Scripture Alone?…from the beginning, it was not so! – Part 1

The Pint, The Pipe and The Cross

Some protestants try to prove that the practice of Scripture Alone was taught and practiced by the early church. What is interesting is that I have read some arguments that try to say “Initially the apostles taught orally, but with the close of the apostolic age, all special revelation that God wanted preserved for man was codified in the written Scriptures. Sola Scriptura is the teaching, founded on the Scriptures themselves, that there is only one special revelation from God that man possesses today, the written Scriptures or the Bible.” There is a big problem with this argument. The bible was NOT codified by the end of the apostolic era. In fact, it would not be codified for approximately 300 years after the death of the last apostle John.

The First Thing that is Needed to Know Truth… HUMILITY!

During my conversion in 2002, when I first received the grace of…

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Sola Scriptura: A Tradition of Men 5

Bread From Heaven

Peter & the KeysCharles Allen: All things must be tested to God’s word which is truth then we must ask if these oral teachings were tested to God’s word. So does the catechism of the CC church test these oral traditions to scripture ? If they were not tested by scripture then how are we to be sure of their validity ie that they were not merely man’s invention.
Sola scripture just means that things must be tested to scripture as the only reliable source of truth – it was not an invention of Luther’s but always existed.

BFHU:  Where has Sola Scriptura always existed? It did not exist until Martin Luther invented it. Did you know that because of his adherence to Sola Scriptura Luther had the audacity  to delete 7 books from the NT that conflicted with his doctrines.

For instance, he taught that we are saved by faith…

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A Case for the Deuterocanonical: Response to excatholic4christ

catholicmemes_com-9

If you take a trip to your local (c)hristian book store, you’ll of course see plenty of Bibles on the shelves. There will be many different Protestant Bibles (including a few very dubious translations) side-by-side with Catholic Bibles. Have you ever wondered what the differences are between Protestant and Catholic Bibles?

Today, I was listening to the 05/19/17 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring moderator, Mike Denz, and priest-host, Dave Baker, taking questions from the listening audience.

Towards the end of the show, Denz took a question regarding the Bible:

Mike Denz: We’re going to go to Athena, who emailed us this question: “I am currently converting (to Catholicism) and I just received my Catholic Bible in the mail. I’m wondering if you have advice on how I should approach reading it? I grew up reading the King James Bible and just by skimming through the Douay-Rheims Holy Bible, I notice some pretty major differences already. Should I start by reading straight through first or should I just jump between chapters with focus on certain chapters?”

Denz then immediately commented that the King James Version is not a translation approved by the Catholic church. The church used to be forbid its members from reading the KJV or any other Protestant Bible upon pain of “mortal” sin, although the “unchangeable” church seems to have taken a less-militant stand in recent years (see the comments section). Denz also mentioned that Catholic Bibles contain seven Old Testament books that Protestant Bibles do not, as well as four additions to other OT books. This debated material is called the Apocrypha, which was all written in the 400-year period after the last OT book, Malachi, and before the time of Christ. Denz went on to blame Martin Luther for removing the Apocrypha from the Bible but the Jews in 1st-century Palestine didn’t consider this material to be Scriptural. Ancient historians, Philo and Josephus, rejected the Apocrypha. The rabbinical writers of the Talmud from 200 AD to 500 AD excluded the Apocrypha. Jesus and the apostles never quoted the Apocrypha. Even Jerome, the translator of the Septuagint, rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture.

However, Denz claimed the apocryphal books “were quoted in the New Testament,” followed by priest Baker chiming in, “…by Jesus Himself!” I had never before come across a claim from a Catholic source that Jesus or the apostles had ever quoted from the Apocrypha. I did a little digging and found that objective Catholic sources admit that direct quotes of the Apocrypha cannot be found in the New Testament “and that the (religious) themes (alluded to in the NT as quotes from the Apocrypha by overzealous Catholics like Denz and Baker) are so prevalent in Judaism that our Lord may not have intended these works (i.e., the Apocrypha) specifically.” See here. Thanks for your objectivity, priest John Echert.

Tom published this post a little while back, and I’d like to comment on it citing a few articles I previously published.

During the Reformation, primarily for doctrinal reasons, Protestants removed seven books from the Old Testament: 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, Tobit, and Judith, and parts of two others, Daniel and Esther. They did so even though these books had been regarded as canonical since the beginning of Church history.

As Protestant church historian J. N. D. Kelly writes, “It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive [than the Protestant Bible]. . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called apocrypha or deuterocanonical books” (Early Christian Doctrines, 53), which are rejected by Protestants. (1)

Here are quotes of the Early Christians citing the Deuterocanonicals. It appears that they believed they belonged in the canon.

