Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #12: “We Are Justified All At Once”

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 his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ arguments that believers are justified “all at once.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that people must diligently work their entire life attempting to merit their salvation. Catholics hope that following their death they may be able to stand justified before God based upon their baptism and subsequent reception of their church’s sacraments and their obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. Catholics contend that they must become intrinsically/subjectively holier and sanctified in order to merit Heaven. In marked contrast, Gospel Christians believe that a person is justified at the moment they repent (turn from their rebellion against God) and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The moment a person trusts in Jesus Christ as their Savior, His perfect righteousness is imputed to them and they are extrinsically/objectively/forensically justified by His righteousness alone. Gospel Christians then follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly. Broussard offers Romans 5:10 as an example of a verse that Gospel Christians use to defend their belief:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In the above verse, Paul was summarizing his example of Abraham in Romans 4 as one who “believed (Greek πιστεύω pisteúō – “put one’s faith in, trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow”) God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

Broussard then counters with the following proof-texts with which he alleges that justification is a process rather than a moment in time:

Romans 2:13: “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”

Romans 6:16: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Galatians 5:5: “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”

James 2:21-23: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.”

Those verses/passages do not befuddle Gospel Christians. Ephesians 2:8-10 succinctly presents the correct correlation between faith and works:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Obedience and charity are the fruit/verification of genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, but not the basis of salvation. A person who has genuinely repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone WILL bear evidential fruit. It’s vitally important to know that when Roman Catholics speak of “faith,” they are referring to faith in their clerics and their institutional church and its sacramental-works system, they are NOT referring to faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

For examples in the Bible of people who were saved in a conversion moment, think of the thief on the cross in Luke 23:39-43. Think of the publican in Jesus’s parable in Luke 18:9-14. Think of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:9), “Today salvation has come to this house,” and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39), and the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:25-34), and the apostle Paul (Acts 9:20). Those souls did NOT go through a year of RCIA, learning the complicated details of a legalistic religious system, but genuinely repented of their sin and placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior in a moment. A genuine conversion does not entail accepting Christ as Savior daily, over and over and over again. True conversion in Christ is by necessity a moment in time, being born-again in Christ Jesus. It is NOT a lifelong process of toil, failure, and imperfect, sin-tainted works.

Martin Luther rightly argued that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. Not just Roman Catholics, but pseudo-Christians of all other works-righteousness denominational stripes cherry-pick verses from the Bible to support their view of merited justification and salvation. How can they miss the Gospel of grace? We think of Jesus’s words in Matthew 13:10-15, “You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

Catholic apologist Broussard’s passionate arguments for a process of intrinsic justification and merited salvation SHOULD BE a red flag for all ecumenically-minded evangelicals who misguidedly embrace the RCC as a Christian entity.

In this short post, I could never do proper justice to this all-important topic. For more information, see the articles below:

Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works?
https://www.gotquestions.org/salvation-faith-alone.html

What is justification?
https://www.gotquestions.org/justification.html

Please pray for Roman Catholics, that they will see their desperate need for the Savior, Jesus Christ, rather than attempting to merit their justification and salvation, as they are taught by their church.

Next up: “Not Because of Works”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #11: “Don’t Add to 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 ends his five-part section on Scripture and Tradition with this chapter countering Protestants’ arguments against Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” by which Protestants refer to the warning of Revelation 22:18-19, “Don’t Add to God’s Word”.

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In this chapter, Broussard examines the Bible passage below, which Protestants often use to warn against the elevation of any man-made doctrine or tradition, including Catholicism’s spurious “Sacred Traditions,” to the same level as divinely inspired and authorized Scripture:

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” – Revelation 22:18-19

Broussard argues that the warning in Revelation 22:18-19 is intended specifically for the Book of Revelation itself and not for the entire canon of Scripture. He states that if the warning was in fact intended for the entire Biblical canon, then Protestants are guilty of removing the deuterocanonical/apocryphal books from the Bible.

