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”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #30: “All Have Sinned”

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 and the four that follow, the Catholic apologist defends Catholicism’s “veneration” of Mary. In the first installment, Broussard attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ insistence that Mary was not sinless with their argument from Scripture that “All Have Sinned.”

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Broussard begins the chapter by reiterating the Catholic teaching that “not only was Mary conceived without original sin, but she also remained free from personal sin throughout her life” (p. 168). He notes that evangelicals object to this doctrine by citing such proof texts as Romans 3:23:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

How could Mary have been sinless when God’s Word clearly declares that all have sinned? Broussard presents three arguments:

(1) Broussard contends that while the Greek word, pas, translated as “all” in Romans 3:23 can mean “every single one without exception,” it can also be used in a non-absolute, hyperbolic sense, i.e., “intentional exaggeration to make a point.” Broussard then presents several examples in Scripture where “all” is used in a hyperbolic sense, including Matthew 2:3 and Matthew 3:5-6. But what about Romans 3:10-12 that also speaks of the sinfulness of all:

“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’”

This passage precludes all possible exceptions with the clarifiers, “no, not one” and “not even one.” Broussard points out that the apostle Paul was quoting Psalm 14:2-3, in this passage, yet in v.5 that follows, David refers to the “generation of the righteous.” Broussard concludes, therefore, that the writers of Romans 3:23, 3:1-12, and Psalm 14:2-3 were employing non-absolute, hyperbolic speech.

(2) Broussard then presents two exceptions to an absolute interpretation of “all have sinned” that he claims Protestants are bound to agree with: (1) unborn babies and young children who have not yet reached the age of accountability and (2) Jesus Christ.

(3) In his final rejoinder, Broussard notes that Romans 3:23 is part of Paul’s larger argument involving all of Romans chapter 3, that salvation is obtained apart from the Law of Moses. Broussard asserts that Paul’s statement, “all have sinned,” in its proper context, refers not to individuals, but rather to sin being characteristic of both Jews and Gentiles.

Let’s now respond to Mr. Broussard.

(1) There’s no argument that pas/”all” in Romans 3:10 and also ouk/”none” and “no one” in Romans 3:10-12 can be used either as adjectives signifying absoluteness or as non-absolute hyperbole. However, Romans 3:10-12 includes the significant clarifiers; “no, not one” and “not even one.” Broussard attempts to dismiss these phrases, which clearly signify absoluteness, as hyperbolic speech with his appeal to Psalm 14:5, but evangelicals are not fooled. The Old Testament saints were “righteous” NOT because they were sinless, but because their hope for salvation was in God their Savior. In Romans 4, Paul writes that Abraham was righteous not because he was sinless, he surely wasn’t, but because of his faith/trust in God for salvation.

(2) Evangelicals believe, as the Bible teaches, that all people are born with a sin nature, but that God won’t hold children responsible for their sins until the age of accountability (see article far below). Jesus Christ on the other hand was/is the sinless God Man. He is the Exception to Romans 3:10 and 3:10-12 by His very nature. Can Broussard claim an advantage in his argument for Mary by presenting these two exceptions? He actually fails to mention another exception. Evangelicals are also hopeful that God will pardon the mentally disabled as mercifully as He will children who die before the age of accountability. However, the Mary we read of in the New Testament was neither a young child, mentally disabled, or Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. In fact, Mary openly acknowledged she was a sinner in need of the Savior in Luke 1:47, “…and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” More on that specific topic next week.

(3) In Romans chapter 3, Paul certainly writes about the sinfulness of both Gentiles and Jews in general and their shared need of salvation in Jesus Christ by faith alone. However, the clarifiers “no, not one” and “not even one” in vv.10-12 clearly refer to individuals, not to groups.

In the chapters that follow, we’ll discuss why the false doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness is so vitally important to Roman Catholics.

