Hallows’ Eve: Betrayal of the Martyrs & Betrayal of Christ

St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre when the RCC put to death some 30,000-70,000 Protestants who denied the authority of the papacy in 1572.

St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre when the RCC put to death some 30,000-70,000 Protestants who denied the authority of the papacy in 1572.

In just over a week, Americans will be participating in the fourth most popular holiday, Halloween. Of course, the holiday didn’t always mean “trick or treating,” costumes, and children intoxicated with candy. We’ve come quite far from the original intent of the holiday (what holiday hasn’t?), which, in name, calls to remembrance the many saints who have been martyred for the cause of Christ (hallow’d + eve = Halloween). That’s why in my last post, I encouraged you to remember the martyrs in order that you may be encouraged by them and be strengthened by their faith on the holiday that originally intended to encourage us to do that very thing.

But sadly, many Christians haven’t just forgotten the martyrs. They’ve betrayed them and the doctrines they fought and died for. And in so doing, they’ve also betrayed the Author of those doctrines, and they’ve betrayed Christ by extending fellowship to a religion that is explicitly anti-Christ.

I was shocked (though not surprised) when LifeWay Research Group conducted a survey of over 1000 Protestant and Evangelical pastors regarding their positions on the Pope and Roman Catholicism. The results came came in just last month in an article published by Christianity Today, From Antichrist to Brother in Christ: How Protestant Pastors View the Pope.

Those results were not good.

Alarmingly, nearly 60% of evangelical pastors now believe that the Pope is a Christian. Almost 20% don’t know. Not only that, but 92% of evangelical pastors seem to think that you can be a Roman Catholic and be a true born-again Christian (I think the verb “be” is crucial to the discussion here. It is a state of being verb, so as to say that you can indefinitely remain in Roman Catholicism and participate in its practices. If you want just one example of why true Christians can’t do that, click here).

calvin and hobbes ignoranceAnd you can’t make the argument that they’re just ignorant of what Roman Catholicism teaches. These are the pastors. They know better. They know what Catholicism is and they know what biblical Christianity is. In other words, they can’t say, “I was mistaken, I thought Roman Catholicism taught justification by faith alone.” The religion is completely apostate. Completely – and it’s just as condemning as every other false religion like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, or even Atheism (which I also count as a religion of its own). In fact, I think it’s even more dangerous because to the undiscerning eye, it looks like Christianity. It doesn’t help of course when they claim to be Christians.

So, you know what that survey tells me? About 60% of evangelical pastors (assuming a high statistical accuracy) are confused about the Gospel. Actually, I should say 80%, because I’m pretty uneasy about that extra 20% who said they didn’t know if the Pope was a Christian. Why don’t they know? What’s to be confused about? This isn’t complicated. That may sound harsh, but I don’t know how we can make other conclusion.

But to say the least, you can bet that if 60-80% of today’s pastors are confused about the Gospel, that means their congregations are even more confused. We have come far from the Protestant Reformation, which made it really easy for us to understand the difference between what the Bible says, and what Roman Catholicism particularly says. Hence the 5 Solas of the Reformation

There is little doubt that the Reformers who were willing to give their lives for the doctrine of Sola Fide (justification by faith alone) would be rolling over in their graves if they knew how readily many Christians will affirm join in fellowship with today’s Roman Catholics. It was quite clear to them how far the Catholic Church had deviated from biblical truth and the Gospel. In fact, even the Catholic Church was aware of this, but to preserve its power, they outlawed the publication of the Bible in the public’s spoken language everywhere they could. They could not allow the general public to read the Scriptures for themselves, so they even chained the Bibles to the church pulpit to ensure no one (even the priests) could take them home to study for themselves. Ironically, this was under the guise of preventing heresy. In reality, it was all about the preservation of it.

What’s worse is that many Christians will vehemently defend friends and loved ones who belong to the Roman Catholic Church, and will often angrily oppose the very notion that Catholicism is in direct opposition to the Gospel. Others will praise the Pope for popularizing Christianity throughout the world by his good works. The problem is, the Pope only popularizes hypocrisy. They are no different than what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for.

This people honors Me with their lips,

But their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men…

[They] are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep [their] tradition.

(Mark 7:6-9)

So why so much confusion?

It was in 1545-57 that the Roman Catholic Church anathematized any who would proclaim that salvation is by faith alone (the Protestant Reformers) at the Council of Trent. It was at this point that the term “Catholic” really took on a new meaning. Before this (and yes, this is a somewhat simplistic historical overview), the “catholic church” simply meant the “universal,” “orthodox,” “true,” or “global” church. Gradually, the churches between the East and the West divided, and the western church set its headquarters in Rome.

TrentThrough time, “the” church morphed into “The Church,” and while there was much corruption and false teaching in the Catholic Church by the 1500’s (ever hear of the pornocracy of the 10th century? It was an era which was markedly characterized by harlotry in the Vatican) the Council of Trent marked when the RCC became officially heretical. Before that point, even Martin Luther believed that there was the possibility for the Church to return to biblical orthodoxy, but now there was no question. The RCC forever deserted the faith (RC doctrine, according to them, is infallible and cannot be overturned). Even when Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517 (Reformation Day), he did so in Latin. Why? The general public could only read German. Only the trained clergy would be able to read his protests – because Luther initially believed that there could be reform from within the church. It quickly became obvious that this wasn’t the case.

But how is it that so many people could blindly follow an apostate religion? The answer, as the RCC knew, was through ignorance. If the public couldn’t read the Bible, the public would have to depend on what the “Church” told them the Bible said. They’d be ignorant. In fact, that’s what infuriated Tyndale himself, which prompted him to dedicate his life to the translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into the English language. Tyndale was frustrated that he had to study RC theology, but couldn’t so much as look at a Bible until after he had been indoctrinated with their heresies for 8 or 9 years (that is quite telling, and self-condemning for the RCC. It is to say that you could not possibly come to RC doctrine by simply reading the Scriptures). In that regard, little has changed, if anything has changed at all.

Of course, Catholics today can readily get their hands on a Bible in their own language, so the Catholic Church preys on its people in a different way.

They play on people’s laziness, and depravity. Depravity will keep someone from reading the Scriptures on their own unless the Holy Spirit is prompting them to do so. So, if the RCC doesn’t encourage their congregations to read the Scriptures, they know their congregations won’t (same reason why RC churches don’t have pulpits). But, the RCC doesn’t keep people ignorant regarding what they teach. In fact, to become a member of the RCC, you must go through a series of examinations, either through Confirmation or RCIA classes, that ensure you have a relatively comprehensive understanding of the core tenants of Roman Catholicism. So, members of the RCC know what the Catholic Church teaches, just not what Scripture teaches. That’s why you hear many stories of Roman Catholics (like Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and John Calvin) getting saved, simply by reading the Scriptures. They quickly came to understand that what the RCC teaches, and what the Bible teaches, are completely different gospels.

