Throwback Thursday: “The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 29, 2016 and has been revised.

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The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional
By Charles Chiniquy
Chick Publications, 1979, 144 pages

5 Stars

I don’t normally waste my time with material from Chick Publications because I don’t believe every calamity is attributable to a Jesuit global conspiracy, but I received this book as a gift. This Chick reprint of “The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional” by ex-priest, Charles Chiniquy, preserves a valuable, nineteenth-century Protestant critique of Roman Catholicism’s sacrament of auricular confession. Chiniquy’s book was first published in 1875, followed by many subsequent re-prints.

With overwrought prose typical of his times, Chiniquy warns his readers of the dangers inherent in “auricular” (spoken into the ear of the confessor) confession. Catholics are obligated to confess their “mortal” sins to a priest at least once a year under penalty of incurring yet another “mortal” sin. Since most penitents are extremely reluctant to divulge any embarrassing sexual sins, whether they be thoughts or actions, priests are instructed to thoroughly question the person about such matters to ensure a candid “good” confession. Chiniquy gives many examples of the dangers of celibate confessors (priests) interrogating their female supplicants about such personal matters. The Catholic church acknowledges the pitfalls inherent in its process by defining the use of the confessional for immoral purposes by priests as “solicitation.”

Catholicism teaches that salvation comes by receiving its sacraments, all tightly controlled by the clergy, and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. The sacrament of reconciliation, auricular confession, is just another opportunity for the Catholic clergy to exercise control over its members. Chiniquy demonstrates that confession of sins to a priest has no basis in New Testament Scripture and he urges the reader to turn from man-made Catholic legalism and traditions and accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Once a person accepts Christ as Savior, they should confess all sin directly to God, not to a human mediator (Mark 2:7).

“The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional” has been lumped together with similar evangelical Protestant books of the period as anti-Catholic “hate literature” of a bygone era. One could argue the title is a bit salacious and meant to appeal to prurient interests. Likewise, the illustrated cover provided by Chick Publications is mildly sensationalistic. Ex-priest Chiniquy definitely exaggerates his point by claiming the confessional was directly responsible for bringing many Catholic countries down to ruin. These minor objections aside, even the most sectarian Catholic apologist can’t deny the Roman confessional has led to abuse of scandalous proportions.

While Chiniquy was concerned with relationships between confessor priests and their adult, female penitents, news reports over the last thirty years have revealed shocking clerical sexual abuse of children, mainly boys, validating the ex-priest’s warnings regarding the confessional, but going far beyond the improprieties alluded to in this book. In many cases, the abusive relationships between priests and children began in the confessional box. The sacraments of the “eucharist” and confession had been reserved for adults prior to 1910, but that year pope “saint” Pius X issued his Quam Singulari decree, which mandated that Catholic children begin receiving communion and going to confession at age seven. In 2012, bishopaccountability.org reported the number of American priests credibly accused of molesting children since 1950 to be more than 6,100. Over 16,000 victims have been documented although many others surely never came forward. The Catholic church’s cover up of its pedophile priests scandal involved the highest offices of the hierarchy.

In contrast to Chiniquy’s time, Catholics now stay away from the confessional box in droves despite the threat of “mortal” sin. Who can blame them? Catholic sources state that only 26% of the membership participate in confession at least once a year. Evidently the other 74% would rather take their chances with eternity than share a “dark box” with a priest. Additionally, asking penitents to recall all of the times they disobeyed the Ten Commandments in the past year is beyond ludicrous. I couldn’t possibly recall all of my sins against God in either thought, word, deed, and omission for even a single day. Christ reveals in Matthew 5 the utter hopelessness of attempting to obey the law as a means to salvation. The entire business is a religious sham designed to keeps its members totally dependent on the Catholic clergy.

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

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to direct you to an evangelical church in your area that’s preaches God’s Word without compromise.

Afterthought: An “invalid” priest and the dizzying consequences

A couple of weeks ago, I published a post about a Roman Catholic priest, Matthew Hood (photo above), who recently discovered that his infant baptism was “invalid,” which, as a consequence, rendered his ordination invalid. That led to all kinds of ramifications and diocesan “remediations,” which I examined in the first post (see here).

Afterwards, another thought came to mind regarding priest Hood and the specific sacrament of the eucharist that I will focus on further below. But first, let’s lay some groundwork.

