Rebutting a Catholic apologist, #7: “Traditions Nullify God’s Word”

Today, we continue our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. The Catholic apologist begins a new, five-part section on Scripture and Tradition with a chapter countering Protestants’ arguments against Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” by which Protestants state, “Traditions Nullify God’s Word.”

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Roman Catholicism contends that many unwritten teachings were passed down orally from Jesus and the apostles and comprise the church’s extra-Biblical, “Sacred Tradition.” The Roman church claims that the teachings that comprise its “Sacred Tradition” are as divinely authoritative as Scripture. The early Reformers broke from Rome and proclaimed the truth of Sola Scriptura, that Scripture alone is authoritative. As Broussard points out, Protestants cite Mark 7:8-13 in which Jesus condemned the Pharisees’ elevation of their traditions over Scripture as an argument against Rome’s “Sacred Traditions”:

“‘You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.’”

Broussard counters that the passage condemns only traditions that contradict Scripture, a principle he alleges the RCC agrees with. The Catholic apologist then presents three Bible verses that he contends affirm Catholic “Sacred Tradition”: 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, and 1 Corinthians 11:2. In these verses, the apostle Paul is simply exhorting the believers at Thessalonica and Corinth to follow his paradoseis/paradosin (Greek) teachings/teaching. He is not referring to tradition/teaching as some vaunted gnostic repository in the Roman Catholic sense.

Scripture makes exclusive claims for itself that it is the sole authority for matters of faith and practice (see the article far below). Protestants certainly have their own traditions (e.g. the format of Sunday worship service), but these must be subordinate to Scripture.

Again, the RCC claims that its “Sacred Tradition” is comprised of those teachings that were communicated by Jesus and the apostles orally and have been passed down. However, if you walk into a Roman Catholic bookstore, you won’t find a compendium titled “Sacred Traditions of the Catholic Church.” Why not? One would think that after two-thousand years, someone would have collected all of these alleged oral traditions that were passed down from one generation of clerics to the next. The myth of “Sacred Tradition” is actually Roman Catholicism’s “wild card.” This device has allowed the RCC to contrive a myriad of extra-Biblical doctrines and then appeal to the “Sacred Tradition” wild card for their legitimacy. Within this framework have been hatched such extra and anti-Biblical teachings as the immaculate conception of Mary, papal infallibility, the assumption of Mary, praying to “saints,” the confessional, abstention from meat, interfaith initiatives, etc.

Untethered from sacred Scripture as the sole authority for faith and practice, the Roman Catholic church has elevated its traditions above Scripture to a degree even greater than that of the Pharisees in Mark 7:8-13. Rather than being the source and guardian of Scripture, as the Roman church claims to be, the RCC subordinates Scripture to its man-made doctrines.

For more on Catholicism’s “Sacred Tradition,” see the article below.

Should Catholic tradition have equal or greater authority than the Bible?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Catholic-tradition.html

Next up: “Scripture Makes the Man of God Complete”

Throwback Thursday: Why would someone leave Catholicism’s “well-balanced meal” for evangelical “junk food”?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 21, 2015 and has been revised.

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In the article far below, Catholic columnist, Patti Maguire Armstrong (photo above), sadly ponders why a friend and her family have left the “one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” for an evangelical church. She bemoans that her friend chose the “feel-good” vibrancy of the evangelical fellowship over the Catholic liturgy with it’s “Real Presence.” She concludes that her friend has chosen evangelical “cotton candy” over Catholicism’s “well-balanced meal.”

The “cotton candy” metaphor is used frequently by conservative Catholic proselytizers and apologists to denigrate evangelicalism and the Gospel of grace. It’s a shame that mealy-mouthed, ecumenical-leaning, evangelical pastors and apologists don’t boldly stand up for the Gospel of grace the way Catholic apologists stand up for their false gospel of merit.

American Catholics like Ms. Armstrong obviously struggle to comprehend why members are leaving their church in droves. Three million Catholics left their church from 2007 to 2015 (and it’s certain millions more left the RCC since this post was originally written due to the 2018-2019-2020 priest abuse scandal tsunami – Tom) and more than a few joined evangelical churches. Why?

Let me tell you why I left Catholicism and it wasn’t because I was seeking a “warm-fuzzy” fellowship experience. It was ALL about Jesus and NOT about membership in a religious institution.