As surprising as it might be to some, I actually agree with Broussard that the passage that’s cited refers specifically to the Book of Revelation. However, along with the warnings in Deuteronomy 4:1-2 and Proverbs 30:5-6, there is also a general principle implied in Revelation 22:18-19 that God’s Word is not to be tampered with or subordinated to any other authority.

The status of the seven deuterocanonical/apocryphal books* have been debated for centuries. They are generally thought to have been written between 200 BC and 50 AD and were NEVER considered as Scriptural by Palestinian Rabbinic Judaism. Diasporic Helenistic Judaism (centered in Alexandria and Antioch) syncretically combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Greek culture and added the spurious apocryphal books into the Septuagint (Latin – “translation of the seventy interpreters”), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. When Jerome set about translating the Bible into the Latin Vulgate in the early-5th century, he used the Hebrew Bible as his source and rejected the apocryphal books of the Septuagint. Later editions of the Vulgate would include the deuterocanonical/apocryphal books, but the debate continued over their canonicity until the Council of Trent settled the matter for the RCC in 1546. Contrary to the claims of overzealous Catholic apologists, Catholic Bible scholar, priest John Echert, concedes that it cannot be demonstrated that Jesus or His apostles ever quoted directly from any of the apocryphal books.

“The (religious) themes (alluded to in the New Testament as quotes from the Apocrypha by overzealous Catholics) are so prevalent in Judaism that our Lord may not have intended these works (i.e., the Apocrypha) specifically.” – John Echert

Roman Catholics continue to defend the canonicity of the deuterocanonical/apocryphal books. That’s a given. But Broussard has attempted to use that debate as a smokescreen to divert the reader’s attention from the original argument, that the Roman Catholic church has subordinated God’s Word by claiming divine authority for its Magisterium (the teaching office of the pope and his bishops) and for its “Sacred Tradition,” a label it conveniently ascribes to every man-made doctrine it concocts.

Does the warning in Revelation 22:18-19 apply to the entire Bible or just the Book of Revelation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Revelation-22-18-19.html

What are the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical books?
https://www.gotquestions.org/apocrypha-deuterocanonical.html

The Apocryphal and Deuterocanonical Books (excellent article from Ligonier Ministries)

The Apocryphal and Deuterocanonical Books

*The Apocrypha includes the seven books of Tobit, Judith, Baruch, Sirach, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, and Wisdom of Solomon, and additions to Esther and Daniel

Next up: Broussard kicks off a new section on the topic of Salvation with the chapter, “We Are Justified All At Once.”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #10: “Don’t Go Beyond What is Written”

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 continues his five-part section on Scripture and Tradition with this next chapter countering Protestants’ arguments against Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” by which Protestants warn, “Don’t Go Beyond What is Written.”

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In this chapter, Broussard presents the Bible verse below that evangelical Protestants commonly use to warn against alleged divinely-inspired, extra-biblical sources such as Catholicism’s “Sacred Tradition.”

“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” – 1 Corinthians 4:6

Broussard remarks that Protestants use this verse as a proof that the apostle Paul “makes written Scripture the parameter beyond which we are not free to go in order to derive knowledge about God’s revelation.”

Broussard first argument is that Paul’s intention was surely not to dismiss “tradition” because elsewhere he instructs believers to “maintain” (1 Corinthians 11:2) and “hold to” (2 Thessalonians 2:15) the “traditions” he had taught them. He argues that all of Paul’s verbal teachings to the churches at Corinth, Thessalonica, and elsewhere during his 20-year ministry could not have possibly been included in his written epistles and therefore concludes that some of his unrecorded teachings were handed down orally as some of the basis for “Sacred Tradition.”

