Sunday, August 01, 2010

Jack Van Impe Presents: Falsehood

Jack Van Impe, a man who likes to describe himself as "the walking Bible," had some disparaging comments for the Catholic Church this morning on his program "Jack Van Impe Presents." Mr. Van Impe said that the Catholic Church is doing its priests a disservice by insisting upon clerical celibacy. The "walking Bible" cited 1 Timothy 3:2 to "prove" that clerical celibacy is unscriptural. This verse reads, "..a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once..." As with most fundamentalists, Mr. Van Impe cites one verse to make his case while ignoring those scriptural verses which contradict his view. While it is true that celibacy is not required by the nature of the priesthood itself (and Mr. Van Impe might be surprised to learn that some Roman Catholic priests are indeed married), still, as Paul Whitcomb explains nicely, "Catholic priests do not marry because, while Christ does indeed approve of marriage for the Christian clergy, He much prefers that they do not marry. He made this quite clear when He praised the Apostles for giving up "all" to follow Him, saying, "And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting." (Matt. 19:27-29).

The Apostle Paul explained why the unmarried state is preferable to the married state for the Christian clergy: "He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided." (1 Cor. 7:32-33). In other words, matrimony is good – Christ made it one of the holy sacraments of His Church – but it is not conducive to that complete dedication which is incumbent upon those who submit themselves to another of Christ's holy sacraments – that of Holy Orders. Even so, the unmarried state of the Catholic priesthood is not an inflexible law – under certain conditions a priest may be dispensed from this law." (See here).

Mr. Van Impe attempted to convince his viewers that the Church founded by the Lord Jesus is imposing an unscriptural "man-made" teaching on its priests. The scriptures cited above refute the so-called "walking Bible." As Vatican II explains, "Celibacy is to be embraced and esteemed as a gift. Perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, commended by Christ the Lord (cf. Mt 19: 22) and through the course of time as well as in our own days freely accepted and observed in a praiseworthy manner by many of the faithful, is held by the Church to be of great value in a special manner for the priestly life. It is at the same time a sign and a stimulus for pastoral charity and a special source of spiritual fecundity in the world. Indeed, it is not demanded by the very nature of the priesthood, as is apparent from the practice of the early Church (cf. 1 Tm 3: 2-5; Ti 1: 6)..." (Presbyterorum Ordinis, No. 16).

This document goes on to say that, "..celibacy has a many-faceted suitability for the priesthood. For the whole priestly mission is dedicated to the service of a new humanity which Christ, the victor over death, has aroused through his Spirit in the world and which has its origin 'not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God' (Jn 1: 13). Through virginity, then, or celibacy observed for the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 19: 12), priests are consecrated to Christ by a new and exceptional reason. They adhere to him more easily with an undivided heart (cf. 1 Cor 7: 32-34), they dedicate themselves more freely in him and through him to the service of God and men, and they more expeditiously minister to his kingdom and the work of heavenly regeneration..." (No. 16).

Perhaps the "walking Bible" should spend a little more time with the Bible. And rather than criticizing the Church founded by Jesus Christ, perhaps he should make more of an effort to actually learn what the Catholic Church teaches. I challenge Mr. Van Impe to purchase (and study) the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He just might discover, providing he is truly open to the Spirit, the fullness of Christian truth


Betty said...

That really disappoints me about Mr. Impe. But I am not entirely surprised either. He advances the notion of a "rapture" just prior to thepersecution of Antichrist, something which is also unscriptural.

Derek said...

Walking Bible? I would say that of Jesus. Jesus is the Word Incarnate. The Word made Flesh. Impe's ignorance of Scripture is appalling.

Unknown said...

Mr. Van Impe is still on a journey but he has come a long way and I don't think he hates the Catholic Church like he used to. Many fundamentalists think he has turned Catholic. So maybe he has a way to go but I'd be inclined to celebrate his praise of the catechism on his tv show and other places.

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