Trent anathemas – I stand corrected, but the application was exactly the same

In my examinations of Roman Catholicism, I strive to be factual. However, it came to my attention recently that I had an imprecise understanding of the anathema canons of the Council of Trent. A little background:

In response to the Protestant Reformation, pope Paul III convoked the Council of Trent (1545-1563), which decreed over one-hundred canons clarifying Roman Catholic doctrine. Several canons specifically addressed doctrines being taught by the Reformers including the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Persons who held to the Protestant doctrines were declared “anathema” (Greek and Latin: something dedicated, especially dedicated to evil, cursed). See here for a listing of the Tridentine anathemas.

For centuries, many Protestants have been claiming that, by issuing the Tridentine canons, the Roman church had forthwith and forever cursed/condemned ALL Protestants. But Catholic apologists point out that that understanding is mistaken.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast of a Catholic radio talk show and the host was discussing this issue.

Called to Communion – 5/27/2019 podcast
Host: David Anders (photo above), Moderator: Thom Price
2:36 mark

Thom Price: So we’re going to lead off this special memorial Day mailbag program with a question. This is an anonymous text that came in: How can Protestants simultaneously be, quote, separated brothers and sisters, and at the same time, anathema, as the Council of Trent proclaims in at least eight of its canons? How can one be a damned Christian?

David Anders: Thanks. I appreciate the question. The premise of the question is faulty, that the anathema pronounced by the Council of Trent does not constitute a judgement of damnation. So you’re incorrect in (your) understanding of what an anathema is. An anathema – and by the way, anathemas no longer exists in the Catholic church – but an anathema was an ecclesiastical penalty, right. It’s a form of excommunication and it would have been executed against members of the Catholic church that professed the errors in question; the particular errors that were being rejected at the Council of Trent. And the way those anathemas would read would be, “If anyone says blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, let him be anathema.” Well, you know, even then, if someone was not a member of the Catholic church then ecclesiastical penalties wouldn’t apply to them. The anathema applied specifically to members of the Catholic church that would have committed these crimes against the church’s doctrines. So, even then, it wouldn’t have applied to somebody who had been raised in the Protestant church. Today, there are no anathemas. We don’t use that ecclesiastical penalty anymore. So it’s a false dichotomy, the one you raised.


So, technically, the anathemas of Trent were ecclesiastical excommunications of all of the former members of the church who had embraced the Protestant doctrines. The Protestants’ children and future descendants who had never been baptized as Catholics were not being directly addressed by the anathema canons since they had never been members of the church.

Okay. Fair enough. I get it. However, the descendants of the first-generation Protestants who also held to Protestant beliefs were obviously still considered to be heretics by the church, just like their predecessors. In countries where Catholicism held sway and was allied with the ruling monarch, Protestant “heretics” were viewed as traitors and in many cases were tortured and executed, whether the offender was a first-generation Protestant or a descendant. So while we duly note the ecclesiastical fine print, the end results were the same for early-Protestant grandparents and their grandchildren. The bottom line to all of this is that, while contemporary Catholic apologists like David Anders attempt to softsoap the Tridentine anathemas, they served as a death sentence for millions and have never been officially rescinded.

“The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this, that the Sacred Deposit of Christian Doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously [with a] renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teachings of the Church in their entirety and preciseness, as they still shine forth in the acts of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council.” – pope John XXIII, opening speech to the Second Vatican Council, October 11, 1962

Postscript: Why does the Catholic church no longer issue anathemas? The RCC boasts that it is “Semper Eadem,” always the same, but that is clearly not the case. At Vatican II, the formerly-militant Roman church changed its approach and declared all Protestant heretics to be “separated brethren.” The success of this ecumenical about-face has proven the old adage that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

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Catholic apologist: “Jesus is a scary dude!”

I usually listen to a Catholic talk radio show, “Called to Communion,” for about one hour each work day. It’s not something that I would recommend to my fellow believers, but the show often provides me with good fodder for this blog. I was recently listening to a podcast of the show and a couple of interesting segments came up that I’d like to pass along.