Where do I find the age of accountability in the Bible?
https://www.gotquestions.org/age-of-accountability.html

Next week: “Mary Needed a Savior”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #29: “Except for Unchastity”

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 Sacraments and the specific topic of divorce and remarriage as he attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ argument that divorce and remarriage is not allowable “Except for Unchastity”

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The Roman Catholic church officially teaches in its catechism that its members may not remarry after a divorce:

“In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law.” – CCC 1650

A divorcee who remarries is judged by the church to be living in an ongoing state of adultery and is barred from the church’s allegedly grace-providing sacraments.

Evangelical Protestants recognize that Jesus Christ generally prohibited divorce and remarriage (see Matthew 19:3-8), but point to Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 19:9 (see also Matthew 5:32) as an “exception clause”:

“And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” 

Broussard attempts to counter this exception clause with five arguments.

(1) Broussard states that the Greek word used in Matthew 19:9 for sexual immorality, porneia, is different from the word Matthew uses elsewhere in his gospel for marital infidelity, moicheuō. Broussard concludes that Jesus wasn’t referring to spousal infidelity in Matthew 19:9.

(2) Broussard then argues that the apostles’ strong reaction in the very next verse, Matthew 19:10, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry,” would be inappropriate if Jesus’s intent was a loophole allowing for spousal infidelity as the grounds for divorce and remarriage.

(3) Broussard follows by claiming that (A) the context of Matthew 19:3-8 forbids the dissolution of a marriage for any reason, therefore (B) Jesus would have been contradicting Himself if v.9 were interpreted as an exception clause.

(4) Broussard argues there is no corroboration for this exception clause in the other gospels or any of the epistles. The Catholic apologist does mention that the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 seems to allow for divorce in the case of when an unbelieving spouse abandons their believing partner, but notes that Paul qualifies this exception as his own opinion rather than a teaching from the Lord.

(5) Broussard claims to have thoroughly refuted the “exception clause” interpretation of Matthew 19:9 with his previous four points. What then is the “correct” interpretation? According to Broussard, Jesus was referring strictly to sexual immorality by one of the partners “before and at the time of the attempted union” (p.163) as legitimate cause for divorce/dissolution. The marriage can thus be ruled unlawful/invalid/void/illicit before it starts (during the betrothal period) or at its inception. Broussard suggests Jesus was affirming the teachings in the Old Testament (e.g., Deuteronomy 22) regarding the validity/invalidity of marriages, which would have already been familiar to Matthew’s primarily Jewish readers. Broussard extrapolates from this interpretation the basis of Roman Catholicism’s practices regarding the validity/invalidity of marriages involving the granting of annulments.

Let’s now reply to Broussard.

(1) Broussard’s argument that Matthew’s use of porneia in Matthew 19:9 indicates something other than spousal infidelity is lexical subterfuge. Porneia is used interchangeably with moicheuō elsewhere in the Bible. See Charles Albright’s excellent article on the topic here.

(2) The apostles’ strong response was a reaction to Jesus’s high regard for the marriage bond, which contradicted the view popularized by rabbi Hillel (110 BC-10 AD) allowing for divorce even for decidedly frivolous reasons.

(3) Broussard is “reaching for straws” here. An exception is an exception precisely because it allows a deviation from the general principle.

(4) Broussard’s argument is specious. He is well aware there are doctrines exclusive to particular gospel accounts. While Broussard discounts Paul’s exception clause in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16, evangelicals accept the passage as inspired teaching.

(5) Theologians continue to debate the details of the exception clause presented in Matthew 19:9. Most evangelicals take Jesus’s words at face value; that remarriage after divorce is allowable in cases where the other spouse committed adultery. However, we know that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), and that the ideal responses to adultery within marriage would be repentance and forgiveness.

Broussard construes Matthew 19:9 as one of the bases for the Catholic practice of invalidating marriages and the granting of annulments. I could write a 1000-word post on the capriciousness and invalidity of the annulment process, which became the de facto Catholic substitute for divorce.

