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?

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14 thoughts on “Roman Catholics Are True Christians: Response to The Isaiah 53:5 Project

  1. What proof do you have that Christ started the Roman Catholic Church?? The Apostle’s Creed? Tradition? You complain about Protestants being man-made however you Catholics like to interweave the Bible with man-made tradition. Sounds a little contradictory. Since when did Christ say to Peter “You are now Pope Peter”. Pope translates to “Father”, and it was Jesus who said “you shall call no one Father except for your Father in Heaven.” Jesus never mentioned Purgatory, did the RCC add that in? When did Jesus say the Bible was not enough? Did the CC add that in too? I am not saying Protestants were founded by Christ, but they are heaps closer to the Scriptures than what Roman Catholics are.

    Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm….let’s see….

      Roman Catholic bishops can trace their lineage back to the Apostles. The Apostles appointed bishops who appointed bishops who appointed bishops…up till the present day.

      The first Christians (and only Christians!) were catholic. They taught the same doctrine the Roman Catholic Church teaches today.

      Christ gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, and built His church on him in Matthew 16:18-19.

      In John 21:15-17, Christ put Peter in charge of His flock, the Church. Need more blatant proof than that?

      How can Protestants be “heaps” closer to the Scriptures when the Bible is a Catholic book? Who put the Bible together? The Roman Catholic Church. They knows very well about keeping the doctrines that it recorded.

      Like

    • As for the charge against using the word “father”:

      Many Protestants claim that when Catholics address priests as “father,” they are engaging in an unbiblical practice that Jesus forbade: “Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Matt. 23:9).

      In his tract 10 Reasons Why I Am Not a Roman Catholic, Fundamentalist anti-Catholic writer Donald Maconaghie quotes this passage as support for his charge that “the papacy is a hoax.”

      Bill Jackson, another Fundamentalist who runs a full-time anti-Catholic organization, says in his book Christian’s Guide To Roman Catholicism that a “study of Matthew 23:9 reveals that Jesus was talking about being called father as a title of religious superiority . . . [which is] the basis for the [Catholic] hierarchy” (53).

      How should Catholics respond to such objections?

      The Answer

      To understand why the charge does not work, one must first understand the use of the word “father” in reference to our earthly fathers. No one would deny a little girl the opportunity to tell someone that she loves her father. Common sense tells us that Jesus wasn’t forbidding this type of use of the word “father.”

      In fact, to forbid it would rob the address “Father” of its meaning when applied to God, for there would no longer be any earthly counterpart for the analogy of divine Fatherhood. The concept of God’s role as Father would be meaningless if we obliterated the concept of earthly fatherhood.

      But in the Bible the concept of fatherhood is not restricted to just our earthly fathers and God. It is used to refer to people other than biological or legal fathers, and is used as a sign of respect to those with whom we have a special relationship.

      For example, Joseph tells his brothers of a special fatherly relationship God had given him with the king of Egypt: “So it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 45:8).

      Job indicates he played a fatherly role with the less fortunate: “I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know” (Job 29:16). And God himself declares that he will give a fatherly role to Eliakim, the steward of the house of David: “In that day I will call my servant Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah . . . and I will clothe him with [a] robe, and will bind [a] girdle on him, and will commit . . . authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah” (Is. 22:20–21).

      This type of fatherhood not only applies to those who are wise counselors (like Joseph) or benefactors (like Job) or both (like Eliakim), it also applies to those who have a fatherly spiritual relationship with one. For example, Elisha cries, “My father, my father!” to Elijah as the latter is carried up to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kgs. 2:12). Later, Elisha himself is called a father by the king of Israel (2 Kgs. 6:21).

      A Change with the New Testament?

      Some Fundamentalists argue that this usage changed with the New Testament—that while it may have been permissible to call certain men “father” in the Old Testament, since the time of Christ, it’s no longer allowed. This argument fails for several reasons.

      First, as we’ve seen, the imperative “call no man father” does not apply to one’s biological father. It also doesn’t exclude calling one’s ancestors “father,” as is shown in Acts 7:2, where Stephen refers to “our father Abraham,” or in Romans 9:10, where Paul speaks of “our father Isaac.”