Called to Communion
EWTN Radio – 4/3/19 podcast
Moderator: Thom Price, Host: David Anders

At the 34:19 mark, non-Catholic, Edward from Coal Grove, Ohio, called in with a question regarding the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation/confession:

Edward: “When you go to confession, and you go into the little booth to pray, when you’re confessing, why do we go in to pray in that little booth? Can we sit in our pews to pray to God?”

Host, David Anders, then proceeded to explain to Edward the basics behind the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation. The Roman church teaches that every time a Catholic commits a mortal (major) sin, they must go to church and confess the sin to a priest. The church teaches that its priests receive the power to forgive sins at their ordination. In the confessional booth, the priest allegedly acts “in persona Christi,” in the person of Christ, when absolving sin. The Roman church uses John 20:23 as the basis of this alleged prerogative: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld,” but the verse is only correctly understood in the context of the New Testament Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, which the apostles were commanded to proclaim. A few verses after John 20:23 we read, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” – John 20:31. Forgiveness of sins comes from hearing the Gospel, repenting of sin, and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior. Going to the confessional booth once a week or once a month (most Catholics never go) doesn’t save anyone. The sacrament of penance is just another cog in Catholicism’s complicated salvation system of sacramental grace and merit.

After briefly describing Catholicism’s sacrament of reconciliation to Edward, David Anders says something quite revealing:

David Anders: “You know, I had a priest ask me recently, and I’m going to make a personal revelation here, he said, ‘How do you relate to Christ?’ And I said, this is truthful, and I’m just going to let this out. Jesus in the Gospels sometimes is kind of a scary dude. He holds us up to pretty high standards, and I said, ‘You know, in the Gospels, sometimes I read the words of Christ and I’m like, gulp, am I doing that? Am I doing that? But when I meet Christ in the person of his priest, I experience only mercy.‘”


Argh! Did you get that, folks? This Catholic apologist says Jesus is a mean and “scary dude” and people must therefore go through the more merciful priest (and more merciful Mary). Man, oh man! The Jesus I know, my Savior and Shepherd, is infinitely more tender and merciful than any person. Yes, someday He will return as Judge, but right now He offers REAL forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal salvation to all those who repent of their sin and accept Him as their Savior by faith alone! The ONLY mediator between God and men is Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).


The second segment from the same broadcast is a bit comical in a sad way. At the 38:42 mark, Sam from Charleston, West Virginia, an ex-Baptist and convert to Catholicism in 2018, called in to say he was troubled by the liberal priests and prelates in the church who seemed to be flouting the rules he claims to love so much. He haltingly continued, “…and then I see things, like on the news a lot, it seems the news tends to amplify, the pope, seems that the pope, who I want to believe is the Vicar of Christ, but then he tends to say things like, has a softer view about cohabitation before marriage…”

Well, it was very entertaining to hear Price and Anders grab their microphones and shut down Sam before he could say another word. I even looked up the video segment on You Tube just so I could actually see Price and Anders become unglued (see above photo). Sam couldn’t have gotten in another word with a crow bar. Remember, the stated purpose of this show is to try to convince Protestants to convert to Catholicism, so any direct criticism of the pope over the airwaves is strictly verboten. Pope Francis, with his liberal reforms is making these conservative apologists twist around like pretzels. Ach, so funny. Without directly criticizing Francis, Anders advised Sam to focus on the traditional teachings of the church and not to pay attention to liberal priests and unnamed progressive prelates. The sadly comical segment was worth the price of admission all by itself.

Catholic apologist: “Do NOT believe in forensic justification.”

Catholic apologist, David Anders, featured in the photo above, repeatedly condemns forensic justification on his radio show. Forensic justification? What’s that? People are generally turned off by theological jargon like “forensic justification.” Hang in there. I’m going to break it all down for you.

These days, many church-going folks are eager to gloss over any and all doctrinal differences and embrace each other as fellow “Jesus lovers.” But many doctrinal differences are vitally important, like the answer to the question, “How does a person get to Heaven?”

