Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – Pausing to note a paradox

Since early-August, we’ve been examining the 95 Bible verses presented by Catholic apologist, Dave Armstrong, in his book, “The Catholic Verses,” that allegedly validate Catholicism and “confound Protestants.” This week, I thought we’d take a break from the 95 verses and examine a bit of a paradox regarding the author that came to my attention a couple of weeks ago.

In his defense of the Catholic doctrine of penitential suffering, Armstrong criticized some Protestant Pentecostals and charismatics who propagate the health and wealth, name it and claim it, prosperity gospel (see here) and who blatantly ignore Bible passages that contradict guaranteed temporal health and wealth for the believer. Our sister at Biblical Beginnings commented that Armstrong’s criticism of the prosperity gospelers was inconsistent because of the popularity of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement, which boasts over 160 million followers. I responded that while Catholic charismatics do share many of the beliefs and practices of Pentecostals and charismatics regarding glossolalia, prophecy, and healings, they generally don’t focus on accumulating wealth and still value suffering as expiatory and penitential. However, Armstrong’s criticism of the prosperity gospel brought to focus an apparent contradiction based upon some of his other articles.

Many/most conservative Catholic apologists dismiss Pentecostalism’s gifts of the spirit as a Protestant novelty. For instance, apologist, David Anders, regularly dismisses Pentecostalism as an innovation begun by Charles Parham in 1900. Pentecostalism began its infiltration into the Catholic church at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh in 1967 and blossomed into the CCR. While Anders is careful not to condemn the practices of Catholic charismatics because popes and prelates have tolerated the CCR and looked upon it as a valuable tool for ecumenism, he views the movement as a departure from Catholic tradition with roots in Protestantism and with the very real potential for heterodoxy.

Unlike most of his fellow conservative Catholic apologists, Dave Armstrong, the author of “The Catholic Verses” is quite at home with the CCR. He admits to attending charismatic and healing Masses occasionally.* I did a little research and discovered that Armstrong was a member of a Pentecostal church before he converted to Roman Catholicism.**

The interesting paradox is that Armstrong views Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli as rebellious and dangerous heretics, yet is very comfortable with the non-Catholic innovations of Charles Parham and William J. Seymour, the pioneers of Pentecostalism! Does not compute my friends. It is contradictory for Armstrong to attack the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, and yet embrace the experiential practices that originated with Parham and Seymour in the early-20th-century outside of Catholicism.

Sources:

*Catholic Charismatic Renewal: A Defense
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/catholic-charismatic-renewal-a-defense.html

**Is Catholicism Christian? My Debate With James White (Dave Armstrong vs. James White from 1995)
http://www.biblicalcatholic.com/apologetics/DebatingJamesWhite.htm

Full disclosure: I’m a cessationist regarding the apostolic gifts of the Spirit. I believe the “showy” gifts were given to verify the authority of the apostles and ended after the apostolic era.

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 75 and 76: Penitential Suffering? – Part 2

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

Last week, we examined the first two Bible passages that Armstrong presented as proof texts for the Catholic teaching of penitential suffering. This week, we’ll examine the last two passages:

#75) 2 Corinthians 4:10: “…always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

#76) Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”

Beneath these passages, Armstrong writes, “God allows us to take part in the great drama of redemption by allowing us to share the sufferings of Christ that brought it about. That does not mean that the cause of redemption does not completely lie with Jesus Christ, but that we can be part of it in some mysterious way (in his will and by his design and providence), just as our prayers are part of his redemption and our works part of salvation.” – p.130.

I’m not going to spend a lot time on these two verses because I already examined in quite a bit of detail last week how Catholics believe suffering is expiatory (see here). Catholics will not only offer up any natural sufferings they encounter as penance for themselves or others, the will even inflict pain upon themselves as exercises in self-mortification.