But today’s Evangelicals are also ignorant, and ignorance is the reason that many Christians believe Roman Catholics are fellow believers in the same Gospel. We can probably trace much of today’s confusion about Catholicism to an event in 1983, though confusion certainly existed well before that. Even in the earliest years of the Billy Graham Crusades, Graham shared the pulpit with Catholic bishops and even referred new “converts” to RC churches and counselors. Ecumenical thinking had already infiltrated many of the seminaries in the United States who adopted the liberal “scholasticism” of the European schools. But in 1983, a group of Lutheran and Catholic theologians announced that they had “come to agreement on justification.”

But really, no such agreement occurred. The “bilateral talks” that produced a document called “Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue” in 1985 was unofficial and wasn’t even accepted by Rome, in spite of all the media attention it got. Even so, the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” was an official follow-up, because of so-called “insights of recent biblical studies” referring to the aforementioned dialogue.1 Truthfully, all that was produced was a document that said, in so many words, “we’ll say we agree even though we’ve said we won’t agree, and without changing what we said about not agreeing.” If you’re confused by that, so am I, because what happened was the Lutherans and Catholics came together and produced an official document that said words don’t really mean what they say, and we can say we agree even though our doctrinal statements say we disagree. So really, there was no agreement.

All that happened was that vernacular was simply modified, leading many to believe that the Catholic Church was affirming the evangelical doctrine of justification (the matter of justification was a main issue in that document). Nothing could be further from the truth! All it did was affirm what Catholics already believed about justification, and the RCC never rescinded what it canonized in the Council of Trent.

Bottome line: evaluate Roman Catholicism under the scrutiny of God’s Word (like you should for everything – AKA sola scriptura). It is important to know what they believe compared what the Scriptures reveal about salvation. We must be prepared and equipped to evangelize our Catholic friends and families. Understand, they are not our co-laborers; they are not our brothers and sisters. They are our mission field. We must be able to expose the heresy and error of their system, and offer to them the only hope found in Christ.

Roman Catholicism - RC Sproul

  • Another anti Catholic article! Full of errors! From another Pastor. What kind of education are you guys getting???

    I will just ask one question. At what point in history did the church of Christ (The Catholic Church) morph as you say into Roman Catholicism you so hate?

    • Let me ask you, how is it that one can be saved?

      • Do you ask all people that comment on your blog this question or just those you deem impure? I asked you a question to clarify something you wrote in your article. Care to answer it?

        • I tend not to think any question is asked out of sincerity when it begins with ad hominems. That doesn’t demonstrate a real pursuit to understand another’s position. Nor does it demonstrate humility or teachability. I try to avoid debating those kinds of people.

          • Before we can get to the questions of salvation there needs to be common understanding of facts. Your article misrepresents the teaching of my church. These things can be easily checked with Catholic sources. My ad hominem was inappropriate and I apologize. Plus I have been asked that very question at pretty much every post I make at Protestant site which is kind of insulting that I need to pass purity test to be able to ask a question. (I’m happy to answer it in time)

            If I could start again and please once again accept my appology for attacking your directly can you please answer my question.

          • Well, perhaps we start with the Gospel because it’s helpful to know where you’re coming from. Many, if not most Roman Catholics I’ve spoken with are largely ignorant of what both the Scriptures teach, and what the RCC teaches. But to answer your question in the most simple way possible, “at what point…,” there wasn’t a “point,” which was why I noted that I was giving a largely “simplistic overview.” The shift was gradual, as was the adoption of the many traditions of the RCC. However, it was at the Council of Trent that the RCC definitively distinguished itself from the Reformers and canonized its anathemas, one of which, regarding justification by faith alone. This is the problem though. We view the Scriptures as our final court of appeal. Not the Church. That is not to say we reject tradition, unless that tradition contradicts the teaching of Scripture. It also means we maintain that the traditions of Rome are not fallible. Matthew 15:1-6, right? The traditions of the religious leaders were subject to the Word of God. Is the RCC exempt by that rule? It seems the Apostles themselves didn’t think so (Acts 17:11; Colossians 2:8).

          • Thank you very much for your answer. I am not one of the Catholics you met. I know my bible, I read it daily, I pray it daily, I love it completely. I also know what my Church teaches.

            “We view the Scriptures as our final court of appeal. Not the Church. ” That is true you claim you do that but no Christian before protestants come along ever though that. The bible doesn’t teach that. So on what authority do you base this man made doctrine? And if two of you disagree on what is in the bible on whose authority will you decide which one of you is correct? Or will you start 2 new churches? The bible is also clear that we are to hold fast to both scripture and the teaching (traditions) of the apostles (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

            The infallible bible without an infallible interpreter is illogical and can be clearly shown as false. How many versions of bible only christian are there now all claiming they are bible only??.

            You don’t specify a specific time that the church went bad but it was a gradual process. So first generation of Christians already got it all wrong? As they clearly teach every catholic doctrine, which can be shown easily from their writings, the rest developed naturally like the Trinity and the whole philosophical language needed to define it. That took 4 centuries. Were those Christians already corrupt as they teach all that the Catholic Church teaches, as can be easily shown from their writing.

            Also please read what Trent actually wrote. You may be surprised. It is also important to note that faith alone as a way of salvation is NOWHERE to be found in the text of the bible that you take as your final authority. So what Trend did was to follow the bible.

          • Jason

            “And they call us Associaters because, they say, we introduce an associate to God by saying Christ is the Son of God and God. To whom we say that this is what the Prophets (OT) and Scripture have handed down. And you, as you insist, accept the Prophets. If, therefore, we are wrong saying Christ is the Son of God, they also are who taught and handed it down to us.” — John of Damascus on Islam (8th Century) using Scripture as his authority.

            The Council of Nicea and Chalcedon also argued through the Scriptures as their authority. as you probably know, there were multiple strands and traditions converging and the men at the council wanted to know what Scripture said. Every early Church Father quote Scripture as his authority, not the church. You can barely read Ignatius, Clement, Polycarp, Irenaus, Origin, etc w/out a Bible in hand.

            Merely voting among people does not make someone / something right. Majority of America votes for abortion and SSM, does this make it right? No. 1 John 1:1-5 says apostolic tradition, which only caries on in the Scriptures.