The Roman Catholic church teaches that for a person to get to Heaven, they must participate in the church’s sacraments in order for graces to be “infused” into their soul, to be able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules, in order to remain in a hypothetical mortal-sinless “state of grace,” so as to be able to merit heaven at the moment of their death. Phew! That was a long sentence! Another way of expressing it is, the RCC teaches a person must actually (subjectively, intrinsically) become holy enough to merit entry into Heaven.

In direct contrast, Bible Christianity teaches from Scripture that we are all sinners and no one can possibly merit Heaven. Even our so-called “good works” are sin-stained rags before a Holy God. But God loves us so much, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross of Calvary. But Jesus defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who repent of sin and ask Him to save them. When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, His perfect righteousness is “imputed” (ascribed) to them. They are declared righteous before a Just and Holy God only because of the imputed, perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Evangelical theologians call this “forensic” (legal) justification. God the Father declares a sinner who has accepted Christ as righteous because of the perfect righteousness that was imputed to them by God the Son. Bible Christians believe those who have genuinely accepted Christ will follow Him in obedience, although imperfectly. But the desire to obey God and the resulting spiritual fruit are the evidence of salvation, not the cause of it.

The Catholic doctrine and the Bible Christian doctrine on salvation are incompatible and irreconcilable. One is right, one is wrong. They cannot both be right.

To be honest, I don’t cherish the work of Catholic apologists, but I do appreciate the way they strongly distinguish between the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit and the Biblical Good News! Here’s an example from Anders’ show that I came across recently, although the Biblical doctrine of salvation is not clearly presented:

Called to Communion – EWTN Radio
Episode: 3/4/2109
Host: David Anders (photo above), Moderator: Thom Price
Beginning at 24:33 mark

Thom Price: Let’s go to Claire now in Baton Rouge, Louisiana listening on the great Catholic Community Radio. Hey, Claire. What’s on your mind today?

Claire: Hi. Thank you for taking my call. I have a question about, well, it’s a two-part question about forensic acquittal (theologians use the term “forensic justification” – Tom). We have a local pastor here in town who preaches forensic acquittal and I’m very confused by what he says. I encounter this in RCIA.* So my questions are these: My understanding of forensic acquittal is that when you are saved, God covers your sins, but you are still in your sins and you remain depraved. So then my question is, if that’s correct then doesn’t that belief, in terms of justification, kind of say that, well, Jesus’ saving work wasn’t quite good enough? And my second question, and this is really the question that I’m most concerned about, is if that is an accurate understanding of forensic acquittal, then what exactly does sanctification do? Does it have any effect on the soul or is it just proof of election?

David Anders: Thank you very much, Claire. I really appreciate the question. The doctrine that you have heard from your preacher acquaintance, that doctrine, the way you put it, is an accurate description of what Lutherans believe. It is an accurate description of what Calvinists believe, and of Protestants in general. It is not, however, what Scripture teaches and it is not what the Catholic church teaches. So the doctrine of forensic justification through the imputed righteousness of Jesus, what you articulated, is actually a doctrine that was condemned by the Catholic church at the Council of Trent and no Catholic should believe that doctrine.


For the next four minutes, Anders presents a summarized version of the Catholic doctrine of salvation, which I described above.

I regretfully applaud Anders for his candid honesty in distinguishing between his church’s gospel and the genuine Gospel. Ecumenical evangelical pastors and para-church leaders do a disservice to evangelicals and lost Catholics by embracing the Catholic church with its false gospel as a Christian entitiy.

*The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) – is the year-long course aspiring adults must attend before they can be baptized into the Catholic church.

For more information on the difference between the Catholic and Bible Christian views on justification, see the article below:

Justification: Infused or Imputed Righteousness?
https://reformedbaptistdaily.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/justification-infused-or-imputed-righteousness-in-honor-of-the-496th-reformation-day/

Catholic apologist says you can and must achieve spiritual perfection in order to merit Heaven

There’s all kinds of questions out there in the world, but I would argue that the most important question is, “How does a person get to Heaven?” Bible Christians would quickly and confidently answer, according to Scripture, that we are all hopeless sinners and the only way to Heaven is by repenting of sin and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Evangelical Christians may disagree on various secondary beliefs, but we can agree that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. We have no righteousness of our own, but it is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ that is imputed to us when we accept Him as Savior that alone justifies us before a Holy God.

