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.

Jaroslav Pelikan on Scripture and Tradition

JaroslavPelikan

From Wikipedia

“For those who believe that you don’t need tradition because you have the Bible, The Christian Tradition has sought to say, ‘You are not entitled to the beliefs you cherish about such things as the Holy Trinity without a sense of what you owe to those who worked this out for you.’ To circumvent Saint Athanasius on the assumption that if you put me alone in a room with the New Testament, I will come up with the doctrine of the Trinity, is naive.”

—Jaroslav Pelikan (a Lutheran at the time)

Short thoughts from Cardinal Ratzinger on modern Christian thought

RatzingerReportI’m currently reading, and am almost done with, The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church. On August 15, 1984, journalist Vittorio Messori interviewed Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI). This book is a compilation of that interview and discusses a lot of interesting things. Many of the topics go over my head, probably because I’m not Catholic and therefore not “in tune” with their way of thinking on certain issues (such as the seriousness Ratzinger has about liturgy).

One of the things I found interesting, and relevant to my situation, are Ratzinger’s thoughts on sola scriptura and ecclesiology.

Below is a transcript from the book. Anything in “quotes” is Ratzinger, whereas the rest is Messori. I hope my spelling and punctuation is correct. Keep in mind as well that there is a context to the conversation. I think what I have posted is enough context to get the point, but if you get confused it might be worth checking out the book yourself.

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But why should Protestantism—which is undergoing a crisis no less than the Catholic Church—attract theologians and believers who, up to the Council, had remained faithful to the Roman Church?

“It is not easy to say. The following consideration suggests itself to me: Protestantism arose at the beginning of modern times, and thus it is much more closely related to the inner energies which produced the modern age than Catholicism is. It has acquired the form it has today largely in the confrontation with the great philosophical currents of the nineteenth century. It is wide open to modern thought, and, as well as constituting a threat to it, that constitutes both its opportunity and its danger. So it is that those Catholic theologians, particularly, for whom their inherited theology no longer means anything, imagine that here they will find a path already blazed for the fusing of faith and modern thought.”

What principles are involved here?

“Then as now the sola scriptura principles plays a key role. What today’s average Christian deduces from this principle is that faith comes from one’s individual perception, from intellectual application along with the contributions of experts, and a view such as this strikes him as more modern and more obvious than the Catholic position. Let us go deeper. Once this view has been adopted, the Catholic concept of the Church is automatically no longer tenable; a model of the Church must be sought elsewhere within the wide spectrum of the phenomenon of ‘Protestantism’.”

Ecclesiology then, as almost always, comes into the picture.

“Yes. For the modern man on the street, the most obvious concept of the Church is what technically one would call Congregationalist or Free Church. It implies that the Church is a changeable form depending upon how men organize what pertains to faith. Consequently one has to adapt as far as possible to the demands of the present moment. We have already mentioned this several times, but it is worthwhile returning to it: today many people can hardly understand any more that behind a human reality stands the mysterious divine reality. And as we know, this is the Catholic understanding of the Church, and it is far harder to accept than the one we have just outlined, which is not simply the Protestant understanding but one that has developed within the phenomenon of ‘Protestantism’.”

Jimmy Akin on the Practical Problems of Sola Scriptura

In summary, sola scriptura presupposes (1) the existence of the printing press, (2) the universal distribution of Bibles, (3) a cash-based economy, (4) universal literacy, (5) the universal possession of scholarly support materials, (6) the universal possession of adequate time for study, and (7) a universal education in a high level of critical thinking skills.

Needless to say, this group of conditions was not met in the crucial early centuries of the Church, was not met through the main course of Church history, and is not met even today. The non-existence of the printing press alone means sola scriptura was totally unthinkable for almost three-quarters of Christian history.

It is thus hard to think of sola scriptura as anything but the theory spawned by a group of Renaissance-era dilettantes-people who had an interest in being their own theologians, who had a classical education in critical thinking skills, who had plenty of leisure time for study, who had plenty of scholarly support materials, who had good reading skills, who had access to Bible-sellers, and most importantly, who had printed Bibles.