The Catholic church teaches that during the mass, the priest mystically changes bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ, which are then offered up to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of those assembled, and also for the pope, the local bishop, and anyone else who is specially mentioned. The congregants then line up to receive a consecrated Jesus wafer from the priest. They are taught that consuming the Jesus wafer provides graces to help them resist sin and do good in order to merit their salvation at the time of their death. Some Catholics testify that consuming the Jesus wafer is, for them, a very powerful, mystical experience. Some even report feeling an emotional closeness to Jesus that borders on the rapturous.

Let’s now return to the case of priest Matthew Hood. Hood was ordained as a priest on June 3, 2017, but discovered this past summer that he was invalidly baptized as an infant, which meant his ordination was also invalid. So, over the course of three years, Hood celebrated mass at two different parishes as an invalid priest. If Hood celebrated mass at least once per day over that span, that’s at least 1000 times he went through the motions of transubstantiation – the supposed changing of the bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ – without having done so because he had not actually been ordained and invested with priestly powers (I write these things strictly for hypothetical purposes).

So for three long years, not one congregant noticed that the bread wafers dispensed by Hood were not transubstantiated. Don’t miss it, my friends. This is very revealing! Not one parishioner spoke up and said, “Hey, there’s something wrong here! I’m not experiencing any wonderful feelings or behavior-changing results from these communion wafers like I normally do.” NOT ONE PERSON raised a concern about the faux Jesus wafers distributed by Hood during the three years he was an invalid priest.

All of the above is not surprising to me. As a Roman Catholic, I consumed the transubstantiated Jesus wafer at least weekly, beginning with my first communion at age seven up until my early-teen years (fourteen?), after which I began attending mass irregularly. I estimate that I received communion over 500 times in my 27 years as a Catholic, which included a four-year stint as an altar boy. Not once in those 500+ times did I ever undergo some type of mystical, empowering experience. I was exactly the same after consuming the Jesus wafer as I was before. I also observed there were no radical or even subtle changes in my parents, my sisters, or my Catholic grammar school and high school classmates after they had received the Jesus wafer.

The bottom line: those Catholics who claim a mystical and/or behavior-altering experience after consuming the allegedly transubstantiated Jesus wafer are self-delusional as this invalid priest saga proves. Religious sacraments, rituals, and ceremonies don’t save. The Good News is that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone this day and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches the Gospel without compromise.

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.” – Matthew 24:23

An “invalid” priest and the dizzying consequences

Although the Roman Catholic church claims it is a Christian institution (it actually declares that it is the “one, true church”), its salvation system of sacramental grace and merit is antithetical to the genuine Good News Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Roman Catholicism appeals to the religious lost with its precise liturgical rituals and formal pomposity, but beneath the ornate facade is an impossible legalism that dooms the soul.

While searching for news items for a recent weekend roundup, I came across the article far below, which required a post all by itself. It’s an excellent example of a Roman Catholic legalistic religious rabbit hole that just gets deeper and deeper and deeper. Fasten your seat belt and let’s delve into this bizarre and sad circumstance.

Roman Catholic priest, Matthew Hood (photo above), was enjoying a family video of his 1990 infant baptism, but became very distraught when he observed the presiding deacon, Mark Springer, using an incorrect version of the baptismal formula. Instead of saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” as the church mandates, the deacon had incorrectly said, “We baptize you…” Hood immediately contacted his superior, the archbishop of Detroit, who in turn contacted the Vatican in Rome. The Vatican quickly ruled that Hood’s infant baptism was invalid because of the incorrect wording, which meant that his ordination as a priest in 2017 was likewise invalid. The bishop immediately had Hood rebaptized using the correct formula, and then reconfirmed, and reordained, but the problem doesn’t end there. Only validly ordained priests are supposedly empowered to administer the sacraments. As an invalidly ordained priest, Hood had illegitimately administered the sacraments of 1) the eucharist, 2) confession, 3) last rites, 4) marriage, and 5) confirmation (note: the RCC allows that anyone may administer the sacrament of baptism, even an atheist, as long as they follow the precise rubrics).

The archdiocese is now instructing all of the members of the two parishes where Hood was assigned to inquire if any remedial follow-up is needed as well as all those who were baptized by Springer from 1986 to 1999 when he was active.