However, Roman Catholics unabashedly DO NOT believe the above. They claim without equivocation that salvation is through the administration of their church’s sacraments followed by obedience to the Ten Commandments and church rules aka merit. The Roman church teaches its members that they must become subjectively and intrinsically holy enough, via its sacraments and good works, to merit heaven.

These two views are irreconcilable. One is Jesus-based and one is self-based. One is right and one is wrong. They cannot both be right.

Two weeks ago, I was listening to Catholic talk radio, and a segment vividly illustrated the Catholic view on salvation:

Called to Communion – EWTN Radio
Moderator: Thom Price, Director of EWTN radio programming
Host: David Anders, Catholic apologist (photo above)
Episode 2/20/19 beginning at the 44:00 mark:

Thom Price: “Here’s (an email) from Mark: ‘Recently I’ve been thinking about the purpose of striving for holiness. By nature, we’re all sinners and the only way any of us are going to get to heaven is by the mercy and grace of God. But that being said, what is the point of striving for holiness when we’re always going to fall short?’”

How would you answer Mark’s question, evangelical Christian? Let’s see how Catholic apologist, David Anders answered.

David Anders: “Okay. Well, actually, the Catholic faith teaches that we’re not always going to fall short. We’re not always necessarily going to fall short. And the aim of Christian life is perfection. Jesus Christ says, ‘Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ And we have a doctrine of Christian perfection. And some attain it and they are called saints. The canonized saints achieved Christian perfection before they died. That’s why they’re saints. They exhibited heroic charity and the form of Christian perfection is charity. So it’s possible. It’s not easy.”


Catholicism shares many terms and phrases with Bible Christianity, but its basically a religion of works. When a Catholic mentions “grace,” “faith,” and “Jesus the Savior,” they mean something entirely different than from what a Bible Christian understands. Poor Catholic souls, like Mark, are on a religious treadmill of constantly, constantly, constantly trying to merit their salvation, but there is no assurance in that as he admits. Their hope is in their own efforts, NOT in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” – Romans 10:1-4

For more information on the false gospel of striving to be good enough to merit heaven, see the article below:

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

Postscript 1: Catholicism invented purgatory as a safety-net for those who allegedly have no major/mortal unconfessed sin on their soul at the moment of death, but are still not quite perfect.

Postscript 2: Ecumenical evangelicals should spend a little time studying what Catholicism actually teaches before embracing it as a Christian entity.

Was Mary really sinless?

Roman Catholicism teaches that Mary was conceived without original sin and lived a totally sinless life. Why do they teach such a thing? Because Mary holds such an exalted place in Catholicism and is claimed to share many of the offices of Jesus Christ (e.g., Advocate, Mediatrix, Co-Redemptrix, Channel of all Graces, etc.), Catholics argue she must necessarily have been sinless just as Jesus was since they allege she also played a role in redemption.

But doesn’t the Bible say all men are sinners?

“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.” – Romans 3:10-12

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23

How do Catholics get around those passages in defending the sinlessness of Mary?

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to the 1/15/19 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show and apologist, David Anders (above photo), attempted to deftly sidestep Scripture’s clear and unambiguous teaching on the sinfulness of all mankind, including Mary. We begin at the 48:35 mark of the podcast:

Tom Price, show moderator: This (question) is from Andy, checking us out on Facebook. “My brother-in-law and I are discussing the sinlessness of Mary. He used Romans 3:23 as a proof-text that all have sinned, including Mary. How do I respond to that?”

David Anders: So Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. What’s Paul’s point in the argument? His purpose in writing the book of Romans is not to speculate on the doctrine of Mary. Mariology doesn’t enter into the thing at all. He’s talking about the grace and “Judential”* relationships in relation to the Law of Moses. It’s just not even concerned with Mariology. And we use this kind of language all the time in an imprecise way. I remember Colin Donovan (Catholic theologist) used this illustration when he said, “Everybody went to the ballgame.” Well, NOT EVERBODY went to the ballgame, but you know what he meant. Or “Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore because it’s too crowded” as Yogi Berra would say. This is just colloquial language in how St. Paul’s speaking. He’s not making an argument about Mariology one way or the other. If you want to go for Mariology go to the Gospel of Luke.