Like a great number of Catholic teenagers, I walked away from the church because I thought religion wasn’t “cool.” Obligatory Sunday mass, with its repetitive, liturgical ritualism was the dreariest hour of the week. I returned to the church after I became a father and felt obligated to raise my children in the Catholic faith. For some Godly reason (😊 🙏🏻) , I also purchased a Catholic Bible and began reading it voraciously. Catholics aren’t generally encouraged to read the Bible and I soon found out why. What I was learning from Scripture contrasted with the Catholic religion so I stopped attending mass. The Lord continued to use His Word and several Christian individuals and resources to bring me to a point where I understood His Gospel:

  • We are all sinners.
  • Sinners deserve hell.
  • God loves us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins.
  • Jesus rose from the grave, conquering sin and death.
  • The Lord offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him to all those who repent (turn from their rebellion against God) and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

I hesitated and hesitated, but I FINALLY prayed to Jesus and asked Him to save me and be my Lord. All of my sins – past, present, and future – have been paid for by my Savior. I could NEVER be “good enough” to merit salvation as the Catholic church teaches. My Savior imputed to me His perfect righteousness. I have no plea of my own. My Lord isn’t a consecrated bread wafer sitting upon a Catholic altar. He indwells me. He guides me. He corrects me. He is my Shepherd. He is my Friend. He is my Rock. In her article, Armstrong appeals to Catholicism’s long history (in reality, not flattering) and catalog of specious traditions. I appeal to the simple Gospel of the early church as found in the New Testament.

I’m sure there are some who left Catholicism for a superficial warm and welcoming “fellowship” as Armstrong speculates. But many of us ex-Catholics left the legalism, ritualism, and religious formalism of Catholicism for the GOOD NEWS of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. I hope that was the case for Ms. Armstrong’s friend who apparently wasn’t able to clearly articulate the Gospel according to this account. Or maybe Armstrong’s friend was afraid to present the Gospel. Or maybe Armstrong wasn’t listening.

Ms. Armstrong continues to toil away, attempting to earn her salvation like all “good” Catholics. She feels sorry for her friend, however she is the one who needs the Savior.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

“Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16

Postscript: I’m always puzzled by conservative Catholics like Armstrong who contend so earnestly for their works religion even though their own pope and prelates grant that Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and even atheists are also able to merit their salvation. To call Catholicism’s false gospel spiritual “junk food” would be too complimentary, it’s actually spiritually deadly poison.

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Ex-Catholics Seek Happiness Without the Holy Eucharist
By Patti Maguire Armstrong
National Catholic Register
11/20/15
http://www.ncregister.com/blog/armstrong/ex-catholics-seek-happiness-without-the-holy-eucharist

Navigating the job market and being let down by “friends” and colleagues

I was an employee of Eastman Kodak and Kodak Alaris for a combined 43 years. Once an industrial giant, Kodak was battered by foreign competition and the switch to digital technology and has been in a downward spiral for the past 35 years. I was hoping for three more years with the company to reach Medicare eligibility and full Social Security, but was laid off at the end of September. Ouch.

To say I was unprepared for the layoff would be an understatement. I did not have a resume prepared (despite being fully aware of my company’s ongoing decline) and I knew nothing about how one goes about searching for a job in the digital age. As part of the separation package, Kodak Alaris provided three months of assistance from a “career transition” training firm, which was VERY helpful. I’ve learned all of the ins-and-outs of job search including crafting a resume, interviewing skills, and networking. Networking? Yup, statistics show that the majority of job seekers find new employment via contacts and word-of-mouth.

One of the must-have requirements of a job search these days is having a profile at LinkedIn. Recruiters routinely check a job candidate’s LinkedIn profile so it had better be appealing. I did not have a LinkedIn profile prior to being laid off, so it was all Greek to me. The career transition company helped me put a profile together. Whew!

It’s important that a job seeker has a lot of “connections” on their LinkedIn account. That gives the impression to recruiters that the candidate is well-connected, well-liked, a team player, yada yada. There’s also the possibility that a connection can help point a job seeker to an employment opportunity. So I began inviting my former co-workers at Kodak Alaris and Kodak to “connect” with me. Some did connect, but half didn’t. I could see that some of my invitees had even gone to the trouble of viewing my profile (LinkedIn enables members to do that), but still declined to connect. Why not? They knew I was in need of a little help that would have taken very little effort – a click of the mouse – on their part and yet they declined to do so. Yes, I’m aware that some LinkedIn members rarely interact with their account, so that explains some of the non-responses, but others purposely declined to accept the invitation. Ouch.

However, there are several ways to skin a cat. I’ve sent out close to 1000 invitations – mostly to strangers – and 372 have accepted to date and become part of my “network.” Thank you, kind strangers!