The Didache

“You shall not waver with regard to your decisions [Sir. 1:28]. Do not be someone who stretches out his hands to receive but withdraws them when it comes to giving [Sir. 4:31]” (Didache 4:5 [A.D. 70]).

The Letter of Barnabas

“Since, therefore, [Christ] was about to be manifested and to suffer in the flesh, his suffering was foreshown. For the prophet speaks against evil, ‘Woe to their soul, because they have counseled an evil counsel against themselves’ [Is. 3:9], saying, ‘Let us bind the righteous man because he is displeasing to us’ [Wis. 2:12.]” (Letter of Barnabas 6:7 [A.D. 74]).

Clement of Rome

“By the word of his might [God] established all things, and by his word he can overthrow them. ‘Who shall say to him, “What have you done?” or who shall resist the power of his strength?’ [Wis. 12:12]” (Letter to the Corinthians 27:5 [ca. A.D. 80]).

Polycarp of Smyrna

“Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood [1 Pet. 2:17].
. . . When you can do good, defer it not, because ‘alms delivers from death’ [Tob. 4:10, 12:9]. Be all of you subject to one another [1 Pet. 5:5], having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles [1 Pet. 2:12], and the Lord may not be b.asphemed through you. But woe to him by whom the name of the Lord is b.asphemed [Is. 52:5]!” (Letter to the Philadelphians 10 [A.D. 135]).

Irenaeus

“Those . . . who are believed to be presbyters by many, but serve their own lusts and do not place the fear of God supreme in their hearts, but conduct themselves with contempt toward others and are puffed up with the pride of holding the chief seat [Matt. 23:6] and work evil deeds in secret, saying ‘No man sees us,’ shall be convicted by the Word, who does not judge after outward appearance, nor looks upon the countenance, but the heart; and they shall hear those words to be found in Daniel the prophet: ‘O you seed of Canaancatholicmemes_com-4 and not of Judah, beauty has deceived you and lust perverted your heart’ [Dan. 13:56]. You that have grown old in wicked days, now your sins which you have committed before have come to light, for you have pronounced false judgments and have been accustomed to condemn the innocent and to let the guilty go free, although the Lord says, ‘You shall not slay the innocent and the righteous’ [Dan. 13:52, citing Ex. 23:7]” (Against Heresies 4:26:3 [A.D. 189]; Daniel 13 is not in the Protestant Bible).

“Jeremiah the prophet has pointed out that as many believers as God has prepared for this purpose, to multiply those left on the earth, should both be under the rule of the saints and to minister to this [new] Jerusalem and that [his] kingdom shall be in it, saying, ‘Look around Jerusalem toward the east and behold the joy which comes to you from God himself. Behold, your sons whom you have sent forth shall come: They shall come in a band from the east to the west. . . . God shall go before with you in the light of his splendor, with the mercy and righteousness which proceed from him’ [Bar. 4:36—5:9]” (ibid., 5:35:1; Baruch was often considered part of Jeremiah, as it is here).

Hippolytus

“What is narrated here [in the story of Susannah] happened at a later time, although it is placed at the front of the book [of Daniel], for it was a custom with the writers to narrate many things in an inverted order in their writings. . . . [W]e ought to give heed, beloved, fearing lest anyone be overtaken in any transgression and risk the loss of his soul, knowing as we do that God is the judge of all and the Word himself is the eye which nothing that is done in the world escapes. Therefore, always watchful in heart and pure in life, let us imitate Susannah” (Commentary on Daniel [A.D. 204]; the story of Susannah [Dan. 13] is not in the Protestant Bible).

Cyprian of Carthage

“In Genesis [it says], ‘And God tested Abraham and said to him, “Take your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the high land and offer him there as a burnt offering . . .”’ [Gen. 22:1–2]. . . . Of this same thing in the Wisdom of Solomon [it says], ‘Although in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality . . .’ [Wis. 3:4]. Of this same thing in the Maccabees [it says], ‘Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness’ [1 Macc. 2:52; see Jas. 2:21–23]” (Treatises 7:3:15 [A.D. 248]).

“So Daniel, too, when he was required to worship the idol Bel, which the people and the king then worshipped, in asserting the honor of his God, broke forth with full faith and freedom, saying, ‘I worship nothing but the Lord my God, who created the heaven and the earth’ [Dan. 14:5]” (Letters 55:5 [A.D. 253]; Daniel 14 is not in the Protestant Bible).