            Time of departure on record: 1140 . . . btw, demanding a specific date in order to prove a point is your criteria. You have to prove why the criteria is required. Your assertion, “So first generation . . . already got it all wrong.” is your interpretation of what is said, it inaccurately represents Matt (or my) arguments and creates a Straw-man. “all” wrong is not what any of us have said. But were they as authoritative as Scripture? no.

            The irony here is amazing. You accuse us of doing precisely what your comments have done: take what we said then make it mean what we didn’t say — aka misrepresent our argument.

            I’d rather stand before the Lord and say, “here is your word” than stand before the Lord and say, “Here is the majority of men in a “church” context.”

          • I am not arguing that the scripture is not an authority. I am arguing that authoritative scripture needs authoritative interpreter other wise you get Protestantism in all its many flavors. Your first quote is saying exactly that.

            “If, therefore, we are wrong saying Christ is the Son of God, they also are who taught and handed it down to us.” The “THEY also who taught” here meaning the apostles. The apostles and their successors being the authoritative interpreter of the scriptures.

            The Council of Nicea specifically appeal to both scripture and tradition to combat the bible only Arians who got their perverse doctrine from bible alone. It is fascinating to read through this history. In fact the way they knew their doctrine is correct was by the fact that it was always tough in all the Apostolic Churches. Bible + Authoritative Tradition

            Please point out how and where I have misrepresented your doctrine? I will be happy to be corrected. I deal with many different types of protestants it is hard to tell what your types believes from 1 post.

          • Jason

            Let me deal in reverse order. 1st, I quoted you specifically where you misrepresented. the “all” quotes your last paragraph.

            2nd, Both the Arians and Athanasius used Scripture alone to argue their point. I think Anatolios and Wilken both prove this in their discussions on the council’s and have adequate proof. Athanasius argument used John 10 against Arius who also used John 10 regarding the will / person debate in the Trinity. You keep saying your right, “show me proof” yet fail to quote anything to prove your point.

            3rd, the “they” in my John of Damascus quote makes no sense to read the apostles into it. The they, from context is simply the OT / NT “Prophets and Scripture.”

            4th, your diagnosis of different denominations and lack of authoritative interpretation is built on a logical fallacy. You seem to think that if my views were right, then there would not be different interpretations and different denominations. You’re indicting protestant doctrine for fruit assuming the results condemn a doctrine. But you’ve failed to actually prove the doctrine is wrong. Just because a child steals, doesn’t mean his parents’ teaching “Do not steal” is wrong. But even people in RCC differ on interpretations. I can find quotes of priests telling you they resacrifice Christ and you do not believe that. Yet you haven’t split (although Greek Orthodoxy is a split from RCC but similar in doctrine).

            What you’re assuming is every denominational difference and beginning starts from this issue. You’re assuming Sole Scriptura = similar interpretation. And since there are multiple denominations, there is no Sole Scriptura. But this is a problem that does not account for hermeneutics and human failure. Of course people interpret the Bible wrong. But that doesn’t mean you need divine authoritative interpreters. Of course people mishandle and butcher the text and use it to fulfill their presuppositions. But again, that doesn’t make the doctrine wrong. It makes the way some people handle the text faulty and wrong. Christ himself said people will pervert doctrine and use Scripture wrongly (the Pharisees did).

            True believers have the Holy Spirit who leads us in knowledge and interpretation (Eph 1:11-14; 1 Cor. 2:6-16). Consider the Bereans (Acts 17:10-15). They heard Paul’s preaching and to verify it, what did they do? Did they run out and check tradition? Did they call James, Peter, or another church leader to verify Paul preached it rightfully? No! They looked into the Scriptures to verify it. These people were using Scripture to verify the very church you claim to still be a part of.

            If I take your requirements of “divine interpreter” I have to chide the Bereans for verifying Paul’s message because they did not have history. So now, interesting problem The Bereans are a church and lineage, in church history, recorded in Scripture, who undermine your assertion. If a doctrine is true, the context and grammar of a passage will support it. But when the official Catechism violates clear Biblical passages (Transubstantiation) then I must side with Scripture, not the Catechism.

          • Thank you. Lots to cover. And you clarified few things for me.

            ” You’re assuming Sole Scriptura = similar interpretation. And since there are multiple denominations, there is no Sole Scriptura. But this is a problem that does not account for hermeneutics and human failure. Of course people interpret the Bible wrong. But that doesn’t mean you need divine authoritative interpreters. Of course people mishandle and butcher the text and use it to fulfill their presuppositions. But again, that doesn’t make the doctrine wrong. It makes the way some people handle the text faulty and wrong. Christ himself said people will pervert doctrine and use Scripture wrongly (the Pharisees did).”

            The fact that people mishandle the text proves that the text alone is not enough. I have no guarantee that your interpretation is correct. You have no guarantee that your interpretation is correct. It may be correct but you can never know. (I’m making another assumption here, please correct me if I am wrong, and if you do know you are correct how? Is your interpretation infallible?)
            Also please note that Catholics believe that the bible is sufficient for our understanding of every doctrine. You can say the Catholics see the bible as all the material necessary to build the house and the Tradition as holding it all together. Where as (to us, I can be wrong here) Protestants see all the material necessary to build a house and are desperately trying to find the way it all fits.

            Your point #2 about Arians and St. Athanasius, I am in full agreement that they both used the bible to determine the correct doctrine. Then they both presented their arguments and those were weighed against the bible and what the Apostolic Churches tough. The reason we believe they are correct the their teaching is infallible because St. Authonasius and the bishops present at the council are the authoritative interpreters of the bible. They got their authority from the apostles through apostolic succession. They are the bishops of the Catholic Church.

            Let him speak for himself:

            “Let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian.” – Letter to Serapion of Thmuis, 359 A.D..

            #3 I will grant you the point. But that is one quote out of so many others. Here is one from 2nd century:

            As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the whole world, yet guarded it, as if she occupied but one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same . . . nor will any of the rulers in the Churches, whatever his power of eloquence, teach otherwise, for no one is above the teacher. . . . It is necessary to obey those who are presbyters in the Church, those who, as we have shown, have succession from the apostles; those who have received, with the succession of the episcopate, the sure charism of truth according to the good pleasure of the Father. But the rest, who have no part in the primitive succession and assemble wheresoever they will, must be held in suspicion. . . . But since it would be too long to enumerate in a volume such as this the successions of all the Churches, we shall confound all those who . . . assemble other than where is proper, by pointing out here the succession of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all Churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition. — Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, c. A.D. 180.