I’m inclined to hold a grudge against those old friends and colleagues who wouldn’t help out even in a very tiny way. But then I think about all the times I have deliberately disappointed people. Perhaps some of the non-respondees felt that I had wronged them in some way when I was working with them. I also think about how many times I have disobeyed God – in thought, word, deed, and by omission – so far just this week. Quite a few times and it’s only Wednesday!

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14

Better that I should set an example of love and forgiveness than bitterness and feeling offended. Jesus Christ calls us to be that way.

A little advice to EVERYONE who is working: You could be hit by a layoff/downsizing/restructuring/takeover at any time. Prepare now. Buy a good book about “career transition” (there are many), follow the steps and regularly work at it. I wish I had. Build your network – at LinkedIn and elsewhere – now. Be systematic about it. And if someone invites you to join their connections network, be kind, even if they’re not on your “favorite people” list. It won’t cost you anything except a click of your mouse.

Postscript 1: I began applying to job postings in December, admittedly not a good time of year for doing that, and I’ve applied to 33 job postings to date. Now that we’re in the new year, I’m starting to get some serious nibbles from employers. Objectively, my age (63) is a serious disadvantage. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for my job search!

Postscript 2: Many people tend to think of LinkedIn as just another social media outlet where they can connect with their friends. My career transition coach told us to think of LinkedIn rather as a mammoth Rolodex (remember those?), a resource for growing networking opportunities that should not be limited just to friends and personal acquaintances.

Postscript 3: I realize the majority of people under age 50 don’t need to be schooled about LinkedIn.

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #14

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas.

First, we have have Pastor Roger Copeland at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching on Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus. Joseph is an example of obedience and faithfulness to the Lord despite some VERY difficult and trying circumstances. We’re purposely a few weeks behind Northern Hill’s sermon uploads to YouTube, so this and the next couple of sermons will have a belated Christmas theme.

Next, Pastor Cody Andrews at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaches about trusting in the Lord in ALL circumstances: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6.

Pastor Roger Copeland – Characters of Christmas: Joseph

 

Pastor Cody Andrews – In All Your Ways

Pope Tells “Christians” to NEVER Try to Convert Unbelievers

The Roman Catholic church has always taught, contrary to the Bible, that salvation is attained via sacramental grace and merit. Back in time, the Catholic clergy taught that only baptized Catholics could possibly merit Heaven, but in the modern era, that stance has softened, and the RCC now grants that all “good” and sincere religionists – Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. – can also possibly merit Heaven. Pope Francis has said on several occasions that even “moral” atheists can merit Heaven.

Last month, Francis met with a group of Italian high school students and advised the (c)hristians among them to NOT to try to convert* those of other faiths. Below are some quotes from Francis’ remarks:

  • [Speaking of having Jewish and Muslim friends]: “We are all the same, all children of God.”
  • “It didn’t occur to me, and it doesn’t have to be like, saying to a boy or a girl: ‘You are Jewish, you are Muslim: come, be converted!'”
  • “We are not in the times of the crusades.”
  • “In front of an unbeliever the last thing I have to do is try to convince him. Never.”
  • “But listen: Never, never bring the gospel by proselytizing.”
  • “If someone says they are a disciple of Jesus and comes to you with proselytism, they are not a disciple of Jesus.”
  • “The Church does not grow by proselytism.”

None of the above is surprising in light of Catholicism’s wide-is-the-way teaching that EVERYONE is a child of God. Contrary to what the pope claims, God’s Word declares that only those who trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and are born again spiritually in Christ become God’s children:

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” – John 1:12

Should we believe the pope or God’s Word?

Let’s see what evangelist, Ray Comfort, has to say about the pope’s un-Biblicalness in the 15-minute video below:

For more information, see the news article here.

*Please, no angry letters. I readily agree that it’s the Holy Spirit Who converts, not Christians, who merely sow the Gospel seed. I’m only conveying the pope’s words.

“Messiah” on Netflix: Use discernment ⚠️

Messiah – Season One
Produced by Michael Petroni, Mark Burnett, and Roma Downey
Featuring Mehdi Dehbi, Michelle Monaghan, Tomer Sisley, and John Ortiz
Netflix, 2020, Ten episodes

3 Stars

A fellow-blogger recently re-blogged a cautionary post about a new Netflix series called, “Messiah.” Curious, I did a little digging and discovered the new series is about the rise of the end-times messiah, er, or is it the end-times anti-Christ? I’m not big into eschatology, but decided I would give this new series a spin. My wife and I watched the ten episodes of the series in successive evenings, an anomaly when it comes to me and television. The summary below by necessity leaves out a lot of details.