Everyone who was married or confirmed by Hood will need to have those sacraments re-performed by a validly ordained priest. But what about the thousands of times Hood invalidly administered the sacraments of the eucharist, absolution, and last rites? What happens to those souls who relied on Hood for those sacraments during the three years he was an invalid priest? According to Catholic theology, the sacraments are essential to salvation, yet Hood’s parishioners were receiving bogus sacraments for three years. What about the members who had received illegitimate eucharist, absolution, and last rites during that time span and died? The archbishop of Detroit, Allen H. Vigneron, attempted to quell any panic by stating, “We can be assured that all those who approached Father Hood, in good faith, to receive the sacraments did not walk away empty-handed.” Hmm. That message presumes upon a laxness on the part of Catholicism’s god that is contradicted by all of the current, highly-prioritized, diocesan-dictated remediation.

My friends, this sad saga is an excellent illustration of how Catholicism’s salvation system of sacramental grace and merit is a legalistic rabbit hole that just gets deeper and deeper. One irregular contingency leads to another and another and another. At the same time that it deals in all of the legalistic scrupulosity detailed above, the Roman Catholic church dichotomously teaches that people of all religions (e.g., Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.) and even atheists can merit Heaven if they are sincere and “follow the light they are given.” Turn from false (c)hristianity, repent of your sin, and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

Detroit priest’s invalid baptism had ripple effect, archdiocese says
https://www.catholicnews.com/detroit-priests-invalid-baptism-had-ripple-effect-archdiocese-says/

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, #24: “Once and For All”

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 as he attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ arguments that Jesus Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice “Once and For All.”

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The Roman Catholic church claims that during each of its masses, the priest offers Jesus Christ (under the form of bread and wine) as a sacrifice to God the Father for the sins of the congregants and for anyone else who is named, including the pope and the local bishop. It’s estimated that the Catholic church conducts 350,000 Catholic masses each day throughout the world. As Broussard points out, evangelical Protestants object to this repeated sacrifice for sin as un-Biblical and offer Hebrews 7:27 as their proof text:

“He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”

How can Catholicism reconcile its 128 million masses annually with God’s Word which clearly says Jesus Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin once for all? Broussard offers three rationalizations:

Firstly, Broussard cites the Roman church’s argument that, technically, it’s not repeating Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, but rather re-presenting the same sacrifice in an unbloody manner. Broussard claims the injunction against repeated sacrifice expressed in Hebrews 7:27 pertains to the continual animal sacrifices offered by the Jewish high priests, NOT to the alleged sacrifice re-presented at the mass.

Secondly, Broussard presents three Biblical proof texts, which he alleges support the Catholic claim for Christ’s ongoing sacrificial ministry: Hebrews 7:24-25, Hebrews 8:2-3, and Hebrews 9:23-26.

Lastly, Broussard seeks to diffuse objections to Catholicism’s “unbloody” sacrifices for sin. He points to the examples of the drink and grain offerings that were presented to God by the Israelites as part of the Levitical rituals recorded in the Old Testament.

Okay, let’s now respond to Broussard:

First, the objection by Catholics that they are re-presenting Christ’s sacrifice rather than repeating it is a ham-fisted attempt to circumvent the clear teaching in Hebrews, chapters 7 through 10, regarding the finality of Christ’s sacrifice. God, in His wisdom, included an indisputable refutation of the Catholic position:

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” – Hebrews 10:12

Where is Jesus? Is He upon Catholic altars being offered 128 million times per year as a sacrifice? Certainly not! He is seated at the right hand of God the Father.

Secondly, in regards to Broussard’s Bible proof texts, which he alleges confirm perpetual sacrifice, let’s take a look at just one:

24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. – Hebrews 7:24-25

There is nothing in the above passage that suggests that Jesus is perpetually sacrificing Himself 128 million times per year as the Roman church teaches. As the perfect High Priest, Jesus perpetually makes available the expiatory power of His single sacrifice upon Calvary to all those who trust in Him as Savior by faith alone.

