Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #40: “Today You Will Be with Me”

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. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist begins a new section on “The Last Things” as he attempts to counter Protestants’ objections to Purgatory as they cite Jesus’s words to the thief on the cross, “Today You Will Be with Me.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that all those who die with unconfessed “mortal” (major/deadly) sin on their soul are consigned to Hell, but those with “venial” (minor/pardonable) sin or any remaining “temporal punishment” for sin are delivered to Purgatory for purification before they can advance to Heaven.

“The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.” – CCC 1031

Broussard notes that Protestants often refer to Luke 23:43 in their objections to Purgatory, in which Jesus spoke to the repentant thief next to Him on Calvary:

“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

Protestants insist that Jesus’s promise of Heaven to the repentant and born-again thief on the cross precludes the existence of an intermediate state of purification called Purgatory.

Broussard responds with four arguments:

(1) Broussard argues that the “paradise” Jesus refers to in Luke 22:43 may not necessarily refer to Heaven. Some theologians believe the “paradise” in this verse refers to a place (Sheol/Hades) where the Old Testament saints were consigned until Jesus’s atonement and/or ascension.

(2) Broussard then contends that God is not restrained by chronological time and that the thief could have theoretically been purified in Purgatory and entered into Heaven the very same day.

(3) Broussard continues by suggesting that since there were no punctuations in the original Greek text of the New Testament, Jesus could have possibly been saying, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise,” which would have then allowed for a lengthy purification in Purgatory.

(4) In his final argument, Broussard states that Catholicism teaches that not all souls require purification in Purgatory. RC theologians have historically claimed that the “good thief” made an “act of perfect contrition” while on the cross, i.e., he was sincerely sorry for sins simply out of love for God, by which God forgave all of his sins and restored “sanctifying grace” to his soul, enabling him to enter Heaven.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Broussard does his best to try to convince us the “good thief” may have gone to Purgatory when he died, only to concede at the very end that the RCC has historically taught the thief went directly to Heaven just as Jesus had told him he would.

It would be impossible to fully address Catholicism’s false doctrine of Purgatory in the remaining space allotted, but there are a few significant points I want to mention:

  • Catholicism errs by dividing sins into mortal/major and venial/minor. Sin is sin. Catholicism differentiates sins and created an intermediate state of purgation for minor sins as a “safety net” in its works-righteousness salvation system. The Roman church concedes few individuals are able to achieve the alleged “holiness” of a Mother Teresa or a pope John Paul II and that the best most practicing Catholics can hope for is Purgatory. In actuality, Mother Teresa and John Paul II were not holy and misled millions of souls with Catholicism’s false works-righteousness gospel.
  • Catholicism bases its doctrine of Purgatory on the apocryphal 2 Maccabees 12:39-45 and several Bible passages such as 1 Corinthians 3:15, which actually refers to the Judgement Seat of Christ/Bema Seat for the saved, where their works will be judged. In its misinterpretation of Scripture, Catholicism doesn’t distinguish between the Judgement Seat of Christ/Bema Seat for the saved and the Great White Throne Judgement for the unsaved.
  • Catholicism used to teach that the length of time spent in Purgatory was chronological and that receiving various indulgences could reduce purification time by specified days and years. The Roman church once even sold indulgences, which sparked the Protestant Reformation in 1517.
  • Catholicism once taught that the suffering in Purgatory was equal to the suffering in Hell (see here), although that view has fallen out of favor with modern Catholic theologians, who consider Purgatory to be something akin to a spiritual “rest stop.”

Purgatory, a spurious doctrine, is an integral piece of Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation via sacramental grace and merit.

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?
https://www.gotquestions.org/purgatory.html

Next up: “At Home with the Lord”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #39: “We Are the Saints”

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. With this installment, the Catholic apologist completes his five-chapter section on “The Saints” as he attempts to counter Protestants’ assertion that “We Are the Saints.”

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The Roman Catholic church almost exclusively uses the term, “saint,” in association with those whom it officially canonizes. Canonized saints are recognized as being in Heaven and worthy of “veneration” and qualified to be intercessory mediators.

