Coming out of a worldwide pandemic, common sense would tell you not to touch your lips to a cup shared by hundreds or even tens of people. The Roman Catholic church teaches its priests change bread wafers and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. While the bread correlates to the body and the wine to the blood, the RCC teaches Jesus’ body and blood are present in both “species,” so there’s allegedly no need to consume both wafer and wine. However, practice contradicts doctrine because priests and “eucharistic ministers” do differentiate and say, “The Body of Christ,” when presenting the wafer and, “The Blood of Christ,” when presenting the wine cup to the credulous faithful. A percentage of Catholics think they’re getting “short-changed” if they consume only the Jesus wafer, so they’ll brave a flu or COVID-tainted communal cup to get the “benefit” of consuming both the Jesus wafer and Jesus wine. All of this is based on the RCC’s faulty misinterpretations of John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the gospels. We are not saved by physically eating Jesus as the RCC teaches, but by trusting in Him as Savior by faith alone.
The secret 2018 Vatican-Beijing accord limited the installation of bishops to those who were members of the Chinese communist government’s quisling Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA). The government convicted and sentenced Hong Kong cardinal Joseph Zen because he was an outspoken critic of the accord. Progressive pope Francis pragmatically throws conservative Chinese Catholics under the bus in the quest for friendly relations with Beijing.
Nine months after Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, pope Francis has finally cited Russia as the aggressor in the conflict. The pope refused to criticize Putin and Russia all this time in deference to patriarch Kirill and the Russian Orthodox church and also in an attempt to position himself as a potential peace-broker/mediator.
Despite its vow to never ordain women as priests, the day is coming when the RCC will do exactly that. The sacerdotal priesthood and sacrifice for sins were done away with by Jesus Christ and His once-for-all-time sacrifice on Calvary.
Catholics put their hard-earned dollars in the offering plate on Sundays without realizing the money is going to be used as pay-out to survivors of pedophile priests and to purchase a McMansion for the diocesan bishop.
The U.S. Catholic bishops were appalled by 2019 data that showed only 31% of American Catholics believe in transubstantiation, so they rolled out a three-year eucharistic revival to convince U.S. Catholics of the alleged genuineness of the consecrated Jesus wafer and to encourage proper reverence and worship. I see now that Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry (Catholic) has initiated a three-year, 21-city “Jesus Thirsts for America” tour in conjunction with the nationwide eucharistic revival. Imagine getting lathered-up over a bread wafer. The Catholic Inquisitors of yesteryear demanded those suspected of “Protestant heresy” to bow to and worship the Jesus wafer. Refusal led to torture and death.
Thanks for joining us today as we continue to examine and respond to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). This week, Broussard concludes his second of three short chapters defending baptismal regeneration, using Acts 2:38 as his proof-text:
“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 will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Protestant Response #27: “The order of salvation in the New Testament is repentance, faith, and then baptism. Salvation comes first, then baptism.”
Broussard cites evangelical apologist, Todd Baker, for Protestant response #27: “‘The New Testament order for salvation,’ argues Todd Baker, ‘is repentance, faith, and then water baptism. The rite of baptism does not precede the forgiveness of sins.’ To make this argument, Baker appeals to the common practice found in the New Testament. He cites several New Testament passages for support, including Acts 2:41, 8:12-13 and 36-38, and 9:18. For Baker, these passages show that salvation is granted in response to faith. Therefore, he reasons, as soon as a person has faith, he’s saved. He doesn’t need to wait for baptism.”
Broussard’s full response is as follows: “In all these passages, the faith that precedes baptism can be explained by what (Catholic – Tom) theologians call imperfect faith. The assumption here is that faith exercised before baptism in the passages cited is perfect faith, a faith animated by charity (Gal. 5:6) and that which justifies (Rom. 5:1). But that’s not necessarily true. There is such a thing as imperfect faith that God gives in order to lead a person to and prepare him for a faith that justifies, which is given in baptism. As St. Thomas Aquinas explains, faith, insofar as we distinguish it from hope and charity (1 Cor. 13:13), is an act of the intellect assenting to God’s revelation by command of the will (Summa Theologiae II-II:2:1). There is nothing in this understanding of faith that tells us whether charity informs it or not. There is nothing that tells us whether it’s a faith that justifies or not, since charity is necessary for faith to justify. God, nevertheless, gives this gift of faith to heal the person from unbelief. Belief in God’s revelation, like repentance, is a necessary starting point for conversion (Mark 1:15). Since there is a type of faith that exists without charity, you can’t automatically conclude that the people who believed in the passages cited above were saved before baptism. Their belief that preceded their baptism could have been, and most likely was, that gift of faith not informed by charity, but which is necessary to cease in unbelief and then believe. Such faith would become perfect, or saving faith, upon receiving the virtue of charity that God grants in baptism. Therefore, the order found in the New Testament of repentance, belief, and baptism doesn’t undermine the Catholic argument for the salvific value of baptism from Acts 2:38.”