Plot (spoiler alert)

A young man (Dehbi) miraculously brings peace to war-torn Syria and then treks to Israel with his growing group of followers. On the steps leading to Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the enigmatic al-Masih (“the Messiah”) announces he is going to usher in an era of peace into the world. The CIA becomes concerned about this religious rabble rouser and a top agent, Eva Geller (Monaghan), begins to investigate. Al-Masih next shows up in Texas, seemingly saving a church from a tornado. The pastor (Ortiz) is convinced the reticent al-Masih is the second coming of Jesus. Seekers from across the nation flock to Texas to get a glimpse of the messiah. Pastor Felix leads al-Masih and a caravan of credulous followers to Washington D.C.. Al-Masih subsequently shocks the city and the nation when he seemingly walks on top of the water of the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Monument. The President of the U.S. consults with al-Masih who advises him to withdraw all military personnel throughout the world as part of the new era of peace. CIA agent, Geller, isn’t buying al-Masih’s schtick. She discovers he is actually an Iranian named Payam Golshiri, whose dossier includes an apprenticeship as a magician, studying in college under an anarchist professor, and being treated at a psychiatric facility for a “messiah complex.”

Just when al-Masih is to appear on national television, he is abducted by a Shin Bet (Israeli internal intelligence) agent (Sisley). Simultaneously, a White House official who fears the President is falling under al-Masih’s spell leaks the CIA’s classified dossier on Payam Golshiri to the media. Feeling he’s been duped, the disillusioned pastor Felix returns to Texas and burns down his church. The plane bringing al-Masih to Jerusalem crashes, but the enigmatic young man “miraculously” survives. Viewers are left to wonder whether al-Masih is the genuine Messiah, the anti-Christ, or a self-deluded megalomaniac. The cliff-hanging ending is served up as incentive to watch a (possible) second season.

Comments

Christians who know their Bibles will know right away that the al-Masih character has no connection with the Scripture prophecies regarding the second coming of Jesus Christ:

“For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” – Matthew 24:27

We know that the Bible foretells the coming of the anti-Christ at the end times, but many do not know that Islam also teaches the coming of al-Masih ad-Dajjal, a false messiah who will eventually be defeated by Jesus Christ. This series seems to incorporate elements from both the Bible and Quran regarding the anti-Christ.

There was some initial concern among both Christians and Muslims as to the identity of the mysterious al-Masih character. The show’s producers and Netfilx were banking on the uncertainty to generate interest. Some Muslims jumped the gun and mounted a petition calling for subscribers to boycott Netflix for its provocative “anti-Islamic propaganda.” After watching the series, it’s clear the show’s creators don’t intend for the al-Masih character to be Jesus Christ returned because it’s revealed that he’s actually Iranian Payam Golshiri with an unflattering past. So the question is whether he’s the anti-Christ or a mentally-unbalanced imposter. The show is interesting because it does demonstrate how the anti-Christ could possibly rise up and gain the allegiance of people worldwide, including both nominal (c)hristians and Muslims.

I don’t think Gospel Christians need to be overly alarmed by this series, but we should be discerning. One of the producers, Roma Downey, is a Roman Catholic New-Ager who, with her husband, Mark Burnett, has given us such Biblically-challenged television series as “Touched by an Angel,” “The Bible,” and “A.D.” We definitely shouldn’t be getting our theology from Downey and must remain ever-cautious and discerning, but we can view this series strictly as entertainment material and, yes, even use it as an opportunity to evangelize. Our unbelieving oldest son who lives here in town would not be caught dead reading the Bible, but he’s expressed interest in watching “Messiah.” We’ve already had a few discussions with him about the series and the coming anti-Christ.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 1/11/20

Welcome, my friends, to this week’s news roundup!

The announcement that the United Methodist Church is going to split over the LGBT affirmation question made national news this past week. The UMC drifted into Bible-denying modernism long ago. All of the old mainline Protestant denominations have pretty much succumb to the “inclusivity” ideology and it’s seeping into nominal evangelical churches as well.

Courting Islam is one of pope Francis’ highest priorities. Last year, he signed the “On Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” accord with Grand Imam, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, which states that “pluralism and the diversity of religions…are willed by God in His wisdom.”

The German bishops are among the most progressive in the Catholic church. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the establishment of joint Catholic-Lutheran parishes in Germany within the next decade.