“Showing devotion and respect to Mary, the Apostles, and the martyrs, who were viewed as faithful witnesses to faith in Jesus Christ. Later, veneration was given to those who led a life of prayer and self-denial in giving witness to Christ, whose virtues were recognized and publicly proclaimed in their canonization as saints.” – from “Veneration” in the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

In counterpoint, evangelical Protestants cite such passages as Colossians 1:2 to show that all genuine believers are saints:

“To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”

In this verse, Paul addresses all of the born-again believers in Colossae as saints. Broussard attempts to counter Protestant objections with three arguments:

(1) Broussard begins by informing us that the Greek word used in the Septuagint and the New Testament for “saint,” hagios, means “sanctified,” “set apart,” or “holy.” He presents multiple examples from the Bible to show the word is used to signify believers, angels, and even God. Broussard concludes, “(since) there is no single biblical use of the term hagios, (that) gives Catholics some freedom to decide how they want to use the term” (p.211).

(2) Broussard then states that the Roman church readily concedes that it’s technically appropriate to categorize “all baptized Christians” as saints (CCC 1475, 948), “but it in a narrower and more formal way, the Catholic church also uses the word to refer to those individual Christians who are perfected in the heavenly kingdom” (p. 212).

(3) Broussard concludes by arguing that “it’s reasonable for the Church to use the term saint as a title of honor for those Christians in heaven because of their perfected state” (p. 212).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

 (1) It’s certainly true that the Bible uses hagios to refer to believers, angels, and God. Because of the variance in application, Broussard claims Catholicism has the “freedom” to apply the term as it sees fit. Does that rationalization hold water? Let’s continue.

(2) After having attempted to establish Catholicism’s prerogative to use hagios according to its own whims, while still conceding that the term can theoretically be used to refer to all “baptized saints,” Broussard acknowledges that the Roman church almost exclusively uses the term to refer to those it has canonized.

(3) Broussard concludes, once again, with Catholicism’s “reasonable/fitting” argument, i.e., (A) If a certain extra-Biblical theological hypothesis is reasonable and fitting (according to Catholic arguments), then (B) it is true. Hence, Roman Catholicism’s designation of super-Catholics as “saints” is deemed appropriate because the RCC says it is.

The Roman Catholic church teaches it has the God-given ability to discern if certain individuals are in Heaven and are worthy to be venerated as intercessors by the faithful. It claims to be able to make that determination via its scrupulous canonization process.* It alleges its saints obtained a place in Heaven due to sacramental grace (baptism, eucharist, confession, confirmation, last rites, marriage, ordination) and their abundant meritorious works and piety.

There is a fundamental and irreconcilable difference between the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone and Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Gospel Christians take the Biblical view, that the saints are all those who have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. The RCC’s usage of “saint,” as referring to a “Super Catholic,” aligns with and perpetuates that church’s false notion of works-righteousness salvation.

Postscript: No one is really sure how many individuals have been canonized by the Catholic church. However, the RCC states the first saint to be formally canonized was Ulrich of Augsburg in 993 AD by pope John XV. Why were no saints canonized prior to 993? Like most Catholic “sacred traditions,” this saint business evolved over time. There is no mention of canonization or praying to saints in the New Testament. Popular culture parrots the Catholic notion of “sainthood” and even believers get caught up in this error: “Sally helped me out so much. She is an absolute saint.”

What are Christian saints according to the Bible?
https://www.gotquestions.org/saints-Christian.html

*The canonization process usually takes decades, if not centuries, of dogged persistence on the part of the devotees of a particular candidate. However, the RCC has shamelessly “fast tracked” famous and socially relevant personages (e.g., pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and recently, token African-American Catholics) in order to exploit their popular appeal.

Next up: “Today You Will Be with Me”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #38: “God Alone Knows Our Hearts”

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. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “The Saints” as he attempts to counter Protestants’ objections that “God Alone Knows Our Hearts”

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In examining Broussard’s three previous chapters on this topic, I pointed out that Catholicism teaches that its saints have deific abilities to receive and comprehend prayers. In counterpoint, evangelical Protestants often cite 2 Chronicles 6:30 to show that God alone knows the hearts of men and women:

“Then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind.”

Broussard responds to this objection with two arguments:

(1) Firstly, Broussard posits that an all-powerful God is certainly able to grant limited omniscience to the saints. He appeals to Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologiae:

“God alone of himself knows the thoughts of the heart: yet others know them, insofar as these are revealed to them, either by their vision of the Word [Second Person of the Trinity] or by any other means.”