Todd Baker is absolutely correct in stating that the New Testament order for salvation is A) repentance (turning from rebellion against God) and B) faith resulting in salvation (i.e., trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone). Water baptism – the ordinance commanded by Christ by which a saved believer publicly identifies with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection – should immediately follow salvation as the first step in a new Christian’s walk with Christ, but it is not part of salvation.
Broussard attempts to qualify the verses and passages that clearly show the correct order for salvation by claiming that the faith in those cases was merely a preliminary, “imperfect,” seeking faith that subsequently led to the “perfect” saving faith granted in baptism. Throughout the entire New Testament, it is belief (pisteuō: to put one’s faith in, to trust in) in Jesus Christ as Savior that is the key to salvation, not sacraments and not merit. Broussard’s subdivision of “faith” in this installment is an awkward and arbitrary eisegesis intended to legitimize the heresy of baptismal regeneration. Broussard vaunts the alleged saving faith connected to baptism, yet eighty-percent of the baptisms performed by the RCC are of newborn infants who have only minimal cognitive abilities and zero ability to exercise faith/trust in Jesus Christ as Savior.
As I’ve mentioned previously, while Broussard insists upon baptismal regeneration in these chapters, the RCC incongruously grants that the unbaptized of all religious stripes and even atheists may also merit Heaven if they sincerely attempt to follow the precepts of their religion or conscience. Keeping that in mind, it’s impossible to acknowledge Broussard’s baptismal regeneration argumentation with any degree of seriousness or respect. The RCC holds to a self-refuting, dichotomous, “and-and” false gospel, i.e., baptism IS essential to salvation/baptism IS NOT essential to salvation.
Next week: Protestant response #28: “What saves us is our pledge to God to follow Jesus.”
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 18, 2016 and has been revised.
We’re currently witnessing a struggle of historic proportions within the Roman Catholic hierarchy, although most Catholics and evangelicals aren’t even paying attention.
At the center of the controversy is the mass, the centerpiece of the Catholic religion. Catholics are obligated to attend mass every Sunday where priests allegedly change bread wafers into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Supplicants consume the Jesus wafer believing they receive graces, which supposedly help them avoid mortal sin, so that they are hopefully able to merit Heaven at the moment of death.
For century after century, the popes and Catholic hierarchy taught that Catholics who had divorced and remarried without an annulment of the first marriage were living in a state of open adultery and were forbidden from receiving communion and the other sacraments. That wasn’t a problem when divorce among Catholics was relatively rare, but in current times, with Catholic divorce rates at 38%, the restrictive communion policy was alienating a large portion of the membership and many were dropping away.
In an effort to stanch the exodus, pope Francis the pragmatist issued the Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) apostolic exhortation last April, which, among other things, ambiguously left it up to parish priests to decide whether a remarried Catholic could receive communion or not, thus countermanding a doctrine that had been taught by other equally “infallible” popes for over a millennia. Francis guilefully rolled out the controversial new teaching in footnotes #s 329 and 351 of Amoris rather than presenting the change in the main text.
Opposition to the pope’s new teaching has been swelling within the ranks of conservative cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity for the past eight months. Recently, four cardinals, including American cardinal, Raymond Burke (photo above), formally requested that Francis “clarify” his remarks in Amoris Laetitia in light of previous infallible church teaching. The pope has declined to respond to the cardinals’ appeal. Burke is now suggesting the cardinals could possibly issue a “formal act of correction,” a declaration that Francis is teaching heresy (see articles below).