The average Christian today-even the average Christian in the developed world-does not fit that profile. Much less did the average Christian in the early centuries. What this means, since God does not ask a person to do what they are incapable of doing, is that God does not expect the average Christian of world history to use sola scriptura. He expects the average Christian to obtain and maintain his knowledge of theology in some other way.

But if God expects the average Christian to obtain and maintain the Christian faith without using sola scriptura, then sola scriptura is not God’s plan.

–Jimmy Akin, Ten Thousand Chickens for One Thousand Bibles: Some Practical Problems of Sola Scriptura

(Side note: This problem is probably why modern day Evangelicals don’t even worry so much about what the Bible teaches and would prefer to focus solely on their “personal relationship with Jesus” as a way to avoid difficult problems.)

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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.

What else does Irenaeus say?

Irenaeus of Lyon, from Wikipedia

Irenaeus of Lyon, from Wikipedia

It seems that most Christians who study the early church love Irenaeus. It’s probably because he battled the gnostic heresies so well in his 5-volume work Against Heresies in the 180s A.D. Since there are no more Valentinians or Marcionites (at least not purposefully) we can all look to him as a hero of the faith and cheer at most of what he wrote.

However, within Christian circles the main question is whether Irenaeus was more Catholic or Protestant.  Now it didn’t take me long to sense that he was more Roman Catholic than Protestant. Yet many Protestants claim him too and do their best to show his words to be in line with Reformation doctrines.

Probably the main quote they love is in 3, 1, 1. Irenaeus says,

We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith…. When, however, they [the heretics] are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and assert that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For they allege that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: wherefore also Paul declared, “But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.”

Protestants use this passage of Irenaeus to prove that he believed in sola scriptura. I’m not so sure because he still goes on to approve of traditions passed down by the apostles through the bishops.

But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, and which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. (3, 2, 2)

So he still believes in the traditions passed down straight from the apostles and in the next several chapters he shows how the heretics are not part of the apostolic succession and therefore cannot have a “secret” tradition from the apostles. Irenaeus does not condemn traditions of the apostles but rather shows how the heretics can’t have it because they do not have apostolic succession.

However, for the sake of argument, what if Irenaeus did actually believe in sola scriptura the same way Protestants do? If we trust him enough as a source to believe this passage we musn’t stop there, right? We must continue on and find out what else he said and take it seriously.

So what else did Irenaeus say?

What did Irenaeus consider Scripture?

septuagintIrenaeus quoted from the deuterocanonical books in the same way he quotes Scripture.

For example, in 4, 26, 3 Irenaeus quotes from Daniel 13 (which is not in Protestant Bibles) and in 5, 35, 1 quotes the entire chapter of Baruch 5.  Both times he did this alongside other Scripture without making any distinction.

Even other Protestants agree that Irenaeus considered the deuterocanonical books as Scripture.

Anglican J.N.D. Kelly said that in the first couple centuries “the deuterocanonical writings ranked as Scripture in the fullest sense” and gives multiple examples including Irenaeus who “refers to Wisdom, the History of Susannah, Bel and the Dragon and Baruch.” (Early Christian Doctrines ch. 3)

Protestant Evangelical F.F. Bruce also said, “Irenaeus is well able to distinguish ‘the writings of truth’ from ‘the multitude of apocryphal and spurious writings.’ The Old Testament writings are indispensable witnesses to the history of salvation; the Septuagint version was divinely inspired, the writings which we call the Apocrypha being evidently invested with the same authority as those translated from the Hebrew Bible.” (The Canon of Scripture ch. 13).

So Irenaeus considered the deuterocanonical books to be Scripture. Therefore, even if he did believe in sola scriptura, his Bible includes books that the Reformers removed. Protestants do not believe these books are inspired but Roman Catholics do.

