Over the past two weeks, courtesy of a dear family friend that I believe (sadly) is on the brink of apostasy, I have come to learn about a group (aka sect) that call themselves the Natsarim (or Netzarim).
Basically, those who call themselves Natsarim believe that the true disciples of our Lord Jesus didn’t go on to become the Church – rather they went on to form a group called the Natsarim (from the Hebrew root “nezter" from which we derive "Nazarene”). Basically, they claim that the Lord’s intention was that the people of the New Covenant (or Renewed Covenant as they call it) remain essentially Judaistic in their beliefs and practices; and that the Church is one great big lie because it has Hellenised (and subsequently paganised, as they think) the true religion. In essence, the Natsarim claim that they alone are the true follows of Yeshua (because “Jesus” is a pagan name) because they follow the Torah (i.e. Law of Moses); and that Christianity is basically a deception of Satan.
Needless to say, because I had never heard of this little sect before, I was intrigued by who they were and what they believe. What I subsequently found was that the Natsarim are no better off than the thousands of Protestant denominatons who each claim that their version of the truth is the correct one. Within the scope of Natsarim, there are those who only accept the Hebrew Scriptures (i.e. what we Christians call the Old Testament); there are those who accept the New (or “Renewed”) Testament; there are those who only accept the Gospels; etc. (the list could go on for ages). So basically, they can't agree amongst themselves what is actually true. One would think that if they were the true disciples of “Yeshua” that they would be able to show at least the following two things:
1) A line of succession that stretches all the way back to our Lord and His Apostles; and
2) A uniformity of doctrine
On the first point, no evidence has been provided (as far as I can see); and on the second, well...let’s just say that it seems like everyone does what is right in his/her own eyes (much like Protestant interpretations of Scripture). The difference with Protestants is that even though their anti-Catholic arguments are wrong, they maintain a sense of coherency which is respectable. However, with the Natsarim, they are worse than “proof-texters”.
In summary, the little research I did has caused me to be extremely concerned for our dear friend...and at the same time, I can’t even begin to mention how grateful I am that our Lord has given us Holy Church as the pillar and foundation of truth. It was a reminder to me of the faithfulness of God as He continues, through the centuries, to lead His Church into all truth. And because our Lord is always with us, may we never be ashamed of being Catholic, knowing that we do indeed have the full deposit of Truth.