The local Rochester Catholic diocese filed for bankruptcy back in September in reaction to the large number of legal claims after the passage of the 2019 NYS Child Victims Act. Twenty U.S. dioceses have filed bankruptcy to date and many more are considering the option in order to “protect their assets” from the victims of priests and the prelates who enabled them.

I’m not a big fiction reader, but this novel about abuse in the Catholic church caught my attention and I placed a hold at our local library. It’s interesting that this review appears in the (progressive) Jesuit’s national magazine. You won’t find a review of this book at EWTN.

Roman Catholics in various parts of the world go bonkers over their local icons. Some of the participants in these “celebrations” are “whipped into a frenzy” of religious hysteria. All of this is blatant fetishism.

Francis Chan was once viewed as a solidly trained (Master’s Seminary) evangelical pastor who also had a bit of an edge. Over time, Chan’s hipster edginess has overwhelmed his orthodoxy and he now cavorts with NAR charlatans and has recently made some ill-informed and ecumenically-friendly statements about Roman Catholicism and transubstantiation. Run don’t walk from Chan and his heterodoxy.

The removal of U.S. cardinal, Ted McCarrick, in June 2018 due to sexual abuse was the beginning of the scandal tsunami that has racked Catholicism ever since. McCarrick had previously “greased the palms” of popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI and several other prelates with some very hefty “gifts.” Was the money an attempt to discourage inquiries into his “indiscretions”? More to follow on this smoking gun.

Leave it to the Babylon Bee to take society’s preposterousness to its illogical extreme.

Rebutting a Catholic apologist, #6: “The Anointing Teaches Us”

Today, we continue our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this chapter, the Catholic apologist completes his six-part section on church hierarchy and authority by countering Protestants’ assertions that they have no need for the Catholic church’s Magisterium to guide them because “The Anointing Teaches Us.”

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Catholics claim that their “Magisterium,” the teaching office of their church comprised of the pope and his 5839 bishops, is divinely authorized and divinely guided. Catholic apologist, Broussard, claims that some Protestants cite 1 John 2:27 as a Scriptural confutation of the Magisterium:

“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.”

Broussard then presents several other Bible passages to prove that Jesus and the apostles, including John, certainly intended for teachers to guide the church doctrinally. He suggests that in the context of the entire passage of 1 John 2:18-27, John is using hyperbole in verse 27 to warn against heeding false teachers.

Broussard is once again presenting a straw man logical fallacy by implying Protestants reject any and all teaching authority within the church. Evangelical Protestants are fully aware of such Scripture passages as the following:

“And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers…” – 1 Corinthians 12:28

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:11-12

The Holy Spirit calls individual men to lead and teach in the local church, using God’s Word, the Bible, as their sole authority.

Catholics claim that their allegedly divinely-guided Magisterium is absolutely necessary to preserve and protect doctrinal truth, but history, past and recent, reveals the absolute and undeniable fallaciousness of that claim:

  • Throughout the centuries, Catholic popes, in league with their bishops, regularly introduced “Sacred Traditions” into church teachings; traditions which supplanted Biblical truths. Instead of preserving and defending God’s Word, the Magisterium nullified God’s Word. “You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things” – Mark 7:13.
  • Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all apologized for the policies and practices of previous popes and prelates including such things as the Inquisition, the Crusades, systematic anti-Semitism, forced baptisms, persecution of Protestants, etc. If it’s claimed that the Magisterium guides the church by divine inspiration, then why do the modern popes have to apologize for the edicts of popes and prelates of previous centuries?
  • Pope Francis is a pragmatic progressive who has introduced several doctrine-bending reforms since being elected in 2013. Many conservative Catholic leaders have advised their followers to ignore Francis’ novelties while the most audacious among them publicly proclaim the pope to be a heretic. Broussard dishonestly omits any mention of the current crisis within Catholicism regarding the controversial papacy of Francis in this chapter or the previous five concerning authority. It’s blatantly unscrupulous for Broussard to parade an idealized Magisterium before the reader when he is fully aware that Francis has thrown the church into a state of doctrinal “confusion” as conservative Catholics accuse him of doing.

Catholics look with askance at the patchwork quilt of evangelical Protestantism. They ask, how can truth be preserved and defended in such an uncentralized mishmash? Yet, it is precisely in and through the spiritual network of evangelical Protestant local churches, with all of their faults and problems, that the Holy Spirit has done His salvific, Gospel-spreading work, as those churches seek to follow God’s Word as their sole authority.

