AN EXAMINATION OF THE TEACHINGS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Posted: February 24, 2014 in Uncategorized
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There has been a great deal of comments recently by many online surrounding my recent article  “Beware of Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s “Other” Jesus“. Many are from the Catholic view who says they are in fact Christian, and while I do not doubt their sincerity, the truth is, just what Christ are they following? And how are they following him?

I want to be clear here that while I respect all people in their desire to find God, I would be doing any person who does not have a proper understanding of who Christ is and how one can know him, from getting a true and genuine concept of who Jesus is and how one must come to him. This is the purpose for this letter, to show that not only have my Catholic friends been lied to, and are continually being lead astray, and worse, from the very church they have trusted as well as are supporting.

One of the biggest comments I’m told by Catholics who come to me and try to defend their religion is that they are “saved”. Meaning, they suggest that they, like evangelical Christians, they are saved and have been purified by the blood of Jesus. Sometimes they will use the term, “born again” but is this true? Are Catholics saved, or even born again? The answer is found in the word of God as well as the tenants of the Catholic church itself.

When Nicodemus came to Jesus in John 3:1, he stated that it was clear that Christ came from God, yet Jesus would present one of the most challenging concepts for this certain religious scribe in verse 3, when Jesus said that a man must be “born again“. So what does it mean that one must be “born again”? Again, we go directly to the word in Romans 10:9-10 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Ephesians 2:8 says it more plainly, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” The fact is, salvation simply comes by faith in what Christ did on the cross and accepting that work which Christ did – on the cross – and then walking by faith knowing that ones sins have now been forgiven. That is the only method to be saved – to believe upon Jesus Christ and his act (or sacrifice) on the cross and then accepting it (by faith) and believing salvation has been applied. That is truly all it means to be saved, no rules, no extra formula like water baptism or confessing to a priest, simply believing Christ died for ones sins and repenting of such rebellion. That is the faith message of the cross.

So, where then does the Catholic doctrine of salvation come into play? Here is what the Catholic Church says one must do in order to be saved (notice it is completely different than what Jesus and Paul stated as the means for salvation): There is a minimum requirement for salvation under the Catholic Church system, it is under what is called The Catechism. The Catechism are precepts are meant to guarantee individuals “the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor” (2041). Here they are as the Catechism currently lists them (2042-2043):

 

The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.

The second precept (“You shall confess your [serious] sins at least once a year”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.

The third precept (“You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least once during the Easter season”) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s body and blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.

The fourth precept (“You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.

The fifth precept (“You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability. (CCC 2042-2043)

Notice that at no time does the Church ever declare salvation by faith – ever! As a matter of fact, they do not even use the word of God to determine the simple process of salvation by faith! For under the tenants of the Catholic teaching, they do not believe the truth about the message of the cross, meaning, the finished work there that Christ did, but instead, they (Catholic Leadership) maintain that salvation comes by WORKS to justify ones salvation, not faith in what Christ did, but by works which determine the basic necessities for salvation. This is sadly – heresy in no uncertain terms. The facts remain the same, the word of God, which trumps anything created by men, makes it clear, salvation comes by faith and faith alone, not by works lest we boast in our human abilities (Eph. 2:9)

My friends, that alone should cause one to question their involvement in the Catholic Church. If we are to take the word of God over men, then why risk ones own soul over something which is completely a false teaching and which will hinder ones eternal destination. The fact is, if we believe anything, regardless of how sincere it is, we believe a lie, especially when it comes to our salvation. It is not enough to say “I’m a good person, God will accept me based on the good things I’ve done.” the truth is, God CANNOT honor anything you might have done simply because that which you do, outside of faith, simple faith, is a unholy sacrifice that God will never respect, why? Because when someone comes to God outside the cross, then God considers that man a thief and a robber (John 10:1).

Yet, strangely enough, the damning evidence which proceeds from the Vatican does not stop at salvation, but in several other areas, which we will examine.

THE POPE

Throughout the entire Bible, one cannot find where God established a supreme leader over the body of Christ such as a “Pope”. As a matter of fact, at no time was it ever recorded in the New Testament that one man could dictate rule over others under the guise as vicar (a Latin word vicarius, which means “instead of”).
Calling the pope the “Vicar of Christ” implies that he has the same power and authority that Christ had over the church. If the Pope, as Catholics claim, is the official “priest” of the church, then it goes against scripture – Hebrews 7:11 answers this very plainly by saying, “
Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?”

