Bible Ninja Answers a Catholic about the Protestant Church of Christ

Non-Catholic Christians,

I often answer questions for Catholics, too!

Which Bible Version Does the Protestant Church of Christ Use?

…and…

How Do Catholics View Mary in Light of Mark 3:20,21—in How Jesus’ Family Thought He Had Lost His Mind?

These last two questions were from a Catholic who was in dialogue with Protestant Church of Christ Christians who had targeted him for conversion. These sorts of questions are more fun for me because I get the opportunity to illustrate how biblical textual criticism and theology questions overlap, and also demonstrate the importance of recognizing how agendas and beliefs effect one another. As a Bible ninja, I tried to answer both questions simultaneously.

As you read my answers, please remember my original audience (a Catholic), because it might seem that I venture off topic or seem overly polemical. (Who, me?) The manner in which I answered him was to provide a larger backstory than what he thought he needed to know; the primary goal of my theological work is to defend the Catholic Church of Christ from Restorationists—to help Catholics remain Catholic.

The Protestant Church of Christ wants the world to believe they are not a denomination, not Protestant, and somehow immune to non-Catholic disunity; it tries to separate itself from everyone else: the “religious world” around it. Its members insist they “are not Catholic, not Protestant, only Christian.” To that I always ask, “Which Bible do you use; the Catholic Bible or the Protestant Bible?” Yes, they do use the Protestant Bible; they are the “true” Bible Christians, they say. So, it is clear that they rely on both Catholic and Protestant labor for their own existence. For if there were no Catholic and Protestant labor, the Protestant Church of Christ could never: A) know the Bible is Scripture, B) use Protestant-created Bible versions as its holy write, and then unknowingly, C) acquiesce to modern Protestant theologies.

But your question was about which Bible version the Protestant Church of Christ uses. Protestantism has a marked tradition of developing Bible versions that change the meaning of the original text. Therefore, its sects and individuals are able to pick and choose versions that support preferred theologies. So, the Protestant Church of Christ does not claim to possess a correct version; it simplistically communicates that “the Bible is the word of God.” One might wonder how the “true Church” must rely on the labor of “apostates” to generate the their canon of Scripture and current versions, but the fact that the Protestant Church of Christ is not able to provide its own text is a proof that it is not the true Church. And this fact is why the sect skirts its inability to produce a version—it claims the original autographs are the only truly authoritative texts. But again, the sect has no claim or connection to the original texts in any way.

Without a full survey, it is impossible to answer your question. My experience in the Protestant Church of Christ is that in only one or two generations the preferred version has jumped from the KJV to the NIV, and then to the ESV. You might wonder why new versions are 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 and has fallen victim to the ever-changing winds of Protestantism [as I have proved throughout this book]. So, as Protestants who define themselves as “not Catholic”, it is no surprise that the Protestant Church of Christ’s evolution traces the Protestant example: versions which are more anti-Catholic also become more preferred.

This evolution of preferred translations, and how the Protestant Church of Christ acquiesces to its Protestant DNA, can be illustrated by your second question: “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 ESV, 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.”

I believe the reason you are asking this is because, most likely, your Protestant friends are trying to imply that Mary had children other than Jesus, and that, perhaps, she sinned by doubting Jesus had lost his mind (Fundamentalists are normally eager to assign characters as Mary’s children and accuse Mary of sin for no reason other than to be “not Catholic”.). The apparent meaning to the version’s text pleases modern—not original—Protestants because their beliefs have morphed into anti-Marian speculation, and the ESV’s nuanced words pleases its customers.

What is anti-Marian about the ESV’s translation of Mark 3? It anticipates and encourages the 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 only” cannot support the theory unless, of course, extra-biblical agendas are forced into 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 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, and Mark 3 strengthens the already erroneous belief. Some better versions translate the word as “relatives” instead of family, but such a word in English is still too leaning; but 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. St. 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 Scripture—not agenda-driven theology—shows how the ESV, along with the house of cards that make up Protestant anti-Marian beliefs, 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 entertaining what Fundamentalists have heaped onto the Scriptures, let us look at what the Bible actually teaches.

The Catholic Church’s use of dead languages safeguards the scriptural deposit from being mutilated, and the following passage is in Greek, Latin, and Douay-Rheims English.[1]

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The context 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, and Mary was not there. In essence, it reads, “They/them said, ‘He has become mad.’” A Protestant should ask herself, “Why would Protestant Bibles misrepresent the Scripture?” When Considered, thoughtful Protestant Church of Christ Christians might even ask more important questions, such as, “How do I even know the Bible is Scripture?”. They might reevaluate their adhesion to private interpretations of the Scriptures, question their sect’s theory of Patternism, and question other assumed tenets such as sola Scriptura and “Restoration”. They might develop a curiosity for the Catholic Church of Christ’s paper trail—how studies such as this never result in any legitimate Protestant protest, but always (and can only) legitimize the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

This answer 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 Protestant Church of Christ is in fact Protestant in at least its relationship with the Bible—a relationship that is not only dependent on a supposed “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 truth. And in its ignorance, the Protestant Church of Christ has become a pawn for a spirit of rebellion that continually diminishes the Incarnation by diminishing the Mother of God.

 

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[1] Available at www.newadvent.org as of January 20, 2019.

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