If the first Christians recognized the Deuterocanonicals, why do the Protestants not? They know better than the immediate followers of Christ?

Melito, bishop of Sardis, an ancient city of Asia Minor (see Rev 3), c. 170 AD produced the first known Christian attempt at an Old Testament canon. His list maintains the Septuagint order of books but contains only the Old Testament protocanonicals minus the Book of Esther.

The Council of Laodicea, c. 360, produced a list of books similar to today’s canon. This was one of the Church’s earliest decisions on a canon.

Pope Damasus, 366-384, in his Decree, listed the books of today’s canon.

The Council of Rome, 382, was the forum which prompted Pope Damasus’ Decree. Bishop Exuperius of Toulouse wrote to Pope Innocent I in 405 requesting a list of canonical books.

Pope Innocent listed the present canon.

The Council of Hippo, a local north Africa council of bishops created the list of the Old and New Testament books in 393 which is the same as the Roman Catholic list today.

The Council of Carthage, a local north Africa council of bishops created the same list of canonical books in 397. This is the council which many Protestant and Evangelical Christians take as the authority for the New Testament canon of books. The Old Testament canon from the same council is identical to Roman Catholic canon today.

Another Council of Carthage in 419 offered the same list of canonical books.

Since the Roman Catholic Church does not define truths unless errors abound on the matter, Roman Catholic Christians look to the Council of Florence, an ecumenical council in 1441 for the first definitive list of canonical books.

The final infallible definition of canonical books for Roman Catholic Christians came from the Council of Trent in 1556 in the face of the errors of the Reformers who rejected seven Old Testament books from the canon of scripture to that time. (2)

There was no canon of scripture in the early Church; there was no Bible. The Bible is the book of the Church; she is not the Church of the Bible. It was the Church–her leadership, faithful people–guided by the authority of the Spirit of Truth which discovered the books inspired by God in their writing. The Church did not create the canon; she discerned the canon. Fixed canons of the Old and New Testaments, hence the Bible, were not known much before the end of the 2nd and early 3rd century.

Council of Rome

“Now indeed we must treat of the divine scriptures, what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she ought to shun. The order of the Old Testament begins here: Genesis, one book; Exodus, one book; Leviticus, one book; Numbers, one book; Deuteronomy, one book; Joshua [Son of] Nave, one book; Judges, one book; Ruth, one book; Kings, four books [that is, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings]; Paralipomenon [Chronicles], two books; Psalms, one book; Solomon, three books: Proverbs, one book, Ecclesiastes, one book, [and] Canticle of Canticles [Song of Songs], one book; likewise Wisdom, one book; Ecclesiasticus [Sirach], one book . . . . Likewise the order of the historical [books]: Job, one book; Tobit, one book; Esdras, two books [Ezra and Nehemiah]; Esther, one book; Judith, one book; Maccabees, two books” (Decree of Pope Damasus [A.D. 382]).

Council of Hippo


“[It has been decided] that besides the canonical scriptures nothing be read in church under the name of divine Scripture. But the canonical scriptures are
as follows: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the Son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, the Kings, four books, the Chronicles, two books, Job, the Psalter, the five books of Solomon [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, and a portion of the Psalms], the twelve books of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Ezra, two books, Maccabees, two books . . .” (Canon 36 [A.D. 393]).

Council of Carthage III


“[It has been decided] that nothing except the canonical scriptures should be read in the Church under the name of the divine scriptures. But the canonical scriptures are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, Paralipomenon, two books, Job, the Psalter of David, five books of Solomon, twelve books of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Maccabees . . .” (Canon 47 [A.D. 397]).

Even though the present canon was excepted by Christians from the first few centuries after Christ, Protestants still deny the use of the Catholic Canon. Why?

It is popular in some Protestant circles to claim that the Jews had a closed canon of Scripture in the first century A.D. and that the early Christians accepted this final Jewish collection of inspired writings as final and binding upon the Church. Generally, the Council of Jabneh (usually referred to in Catholic literature as Jamnia) is assumed as the “proof” for this assertion. At the “Council of Jabneh,” you see, the Jewish rabbis supposedly got together—something like an ecumenical council in the Catholic Church—to lay down specific criteria for inspired Scripture and to finally define and close the Old Testament canon…

…Most non-Christian Jews of the first century A.D. considered the Church to be a heretical and misinformed Jewish cult, probably similar to the way Christians look at the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses of today. In the first century, several decades after the life of Christ, the majority of early Christians were Gentiles, and they used the Greek Septuagint as their Old Testament, following the example of the Greek-speaking Jews, including Jesus and the apostles…