As I stated previously, most Catholics are oblivious to the dramatic tug-of-war taking place between Francis and his allies and church conservatives over Amoris Laetitia and other reforms. What’s at stake is Catholicism’s claim to the infallibility of popes on teachings involving faith and morals. The great irony here – don’t miss this – is conservatives are willing to concede the current pope is fallible and in error in order to preserve the teaching of previous infallible popes! Francis winks at “infallible” doctrines in an effort to keep people in the pews.
All men are fallible. Even casual students of Catholic church history are aware of the tragic failings of popes and other high church officials down through the ages. The only Rock we have is Jesus Christ. Accept Christ as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.
Note from 2022: The controversy over Amoris Laetitia was perhaps the RCC’s biggest internal crisis since French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, broke from the church in 1970 over the reforms of Vatican II and founded the Society of Saint Pius X. Francis wore down his opponents by not responding to their angry objections. A deepening of the crisis was averted because conservative Catholic clergy were in a Catch-22. Absolute fealty to the papacy is one of their most cherished tenets. Opposing Francis’ new heretical teaching meant that they were themselves heretics. Moderate and progressive bishops and priests had been distributing Jesus wafers to remarried divorcees prior to Amoris Laetitia and were pleased to see the practice formalized. The RCC is a hierarchical institution and open opposition to Francis’ Amoris Laetitia reform has largely been stifled. However, some conservative prelates and priests continue to resist Francis’ doctrinal change on the QT.
Welcome to the ninth installment of our weekly Reformanda Initiative podcast series! I’m excited to present the ministry of Dr. Leonardo De Chirico and his associates at Reformanda Initiative as they examine Roman Catholic theology in order to inform and equip evangelicals.
Season 1, Episode 9: Why Vatican II is essential for understanding present-day Roman Catholicism
Listen as we describe the role of church councils and specifically the importance of Vatican II. What happened exactly at Vatican II? Why is it arguably the most significant of all the Church councils? Why is it essential to understanding present-day Roman Catholicism and Catholic theology?
Pope John XXIII aka Angelo Roncalli convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962. The unofficial theme of the council was aggiornamento, the Italian word for “bringing up to date.” The purpose of the council was to adapt the RCC to the modern world. Many Protestants hailed the council for the conciliatory language of some of its documents. The RCC did change some of its window dressings at Vatican II, especially regarding its approach toward Protestants and other religionists, but the church did not change any of its core doctrines. Vatican II steered the RCC from militant doctrinalism towards doctrine-soft pastoralism and has found its fulfilment in progressive pope Francis. Sixty-years after the council, conservative Catholics criticize the council as a betrayal of the RCC, while undiscerning, ecumenical-leaning evangelicals hail it as the dawn of a Catholic-Protestant rapprochement. In this podcast, the Reformanda Initiative guys introduce their audience to the Second Vatican Council (along with some basic information on church councils in general). This is just an overview, the next two podcasts will present more detail. As the RI team points out, it’s impossible to understand today’s RCC without understanding VC2. The RI guys correctly point out that some people are misguidedly attracted to the RCC because of its dusty antiquity. Many evangelical pastors unwisely neglect referencing church history and the Reformation, as if evangelicalism is a phenomenon without a past.
A congregant of an evangelical church in South Dakota recently called out Pastor Adam Weber (photo above) for wearing skin-tight “skinny jeans” when he preached. I can relate to this one. From 2015 to early-2020, my wife and I attended a Rochester mega-church that had several suburban satellite branches. The lead pastor left in 2016 and was replaced by a young man who was on a mission to make himself and the church more “culturally relevant.” His Sunday attire gradually devolved into hoodies and skinny jeans with the requisite holes in the knees, all topped off with a $100 swag haircut. It was ridiculous. We once brought an unsaved guest to the church and the first thing out of the person’s mouth when we got back to the car was, “Man, that pastor’s jeans were tight!” The church switched to streaming services online in March 2020 because of COVID, but we even stopped watching the virtual service because of the skinny jeans “controversy” as well as a host of other problems that we decided we could no longer tolerate. I began working weekends in January 2021, but we continued watching sermon videos from solid pastors. I retired on October 31st and last weekend we visited a local church and were quite pleased. The fact that the pastor wore loose khakis was a plus among many more important plusses. More on our new church in an upcoming post.