What did Irenaeus say about the Eucharist?

eucharistAgain, giving directions to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits of His own, created things — not as if He stood in need of them, but that they might be themselves neither unfruitful nor ungrateful — He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said, “This is My body.” And the cup likewise, which is part of that creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant; which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout all the world, to Him who gives us as the means of subsistence the first-fruits of His own gifts in the New Testament, concerning which Malachi, among the twelve prophets, thus spoke beforehand: “I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord Omnipotent, and I will not accept sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun, unto the going down [of the same], My name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is My name among the Gentiles, saith the Lord Omnipotent;” — indicating in the plainest manner, by these words, that the former people [the Jews] shall indeed cease to make offerings to God, but that in every place sacrifice shall be offered to Him, and that a pure one; and His name is glorified among the Gentiles. (4, 17, 5)

So Ireaneus saw the Eucharist as a sacrifice and a fulfilment of Malachi 1:10-11 which prophesied a “pure offering” that would one day be offered by all nations. That’s still Roman Catholic doctrine, not Protestant. (CCC 1330, 1350)

Inasmuch, then, as the Church offers with single-mindedness, her gift is justly reckoned a pure sacrifice with God….And the Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator, offering to Him, with giving of thanks, the things taken from His creation. (4, 18, 4)

So the only place we can offer this oblation is in the Church. Not just anyone can offer this sacrifice to God. That’s still Roman Catholic doctrine, not Protestant (CCC 1330, 1350). Protestants just don’t talk like this.

What did Irenaeus say about Mary?

Though he didn’t use the phrase, Irenaeus saw Mary as the New Eve. Just as Jesus is a type of Adam so Mary is a type of Eve. Adam and Eve disobeyed and brought destruction upon mankind but Jesus and Mary obeyed and brought salvation to mankind.

mary-and-jesusIn accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin….so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race…. And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith. (3, 22, 4)

Protestants just don’t talk like this about anyone and certainly not about Mary. Meanwhile, Roman Catholics still see Mary as the New Eve and a Mediatrix.

Conclusion:

Scripture, the Eucharist, and Mary are three very big and contentious issues between Protestants and Catholics and yet it seems Irenaeus is far closer to Roman Catholicism than to Protestantism.

So what do we do?  It seems there are three options.

  1. Accept his quote about the Scripture being the “ground and pillar of our faith” as more truthful than his other doctrines and therefore the others can be safely ignored.
  2. Explain away many of his other doctrines to mean something other than what they actually sound like.
  3. Accept that he was just not a Protestant.

 

G.K. Chesterton on Catholicism and Sola Scriptura

chestertonWHY I AM A CATHOLIC

Catholicism, in a sense little understood, stands outside a quarrel like that of Darwinism at Dayton. It stands outside it because it stands all around it, as a house stands all around two incongruous pieces of furniture. It is no sectarian boast to say it is before and after and beyond all these things in all directions. It is impartial in a fight between the Fundamentalist and the theory of the Origin of Species, because it goes back to an origin before that Origin; because it is more fundamental than Fundamentalism. It knows where the Bible came from. It also knows where most of the theories of Evolution go to. It knows there were many other Gospels besides the Four Gospels, and that the others were only eliminated by the authority of the Catholic Church. It knows there are many other evolutionary theories besides the Darwinian theory; and that the latter is quite likely to be eliminated by later science. It does not, in the conventional phrase, accept the conclusions of science, for the simple reason that science has not concluded. To conclude is to shut up; and the man of science is not at all likely to shut up. It does not, in the conventional phrase, believe what the Bible says, for the simple reason that the Bible does not say anything. You cannot put a book in the witness-box and ask it what it really means. The Fundamentalist controversy itself destroys Fundamentalism. The Bible by itself cannot be a basis of agreement when it is a cause of disagreement; it cannot be the common ground of Christians when some take it allegorically and some literally. The Catholic refers it to something that can say something, to the living, consistent, and continuous mind of which I have spoken; the highest mind of man guided by God.

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chesterton_cigarTHE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND CONVERSION

I find it very difficult to take some of the Protestant propositions even seriously. What is any man who has been in the real outer world, for instance, to make of the everlasting cry that Catholic traditions are condemned by the Bible? It indicates a jumble of topsy-turvy tests and tail-foremost arguments, of which I never could at any time see the sense.