(2) Next, Broussard contends that there is Scriptural precedent for the notion of saintly omniscience. He cites Daniel 2 where God revealed King Nebuchadnezzar’s private dreams to Daniel in a vision. He also cites Revelation 5:8 with its mention of “the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” as an alleged example of how “God reveals the interior thoughts of men to created intellects, particularly to souls in heaven” (p.208).

Let’s now answer Broussard.

(1) I certainly don’t regard Thomas Aquinas as a reliable theological authority, but I do acknowledge from examples in Scripture that God is almighty and all-powerful and can and has chosen, in unique circumstances, to reveal the interior thoughts of others to His prophets and select individuals.

(2) Yes, Mr. Broussard, God did reveal the interior thoughts of Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel. No, Mr. Broussard, Revelation 5:8 doesn’t indicate that the souls in Heaven know the details of believers’ prayers.

Broussard has once again used the Catholic “reasonable/fitting” argument to “prove” the validity of praying to saints. He posits that (A) since God has revealed the interior thoughts of people to prophets, then (B) it’s reasonable to assume that God enables saints to know the interior thoughts of those who pray to them, therefore (C) God grants limited omniscience to the saints in order for them to receive prayers.

Roman Catholicism has likewise extrapolated many other specious, extra-Biblical doctrines and traditions using its reasonable/fitting argument. While God did reveal the interior thoughts of people to prophets, there is not a single example in either the Old or New Testaments of a faithful believer invoking the dead. Not one. God would NOT empower souls in Heaven to be spiritual mediators because He would be contradicting His Word, which states believers are to pray directly to God the Father through Jesus Christ, our only Mediator.

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven…'” – Matthew 6:9

Jesus DID NOT instruct His disciples to pray to saint so-and-so. He instructed His disciples to pray to God the Father.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

The writer of Hebrews, under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, exhorts Christians to pray to God, NOT to pray to saints X, Y, and Z.

Next up: “We Are the Saints”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #37: “The Dead Know Nothing”

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. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “The Saints” as he attempts to counter alleged Protestants’ objections that “The Dead Know Nothing.”

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As we’ve seen in the previous two chapters, the Roman Catholic church teaches that its members can and should pray to canonized saints for intercessory help. In this chapter, Broussard contends that “some” Protestants believe “the dead know nothing” based upon Ecclesiastes 9:5,10:

“5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten…10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.”

Broussard offers three arguments to counter alleged Protestants’ objections. This is one of the longest chapters (seven pages) in the book, so I will attempt to summarize the author’s claims as succinctly as possible.

(1) Broussard states that the writer of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, “is not intending to make an assertion about the nature of the afterlife,” only “that he is trying to make sense of death from an earthly perspective” (p.199).

(2) Broussard hypothesizes that (A) since “souls in heaven possess the beatific vision,” then (B) “we have good reason to think that they would be conscious of our requests made to them” (p.201). For his proof text, Broussard cites 1 John 3:2 (“…we shall be like him…”) to claim that believers in Heaven have divine abilities like God. Referring to Hebrews 7:25, Broussard next hypothesizes that (A) since Christ “always lives to make intercession,” and (B) the believers in Heaven “are going to be perfectly like Christ,” then (C) “it’s at least reasonable to think that the saints would be doing what Christ does-namely, interceding for Christians on earth” (all quotes from p. 201).

(3) Broussard concludes, “There is clear and convincing evidence in both the Old and New Testaments that there is consciousness in the afterlife” and follows with multiple Bible passages for supporting evidence.

While this was one of Broussard’s lengthier chapters, my rebuttal will be short.

Broussard’s argument is somewhat of a straw man fallacy. Evangelical Protestants certainly do not believe that “the dead know nothing.” In Ecclesiastes 9:5,10, Solomon is clearly referencing death solely from a temporal perspective. Scripture is abundantly clear that the redeemed souls are in Heaven worshiping the Lord (see here) while the unredeemed souls are in hell and are conscious of their circumstance (see here). However, nowhere in Scripture is there a reference to a redeemed soul in Heaven being prayed to and acting as an intercessor for believers on Earth as Catholicism teaches. Catholicism’s ungrounded claims for saintly intercession are based strictly upon the type of unwarranted extrapolation Broussard presents in his second argument. As we see by this example, much of Catholic “sacred tradition” is founded and defended using the argument that such-and-such extra-Biblical doctrine is true because it is allegedly “reasonable” and/or “fitting.”