IMPORTANT: Recognizing that a large percentage of Catholics have divorced and remarried and were therefore alienated from the church, Pope Francis issued his “Amoris Laetitia” encyclical in 2016, which, via some footnotes, pragmatically allowed priests to administer the sacraments to remarried divorcees based upon their pastoral discretion. The encyclical prompted a strong backlash from conservative clergy and laity, even prompting some to label Francis a heretic. Francis has refused to address his conservative critics, allowing the controversy to wither on the vine, while moderate and progressive prelates propagate the pope’s new guidelines. Broussard understandably makes no mention of this papal controversy. Broussard’s own pope has nullified ALL of the Catholic apologist’s above arguments.

Next up: “All Have Sinned” and Mary

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #28: “We’re All Priests”

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 Sacraments and the specific topic of ordained priests as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that “We’re All Priests.”

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In the previous ten chapters, Broussard argued for the necessity of the Roman Catholic sacraments. But who can administer these alleged sacraments? The Roman church teaches that only its ordained priests and bishops are able to administer the sacraments of the eucharist, confession, marriage, and last rites, and only bishops can administer confirmation and ordination.

As Broussard points out, evangelical Protestants do not accept the validity of specially ordained priests in the church age and cite 1 Peter 2:9 as one of their proof texts:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Protestant evangelicals argue that ALL believers are priests in the sense that they proclaim God’s Good News! to the unsaved, but that the sacrificial, sacerdotal (Latin sacerdos, “offerer of sacrifices”) priesthood ended with Jesus Christ’s once-for-all-time sacrifice for sins on the cross.

Broussard attempts to defend the Catholic ordained sacrificial priesthood with four arguments:

(1) Broussard presents Exodus 19:6 below as the Old Testament equivalent of 1 Peter 2:9:

“‘And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

From these two verses Broussard attempts to connect the dots by arguing that (A) while all Israelites were called to be priests in a general sense in the Mosaic Covenant, there was also a distinct sacrificial priesthood composed of Aaron and his progeny, and (B) in likewise fashion, while all Catholics are called to be priests in the New Covenant, there is also a distinctly ordained sacrificial priesthood.

(2) Broussard once again refers to John 20:23 as a proof text for priests’ alleged specific authorization to forgive sins, which he then extrapolates into a validation of their general ministerial/priestly capacity, which is not shared with unordained lay Catholics. Once again, he cites Leviticus 5:5-6 to demonstrate the Old Testament parallel that priests played a ministerial role in the forgiveness of sins; a role that was not shared with other Israelites.

(3) Broussard argues that Jesus designated only His twelve apostles among His many disciples to officiate with Him at the very first sacrifice of the mass at the Passover meal prior to his death. Again, Broussard draws a parallel to the Old Testament, arguing that, likewise, only a distinct class of the Israelites, the priests, were able to offer sacrifices to God.

(4) In his final argument, the Catholic apologist presents Romans 15:15-16 as a supposed proof text in validation of the apostle Paul as a ministering Catholic priest:

15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 

Let’s now respond to Mr. Broussard.

(1) In answer to Broussard’s argument that Catholic priests are the New Covenant successors to the Old Testament sacrificial priesthood, evangelical Christians correctly argue that the Old Testament priests were but a foreshadowing of the coming High Priest, Jesus Christ. After Jesus Christ offered Himself on the cross for the propitiation for sin, all sacrifice for sin ceased. There is no longer a need for human priests and sacrifice. The Book of Hebrews, chapters 7-10, makes this explicitly clear.

“Where there is forgiveness of these (sins), there is no longer any offering for sin.” – Hebrews 10:18.