      Second, there are numerous examples in the New Testament of the term “father” being used as a form of address and reference, even for men who are not biologically related to the speaker. There are, in fact, so many uses of “father” in the New Testament, that the Fundamentalist interpretation of Matthew 23 (and the objection to Catholics calling priests “father”) must be wrong, as we shall see.

      Third, a careful examination of the context of Matthew 23 shows that Jesus didn’t intend for his words here to be understood literally. The whole passage reads, “But you are not to be called ‘rabbi,’ for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called ‘masters,’ for you have one master, the Christ” (Matt. 23:8–10).

      The first problem is that although Jesus seems to prohibit the use of the term “teacher,” in Matthew 28:19–20, Christ himself appointed certain men to be teachers in his Church: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Paul speaks of his commission as a teacher: “For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle . . . a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Tim. 2:7); “For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher” (2 Tim. 1:11). He also reminds us that the Church has an office of teacher: “God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers” (1 Cor. 12:28); and “his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). There is no doubt that Paul was not violating Christ’s teaching in Matthew 23 by referring so often to others as “teachers.”

      Fundamentalists themselves slip up on this point by calling all sorts of people “doctor,” for example, medical doctors, as well as professors and scientists who have Ph.D. degrees (i.e., doctorates). What they fail to realize is that “doctor” is simply the Latin word for “teacher.” Even “Mister” and “Mistress” (“Mrs.”) are forms of the word “master,” also mentioned by Jesus. So if his words in Matthew 23 were meant to be taken literally, Fundamentalists would be just as guilty for using the word “teacher” and “doctor” and “mister” as Catholics for saying “father.” But clearly, that would be a misunderstanding of Christ’s words.

      So What Did Jesus Mean?

      Jesus criticized Jewish leaders who love “the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called ‘rabbi’ by men” (Matt. 23:6–7). His admonition here is a response to the Pharisees’ proud hearts and their grasping after marks of status and prestige.

      He was using hyperbole (exaggeration to make a point) to show the scribes and Pharisees how sinful and proud they were for not looking humbly to God as the source of all authority and fatherhood and teaching, and instead setting themselves up as the ultimate authorities, father figures, and teachers.

      Christ used hyperbole often, for example when he declared, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:29, cf. 18:9; Mark 9:47). Christ certainly did not intend this to be applied literally, for otherwise all Christians would be blind amputees! (cf. 1 John 1:8; 1 Tim. 1:15). We are all subject to “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

      Since Jesus is demonstrably using hyperbole when he says not to call anyone our father—else we would not be able to refer to our earthly fathers as such—we must read his words carefully and with sensitivity to the presence of hyperbole if we wish to understand what he is saying.

      Jesus is not forbidding us to call men “fathers” who actually are such—either literally or spiritually. (See below on the apostolic example of spiritual fatherhood.) To refer to such people as fathers is only to acknowledge the truth, and Jesus is not against that. He is warning people against inaccurately attributing fatherhood—or a particular kind or degree of fatherhood—to those who do not have it.

      As the apostolic example shows, some individuals genuinely do have a spiritual fatherhood, meaning that they can be referred to as spiritual fathers. What must not be done is to confuse their form of spiritual paternity with that of God. Ultimately, God is our supreme protector, provider, and instructor. Correspondingly, it is wrong to view any individual other than God as having these roles.

      Throughout the world, some people have been tempted to look upon religious leaders who are mere mortals as if they were an individual’s supreme source of spiritual instruction, nourishment, and protection. The tendency to turn mere men into “gurus” is worldwide.

      This was also a temptation in the Jewish world of Jesus’ day, when famous rabbinical leaders, especially those who founded important schools, such as Hillel and Shammai, were highly exalted by their disciples. It is this elevation of an individual man—the formation of a “cult of personality” around him—of which Jesus is speaking when he warns against attributing to someone an undue role as master, father, or teacher.

      He is not forbidding the perfunctory use of honorifics nor forbidding us to recognize that the person does have a role as a spiritual father and teacher. The example of his own apostles shows us that.

      The Apostles Show the Way

      The New Testament is filled with examples of and references to spiritual father-son and father-child relationships. Many people are not aware just how common these are, so it is worth quoting some of them here.

      Paul regularly referred to Timothy as his child: “Therefore I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ” (1 Cor. 4:17); “To Timothy, my true child in the faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Tim. 1:2); “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:2).

