ALAN SCHRECK, CATHOLIC AND CHRISTIAN, SERVANT, 1984
P. 2: "I hope it will be apparent to all that this book was not written to
present Catholicism as the only legitimate form of Christianity and
certainly not to criticize [sic] other Christians, nor to 'prove them
wrong' in their beliefs."
COMMENT: All other forms of Christianity are heretical and/or schismatic.
They are not legitimate. And we should criticize them and prove them wrong
in their heresies.
Pope Gregory XVI (DS 2730. Cf. Pius IX, DS 2915. Leo XIII, DS 3250)
condemned "an evil opinion that souls can attain eternal salvation by just
any profession of faith, if their morals follow the right norm."
P. 3: ". . . we will assume that any perceived errors in the life or
doctrine of other Christians are honest errors that any good Christian
COMMENT: We grant most Protestants are in good faith - but we must not say
that their errors are relatively minor. They deal with the very heart of
the truth. Luther taught justification by faith - but did not know what
St. Paul meant by that word faith. He thought it meant confidence that the
merits of Christ apply to me -- there is no scholarly support at all for
this. Instead Paul means: 1) belief in God's revelation' 2) confidence in
His promises; 3) obedience to His commands (Rom 1:5) , all done ion love.
Very different from Luther. So the very basis of his church is gone.
Luther rejected the teaching authority of the Church. Luther taught, in
"Epistle" 501: "Even if you sin greatly, believe still more greatly." One
need not do anything if he has sinned, just believe it is all paid for.
These are not small or honest errors. Objectively all outside have an
obligation to investigate and find the truth. We should not make them
comfortable in their errors by saying it is just an honest error that any
good Christian could make.
P. 63: "'The Decree on Ecumenism' states that the worship and liturgical
actions of other Christian bodies 'can truly engender a life of grace and
can be rightly described as capable of providing access to the community
COMMENT: The quote is from "On Ecumenism" 3. But sadly, it quotes only
part of the sentence, omitting context, and supplies a subject not in the
original, namely "the worship and liturgical actions of other Christian
bodies." Here is the actual text of the Decree: "In addition, out of the
elements or goods by which, taken together, the Church herself is build up
and made alive, certain things, or rather many and excellent things can
exist outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church: The written Word
of God, the life of grace, faith, hope and love, and other interior gifts
of the Holy Spirit and visible elements: all these things, which come from
Christ and lead to Him, belong to the one-only Church of Christ. Even not
a few sacred actions of the Christian religion are carried out among the
brothers separated from us. . . which beyond doubt can really generate the
life of grace, and are to be said to be apt to open the entry into the
community of salvation."
We notice the things mentioned: (1) Scripture -- Protestants read it. (2)
the life of grace-- yes, one can reach the state of grace without formally
entering the Catholic Church, as "Lumen gentium" 16 says: "They who
without fault do not know the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but yet
seek God with a sincere heart, and try with the help of grace to fulfill
his will, known through the dictate of conscience, can attain eternal
salvation." Even pagans can do this. (3) faith - yes, outsiders can have
faith, at least if they are not misled by Luther's great error on what
faith is. (4) hope and love - again, even a pagan may attain these. (5)
other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit-- yes, if outsiders reach the
state of grace, they also have the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (6) and
visible elements - Baptism if validly given. BUT We must note the next
words in the decree: " all these things. . . belong to the one-only
Church of Christ." In other words, it is not a protestant church as
protestant that can provide these things -these are things that belong to
the Catholic Church, which the Protestants have not completely rejected.
(7) The next sentence says some religious actions are carried out in
protestantism which can really generate the life of grace. Yes, Baptism
does that. Reading of Scripture, prayers, and other things enumerated
above in the first 6 items can do that. But again, it is not protestant
worship as protestant that gives grace -- it is things the protestants
have retained even after breaking with the one-only Church of Christ. As
the previous sentence said: "The Decree continues in the next sentence
cited above: "they belong to the one-only Church of Christ."
To take the words as Schreck does would violate the condemnations of
Gregory XVI, Pius IX, and Leo XIII cited above.