(2) In chapter #26 of this series, “God Alone Can Forgive Sins,” we thoroughly debunked Broussard’s claim that John 20:23 validated the Catholic sacrament of confession (see here). As for the legitimacy of ministerial offices, evangelicals take Scripture at its Word that individuals are called by the Holy Spirit to minister to the flock in the capacities of pastor, elder, and deacon (see here), but NOWHERE in the New Testament do we see someone ministering as a priest in the Catholic sense of offering sacrifices for sin. In the New Testament, we see “high priest” (Greek: archiereus, ἀρχιερεύς) used to identify Jesus Christ. We also see “priest” (Greek: hiereus, ἱερεύς) also used to identify Jesus, as well as believers in the general sense of 1 Peter 2:9, but nowhere, NOWHERE, in the New Testament do we see an individual identified as a priest in the Catholic sacrificial sense. Ecumenical evangelicals who favorably accommodate the notions of Catholic priests and the sacrifice of the mass betray the Gospel and Scripture.

(3) Broussard’s argument here presupposes a belief that the Last Supper was a sacrifice for sins, which it definitely was not. In regards to the mass, the Roman Catholic church basically took two verses referring to the Last Supper, Matthew 26:26-27, and concocted an elaborate hour-long liturgical ceremony centered on the priest, the Jesus wafer, and the alleged sacrifice for sins.

(4) Broussard is grasping at straws here. Paul is most assuredly referring to “priestly service” in the same sense as the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:9; that of presenting the Gospel to unbelievers, NOT officiating at the alleged sacrifice of the mass.

Make no mistake about it, my friends, the Catholic priest wields GREAT powers over his congregants in their minds. As administerer of the Catholic sacraments, he is indispensable to their salvation and they are absolutely dependent on him. All of that is by design and contrary to the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Next up: “Except for Unchastity”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #27: “We Confess Our Sins Directly to God”

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 Sacraments and the specific topic of confessing sins to a priest as he counters evangelical Protestants’ objection that “We Confess Our Sins Directly to God.”

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Last week, Broussard pretty much covered this topic of the confession of sins to a priest with his “God Alone Can Forgive Sins” chapter (see here). In this chapter, he takes a slightly different tack on the same topic, perhaps as part of a strategy to amass fifty chapters?

The Roman Catholic church teaches that its members must confess all “mortal” sins to a priest in order for them to be forgiven:

“Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: ‘All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession…'” – CCC 1456.

“Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” – CCC 1461

In contrast, Gospel Christians confess their sins to God alone and cite 1 John 1:9 as one of their proof texts:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Broussard responds to this evangelical argument with three rebuttals:

(1) The Catholic apologist posits that 1 John 1:9 doesn’t specify direct confession to God and can be interpreted so as to accommodate the Catholic view.

(2) Broussard refers to his Greek lexicon once again and suggests that the word, “confess” (homologeō), used in 1 John 1:9, “has a public connotation, which would suggest that the confession of sins that John speaks of is not merely a direct confession to God.” The Catholic apologist states that public confession presided over by a priest was once the church norm, but “over the course of time, the Church adopted the ordinary practice of private confession of sins to a priest” (p.150).

(3) Broussard’s last argument is that (A) since confession of sin was public in the Old Testament, then (B) it must follow that public confession would also be the proper mode in the New Covenant. He cites Leviticus 5:5-6 as a proof text for his first assertion and then cites James 5:16 as a supporting text for his second assertion: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another…”

Okay, let’s answer Broussard’s rebuttals.

(1) Only by artifice can a Catholic twist 1 John 1:9 to mean confession to a priest. It’s clear that the recipient of our confession referred to in the verse is God:

If we confess our sins (Question: To whom do we confess our sins?), he (Answer: God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We must note here that 1 John 1:9 is not a salvation verse. Catholics and Gospel Christians have opposing views on justification and salvation. Catholics believe they must continuously confess their mortal (major) sins to a priest and receive absolution in order to maintain their justified standing/justification before Holy God. Gospel Christians believe justification is a one-time event when we repent of our sin and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and receive His imputed perfect righteousness. We then confess our sins daily to our Father for “relational forgiveness,” NOT for salvation. 1 John 1:9 is about relational forgiveness, NOT about salvation. See the article far below regarding 1 John 1:9 and relational forgiveness.