But does suffering contribute to Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross towards redemption/salvation as Armstrong and Catholics claim? Colossians 1:24 is admittedly a difficult verse to interpret. Does Paul mean by this verse that there is something lacking or deficient in the sufferings that Christ endured to atone for the sins of the world? Such an interpretation would contradict the MANY passages Paul wrote regarding the absolute sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice including the very passage (vv. 15-23) leading up to verse 24, which proclaims Jesus the Savior “making peace by the blood of his cross.”

In the article below, theologian, Sam Storms, presents several evangelical interpretations of Colossians 1:24. Although they differ in detail, the main point is the same: “the calling of Christians is to willingly and joyfully endure suffering for the sake of Christ and his kingdom, for the sake of Christ and his body, the church. In this way we are seen to be his own. In this way others see him, through us, in his love for sinners. In this way we “share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10).”

Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ by Sam Storms
https://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/post/filling-up-the-afflictions-of-christ–1:24-

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 1/12/19

Last weekend, I mentioned that the American Catholic bishops were meeting outside of Chicago to mull over the sexual abuse and cover-up scandal tsunami that’s wracking the Catholic church. Next stop? The American bishops are scheduled to meet with all of the church’s bishops from around the world at the Vatican from February 21 to 24 to come up with some type of comprehensive plan to address the scandal. That is like putting Al Capone in charge of the Neighborhood Watch committee. Sexual abuse has been a “problem” within the Catholic church for centuries due to its mandatory rule of celibacy for clerics that has both attracted and fostered deviancy.

Seventy-years ago, back when the Catholic church was still religiously and politically militant, such a large number of Catholics in Congress would have been a concern. These days, most of these Catholic legislators are nominal/cultural Catholics at best, e.g., Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tim Kaine, etc.

Pope Francis is using cardinal Reinhard Marx and liberal German bishops as the vanguard for his progressive reforms.

Catholics love to boast that they have an infallible pope leading their church, although Catholic theologians can only agree on the infallibility of three papal declarations: the immaculate conception of Mary in 1854, papal infallibility in 1870, and the assumption of Mary in 1950. What’s the use of having an infallible pope if they never declare anything as dogma? Ironically, Catholic conservatives believe that everything the current pope has to say is not only fallible, but should be ignored.

Pope Francis’ progressivism is fueling a renaissance of pre-conciliar, militant traditionalism. Not all that long ago the Catholic church taught that only baptized Catholics had a chance of going to Heaven. These days, pope Francis says even atheists can merit Heaven if they are “good.”

I’m not happy to see this series coming from DC Comics, but caricaturizations of Jesus and Scripture are nothing new.

More than a few new Christians have enthusiastically resolved to read the Bible from cover to cover only to run into Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and become discouraged. It’s really helpful to use some Bible study aids (commentary and Bible dictionary) when reading those books.

Prosperity gospel scammers like Meyer make a shamefully grandiose living off of people’s greed – “Send in your ‘seed faith’ money so that you can also receive your financial blessing.”

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 73 and 74: Penitential Suffering? – Part 1

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

In the next chapter, Armstrong presents several verses/passages, which he believes support Catholicism’s doctrine of penitential suffering. This week, we’ll focus on the first two passages he introduces:

#73) Philippians 3:10: “…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

#74) Romans 8:17: “…and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Beneath these passages, Armstrong chides his Protestant readers, “one brand of Pentecostal ‘name it, claim it’ Protestantism, which asserts that believers can have whatever they like merely by having enough faith  to ‘claim it’…(tries) to pretend that suffering is foreign to the Christian life…(and) ignore(s) this crucial aspect of (Romans 8).” Armstrong continues, “Most Evangelicals do not take it that far, yet still minimize the place of suffering, and hence, of the related notion, penance.” – p. 128.

Armstrong then goes on to present the Catholic position, that a person can offer up their physical sufferings to God as a penance/atonement for their own sins or for the sins of others.

In rebuttal, we find that Scripture exhorts all born-again followers of Jesus Christ to count it all joy when we when we meet trials of various kinds. “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4. 

But are believers to seek out and even self-inflict suffering upon themself as a “penance” for sin as Catholicism teaches?