      He also referred to Timothy as his son: “This charge I commit to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare” (1 Tim 1:18); “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1); “But Timothy’s worth you know, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel” (Phil. 2:22).

      Paul also referred to other of his converts in this way: “To Titus, my true child in a common faith: grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (Titus 1:4); “I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment” (Philem. 10). None of these men were Paul’s literal, biological sons. Rather, Paul is emphasizing his spiritual fatherhood with them.

      Spiritual Fatherhood

      Perhaps the most pointed New Testament reference to the theology of the spiritual fatherhood of priests is Paul’s statement, “I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:14–15).

      Peter followed the same custom, referring to Mark as his son: “She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark” (1 Pet. 5:13). The apostles sometimes referred to entire churches under their care as their children. Paul writes, “Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you; for children ought not to lay up for their parents, but parents for their children” (2 Cor. 12:14); and, “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!” (Gal. 4:19).

      John said, “My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1); “No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth” (3 John 4). In fact, John also addresses men in his congregations as “fathers” (1 John 2:13–14).

      By referring to these people as their spiritual sons and spiritual children, Peter, Paul, and John imply their own roles as spiritual fathers. Since the Bible frequently speaks of this spiritual fatherhood, we Catholics acknowledge it and follow the custom of the apostles by calling priests “father.” Failure to acknowledge this is a failure to recognize and honor a great gift God has bestowed on the Church: the spiritual fatherhood of the priesthood.

      Catholics know that as members of a parish, they have been committed to a priest’s spiritual care, thus they have great filial affection for priests and call them “father.” Priests, in turn, follow the apostles’ biblical example by referring to members of their flock as “my son” or “my child” (cf. Gal. 4:19; 1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim. 2:1; Philem. 10; 1 Pet. 5:13; 1 John 2:1; 3 John 4).

      All of these passages were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and they express the infallibly recorded truth that Christ’s ministers do have a role as spiritual fathers. Jesus is not against acknowledging that. It is he who gave these men their role as spiritual fathers, and it is his Holy Spirit who recorded this role for us in the pages of Scripture. To acknowledge spiritual fatherhood is to acknowledge the truth, and no amount of anti-Catholic grumbling will change that fact.

      Taken from: https://www.catholic.com/tract/call-no-man-father

      Liked by 2 people

    • Where does the Bible say that everything Christian must be found in the Bible?

      After all, where does the Bible claim to be the pillar of truth? Of course, the Bible is an infallible source of God’s Word, but is it the foundation of all truth? Answer: No.

      The Bible itself says that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

      The Bible itself says to “…hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.” (2 Thes. 2:14)

      No where does the Bible claim to be the only teacher of the Christian faith. It explicitly states otherwise.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, couldn’t have put it any better. @theclassicalmusicianguy Who interprets the Bible? Yourself? You believe what you want without knowing for sure if you are right or wrong? Seems dangerous.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I am a recent revert to Catholicism as of the last several years. And as such, I sympathize with a lot of Protestant beliefs (though I disagree with them). When we try to develop Christian doctrine on the Bible alone, teachings on salvation become very confusing (especially books like Romans and Galatians). But when we look at Scripture as a unified whole, justification by faith alone simply does not cut it.

    We enter into God’s family through Baptism, and we live as children of God through the instruments of faith and obedience. Without faith, (as you said, Patrick) how can we accept Jesus’ teaching? Without works, how can we choose to follow him? The Bible lists many things that are required for salvation: we must be baptised (1 Peter 3:21), we must confess our sins (1 John 1:8), we must persevere to the end (Matt 24:13), we must abstain from thievery, greed, drunkenness… (1 Cor 6:10).

    Interesting read, Patrick! I have always found salvation doctrines to be very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks buddy. Glad you like it.

      Fundamentalists shout their ever present claim that they love the Bible and the RCC hates it, but its the Fundamentalists that do not view the scriptures as a whole. A person can’t just go cherry picking through the Bible and choose whatever doctrine best suits them.

      Like

  3. It is utterly amazing at how ignorant non-Catholics can be. The RCC was the only and still is the only True Christian Church in the world. Where were the Protestant churches during the roman Empire? Oh yeah, they were invented 500 years ago. But they have made up an answer to even that question…their bogus story about how Christians either left the Faith during the Empire, or went into hiding, from the Catholics! Its all rubbish. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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