(2) Broussard suggests that homologeō (“confess”) used in John 1:9 can mean a public confession or a declaration as well as a private confession and from that he interpolates the Catholic view that the apostle John was referring to public confession before a presiding priest. We have no argument with the fact that homologeō can mean either a private or public confession or declaration, but the undeniable fact is that nowhere in the New Testament do we read of believers confessing their sins to a priest. Broussard admits that private (auricular) confession to a priest was not standard practice in early-Catholicism. It wasn’t until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 AD that the practice was standardized. Why the change from group to auricular confession? Catholicism boasts that it is Semper eadem, “always the same,” but has capriciously changed many of its doctrines and practices over the centuries.

(3) Broussard proposes that the Israelites confessed their sins to the Levitical priests in the Old Covenant just as Catholics confess sins to their priests. This is amazingly poor and self-serving hermeneutics. Leviticus 5:5-6 refers to God’s instructions to the Israelites to confess their sins directly to Him before bringing their animal sacrifice to a priest. There is not one Old Testament scholar, rabbinical or evangelical, who would agree that the Israelites confessed their sins to a priest. As for James 5:16, the verse simply exhorts believers to ask forgiveness from a fellow-believer whom they have offended, the same underlying message in Colossians 3:13.

The Roman Catholic church teaches heresy by interposing priests as mediators between God and men when God’s Word proclaims, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Timothy 2:5.

Confession of sins to a human priest is blasphemous and has led to the abuse of many credulous, trusting penitents by celibate, predatory priests.

“Who can forgive sins but God alone?” – Mark 2:7

See the articles below for more information:

Why do we need to confess our sins if they have already been forgiven (1 John 1:9)?
https://www.gotquestions.org/confession-forgiveness.html

What does the Bible say about confession of sin to a priest?
https://www.gotquestions.org/confession-sin-priest.html

Keep in mind that 75% of Roman Catholics do not comply with the requirement of yearly confession (at a minimum) even though they are threatened with eternal damnation for not doing so. Also keep in mind that while Mr. Broussard zealously defends such doctrines as the confession of sins to a priest, his pope and the prelates of the RCC teach that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and even atheists may also merit heaven if they follow their religion or conscience.

Next up: “We’re All Priests”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #26: “God Alone Can Forgive Sins”

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 Sacraments and the specific topic of confessing sins to a priest as he attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ argument that “God Alone Can Forgive Sins.”

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The Catholic church claims that its priests have been empowered by God through their ordination to forgive people of their sins:

“Only priests who have received the faculty of absolving from the authority of the Church can forgive sins in the name of Christ.” – CCC 1495.

However, evangelical Protestants argue that only God can forgive sins and point to Mark 2:7 as one of their proof texts:

“Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Broussard responds with three arguments:

(1) First, Broussard claims that Catholic priests do not forgive sins by their own authority, but only by the authority of Jesus Christ that has been granted to them. He follows with three examples by which he argues that human agents were authorized by God to effect His will:

  • Apostolic healings (Acts 3:6)
  • Illumination of truth/spreading the Gospel (Matthew 28:20)
  • Divine inspiration to write Scripture.

Broussard notes that Protestants readily acknowledge that God used human agents for the above three purposes. He then argues that (A) since God used men for those divine purposes, then (B) He can also use ordained ministers to forgive sin.

(2) Broussard continues his rebuttal by presenting the proof text below from the Old Testament.

“When he realizes his guilt in any of these and confesses the sin he has committed, he shall bring to the Lord as his compensation for the sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.” – Leviticus 5:5-6.

Broussard argues that (A) since God ordained Levitical priests to forgive sins under the Old Covenant, then (B) it is reasonable to think He would ordain priests to forgive sins in the New Covenant.

(3) Broussard saves his “heavy artillery” for the final round. For his last argument, he appeals to John 20:21-23:

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Broussard argues that this passage proves conclusively that Jesus authorized His apostles (and ordained priests) to forgive sins.

Okay, let’s now respond to Broussard’s rebuttal.