Broussard claims that “some Christians both within and outside mainstream Protestantism” believe “the dead know nothing.” The associated endnote (#140, pp. 285-286) reveals that Broussard is largely referring to Seventh Day Adventists (1.2 million members in North America) who teach the unconscious “soul sleep” of believers until the resurrection and the annihilation of the lost. Broussard doesn’t reference them, but the Jehovah’s Witnesses also teach soul sleep. The Jehovah’s Witnesses definitely do not teach the Christian Gospel. As for Seventh Day Adventism, the debate continues whether there’s enough Gospel truth within the sect’s aberrant teachings for a person to be saved (see here).

Next up: “God Alone Knows Our Hearts”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #36: “Invoking the Dead Is an Abomination”

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. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “The Saints” as he counters evangelical Protestants’ objections that “Invoking the Dead Is an Abomination.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches its members to pray to Mary and its canonized saints for assistance in meriting their salvation and other needs:

“The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were ‘put in charge of many things.’ Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.” – CCC 2683

Regarding the practice of praying to the dead, evangelical Protestants cite Deuteronomy 18:10-12:

“10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.”

It’s clear from this passage and many others (see here) that God commands believers to refrain from invoking the dead, i.e., necromancy.

Broussard seeks to rebut Protestant objections with two arguments:

(1) Broussard attempts to distinguish between the necromancy specifically condemned in Deut. 18:11 and the invocation of the saints as taught by the Roman Catholic church. First, he presents a definition of necromancy, i.e., “the conjuration of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events.” Broussard follows with the Greek roots of the word, “necromancy”: nekros (“dead person”) + manteia (“oracle”/”divination”). Broussard then places v.11 in context with the entirety of Deuteronomy 18:9-21 to assert that the prohibition against necromancy “has to do with seeking secret knowledge apart from God” (p.198).

(2) From the above argument, Broussard concludes that petitioning the saints is not necromancy, because invoking the saints involves “giving information to the dead by making our requests known to the departed soul” (p.198), in alleged contrast to necromancy, the goal of which, he states, is to gain secret knowledge from the departed souls.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

We can use the information provided by Broussard to swiftly and successfully rebut his sophistical apologia. One of the purposes of necromancy, according to Broussard’s own definition, is for “influencing the course of events.” Catholics certainly do pray to Mary and the saints in the hopes that they can influence the course of future events!

Last week, we discussed how praying to saints is idolatry because it ascribes to them powers and glory that belong to God alone (see here). Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere in the Old or New Testaments is there an example of an obedient believer praying to anyone other than God.

No need to debate this specific topic further. Broussard has unwittingly debunked his own argument.

What does the Bible say about praying to the dead?
https://www.gotquestions.org/praying-to-the-dead.html

Next up: “The Dead Know Nothing”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #35: “One Mediator”

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, we begin our examination of the Catholic apologist’s five-part section on “The Saints.” With this first chapter, he attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ objection that there is “One Mediator.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches its members to pray to Mary and the saints for spiritual intercession: “We can and should ask (Mary and the saints) to intercede for us and for the whole world” (CCC 2683). However, evangelical Protestants cite 1 Timothy 2:5 to show that Jesus alone is Mediator and Intercessor:

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Broussard attempts to rebut the Protestant view with three arguments:

(1) Broussard agrees that Scripture affirms the uniqueness of Jesus Christ’s office as Mediator,  but also points out that Scripture teaches the validity of intercessory prayer of fellow Christians, one for another. He remarks that in v.1 of the same chapter, Paul urges “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” and in v.3 (Broussard mistakenly credits v.4) Paul writes that such intercession “is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” Broussard argues that, (A) since asking fellow Christians to intercede for us in prayer is Biblical, then (B) asking Christians in Heaven to intercede for us must be valid as well.