The Catholic apologist then argues that Protestants themselves are divided on the interpretation of the “what is written” portion of the verse and he provides several possibilities. He concludes that because Protestant scholars are divided on the interpretation of the verse, that it cannot be used to support the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

In answer to his first rebuttal, Broussard is reintroducing arguments he’s already exhausted previously by using 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15 as his proof texts for ” Sacred Tradition.” As I pointed out in my review of chapter 7 (see here), Paul was exhorting the believers at Thessalonica and Corinth to follow his paradoseis/paradosin (Greek – teachings/teaching). He was NOT referring to “tradition” as some vaunted, gnostic repository in the Roman Catholic sense. Few evangelicals would argue that every single teaching that Paul delivered to the churches orally is included in his written epistles, however Gospel Christians can be confident that the Holy Spirit has provided in God’s Word all of the teaching that we need in order that “the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Untethered from the sole authority of Scripture, the Catholic church has used “Sacred Tradition” as carte blanche for every novel doctrine it concocts.

In his exegesis of 1 Corinthians 4:6, evangelical pastor, John MacArthur interprets “what is written” in context with the chapter as follows: “God’s faithful servants are to be treated with respect only within the bounds of what is scriptural (1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7, 17).”* I believe that’s actually a very good interpretation, Mr. Broussard. No muss, no fuss. While 1 Cor. 4:6 may not be the best Biblical text in support of Sola Scriptura, Paul does refer to Scripture as the ultimate authority in the context of the passage.

Important: Karl Broussard writes confidently in defense of his church’s “Sacred Traditions,” but what he purposely fails to mention to his readers is that the current pope is creating quite a stir within the Catholic church by amending and/or abrogating various doctrines/traditions previously thought to be unchangeable. As Broussard attempts to rebut the Biblical doctrine of Sola Scriptura and defend the notion of divinely authorized “Sacred Tradition,” his own pope is pulling the carpet out from underneath him! That’s NOT a small matter, my friends!

Next up: “Don’t Add to God’s Word”

*The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 2005, p. 1571

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #9: “The Noble Bereans”

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 continues his five-part section on Scripture and Tradition with this next chapter countering Protestants’ arguments against Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” by which Protestants refer to Acts 17:11 to argue that “The Noble Bereans” used Scripture alone to determine truth.

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In Acts 17:11 we read:

“Now these (Berean) Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Protestants argue that the Jews of Berea were commended in this verse for appealing to Scripture as their sole authority for matters of faith and practice. They didn’t just accept the say-so of the apostle Paul, but compared Paul’s teaching to divinely authorized Scripture. Protestants correctly point out that, in contrast, Roman Catholicism appeals to its man-made “sacred tradition” as a standard of authority; traditions that contradict and subordinate God’s Word.

This is a difficult verse for Broussard to overcome, but the Catholic apologist gives it his best shot.

Firstly, Broussard points out that the Bereans were referencing only the Old Testament Scriptures by necessity since the New Testament had not yet been compiled. He concludes, therefore, that the verse doesn’t arbitrarily rule out other authoritative sources of truth (e.g., the New Testament and Sacred Tradition).

In response, the Bereans were using the only standard of divine truth they had at the time, the Old Testament, to test Paul’s teaching. Throughout the Old and New Testament, believers are admonished to hold to God’s Word as our sole authority of faith and practice. See here. To claim that the verse doesn’t necessarily rule out other “sources of truth” is an attempt to countermand the clear and obvious interpretation.

Secondly, Broussard contends that the verse commends the Berean Jews for being “more noble” than the Thessalonican Jews only because they received the Paul’s teaching “with all eagerness” and NOT because they compared Paul’s teaching to Scripture “to see if these things were so.” He claims the Greek word for “noble,” ευγενης (eugenes), means “open-minded,” therefore the Bereans were being commended only for embracing Paul’s teaching/tradition, not for testing it against Scripture.

A Catholic apologist with a Greek lexicon and an argument to defend can be a dangerous commodity. Broussard assumes most of his readers do not have lexicons to check his assertions. The normal meaning of ευγενης is “of noble character” or “noble minded,” NOT “open-minded/credulous.” Broussard attempts to undermine the clear meaning of the verse by disassociating the cause (“examining the Scriptures daily”) from the result (“these…were more noble”). He has used similar lexical subterfuge on credulous readers in previous chapters and I assume we can expect to see more of this sleight-of-hand in upcoming chapters.