            #4. you are right there is a possibility that one can get all the doctrines correct by self interpretation. How would you confirm that this is the came is beyond me.

            As for Bereans (cool, I’ve never seen anyone use them to defend sola scriptura) , were they not tough by St. Paul himself an authoritative interpreter of scripture? What did they verify it against? New testament was not yet written. Also I am not saying that you should not verify the teaching against the scriptures. Please do!

            Now onto your last point on Transubstantiation. If you reject this as unbiblical you must reject the Trinity as unbiblical. Both are using philosophical terms arrived at over centuries to define a doctrine clearly tough in the scriptures. “substance, person, being etc..” None of the terms they used to define the correct biblical doctrine was in the bible.

            True believers have the Holy Spirit indeed! (Not sure how that makes your interpretation of scripture correct, unless vast majority of protestants and other Christians don’t have the holy spirit??)

          • Jason

            Matthew, lots to cover and we’ll have to pick it up later. Busy time. Thanks for the interaction. Look up John Chester’s post on the Clarity of Scripture (http://www.parkingspace23.com/back-basics-clarity-scripture-pt-3/#.Viu0nYQ4FRE) or read Grudem’s chapter in his systematic. That will explain why I think people can accurately interpret Scripture. It was written to be understood and only unbelievers cannot understand it. Just like you and I write to be understood and read to understand, the Bible is similar. God intended humans to communicate w/ understanding. 🙂 Thanks, ttyl

          • Thank you Jason, I’ve read the article you pointed to (all 3 parts of it in fact), and I agree with a lot it has to say about the methods, and criticism of modern biblical methods of interpretation, but the author failed to prove the clarity of scripture. What he did show in fact proves the exact opposite. It is a very simple test.

            If the bible was as clear as you and the article says then there would not be so many protestant sects. Even the very first generation of reformers who were not stained by the errors of modern methods split right away! Calving from Luther etc… Saying the bible is clear is not enough where the overwhelming evidence from history is the opposite.

            There would also be no need for councils. (Even in the book of Acts the apostles had to settle an issue in a council that was simply not clear in scripture! After they settled it it became binding on the followers of Christ.) Councils are called precisely because some parts of scripture are not clear and create confusion among the faithful. Heresy is simply exposing the unclear parts of the scriptures.

            Plus I simply don’t think the bible teaches this doctrine. The proofs in article 1 are not convincing at all. The author even quotes 2 Peter 3:15-17 which if anything teaches the exact opposite.

            I don’t see at all how you and anyone for that matter can claim that the scripture is clear. It is anything but.

            This is not a problem for a Catholic because God did not give us a book to read on our own. He gave us a Church with His authority and promised to guide it and be with it to the end of times. He provided for us. The bible is clear only as viewed through God’s authoritative interpreter the Church.

            Jason, I want to thank you, out of all the people that I have interacted on the protestant blogs you have been the most open and respectful. We may not agree on a lot of things but I really appreciate you taking the time to interact with me. God bless.

          • Jason

            So, I do have one question that rattled around in my thing most people call a brain this weekend.

            You said, every RCC doctrine comes from Scripture. I’ve read through the Word a lot and wonder, what Scripture teaches we need an authoritative interpretation? Thanks in advance for answering this 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend.

            Jason

          • Jason, good question! I say that the scriptures are quite clear on several things.

            1. Jesus started a church.

            2. He gave his authority to the Church (apostels), and they in turn appointed successors (Timothy for example). (He who hears you hears me)

            3. The apostels preached the good news (Acts), they didn’t preach the new testament writtings, they preached what we call “Sacred Tradition”.

            4. Some of the sacrad tradition was written down in what we know as New Testament.

            5. The structure of the Church with a bishop (successor to apostels) as the head of local church is clear from new testament and early christian writtings.

            6. When bishops get together (councils) and decide on things it is binding on all Christians (It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements… )

            Put it all together and the picture is pretty clear. Jesus started an authoritative Church that speaks in his name. This church preaches the gospel through Sacred Tradition (some of which is written down as New Testament).

            The only place that the New Testament makes sense to be interpreted is inside of this ONE Church.

            Not sure if that answers the question. There is no one verse that teaches it, it is the WHOLE new Testament that teaches it.

            Now to turn the question right back to you! Where do you find in the bible that you don’t need authoritative interpreter?

          • Jason

            Are you a Catholic priest?

          • Nope

          • Jason

            This creates an interesting situation for me. If you’re not a priest, then how can i rely on your interpretation of the text and Catholic doctrine?

            Yet, it comes naturally for us to “evangelize” and teach what is written. I’m sure you would agree we are both called to evangelize and that is one key role of the church. But if I have to have divine interpretation, then how can I be sure my interpretation is accurate? At best, all a person could do is pass off people to a priest in order to verify an accurate Gospel message and teaching.

            Observing our conversation, I’d say our entire discussion lives in my world. That communication has meaning and that meaning can be understood by people. Unbelievers can grasp the Gospel enough to rightfully regurgitate it and reject it. People need the Holy Spirit to accept teaching, learn, grow, and act biblically (1 Cor. 2:6-12).

            In fact, Ephesians 4:7-16 says my pastor is to equip me for the work of ministry, evangelism being one of them. I have to be able to use the text for it is the source of our Gospel message (2 Tim 3:15-42). Meaning I have to be able to interpret it. Did I miss something?

          • My reply seems to be stuck in pending world.

          • I don’t understand how you get your interpretation of 1 John 1:1-5.

            “So first generation . . . already got it all wrong.”

            In order to believe that there was a break or gradual falling away from true doctrine one would have to assume it happened right away because the doctrines that you accuse the church of inventing after the fall appear clearly in the first generation of Christians.

            I am not sure how I’m misrepresenting Matt here he wrote:

            “Through time, “the” church morphed into “The Church,” and while there was much corruption and false teaching in the Catholic Church by the 1500’s (ever hear of the pornocracy of the 10th century? It was an era which was markedly characterized by harlotry in the Vatican) the Council of Trent marked when the RCC became officially heretical.”

            His bread point (Trent) or your (1140) or any other would imply that before the break the church was not heretical and after it was. Yet the Church teaches the same things before and after how can that be? It teaches the same things as it did in 1st century (things you deny and deem now as inventions of Rome).

            Plus if the Roman Church became heretical at the time of Trent how do you account for the Orthodox Churches who don’t view Trent as an authentic council yet always have and always will teach the same things it teaches from the beginning of the apostolic time. How and when did the Orthodox Church fall away?

            If you find the date for that, what about the Coptic Church (the one so famous during the Council of Nicea) or the Nestorian church?