…When Christians began to use this Greek translation to convert Jews to the faith, the Jews began to detest it. Does it surprise anyone that they would condemn the canon and translation the Christians used, even if it was originally translated, approved of, and put into circulation by the Jews themselves three hundred and fifty years earlier (c. 250 B.C.)? The early Church, following the Greek Septuagint and the apostles’ extensive use of it (Paul took most of his Old Testament quotations from it), accepted the deuterocanonical books. When the canon was finally closed by the councils of the Catholic Church, these books were included…

…The so-called “Council of Jabneh” was a group of Jewish scholars who were granted permission by Rome around the year 90 to meet in Palestine near the Mediterranean Sea in Jabneh (or Jamnia). Here they established a non-authoritative, “reconstituted” Sanhedrin. Among the things they discussed was the status of several questionable writings in the Jewish Bible. They also rejected the Christian writings and made a new translation of the Greek Septuagint…

…Isn’t it interesting that the Jews did not have a “closed canon” of Scripture during the time of Christ, before 100, or even after Jabneh? Even during the time of Christ there were competing opinions on what books actually belonged in the Jewish Bible. There were various collections in existence. Sadducees and Samaritans accepted only the Pentateuch, the first five books, whereas the Pharisees accepted a fuller canon including Psalms and the prophets. The Masoretic text did not contain the deuterocanonicals, whereas the widely used Greek Septuagint did…

…This uncertainty continued well into the second century. The discussion over the books of the canon of the Old Testament continued among the Jews long after Jabneh, which demonstrates that the canon was still under discussion in the third century—well beyond the apostolic period. The challenges to canonicity at Jabneh involved only Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, but the debate over the canon continued past Jabneh, even into the second and third centuries. Even the Hebrew canon accepted by Protestants today was disputed by the Jews for two hundred years after Christ…

…Some cautionary points should be noted here:

1. Although Christian authors seem to think in terms of a formal council at Jabneh, there was no such thing. There was a school for studying the Law at Jabneh, and the rabbis there exercised legal functions in the Jewish community.

2. Not only was there no formal council, there is no evidence that any list of books was drawn up at Jabneh.

3. A specific discussion of acceptance at Jabneh is attested only for the books of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. Even so, arguments regarding these books persisted in Judaism centuries after the Jabneh period. There were also subsequent debates about Esther.

4. We know of no books that were excluded at Jabneh. In fact, Sirach, which was read and copied by Jews after the Jabneh period, did not eventually become part of the standard Hebrew Bible (cf. Raymond Edward Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland Edmund Murphy, The Jerome Biblical Commentary [Prentice-Hall, 1996, c. 1968], vol. 2, 522)… (3)

To view the full extent of the excerpt, check footnote 3.

With the above four points in mind, it is really unclear what went down in Jamnia. They could have played shuffleboard for all we know. The point is that despite the uncertainties surrounded the supposed Jewish canon, Protestants have adhered to it, and claim it is correct.

There is still another thought that should trouble Protestants. Since when did the Jews have any authority from God to decide on a Canon? They killed the God-man sent to them, and killed many of His followers. We are to trust them for the OT canon? Jesus Christ gave authority to His own Church, not the Jews after they crucified Him (Luke 10:16, 1 Timothy 3:15, Ephesians 3:5, Ephesians 2:20, Mathew 18:17-18, Acts 15:28-29). Why would Tom reference to the authority of the Jews? That’s like asserting authority to the Mormons.

The key issue, as cited by Tom, is the question: Did Jesus quote the Deuterocanonicals?

There are no direct quotes, but there are many similarities and allusions to the Deuterocanonicals in the NT. For a full list see here: https://whysoseriousdotcom.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/deuterocanonical-references-in-the-new-testament/

Even if the New Testament does not directly quote the Deuterocanonicals, does that make them invalid to be included in the Canon? Of course not. The book of Judges is never quoted in the New Testament, and yet it is included.

However, Early Christians read the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint. It included the seven deuterocanonical books. For this reason, the Protestant historian J.N.D. Kelly writes, “It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive [than the Protestant Bible]. . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called apocrypha or deuterocanonical books”. The authors of the New Testament quoted freely from the Septuagint—over 300 times. (4)

If the Apostles and Christ accepted the Greek Septuagint, which included the Deuterocanonicals, did they not recognize the Deuterocanonical books as valid? What would be the use of quoting from the Septuagint if it erred in its canon?

The bottom line is that the Deuterocanonicals were accepted long ago by the Church, who has authority given by God. The Jews had no authority to choose what books belonged in the canon and what did not. Christ’s Church had that authority. Who deserves our trust? God’s Church, the pillar of truth, or the Jews who killed Christ?