(2) Broussard argues that while Scripture affirms Jesus’s unique roles as Teacher (Matthew 23:8) and High Priest (Hebrews 3:1), he contends that Scripture also affirms that Christ shares those ministries with His disciples (Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 2:5,9). Broussard posits that, (A) since Christ shares his intercessory ministry with living Christians according to Scripture, then (B) “it’s at least possible that Jesus could share his intercessory ministry with Christians in heaven, too” (p.194).

(3) With his last argument, Broussard’s attempts to connect the dots. He posits that, (A) since all Christians, both on Earth and in Heaven, are united as members of the mystical Body of Christ, and (B) because “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16)” with regards to the intercessory prayer of the saints on Earth, therefore, (C) “the saints in heaven are perfected in righteousness, (and) their prayers will bear much fruit” (p.195).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Gospel Christians certainly believe, as the Bible teaches, that we are to pray to God for each other. However, the Catholic argument that petitioning deceased Christians to pray/intercede for us is the same as asking living Christians to pray to God for us presupposes several un-Biblical and anti-Biblical doctrines:

  • Praying to saints semi-deifies deceased human beings – In order to hear prayers throughout the world, saints would have to have the ability to be omnipresent and omniscient (able to perceive the private thoughts of petitioners). Catholics claim that God grants these powers to the saints in Heaven. Some Catholics will claim that they don’t actually pray to Mary or the saints, but that is lexical sophistry.
  • Praying to saints is idolatry – By ascribing deific, god-like powers to deceased human beings, the Catholic church presents these “saints” as de facto minor gods and prayer to them is a form of worship. This robs God of the worship that He alone deserves. Nowhere in the Old or New Testament is there a sanctioned example of a living person praying to a deceased person. Studious readers of the Bible know this to be absolutely true. Communication with the dead (i.e., necromancy) is strictly forbidden by Scripture. Broussard will attempt to address the subject of saints and necromancy next week.
  • Praying to saints is nonsensical – Even if it were possible, there would be absolutely no need or advantage to praying to an intermediary when we can pray directly to God the Father through the ONE AND ONLY Mediator, God the Son.
  • Praying to saints impugns Jesus’s role as Sole Mediator –  While Catholics insist that they fully acknowledge and respect Jesus’s singularly unique role as Savior and Mediator between God and man, they betray their lip service with their actions by addressing their prayers to Mary and the saints for their salvation and for other needs and requests.
  • Praying to saints and the notion of patron saints is a syncretic adaptation of paganism – After Christianity was adopted as the official state religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD, it became increasingly institutionalized and adapted many pagan beliefs and practices. Ancient Greece and Rome had their pantheons of major and minor gods and goddesses with their alleged patronage of various trades and occupations. From this model, Roman Catholicism created its pantheon of patron saints. See my relevant post here.

With this introductory chapter, Broussard attempted to the persuade the reader of at least the possibility of saintly mediation/intercession. He’ll build on this anti-Biblical foundation in the four chapters that follow.

Is prayer to saints / Mary biblical?
https://www.gotquestions.org/prayer-saints-Mary.html

Next up: “Invoking the Dead Is an Abomination”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #34: “‘Queen of Heaven’ Condemned”

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. With this next installment, the Catholic apologist completes his five-chapter section on Mary as he disputes evangelical Protestants’ arguments that the notion of a “‘Queen of Heaven’ (is) Condemned.”

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The myth that Mary was crowned as “Queen of Heaven” following her “assumption” gained traction within Roman Catholicism in the 13th through 15th centuries. In his 1954 encyclical, Ad Caeli Reginam (“To the Queen of Heaven”), pope Pius XII formally defined the belief. Catholics believe Mary is co-ruler of Heaven, reigning beside Jesus Christ, as well as being Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix. Protestant evangelicals object to this glorification/semi-deification of Mary as “Queen of Heaven” and often cite Jeremiah 7:17-18:

“Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.”

God was angered by the Jews of prophet Jeremiah’s time who committed idolatry by worshiping a pagan goddess (most probably Ashtoreth) as the “queen of heaven.” Evangelicals contend that Catholics commit similar idolatry by worshiping Mary as the “Queen of Heaven.”