Next up: Traditions Nullify God’s Word

Throwback Thursday: “And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven.”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on August 24th, 2015 and has been revised.

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Members of a legalistic, works-righteous religious system like Catholicism can never truly rejoice about their spiritual state. It’s a never-ending treadmill; do good works, sin, confess, do good works, sin, confess, etc., etc., right up to the day they die. Catholics hope they can time it right by dying immediately after confession when their slate will supposedly be clean.

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ Who takes away ALL of the sin of those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

Catholics differentiate between “venial” and “mortal” sin although they would be hard pressed to tell you where one ends and the other begins. Catholics are taught that when they confess their mortal sins to a priest the eternal punishment is removed, but even after saying the prescribed rote penitential prayers some of the “temporal” punishment remains. Catholics are told they can reduce the temporal punishment they’ve accumulated through good works in this life. But whatever temporal punishment remains at the time of death will be meted out in “purgatory” (as long as there was no “mortal” sin on the soul). Somebody call a canon lawyer!

Catholics are taught they can erase big chunks of temporal punishment by doing good works, doing penance, and receiving indulgences. The Catholic system says its members can take years off or even completely wipe away all temporal punishment accumulated up to that point by receiving prescribed indulgences. Where’s that canon lawyer!!! Catholicism has more rules than Carter has pills. Believe me when I tell you that 95% of Catholics would be clueless if you asked them what “temporal punishment” was.

But let’s take a look at one particular indulgence. There is a Catholic myth/tradition that “saint” Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, removed the 28 marble steps, the “Scala Sancta” (Holy Stairs), leading to Pontius Pilates’ praetorium in Jerusalem and had them brought to Rome where they were reassembled proximate to the Lateran Palace. Jesus supposedly descended these steps after being judged by Pilate and there are 4 places on the stairs, encased in gold-framed glass, where drops of Jesus’ blood allegedly fell. Take note that Helena is said to have transported these steps to Rome 300+ years after the death of Christ.

In 1908, pope Pius X granted a “plenary” (full) indulgence to all who ascended the stairs on their knees after confession and communion. A plenary indulgence allegedly removes all temporal punishment that would otherwise have to be expiated in purgatory. Indulgences were a HUGE money-making machine for the church for centuries. The church claims that it never “officially” sold indulgences, although church clerics such as the infamous Johann Tetzel certainly did. Pilgrims continue to flock to Rome to climb these 28 steps on their knees.

Incidentally, biographers state that it was while ascending these steps on his knees in 1511 that a particular Bible verse flashed through Martin Luther’s mind: “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). Praise God!

Watch poor, deluded Catholics climbing the Scala Sancta on their knees in the 1-minute video below:

 

The Two Popes: A ham-fisted plug for pope Francis

The Two Popes
Directed by Fernando Meirelles, screenplay by Anthony McCarten, and featuring Anthony Hopkins as pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce as pope Francis
Netflix, 2019, 125 minutes.

2 Stars

Back in February 2019, I reviewed an interesting book, “The Pope,” by Anthony McCarten, that contrasted the doctrinally conservative, pope Benedict XVI, with his successor, the progressive reformer, pope Francis. See me review here.

Netflix produced a film based on the book and released it for streaming this past December 20th. Just as in the book, the sharp contrast between the conservative Benedict and the progressive Francis is the theme of the film. Benedict is portrayed as hopelessly out of touch with the world with his rigid clericalism and doctrinalism. Francis, in contrast, is presented as a breath of fresh air who is willing, make that eager, to eschew clerical privilege and bend/circumvent doctrine in order to reach people with the progressive version of the Catholic works-righteousness “gospel.”

This film is a biased representation of the current battle within the Catholic church between conservatives and the Francis-led progressives, with Francis the clear favorite. Pro-Francis screenwriter, McCarten, “swings for the fences” at the end of the film with Benedict XVI/Hopkins admitting the error of his rigid ideology and fully embracing Francis’ reforms. The two characters seal the deal over Fanta and pizza, watching a soccer game, and dancing the tango together (VERY creepy in light of the current clerical abuse and homosexuality scandals in the RCC). What a “hammy” ending and it’s all pure fiction.

People love Francis for being so “down to earth,” but neither in conservative Catholicism’s rigid doctrinalism or in Francis’ doctrine-bending “pastoralism” can be found the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

While “The Two Popes” is garnering a lot of accolades at the various Hollywood awards shows, I would recommend this pro-Francis puff piece only to serious evangelical Vatican-watchers. Everyone else should use the two hours for something more productive.