The ordinary sensible sceptic or pagan is standing in the street (in the supreme character of the man in the street) and he sees a procession go by of the priests of some strange cult, carrying their object of worship under a canopy, some of them wearing high head-dresses and carrying symbolical staffs, others carrying scrolls and sacred records, others carrying sacred images and lighted candles before them, others sacred relics in caskets or cases, and so on.

I can understand the spectator saying, “This is all hocus-pocus”; I can even understand him, in moments of irritation, breaking up the procession, throwing down the images, tearing up the scrolls, dancing on the priests and anything else that might express that general view. I can understand his saying, “Your croziers are bosh, your candles are bosh, your statues and scrolls and relics and all the rest of it are bosh.”

But in what conceivable frame of mind does he rush in to select one particular scroll of the scriptures of this one particular group (a scroll which had always belonged to them and been a part of their hocus-pocus, if it was hocus-pocus); why in the world should the man in the street say that one particular scroll was not bosh, but was the one and only truth by which all the other things were to be condemned? Why should it not be as superstitious to worship the scrolls as the statues, of that one particular procession? Why should it not be as reasonable to preserve the statues as the scrolls, by the tenets of that particular creed?

To say to the priests, “Your statues and scrolls are condemned by our common sense,” is sensible. To say, “Your statues are condemned by your scrolls, and we are going to worship one part of your procession and wreck the rest,” is not sensible from any standpoint, least of all that of the man in the street.

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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.


Are Protestant Apologists Ushering People into the Roman Catholic Church? Part II

This is a continuation of the discourse from the last post about a Protestant apologist named Charlie Campbell and how people like him are one of the reasons I’ll probably be entering the Roman Catholic Church soon.

Alongside bad history, Charlie Campbell, in his attempts to set up “ah-ha!” moments in our minds against the RCC, also employed questionable hermeneutics.

In the first place, Protestants can’t help themselves; they must prove themselves from the Bible, even when the best arguments are elsewhere. But using the Bible as “proof” gets sketchy since the Bible can be, and constantly is, interpreted in many different ways. G.K. Chesterton said,

“The Fundamentalist controversy itself destroys Fundamentalism. The Bible by itself cannot be a basis of agreement when it is a cause of disagreement; it cannot be the common ground of Christians when some take it allegorically and some literally.”

Any use of Scripture will be rife with alternate opinions and therefore I don’t believe any “ah-ha!” Scripture exists for any side of the debate. But allow me to show why I think Campbell’s opinions are questionable, at best.

Salvation:

Campbell started giving his own view of salvation. He said, “The Bible over and over again teaches that salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ alone and not the result of any effort or work of man.”

Now the topic of salvation gets a little foggy because it involves defining what is meant by the words “faith”, “grace”, and “works.” But I’m guessing Campbell hasn’t put that much thought into that so I’ll just offer a few other Scriptures that suggest other than what Campbell boldly declares.

He might have missed when the Bible says baptism saves (Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21). Or maybe he missed when the Bible says works and effort saves (James 2:24, John 15:4, Phil. 2:12, 1 Cor. 9:27, Rom. 2:6-8). Or maybe when Jesus said unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood there is no life in us (John 6:53).

After this statement Campbell uses verses talking about faith and ignored any part of Scripture suggesting something other than what his theology allows. Actually dealing with those issues would make the topic of salvation more complex than he is willing to admit and it softens the blow of his “ah-ha!” (Actually, he probably doesn’t even know such passages exist.)

Sinless-ness of Mary:

Talking about Mary’s sinless-ness, Campbell used Romans 3:10; “There is no one righteous, not even one.” But that verse is poetry quoting Psalms 14:3. Why take it literally? Biblical books written as history, and therefore should be taken more literally than poetry, called Joseph a “righteous man” (Matthew 1:19), said Zechariah and Elizabeth were both “righteous in the sight of God” (Luke 1:5-6), and called Simeon “righteous and devout” (Luke 2:25). Hebrews 7:2 called Melchizedek the “king of righteousness.” So maybe there’s a bit more to “righteousness” than people like Campbell insinuate. Romans 3:10 is certainly not an “ah-ha!” verse against Mary’s sinless-ness.

