Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #47: “Yoke of Slavery”

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.”

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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”

30 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #47: “Yoke of Slavery”

  1. Paul said that if you add just ONE thing (eg circumcision) to the Gospel, you are obligated to keep the whole Law (Gal 5:3). James said that if you fail in one point of the Law, it’s a fail in all (James 2:10). Romanists have added the 10 commandments (CCC 2068) and many other works, but are deficient law keepers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Re: Mosaic law, not laws in general

    LOL! Mosaic law, ceremonial law, levitical law, whatever mental reservation Romanists use it doesn’t matter.

    In Gal 3:10, Paul quotes Deut 27:26 to show that he means ALL works as commanded in the Torah, INCLUDING the morality stuff.

    Furthermore Broussard’s Pope agrees. Why is Broussard setting himself up as a mini-pope??? 😀

    Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger): And he adds “we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (ibid., v. 28). At this point Luther translated: “justified by faith alone”. I shall return to this point at the end of the Catechesis. First, we must explain what is this “Law” from which we are freed and what are those “works of the Law” that do not justify. The opinion that was to recur systematically in history already existed in the community at Corinth. This opinion consisted in thinking that it was a question of moral law and that the Christian freedom thus consisted in the liberation from ethics. Thus in Corinth the term “πάντα μοι έξεστιν” (I can do what I like) was widespread. It is obvious that this interpretation is wrong: Christian freedom is not libertinism; the liberation of which St Paul spoke is not liberation from good works.

    So what does the Law from which we are liberated and which does not save mean? For St Paul, as for all his contemporaries, the word “Law” meant the Torah in its totality, that is, the five books of Moses. The Torah, in the Pharisaic interpretation, that which Paul had studied and made his own, was a complex set of conduct codes that ranged from the ethical nucleus to observances of rites and worship and that essentially determined the identity of the just person. In particular, these included circumcision, observances concerning pure food and ritual purity in general, the rules regarding the observance of the Sabbath, etc. codes of conduct that also appear frequently in the debates between Jesus and his contemporaries. All of these observances that express a social, cultural and religious identity had become uniquely important in the time of Hellenistic culture, starting from the third century B.C. This culture which had become the universal culture of that time and was a seemingly rational culture; a polytheistic culture, seemingly tolerant constituted a strong pressure for cultural uniformity and thus threatened the identity of Israel, which was politically constrained to enter into this common identity of the Hellenistic culture. This resulted in the loss of its own identity, hence also the loss of the precious heritage of the faith of the Fathers, of the faith in the one God and in the promises of God.

    Against this cultural pressure, which not only threatened the Israelite identity but also the faith in the one God and in his promises, it was necessary to create a wall of distinction, a shield of defence to protect the precious heritage of the faith; this wall consisted precisely in the Judaic observances and prescriptions. Paul, who had learned these observances in their role of defending God’s gift, of the inheritance of faith in one God alone, saw this identity threatened by the freedom of the Christians this is why he persecuted them. At the moment of his encounter with the Risen One he understood that with Christ’s Resurrection the situation had changed radically. With Christ, the God of Israel, the one true God, became the God of all peoples. The wall as he says in his Letter to the Ephesians between Israel and the Gentiles, was no longer necessary: it is Christ who protects us from polytheism and all of its deviations; it is Christ who unites us with and in the one God; it is Christ who guarantees our true identity within the diversity of cultures. The wall is no longer necessary; our common identity within the diversity of cultures is Christ, and it is he who makes us just. Being just simply means being with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Further observances are no longer necessary. For this reason Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love. Faith is looking at Christ, entrusting oneself to Christ, being united to Christ, conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence to believe is to conform to Christ and to enter into his love. So it is that in the Letter to the Galatians in which he primarily developed his teaching on justification St Paul speaks of faith that works through love.

    http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081119.html

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, SB. I appreciate how Benedict does not distinguish the moral law from the ceremonial law as Broussard attempts to do. Benedict XVI of course oversaw a system which absolutely mandates that Catholics must merit their salvation, as Broussard notes and defends. Benedict and others “get around” Galatians and other faith-grace Scripture passages by claiming sacramental grace enables/empowers Catholics to lead righteous lives in order to merit Heaven, thus even merit can be attributed to God’s grace, etc., etc., etc.

