Thanks you for your reply to my e-mail. I am aware that I call the fundamentalist interpretation of Revelation 17 a lie. Perhaps this does seem harsh if indeed there is no right or wrong answer but only interpretation. First of all however, I dislike the fact that this accusation against the Vatican is with the aim of destroying a religion. This is a religion which may have made mistakes and committed crimes in the past, but not much more in proportion to its size in terms of followers than Protestant Christianity.
There are not many questions in theology which do have right or wrong answers but to me this comes fairly close to being one. Revelation makes it very clear that one of the seven kings is ruling at the time of the prophecy, so it is hardly likely that the great city in which he rules is meant to be one 2,000 years in the future. The ten horns of the beast are ten kings. These are probably Roman provincial rulers as they are said to rule for one hour with the Beast, whom I take to be the Emperor Domitian. These are supposed to destroy the whore. I take the Fall of Babylon to be the fall of Rome and its invasion by barbarians-from the Roman provinces. Chick does not seem to explain any of these kings, but focuses entirely on the person of the whore, and even the arguments he uses here do not work. When all is said and done the Catholic Church is not a city, so Chick's common use of the line:
"Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues," to get people to convert from Catholicism to fundamentalism simply cannot apply. With his Biblical knowledge he must be aware of this.
The Catholic Church appears to be in violation of commandment number two. This is a classic case of biblical contradiction. God prohibits the making
of any graven image of practically anything. The God of the Bible is indeed confusing; in Exodus 25:18-20 he actually commands the carving of statues!
"And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold.."
In Ezekiel 41:17-18 there is a description of statues in a temple, and in Numbers 21:8-9 God commands that an image of a serpent be made so that anyone can look at it and be saved from a snake bite.It is only the worship of statues themselves that angers God, as shown in Kings 18:4 when the image is destroyed because people begin to worship it as a snake god.
The Catholic Bible apparently puts the ten commandments in a different order, but lists all of them nonetheless.
It is true that the Catholic Bible includes the 2nd commandment, but the Catholic Catechism removes it, and that's what most Catholics learn. I was just curious because it raises a lot of suspicions.
I would disagree with your statement that "[Catholicism] is a religion which may have made mistakes and committed crimes in the past, but not much more in proportion to its size in terms of followers than Protestant Christianity." One can hardly compare the size and scope of the Inquisitions-- which reappeared over centuries and covered all of Christiandom-- to the far fewer instances of Protestant retaliation. Both attacks killed innocents, but the Inquisitions resulted in torture and mass murder of hundreds (if not thousands) of times more victims. That doesn't mean one religion is therefore false, but historical facts speak for themselves. It invites critics to attack the claim that the Pope is God's representative on Earth by pointing out such a representive would not allow atrocities to continue for centuries in his name. For more information on the Inquisition, check out some secular sources.
I'm not saying that proves Catholicism is wrong, but to suggest Catholic/ Protestant victims are anywhere close to equal in number is grossly inaccurate. Perhaps if Protestants dominated Europe over a thousand years while the Catholics were a minority, the reverse might have occurred. It didn't though, so we'll never know.
I personally find your interpretation of Revelation compelling, but it glosses over important criticisms. If it was meant to refer to a current event in John's time, then why hasn't the other predictions come true? The mark on the forehead, the thousand year rule of Christ, etc. etc? Rome lasted for hundreds of years after the 7th king. The timeline doesn't fit the prophecy. These are contradictions within your argument. So I still maintain there is plenty of room for different interpretations.
[Cameron's Final Response]
I would not try to argue that the Protestant Reformers killed as many people as the Catholic Inquisitors killed in all three of their inquisitions; Medieval, Spanish, and Roman, put together. I would rather point out that Protestantism in the Sixteenth Century, the period which Chick is keen on bringing up for catholic-bashing material, was actually very small, and in proportion to its size its ferocity was as terrible as that of Catholic monarchs such as Mary Tudor (England 1553-58, whom Chick mentions in the Tract 'Real Heat') against their Protestant subjects. John Calvin burned the Spanish Theologian Servetus for Heresy, and had Jacques Gouet tortured and executed. As well as killing his mother, probably for similar reasons, he also expelled many people from Geneva who would not accept his views. Martin Luther was an outspoken anti-Semite, something Chick ought to have acknowledged whilst writing the tract 'Holocaust'. Queen Elizabeth I of England had about 450 people murdered by hanging, drawing, and quartering in one day for a Catholic rebellion, and unnecessarily did this same thing to the Jesuit Priest Edmund Campion as well. Her sister "Bloody Mary" burned about 274 Protestants. My point is that Chick's history is just propaganda.
It is totally one-sided and unfair. I am not out to have a go at Protestantism, but the truth is, contrary to what he might say, the Reformation was imposed undemocratically and cruelly on societies which did not really want it just as much as the Counter-Reformation. I know you do not use the Inquisition to try to claim that the Catholic Church is evil, but Chick certainly does, and it totally backfires!
The mark of the Beast on right hand and forehead may have been Roman coins inscribed with the emperor's name, hence no one could buy or sell unless they had this mark. Against this interpretation it might be argued that a coin is not the same as a mark and the connection with the forehead is not apparent. It ought to be acknowledged, however that everything in revelation is open to symbolic interpretation; the beast cannot be literally a beast, and the whore is not literally a whore. To be fair much of the book, such as the plagues and the thousand year reign of Christ, remains uninterpreted, but I am still convinced that Chick's claim that the Catholic Church is the Harlot really does not work, for a good many reasons.
Thanks for your reply. It would have been nice if people had the choice to select their own religion in medieval Europe. Unfortunately, the Vatican had a monopoly back then and was pretty vicious to the competition. I would agree Elizabeth had hundreds of people executed, but she was responding to plots to overthrow (and kill) her. Executing rebels for treason is still considered legal in most countries today, while executing someone for heresy is not (and never should have been). I also agree with you that Calvin lowered himself to the same murderous level as the Church he was fighting. Too bad nobody tried "turning the other cheek."
Chick is like a lawyer, presenting the best case for his client and casting the other side in the worst possible light. Activists do this all the time (including Catholics). Readers should hear both sides to get a balanced view. Thanks for presenting your side.