(1) While evangelicals certainly concede from the teaching of Scripture that God sometimes uses humans to achieve His will, it is quite another thing to argue that God authorizes humans to forgive sin. This belies a fundamental difference between Catholics and evangelicals on the understanding of sin and redemption. Catholics believe their justification is dependent on perpetually confessing their (mortal) sins to a priest in order to “keep the slate clean” so that they can hopefully merit their salvation at the moment of their death. In contrast, evangelicals believe as the Bible teaches that when a person repents of their sin and trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, ALL of their sins are forgiven, past, present, and future, and they are re-born as children of God and justified by the imputed perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. We then confess any sins thereafter directly to God as an act of obedience in our daily walk with the Lord, but our salvation is sure in Christ Jesus.

In counter-argument, Broussard must concede that ONLY God is able to do certain things (e.g., creation, sustaining creation) and forgiving sin is one of those things. And God has ordained that forgiveness of sin unto salvation is ONLY through trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, NOT by perpetual trips to the confessional.

“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.” – Proverbs 17:15

(2) Broussard stumbles badly by claiming Old Testament priests forgave sin. This is ATROCIOUS, self-serving hermeneutics. The Levitical priests DID NOT forgive sin, but only offered up sacrifice on behalf of the guilty person. To “make atonement for” and to “forgive” are NOT equivalent.

(3) Broussard believes John 20:21-23 is irrefutable proof for Catholicism’s claim that Jesus authorized His apostles (and ordained priests) to forgive sin. Not so fast my Catholic apologist friend. Let’s take a look at two very revealing Bible passages that speak directly to this discussion:

“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” – Acts 10:43

38 “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” – Acts 13:38-39

The above passages clearly state that forgiveness of sins is through belief/trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. That was the Good News that the apostles proclaimed. The forgiveness of sins or the retaining of sins that Jesus spoke of in John 20:21-23 would be according to whether people responded to the Gospel that the apostles preached, as we see in Acts 10:43 and Acts 13:38-39.

Some closing thoughts:

  • Catholic historians admit that private, “auricular” (relating to the ear or hearing) confession to a priest didn’t actually become the mandatory standard practice throughout the RCC until the Fourth Lateran Council, in 1215 AD. Broussard omits this information.
  • Over the centuries, the confessional booth became a snakepit of immorality, with young women and children confined in close proximity with predatory celibate priests. Priests were taught in seminary to ask probing questions on issues of personal morality, supposedly in order to ensure that the penitents provided a “good” (i.e., full) confession. Many victims of pedophile priests have testified that the abuse began in the confessional booth when they were children.
  • Yearly confession, at the minimum, is mandated by the RCC under threat of mortal sin. However, church statistics reveal that seventy-five percent of the membership flouts this obligation. Broussard attempts to convince his readers of a practice that his fellow Catholics have largely abandoned.

See the excellent articles below for more information:

How Auricular Confession Developed
https://victorspen.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/history-2/

Only God Forgives Sin, Part 1
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/42-65/only-god-forgives-sin-part-1

Next up: “We Confess Our Sins Directly to God”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist – Halfway Index

We began this 50-part, “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist,” weekly series way back on December 6th, and because we’ve reached the halfway point, I thought we’d take a break with this index of the 25 topics we’ve addressed so far. I’ll also post a complete index after we finish the series. I really appreciate everyone’s support and encouragement up to this point. Click on each topic listed below to access the post.

Church Hierarchy & Authority

#1: “James Led the Council”

#2: “No Other Foundation but Jesus”

#3: “Paul Rebuked Peter”

#4: “Where Two or Three Are Gathered”

#5: “All Are One in Christ”

#6: “The Anointing Teaches Us”

Scripture & Tradition

#7: “Traditions Nullify God’s Word”

#8: “Scripture Makes the Man of God Complete”

#9: “The Noble Bereans”

#10: “Don’t Go Beyond What is Written”

#11: “Don’t Add to God’s Word”

Salvation

#12: “We Are Justified All At Once”