Pope Francis is favorable to several of the progressive changes being advanced by the German Catholic Synodale Weg (Synodal Path), but he must also appease conservatives who are already discontented with his reforms and are waiting for a reason to propose schism.
Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy split in 1054 after the patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, refused to accept the primacy of the bishop of Rome and was subsequently excommunicated by the RCC. In trying to convince Michael of his primacy and authority, pope Leo IX referenced the “Donation of Constantine,” a fraudulent document forged in the 8th century purporting to show Roman Emperor Constantine’s bestowal of authority to the bishop of Rome over the four principal eastern sees. Lorenzo Valla, an Italian Catholic priest, proved the “Donation” was a forgery in 1439-1440. The history of the RCC is riddled with examples of heresy, fraud, and corruption. Modern popes have been making regular overtures to the EO patriarchs. Some form of a reunion is a forgone conclusion.
Last weekend, the city of Buffalo, New York was buried under six feet of white stuff in a late-autumn snow storm off of Lake Erie. Buffalo Catholic bishop, Michael Fisher, issued a dispensation allowing Buffalo Catholics to skip mass last Sunday without incurring mortal sin. The irony that’s not to be missed is that while Fisher was busy issuing a snow dispensation, the state-appointed, former-FBI official, Kathleen McChesney, was looking over his shoulder, making sure Fisher and the diocese were/are complying with New York State’s mandated requirements guarding Buffalo’s children from pedophile priests and enabling prelates.
Catholics are celebrating YouTuber and self-proclaimed “evangelical apologist,” Cameron Bertuzzi’s recent “conversion” to Roman Catholicism. While 38YO Bertuzzi has an admittedly large YouTube following (156K subscribers), his knowledge of the Bible and church history has been demonstrated to be severely limited. I’ll have more to say about Bertuzzi in an upcoming post.
Conservative Catholic prelates and priests are applauding the election of archbishop Timothy Broglio as president of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops. Broglio has a track record of passively-aggressively opposing many of Bergoglio’s reforms
It’s interesting to see this debate over Mariolatry in a secular newspaper. While the worship of Mary is grievous, the RCC’s most serious heresy is its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Why would a Christian parent/s send their child to a Roman Catholic school where they are sure to be indoctrinated with the RCC’s false gospel? What parent would knowingly lower their child into a snake pit? Of course, we don’t know if the mother in question is genuinely saved.
Thanks for joining us today as we continue to examine and respond to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). This week, Broussard opens his second of three short chapters defending baptismal regeneration, this time using Acts 2:38 as his proof-text:
“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 will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Catholics present Acts 2:38 as incontrovertible evidence for baptismal regeneration.
Protestant Response #26: “Baptism is not the cause of salvation but rather follows it.”
Writes Broussard, “(Evangelical apologist) Ron Rhodes bases this argument on a particular reading of the Greek preposition eis, translated as ‘for’ [regarding the “for” in Acts 2:38, “…for the forgiveness of your sins” – Tom]. Rhodes rightly points out that eis ‘can indicate causality (‘in order to attain’) or a result (‘because of’)’. An example of this causal sense is, ‘I’m going to the office for (in order to get) my paycheck.’ An example of the resultant sense is, ‘I’m taking an aspirin for (because of) my headache.’ Rhodes asserts that in Acts 2:38 eis is used in the resultant sense: Peter is not saying, ‘Repent and be baptized in order to attain the forgiveness of sins’ but rather, ‘Repent, and be baptized because you’ve been forgiven.’ Rather than baptism being a cause of salvation, it’s something we do once we’re saved” (author’s emphases).
Broussard’s response is lengthy and multifold, so I will summarize using bullets:
Broussard dismisses an interpretation of eis in Acts 2:38 in the resultant sense as an arbitrary manipulation that flouts context. Broussard notes that Protestants appeal to Acts 10:47 (see Acts 10:44-48 for the wider context), which describes the sequence of 1) Cornelius and his gathered relatives and close friends hear the Gospel from Peter, 2) the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they manifest the gift of languages, and 3) they were subsequently baptized. Broussard argues that “someone can reasonably interpret this reception of the Holy Spirit not as an instance of salvation, but simply as a visible confirmation that membership in God’s family is extended to the Gentiles.” Broussard concedes that the interpretation of Cornelius and the Gentiles receiving salvation prior to baptism is the more probable one, but categorizes it as an “exceptional case” required for the circumstances. Broussard concedes that “the necessity of baptism is not absolute,” that “God can administer the graces of baptism without the sacrament.” [This is Jesuitical sophistry at its most guileful. – Tom]
Broussard cites other passages in the Bible and early Christian writings to demonstrate that “baptism is an instrumental cause of the forgiveness of sins”:
Acts 22:16 – “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.”