P. 62: (in this order to put it into the context of p. 63 just studied):
"The Second Vatican Council does not make a distinction between a 'true
church' (the Catholic Church) , and other 'false churches, '. . . . this
means that Catholics can honestly approach other Christians as brothers
and sisters in Christ, without necessarily having in mind 'bringing them
back to the fold' of the Catholic Church."
COMMENT: So, Schreck does not see a need to work for conversion - just
leave them where they are. The same section of the decree does say that
those validly baptized "are incorporated in Christ. . . and are rightly
recognized by the sons of the Catholic Church as brother in the Lord." To
be incorporated into Christ means to become a member of Christ, that is, a
member of His Mystical Body. But that Mystical Body is the Catholic
Church. So validly baptized Protestants even though they do not know it
are really members of the Catholic Church, and as such can be called
separated brothers. But we should try to get them out of their dangerous
errors, which can bring eternal ruin - cf. the major errors of Luther
P. 166: ". . . the Gospel of Mark, probably the earliest Gospel written,
presents Mary in a seemingly negative light, as one of Jesus' relatives
who did not understand him or his mission. This is not surprising;
according to Mark's Gospel, no one really understood Jesus or his mission,
not even his closest apostles, until his crucifixion.
COMMENT: 1) The passage in mind is Mark 3. 20-35. Schreck does not
mention that there are obviously three segments in this passage: (a)
20-21: The "hoi par' autou" see He does not take time out to eat. They say
He is beside Himself, they go out to grab Him. ) b) 22-30: Scribes charge
He casts out satan by satan. (c) 31-35: His Mother and relatives come to a
crowd where He is speaking. It is announced to Him. He says: Who is my
Mother and my Brothers? He who does the will of God is brother and sister
and mother to me."
2) Schreck assumed without proof that the "hoi par' autou," those about
Him, included His Mother. This is not impossible, but Schreck says it
flatly, without proof. Further, Schreck ignores the fact of three
segments. Form Criticism has shown many times over that some Gospel
passages are put together out of three once independent units. Therefore
we cannot be at all sure that since His Mother is there in segment 3, she
is also meant in segment 1. This is especially so in view of the odd, and
unconnected second segment, which is very long compared to the other two
3) Schreck also assumes not only that she is part of the group in segment
1 - far from proved- but also that she did not understand Him. The fact
that the slow Apostles did not, does not prove she did not. But much more,
Schreck, like Brown and others, in violation of Vatican II, On Revelation
paragraph 12, ignores the relation of one Gospel to another. Luke clearly
presents her as the first believer - how then is she now lacking in faith?
Still further, Vatican II, "Lumen gentium" paragraph 56 says that at the
start, at the annunciation, "embracing the saving will of God, with full
heart and held back by no sin, she totally dedicated herself to the person
and work of her Son."
4) Schreck makes her less than an ordinary Mother. An ordinary Mother,
even when her son is clearly in the wrong, commonly stands up for him.
Schreck is sure Our Lady did not, that she did not believe in Him. Even if
we conceded she may have been in the group of segment 1, it does not
follow that she went along with them in disbelief. She might well have
gone along to try to hold the others down! 5) As for the words that
whoever does the will of God is Mother and brother etc. -- Vatican II,
"Lumen gentium" paragraph 58 says that He while saying the kingdom is
higher than reasons of flesh, "proclaimed blessed those who heard and kept
the word of God, just as she was faithfully doing. Yes, one category is
higher than the other- but she is at the peak in both!
So Schreck, who strains so much to give a favorable light on protestants,
strains in the opposite direction to give an unfortunate image of her at
P. 11. A quote from "Kilian McDonnell, O. S. B.": "Indeed the historical
churches, Catholic and Protestant, owe a debt to classical Pentecostals
for witnessing to the role of the spirit and his gifts." This is said to
be necessary for the "full gospel".
COMMENTS: Kilian McDonnell, on p. 1 is called "leading Catholic
ecumenist." He is also a leading Charismatic - one of the editors of
"Fanning the Flame," Liturgical Press, 1991. Both that booklet and
Schreck's work are striving hard to convince all that charismatic things
are needed for the "full gospel." They seem to say that charismatic
phenomena are merely the actualization of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit,
received at Baptism.