Lastly, Broussard points out that Paul’s apostolic teaching was identified as the Word of God in Acts 17:13, therefore, the oral apostolic teaching that was allegedly passed down as “Sacred Tradition” is also divinely authoritative.

Gospel Christians certainly believe that Paul and the other apostles taught the genuine Gospel of grace as they did their missionary work. However, there were times when even the apostles walked according to the flesh, such as the time Paul had to publicly rebuke Peter at Antioch because the latter had accommodated the heterodox legalism of the Judaizers from Jerusalem (Galatians 2:11-14). We can be confident from the self-attesting authority of God’s Word that all Scripture is divinely inspired and preserved for us for doctrine and edification. See 2 Peter 3:15-16. There is no such standard of divine authority and infallibility for Catholicism’s nebulous repository of orally transmitted “Sacred Tradition” other than the fallible Catholic clergy’s say-so. Recently canonized Catholic saint, John Henry Newman, openly admitted that Catholicism’s traditions and doctrines are ever-changing and developing. Untethered from the authority of Sacred Scripture, the Roman church has guilefully introduced theological novelties as “Sacred Tradition” that subordinate and subvert God’s Word.

Important: Once again, Broussard is employing underhanded deception in his arguments by not acknowledging the current crisis within Catholicism over pope Francis’ doctrine-bending reforms. If “Sacred Traditions” are divinely authorized as Broussard claims, then how can this current pope amend or abrogate some of them? That is a question that is compelling some conservative and traditionalist Catholics to brand Francis a heretic, which only further weakens Catholicism’s claims to divine authority for its “Sacred Tradition.”

Next up: Don’t Go Beyond What is Written

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #8: “Scripture Makes the Man of God Complete”

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 continues his five-part section on Scripture and Tradition with this next chapter countering Protestants’ arguments against Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” by which Protestants argue that, “Scripture Makes the Man of God Complete.”

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As we discussed last week, Catholics believe that their “Sacred Traditions” are as authoritative as the Bible. Evangelical Protestants believe only the Bible is authoritative; the principle of Sola Scriptura. Broussard states that Protestants use 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to defend their position;

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

Broussard counters by arguing that the passage by itself doesn’t necessarily discount tradition. He agrees with the passage that, yes, Scripture is “profitable,” but not altogether sufficient. He devalues the word, “complete,” in this passage by using an analogy of a stamp collector seeking one specific stamp to “complete” her personal collection, although it’s understood that millions of unique stamps have been issued that are outside of her particular collection. Broussard then points out that Paul is necessarily referring to the Old Testament in his letter to Timothy because the New Testament had not been compiled when the epistle was written. He posits that Protestants are confounded in their own argument of Biblical exclusivity because they rightly accept the New Testament as authoritative in addition to the Old Testament Scripture that Paul is referring to.

God’s Word attests of itself that it is “God breathed” and divinely authoritative. Nowhere in the Bible do we find anything vindicating specious traditions as “God breathed” and equal to Scripture. As we discussed last week, the Pharisees had elevated their traditions (later to be collected as the Talmud) above Scripture, a practice which Jesus had condemned. Roman Catholicism has done the same with its “Sacred Tradition.” To Broussard’s point that Paul in the passage was referring only to the Old Testament, I would argue that the Holy Spirit, the divine Author of all Scripture, certainly had the entire Bible “in mind” when He inspired Paul to write this passage. The Bible attests of itself that Paul’s letters were inspired (2 Peter 3:15-16). Therefore, Timothy could be complete and equipped with the Old Testament Scripture he had available at the time, and the Lord has provided us in our era with the entire canon of Scripture so that we are able to be even more thoroughly equipped in doctrine. Praise God!