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      1. That’s quite a bit! I’m visiting my parents today with my kids and I stayed up really late since people in my church and my old boss was talking to me online with things plus I was trying to finish the book and write a review while listening to things. I”m soo tired lol. Sorry a little later before I get to your post today

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post! Honestly the RC apologist miss the gist of Galatians and it’s theme of laws in relations to Gospel. To only see ethnic Israel laws is to miss the point of places like in Romans 2-3 that all are guilty and all need to have faith apart from the law and works. Good post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, brother! Yup, it’s only because of spiritual blindness that a Roman Catholic apologist like Broussard can camp out at Galatians and NOT see that it indicts the very type of works-righteousness religion that he propagates.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As everyone has said, I am all for rules, they’re good, healthy and necessary. I agree with Jimmy that seeing ethnic Israel in Galatians totally misses the point! Broussard conflated the Jerusalem Council badly. They did not add to anyone’s burdens but acknowledged Jews couldn’t keep the law so why make gentile believers try and do so?! Broussard talks about love at the end and this system is as loveless as any other man made religion. I am so thankful that Jesus fulfills the Law and the more we know Him the more we understand the law, our hearts and our need for Him!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mandy! Yup, both the Jerusalem Council and the Epistle to the Galatians were/are clear indictments of the very works-righteousness religious legalism that Broussard is attempting to defend. It is like 1984/Soviet doublespeak, the practice of zealously claiming to defend some freedom or ideal, while in practice undermining it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. RE: Acts 15 and Galatians 2

        I’ve pondered that question, but never researched it. Your question prompted me to google it. I found the article below and the writer makes a good case that Gal. 2 was written prior:

        “For me, the fact that Paul never mentions the decision of the in the letter to the Galatians is a persuasive argument against a later date for Galatians. One would imagine that if the Judaizers claimed to be from James, Paul simply had to hold up the letter from the council and say, “Look here, the man you claim as your authority disagrees with you, go back to Jerusalem as get a bit more education on the issue of Gentiles!” That he does not is powerful evidence the council has not yet occurred. It seems best to me, at any rate, to see Galatians as Paul’s response to the Judaizers prior to meeting with James and Peter in Jerusalem.”

        https://readingacts.com/2009/10/02/dating-galatians-before-or-after-acts-15/

        What is your opinion on the dating?

        RE: Today

        I’m still working on the leaves – 7 tarps to the curb. We have a large patch of ivy in the backyard where the leaves get entangled and it takes a lot of work to get them out. Corinne’s just doing a few errands including picking up her new prescription glasses. What are you and Nathan up to?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I also think Gal 2 is before the council and the council is a result of this confrontation/rebuking. Wow so many tarps that aren’t your leaves, I’m so sorry!!! My newest maple tree was planted yesterday, I don’t know how to attach a picture to show you! Nathan gets off work in a half an hr and then after dinner I think we will go to the grocery store and get enough stuff so that we won’t have to go until after Thanksgiving!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m a newcomer to the Gal 2-Acts 15 debate, but I’m glad we’re on the same page!

        RE: Leaves
        Thanks! Tomorrow will definitely be the end of the 2020 campaign.

        Happy for you that you planted the maple. Always loved maple trees. Corinne did our T-Day shopping today, too! Chunky or smooth cranberry sauce? My mother made the best stuffing in the world, but I don’t tell Corinne that.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Chunky!!! Same with apple sauce!! How about you?! According to Nathan I’m a Thanksgiving heretic because I like gravy!! Honestly, who hates gravy?! I had an Autumn Blaze Maple planted. It’s 14 ft on an incline which I’m hoping as a rapid grower will cover my neighbors basement area. I’ll email ya some pics from yesterday of my new tree, it was a nice sunset!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yup, gotta have chunky cranberry and apple sauces!
        And gotta have turkey gravy on the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. Looking forward to seeing the photos of the tree!

        Liked by 1 person

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