Lastly, Broussard’s reference to the grain and drink offerings of the Old Testament Levitical rituals as examples of bloodless sacrifices is spurious. Blood HAD to be shed for the remission of sins:

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” – Hebrews 9:22

The purpose of the Levitical grain and drink offerings was to worship God and acknowledge His provision. They were NOT sacrifices for sin. Broussard’s reference to these offerings as validation of Catholicism’s bloodless sacrifice of the mass is either duplicitous or betrays a complete lack of knowledge of basic Bible hermeneutics. For more information on grain offerings see the article at the very bottom.

The raw truth is that the Catholic mass with its eucharistic sacrifice is the illegitimate perpetuation of the Old Testament sacrificial system, with the Jesus wafer “host” (Latin: victim) replacing the animals. Priests are indispensable mediators in the Catholic salvation system by design and the laity are completely dependent upon them.

Personal note: I recall reading the New Testament for the first time as a Roman Catholic around age 24 and being increasingly disturbed by the differences between God’s Word and Catholic doctrine. Hebrews, chapters 7-10, was the final straw. Every Roman Catholic needs to prayerfully read Hebrews chapters 7-10 to see there is no more need for human priests or sacrifice. Below are several highlights from those chapters:

“He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” – Hebrews 7:27

“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” – Hebrews 8:1-2

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” – Hebrews 9:11-12

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” – Hebrews 9:24-28

“And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:10-14

What is a grain offering?
https://www.gotquestions.org/grain-offering.html

Throwback Thursday: Sorry, no unbaptized babies allowed!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 17, 2015 and has been substantially revised.

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The Roman Catholic church boasts that it’s Semper eadem, always the same, but even a
casual student of church history knows that Catholic theology has always been evolving. Case in point:

The RCC has taught baptismal regeneration for 1500 years. It was a doctrine of the church that an unbaptized person could not enter into Heaven except in the cases of martyrs and catechumens. This belief extended to infants who had died without being baptized. Although it was never “official” doctrine, it was widely disseminated by the church that the souls of unbaptized babies went to a region in Hell called “Limbo” (Latin: limbus infantium) where there was allegedly no suffering, but neither “supernatural happiness.”

“Limbo: The place where unbaptized infants go.” – The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism (No. 2), 1991 edition, p. 248., – Imprimatur – Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York.

Because of that teaching, Catholic hospital personnel were instructed to go to great lengths to baptize all newborns who were in danger of dying. If babies were not baptized prior to their death, they were not permitted to be buried in Catholic cemeteries.

[Long pause for effect]

You read that right. Babies who were not baptized were refused burial in “blessed” Catholic cemeteries.

“If (the fetus or child is) not baptized, it should be buried in unconsecrated ground, without any religious rites.” – Quizzes on Hospital Ethics (1946), pp. 57-58. See also the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), pp. 11, 267, Administrative Legislation (1930) p. 87, and Medical Ethics (1949), p. 245.

The 1917 Code of Canon Law strictly forbade the burial of an unbaptized infant in a Catholic cemetery (Can. 1239). It was taught that burial in a “hallowed” Catholic cemetery accorded the deceased greater graces in the attainment of Heaven as well as ensuring that Catholic burial practices were adhered to.

As Catholic theologians and prelates were increasingly influenced by liberal ideas in the 20th century, the church began to relax its teaching on baptismal regeneration, and at the Second Vatican Council the church granted that all religionists – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, etc. –  could also merit eternal life (Lumen Gentium, para. 16, November 21, 1964).

But what about the infants of Catholic families who died without baptism? The Catholic church gradually changed its teaching on unbaptized babies going to Limbo as well. The church now states that it “hopes” all unbaptized infants will go to Heaven:

“…allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism…” – CCC 1261.

Regarding the previous cemetery restriction on unbaptized infants, the 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law lifted the fifteen-century-long ban and allowed for the burial of unbaptized infants in Catholic cemeteries, although the mourning family is still required to obtain the permission of the local bishop.

There is no salvation for any Catholic in the Roman church’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit, but I shake my head in sadness for all of the grieving Catholic families over the centuries that were not allowed to bury their dead, unbaptized infants in their cemeteries. Keep in mind that while the Catholic bishops would not allow the burial of unbaptized infants in their cemeteries, they did allow the burial of pedophile priests and notorious members of organized crime. I can also easily imagine that exceptions to the rule were granted in the cases of unbaptized infants of wealthy contributors such as the Kennedys.