Tom Price: Yeah, and don’t get hung up on the word “all” in this particular case.

David Anders: Right.

We can all agree that people sometimes use “all” as a generality without meaning every specific case, but was that Paul’s intention in Roman 3:23? The “no, not one…not even one” of Romans 3:10-12 precludes Anders’ sophistry. Mary acknowledges she was a sinner in need of the Savior in Luke 1:47. She also offered up a sin offering along with a burnt offering in Luke 2:22-24. Yes, Mary was a sinner in need of the Savior as we all are. Catholic apologists must deviate from the precise and crystal clear meaning of Scripture in this example in order to justify their doctrine of the sinlessness of Mary.

*Anders routinely invents words during “Called to Communion” broadcasts, such as this example; “Judential.”

RE-baptized??? What’s that all about?

Last week, I was listening to the 11/5/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show and at the 5:20 mark, moderator, Tom Price, read a question from Katrina, a listener, who asked, “When a baptized person leaves the Catholic church and then attends a non-denominational or any Protestant church, why are those folks re-baptized?”

The show’s host, David Anders, then made the claim, as he often does, that the Catholic church is much more magnanimous and charitable than Protestants regarding baptism because it recognizes the baptisms of Protestants as “valid” while evangelical Protestant churches do not recognize Catholic baptism as valid and will ask that ex-Catholics be “re-baptized.”

Of course, Catholics and born-again Christians view baptism QUITE differently. Catholics see baptism as a sacrament by which a person is inducted into the church. The vast majority of Catholics are baptized as infants. When a priest says the prescribed trinitarian formula and sprinkles water over the baby’s head, it’s claimed the infant has their original sin wiped away and is spiritually reborn and begins a lifelong process of attempting to merit their salvation through the church’s sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments. Catholics teach that anyone can baptize an infant, even an atheist, and the baptism will be valid just as long as the precise trinitarian formula and water are used.

In contrast, Bible Christians believe that after a person repents of their sin and accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone, they should follow the Lord by being baptized as a public profession of their faith. By being buried (immersed) in the water, we identify with Christ’s death and burial, and by being raised from the water we identify with His resurrection. Baptism is not a sacrament that regenerates anyone, it’s a public testimony of faith in Christ. Infants cannot be baptized since they are unable to comprehend the Gospel. My Catholic infant baptism was absolutely meaningless and worthless. Only after I accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone as an adult was I able to follow Him in believer’s baptism at an evangelical church. Children are also able to be baptized if they are old enough to comprehend the Gospel and genuinely repent of their sin and accept Christ as Savior by faith alone.

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” – Acts 2:41

As the above verse points out, trusting in Christ comes first, then baptism. Catholic churches are not being more magnanimous and charitable by recognizing Protestant baptisms as valid. Baptism must follow genuine repentance and acceptance of Christ as Savior by faith alone. Catholic baptism is not Biblically valid, which is why ex-Catholics who accept Christ as Savior by faith alone are baptized validly in evangelical churches.

The evolution of Catholic doctrine has forced Catholicism into a bizarre dichotomy. In centuries past, the church taught that only those who were baptized could merit Heaven. In modern times, the church has allowed that people of other religions could also merit Heaven. Pope Francis has stated that even atheists can be saved if they follow their conscience and are “good.” So while Catholics still insist that baptism is a requirement for salvation, they grant that those who were never baptized through no fault of their own, can also be saved.

As with many other doctrines, Catholicism makes the ritual and ceremony THE THING. It’s not the ritual that saves, it’s repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone that saves.

See the helpful article below for further study:

Believer’s Baptism
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-370/believers-baptism

Note: The Roman Catholic church does not accept as valid the baptisms of the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Hypocritical double standard: Why was monk Luther “neurotic” for daily confession, but John Paul II “saintly”?