By untethering itself from the sole authority of Scripture, the Roman Catholic church has systematically introduced teachings and practices under the umbrella of “Sacred Tradition” that either defy or subordinate God’s Word. We’re all aware that most of the major cults appeal to an extra-Biblical source as an authority equal to Scripture (e.g., the Book of Mormon, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the writings of Ellen White, etc.), and Catholicism has done the same with its “Sacred Tradition.”

As with his previous section on Church Hierarchy and Authority, Broussard has as yet made no mention of how pope Francis and his allied progressive prelates are reforming various “Sacred Traditions” in defiance of the teachings of previous popes and prelates to the dismay and disdain of conservative and traditionalist Catholics. By demonstrating that Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” are not inviolable, Francis undermine’s Broussard’s and other Catholic apologists’ arguments that they are authoritative. Broussard unscrupulously conceals the current crisis within the RCC over Francis’ papacy to his readers.

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

Next up: “The Noble Bereans”

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”

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

Rebutting a Catholic apologist, #5: “All Are One in Christ”

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 continues his six-part section on church hierarchy and authority with a chapter countering Protestants’ alleged argument that “All Are One in Christ” and that there is not a authoritative hierarchy within the church.

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Last week, we examined Broussard’s straw man accusation that Protestants leapfrog over Scripture’s authorization for a visible church. In this chapter, the Catholic apologist replies to Protestant arguments against Roman Catholicism’s ecclesiastical hierarchy. Broussard cites Galatians 3:28 as the Protestant apologia,

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Broussard deflects this argument with several Scripture passages that he alleges support the Roman Catholic hierarchical structure:

Broussard then argues that these offices are conferred sacramentally with the laying on of hands via RC ordination (2 Timothy 1:6).

Similar to the previous chapter, Broussard presents a straw man logical fallacy. Protestants certainly do agree with Scripture that some men are bestowed with gifts of leadership by the Holy Spirit within the local body of believers. Although the specific titles for the leadership offices vary, Gospel churches generally follow the Biblical model of elders and deacons. The office of apostle ended with that unique group of men who were first-hand witnesses to the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ and called by Him to establish His church. Regarding priests, there is no equivalent of the Old Testament priesthood – offering sacrifice for reparation of sins – in the New Testament church. Ministers were called to guide and serve God’s people in the local body, not to subjugate and oppress them as happened with the hierarchy of the RCC.

After Christianity was legalized in 313 A.D. and became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 A.D., the bishops of Rome adopted the Caesarian imperial model of hierarchical authority. After Constantine moved the capital of the empire from Rome to Byzantium, the bishop of Rome would eventually become the de facto emperor of the West. Jesus Christ certainly did not have the Roman imperial model, with its focus on wealth and political power, in mind when He appointed the apostles and they in turn appointed elders and deacons within local churches. The documented excesses and corruptions of the authoritarian Roman Catholic clergy throughout history are clear refutations of the RC hierarchical model. In addition to the worldly corruption, the Catholic clergy replaced the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone with a legalistic system of sacraments and merit that was entirely dependent on them.

Important: In this chapter, as in the previous four, Broussard defends the Roman Catholic hierarchical model, with the pope as the infallible head of the church. Once again, Broussard deliberately omits any mention of the current crisis within Catholicism regarding the pope, Jorge “Francis” Bergoglio. Francis, a pragmatic progressive, has introduced several doctrine-bending reforms resulting in many conservative Catholics accusing him of creating “confusion” within the church and some even branding him a heretic. Broussard’s own pope debunks the apologist’s arguments for a divinely-authorized RCC hierarchy.

For more information on Biblical church leadership, see the article below:

Got Questions: What is the biblical pattern of church leadership?
https://www.gotquestions.org/church-leadership.html

Next up: The Anointing Teaches Us

Rebutting a Catholic apologist, #4: “Where Two or Three Are Gathered”

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 continues his six-part section on church hierarchy and authority with this chapter devoted to countering alleged Protestant assertions that the church is not the worldly-minded religious institution headquartered on the banks of the Tiber River in Rome, but is any place where “Where Two or Three Are Gathered.”