Romans 6:3-4 – “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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.”
Quotes from the Letter of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas
Broussard argues that Acts 2:38 taken in context with v. 37 reveals “the natural reading of the text is that the forgiveness of sins occurs with (author’s emphasis) the reception of baptism.”
Broussard claims the resultant interpretation “entails unnecessary mental gymnastics” and is “a strained reading to say the least.”
Ron Rhodes’ interpretation of eis in Acts 2:38 as “because of” in the resultant sense is absolutely correct. Baptism follows salvation and is a believer’s public testimony of their identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial. and resurrection. As the New Testament makes clear repeatedly, salvation is solely through “belief” (pisteuō: to put one’s faith in, to trust in) in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Baptism is important and was commanded by Christ, but the physical waters of baptism impart nothing.
Broussard acknowledges that the sequence of events in Acts 10:44-48 contradicts his baptism=salvation position, but in his painfully torturous eisegesis he dismisses the passage as a divine “exception.”
Notice how Broussard conveniently omits referencing Acts 2:41, only three verses removed from his proof-text:
“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
Receiving/trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior results in salvation, which is followed by believer’s baptism.
We needn’t jump through hoops to examine all of Broussard’s secondary proof-texts for the sake of this installment, but let’s take a look at the seemingly problematic (for Protestants) Acts 22:16 – “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Grammatically, the phrase, “calling on his name,” precedes “Rise and be baptized,” showing that baptism follows salvation. Broussard’s secondary proof-text actually refutes his argument.
Broussard dismisses Rhodes’ correct interpretation of Acts 2:38 as entailing “unnecessary mental gymnastics” and a “strained reading,” but let’s turn the lens around and evaluate the Roman Catholic church’s insistence that baptism is absolutely essential for salvation while also dichotomously teaching that all unbaptized, non-Catholic religionists – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, etc. – and even atheists are also able to merit salvation! The mental gymnastics involved in believing and defending such self-refuting, incongruent, religious schizophrenia are beyond impossible.
Undiscerning evangelicals who believe Roman Catholics hold to the same gospel must stop the self-delusion and take Catholics such as Karlo Broussard at their word.
Next week: Protestant response #27: “The order of salvation in the New Testament is repentance, faith, and then baptism.
Welcome to the eighth installment of our weekly Reformanda Initiative podcast series! I’m excited to present the ministry of Dr. Leonardo De Chirico and his associates at Reformanda Initiative as they examine Roman Catholic theology in order to inform and equip evangelicals.
Season 1, Episode 8: Totus Christus (The Whole Christ) or Solus Christus (Christ Alone)?
Solus Christus (Christ Alone) versus Totus Christus (the Whole Christ). If one wants to capture the difference between the evangelical faith and Roman Catholicism, here it is. On the one hand, the evangelical stress on the uniqueness of Jesus’s person (the God-man) and His atoning work; on the other, the Roman Catholic insistence on the organic relationship between Christ and the Church.
As with two previous podcasts, this installment focuses on a derivative of one of the RCC’s two basic theological constructs, the Christ-Church Interconnection. Scripture refers to Jesus Christ as being the Head of the body of believers, the church (Ephesians 5:23, etc.). However, “early church father,” Augustine, advanced the concept of Totus Christus, the Whole Christ, which posited that the church was mystically united with Christ to a degree that was not warranted by Scripture. The developing Roman Catholic church latched on to Totus Christus and advanced the concept even further by illegitimately claiming for itself the prerogatives and offices of Jesus Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King. The Reformanda Initiative guys break it all down.