I listen to “Called to Communion,” a Roman Catholic talk radio show, for about one hour every work day in order to keep abreast of what’s going on within the RCC. The advertised aim of the show is to convert Protestants to Catholicism. There’s no ecumenism going on during this show, folks. Host, David Anders, is pretty blunt in his attacks on the Gospel of grace.

Last week, I was listening to the 11/1/18 podcast of the show, and the discussion focused on Reformer, Martin Luther. As in MANY previous episodes, Anders described “heretic” Luther as an overly-scrupulous neurotic, who suffered from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. On what does Anders base that ad hominem smear?

Prior to breaking from Catholicism, Luther was an Augustinian monk. Luther took his legalistic religion very seriously, unlike most Catholics, and constantly compared how his thoughts, words, deeds, and acts of deliberate omission measured up to God’s Ten Commandments. Catholics are obligated to confess their sins to a priest at least once per year or incur a mortal sin (only 12% of contemporary Catholics obey this rule). Luther confessed his sins to a priest EVERY DAY and would often spend hours in the confessional recounting his offenses against God’s Law.

Catholics like Anders brand Luther as hyper-scrupulous and neurotic, but the Holy Spirit was revealing to the monk his sinful depravity and his absolute inability to obey his way into Heaven. Luther would eventually trust in the promises of God’s Word and become spiritually reborn by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Luther was finally able to rest in God’s forgiveness and salvation through Christ.

Anders naturally pushes his church’s false gospel, which states that people can successfully obey their way into Heaven with the help of sacramental grace, but in order to keep their sanity while on this legalistic treadmill, Catholics seriously downplay the extent of their sin. Most Catholics will tell you with a great degree of sincerity that they do a pretty good job of obeying the Ten Commandments.

It’s interesting, though, that there have been many Catholics over the ages who, like Luther, also had a sharp awareness of their sinfulness. However, rather than repenting of their sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, these Catholics practiced various methods of severe asceticism including painful self-mortification as part of their penance or as attempts to master the flesh. Mother Teresa wore a pain-inducing “cilice” (see here) daily. Catherine of Siena starved herself to death by restricting her food intake to only a daily communion wafer. Pope John Paul II flagellated himself daily and also, like Luther, went to confession every day. I wrote all of the above to ask this: Isn’t it contradictory for Anders and other Catholic apologists to slander monk Luther as being overly-scrupulous, neurotic, and an obsessive-compulsive when many Catholic saints, who these apologists extol with great gusto, were slaves of their legalistic religion to an even greater degree than monk Luther? Why was Luther’s daily confession a sign of neurosis, but John Paul II’s daily confession a sign of sanctity?

Catholic radio apologist advises listeners to ignore pope Francis

I listen to Catholic talk-radio for about one hour each work day. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but it helps me to stay abreast of what’s going on in the RCC. Last week, I was listening to the 10/10/18 podcast of the EWTN “Called to Communion” Catholic talk-radio show (see far below) featuring moderator, Tom Price, and host, David Anders (above photo), and some controversial subject matter was broached, which doesn’t happen all that often on this show, which openly aims to convert Protestants.

At the 8:54 mark, Jerry, a Roman Catholic from St. Louis, called into the show and in his remarks he expressed that he was quite disturbed about the current pedophile priest and cover-up scandal and also made mention of archbishop Carlo Vigano’s highly publicized accusation that, in 2013 against Vigano’s advice, pope Francis had overturned restrictions previously placed upon pedophile cardinal, Ted McCarrick, by pope Benedict XVI, thus making himself complicit in McCarrick’s crimes. Jerry also claimed that Francis’ censure of conservative cardinal, Raymond Burke, was part of the pope’s campaign to “liberalize the church.” As would be expected, show moderator, Tom Price, became increasingly agitated by Jerry’s remarks and interrupted him twice. Show host, David Anders, then responded to Jerry’s concerns, in effect saying that Catholics need to focus on the church overall as a historic and consistent witness to the (Catholic) gospel rather than reacting to a passing scandal or the controversial teachings of Francis or any other individual prelate. Anders’ obsfucation is the standard public response these days by conservative Catholics to concerns about the scandal and Francis’ heterodoxy. The real question is, why is the pope still claimed to be infallible in matters of faith and morals when conservative spokespersons advise the laity to ignore him?

