Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jack Chick vs Jack Chick

Jack Chick is well known for producing anti-Catholic tracts and other evangelism literature.  Let's take a look at the cartoon tract titled Are Roman Catholics Christians?  The booklet claims that the Sacraments of Penance and Communion are false rituals modeled after Near East pagan practices and that the Catholic devotion to Mary is a derivation of pagan goddess worship.







The major problem with Chick's argument is that his line of reasoning can be used to attack all of Christianity.  Much of Christian theology is similar to pre-Christian pagan traditions in the Near East.  For example, the cross, the most recognizable Christian symbol, looks suspiciously like the Egyptian Ankh, the hieroglyph representing eternal life.  An atheist might argue that the story of the Crucifixion was made up by people influenced by Egyptian culture. 



There are other parallels between Christian and pagan tradition.  Chick claims that the Catholic Church borrows from the cult of Osiris, but basic Christian theology also includes themes associated with the worship of Osiris.  Osiris is described as a shepherd and Egyptians believed that they could attain eternal life through his death and Resurrection.  Also in Egyptian religious history, one finds the cult of Aten, a monotheistic religion founded by Amenhotep IV many years before the Exodus.  Using Chick's method, one might conclude that Judeo-Christian monotheism was simply an adaptation of Aten worship.  Noah's flood sounds strikingly like the flood described in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, which probably predates the Genesis account.  Just like Catholics adapting the Babylonian "confessional" perhaps the Israelites adapted the Sumerian flood narrative.   If pagan ritual inspired Catholic ritual, as Chick claims, why shouldn't pagan theology have influenced Christian theology?

Chick's own anti-Catholic arguments can also be used against Protestant Christianity.  He compares the bread eating ritual of Egypt to the Sacrament of Communion, but the Egyptian ritual can also be compared to the little "c" communion rites of Protestant churches.  Even though Protestants don't believe in transubstantiation, they do eat bread that symbolizes Christ, an act that seems similar to the Egyptian ritual Chick describes.  Chick's comparison between Venus/Isis and Mary is also self-defeating.  The comparison can be used not only to attack Catholic Tradition, but also the Scripture held in common by Catholics and Protestants.  Revelation 12:1-5 says,
A great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.  Then there was seen another sign in heaven, and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns, and on his head seven diadems.  His tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the women who was ready to be delivered: that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son.  She brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod.  Her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.
There is no escaping the fact that the woman described is Mary, because her son is clearly Jesus. She is depicted as wearing a royal and supernatural wardrobe, just like the statue in Chick's drawing.  In addition, Genesis 3:15 addresses the serpent, and says that "the woman will crush your head."  The statue of Mary in Chick's tract is shown crushing the serpent.  Though Christians do not of course consider Mary a goddess, one might compare the image of Mary in Revelation to female deities in various pagan pantheons, many of whom are associated with celestial bodies and pregnancy.  In reality the statue that Chick draws is not based on any pagan goddess, but on the imagery in Revelation and Genesis.  By condemning Marian imagery as pagan, Chick is inadvertently condemning Scripture.

The comparisons I have made between Christianity and paganism do not refute Christianity any more than Chick's cartoons refute Catholic teaching.  Christianity is not a derivative of pagan myths but a fulfillment of the human desire for God that inspired those myths.  The Egyptians hungered for the bread of life, so they ate bread that they called god.  The Babylonians felt the need for absolution so they turned to a pagan confessional.  These rituals were an attempt to satisfy the need for Sanctifying Grace.  The ancient pagans didn't know it, but what they really wanted was to receive the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, and deep in his heart, so does Jack Chick.  

4 comments:

  1. I remember 1st coming across Chick when I was your age in college. At that time he wasn't attacking the Catholic Church. It wasn't until the late 70s that he began his attack on the Catholic Church.
    Your analysis of what is wrong with what Chick is saying is excellent. What gets me is how he cherry picks the Scriptures while ignoring the others that support Catholic doctrine.
    Add to that, his misrepresenting what the Church teaches. "Why is mary Crying?" is an excellent example of how he only takes part of Marian doctrine & makes it sound like we have made Mary into God.
    Your ending is especially right on. I firmly believe that a lot of what appeared in pagan religions is based on that desire for the real God. Adam & Eve probably passed on what God had promised. But as men got further away from our 1st parents, they forgot parts so added in stories to fill in the blanks creating the gods to replace God.

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  2. Al: I like Tolkien's description of Christianity as a true myth that fulfills the yearnings for God that helped to inspired the pagan myths.

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  3. Hi Patrick!

    Nice to meet you and your blog. You've done quite well in pointing out the inconsistencies in Mr. Chicks cartoon tracks. You'll probably be interested to read my recent rebuttal to his tract on Mary page-for-page. I love to have fun busting Myths. Check it out here Catholic Fiction: Responding to Myths & Half-Truths: Why Is Mary Crying? Chick Cartoon Tracts


    Cheers!
    Delali

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  4. Delali: Your blog is great! You do an excellent job of refuting Chick. Thanks for sending me the link!

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