Broussard responds with three arguments:

(1) Broussard posits that God’s disappointment with the Jews for their idolatrous worship of the pagan “queen of heaven” cannot be applied in the case of Catholics and Mary. Broussard claims that Catholics rightly “honor,” not worship, Mary, because of her “exalted place” as the “Mother of the Savior.” Broussard cites 1 Timothy 5:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 as Biblical precedents for rightly honoring individuals.

(2) Broussard then reasons that (A) just because a pagan goddess was illegitimately referred to as “queen of heaven,” (B) it doesn’t prove that Catholics can’t legitimately refer to Mary using the same title.

(3) Broussard refers back to the Old Testament for examples of queen mothers in 2 Chronicles 15:16 and Jeremiah 13:18. He acknowledges that, in both examples, the person spoken of is evil, but contends that does not detract from their legitimate royalty. Broussard argues that (A) since there were legitimate queen mothers in the Davidic Kingdom, then (B) “it’s reasonable to conclude that Mary is the new ‘queen mother’ in the restored Davidic kingdom” (p.189).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

(1) Catholics strongly object to accusations that they worship Mary. They claim to “worship” (latrīa, Latin) God alone, but rightly accord “veneration” (dulia, Greek) to the saints and hyperdulia uniquely to Mary. This is lexical sophistry. No Catholic can precisely distinguish between latrīa and hyperdulia. Catholics pray to Mary as their Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix for their salvation. Such practices are acts of WORSHIP. The honoring of pastors that the apostle Paul writes about in the two passages that Broussard presents as proof texts is certainly NOT the “honor” that Catholics bestow upon their semi-deified “Queen of Heaven.”

(2) I agree with Broussard’s contention that, in theory, the illegitimate usurpation of a title doesn’t ipso facto render the title to be illicit. However, nowhere in the New Testament do we find one verse that either explicitly or implicitly suggests that Mary is reigning as the “Queen of Heaven” and holding the divine offices of Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix. All of these claims for Mary evolved over time as part of Catholic “Sacred Tradition.”

(3) Broussard’s attempt to leverage the existence of queen mothers in the Old Testament as a “reasonable” proof for Mary’s role as “Queen of Heaven” is grasping at straws. Broussard conveniently ignores all Biblical passages that state that God does not share His glory or throne with another.

“I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other.” – Isaiah 42:8

Keep in mind that half of Catholics’ “religious devotion” is directed towards Mary, in some cases even more so.

“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” – Isaiah 48:11

“‘And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” – Luke 4:8

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.” – Revelation 4:2

“Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” – Revelation 19:10

Mary humbled herself before God as His lowly servant (Luke 1:38), but Catholics have accorded her deific powers and crowned her co-regent of Heaven. We’ve previously discussed how Catholic Mariolatry is rooted in the syncretic adaptation of pagan mother goddess worship.

Who is the Queen of Heaven?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Queen-of-Heaven.html

Next up: “One Mediator”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #33: “He Knew Her Not…Until”

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. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Mary as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that Mary was not a perpetual virgin because Scripture says, “He Knew Her Not…Until.”

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Celibate Roman Catholic clerics had a low regard for sexual relations within marriage and taught that Mary, their spotless “Queen of Heaven,” was a perpetual virgin.

“The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity* but sanctified it.” And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin.” – CCC 499.

Protestants counter by pointing to Matthew 1:25:

“but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son.”

The verse indicates Mary and Joseph had normal marital sexual relations after Jesus was born. Broussard attempts to refute the Protestant interpretation with three rebuttals:

(1) Broussard posits that the word “until” (Greek – heōs) doesn’t necessarily signal a change in future status. As an illustration, Broussard offers the saying of one friend to another, “Be safe until I see you again.” The speaker in that case isn’t implying that his friend should be unsafe after they meet again.

(2) Broussard provides examples in Scripture where heōs – “until” or “to” – is used to indicate a select period of time without reference to change in the future, such as 1 Timothy 4:13, 1 Corinthians 1:8, and 2 Corinthians 3:15.

(3) Broussard argues that, framed in context with preceding verses, Matthew is “trying to persuade his audience (in Matthew 1:25) that Jesus’ conception and birth were miraculous, not to tell us what Mary did afterward” (p. 185).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Did you catch Broussard’s argumentation? He’s claiming that, paraphrasing Matthew 1:25, “Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary until she gave birth to Jesus” only means that Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary while she was pregnant, and doesn’t convey that he had sex with her afterwards.