The above segment featuring Anders’ obligatory non-response to Jerry’s concerns was certainly interesting and was worthy of a post by itself, but as I continued to listen to the podcast I came across another noteworthy segment. At the 27:29 mark, Mike, a Catholic living in Dallas, called in with questions about Francis’ change to the Catholic catechism regarding capital punishment. The catechism had previously stated that the death penalty was allowable in rare circumstances, but on August 2nd, Francis changed the text to read that the death penalty is  “inadmissible under any circumstances.”  Mike wanted to know if Texas governor and Roman Catholic, Gregory Abbott, could morally uphold the death penalty as he had done previous to Francis’ August 2nd announcement? Anders had stumbled about with a stutter-laced response to a similar question two months ago (see here), but this time he was much more resolute. Anders opined that the allowance of the death penalty had been the licit teaching of the church for two thousand years, therefore Francis’ ban could only be his personal, prudential judgement rather than a dogmatic ruling on faith and that Catholics were therefore free to ignore it. As is standard practice throughout conservative Catholicism these days, the advice is to ignore the pope when he deviates from conservative and traditional teaching. Again I ask, why is the pope still claimed to be infallible in matters of faith and morals when he contradicts the teaching of previously infallible popes and conservative spokespersons advise the laity to ignore him?

 

Catholic apologist frazzled by Francis’ latest reversal of church teaching regarding the banning of capital punishment

As many of you know, on Thursday, August 2nd the Vatican announced that pope Francis had officially changed the church’s catechism regarding capital punishment. See my post here. Prior to the change, the catechism stated that the death penalty was allowable only in cases in which the execution of the offender was an absolute necessity. Francis’ revision states that the death penalty is now “inadmissible under any circumstances.”

While liberal Catholics hailed the change, conservatives were once again dismayed by their pope, who has already overturned other doctrines that were held to be infallible (i.e., the ban on both communion for remarried divorcees and intercommunion with Protestants). I was anxious to hear how Catholic apologists would address this latest controversy and I didn’t have to wait very long for my answer.

A few days ago, I was listening to the 8/9/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” (EWTN) Catholic talk radio show with moderator, Tom Price, and host, David Anders (photo above). The stated purpose of “Called to Communion” is to convince Protestants to convert to Catholicism.

At the 20:18 mark, Misty from Bloomfield, Indiana called into the show with a concern. She stated that she was a Protestant, and had been very strongly considering converting to Catholicism, but Francis’ banning of the death penalty was, for her, an impediment to moving forward with that decision. She said she was experiencing a “crisis of faith before even coming to the faith” because she is aware the Roman church allowed the death penalty for centuries prior to August 2nd. From the tone of her voice, it was obvious that Misty was emotionally upset regarding this dilemma.

Anders then embarked on a long, drawn out, twelve-minute reply to Misty. Firstly, he stated that Scripture teaches, and previous popes taught, that capital punishment was not only allowable, but required in some cases. Anders cited several popes who directly authorized the use of the death penalty in their role as sovereign of the Papal States. Pope John Paul II had limited the use of capital punishment to very rare cases in his 1995 encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae,” but Anders argued that the encyclical was a “policy recommendation” and a “prudential judgement” on the part of JPII and not a dogma of the faith. In 2004, in his role as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (once known as the Inquisition), cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later pope Benedict XVI) wrote that Catholics could disagree with JPII’s “prudential judgement” limiting capital punishment to very rare occasions without incurring mortal sin.

Anders admitted that he doesn’t know how to interpret Francis’ complete ban on capital punishment. He is not sure if Francis’ new teaching is infallible or simply another “prudential judgement.” A flustered Anders even pondered over the airwaves what few Catholics openly dare to say; if Francis’ ruling is dogmatic and infallible, then how does that mesh with previous infallible popes who not only allowed church members to use capital punishment, but authorized it themselves?