#13: “Not Because of Works”

#14: “Justified by Faith, Not Works”

#15: “We Know That We Have Eternal Life”

#16: “No One Can Snatch Us”

#17: “Sanctified For All Time”

Sacraments

#18: “Up Out of the Water”

#19: “Believer’s Baptism”

#20: “Cornelius Received the Spirit First”

#21: “Not to Baptize but to Preach”

#22: “God Will Cut Off the Person Who Eats Blood”

#23: “Do This in Remembrance”

#24: “Once and For All”

#25: “The Fruit of the Vine”

 

Next up: “God Alone Can Forgive Sins”

Throwback Thursday: Rob Zins and a Christian Witness to Roman Catholics

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 16, 2015 and has been revised.

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Evangelical minister, Rob Zins (above photo, right), has been reaching out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel of Jesus Christ for many years through his ministry, CWRC – A Christian Witness to Roman Catholics. See the organization’s website here.

Zins has written a couple of excellent books on Roman Catholicism that I’ll review very briefly below:

Romanism: The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ
White Horse Publications, 1995, 277 pp.

5 Stars

Zins answers the sophistry of Catholic apologist, Karl Keating, and his book, “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” (1988), by comparing the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone with Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit, requiring obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules to attain Heaven. I also enjoyed Zins’ stinging critique of Chuck Colson’s dangerously misguided “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” ecumenical project.

On the Edge of Apostasy: The Evangelical Romance with Rome
White Horse Publications, 1998, 285 pp.

5 Stars

Zins does a masterful job of examining the regrettable courtship with Rome pursued by some evangelicals. The Catholic church continues to affirm all of its unscriptural, Tridentine doctrines, but some accommodating, compromising evangelicals increasingly turn to Catholics as co-belligerents and fellow “Christians” in the fight against the erosion of social morality, betraying the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This book is largely a critique of “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” (1995) by Roman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie, two evangelical theologians who conclude the Catholic church is a Christian entity despite its many anti-Biblical doctrines. Zins effectively argues that, because Rome teaches salvation by (sacramental) “grace” through “faith” (in its sacramental system) PLUS works, along with many other heresies, it cannot possibly be considered a Christian church. Amazingly, Geisler and MacKenzie readily concede that Catholicism teaches works-righteousness justification in opposition to the Gospel, but STILL conclude Romanism is Christian! Absolutely incredible! Evangelical compromisers cite “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” as one of their favorite resources regarding evangelical-Catholic ecumenism. The damage done to Christian witness by Geisler, MacKenzie, and other Gospel-compromising, Judas theologians, pastors, and para-church leaders cannot be overstated. Christian leaders who refuse to join in the betrayal of the Gospel are finding themselves increasingly marginalized within “mainstream” evangelicalism. See last week’s “Throwback Thursday” post about Geisler’s and MacKenzie’s book here.

Used copies of both of Zins’ books are available at Amazon.com. See my Books tab here for over 360 books that compare Roman Catholicism to God’s Word.

There are also MANY excellent videos available on You Tube featuring Rob Zins speaking about Roman Catholicism or debating Catholic apologists.

Please pray for Rob Zins and A Christian Witness to Roman Catholics and pray that young evangelicals will respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading and take up the call to reach Roman Catholics for Jesus Christ.

Additional resources regarding Roman Catholicism can be found on my Links tab here.

Love means telling the truth AND attacking the false.

The popular idols of our post-modern era are tolerance, plurality, and relativism. Tolerance and plurality can be excellent guiding principles in some circumstances, but NOT when essential truth is at stake.

We have only one authority, God’s Word, and only one Gospel; the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The exclusiveness of the genuine Gospel is contrary to the inclusivity and relativism (i.e., “Whatever works for you”) that are venerated throughout society today.