We fully understand that heōs – “until” or “to” – doesn’t always indicate/signal a change in future status. But in the case of Matthew 1:25, the clearest interpretation is that Joseph and Mary began normal, marital relations after Mary gave birth to Jesus. Broussard’s argument that “but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son” connotes the same lack of future change as “Be safe until I see you again” is lexical subterfuge.

Are there ANY Bible verses that either explicitly or implicitly teach that Mary was a perpetual virgin? No, there are not. The notion is based solely on Catholic tradition. We’ve previously discussed that the Bible teaches Jesus had multiple half-siblings. See here.

The Roman Catholic church’s low regard for natural sexual relations within marriage meant that Mary, the chaste and spotless Queen of Heaven, could never have been “soiled” by her husband. In contrast to Catholicism, the Bible honors the sexual union of husband and wife. The apostle Paul wrote under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit that married believers ought not to withhold themselves from each other as the Roman church claims Mary and Joseph did.

“Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” – 1 Corinthians 7:5

*Included in the RCC’s doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the not-widely-known assertion that as she was giving birth to baby Jesus, He miraculously passed through her hymen without rupturing it, thus preserving her “virginal integrity.”

Is the perpetual virginity of Mary biblical?
https://www.gotquestions.org/perpetual-virginity-Mary.html

What does the Bible say about sex in marriage?
https://www.gotquestions.org/sex-in-marriage.html

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #32: “The Lord’s Brothers”

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. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Mary as he attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ argument that Mary was not a perpetual virgin because the Bible speaks of “The Lord’s Brothers.”

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Both Catholics and Gospel Christians teach the doctrine of Jesus Christ’s virgin birth, but Catholics believe that Mary remained a virgin in perpetuity. Evangelical Protestants believe Mary entered into normal marital relations with her husband, Joseph, following the birth of Jesus, pointing to such verses as Matthew 13:55:

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?”

The verse clearly shows that Mary bore Joseph children after the birth of Jesus.

Broussard attempts to answer Protestants’ objections with three arguments:

(1) Broussard references his Greek lexicon and points out that the Greek word translated as “brothers” in the above verse, adelphos, can mean biological, blood-brothers, but may also mean kinsmen, and can even refer to fellow-believers.

(2) Broussard points to Matthew 27:56, which refers to “Mary the mother of James and Joseph.” It’s accepted by all that the particular Mary referred to in Matthew 27:56 was not the mother of Jesus. Broussard then proposes that the James and Joseph mentioned in Matthew 27:56 are the very same James and Joseph cited in Matthew 13:55 and handily concludes that they were not, therefore, the blood-brothers of Jesus.

(3) Broussard argues that the dying Jesus would not have entrusted the care of His mother to the apostle John if she had had additional sons (John 19:26-27). Broussard includes an additional point with this argument, one that I’ve often heard from Catholic apologists. In her response to the angel Gabriel’s message that she would bear the Messiah, Mary asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). Broussard claims that Mary’s incredulous response can only be interpreted to mean that she had already taken a vow of perpetual virginity during her and Joseph’s betrothal period.

Let’s now look at Broussard’s arguments, one by one.

(1) We agree with Broussard that adelphos does not necessarily refer to blood-brothers, but according to the context used in Matthew 13:55, Joseph-Mary-brothers, it’s reasonable to assume the reference is to biological brothers. Classical Greek did have a word for “cousin,” anepsios, but this word is never used for Jesus’s brothers in the New Testament Greek text. There are several references to Jesus’s brothers in the New Testament, including Matthew 12:46, Luke 8:19, and Mark 3:31. Catholics must ask themselves why these men, if they were only Jesus’s cousins, were so often in the company of His mother?

(2) The other gospel writers help to identity the other Mary, referred to in Matthew 27:56. John identifies her as the “wife of Clopas” (John 19:25) and Mark identifies her as the mother of the apostle known as James the Younger (Mark 15:40). Broussard flouts Scriptural evidence and leapfrogs reasonable hermeneutics by concluding that the James and Joseph referred to in Matthew 13:55 are the same James and Joseph of Matthew 27:56.