Campbell also appealed to Luke 2:22-24 saying, “You don’t go and give sacrifices in the Temple if you’re not a sinner.” But Mary was simply fulfilling the Law that required a purification process for women who gave birth, which included offering two doves if a lamb could not be afforded (Leviticus 12).

Campbell quoted Luke 1:47 where Mary said, “And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” As if Catholics don’t believe Mary needed a savior? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The ‘splendor of an entirely unique holiness’ by which Mary is ‘enriched from the first instant of her conception’ comes wholly from Christ: she is ‘redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son’” (para. 492) and “By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long” (para.493).

RCC teaching is that Mary needed a savior too, therefore this argument against the RCC is moot. Her Immaculate Conception was a free gift with no merit on her part. She is redeemed “by reason of the merits of her Son.” Her salvation anticipated Christ’s sacrifice, but His sacrifice was still needed. (Scott Hahn explains the Catholic view of Mary in Scripture with this and other talks on Mary).

Now Campbell and others can disagree with Catholic interpretations of Scripture, but it still comes down to a matter of opinion. The “ah-ha!” reasons don’t exist, as if Scripture is so “clear” on beliefs we already hold and couldn’t possibly be seen in a different light.

Conclusion:

Considering that I just posted about loving attitudes, perhaps my words have been too harsh in these last two posts about Charlie Campbell. “Crises of faith” are very emotional times. When I look for answers from people who make this stuff their living and still find their answers completely inadequate, frustrations naturally grow. Like others, Charlie Campbell clearly didn’t study the history of the church, and not even his hermeneutics have any conclusive content.

So what is this Faith that leaves critics no recourse but to use falsehoods as facts and odd argumentation as game-changers? For those of us who don’t want false-front defenses, should we not conclude that the Faith they reject in such bizarre ways might actually be right? If illegitimate arguments are necessary to reject the RCC, does it not suggest the RCC is actually legitimate?

Now I agree with Campbell that Irenaeus is a trustworthy source, which is exactly why I am probably entering into the Roman Catholic Church soon. Protestants (especially American Evangelicals) should beware which early church fathers they claim are reliable sources because it will open a whole can of worms they probably don’t want to deal with. I know it did for me. It’s also what made John Henry Newman convert after saying, “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant” (An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

The people who accept DVD’s like this one are those who are comfortable in their Protestantism, want reasons to stay out of Catholicism, but who have no intention of looking into the reasons themselves. And yet Catholics are the crazy ones for “blindly” following men.

What is this Faith that cannot be proven wrong and too often seems right? What are people like me supposed to do?

Sola Scriptura – Why not the Apocrypha?

This is the second post on sola scriptura. The first two are here and here. I’d recommend reading them first as I will continue discussion with that assumption.

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Before any discussion about using the Bible alone as the sole source of doctrine, don’t we need to first determine what constitutes the Bible and why?

Protestant Bibles have seven fewer books in the Old Testament. We call these the Apocrypha but they are also called the deuterocanonical books. Since I’m technically still a Protestant and speaking to Protestants, I’ll stick to their terms.

So far as I can tell, the Apocrypha was part of the canon of Scripture that the early church used. It was accepted at the councils of Hippo and Carthage and were part of the Bible until the Reformation when the Reformers removed them. Protestants are appalled whenever someone “adds to or subtracts from” the Word of God. But if the Apocrypha had always been part of the Word of God for 1500 years, wouldn’t the rejection of those books be subtracting from the Word of God? Wouldn’t Protestants be doing the very thing they’re appalled at others for doing?