“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” – Matthew 23:4-5

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3

Contrary to the complex and ever-changing legalism of the Roman Catholic church, the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is unchanging and so simple even a child can understand. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. You cannot merit your way to Heaven.

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” – Romans 3:20-22

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #23: “Do This in Remembrance”

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 Lord’s Supper as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that Jesus Christ instituted communion only as a memorial rather than as a sacrifice when He said, “Do This in Remembrance.”

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First some background: The centerpiece of the Roman Catholic religion is the mass with its celebration of the “eucharist” (Greek: thanksgiving). The Roman church alleges that during the “eucharist” portion of the mass, its priests mysteriously transform bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ (i.e., transubstantiation). The priests then offer the consecrated “host” (Latin: sacrificial victim) to God the Father as a supposedly efficacious sacrifice for the sins of the congregants and any others who are named. The congregants then line up to receive a Jesus wafer from the priest, believing as they are told, that consuming the Jesus wafer endows them with graces enabling them to resist temptation and obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) in order to possibly merit salvation at the moment of death. Catholics obtain their heterodox views from their church’s erroneous interpretations of John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the four gospels.

Broussard acknowledges that Protestants strongly object to the Catholic interpretation of the Lord’s Supper. Evangelical Protestants view the Lord’s Supper as a memorial of Christ’s sacrificial offering of His body and blood on the cross. Protestants cite Luke 22:19 as one of their proof texts:

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Broussard recognizes that Luke 22:19 is a serious challenge to the Catholic interpretation, for Christ Himself refers to the Lord’s Supper as a memorial. Broussard attempts to overcome the evident meaning of “Do this in remembrance of me” with three arguments.

Firstly, Broussard argues that “do this” (Greek: touto poieite, this do) can possibly be translated as “offer this” (i.e., offer this sacrifice). As we’ve seen previously, Broussard is playing fast and loose with his Greek lexicon. It would have been an oxymoron for Jesus to instruct His apostles to offer an actual, efficacious sacrifice only in remembrance. Broussard must overcome the word, remembrance, for his theory to make sense, but what will be his approach?

In his second argument, Broussard suggests that the “remembrance” referred to in Luke 22:19 applies not to the apostles, but to God the Father. He presents Numbers 10:10 as his supporting proof text:

“They (i.e., burnt offerings and fellowship offerings) will be a memorial for you before your God.” (NIV).

Broussard is suggesting that the last sentence of Luke 22:19 should be restated as “Offer this sacrifice as a memorial before God of me.” In other words, God the Father is supposed to do the remembering, not the apostles. This forced interpretation contradicts the clear meaning of the text. Jesus’s command, “Do this,” is a present active imperative directed at the apostles. THE APOSTLES were to eat the bread and wine as a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. God the Father does not need to do any remembering of the event.

Lastly, the Catholic apologist attempts to cover all possibilities by suggesting that IF Jesus did in fact intend for the apostles to do the remembering, then the ritual is still much more than a symbolic ordinance as Protestants believe. He argues that the Catholic liturgical celebration of the eucharist is not just a remembrance or a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice, but that it “actually makes present the event remembered” (p.130). Catholics claim that they don’t repeat Jesus’s sacrifice, which Scripture plainly precludes (“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” – Hebrews 10:12), but rather they claim to re-present Jesus’s one unique sacrifice. Broussard cites Exodus 13:8,14 and a reference to the “Mishnah Pesachim” of the Jewish Talmud regarding Passover observance laws; that Jews were to forever celebrate the holiday as virtual participants in the liberation from Egypt rather than as mere commemorators. Broussard is grasping at straws once again. Not one single Jew believes the events of the Passover and Exodus are being re-presented at Passover celebration the way Catholics claim the eucharist re-presents Christ’s unique sacrifice on the cross. However, it’s quite ironic that Broussard appeals to unbelieving Jews who observe the Passover feast and yet reject the Messiah Who was symbolized by the sacrificial lamb and its blood that was applied to the Israelites’ door posts. Likewise, Catholics claim to re-present Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and yet reject the Savior and salvation that only comes by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Broussard continues his defense of the Catholic version of the Lord’s Supper in the next two chapters. Next week, we’ll dig deeper into the Roman Catholic church’s sophistry by which it craftily substitutes re-present in place of repeat in regards to its 128 million annual sacrifices of the mass.