— Patrick E. Devens

 


(1) https://whysoseriousdotcom.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/the-old-testament-canon/

(2) https://whysoseriousdotcom.wordpress.com/category/biblical-canon/

(3) https://whysoseriousdotcom.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/the-council-that-wasnt/

(4) https://whysoseriousdotcom.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/how-to-defend-the-deuterocanonicals/


via Did Jesus or the apostles ever quote the Apocrypha? — excatholic4christ

Are All Christians Priests? The Biblical Evidence for Priests Separate from the Laity

BISHOP SLATTERY CELEBRATES HIGH MASS IN EXTRAORDINARY FORM AT NATIONAL BASILICA

Our Protestant friends (particularly evangelicals) sometimes claim that all Christians are priests, and that there is no special class set apart from others in the Church.

I submit, however (and hope to show below) that the Bible teaches about clergy, who are set apart from lay members of the Church. It also gives indication of priestly function.

The priesthood as we know it today is not a strong motif in the New Testament. But this can be explained in terms of development of doctrine: some things were understood only in very basic or skeletal terms in the early days of Christianity. This is even true of doctrines accepted by all, such as the Holy Trinity or original sin.

The canon of the biblical books was slow to formulate (four centuries). Also, it has been argued that priesthood was a subdued feature of primitive Christianity because it had not yet finally separated from Judaism; therefore, the authority of Jewish priests was still accepted. Acts 2:46 (RSV) describes the Jerusalem Christians as “day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes.”

The Apostle Paul was presenting offerings in the temple around the year 58 (Acts 21:26), acknowledged the authority of the Jewish high priest, described himself as a Pharisee (Acts 23:5-6), and observed Jewish feasts (Acts 20:6).

That said, one can still find much evidence in the Bible of a Christian priesthood. Jesus entrusts to His disciples a remembrance of the central aspect of the liturgy or Mass (consecration of the bread and wine) at the Last Supper (Lk 22:19: “Do this in remembrance of me”). Paul may also have presided over a Eucharist (Acts 20:11: “Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten”).

These same disciples were (like priests) models of a life wholly devoted to God, as a matter of lifelong calling. Jesus had chosen and “appointed” them, and they had become His “friends” (Jn 15:15-16). He was their sole master (Mt 6:24). There was no turning back in their ministry (Lk 9:62), and they were called to a radical commitment involving even leaving possessions and their entire families:

Matthew 19:27 Then Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. . . .” (cf. 4:22)

Luke 14:26 If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

The priest-disciple must accept hardships and privations and embrace self-denial:

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (cf. Mt 10:38; 8:19-20)

Celibacy, for the sake of undistracted devotion to the Lord, is commended, provided that someone is called to it:

Matthew 19:12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; [33] but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, [34] and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. [35] I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Priests serve the Body of Christ (1 Cor 3:5; 9:19; 2 Cor 4:5), and dispense sacraments (1 Cor 4:1; Jas 5:14), including baptism (Mt 28:19; Acts 2:38, 41). A universal priesthood of “offering” (sacrifice) extending to “every place” in New Testament times is prophesied in Isaiah 66:18, 21 and Malachi 1:11.

Protestants sometimes cite 1 Peter 2:5, 9 to the effect that all Christians are priests. But Peter was citing Exodus 19:6: “you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” The problem with this is that the older passage couldn’t possibly have meant that there was no priesthood among the ancient Hebrews, since they clearly had a separate class of priests (Leviticus: chapters 4-7, 13-14).

This is even seen in the same chapter, since Exodus 19:21-24 twice contrasts “priests” and “people.” Thus, it makes much more sense to interpret 1 Peter 2:5 as meaning a separate, holy, “chosen” class of priests. But the notion of “spiritual sacrifices” (faith, praise, giving to others) does apply to all Christians (Phil 2:17; Heb 13:15-16).


 

Article by David Armstrong: http://www.setonmagazine.com/latest-articles/christians-priests-biblical-evidence-priests-separate-laity

Salvation, Grace, and Reconciliation

Great thoughts on the subjects of grace and sin. Thanks Philip!