Let’s first look at why Catholics include it.

septuagintThe Bible of the early church was the Septuagint. This was a Greek translation of the Old Testament and most copies included the Apocrypha. In this debate with Kenneth Samples, Fr. Mitch Pacwa stated that out of about 350 quotations of the Old Testament in the New, 300 were direct quotes from the Septuagint. Since the Septuagint was the Bible of the earliest Christians, Pacwa says it’s still the Bible of the Catholic Church today. That makes a lot of sense.

Even Protestants seem to agree that the Septuagint was the Bible of the earliest Christians. James White agrees to that fact in this debate with Mitch Pacwa. Also Protestant-Evangelical scholar F.F. Bruce, in his book “The Canon of Scripture”, attests to this fact. In it he says:

“As soon as the gospel was carried into the Greek-speaking world, the Septuagint came into its own as the sacred text to which the preachers appealed….’Greek Judaism’, it has been said, ‘with the Septuagint had ploughed the furrows for the gospel seed in the Western world’; but is was the Christian preachers who sowed the seed. So thouroughly, indeed, did Christians appropriate the Septuagint as their version of the scriptures that the Jews became increasingly disenchanted with it. The time came when one rabbi compared ‘the accursed day on which the seventy elders wrote the Law in Greek for the king’ to the day on which Israel made the golden calf.” (bolding is mine)

The earliest Christians used the Septuagint so well in defense of Christianity, that the Jews eventually rejected it.

So why do Protestants reject the Apocrypha?

Protestant Arguments for Rejecting the Apocrypha:

One argument in rejecting the Apocrypha as “inspired” is that no New Testament author ever quoted it as “inspired” or “God breathed.” But this quickly falls flat in my mind.

  • There are a lot of books from the Old Testament that are never quoted, yet Protestants still accept these are “inspired.” Why? If quoting is a requirement, why do they accept Esther or some of the prophets that were also never quoted? This blog lists 10 OT books never quoted in the NT. (I’m sorry I don’t have a more “scholarly” source but I’m still researching. If anyone has better sources please let me know.)
  • In fact, there are other things quoted in the Bible that we reject as “inspired Scripture.” Jude 14-15 quotes from the Book of Enoch saying he “prophesied.” That’s heavy language! He sure sounds like he considers it Scripture, yet no one today accepts the Book of Enoch as Scripture. According to Protestant criteria, it seems we should consider that book as legitimate.

Another argument: Protestants claim the Apocrypha was never put on the same level with other Scripture. That’s tenuous for a couple of reasons.

  • To make that argument is to appeal to Tradition, which Protestants reject in determining doctrine. This is part of the problem I posted about last time. Tradition is needed to determine Scripture, and yet Protestants reject Tradition as a basis for authority.
  • Is it possible to say with certainty that Peter, Paul, and the others rejected the Apocrypha? Because they really didn’t say anything about it. As stated above, they didn’t say anything about several other OT books either. However, since we know the Septuagint was the Bible of Peter and Paul, isn’t it more reasonable to say they accepted the Apocrypha than to say they rejected it? If the apostles rejected those books, why would they have used the Septuagint as Scripture without first making it clear that they rejected certain parts of it?
  • History also shows the acceptance of the Apocrypha. It was included in the councils of Hippo and Carthage in the 390s and early 400s. So it was considered Scripture for 1100 more years until the “Reformers” took them out.

Another argument: Protestants claim the Apocrypha teaches doctrines that are contrary to Scripture. This is probably the worst argument of them all. According to Protestant doctrine, the Bible alone must determine doctrine. And yet when we judge the Apocrypha, we use doctrine to reject its teachings. This is circular reasoning at its finest and I shouldn’t need to expound on it. If we’re only supposed to get doctrine from Scripture, then we can’t use doctrine to determine what Scripture is.  If the Apocrypha is Scripture, then our doctrine should adjust to fit it, not the other way around.

Another argument: Protestants claim to use the Jewish Scriptures, which rejected the Apocrypha. This is also tenuous.

  • The Jews of the first century did not have an official canon of Scripture either. Some only believed in the Torah. Others included the prophets. But there was wide debate. So how could the earliest Christians have only used the Jewish canon when there was no Jewish canon?
  • As Evangelical scholar F.F. Bruce said above, the Jews increasingly rejected the Septuagint the more the Christians used it convincingly. That actually seems like a strong argument in favor of the Septuagint, which included the Apocrypha.