Next up: “Once and For All”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #20: “Cornelius Received the Spirit First”

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 twelve-part section on the Sacraments. Broussard wrote about baptism in the two previous chapters and this week he continues by countering evangelical Protestants’ objection to baptismal regeneration, as they note that “Cornelius Received the Spirit First,” before he was baptized.

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation (CCC 1257). In contrast, evangelical Protestants believe that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone and that baptism is an ordinance for new believers to publicly profess their faith in Christ. Broussard points out that evangelicals often use Acts 10:45-48 as a proof text for their position against baptismal regeneration:

45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

The passage shows that Cornelius and the other Gentiles who were with him were filled with the Holy Spirit and were therefore saved before they were baptized.

Broussard rolls out three arguments to refute the evangelical position:

Firstly, he argues that the Old Testament records several instances of the Holy Spirit working through/empowering people who he alleges were not necessarily believers. He offers as examples the tabernacle craftsman, Bezalel, (Exodus 31:3-5), Sampson (Judges 14:6), and Saul (1 Samuel 11:6). For an example from the New Testament, Broussard points to Matthew 7:22-23 and claims that the false believers mentioned therein are performing miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit.

For his second point, Broussard takes a step back and states that while the RCC teaches baptism is the ordinary means (author’s italics) of salvation, it does not teach it is the absolute means of salvation. The RCC concedes that “God can work beyond his sacraments” (p.112). Therefore, Broussard argues, God could have granted salvation to Cornelius and his Gentile companions prior to baptism, which he boasts renders evangelicals’ argument a straw man. He claims an exception was “fitting” in the case of Cornelius and company because it provided visible proof to doubtful Jewish believers.

Finally, Broussard claims that baptism must be the ordinary means of salvation because the Bible “clearly” indicates it as such. He offers four proof texts:

John 3:5: “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

Ezekiel 36:25-27: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you” (v.25). 

Romans 6:3-4: “3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

1 Peter 3:21: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Okay, let’s address Broussard’s arguments one at a time.

Firstly, Broussard presumes much by alleging that Bezalel, Sampson, and Saul were not believers. Besides that, many theologians, including Catholic theologians, agree that the Holy Spirit did not work in the same way among God’s people in the Old Testament as He did in the New. Did the Spirit indwell or only rest upon OT believers? Was the indwelling/resting of the Spirit permanent or only temporary (as several passages might indicate)? These questions are still being debated. However, Acts 2 records a new event in human history, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all believers, which only happened after Jesus’s ascension. As for Broussard’s claim that Matthew 7:22-23 is referring to unbelievers performing miracles empowered by the Holy Spirit, this is an egregiously faulty interpretation. Scripture records elsewhere that Satan performs impressive signs and lying wonders (see 2 Thessalonians 2:9).

Secondly, Broussard and the RCC hedge their bets by arguing that while baptism is essential for salvation, it is dichotomously NOT essential for salvation. The Roman church always conceded that the unbaptized who died desiring baptism were de facto baptized via baptismus flaminis (Latin): baptism of desire. As modernism entered into Catholic theology in the 20th century, this “baptism of desire” was also applied to “good and sincere” non-Catholic religionists and even atheists who were not aware of the importance of baptism “through no fault of their own.” With these accommodations to modernism/Universalism, Catholics have undercut their own doctrine mandating the essentiality of baptism. Broussard guilefully omits any mention of Roman Catholicism’s universalist teachings regarding the unbaptized.

Thirdly, the correct meaning of Broussard’s proof texts must be understood through careful examination and in the context of other Scripture. In several examples, such as with John 6 and the reference to eating Jesus’s flesh to attain eternal life, Catholicism takes an incorrect literal approach rather than the figurative one that’s intended. In other cases, Catholicism pulls words and phrases out of context. For the sake of brevity, let’s examine only the last proof text. Catholics are quick to use 1 Peter 3:21 because it starts off with Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, but they gloss over the full text and the context. The verse is actually saying it’s NOT the water that saves a person (“not as a removal of dirt from the body”), rather it’s what baptism represents that saves (“an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”). The refutation of Catholicism’s claim to baptismal regeneration is actually included in the proof text that Broussard presents!

