Some Fun Re-Wording a CARM Article

So I decided to have a little fun.  Taking this piece from CARM titled “Why do Roman Catholics believe what they do”, I re-worded the article from a Catholic perspective writing about Protestants instead of vice-versa.[1]  The blocked quotes are CARM’s and the responses are my own.[2]

Enjoy!

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But, it doesn’t matter what CARM presents to them because the Catholics will continue to believe and defend whatever the Mother Church tells them…whatever the Mother Church tells them…whatever the Mother Church tells them. It is almost a mantra of emotional dedication to the “one true church” that tells them what the truth is. This is, unfortunately, the exact same phenomena I see with Jehovah’s Witnesses when they submit to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Whatever the “true church” tells them, they defend . . . because it is the true church.

It doesn’t matter what Catholics present to them because Protestants will continue to believe and defend their own personal interpretation of Scripture… their own personal interpretation of Scripture… their own personal interpretation of Scripture.  It is almost a mantra of emotional dedication to “just follow the Bible as the Holy Spirit guides.”[3]  This is, unfortunately, the exact same phenomena I see with all heretics throughout history when they proclaimed their own fallible interpretation of Scripture as the only true one and everyone else wrong.  For Protestants, especially American Evangelicals like CARM, whatever the “Holy Spirit” tells them, they defend…because the Holy Spirit told them.  That’s how they know they are not mistaken.

In the cults, members always defend whatever the Mother Church tells them. Rationalizations abound and defenses are made, but the clear meaning of scripture is lost to them no matter what true followers of Jesus (not a church) tell them. Why? I believe I know.

1 Cor. 2:14 “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

Protestants always defend whatever the whims of their own subjective interpretation tell them.  Rationalizations abound and defenses are made, but the clear meaning of Scripture is lost to them no matter what true followers of Jesus (not of their own opinions) tell them.  Why?  I believe I know.

1 Cor. 2:14 “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

Those Catholics who defend the errors of their Mother Church, in contradiction to the Word of God, do so because they are not regenerate. This is what the Scripture tells us. It is as simple as that. They do not have the mind of Christ. They do not hear his voice (John 10:27-28). Instead they are blinded.

2 Cor. 4:4 “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Those Protestants who defend the errors of their own opinions, in contradiction to the Word of God, do so because they are not regenerate.  This is what the Scripture tells us.  It is as simple that.  They do not have the mind of Christ.  They do not hear His voice (John 10:27-28).  Instead they are blinded.

2 Cor. 4:4 “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

As with the Catholics, it is certainly possible to appear Christian, to use Christian words and phrases, to do good deeds in the name of Christ, and to appeal to Christ as Savior and still be lost.

Matt. 7:22-23 Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

With Protestants, it is certainly possible to appear Christian, to use Christian words and phrases, to do good deeds in the name of Christ, and to appeal to Christ as Savior and still be lost.

Matt. 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many 1miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

Notice that Jesus condemns those who appeal to their faith and works for salvation.

Notice that Jesus says those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven.

My heart aches for the Roman Catholics who think and behave like cultists, who defend whatever their Mother Church tells them to believe, who justify the error of works righteousness (CCC 2068, 2027, 2068) [sic], who have given themselves over to a Church rather than to Christ, who conduct themselves in a manner consistent with what their Mother Church tells them to do and believe.

“…no one, relying on his own skill, shall, in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church, whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures, hath held and doth hold,” (Trent, Session 4, “Decree Concerning the Edition, and the Use, of the Sacred Books”)

My heart aches for Protestants who think and behave like lawless anarchists, whose only authority is their own subjective opinions of Scripture, who justify their error of salvation by faith alone, who have given themselves over to their whims rather than to the Church established by Christ Himself, who conduct themselves according to what their fads tell them to do.

2 Peter 1:20-21 “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

The abdication of the self to a church leads to bondage and damnation. But, abdication of the self to Jesus always leads to freedom and salvation.

Matt. 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The refusal to abdicate the self leads to bondage and damnation.  But, abdication of the self to Jesus working through His Church always leads to freedom and salvation.

Matt. 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The burden of the Catholics is to believe and follow whatever the Mother Church tells them to believe and do (CCC 862, 883, 896, 939), to merit their own grace (CCC 2010, 2027)[4], and to keep the Ten Commandments and thereby attain salvation (CCC 2068). Such burdens are heavy and unbiblical, yet the Catholics will defend whatever the Mother Church tells them to believe. They follow another besides Christ.

1 Tim. 6:3-4 “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…”

The burden of Protestants is to be adrift in a sea of uncertainty.  Since they only follow subjective feelings about what they think the Bible says, they can never rest assured that they are standing on a rock.  They base their doctrines on a fallible interpretation of a few cherry-picked verses from which they interpret the entire Bible.  For every Scripture they use as a defense is another they stumble over.  They can never be unified because unity requires everyone to submit to an authority higher than themselves.  But since each is his own personal pope, there can be no unity and only endless schism.  They believe in “salvation by faith alone” contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture yet must rely on their good works to prove they are truly saved.  Such burdens are heavy and unbiblical, yet Protestants will defend whatever whims their subjective interpretation of the Scripture tells them to believe in defiance of all authority.

They follow a Christ made in their own image.

1 Tim. 6:3-4 “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…”

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[1] Some things in this post I would never say as a Catholic, such as Protestants are not regenerated.  If they were baptized properly they are Christians.  I retained much of the wording of the original CARM article to show how silly this article sounds because the exact argument can be turned on the accuser. “Catholics are not real Christians” can be refuted with “Protestants are not real Christians.”  See how nothing has been determined and assumptions are the only evidence summoned forth?