            They all separated from Rome in various times yet they still believe the SAME teaching as Rome on all the things you accuse Rome of adding. The only explenation is that Rome added nothing to the deposit of faith as delivered by apostles.

    • Jason

      Matthew,

      Hope you’re well. I just got back in town and saw your other comment too. 1140 to answer your question. . . . but I think you could ask this question better. I’d not assume hatred because there is doctrinal disagreement. that’s just my 2 cents 🙂

      • I could. My calm disappears when Christ is slandered. You must understand that your side consistently misrepresents my side and passes off things that are lies as truth. This is so common that practically every single article on this site dealing with my church that I saw is factually wrong. This is greatly agrivating to any person who knows anything about my church. It makes me wonder what is the purpose of these articles? Is it to honestly engage Catholics or is it to spread hate?

        I don’t assume hatred because of doctronal differences. I assume at best ignorance at worse out right lies in the presentation of the content of my faith.

        If you ever want to reach Catholics it will not be possible through lies.

  • Josh Erika Seibert

    With the Popes visit, I was very sad to see our country, which was founded on protestant values 2-3 hundred years ago, embracing the very figurehead that caused our forefathers to flee Europe from their religious apostasy and tyranny.

  • Kara Brockett

    I think I find this article extra sad because I used to believe as you do. God changed my heart, and if he can do it for me I know that he can do it for anyone. I mean, I know we all suffer from confirmation bias, but I would encourage you to actually learn what the RCC teaches about faith and justification before attacking it. Misrepresenting what the church teaches is not only uncharitable, it ultimately will not convince anyone who has looked into the matter seriously. I wish you the best and I will pray for you, even if you think I’m doomed for damnation.

    • Karl Heitman

      Kara, I used to be RC and now I’m an Evangelical pastor. So…I am honestly curious: 1) what was it that convinced you the RCC was the way to go; 2) what is it that separates Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, according to your understanding; and 3) what sources do you use as your authority to represent RC doctrine and church history?

      • Kara Brockett

        1) It was a long process. I would say main reasons were studying early church history and encountering Christ through the saints. My teachers were Augustine, Aquinas, Benedict, Boethius, Bonaventure, Catherine of Sienna, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Erasmus, G.K Chesterton, Tolkien, Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, and Evelyn Waugh- and I’m leaving out the early church witnesses!
        2) I think the main difference is sola scriptura, but I’m willing to be corrected on this point.
        3) Sources are the Bible, church councils, doctors of the church (though, not infallible), and the catechism.

        • Karl Heitman

          Kara, I hope you’re willing to have an intelligent discussion. I do not wish to insult you nor misrepresent you, which by the way, no writer here wants to do either. I understand where you’re coming from, given that I was also taught that church tradition is to be as authoritative as Scripture (CCC, para 80) and its true interpretation is the job of the “Church,” (i.e., the clergy) not the average believer/laymen (CCC, para 82). However, the words of Jesus Himself show that the tradition of man, although not worthless or bad (Reformed Protestants see great value in creeds/confessions, ect.), must never be even close to the same level of authority as the Bible (Matt 15:1-9). So, yes, sola scriptura is a very defining distinctive of biblical Protestantism because authority is everything. The Protestant says, “The Bible is the highest and supreme authority under the sun, and therefore, whatever has been written in church history after the apostolic era must be heavily scrutinized using the all-sufficient Word” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Catholics say, “We believe the Bible, but we also hold that ‘Sacred Tradition’ to be ‘bound closely together’ with ‘Sacred Scripture'” (CCC, para 80). Since you accept the people and sources you listed above as to why you “converted” to the RCC, it makes sense that’s the direction you went. If every professing Christian started to believe that “saints,” popes, councils, and catechisms carries the same weight as the Scripture, then one would naturally lean towards Roman theology. But the Reformation awoke people to rediscover that the Bible plainly teaches that salvation is wholly based on God’s free gift of grace through faith, not by any good works (moral charity) or obedience (rituals, sacraments, ect.). In order to make room for the sacrementalism of the RCC (e.g., CCC, para 1213), for you be a good Catholic, you must appeal to an outside (exra-biblical) source of authority to interpret the Bible differently than Protestants do. Do you see the inconsistency of saying, “Yeah, as a Catholic, I believe I’m saved by grace thru faith, like Eph. 2:8-9 says” and saying, along with the CCC, “I believe ‘the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation'” (CCC, para 1129). Do you see the inconsistency here? Which is it? Are we saved by grace thru faith or are we saved by grace thru faith and the sacraments? If you take the Bible as your supreme source of authority, then you must confess the former. If you put the written works of fallible men on par with scripture, it is easy to confess the latter.

          You have also asserted that “doctors of the church” are not infallible. So, would you be willing to set aside tradition, councils, and catechisms in order to arrive at an exegetical conclusion of what the word of God actually says about true faith?

          • You mean to say what your interpretation of the word of God says about the true faith?

            Remember that when you appeal to scripture under sola scriptura you are actually appealing to your own interpretation of scripture.

            You are making yourself infallible. And let me guess your church comprises of people who interpret scripture just like you do? And if tomorrow you will interpret something different it will be you who are correct and not your church and you will find other people that agree with you? This is the story of Protestantism.

            Sola Scriptura leads to doctrinal chaos and ultimately to relatevism.

          • Karl Heitman

            MatthewRygiel, first of all, let me point out that your statement shows that you unashamedly do what you are accusing us of: misrepresentation. Sola scriptura simply means that the Bible is our ultimate authority. There’s nothing relative at all about that.

            More importantly, why do you need the “Church” to interpret the Bible for you? If the Bereans were commended for checking up on Paul (Acts 17:11) and young Pastor Timothy was charged to “accurately handle the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) without the oversight of the “Church,” why is it necessary to entrust your soul to what fallible men teach, especially when it plainly contradicts Scripture?

            (And for the record, I understand that it’s perplexing to you that there are so many different denominations and interpretations of various Christian doctrines. It’s discouraging to me too. But what many Catholics fail to realize is that while many denominations disagree on form of church government, spiritual gifts, mode of baptism, and such, the great majority agree on the Gospel. Plus, since so many Catholics are ignorant of their own religion, it’s really a very poor argument when trying to state a case against sola scriptura. For every Protestant denomination, there’s a professing Catholic who professes something opposed to the CCC, even priests.)