Anders spent twelve minutes replying to Misty’s concern, but she was no further ahead than she was prior to the call and neither was he. At the very end, a stuttering, frazzled Anders advised Misty that “my Catholic faith is unaffected. I mean, I’m not troubled by this in the sense that it would make me go, ‘Oh my, maybe I made the wrong decision (in converting to Catholicism).’ Not at all.” But the diffident tone of Anders’ voice betrays his words.

We live in amazing times when pious Catholics are repeatedly rattled by their pope. Catholic friend, this mounting controversy in your church that is being spearheaded by your own pope reveals the danger of placing your faith in a religious institution with its man-made traditions. Place your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior by faith alone and in His Holy Word. Your church is built on sinking sand.

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” – Psalm 118:8-9

75 Catholic priests and scholars ask Francis to backtrack on death penalty
https://www.vox.com/2018/8/15/17693518/pope-francis-death-penalty-open-letter-first-things

Catholic radio host deceitfully cites ark cherubim to justify statue worship

I’ve listened to Catholic talk radio for over four years now, strictly for the purpose of further educating myself on Roman Catholic doctrinal errors and staying abreast of news and trends, and one concern that comes up repeatedly from callers is in regards to Catholicism’s extensive use of statuary and images.

Recently, I was listening to the 7/13/18 podcast of the Catholic talk radio show, “Called to Communion,” featuring moderator, Tom Price, and host, David Anders (photo left). At the 13:05 mark, Jacob from Fort Worth, Texas called in to say he was troubled because a friend of his had left the church due to the Scriptural prohibition against idols in Exodus 20.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” – Exodus 20:4-6.

Anders replied to Jacob that his friend should have continued reading in Exodus because in chapter 37 it states that under God’s command, Bezalel crafted the angelic cherubim figurines covering the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant (photo middle). Anders then states that, “Obviously, whatever God means in Exodus 20 does not preclude the manufacture of religious artwork for use in sacred worship, because the same God that (sic) articulates Exodus chapter 20 and says don’t make any graven images turns around and inspires the Hebrews to make religious artwork for use in their own worship.” Anders goes on to claim that what’s being forbidden in Exodus 20 is “the manufacture of pagan idols in the service of other gods.”

I’ve heard this same exact argument, citing the cherubim figurines to justify Rome’s idolatrous statuary, used by multiple Catholic apologists in the past, but let’s examine the claim objectively. The only person who saw the graven cherubim was the high priest within the Holy of Holies and then only once per year on the Day of Atonement. The high priest did not worship the cherubim. The ark was covered from view as it was carried along with the other articles of the tabernacle from site to site and, of course, its location was later fixed within the Jerusalem temple. The Israelites were never to see the ark and cherubim and incurred God’s wrath when they did (see the comments section of this article). The Israelites were prone to idolatry as we know from the Old Testament, which is why they were not allowed to view the cherubim of the ark. Anders is being disingenuous by citing the cherubim as an example of graven image worship sanctioned by God.

It’s clear from Exodus 20:4-6 that God forbids the worship of any graven image, yet Catholicism employs many statues and images in its churches. People kneel down in front of statues of Jesus, Mary, and the saints and pray to them (photo right). That is worship. Catholics object to these accusations, saying that they aren’t actually praying to the carved statue, but to the person the statue represents. It’s a deceitful argument. Neither did all pagan idolaters believe their graven statues were the actual essence of their false deity, a type of fetishism, but rather they believed their graven statues/representations served as a conduit to the divine (see here for the section on “Did idolaters really worship idols?”). Not to mention, praying to any entity other than God is also idolatry. Nowhere in the entire Bible does a believer pray to anyone other than God.

After the adoption of Christianity by Constantine, pagan expressions of worship entered into the increasingly institutionalized church, including the worship of statues and images.

While Bible Christians are unanimously opposed to statue and icon worship, there is disagreement about the use of depictions of Jesus. Some say we should have nothing to do with such things as films that portray Jesus or with children’s books and Bibles that use illustrations depicting Jesus. Others say those things can be valuable teaching tools and are clearly not intended to be objects of worship as Exodus 20 forbids.

Do Catholics worship idols / practice idolatry?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Catholic-idolatry.html