(3) Jesus Christ did not entrust His mother to the care of His half-brothers because they were not believers at the time of His death.

“For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” – John 7:5

Which leads us to one of the strongest proofs for the existence of Jesus’s biological half-brothers; verse 8 from the Messianic Psalm 69:

“I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother’s sons.”

Broussard’s second point to this argument is irrational. Mary did not question angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would bear the Christ because she had taken a vow of perpetual virginity, as the Catholic apologist fancifully posits. She questioned the message, rather, because she had not yet entered into marital relations with her betrothed husband, Joseph. Catholics must twist Scripture like pretzels in order to concoct Mary’s supposed vow of perpetual virginity from Luke 1:34.

Another text evangelicals use to show Mary wasn’t a perpetual virgin is Matthew 1:25, “but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son.” Broussard will attempt to refute that one next week.

My, my. Broussard and Catholicism in general expend a lot of time and energy on this claim for Mary’s perpetual virginity. Why is that? In the pagan religiosity that Catholicism adapted, virginity was viewed as a spiritually superior state (see the Vestal Virgin Wiki article here). Sex was viewed as base and even “dirty.” Catholics could not envision their semi-deified Queen of Heaven, their co-mediator and co-redemptrix, as having ever been “defiled” by Joseph on the marriage bed. Yet God’s Word states that the marriage bed is undefiled when honored (Hebrews 13:4).

Next up: “He Knew Her Not…Until”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #31: “Mary Needed a Savior”

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. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Mary as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that “Mary Needed a Savior.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that Mary was not only initially preserved from original sin (aka a sin nature) at the moment of her alleged “immaculate conception,” but that she also “committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life” – CCC 411. Not so fast, object Protestants, who point to Luke 1:47 where Mary exclaimed,

“…my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Protestants rightly ask, How could Mary have exalted God as her Savior if she was sinless? This is a difficult verse for the Roman Catholic church and Broussard presents the church’s rationale. Fasten your seat belts.

The RCC agrees that God is Mary’s Savior, but in a “singularly unique way.” How so? Pope Pius IX posited the following:

“In view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, [Mary] was preserved free from all stain of original sin.”

Broussard elaborates, “Unlike we who are saved by the application of a past event, Mary was saved by the application of graces of a future event” (p. 174).

In plain English, Catholics argue that Mary was saved by God at the moment of her conception based upon the merits of Jesus’s future propitatory sacrifice and kept sinless by God’s grace, so that Mary could rejoice in her Savior, even though she was allegedly always without sin. Some Catholics also zealously advocate for the sinlessness of John the Baptist and Mary’s husband, Joseph, although the RCC has not officially ruled on those two cases.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

  • Last week, we thoroughly discussed how Romans 3:10-12 precludes any exceptions to the Scriptural truth that “None is righteous, no, not one.” See here.
  • Nowhere in the New Testament is there a teaching of the preservation of anyone from sin as Roman Catholicism claims for Mary. The doctrine is a Roman fabrication.
  • If Mary was sinless, why did she go to the Temple to offer a sacrifice for her uncleanness in Luke 2:22? Broussard predictably omits any mention of that verse. See the article far below for more on this topic.
  • Why is it so important for Catholics that Mary be sinless? In Catholic theology, Mary was semi-deified and elevated to the offices of co-mediator and co-redemptrix, along with Jesus Christ. It followed that Mary had to have been sinless in order for her to hold those offices. The doctrine of Mary’s immaculate conception was eventually defined as binding Catholic dogma in 1854.
  • According to Catholic tradition, Mary’s mother was named Anne. If Mary had to have been sinless in order to bear Jesus Christ in her womb, as Catholics argue, it follows that Anne would also have had to been sinless to bear Mary, and that Anne’s mother would also have had to been sinless to bear her, etc., etc., etc.

Mary exalted her Savior because she was a sinner saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, just like every other genuine Christian. She would be grieved to know how Catholics semi-deify her and worship her.

I hope you enjoyed the brevity of this chapter. It was Broussard’s shortest chapter up to this point.

If Mary was sinless, why was she unclean and had to offer a sacrifice for sin?
https://carm.org/catholic/mary-unclean-offered-sacrifice-for-sin

Next up: “The Lord’s Brothers”