Last January, a German investigative panel formally accused pope-emeritus, Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger (photo above), of covering-up for multiple pedophile priests while he was archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982. Ratzinger initially lied, claiming he was not present at discussions on how to “smooth-over” scandalous incidents of priest-abuse. In the face of undeniable evidence, Ratzinger flip-flopped and admitted he was at the discussions, but insisted he did not play a role. The RCC’s priest pedophile scandal reaches up to the papacy.
The rosary consists of 61 beads and baubles on a circular string that Catholics use to count a series of rote prayers, especially (53 of the 61) prayers to Mary. Jesus Christ specifically forbade rote prayer (Matthew 6:7), and prayers to anyone other than to God are blatant idolatry. In the “Hail Mary” rote prayer, Catholics petition Mary to intercede on their behalf unto God for their “hoped for” salvation, “now and at the hour of our death.” As for the origin of the rosary, Catholics purport that Mary appeared to St. Dominic of Spain in 1221, presenting him with a rosary and instructions on how to use it. Pagan religionists of antiquity used prayer beads and the RCC co-opted the practice.
A Catholic writer once asserted that of all of the Protestant denominations (besides Anglicanism/Episcopalianism), the Methodists had the most in common with Roman Catholicism. Methodists baptize infants and also believe a Christian can lose salvation, thus making salvation a faith-works collaboration.
Catholics are normally required to attend mass every single Sunday under threat of eternal damnation. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Catholic bishops granted “dispensations” allowing Catholics to skip mass without incurring mortal sin. As the pandemic has waned, the bishops one-by-one have rescinded those dispensations.
The RCC teaches its priests transform bread wafers into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Catholic congregants eat the Jesus wafer, believing it confers graces that will help them avoid sinning in order to merit Heaven at the moment of their death. In off-hours, a large Jesus wafer is presented in a see-through container and Catholics gather to worship it. Imagine sitting reverently with others in front of a large, elevated bread wafer and worshiping it.
Jesuit James Martin is the Vatican’s point-man in advancing the full acceptance of practicing S&G-ites within the RCC. Pope Francis has had several meetings with Martin in recent years to discuss their full-inclusion strategy.
Why are some evangelical “intellectuals” enamoured with “saint” Thomas Aquinas, who propagated (and in some cases defined) Rome’s many heresies including sacramental salvation? This is a good introductory article from Leonardo De Chirico on why some evangelical “intellectuals” make fools of themselves by becoming “Thomists.”
Catholics used to love to go on “retreats” to become further enmeshed in their works-righteousness religion while seeking contemplative/spiritual dopamine highs. But as many Catholics have fallen away from their religion, more and more of these retreat facilities have shut down. I can remember my eighth-grade class being taken to the Notre Dame (Our Lady) Retreat House (referred to in the article above) with its spacious and manicured grounds overlooking beautiful Canandaigua Lake for a day of religious lessons/discussions and “contemplation.” Perhaps our teacher-nuns were trying to spark vocations? I remember thinking as a thirteen-year-old, “How does the RCC afford an impressive but low-usage joint like this?”
Thanks for joining us today as we continue to examine and respond to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). This week, Broussard concludes his first of three chapters defending baptismal regeneration, using John 3:3-5 as his proof-text.
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 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. – John 3:3-5
Protestant Response #25: “The water that Jesus speaks of refers to the word of God.”
Writes Broussard, “Proponents of this interpretation, like (evangelical apologist) Todd Baker, use 1 Peter 1:23 for support: ‘You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.’ Notice how Peter associates the second birth with the ‘word of God.’ Baker also attempts to support this claim with Ephesians 5:25-26, where Paul speaks of Christ cleansing the church ‘by the washing of water with the word.’ He then couples this with John 15:3, where Jesus says, ‘You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.’ When you take into consideration that the second birth elsewhere in Scripture is associated with the word of God, and that the word of God is that which washes us clean, then it seems plausible for a Protestant to conclude that the water in the born again discourse refers to the word of God and not the waters of baptism.”