Another argument: Sometimes Protestants try to appeal to the church fathers to show there was not unanimous consensus on the place of the Apocrypha. This is true, as far as I can tell. However, there was not unanimous consensus on NT books like Hebrews, II Peter, or Revelation either. Yet Protestants accept those books. Why those and not the Apocrypha?

Another argument: Sometimes Protestants point to Matthew 23:35 as a case for the Protestant OT. The reasoning goes like this: II Chronicles was the last book of the Jewish canon. Since Abel was the first martyr in Genesis and Zechariah was the last martyr in II Chronicles 24:20, the books from Genesis to II Chronicles is the true canon. However, that doesn’t seem like a legit argument.

  • Which books were in the middle?
  • We also know the Jews didn’t have a definitive canon.
  • The passage in II Chronicles says Zechariah was the son of Jehoiada. Jesus said “Zechariah, the son of Berechiah.” The only Zechariah who was the son of Berechiah was the prophet who wrote the book of Zechariah. Jewish Tradition tells us he was martyred but it’s not in the Bible. (Uh oh…did Jesus appeal to Tradition??) It also wasn’t the last book of the later Jewish canon. I’ve found attempted explanations for this conundrum, but there’s definitely plenty of ambiguity too. It can hardly be used as the “final word” on the OT canon.

So those are some problems I’ve run into trying to explain away the Apocrypha.

Protestants: If there is a “silver bullet” argument in rejecting the Apocrypha, please tell me. The above arguments are the ones I’ve seen. If there are better ones, please tell me.

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

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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.

 

Sola Scriptura: A Protestant Problem Part II

This is the second post on sola scriptura. The introduction is here and I’d recommend reading it first as I will continue discussion with that assumption.

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If I had met a man (call him Bob) who denied the Mormon Church was legitimate, but who accepted the Book of Mormon as his infallible rule of faith, I would have laughed at him; any reasonable person would.

These were not books given to Bob from an angel or through inspiration. He simply took what someone else gave him. He apparently trusts their judgment well enough to give him a source of doctrine, but not good doctrine.

But isn’t that what Protestants have done with Catholicism? Haven’t we taken the Scriptures they gave us and then rejected their entire Church? We apparently trust them enough to give us an infallible source of doctrine, but do not trust them to teach infallible doctrine (or even sound doctrine).

At least Joseph Smith was smart enough to claim he had blatantly heavenly backing. He said an angel gave him the book. Protestants don’t even claim that! Yet we accept as infallible what the Catholic Church told us was infallible.

Isn’t this strange, or is it just me?

So where did we get the Bible in the first place? The fact is, the Catholic Church gave it to us. It’s very difficult to get away from this little, yet significant, detail.

In determining what Christianity is (not we want it to be, but what it IS), the Catholic Church says there are basically three authorities; Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium (the authority of the church). Protestants say there is only one; Scripture.

One big problem I’ve run into as a Protestant is the fact that the collection of the Bible itself is a product of tradition and church authority. How can we say the Bible is the sole authority when it required the authorities of tradition and the Magisterium to collect it and declare it infallible in the first place?

For about 300 years there was no official canon of Scripture. 300 years! Think about that. How did the people learn the Word of God? They learned it through the readings in the liturgy and it was explained to them by the Church.

So which books were read during the liturgy? There were certain books accepted by all. Tradition passed these universally accepted books down to us (such as the four Gospels). But there was a secondary class of books that was in disagreement. Some were read in the liturgy and sometimes considered Scripture but did not make it into the final collection, such as the Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, and the Letter of Clement to the Corinthians. Other writings were sometimes questioned and did not have universal acceptance and yet attained canonicity, such as Hebrews, II Peter, and Revelation.