The Latin Community

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The Sacrament of Reconciliation

  • The Church prior to the 1960s often spoke of Hell as being the punishment for sinning. However, even after the Vatican II council, the Church stressed its pastoral teaching on the goodness of Christ—both periods have failed to highlight our treasures in Heaven.
  • Who is going to Heaven?
  • How do you know?
  • Often we’re told that if we do good and are a good person that will qualify us for the reward of Heaven–This is not what the Catholic Church teaches. In fact, this teaching can be found in a heresy refuted by St. Augustine called Pelagianism.
  • We cannot get to Heaven by our own good actions.Jesus said, “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”18[c]He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall…

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Roman Catholics Are True Christians: Response to The Isaiah 53:5 Project

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The Isaiah 53:5 Project published a post titled Are Roman Catholics Christian? a little while back. The text of the short post reads:

I was recently asked by an atheist who, for his own enjoyment, loves to stir up conflict among believers where there often isn’t any if I thought Roman Catholics were true Christians. So, without intending to cause trouble or offend Catholics who read the blog, here is my answer.

“Catholics are indeed Christians if they have trusted in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of their sins. However, if they believe they are saved by God’s grace and their works, then they are not saved–even if they believe their works are done by God’s grace–since they then deny the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice.

“Being a Christian does not mean being a member of the Roman Catholic Church. It means being a member of the body of Christ, which is accomplished by faith and trust in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sins. It means you do not add your works to His work. Sincerity doesn’t forgive sins. Membership in a church doesn’t forgive sins. Doing works of penance doesn’t forgive sins. Praying to Mary doesn’t forgive sins. Forgiveness is received in the faithful trust and acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

“You must trust Jesus, God in flesh, for the forgiveness of sins–not a man-made ritual and certainly not the catholic saints.

Even though the Roman Catholic Church affirms the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and His physical resurrection, it greatly errors in its doctrine of salvation by adding works to salvation.”

I’d like to comment on the immense ignorance of the implications of the above article.

The performance of good works does not deny the sufficiency of Christ’s Sacrifice. Good works are required for salvation, but works themselves do not save. To use an analogy, a key is required to drive a car, but the key is not the reason the car runs. There is an engine under the hood with all sorts of components that make the car go. While the key is not what gets us driving places in itself, it is needed, or else the car is useless. The same is true for good works.

Catholics do not deny that faith is needed for salvation. “But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, Must believeth that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him.” (Heb. 11:6)

Faith is absolutely necessary to get to Heaven. If a Christian did not have faith, then he wouldn’t exactly be a Christian, because he doesn’t believe in Christ. We must believe in God and place our trust in Him.

Faith must be working in charity (Galatians5:6)

Faith without charity, is nothing. Faith is dependent on charity (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha.” (1 Cor. 16:22)

“Dearly beloved, let us love one another, for charity is of God. And every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God.” (1 John 4:7)

“And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13:13)

Love is essential! If a man was to place His faith in Christ and yet go through life having hatred for his neighbor, would he end up in Heaven? Not without love. St. Paul says that “there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Cor. 13:13). If we are saved by faith only, then why is charity (love) greater than faith?

Love of God and neighbor is a matter of life and death, for even though a person has divine faith as a free commitment to Christ, if he has not charity—and the deeds of charity where need requires and capacity exists—he cannot be saved (Mt 7:22; Jn 15:2; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:19-21; Jas 2:17;).

Faith cannot stand on its own. We must cooperate with God’s grace for it to be effective.


 

To be a true Christian is to be a Catholic. The Catholic Church was started by Christ, and can trace its lineage all the way back to Him. Any other “church” is just the product of mere men; the Catholic Church was began by God.

Do you wish to remain in your man-made traditions, or come home to Christ’s Church?

— Patrick E. Devens, The Catholic Thinker


 

Source: Are Roman Catholics Christian?

Its Great to be Catholic: Response to excatholic4christ

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Tom, aka excatholic4christ, wrote an article a few months ago titled: 10 Really “Uncool” Things About Being Catholic (link at bottom of page). Tom, in his spirit of anti-Catholic bias and ignorance of true Christianity, labeled several of these 10 things unbiblical and all of them “uncool”. I want to take a look at each accusation.

1. Confession.

Tom  says: “Going into a dark box and confessing sins to a priest is unscriptural. No man can forgive sins. The Catholic confessional box was often used by predatory priests to initially lure their victims. Priests were required to probe older children and young adults with embarrassing questions about sexuality to ensure they gave a full, ‘good’ confession.”

First, all priests were required to ask embarrassing questions? Required? I think not. Prove it. Yes, there have been repulsive, perverted men that have entered the priesthood of Jesus Christ who have been sexually immoral. But this is a small percentage that cannot be perceived as the whole.

The sacrament of Confession is an ancient practice dating back to the Apostles. The Early Church testifies for the practice of Confession. See here:

https://www.catholic.com/tract/confession

Furthermore, just as God used His priests to forgive sin in the Old Testament, He does the same in the New Testament.