Hebrews 12:3-13 gives us an excellent perspective on trials and suffering:

“3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”

It’s clear from the above passage that the Lord uses persecution and trials to discipline the believer and conform them into the image of Jesus Christ. However, there is absolutely nothing in Scripture about offering up sufferings as penance for one’s self or others. That is a Catholic fabrication. Jesus paid for all sin on the cross at Calvary. What everyone must do is repent of sin and accept Jesus as Savior by faith alone.

Catholics have become obsessed with suffering as a means to expiate their sins (aka “redemptive suffering”). Not only do they offer up sufferings that they encounter naturally, they seek out additional suffering through the practice of “self-mortification.” Catholic “saints” down through the centuries have engaged in such practices as sleeping on the floor, wearing hair shirts or other uncomfortable devices, self-flagellation, fasting to the point of illness and death, depriving themselves of sleep, etc. Lest you think only medieval Catholics practiced these things, pope John Paul II was known to flagellate himself daily and mother Theresa wore a pain-inducing “cilice” (see here) every day. Ecumenical evangelicals might be shocked if they saw how pain-inducing, penitential self-mortification was/is a regular staple of Catholic piety.

Where did Catholicism get this idea of pain-inducing self-mortification? From pagan religiosity:

“28 And they (the false prophets of Baal) cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.” – 1 Kings 18:28-29

Christians are able to find joy and peace in all circumstances through the grace of our Lord, but suffering does not cleanse the punishment for sin from anyone, and to purposely seek out physical suffering is an evil and gross misinterpretation of Scripture.

All Christians will suffer in this world and we will suffer even more the closer we follow our Lord; through mockery, ridicule, and even physical persecution, but suffering does not merit salvation.

For more on the role of suffering in the life of a believer, see the article below:

Suffering Prepares Us for Glory
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-174/suffering-prepares-us-for-glory

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 71 and 72: Transubstantiation? – Part 2

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

We continue in the same chapter that we examined last week in which Armstrong argued for the Catholic claim that its priests transform bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Armstrong presents the following two passages as further proof:

#71) 1 Corinthians 10:16: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”

#72) 1 Corinthians 11:27-30: “27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

Beneath the second passage, Armstrong writes, “St. Paul hints at the sacredness of the Eucharist when he warns (using extremely strong language) of the consequences of receiving it without reverence and discernment. The implication is quite clear: something more than mere bread and wine, more than a pleasant “memorial meal,” is going on here.” – p. 124.

It certainly should be a sobering moment for born-again Christians to contemplate how the Lord Jesus Christ presented His broken body as a sacrifice for their sins when they receive communion. The Lord’s Supper is not to be taken casually. But it is quite another thing to extrapolate from those two passages that Catholic priests actually change bread wafers and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ! However, it is entirely understandable why the emerging clergy class of the early church would desire to elevate communion to a salvific exercise which they alone controlled. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of what He had done for each person who trusts in Him as Savior by faith alone, not as a means to salvation through “transubstantiated” bread and wine.

“23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” – 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.

For more information on the Lord’s Supper and 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, see the article below:

Transubstantiation and 1 Corinthians 11:27-29
https://carm.org/transubstantiation-and-1-corinthians-11-27-29

Justification: The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls

The evangelical church is sinking deeper and deeper into the clutches of ecumenism. “Tolerant” and “gracious” evangelicals not only do not want to hear about how Rome’s gospel differs from the Gospel of grace, they become annoyed with fellow-believers who make a point of it. One of the symptoms of evangelicalism’s embrace of Rome is the decreasing number of books being published that examine the irreconcilable differences between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity. A quick scan of my list of over 350 such books (see here) shows a noticeable decline in the last ten years. When was the last time you saw a book or pamphlet critical of Catholicism at your local (c)hristian book store? The major (c)hristian book publishers are not only abstaining from publishing such books, they’re now regularly publishing books from Catholic authors which promote Rome’s false gospel.