It took a series of councils at Hippo and Carthage in the 390s and early 400s to make the final determination, which the Pope and the church at Rome approved. Not everyone got to determine for themselves, based on “what the Holy Spirit told them”, what the canon was. The authority of the Church proclaimed it for all. Once the decision on the canon was made, you were wrong to teach differently.

So we have our Scriptures today because the Catholic Church used tradition and its position of authority to collect them into an official canon. And then we Protestants claim the Bible as the sole authority and say tradition and authority are insignificant. Why would we do that? It’s like believing Fender guitars are the greatest but then saying the Fender company doesn’t know anything about engineering or music and ignoring the fact that they made the guitars in the first place. It’s a strange argument.

Many Catholics have pointed out this strange Protestant position, but G.K. Chesterton probably said it best in The Catholic Church and Conversion.

chesterton. . . I find it very difficult to take some of the Protestant propositions even seriously. What is any man who has been in the real outer world, for instance, to make of the everlasting cry that Catholic traditions are condemned by the Bible? It indicates a jumble of topsy-turvy tests and tail-foremost arguments, of which I never could at any time see the sense.

The ordinary sensible sceptic or pagan is standing in the street (in the supreme character of the man in the street) and he sees a procession go by of the priests of some strange cult, carrying their object of worship under a canopy, some of them wearing high head-dresses and carrying symbolical staffs, others carrying scrolls and sacred records, others carrying sacred images and lighted candles before them, others sacred relics in caskets or cases, and so on.

I can understand the spectator saying, “This is all hocus-pocus”; I can even understand him, in moments of irritation, breaking up the procession, throwing down the images, tearing up the scrolls, dancing on the priests and anything else that might express that general view. I can understand his saying, “Your croziers are bosh, your candles are bosh, your statues and scrolls and relics and all the rest of it are bosh.”

But in what conceivable frame of mind does he rush in to select one particular scroll of the scriptures of this one particular group (a scroll which had always belonged to them and been a part of their hocus-pocus, if it was hocus-pocus); why in the world should the man in the street say that one particular scroll was not bosh, but was the one and only truth by which all the other things were to be condemned? Why should it not be as superstitious to worship the scrolls as the statues, of that one particular procession? Why should it not be as reasonable to preserve the statues as the scrolls, by the tenets of that particular creed?

To say to the priests, “Your statues and scrolls are condemned by our common sense,” is sensible. To say, “Your statues are condemned by your scrolls, and we are going to worship one part of your procession and wreck the rest,” is not sensible from any standpoint, least of all that of the man in the street.

It’s a weird feeling to think that’s what I did with the Catholic Church and her Scriptures. I seem to have done the very thing I would have laughed at a Mormon for doing.

Fellow Protestants: If I’m wrong in this history, and the Catholic Church didn’t give us the Scriptures, then where did we get it and why do we believe it’s the infallible Word of God?

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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.

 

 

Sola Scriptura: A Protestant Problem

My first few posts will be about what has probably been the driving force in my thinking about Catholicism. It is the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura—scripture alone. Protestants claim the Bible as the sole authority. If it can’t be shown in Scripture, we get to reject it if we don’t like it.

Therefore, in discussions about Catholicism with fellow Protestants, there’s probably one question that gets asked the most; “Where is it in the Bible?” That is our go-to question. But such a question starts the arguments in the middle. Before any of us can talk about what the Bible “clearly teaches”, we need to determine some questions first.

A) Where did we get the Bible in the first place? Who collected it for us and why do we trust their determination?

B) Which Bible? Catholics have 7 extra books.  If those are supposed to be there, how can Protestants say the Bible doesn’t teach something if we don’t have the entire Bible? What if we’re missing important facts due to our rejection of those books?

C) By what criteria do we know for sure that it is the pure, infallible Word of God? Who determines which books are infallible? Does each person decided for themselves?

D) Even if we settle on a canon, what is the proper interpretation? How can the Bible be our sole authority when the Bible itself requires an interpretation?

These are the sorts of things I’ll be writing about first. So stay tuned and enjoy. Feel free to comment and post. Know a good book or author? Recommended reading is always welcome!

 

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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.