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Broussard writes that Protestants mistakenly cite Matthew 18:20 as a rebuttal to Rome’s claim that it is THE visible, institutional church founded by Jesus:

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” 

Broussard accuses Protestants of having a stunted understanding of the church as just a spiritual entity rather than that of the church being both a spiritual and a structural (institutional/hierarchical) entity that he claims Christ intended. Broussard cites the preceding passage, Matthew 18:15-19, to show that Jesus had an institutional church in mind when He gave instructions for disciplining unrepentant members. A church of a strictly spiritual nature does not have the organizational ability to discipline anyone.

Broussard attempts to win his argument with a straw man fallacy. Protestants certainly do recognize the structure of the local church as it is presented in Scripture. In numerous passages of the New Testament we see mentioned the offices of pastor, elder, and deacon for leadership and administration of the local church. See here. These offices can be found (perhaps under different names) in Gospel-preaching, local Christian churches.

What Protestants object to is Rome’s claim to be THE monolithic institution divinely authorized by Jesus Christ. A few relevant thoughts come to mind:

  • After the Roman emperors legalized Christianity and shortly afterwards adopted it as the state religion, its clergy began assimilating many of the beliefs and practices of its former pagan competitor. Simple faith in Jesus Christ as Savior was replaced with grandiose and complex legalism, ritualism, and sacramentalism, all administered by an increasingly privileged and authoritarian clerical class.
  • As the early bishops of Rome consolidated their power in competition with the other centers of the early church, they patterned their ascendant institution after the imperial Caesars. The acquisition of wealth and political control  – and the elimination of rivals – were the key drivers. Jesus commanded His apostles NOT to create the very type of hierarchy that the RCC instituted. See Matthew 20:25-28.
  • Roman Catholics cannot imagine the comparatively “structureless” mulit-denominational Protestant movement as being legitimate. For a millennium, Catholic clerics taught that membership in their religious institution was tantamount to salvation. However, adhering to standard Catholic theology – salvation by sacramental grace and merit – has never led anyone to salvation in Christ Jesus. It’s precisely in the noncentralized, patchwork quilt of evangelical Christianity that the Holy Spirit has done His salvific work using God’s Holy Word.

Important: Broussard makes great claims for the Roman Catholic church being the visible institution authorized by Jesus Christ and headed by the pope, the alleged “Vicar of Christ.” However, beneath the elaborate and grandiose organizational structure with its veneer of monolithic unity is actually great discord. Conservative and traditionalist Catholics are appalled by the doctrine-bending reforms of the current progressive pope. Many conservative Catholics accuse pope Francis of “spreading confusion” within the church and some even denounce him as a heretic. When Broussard makes these claims for Catholicism’s authority, is he referring to the progressive, doctrine-defying Catholicism of pope Francis or is he referring to the conservative, doctrinaire Catholicism of cardinals Burke and Sarah? We’ve examined four of Broussard’s six chapters on church authority and so far he’s dishonestly failed to mention the current crisis within his church regarding papal authority and pope Francis.

Next up: “All Are One in Christ”

RCC fast facts:

The number of Catholic cardinals, bishops, and priests:

214 cardinals, 5839 bishops, and 415,000 priests.

The number of people who work at the Vatican, the RCC’s worldwide headquarters:

3000

The total number of clergy employed by the RCC worldwide:

One million

The total number of Catholic parishes and members:

223,000 parishes and 1.3 billion Catholics.

The amount of land owned by the RCC:

Estimated at 177 million acres, or 277,000 square miles (Texas is 262,000 square miles.

The amount of the RCC’s annual spending worldwide:

Estimated at $170 billion

The number of times the genuine Gospel is preached in Catholic churches on a given Sunday?

Zero

Rebutting a Catholic apologist, #3: “Paul Rebuked Peter”

Today, we continue our series of responses to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. The Catholic apologist continues his six-part section on church hierarchy and authority with a chapter countering Protestants’ argument that Peter (and hence the pope) was not infallible because “Paul Rebuked Peter.”