However, despite the widespread accommodation and compromise with deadly Roman error, Almighty God is still on His throne and Truth still shines. I’m encouraged that books are still being published that value Biblical truth over the push for empty “unity,” books like the up-coming “The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls: Justification in Biblical, Theological, Historical, and Pastoral Perspective,” which is due out March 31, 2019. The blurb at Amazon reads as follows:

“Many factors contributed to the Protestant Reformation, but one of the most significant was the debate over the doctrine of justification by faith alone. In fact, Martin Luther argued that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. This comprehensive volume of 26 essays from a host of scholars explores the doctrine of justification from the lenses of history, the Bible, theology, and pastoral practice―revealing the enduring significance of this pillar of Protestant theology.”

Catholicism teaches that souls are justified via subjective, intrinsic sanctification, i.e., that a person must become holy enough to merit salvation and that holiness is infused into the soul via grace from the sacraments. In stark contrast, Biblical Christianity teaches souls are justified only by repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, and receiving His imputed perfect righteousness. The genuine believer is justified via the objective, extrinsic, imputed righteousness of Christ. The two “approaches” are not similar or complementary. They are diametrically opposed. Both cannot be right. Despite the compromise and betrayal of ecumenical evangelical Judases, the irreconcilable differences over justification remain. There are many differences between Catholicism and Biblical Christianity, but, clearly, the difference over justification is the most important.

I’m especially encouraged by the participation of Leonardo De Chirico in this project. Pre-order from Amazon here.

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, and 70: Transubstantiation? – Part 1

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

In the next chapter, Armstrong argues for the Catholic position that its priests change bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, and that by consuming the consecrated elements, Catholics allegedly receive graces that help them obey the Ten Commandments and church rules in order to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Beneath the first passage, Armstrong writes, “The Catholic church teaches the real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist (or, Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, as Protestants often refer to it). By Real Presence, Catholics mean that Jesus Christ is actually and substantially present (not just subjectively or symbolically) after the bread and wine are consecrated and truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus. By transubstantiation (literally, “change of substance”), we mean that the bread and wine completely change into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The substance changes, but the outward properties, or accidents, remain the same. It is a mystery and must be believed by faith.” – p. 113.

Armstrong presents the passages below from the Last Supper accounts in the Gospels and from the “Bread from Heaven” passage from John 6. Because of the combined length of these passages, I’ve used hyper-links for the last five.

#65) Luke 22:19-20: “19 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.” 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

#66) John 6:47-66

#67) Matthew 26:27-28

#68) John 6:11

#69) John 6:26-27

#70) John 6:35

I’ve addressed the “Bread from Heaven” passage in John 6 several times. The passage is meant to be understood symbolically. We are not to literally eat Jesus as the source eternal life. The operative word in the passage is “believe,” which is used nine times. Eating a consecrated bread wafer doesn’t save anyone, rather it’s repenting of sin and trusting/believing in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone that saves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” – John 6:47

Many of the Jews who heard Jesus’ words in John 6 and the symbolism He used were confused and thought He was talking about physically eating Him. Some walked away in disgust. Catholics make much of the fact that many walked away and that Jesus did not correct them. From this, Catholics construe that their literal interpretation is correct. Not so. At the end of the passage Jesus states, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Jesus instructs His disciples to interpret His words spiritually, not materially. In several instances in the Gospels, Jesus did not clarify His teachings for the hard-hearted and unrepentant, so that “Seeing, they might see and not perceive; and hearing, they might hear and not understand” (Mark 4:12).

As with several other of Catholicism’s sacraments (e.g., baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick), where the emphasis is on the material substance administered by the priest (water, oil), with the eucharist, Catholics believe they must physically receive Jesus into their mouth and down into their digestive tract rather than spiritually receiving Jesus as Savior by faith alone. This is such a grave error. Because Catholics are taught the consecrated bread wafer is literally, Jesus Christ, all sorts of gross idolatry sprung up involving worshiping the “host.”

See my post on worshipping the Jesus wafer below:
https://excatholic4christ.wordpress.com/2016/07/13/showing-proper-respect-to-the-jesus-wafer/

Next week, we’ll examine two more verses which Armstrong cites as proof of transubstantiation.