Protestants like the ones at CARM probably had a true experience with Jesus.  Awesome!  Unfortunately, they began the race but seem to think the starting and finish lines are the same thing.  Whereas Catholics believe we don’t reach the finish line until death.  Hence the appearance of “salvation by works”.

[2] Note: I started about halfway down the CARM article because the first part is a silly critique about what CARM thinks Catholics probably/maybe/could/should/possibly believe.  For example, the article quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church to claim that Catholics possibly believe they will become gods.  Meanwhile, they seem to ignore the fact that when the CCC says we will become “partakers of the divine nature” it is quoting directly from 2 Peter 1:4 which says, “by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.”

[3] CARM’s article How to Interpret the Bible begins with, “The Bible is God’s Word. But some of the interpretations derived from it are not.  There are many cults and Christian groups that use the Bible—claiming their interpretations are correct.  Too often, however, the interpretations not only differ dramatically but are clearly contradictory.  This does not mean that the Bible is a confusing document. Rather, the problem lies in those who interpret and the methods they use.  We need, as best as can be had, the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting God’s Word.”  https://carm.org/how-interpret-bible

[4] Notice these references begin with “no one can merit the initial grace.” So CARM is misrepresenting and simplifying Catholic doctrine and then “refuting” a caricature.

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The Scripture, the Magisterium, and the Foundation for Both

There has been a thought floating through my mind that I want to throw out there. Unfortunately, like so many of these topics, there needs to be a “setting of the stage” so please be patient.

—Setting the Stage: Scripture and Magisterium—

CatholicAuthoritySo far as I understand the issues, the Roman Catholics hold to a three-legged stool of authority (a trinity of sorts); Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium. To the Catholic, these three work in harmony together to form the doctrines of the Church. Because of the nature of apologetic discussions, Catholic apologists may often stress one leg over another depending on the conversation and the need to make a point. For example, when discussing “where we got the Bible” they may stress the need for a Magisterium. The Bible itself does not tell us what books should even be in the Bible, therefore a Magisterium is needed to decide which books are in the Bible.

From this it is tempting to make the inference that the books in the Bible are “made” inspired because the “Church said so.” But this is not RCC doctrine. Vatican I states,

These books the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church.

The Scriptures are not inspired by God because the Church said so. The Church said so because the Scriptures are inspired by God.

So why the need for a Magisterium? Because it is the instrument God uses to let the rest of us know. Without it, how would I personally know what is God-inspired Scripture? I didn’t figure it out myself, nor would I trust myself with such a task. Someone gave me a Bible, told me it was inspired by God, and I believe it. So I already accept some sort of authority on this issue.

So there is a harmony between Scripture and the Magisterium, not an antagonism. The Magisterium is the channel through which the Holy Spirit announces what is already inspired Scripture. An analogy from Stephen Ray is helpful (links to a Word document).

If an archeologist is an authoritative Egyptologist and “discovers” a total of ten Egyptian burial sites, he then, as the authority who made the discovery, “determines” that there are in fact ten sights, and that they are authentic. Discovery and determination are friends, not enemies.

 Now that the stage is set, we can move on to my simple pondering.

—Protestant-Catholic Dialogue—

On what makes the Scriptures inspired, Protestants agree with Catholics. They agree that the Scriptures are inspired because God said so, not the Church.

First point: Can this be proven? Can those specific books of the Old and New Testaments be “proven” to be “God breathed”? I do not believe so. It is a matter of faith. We can study and show them to be historically reliable or show them to be philosophically smart and dependable, but these are not the same as God breathed. I believe C.S. Lewis is smart and dependable as well, but not inspired Scripture. The reality is we accept on faith that the Bible is inspired by God.

Next point: This simple faith that Protestants put in Scripture is the exact same sort of faith Catholics put into the Magisterium as well as Scripture. Protestants often demand proof that the Magisterium is infallible. They ask, “How does the RCC determine its own authority? If the church is to be infallible, then it must have an infallible foundation for its infallible authority.” Well, the Catholic would reply that it does. It has the same foundation for infallibility that the Protestants themselves claim for the Scriptures. Can this be “proven”? No more than the belief that Scripture itself is infallible and yet we all willingly accept that.

—Conclusion—

It doesn’t seem like Scripture itself can hold up to the standard of proof for infallibility that Protestants require for the Magisterium. The foundation for both is claimed to be God Himself. Whichever direction one chooses, toward or away from Rome, it is a matter of faith. We all start with a presupposition that cannot be proven and determine all else from that basis. One cannot demand proof from one without holding the other to the same standard.

For myself, I cannot escape the fact that the Bible presupposes a Magisterium of some sort. Like Scott Hahn said,

The Bible presupposes the Church. The New Testament was not a user’s manual for a Church still in shrinkwrap. The Church preceded the Scriptures….Not only do the individual books presume the existence of the Church, but so does the collection as a whole. Some authority had to determine which books would be included in the New Testament and which would not; for the book of the Scriptures came with no inspired table of contents. (Reasons to Believe)

(Final Note: I skimmed over—and ended with—comments on the creation and determination of the canon but this post is not about that so please don’t sidetrack the comments in a different direction. The skim was meant to be a “framing” for a different topic. The creation of canon is a debate done a hundred times a day all over the internet and if you wish to debate that topic please go find one of those blog debates. The main point of this post is simple; believing the authority of the Scriptures come from God is the same type of belief that the authority of the Magisterium comes from God. It’s a matter of faith either way and one cannot demand proof from one without holding the other to the same standard.)

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Disclaimer – This blog post is just that: a blog post with my personal thoughts. I am not a Catholic apologist or theologian. What I say here is not official doctrine of the Catholic Church. I am still learning and am susceptible to error. Don’t take anything here as Gospel. Don’t be stupid. Do your own research and learn for yourself what the Church teaches.

Catholics: if my understanding of Catholic doctrine needs adjustment, please point out my error.