          • Sola scriptura leads to devision. This is not misrepresentation. Some teach the exact opposite to you. You said so yourself by pointing out the many denominations. And if sola scriptura is ultimately just me and the bible then it leads to relativism where you will tell me that the scriptures mean X to you and I will tell you same scriptures mean Y to me. Since we are both appealing to scripture as our final authority ( not really as I stated any appeal to scripture is an appeal to my interpretation of scripture) we are left with my truth is true for me and your truth is true for you. That’s relativism. We may throw bible verses at each other for days but ultimately it’s back to my interpretation is correct for me. And what is the gospel? Well that is what I interpret the gospel to be by my interpretation. What’s needed for salvation? Well that’s is what I interpret the bible to be needed. How do I measure others including the Catholic Church. Well do they agree with my interpretation? This is why Protestantism is the way it is. Chaotic.

            And it is silly to say that Protestants only disagree on trivial things. I see one set of Protestants condemning another set to hell all the time. What’s trivial to your interpretation could me necessary in another’s.

            The only thing you all agree on is that you don’t need the church with authority which is obvious because the moment you admit that you do protestatism is dead.

            You need the authoritative church because that’s what Christ gave us. That’s what guarantees the content of faith. Christ gave us the Church. The church wrote and interprets its scriptures. To do it outside of this one church is protestant cheos.

          • Karl Heitman

            Again, why do you need sinful, fallible men to interpret the Word of God for you? Do you just have blind faith that they are right? What is the “church” and where do you get your definition?

          • I trust Jesus. Who gave his authority to his apostles who gave their authority to their successors. With that authority he gave them promises to be with them until the end of time. He promised them the Holy Spirit that will guide them into all truth. I trust he did not lie. It was this authority that could say that these books and these books only are the bible. It was this authority that could settle things in councils. I trust the authority of Jesus as expressed through his body the Church administered though apostles and their successors.

            If I understand you correctly (forgive me if I don’t); you trust yourself to be able to interpret the bible. You are making yourself the infallible authority. My faith rest in the trust of God and his actual actions in history. Jesus started a church. This church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
            You want me to trade Jesus and his promises for my own version of Christianity? Putting myself a sinful and fallible man in charge of determining what is the correct interpretation of the bible? How does that make sense since you just told me not to trust sinful and fallible men? Are you not sinful and fallible?

          • Karl Heitman

            So, if you, a self-admitted sinful and fallible man, cannot come up with a right view of the Gospel, or any other doctrine for that matter, then why do you believe you can entrust your soul to other sinful, fallible men? It’s a simple question.

          • I think I replied to your question, let me copy it here again:

            “I trust Jesus. Who gave his authority to his apostles who gave their authority to their successors. With that authority he gave them promises to be with them until the end of time. He promised them the Holy Spirit that will guide them into all truth. I trust he did not lie. It was this authority that could say that these books and these books only are the bible. It was this authority that could settle things in councils. I trust the authority of Jesus as expressed through his body the Church administered though apostles and their successors.”

            I don’t trust sinful and fallible men. I trust the promises Jesus gave to these sinful and fallible men. It is not sinful and fallible men that are keeping the Church’s teaching pure, it is the promise of Jesus to keep his teaching pure in the Church despite the sinful and fallible men. We are ALL sinful and fallible. Only Jesus and his promises hold water with me.

          • Karl Heitman

            Respectfully, no, you didn’t answer my question, but that’s OK…. I think I get where you’re coming from and you’re not looking for an opportunity to understand; you’re looking for a place to argue. Therefore, this will be my last comment to you because I don’t see this as being an on-going fruitful discussion from here. That said…

            I can empathize with you, MatthewRygiel. I remember thinking like you. I was so proud to be a Roman Catholic and spoke the same way you did, scoffing and taking jabs at “Protest-ants.” It’s so easy and convenient to simply trust what the CCC says, do what needs to be done, and have a ticket to purgatory when I died, at worst, as long as I didn’t commit any “really bad” (mortal) sin. My Roman Catholicism numbed my conscience because I really believed that my [dead] faith in Christ and my conformity to the sacraments justified me before our Creator. Why did I never question anything? Because 1) that’s what I was taught and 2) I was dead in my sin (Eph 2:1) and was blind to the light of the Gospel (2 Cor 4:4). If I remained in the RCC, I could shirk any and all personal responsibility, stand before God on judgement day immediately after death (Heb 9:27) with false confidence, and say boldly, “God, I did everything you told the successors I needed to do to earn a place in your Kingdom.”

            I know it’s easy to simply to appeal to random quotes from church history and depend on the CCC to interpret the Truth for you. It takes no work at all to just blindly believe that Christ has given His authority to men other than the Apostles and then take them at their word. It seems that’s where you and I divide. Am I right? In order to believe that Christ will always have men speaking with His authority on earth, a teaching distinctive of the RCC, you will never even consider anything any Protestant has to say because you have such a strong presupposition that no man can challenge the RCC, which according to your faith, carries the same weight as Christ and the Apostles. Therefore, as long as you believe this so strongly you will never search the scripture, as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11), to find out if what the RCC teaches is true. As a Protestant, like millions of other saved Christians, I believe the Bible is clear and with diligent study, an accurate interpretation can be gleaned (2 Tim 2:15). In the same breath, you admit that no man is infallible, then you turn around and say that because of Jesus’ promises (how do you know for sure what those are if you can’t interpret anything for yourself?), fallible men, who are not true Apostles, are given a special ability to keep the Truth pure and interpret it. Do you see the contradiction here? You seriously believe so vehemently that Christ has only given certain men, born like you and me, who go to seminary to learn rituals and theology, the ability and authority to interpret the Word of God for you and the whole world. That makes me grieve so much.

            But, MatthewRygiel, you will not be judged based on what you were taught by the RCC; you will be called upon to pay the wages for your sin, which is death (Rom 6:23), not any work or ritual. Either you will die the death you rightly deserve OR Christ will have paid your fine for you once and for all (Heb 9:28). You can trust in yourself and your Roman Catholicism to be saved from the wrath to come (1 Thess 1:10) OR you can call upon the name of the Lord by believing that Christ died in your place (Rom 10:9-10) and repenting from your sin (Luke 13:3). Nothing else—no sacrament, nor work of any kind—will cause you to stand before God righteous because those things don’t make you righteous. Only Christ does through faith (Gal 2:16). ” For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9).

            Grace and peace.

          • I’m sorry Karl but at this point I completely don’t understand your position.

            You said to me that I should interpret the bible for myself and not trust fallible sinful men.

            I am a fallible and sinful man. By your own logic I cannot trust my own interpretation of scripture, which is what you are telling me to do. Do you not see the contradiction in your position?

            Anyhow, lets not argue in circles. Pray for me and I will pray for you. God bless.