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, and 64: Baptismal Regeneration?

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

Last week, we examined Armstrong’s defense of infant baptism (see here). This week, we’ll examine his claims for baptismal regeneration. Armstrong presents the six passages below as proof texts for baptismal regeneration. Underneath the verses, he writes, “Baptismal regeneration is understood by Catholics (and Orthodox, Lutherans, traditional Anglicans, Methodists, and some other Protestants, in a basic agreement) to mean a spiritual rebirth. Just as a human being must be physically generated to enter the world, he must be spiritually regenerated to enter the kingdom of heaven. The passages…constitute the major scriptural reasons why the great majority of Christians for two thousand years have accepted this belief, and accept baptism as a sacrament: a physical means to convey God’s grace.” – p. 103.

#59) 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.”

#60) Acts 2:38: “And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

#61) Acts 22:16: “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.”

#62) 1 Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

#63) Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.”

#64) 1 Peter 3:19-21: “19 in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 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 clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

In contrast to Armstrong’s and Catholicism’s spurious interpretations, the verses above describe a believer’s spiritual immersion in Christ at the moment they trust in Him as Savior as they have all of their sins “washed” away. The water baptism that follows is a temporal symbol of what already took place spiritually. If salvation was through the waters of baptism, then the hundreds of verses/passages that point to salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone would be null and void.

Bible Christianity teaches that salvation is available to everyone who repents of sin and trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior. Salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. After trusting in Christ and being spiritually reborn, a believer should absolutely follow the Lord in believer’s baptism as He commanded. Baptism is a public testimony of the believer’s identification with Christ in His death and burial (immersion in the water) and His resurrection (raised from the water). The baptismal waters have no powers. It is through belief/faith/trust in Christ by which we receive/appropriate the free gift of salvation. By focusing on the material/temporal (water baptism), Catholics miss the spiritual/eternal (repentance of sin and genuine acceptance of Christ as Savior). Sadly, billions of Catholics have been sprinkled with baptismal water as incognizant infants over the centuries and were later told the water somehow magically regenerated them.

As the early church devolved into institutionalism, simple, saving faith in Jesus Christ was gradually replaced by ritualism and ceremony, all controlled by an increasingly powerful clergy class.

For detailed information on the great error of baptismal regeneration and answers to some of the specific verses that Armstrong cites, see the article below:

Does Baptism Save You? (1 Peter 3:21; Acts 2:38)
https://www.gty.org/library/Print/Blog/B160815

While Armstrong cites the six verses/passages above as proof texts to support baptismal regeneration that allegedly “confound” non-pedobaptist Christians, believers stand firm upon the Gospel of grace.

Postscript: As I’ve mentioned previously in this series, the Catholic doctrine of baptismal regeneration has become impossibly dichotomous for them. On the one hand, they claim baptism is absolutely essential for salvation (in Catholic theology, a person is born-again when they are baptized). On the other hand, in modern times the Catholic church has come to allow that people of all other religions may also merit heaven if they are “good.” Pope Francis has stated that even atheists may merit heaven if they follow their conscience and are “good.”

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 56, 57, and 58: Infant Baptism?

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

Armstrong presents the three passages below as proof texts for infant baptism. Underneath the verses, he writes, “Catholics (and other advocates of infant baptism) do not claim that these verses prove that the Bible teaches infant baptism. However, a straightforward reading of them suggests that children were likely baptized along with the household or family of which they were a part. Thus, these verses pose a difficulty for Protestants who oppose infant baptism and must be explained differently.” – p. 97.

#56) Acts 16:15 – And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

#57) Acts 16:33 – And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family.

#58) 1 Corinthians 1:16 – I did baptize also the household of Steph′anas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any one else.

Catholics like Armstrong point to these passages as circumstantial evidence that infants were also baptized in the early church since they were also members of “households” and “families,” but such extrapolations defy the clear teaching of other passages. There are no clear-cut, definitive examples in the New Testament of an infant being baptized, however there are several New Testament passages which show that baptism follows trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior. See the two passages below. Infants and very young children are unable to comprehend their sinful condition and their need for the Savior.

