Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. This week, the Catholic apologist continues his final section of the book, “Catholic Life and Practice,” with a chapter in which he attempts to defend the Roman church against Protestant charges that it imposes a “Yoke of Slavery.”
Roman Catholicism is widely known for its numerous rules and regulations. In addition to the Ten Commandments, the RCC has 1752 canon laws, 2865 numbered paragraphs in its catechism, and thick manuals (called missals) detailing the complex rubrics for its numerous liturgies. By receiving the sacraments and obeying all of their church’s rules, Catholics hope to be able to merit salvation at the moment of their death.
In contrast, evangelicals point to the simple but sublime Good News Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. In comparing the Gospel of grace to Catholic works-righteousness and legalism, Gospel Christians often cite Galatians 5:1:
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Broussard responds with four arguments:
(1) Broussard posits that the “yoke of slavery” Paul is specifically referring to in this verse is the Mosaic Law, not laws in general. The Catholic apologist cites passages before the text (Galatians 4:28-31) and after the text (Galatians 5:2-6) to establish the context of Paul’s statement. The Roman church, argues Broussard, does not prescribe the 603 commandments of the Mosaic Law, involving such things as circumcision, animal sacrifice, and ceremonial cleansing, and is therefore not included in Paul’s “yoke of slavery.”
(2) Broussard argues that nations, communities, and families all need rules in order to function effectively. He mentions that Protestant churches also have a number of rules and procedures to maintain order.
(3) Broussard then cites seventeen New Testament passages to prove “rules were a part of the Christian life in the early church” (p. 258), e.g., pertaining to baptism (Matthew 28:19), the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19), righteousness (Matthew 5:20), etc., etc., etc.
(4) Broussard then presents his closing argument: (A) Since Protestants must concur that rules are necessary for secular and spiritual life, and (B) since the rules of the RC church are not relatively burdensome (Broussard compares the 500 pages of Catholicism’s Code of Canon Law with the 45,000 pages of United States Code), therefore (C) Catholicism’s rules and laws are not a “yoke of slavery.”
Let’s now respond to Broussard.
We’ve already thoroughly covered the topic of works-righteousness vs. justification by faith in Christ alone in the “Salvation” section of this series (chapters 12-17), so it’s strange that Broussard returns to the topic again in this “Yoke of Slavery” chapter. Perhaps he was determined to accumulate fifty chapters. Nevertheless, we will proceed.
(1) In the Book of Galatians, Paul warns the members of that church not to heed the “Judaizers” faction, who insisted that circumcision and other elements of the Mosaic Law were requirements for salvation. While Paul was specifically addressing the Mosaic Law in this case, he also made it clear that any and every “gospel” that substituted works-righteousness for faith in Jesus Christ alone was to be rejected.
“We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16
“As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:9
(2)(3)(4) Evangelical Protestants certainly recognize that rules, regulations, procedures, and laws are required for nations, communities, and families to operate and function effectively. We also recognize that God gave commands regarding morality and the church. The point is that neither the Mosaic Law or any church laws can be used as a means to justification before God and for salvation. This was the crux, the critical issue of the Reformation. Roman Catholicism teaches a person must avail themselves of sacramental grace in order to be able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church laws in order to hopefully merit salvation at the moment of their death. Gospel Christianity teaches that we are all sinners who continuously break God’s laws and are saved ONLY by turning from our rebellion against God (repentance) and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and receiving His imputed perfect righteousness. After we are born-again in Jesus Christ, we then follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly.
The entire Book of Galatians is an indictment of Roman Catholicism and all aberrant forms of (c)hristianity that add works and law obedience, a “yoke of slavery,” as a requirement for salvation.
Next up: “Vain Repetitions”