is impossible to prove unless a thorough survey is performed, my observation is that in only one generation the preferred version has jumped from the KJV to the NIV, and then to the ESV. Why are new versions always being added to the Marketplace? One reason is because Greek is no longer a dead language within non-Catholic communities – Greek has been resurrected by heretics and has become a victim to self-proclaimed experts, and it is no longer taboo to re-etch definitions (for example: The CofC belief that baptism/baptize implies a mode and not a rite). So, should one be surprised that the CofC’s evolution predictably traces the Protestant example – that versions which become more anti-Catholic also become preferred CofC versions?
The evolution of translations, and how the CofC acquiesces to its Protestant DNA, can be highlighted by the second question that a reader asked me as put forth in the introduction: “How do Catholics view Mary in light of Mark 3:20,21 – in how Jesus’ family thought He had lost His mind?” The passage, as found in the latest CofC favored version, reads:
Then he [Jesus] went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
The apparent plain meaning of the version’s text pleases modern (not original) Protestant sensibilities because Protestant theology has morphed into anti-Marian speculation – speculation that is typically punctuated as arguments against the already established Catholic Church. A Protestant who is unaware of its community’s anti-Catholic foundation might not understand how the ESV’s translation is designed to undermine the Catholic Church, but that is not to her credit; love of Scripture is love of Christ.
What is anti-Marian about the ESV’s translation of Mark 3? The translation anticipates and encourages the predictable domino-effect of Protestant assumptions. Unlike the original Protestants, modern Protestants have developed a new belief that Mary had children other than Jesus. The “Bible alone” cannot support the theory (and, in fact proves it wrong) unless, of course, extra-biblical agendas are forced upon the Scriptures. For nearly all of Christian history, the best scholars have known how to interpret biblical passages that refer to Jesus’ brothers – that Jesus had cousins (“brother” and “cousin” is the same Greek word). But modern Fundamentalists, sects that are thousands of years separated from the language of the Bible and willfully deaf to the echo of the early Church fathers, weigh down the Scriptures by forcing Mary to have had children other than Jesus.
Though the word “family” in the ESV’s presentation of Mark 3 does not explicitly suggest Jesus had blood-brothers, its presentation panders to its Protestant market by implicitly teaching that He did – the verse presumes a prior belief that Jesus indeed had brothers born of His mother. Some “better” versions (even the Catholic NAB) use the word “relatives” instead of “family”, but such a word in English is still too leaning; it does not, however, implicitly teach that Mary thought Jesus was losing His mind.
Mary, the Woman, the new Ark who actually tried to speed Jesus’ mission knew who Jesus was. Joseph, the figure who provides the typology of every bishop knew who Jesus was. Jesus’ cousins, some of whom were part of the Twelve, were learning who Jesus claimed to be, and it would be understandable if they, at times, would think Jesus was losing His mind. And so it is no surprise that the actual words of the Scriptures – not agenda-driven theologies – show how the ESV, along with the house of cards that make up Protestant anti-Marian theology, is proved to be more against Catholicism than for truth; because the word “family” is not in the original text. What the text teaches is that the Twelve (as a group) thought Jesus was losing His mind (a possible cultural idiom). Nowhere does the Bible teach that Jesus’ Mother was involved with any doubt of Who her Son was. So, instead of reading what centuries of anti-Marian (and CofC-entertaining) theory have tried to heap upon the Scriptures, let us look at what the Bible actually teaches!
The following passage is in Greek, Latin, and Douay-Rheims English (the Catholic Church’s use of actual dead languages safeguards the scriptural deposit from mutilation). Of course, those who somehow wits 20th century linguists – people who have theological biases – have more of a mastery over dead languages than the early church fathers who had no agenda other than translation (there were no Protestants to build translations/theologies against), will dismiss this presentation:
The contest of the passage includes the Twelve. The Greek text alludes to Jesus’ associates/friends and not His relatives (some of those friends/Twelve were not related to Jesus in any way), nor were they His blood-brothers, nor Mary. In essence, it reads, “They/them said, ‘He has become mad.’”
A CofC Christian should ask herself, “Why would Protestant Bibles misrepresent the Scripture?” When considered, thoughtful CofC Christians might even ask more important questions, such as, “How do I even know the Bible is Scripture?” One might then reevaluate the CofC’s act of private interpretation of the Scriptures, question the CofC’s theory of patternism, and question other assumed CofC tenets such as sola Scriptura and “Restoration”. One might even develop a curiosity about the Catholic Church of Christ’s scriptural paper trail – how studies such as this never result in any legitimate Protestant paradigm, but always (and can only) legitimize the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.
This essay is not intended to discredit the ESV Bible, because the marketplace will continue to produce versions that are even more mutilated. My intention, by using questions that have been asked of me, is to show how the CofC is in fact Protestant in at least its relationship to the Bible – a relationship that is not only dependent on an apostate tradition in order to create its own identity (“we are not Catholic”), but participates in the larger apostate Protestant tradition by utilizing its increasingly-altered presentation of the Scriptures. And in its ignorance, the CofC has become a pawn for a spirit of rebellion that continually diminishes the Incarnation by diminishing the Mother of God.
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