Broussard’s full response is as follows: “The problem with this argument is that the conclusion, ‘the water in the born again discourse doesn’t refer to baptism’ does not follow from the premise, ‘we are born anew by the word of God.’ To be born again by the word of God is not mutually exclusive of being born anew through the waters of baptism. It’s possible that one can be born again by both. For example, the ‘word of God’ that Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 1:23 is the ‘good news preached’ – the oral preaching that Paul calls the ‘word of God’ in 1 Thessalonians 2:13. It’s unreasonable to think Peter would think our second birth is made actual by the apostolic preaching alone and not the waters of baptism, since he was the one who commands those listening on the day of Pentecost to ‘repent and be baptized’ in order that they may receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). This was in response to the people requesting to be saved after hearing the word of God proclaimed to them. So being born anew can come by both the word of God and baptism because it’s the hearing of the preaching of ‘the good news’ that leads people to baptism. Therefore, Peter is not excluding baptism when he speaks of being born anew through ‘the living and abiding word of God.’ In fact, later in the same epistle (3:21), he directly says, ‘baptism now saves you.’ For Peter, it’s not either ‘the good news’ or baptism; it’s both-and.”
Evangelicals do disagree on the interpretation of “born of water” in John 3:5. Some interpret the phrase to mean the physical birth as was discussed last week, while others understand the phrase to refer to the cleansing of the Word of God as Todd Baker proposes in this week’s “Protestant Response.” Evangelicals do reject the claim that “born of water” refers to baptismal regeneration.
Baptism is mentioned along with salvation in several New Testament verses and passages such as Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38-41, Acts 8:12-13, Acts 8:34-38, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:3-4, and 1 Peter 3:21. Catholics and other baptismal regenerationists interpret these verses and passages to mean that baptism imparts salvation or is a requirement for salvation. But Scripture interprets Scripture and we know the overriding message of the New Testament is that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The key is belief/trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. Verses/passages such as the popular John 3:16 teach unequivocally that salvation is through faith in Christ alone:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Below is a link to 101 Bible verses that teach salvation is not by sacramentalism or other works:
All of the Bible verses and passages that Catholics present as their proof-texts for baptismal regeneration can be explained in the larger context of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone as we’ll see in the weeks ahead.
Baptism is surely an important ordinance given by the Lord by which a newly born-again believer publicly identifies with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, but the physical waters of baptism do not impart spiritual life.* Catholicism takes its baptismal regeneration doctrine to its bitter conclusion by baptizing infants who obviously do not have the cognitive ability to trust in Christ. Eighty-percent of those baptized in the Catholic church are infants. As we mentioned last week, while the RCC insists that baptism is essential to salvation, it incongruously allows that non-Catholic religionists – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, etc, and even atheists – may also merit Heaven by following their religion or conscience. Undiscerning evangelicals who embrace Roman Catholicism as a Christian denomination are yoking with rank heresy.
We will delve further into this baptismal regeneration heresy in the four installments that follow. Broussard refers to 1 Peter 3:21 above and that verse will be examined in “Protestant responses,” 28 & 29.
*Baptismal regeneration is a prime example of RC-ism’s foundational Nature-Grace Interdependence theological construct, which was discussed in the Reformanda Initiative’s podcast #3 (see here).
Next week: Protestant response #26: “Baptism is not the cause of salvation but rather follows it.”
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 1, 2016 and has been revised.
The Cult of the Virgin: Catholic Mariology and the Apparitions of Mary By Elliot Miller and Kenneth B. Samples Baker Book House, 1992, 188 pages
“The Cult of the Virgin” is a semi-interesting examination of Roman Catholic Mariolatry. Catholicism’s elevation of Mary to semi-deity as Mediatrix and (unofficially) Co-Redemptrix has absolutely no scriptural foundation and seriously detracts from the work of Jesus Christ. I especially found interesting the chapters on Medjugorje and the other alleged Marian apparitions.
However, a serious problem with this book is that the authors, Elliot Miller and Kenneth Samples, approach Roman Catholicism as a legitimate branch of Christianity. Both authors are connected with the Christian Research Institute (CRI), an evangelical apologetics ministry that researches cults and non-Christian religions. The founder of CRI, Walter Martin, stated in 1980 that “if any Catholics are saved they are saved not because of the Roman Catholic Church, but in spite of it.” Since the death of Martin in 1989, CRI has progressively softened its stance toward Catholicism. Despite Rome’s many unscriptural doctrines, CRI declines to categorize Catholicism as a heretical church. Hank Hanegraaff,* Martin’s successor, believes that while Rome teaches several doctrinal errors, it is, at its core, a Christian church. There’s a recording of Elliot Miller, co-author of this book, on YouTube stating it’s possible for Catholics to be saved by following official Catholic doctrine (see here).
