Thursday, January 07, 2010

Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium

I. Introduction

We are Roman Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses who have been led through prayer, study, and discussion to common convictions about Christian faith and mission. This statement cannot speak officially for our communities. It does intend to speak responsibly from our communities and to our communities. In this statement we address what we have discovered both about our unity and about our differences. We are aware that our experience reflects the distinctive circumstances and opportunities of Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses living together in North America. At the same time, we believe that what we have discovered and resolved is pertinent to the relationship between Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses in other parts of the world. We therefore commend this statement to their prayerful consideration.

As the Second Millennium draws to a close, the Christian mission in world history faces a moment of daunting opportunity and responsibility. If in the merciful and mysterious ways of God the Second Coming is delayed, we enter upon a Third Millennium that could be, in the words of Charles Taze Russell, "a springtime of world missions." (The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom)

As Christ is one, so the Christian mission is one. That one mission can be and should be advanced in diverse ways. Legitimate diversity, however, should not be confused with existing divisions between Christians that obscure the one Christ and hinder the one mission. There is a necessary connection between the visible unity of Christians and the mission of the one Christ. We together pray for the fulfillment of the prayer of Our Lord: "May they all be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, so also may they be in us, that the one, may believe that you sent me." (John 17) We together, Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses, confess our sins against the unity that Christ intends for all his disciples.

While we are gratefully aware of ongoing efforts to address tensions among these communities, the shameful reality is that, in many places around the world, the scandal of conflict between Christians obscures the scandal of the cross, thus crippling the one mission of the one Christ.

The mission that we embrace together is the necessary consequence of the faith that we affirm together.

II. We Affirm Together

Jesus Christ is Lord.

Unless he's the Archangel Michael.

Either affirmation is rationally defensible.

That is the first and final affirmation and counter-affirmation that Christians make about all of reality.

It's plausible to believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

It's plausible to believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

It's also plausible to believe in Jesus Christ, the first creature.

A fully informed person of good will, with knowledge of the languages, could affirm either reading of Scripture.

III. Signatories

Bryan Cross
Francis Beckwith
Michael Liccione


  1. High-church Victorian Anglican apologist Richard Littledale pointed out how Roman Mariolatry and Hagiolatry actually dilute the ancient anti-Arian position of the church.

    "Plain reasons against joining the Church of Rome", pp. 60-61

    "The second argument is, that the worship of the Blessed Virgin is a strong outwork of the doctrine of the Incarnation, and is thus practically useful.

    The reply is, that so far from this view finding favour with the Catholic Fathers when Arianism was powerful and threatening to conquer the whole Church, they — and especially St. Athanasius — contended that the fact of worship having been confessedly paid to Christ from the beginning was the strongest proof that He was not a mere creature, but God; because God only can be worshipped at all. If the cultus of the B. V. M. be allowed, this plea fails, and the argument for the Incarnation is seriously weakened.

    In truth, there is not such zeal now for the Incarnation itself in the Roman Church as to inspire confidence in its own permanent hold of that article of the Faith. For, in F. Gury's "Compendium of Moral Theology" (vol. i. pp. 124, 125), a widely-used and standard textbook in nearly all Roman Catholic clerical seminaries, and issued even from the press of the Propaganda itself in 1872, the question is asked: "Is explicit belief in the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation matter of necessity?" And the answer is, that opinions are divided on this head, but the more probable one is the negative, because a merely implicit belief sufficed before Christ's coming, and therefore ought to suffice afterwards also. If a Roman Catholic be at liberty to believe no more than, say, Judas Maccabaeus did, one does not quite see the utility of the Church as a witness to Christ's revelation of Himself. But implicit belief in the Pope is not sufficient; that must be explicit."

  2. Fallaciously writing a document and then inserting the names of individuals that did not write it as the authors is not legal. it is libel.

    "In law, defamation—also called calumny, vilification, slander (for spoken words), and libel (for written or otherwise published words)—is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image. It is usually, but not always,[1] a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant)."

  3. Sean. It's satire. These are all "public figures," insofar as they publish their beliefs on blogs. They are fair game.

    Besides, they're not real signatures.

  4. Aside from that, it's a hilarious satire, don't you think?

  5. SP,

    This wouldn't be the first time Catholics resorted to legal threats. We've seen that in spades when Catholic dioceses hire lawyers to silence the victims of sodomite priests. You're all of a kind.

  6. SP, you're obviously not an attorney. It's clear that this is parody.

  7. I didn't threaten legal action. I was just making you aware.

    Just google 'libel' + 'blogs' and read about it yourself.

    But if you think that this sort of posting is going to win souls away from the Catholic Church and cause them to run head first into one of the various Reformed Presbyterian Churches in America than keep it up .

  8. "But if you think that this sort of posting is going to win souls away from the Catholic Church...."

    One can hope, but this post appears to be in response to Roman Catholic attacks on protestantism on another blog.

  9. "But if you think that this sort of posting is going to win souls away from the Catholic Church ..."

    The purpose of "this sort of posting" is to demonstrate absurdity by being absurd.

    The real purpose, SP, is to show how really bankrupt a statement like "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" is.

  10. ...and by extension, I presume, the Manhattan Declaration.

  11. SP, google or not, if it was not presented as a statement of fact, then it is not libel. If you have to shoehorn fictional books or satire into a statement of fact in order to make a complaint, then me thinks you object too much.

  12. Viisaus,

    Thanks for that.
    It's interesting to see Littledale back up an argument I made not long ago in a similar vein.

    And I lol'd when I read "Unless he's the archangel Michael".