          • Jason

            Hey Matthew, thanks for the compliment. I’ve learned if you think you’re right and know the Spirit will use His Word to change people, then being mean and unloving doesn’t help. After all, even if you were an enemy — and you’re not — being mean is not how our Savior treated people. He actually died for them 🙂

          • Kara Brockett

            Hello Karl,

            Yes, I think intelligent discussions are always worth having. It’s true that the Church teaches tradition and the Bible work together. Just to clarify what the Church means by this, let’s take a look at CCC, para 81,”Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.” In other words, it’s the job of the Church to preserve the Scriptures. Not to rule over them and subvert them. I mean, the Bible did not come with a divinely inspired table of contents. If the Bible itself is infallible, but the people assembling it do not have the authority to do so without error, then perhaps they picked the wrong scriptures? That’s the conclusion Luther came to, and that’s why he took James out of the Bible calling it “an epistle of straw”. Later the KJV Bible people also took out the deuterocanonical texts as well as longer versions of Esther and Daniel. As a protestant, when I found this out, I had to ask myself: did they have the authority to take out previously accepted books of scripture? It did not seem right to me. You are right in that my interpretation of Scripture does not hold weight. Thank God. I’m not sure that if I read the Bible without tradition I would every come up with an orthodox understanding of the Trinity. Now I’m not saying that the Trinity cannot be supported by Scripture, I’m saying that the “plain truths of Scripture” sometimes are not so plain. Maybe other people do not need the Church, but I certainly do. I’m just not smart enough to get it on my own. Just to clarify I am NOT saying that the Popes, saints, and theologians have the same authority as scripture. I’m saying that they helped me understand the perspective of the historical church.

          • Karl Heitman

            Kara, I’m curious: what Protestant background do you have? It’s amazing how much I can relate to you because, growing up in the RCC, I remember feeling so ill-equipped to read the Bible and understand it correctly that I never even thought to pick up a Bible to see if what I was basing my salvation on was true. I remember the first time I went to a Baptist church thinking how weird and uncomfortable I was to see everyone carry a Bible to church and take notes. I seriously recall thinking something like, “Why do they love their Bibles so much?”

            I don’t think you actually hold to the Roman view, Kara. Notice that in para. 81 it reads, “…successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.” Not only, according to the CCC, has the RCC given themselves the authority to “preserve” (by the way, the Scripture is self-preserving; see Isa 40:8, Matt 24:35) but they also take it upon themselves to “expound,” meaning to speak with the same level of authority as “successors of the apostles,” which is why you have such doctrines as “ex cathedra.” So, if you agree that popes, “saints,” and RC theologians do not have the same authority as scripture, then how does that not contradict the Roman view of revelation? If you believe that men, whether pope or doctor, do not usurp God’s Word, then you are much closer to sola scriptura than you think. As a preacher, I also lean on other doctors and scholars to help me interpret the passage correctly. If I come up with an interpretation that no one else has, I have most likely missed something.

            When it comes to the issue of the canon, it’s important to understand that the early church leaders merely RECOGNIZED what was inspired based on a very strict criterion, which was apostolicity (had to be written by an Apostle), orthodoxy (had to be generally accepted as truth), and catholicity (universally accepted among the churches). The deuterocanonical

            books, AKA the Apocrypha, was added to the original canon by the RCC during Trent, over a 1,000 years after the Bible was canonized in the patristic era. And you’re right about Luther: he did, for a period of his life, find it difficult to reconcile James and Paul, nevertheless he still included James in his German translation and matured later in life.
            Grace and peace.

          • Kara Brockett

            Karl, first I want to thank you for presenting your message with kindness. It’s not something I’ve come to expect when discussing these differences. I hope that we can keep the conversation charitable even as we begin to expose the differences in our presuppositions.

            I get asked about my protestant background a lot. I think it’s probably because people assume that I had a weak or limited exposure to protestant theology. Or, perhaps, it’s because there are such radical differences between, say, Pentecostals and Anglicans, that they need to establish what kind of protestant I was before they can even begin to understand me. Perhaps it’s a mixture of the two. Either way, I will answer the question to the best of my ability. I was raised in the Southern Baptist/Bible bent of Protestantism. I was baptized when I was 11 years old. As a kid, my mom enrolled me in this awesome program called Bible quizzing where every season we memorized a book of the Bible in its entirety. I’m so grateful for that! My mom’s father was a pretty big Southern Baptist minister back in the day, but my family mostly attended independent Bible churches. We attended a Christian Missionary Alliance church for a while. We attended a lot of churches because we moved 9 times before I was in high school. In high school, I attended a classical Christian school, where most of the teachers were of a reformed Presbyterian bent. This shaped a lot of my Christian development. I had the privilege to take classes ranging from hermeneutics to apologetics. Hardly an average high school experience, but one I’m eternally grateful for. I loved these classes and these classes really exposed me to the richness of the Christian life. I attended the largest Baptist university in the world (their claim, not mine) where I got to study Great Texts of the Western Tradition and History from some truly wonderful Christians. I took an especial interested in Christian philosophy and Church history. Despite this, I found myself experiencing a “dark night of the soul” and I regret to say that I lived as if I was an atheist for almost a year. Long story short, I was pulled out of this sin mire by Christ Himself to showed me His grace through the Catholic Church. I told you the long version of my reconciliation experience because I want you to understand that I seriously upset most of my family members by becoming a Catholic. It’s not a decision I made lightly.

            Forgive me for this blatant contradiction, but I’m actually not sure you hold a strictly protestant view. I’m not exactly sure what in CCC 81 you disagree with, do you not also believe that the Holy Spirit enlightens you to spread the good news and speak the truths of Scripture? I’m not convinced that this is a controversial paragraph. I am also unsure of how you got the doctrine of Scripture being self-preserving from Isaiah 40:8 and Matthew 24:35. These verses say that the word of God will stand forever. In other words, God will protect His word. The verses never expound upon how He will do this.

            Webster’s dictionary defines expound as: “to explain by setting forth in careful and often elaborate detail.” Do you not also expound upon the Scriptures in your sermons? Is this not the job of ministers? This has always been the job of the Church. Again, I’m not sure where our disagreement lies. Not every authority of the Church is an infallible authority. Catholics have never taught that popes, saints, and theologians speak infallibly by nature of their position. Infallible teaching requires a strict set of standards, in fact, they are the standards that you already listed: apostolicity, orthodoxy, and catholicity. When did the Church stop having the authority to make infallible decisions? I know we can at least agree that humans spoke (wrote) with infallibly on at least a few occasions: when the Holy Spirit guided the writers of the Scriptures and when the Holy Spirit guided the assemblers of the Scriptures. Do you believe that once the authority of the Church ended once the cannon was assembled? I ask because I’m genuinely curious. The Church does NOT teach that a sinful man can speak infallibly on his own authority. All the authority is God’s, given to Church through the working of the Holy Spirit. This is seen in Matthew 16:18-19.