Acts 8:35-38 “35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him.”

Did you catch verse 37? “If you believe with all your heart, you may (be baptized).” Infants, unlike the eunuch in the passage above, are unable to believe (trust in) Jesus Christ as Savior.

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

As the above verse teaches, belief in (trusting in) Christ comes first, then comes baptism. Infants are unable to believe (trust) in Christ.

Catholicism teaches “baptismal regeneration” and claims that infants who are baptized have their original sin washed away and are spiritually reborn (born-again). As the person matures, they must follow the church’s regimen of sacraments and obedience of the Ten Commandments and church rules in order to possibly merit Heaven at the moment of their death.

I posted a message recently on the difference between Catholicism’s notion of baptism versus Biblical baptism. See here.

Protestant churches with links to the Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican traditions also perform infant baptisms. While these churches do not attribute to baptism the same sacramental efficacy claimed by Roman Catholicism, they do believe – I think erroneously – that baptism somehow mysteriously grafts the infant into the church.

While Armstrong cites Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, and 1 Corinthians 1:16 as semi-proof texts supporting infant baptism, reaching such a conclusion is irresponsible and self-serving eisegesis.

For more information on infant baptism, see the article below:

Is Infant Baptism Biblical?
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-369/is-infant-baptism-biblical

Catholic apologist’s favorite “gotcha” isn’t really a “gotcha”

I usually listen to Catholic talk radio for one hour each day during the work week to keep up with what’s going on in the RCC. The show I normally listen to is, “Called to Communion,” and the stated purpose of the show is to try to convince Protestants to convert to Catholicism. When a believer calls into the show with an objection regarding Catholic doctrine, host David Anders (photo above) always responds by asking, where do THEY get their authority?

I was listening to the 11/19/18 podcast of the show and Matthew from Portland, Oregon called in at the 21:22 mark and stated that Catholicism has disobeyed God’s Word by adding to the Scriptures with its man-made traditions. Anders fired back by smugly asking Matthew where he got his authority. Matthew replied that he got his authority from Scripture alone. Anders then asked Matthew how does he know that the books in his Bible are canonical to which Matthew had no reply. Anders then presented his usual claim; that we know the books of the Bible are canonical because Catholic church councils (Hippo 393, and Carthage 397, 419) declared various books as Scripture and rejected others. Matthew didn’t respond and, once again, Anders declared victory with his very familiar and well-worn “gotcha.”

But is there anything wrong with Anders’ claim? The Eastern Orthodox church certainly wouldn’t agree that those ancient church councils were Roman Catholic. And I would argue that, while the early church was already headed toward legalistic institutionalism by the time of those councils, it did not resemble either the Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy of today. But, most importantly, how does Anders explain the canon of Old Testament Scripture? The Jews had the complete Old Testament WITHOUT the benefit of ANY church council declarations. How did that happen? No, the church didn’t give us the Bible, the Holy Spirit did! The sixty-six books of the Bible are recognized as Scripture because Scripture is self-authenticating. Someone once compared the relationship between early church councils and the Biblical canon to Sir Isaac Newton and gravity. Newton didn’t invent gravity, he merely described the force that was already present.

The next time you hear a Roman Catholic boast that it was their church that gave us the New Testament, ask them who gave the Jews the Old Testament?

For more information, check the links to the ministry of Michael J. Kruger below:

What Do We Mean When We Say the Bible is ‘Self-Authenticating’?
https://www.michaeljkruger.com/what-do-we-mean-when-we-say-the-bible-is-self-authenticating/

https://www.michaeljkruger.com/

Postscript: Anders and his fellow Catholics believe their church’s authority is based upon the combination of Scripture, the church’s “sacred” traditions, and the “magisterium” or teaching authority of the pope and his bishops. The serious dilemma conservative Catholics such as Anders now face is that the current pope, Francis, has changed multiple doctrines held to be infallible by previous popes.