The idols of tolerance, plurality, and relativism have also made inroads into evangelicalism. Seeker-friendly, mega-church preachers deliver ear-pleasing messages about God’s “love” that are based on a few selected Scriptures and human emotions rather than on God’s entire Word. Many/most Christians recoil at warnings about false churches and false teaching. It strikes them as just soooooooo “negative.” Ministries that expose the false teaching of Roman Catholicism and other heretical sects strike them as repugnant, distasteful, and unloving.

The New Testament actually has a lot to say about false teachers and false doctrine. Believers are commanded not to accommodate false teachers:

“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” – 2 Corinthians 11:4

We must not only avoid accommodation and compromise with false teachers, we must expose them:

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” – Ephesians 5:11.

As I was googling for an image of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones for a different post recently, I came upon the featured photo and excellent quote. The quote is worth repeating:

“Do not be misled by the spurious notion of love. We must not only assert the truth; we must attack the evil and the false.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Thank you, Doctor. My thought exactly.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #25: “The Fruit of the Vine”

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 Sacraments and the specific topic of the sacrifice of the mass and the eucharist as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that Jesus Christ referred to the wine at the Last Supper as “The Fruit of the Vine” rather than His blood.

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that at the mass its priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ to be offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. Catholics call this change transubstantiation. The RCC bases its teaching on literal interpretations of John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the four gospels. Below is the passage from Matthew 26:26-28 in which Jesus refers to the bread and wine as His body and blood:

“26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Catholics interpret this passage to mean that Jesus changed the bread and wine into His actual body and blood. Evangelical Protestants, in contrast, believe Jesus is presenting the bread and wine elements as symbols of His impending death. As Broussard points out, evangelical Protestants believe they are able to refute a literal interpretation of this passage with the very next verse:

29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

If the liquid in Jesus’s cup was His transubstantiated blood, Protestants ask, then why does He refer to it as “fruit of the vine” in verse 29?

Matthew 26:29 is a difficult roadblock for Catholic apologists and Broussard attempts to circumvent it with four spurious rejoinders:

Firstly, he notes that while Matthew and Mark (14:22-25) place the “fruit of the vine” phrase after the alleged consecration/transformation in their Last Supper accounts, Luke (22:14-20) records it before. He states that Luke wrote the sequence correctly while Matthew and Mark were not concerned with the correct sequence.

Secondly, Broussard suggests Jesus was using phenomenological language in Matthew 26:29 rather than literal language, meaning He was referencing appearance rather than reality. Broussard presents examples in the Bible including those which refer to dead people as “sleeping” (John 11:11, 1 Thessalonians 4:15).

Thirdly, Broussard posits that Jesus was describing the contents of the cup/chalice in its prior state, much the same way that Aaron’s “staff” is described in Exodus 7:12 as devouring the “staffs” of the Egyptian magicians after they had changed to snakes.

Lastly, Broussard proposes that Jesus is not so much talking about the contents of the cup/chalice as He is prophesying of a future event in which He’ll drink wine (the sour wine on the cross or a post-Resurrection meal with the apostles or at the Heavenly banquet).

Okay, let’s now respond to Broussard.

The reader’s head is purposely meant to be spinning after Broussard’s arbitrary sophistry. He can’t provide a solid rebuttal, so he instead dazzles the reader with…four flimsy “possibilities.”

I could attempt to respond to Broussard’s “grasping at straws,” but I’m inclined instead to point the reader to Paul’s description of the Last Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-28:

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

Like Matthew and Mark, Paul refers to one of the elements, bread in this case, as bread AFTER the alleged consecration/transformation. Believers are certainly to reverence the communion elements as symbols of our Lord’s body and blood as Paul instructs, but we do not worship the elements as the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ as Catholics do. Nowhere in New Testament do we read of the apostles or members of the church worshiping the communion elements the way Roman Catholics do.

A few weeks ago, we discussed how the Catholic literal interpretation of “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (John 6:54) in conjunction with Catholic transubstantiation and consuming the Jesus wafer as the means to salvation is absolutely untenable (see here). Believing/trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone is the way to salvation, NOT physically eating a bread wafer!

Next: Half-time hiatus