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The notion of papal infallibility began gaining popularity within Roman Catholicism in the 15th century, but it wasn’t until 1870, after Italian nationalist forces had occupied the former Papal States and prepared to liberate Rome, that a defiant pope Pius IX pressured the bishops attending the First Vatican Council to declare as dogma that popes were infallible when they taught on matters vital to faith and morals. Although he could not resist the temporal power of the Risorgimento liberators, Pius IX could assert his alleged spiritual superiority by having himself proclaimed as infallible (he also excommunicated everyone who participated in the Risorgimento). As a dogmatic teaching, all Roman Catholics were thereafter required to believe the pope was infallible under threat of damning mortal sin.

Ever since 1870, Protestants have cited Galatians 2:11-14 to refute the notion of papal infallibility:

“But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

If Peter was the first pope and infallible, as Catholics claim, then why was he leading the church into serious error by hypocritically abstaining from eating with Gentiles in the presence of Jewish legalists, for which he had to be publicly corrected by Paul?

Broussard argues that Protestant critics reveal their very faulty understanding of papal infallibility by citing this passage. According to the Catholic standard, only when a pope speaks ex cathedra, officially “from the chair” of St. Peter, in declaring a doctrine as dogma is a teaching considered divinely-guided and infallible. Broussard admits that Peter’s behavior at Antioch was reprehensible and worthy of rebuke, but the bad behavior did not meet the conditions required of dogmatic infallibility. Peter wasn’t acting in his office as supreme teacher of the church in that circumstance at Antioch, argues Broussard. He was just being a cowardly hypocrite.

I understand Broussard’s argument. Protestants do present a bit of a straw man fallacy by presenting Galatians 2:11-14 as a refutation of papal infallibility according to the strict Catholic definition. However, there definitely are many problems with the claim of papal infallibility that Broussard conveniently doesn’t touch upon:

  • While Peter may not have been declaring dogma at Antioch, his example was leading many into dangerous doctrinal error. Catholics have historically claimed that popes were incapable of leading the church into error.
  • It’s ironic beyond measure that Broussard chooses to examine Galatians 2 in his defense of papal infallibility. Following Paul’s description of his rebuke of Peter, the apostle follows with one of the clearest defenses of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone in Galatians 2:15-21. The passage directly contradicts the salvation-by-merit theology that is at the heart of Roman Catholicism.
  • The history of the papacy is filled with incidents that do not reflect well on claims of papal infallibility in matters vital to faith and morals including the heterodoxy of pope Honorius, the Cadaver Trial of pope Formosus, the authorization of the Crusades and the Inquisitions, the Great Western Schism, the authorized selling of indulgences, the condemnation of Galileo, etc., etc., etc.
  • Catholic theologians can only agree upon three papal declarations as being infallibly dogmatic: the immaculate conception of Mary (1854), papal infallibility (1870), and the assumption of Mary into Heaven (1950). What is the point of papal infallibility if it is so rarely exercised?

Important: Just as with the two chapters on authority that we previously reviewed, Broussard purposely omits any mention of the current CRISIS within Catholicism regarding the papacy. Pope Francis has overturned three doctrines previously held to be unchangeable: (1) the ban on communion for remarried divorcees, (2) the ban on communion to Protestants (Protestant spouses of Catholic members may now receive communion according to the discretion of each bishop), and (3) the licitness of capital punishment. Conservative Catholic leaders are advising their follows to ignore Francis’s changes and some are even calling the pope a heretic. Catholics are wrestling with how an infallible pope can overturn doctrines considered unchangeable by previous infallible popes. Francis has even gone out of his way to downplay assertions of papal infallibility/prerogatives by emphasizing that “a pope can be wrong” (see here). As Broussard and other conservative Catholic apologists attempt to defend the bastion of papal infallibility, their own pope is busily dismantling the bogus dogma.

Next up: “Where Two or Three Are Gathered”