            I do not disagree that the early church recognized what was inspired. The question remains: did they do so infallibly? I believe they did. I do not want to spend too much time debating the deuterocanonical texts as it is really a secondary consideration for this discussion, but I will say that their authority was established, to a lesser extent, at the Council of Hippo in 393. The issue was brought up at Trent for the same reason all councils are held: it had become an issue.

            Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you are suggesting that personally reading the Bible is what leads one to a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not denying that reading the Bible is of extreme importance, but I’m not sure how it can be necessary. Were the Christians in the early church lost? After all, the cannon had not even been established then. How about Christians in the early and late middle ages? Bibles generally cost more than a year’s wages, were they not to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? What could they do? The answer is simple and it remains unchanging: Christ gave us the Church.

          • Karl Heitman

            Kara, sorry it’s taken me a while to reply. Sunday is busy and I try to take it easy on Monday….

            Thanks for sharing a little bit of your background. Understanding one’s background does help, I think, in addressing honest questions. Knowing that you have some exposure to Reformed theology helps me and you knowing that I was raised a Catholic might help you too….

            You’ve raised some great questions…and I try to clarify as best as possible:

            //”I’m not exactly sure what in CCC 81 you disagree with, do you not also believe that the Holy Spirit enlightens you to spread the good news and speak the truths of Scripture?”//

            The controversial wording in CCC 81 is the who with what authority is expounding what. “It transmits it to the successors of the apostles….” This wording suggests that the “successors of the apostles,” who invent the “Sacred Tradition” (doctrine not written by the original Apostles or a direct associate), which must be accepted as being on the same level as “Sacred Scripture” (CCC, 80; 82), “expound” teaching that’s extra-biblical with the same level or importance or authority as the written, God-breathed Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16), which we agree are infallible. The intent here, by the RCC, is to make known that the Spirit gives the “successors” enlightened ability to “transmit” teaching, which again is added during the post-apostolic era. In other words, what you have are men throughout the centuries, who are not Apostles, concocting and “expounding” doctrine that’s nowhere in the [infallible] Bible, but nevertheless is given the same authority as the Bible. We agree that the written Scriptures are inspired, correct? I cannot accept any doctrine not found in the Bible to be authoritative upon my life. As a Catholic, what you have done since you left your Evangelical roots is embrace another spiritual, infallible authority in “Sacred Tradition.” If there are apostolic successors, carrying the authority of Christ, then it’s easy to bind yourself to their “Tradition.” If there aren’t, and I strongly believe that is the case, then there is no other source to be elevated to the same level as the Scripture, because only the Scripture is inspired by God, and therefore only it contains ultimate, immutable Truth. Does that make sense?

            //”God will protect His word. The verses never expound upon how He will do this.”//

            Exactly. Then why would you assume, knowing that God is omniscient and omnipotent, that He would need to rely on any man to preserve His Word (cf. Acts 17:25)? Also see Matt. 5:18 & 1 Pet. 1:24-25.

            //”Do you not also expound upon the Scriptures in your sermons? Is this not the job of ministers? This has always been the job of the Church.”//

            Yes, yes, and amen! But 1) we’re talking about “Sacred Tradition” and the level of authority it has over you (CCC, 80-83), not the Scriptures. My exposition of the biblical text spread the text, not a tradition; 2) my job, and every pastor’s job, is to faithfully “preach the Word” (2 Tim 4:1-2) and do it accurately (2 Tim 2:15); and 3) it IS the role of the church to teach sound doctrine (Tit 2:1), but as you may have heard from your Evangelical training, “church,” literally meaning “called out from the Greek word ekklesia, is not limited to the officers and certainly not to a handful of ivory tower bishops .

            //”When did the Church stop having the authority to make infallible decisions? … Do you believe that once the authority of the Church ended once the cannon was assembled?”//

            I hold to the historic Reformed cessationist position, which confesses that once the NT canon was closed, there would be no more or additional revelation in the church age. Therefore, the only infallible source of ultimate and universal truth every human is accountable to is contained in the 66 books of the Bible. That’s why, as you well know, I can’t affirm most of the RCC’s doctrine—it’s completely foreign to NT teaching (e.g., the papacy, worship/adoration of Mary, the immaculate conception of Mary, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the assumption of Mary, petitioning saints in heaven for their prayers, apostolic succession, confession of sin to a priest, purgatory, indulgences, or the equal authority of church tradition and Scripture).

            //”All the authority is God’s, given to Church through the working of the Holy Spirit. This is seen in Matthew 16:18-19.”//

            Yes, and no. All authority is God’s, so only when God speaks is it authoritative. In other words, the only authority any man has is when he’s speaking God’s Word. The one thing I think I’ve come to better understand in my interaction with you and other Catholics lately is how everything you believe, outside of the Bible, completely hinges on the RCC interpretation of Matt. 16:18-19. If you can become convinced that there is no apostolic succession, then you’d have no other option than to deny every thread of “Sacred Tradition,” right? But if you are so convinced that Peter was the first “pope” and that authority has been somehow transferred thru the ages, then you will forever be bound to whatever the Magisterium teaches (CCC, 100) because they carry with them the divine authority of Jesus (CCC 88). I cannot convince you that there is no such thing as apostolic succession, unless you willing to study Matt. 16 exegetically. Plus, what other biblical evidence is there to suggest that Christ’s authority has been handed down seamlessly in over 2,000 years of church history, knowing that at one time there were two (or 3?) men professing to the pope at once!

            //”Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you are suggesting that personally reading the Bible is what leads one to a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ.”//

            Rom 10:17—“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” That is to say, salvation comes thru hearing the Gospel thru a witness or thru simply reading the Word; not by any “sacrament.”

            I’m curious, Kara: after my conversion the more I learned about what the RCC teaches, the more disturbed I became. So, I’m wondering, in the time you’ve spent in the RCC so far, do you not have any reservations at all about doctrines such as apostolic succession, praying to Mary & saints, indulgences, purgatory, transubstantiation, treasury of merit, and papal infallibility (CCC 889) to name a few? What about the church history that gives evidence that the RCC has literally killed or sought to kill men for translating the Bible so normal people like you and me can read it (e.g., William Tyndale)?