We need some distinctions here: In the broad sense, all graces are gifts
from the Holy Spirit. But there are two major categories: (1) Sanctifying
graces - these are aimed at the sanctification of the recipient. The term
Gifts of the Holy Spirit normally refers to these; (2) charismatic graces
- these are aimed at some benefit for the community, not directly for the
sanctification of the recipient. Here are such things as tongues, praying
in tongues, healing the sick.
The kind of phenomena we see at charismatic meetings definitely belong to
the charismatic category - no sign of the sanctifying features regularly
called effects of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Surely, no instances of
infused contemplation being given "en masse" - it never is so given - nor
routinely. The phenomena are tongues, praying in tongues, healing etc.
These are very definitely part of the charismatic category, not the
sanctifying category. So they are not an actualization of the Gifts of the
Holy Spirit, which belong to the sanctifying category. Schreck has jumped
Further, the mass phenomena of praying in tongues does not readily fit
with St. Paul's injunctions in 1 Cor 14:27-28 where Paul specifies that no
more than two should speak in tongues, and then only one at time, and only
if there is someone to interpret. The rule is wise - there are cases where
persons who knew the needed languages went to a charismatic gathering -
they found some did praise God well, while others cursed Him. And letting
many at a time speak in tongues hardly fits with St. Paul. Yes, I know
they say that there is difference between praying in tongues and speaking
in tongues. The distinction is probably not important. As we said above,
there have been cases where charismatics have been cursing God, without
knowing what they were doing.
So the thrust to at least imply all Catholics should be charismatic is
invalid. The booklet, "Fanning the Flame," cites a few Patristic texts to
try to prove the same thing - that we have been neglecting things needed
for the "full gospel". (We will return to these texts presently) . But the
texts are insufficient, because few, and not always clear. As we said,
there are two kinds of charismatic graces - the ordinary and the
extraordinary. The latter are such things as tongues, healing the sick,
prophecy. But the ordinary are given to everyone, such as the grace to be
a good parent, a good teacher, a good speaker etc. Schreck and "Fanning
the Flame" seem to mean the extraordinary type.
Something frightening: Our Lord Himself warned (Mt 7. 22-23) that on the
last day He will reject many who worked miracles: "Many will say to me on
that day: 'Have we not prophesied in your name, and cast out devils in
your name, and done mighty works in your name' - and then I will confess
to them: 'Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you. '" So
those with extraordinary gifts may not even be in the state of grace -
much less having the actualization of sanctifying graces!
Vatican II, "Lumen gentium" 13 said: "These charisms, whether the most
brilliant or even the more simply and widely diffused, since they are well
accommodated to the needs of the Church, are to be received with thanks
and consolation. However, the extraordinary ones are not to be rashly
sought, nor should fruits of apostolic works be presumptuously expected of
them." [underline added]. Such things as tongues, healing, miracles etc.
are extraordinary. The Council said they are not to be rashly sought -
which is very different from saying all Catholics must have them or they
will lack something needed for the "full gospel".
As to the Patristic texts, as we said, they are few. Fairly clear are
those of Tertullian, St. Hilary, St. Cyril of Jerusalem. But the booklet
admits on p. 18 that: "Both Basil of Caesarea. . . and Gregory Nazianzus.
. . situate the prophetic charisms within the Christian initiation, though
they are more reserved in their regard than Paul." No quotes are given.
Then we see a remarkable admission on St. John Chrysostom, quoted on the
same page, "Chrysostom complained, however 'the charisms are long gone.'"
St. Augustine, in "City of God" (21. 5), has to argue strongly that
miracles are possible, against those in his day who denied the possibility.
He says that if they want to say the Apostles converted the world without
any miracles - that would be a great miracle. If there were miraculous gifts
commonly around, Augustine would have merely pointed to them. But he did
As to a debt to classical Pentecostals - in the first decade of this
century a group of Protestants claimed to have miraculous charisms in
abundance. The main Protestant churches did not receive them well, so they
did the usual Protestant thing, they established splinter churches, such
as the Holy Rollers. More recently, perhaps 20 years ago, a group of
Catholics, precisely by contact with the Protestant Pentecostals, began to
claim abundant gifts again. These gifts were routine in the day of St.
Paul - but they faded by the middle of the next century, when the
heretical Montanists claimed to have them in profusion. And that was the
pattern throughout the ages. Thus the Albigensians claimed them again.