But for many evangelicals who remember the reasons for the Reformation, it’s still quite clear that the gospel of Rome is fundamentally different from the Gospel of Jesus Christ of the New Testament. For Rome, salvation comes by receiving its clergy-administered sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!). In contrast, evangelical Christians believe the Biblical message of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Is justification by faith or by works? It can’t be both (Romans 11:6). Yes, Rome does espouse a few orthodox doctrines, but its position is wrong on so many others, most importantly regarding justification and salvation, that it doesn’t warrant the respect and legitimacy offered by Miller and Samples.
The accommodating authors even go so far as to include a short rebuttal from popular Jesuit priest, Mitch Pacwa! They introduce Pacwa by asserting that his “manner of life evidences a strong personal relationship with Christ” (p.161). Hmm. As a Catholic priest, Pacwa teaches the Catholic faithful that they must merit their salvation by receiving the sacraments and by refraining from mortal sin. Even one unconfessed “mortal” sin dooms a Catholic to an eternal hell. How does that square with having a “personal relationship with Christ” who came to save sinners, not self-righteous, works-religionists? Pacwa is a fiercely conservative Catholic apologist who has frequently debated evangelical Christians and appears regularly on the conservative Catholic EWTN cable network. I have personally witnessed Pacwa on EWTN promoting the Catholic doctrine of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Search Amazon for books authored by Pacwa and you’ll find he has written many, many titles which promote Catholicism’s standard, unbiblical doctrines, unchanged since the Reformation. By embracing Pacwa as a “brother in Christ,” Elliot and Miller are burying their heads in the sand since Pacwa and his church clearly teach a “different gospel” of sacramental grace and merit. Speaking as an ex-Catholic who left religious ritualism and legalism for the GOOD NEWS! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, I am perplexed by Elliot’s and Miller’s blindness.
Rome has changed none of its core doctrines since the Reformation, so why do some evangelicals now embrace it? Co-author Samples has pointed elsewhere to theologian Peter Kreeft** as an example of a Catholic who allegedly “holds the Reformation in high regard” and supposedly believes the Gospel of grace. As a Catholic, Kreeft is obliged to believe God’s salvific grace is dispensed through the sacraments like water from a tap. Search Amazon for books authored by Kreeft and you’ll find an amazing number of titles written by him which all promote Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and works-righteousness.
The authors openly confess that “The Cult of the Virgin” is an effort to promote “ecumenical dialogue.” Miller, Samples, Norman Geisler (who wrote the forward to this book), and other compromising evangelicals can quibble with Catholics over issues like Mariolatry, but the bottom-line issue for evangelicals is Catholicism’s works-based justification, which is antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, Catholic apologists object to accusations that their religion teaches works-righteousness. They claim their teachings on salvation are also based on faith and God’s grace. But the truth of the matter is Catholics believe God’s grace, supposedly infused into their souls via the sacraments, enables them to perform meritorious works and avoid sin in order to merit their way to heaven. Despite the sophistry it all boils down to works and merit.
Hanegraaff and CRI have devoted a large amount of energy and resources to confronting the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and smaller groups, but the number of souls led astray by these cults are but a tiny fraction compared to the billions of souls deceived by the legalism of Rome.***
Notes from 2022:
*In 2017, supposed “evangelical” Hanegraaf “converted” to the Greek Orthodox church.
**I reviewed Catholic apologist, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am a Catholic” in a series of posts from 2021 to 2022. You can find the index here. Throughout that book, Kreeft disparaged the “easy believism” of the genuine Gospel.
***This book is a blatant example of approaching the RCC “atomistically,” as Dr. Leonardo De Chirico and his associates at Reformanda Initiative have discussed in their podcasts that we’ve been reviewing recently. Adherents to the atomistic approach, such as Elliot, Miller, and Geisler, will often criticize aspects of RC-ism, but embrace it as a whole. In contrast, a “systemic” examination of RC-ism reveals that the institution is heretical at its core (propagating a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit) and that these secondary doctrines/practices, e.g., Mariolatry, are but dead branches extending from a dead trunk.