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” (John 20:21-23)

Having been raised from the dead, our Lord was here commissioning his apostles to carry on with his work just before he was to ascend to heaven. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” What did the Father send Jesus to do? All Christians agree he sent Christ to be the one true mediator between God and men. As such, Christ was to MISERERE-CONFESSIONinfallibly proclaim the Gospel (cf. Luke 4:16-21), reign supreme as King of kings and Lord of lords (cf. Rev. 19:16); and especially, he was to redeem the world through the forgiveness of sins (cf. I Peter 2:21-25, Mark 2:5-10).

One instance of God using a man to forgive sin is in 2 Corinthians 2:10. Paul speaks:

“And to whom you have pardoned anything, I also.  For, what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ.”

St. Paul made use of his power to forgive sins in Christ’s name, despite being a sinner himself. Just because a man is a sinner does not negate the fact that he has God given power. St. Peter was a sinful man, and yet he was able to preach and baptize people in Christ’s name. How is the power to forgive sin any different?

It should also be noted that the Apostles were given spiritual authority by Christ in Matthew 18:18:

“Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

This authority was passed down by the Apostles to their successors, from bishop to bishop, from bishop to priest. It is the Catholic Church who can trace her lineage all the way back to the Apostles, as the power to forgive sins are passed down to the Church’s priests. This is why Catholics confess their sins to their priest; their priest received the same power over sins as the Apostles.

As the Apostles were men who were given power to forgive sin, how would they have known what sins to forgive? The only way for them to know would be that the penitent tell them their sins. That is why Catholic confess their sins to a priest. Priests are (often) not mind readers. How else would they know what to “bind and loose”?

It seems very clear that Confession is very biblical.

2. The Rosary 

Tom says: “God’s Word forbids prayer to any entity other than to Him. It also forbids multiple rote prayers.”

The verb “to pray” means “to ask”. It originally held this meaning in old English, and was used in phrases such as “I pray thee, do tell…”. It is originally just another word phrase for “ask”. The usage began to change meaning during the Protestant Revolt. The head of the Church of England did not warm up to the practice of prayer to the saints, and the term became solely associated with prayer to God. As the English monarchy took over many churches and universities of England, this Protestant word usage became the norm among non-Catholics. Catholics however, did not take to the new meaning, and from then till now “prayer to the saints” has strictly meant asking for saintly intercession.

This explanation shows that not all prayer is worship, as it depends on the manner of such, and the definitional term used.

Secondly, the bible exhorts Christians to constantly pray for one another, and it does not restrict the Christians of Heaven to do so.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God” (Romans 15:30)

By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints: And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:18-19)

You helping withal in prayer for us: that for this gift obtained for us, by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many in our behalf.” (2 Corinthians 1:11)

And perhaps the most explicit passage on intercession for one another:

“I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings, and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in therr sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Asking the saints in Heaven to pray and intercede for us to God is the same exact concept as asking other Christians on earth to pray for us.

As for repetitive prayer, the Bible nowhere condemns such. In Matthew 6:7, Jesus said “do not heap up ‘empty phrases’ (Gr. – battalagesete,  which means to stammer, babble, prate, or to repeat the same things over and over mindlessly) as the Gentiles do…” We have to remember that the main idea of prayer and sacrifice among the pagans was to appease the gods so that you could go on with your own life. You had to be careful to “take care of” all of the gods by mentioning them, and saying all the right words, lest you bring a curse upon yourself.

Later in Matthew 6, Jesus gave us a prayer to recite! The Our Father! Notice the emphasis on living the words of the prayer! This is a prayer to be recited, but they are neither “empty phrases” nor “vain repetitions.”

Mark 14:32-39:

“And they went to a place which was called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I pray.’ And the took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.’ And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this chalice from me; yet not what I will, but what you will.’ And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptiation; the spirit indeed is weilling, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again, he came and found them sleeping… And he came a third time, and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping…?’”

Our Lord was here praying for hours and saying “the same words.” Is this “vain repetition?” No. Tom, you do not recognize the difference between repetition and vain repetition.

3. Popes

Tom claims that there are no popes in the Bible. I’m sorry that you are to ignorant to realize that St. Peter was the first pope. Christ appointed him the head of the Church on earth when He gave Him the keys to the kingdom, and reaffirmed this by telling Peter to feed Christ’s sheep. If you cannot see that Christ left His Church in Peter’s hands, then you need to study the concept further.

4. Saints

Tom says: “The New Testament refers to saints as all those who have accepted Christ as Savior, not a super-holy class of people as Rome invented.”