There are several Bible verses and passages that “seem to” support baptismal regeneration when taken out of context. But such verses must be examined in the entire context of the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, which runs as a “red thread” throughout the Old Testament and is elucidated in the New Testament.

See the helpful articles below for more information:

Does 1 Peter 3:21 teach that baptism is necessary for salvation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-1Peter-3-21.html

Is baptism necessary for salvation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-salvation.html

Next week: “Not to Baptize but to Preach”

De-substantiation? What happens to the Jesus wafer after it is swallowed?

A short time ago in a weekend roundup comment, I referred to Catholicism’s obscure teaching regarding the alleged, 15-minute-only, limited presence of Jesus in communion that I’d like to expound on a bit. This discussion gets a little messy by necessity so I apologize to those readers with very sensitive natures.

Roman Catholicism has catalog after catalog filled with its rituals, ceremonies, and traditions, but the most important of its rituals, by far, is the “celebration of the eucharist” at every mass. The Roman church goes so far as to proclaim that the eucharist (Greek eukharistia “thanksgiving”) is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324).

The RCC claims that during the eucharist portion of the mass, the priest transforms bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. This mysterious transformation is called transubstantiation. The priest then offers up the alleged Jesus wafers and wine as a sacrifice to God the Father for the sins* of the congregants and any others who are named, including the pope, the local bishop, souls in purgatory etc. The congregants then line up in the aisle to receive the Jesus elements from the priest. Catholics are taught the Jesus elements impart graces that enable them to resist sin and do good so as to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. The Roman church bases its transubstantiation doctrine on a hyper-literalist interpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the gospels.

With that introduction, we can now get down to the (very) nitty gritty of this post. Let’s go back to the pious Catholic supplicant who received the Jesus wafer from the priest and placed it in his or her mouth. They return to their pew and kneel down on the kneeler, contemplating that they have just swallowed Jesus. What then? The Jesus wafer goes down the communicant’s esophagus and into their stomach where it is broken down by gastric acids. The particles/molecules then travel through the intestines where nutrients are absorbed. Any remaining matter is expelled through the colon and rectum.

Wait a minute! Do you mean to say that some of the Jesus wafer particles are expelled into the public sewer system and that the discharged Jesus matter from the Catholics in the community is mixed together with human excrement down at the local waste treatment facility? That sounds like a real problem. However, the Catholic catechism teaches that Jesus remains present in the wafer particles/molecules only for “as long as the Eucharistic species subsist” (CCC 1377), which is generally assumed to be about 15 minutes. Why 15 minutes? Why not 10 minutes? Why not 20 minutes? Who decided on 15 minutes? So after 15 minutes, Jesus allegedly leaves the eucharist particles/molecules and returns to Heaven, conveniently avoiding the messier parts of digestive waste elimination. What shall we call this process? De-substantiation? Have I coined a new term? There is very little official information from the RCC about this obscure, 15-minute subsistence dilemma. It’s another one of Catholicism’s “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” religious-calculus conundrums. Pious Catholics just go along with the program without thinking through the inevitable messy consequences of the transubstantiation rabbit hole.

Gospel Christians believe, as the Bible states, that communion/the Lord’s supper is a remembrance of how Jesus Christ gave His body and shed His blood as a propitiatory sacrifice for sin.

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” – Luke 22:19

Jesus defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave and He offers eternal life to all those who repent of their sin and trust in Him as their Savior by faith alone. Once again, Catholics get hung up on the physical/temporal rather than just believing the spiritual truth of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

Postscript 1: Question: Since the Bible teaches that God the Holy Spirit already indwells all genuine believers, why would Roman Catholicism make such a HUGE deal about (allegedly) physically ingesting God the Son at Sunday mass every week? Answer: Because the eucharist/transubstantiation doctrine equates to tremendous control for the Catholic clergy.

Postscript 2: Catholicism claims the sacrifice of the mass is a “re-presentation” of Jesus’s sacrifice at Calvary, but the Bible says there is NO MORE sacrifice for sin.

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:11-14

Jesus Christ is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. He is NOT situated on Catholic altars as a broken host/victim.

*The RCC hierarchy stipulates that only venial sins can be forgiven at mass. They claim mortal sins can only be forgiven by a priest in confession.

For research purposes, see the Catholic article, “How long is Jesus present in the Eucharist after we’ve received Communion?”