Catholics believe that all who are in the state of sanctifying grace are saints. Catholic merely refer to the saints in Heaven as “saints”, and call the Church Militant on earth “Christians”.

Also, to enter Heaven, one must be holy.  St. Paul even says that without holiness, “no man shall see God.” (Hebrews 12:14) Not sure why you say “super-holy” class of people Rome invented. Rome didn’t “invent” holiness as needed for salvation, and Rome did not invent any people. The saints are as real as you and I.

5. Relics

Tom says: “Nowhere in the New Testament are believers instructed to venerate physical objects.”

No Tom, the Scriptures do not explicitly say: Venerate relics. But then again, the Bible is not the sole rule of faith.

“One of the most moving accounts of the veneration of relics is that of the very body of Christ itself. Rather than leaving his body on the cross, to be taken down and disposed of by the Romans (as was the customary practice), Joseph of Arimathea courageously interceded with Pilate for Christ’s body (Mark 15:43, John 19:38). He donated his own, newly hewn tomb as Christ’s resting place (Matt. 27:60). Nicodemus came and donated over a hundred pounds of spices to wrap inside Jesus’ grave clothes (John 19:39), that amount of spices being used only for the most honored dead. And after he was buried, the women went to reverently visit the tomb (Matt. 28:1) and to further anoint Christ’s body with spices even though it had already been sealed inside the tomb (Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1). These acts of reverence were more than just the usual courtesy shown to the remains of the dead; they were special respect shown to the body of a most holy man—in this case, the holiest man who has ever lived, for he was God Incarnate. 

“Keep in mind what the Church says about relics. It doesn’t say there is some magical power in them. There is nothing in the relic itself, whether a bone of the apostle Peter or water from Lourdes, that has any curative ability. The Church just says that relics may be the occasion of God’s miracles, and in this the Church follows Scripture.

“The use of the bones of Elisha brought a dead man to life: “So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet” (2 Kgs. 13:20-21). This is an unequivocal biblical example of a miracle being performed by God through contact with the relics of a saint!

“Similar are the cases of the woman cured of a hemorrhage by touching the hem of Christ’s cloak (Matt. 9:20-22) and the sick who were healed when Peter’s shadow passed over them (Acts 5:14-16). “And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).

“If these aren’t examples of the use of relics, what are? In the case of Elisha, a Lazarus-like return from the dead was brought about through the prophet’s bones. In the New Testament cases, physical things (the cloak, the shadow, handkerchiefs and aprons) were used to effect cures. There is a perfect congruity between present-day Catholic practice and ancient practice. If you reject all Catholic relics today as frauds, you should also reject these biblical accounts as frauds.” (1)

6. Processions

Tom writes: “As priests parade a large bread wafer alleged to be the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus in a sunburst container called a monstrance, the Catholic faithful bow down and worship it. This is unmitigated idolatry.”

Hmmm…last I checked, Christ told us that we are to eat His flesh to have eternal life. He gave us His flesh to eat under the appearance of bread.

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” (John 6:51-52)

“And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to monstrancehis disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:16)

7. Blessings

Tom says: “Priests and bishops are alleged to have been ordained with the ability to endow people and objects with powerful blessings.”

…is this strange to you at all? Just like the prophets of the Old Testament giving their blessing to others? This charge against blessings seems to be the dumbest yet.

8. Music

Tom says: “Gaudy liturgical ritual with its accompanying music defined “religion” for most older generation Catholics.”

This one seems to be more of an opinion than an actual accusation. Not sure what get’s Tom’s goat about music.

9. Guilt

Tom says: “Yup, God’s Word says we are all sinners, but Catholics can never find spiritual peace in Christ because they’re on a religious treadmill and no matter how much they do or how good they try to be, it will never be enough.”

We are all sinners, and we do not know at the present if we will die in the state of grace. What if I am in the state of grace at one time, and then commit murder? Should I have nothing to worry about? Your argument is nonsense.

10. A Sense of Humor 

Tom says: “I went through twelve years of Catholic education and I can attest to the fact that MANY priests, nuns, and brothers did NOT have a sense of humor. Often those troubled souls were cold and hurtful.”

Some people are kind and cheerful, others are not. It is not like all Catholics are hapless zombies. I have been Catholic all 15 years of my life, and the majority of  Catholics I have met are fun, happy people. Most of my friends are Catholic. They take their Christianity seriously. You just view everything through an anti-Catholic lens. How about taking those anti-Catholic shades off now and take a long look at Truth?

— Patrick E. Devens

 


(1) https://www.catholic.com/tract/relics

via 10 Really “Uncool” Things About Being Catholic — excatholic4christ