Christ is our eternal priest, he is our mediator, he is our elder brother, he is our savior, there is no such thing as a “Pope” to rule and Lord over the body of Christ, why? Because Christ and his Holy Spirit is enough to direct the church in duties and obligation, along with the word of God. By looking to men such as the Pope, we are removing Christ from the center of our faith and instead, replacing him with a mere human being, fallible, subject to sin because he was born into sin, Christ was born sinless and died the son of God.

MARY WORSHIP

To Roman Catholics, Mary is the subject of great importance and honor within the church system. To be clear, every person, Catholic or otherwise, has deep respect for the woman named Mary. However, it needs to be understood that Mary was a sinner just like every other person born of human conception – save Jesus. She (Mary) needed a Savior for her sins just as every person who has ever lived needs a Savior (Luke 1:47). Yet this woman is worshiped, prayed to and glorified to the level of Godhood and it’s sin. she even had to offer a sacrifice for her sins in Luke 2:24. Jesus was only her “firstborn” son, according to Matthew 1:25, because she later had other children as well (Mt. 13:55; Gal. 1:19; Psalm 69:8). There’s only ONE mediator between God and men, and it isn’t Mary (I Tim. 2:5). The last time we hear from Mary in the Bible she is praying WITH the disciples, not being prayed to BY the disciples (Acts 1:14). God’s word never lifts or exalts Mary high above others, neither should we.

When we take into account just the major points of Catholicism, from how to be saved, the role of men such as a “Pope” and the worship of Mary, it is clear and evident by scripture that the Catholic religion is just that – a religion. My friend, if you are caught up in the teachings and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, you are sadly following a false religion, a religion which excludes the working of the cross (the atonement) and your soul will be found wanting when you breathe your last breath. It’s not enough to do good deeds, or be faithful in church attendance, nor is it matter how many times you say the hail Mary, the fact is, the only means for salvation, the only sacrifice God will ever honor in anyone is their faith in what Christ did on the cross – that’s it, nothing more. You can’t earn it by doing something like being baptized, you can’t earn it by following a certain ideology, nor can you earn it by confessing your sins to a priest, the only means by which salvation will come is for you to repent and call out to Christ alone.

There is a growing movement taking place within the religious structures of the world to once again accept the Roman Catholic Church within the world and it’s antichrist. We are at the end of the age, and things are beginning to form and shape itself where one day soon, men and women who are evangelicals, who are Pentecostal, who are Methodist, who are Charismatic, who are Baptist, and so on, will have to make a decision what gospel they are going to accept and abide by.

To those who are in the Catholic structure, examine the facts presented in this article, weigh them against the word of God, not the words of the Catholic Bible, but the Bible itself, and compare for yourself if what I am stating is true or not. That is your only hope. The Catholic Church is a deception, a sad imitation to what is genuine, and those who are caught up in its dominion will find themselves wanting when they cross into eternity. That is the fate of those who call themselves – Catholics.

 

Christopher

 

 

 

Comments
  1. jestolle says:

    Amen Christopher; you are absolutely correct in your assessment of the error of the Catholic Church! I cannot begin to count the hours I have tried, in love, to help people following the Catholic religion how wrong it is. They insist Matthew 16:18 is saying the rock is Peter and that he was the first pope; I try to tell them Jesus is the Rock but they deny that. They also try to say that Mary had to be sinless otherwise she would not have been chosen to be the mother of Christ, and because her life after Christ and her death were never mentioned in scripture she must have been translated, like Christ. They also refuse to believe Mary had other children because that would mean she “knew Joseph” and therefore could not have remained sinless. So, when you take all this into account, in their minds she is equal to Jesus and should be worshiped.

    What really blows my mind is Pope Francis’ message to Kenneth Copeland; uniting of the faiths; no more being separate. And then Copeland’s congregation accepting all this (as in Ephesians) and even praying in the Spirit over it all. We are seeing fulfillment of prophecy before our very eyes!! For anyone who is interested in seeing for themselves here is the link: http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/02/pope-to-copeland-catholics-and-charismatics-must-spiritually-unite/ UNBELIEVABLE!! Lord bless you Christopher and MARANATHA!!

    • Judy says:

      Amen to Christopher and to Jestolle.. So many are willing to be fooled. Thank you for stating truth. Because everything both of you said is truth. We must pray for eyes to be unblinded. So many are in denial because of ignorance of the Word of God. His Word is truth. We do not take bits and pieces of it to make a point. The WHOLE Word is to be studied. Knowing who it is speaking to when you read a verse is so important to discern the truth. So many interpret a verse and base all their belief on it.. We are not to add nor take away from His Word. READ IT ALL,, STUDY IT ALL!! Make sure you..go to a church that teaches ONLY way to be saved is through Christ, not of anything we can work for. Our works are as filty rags. The only way we are born again is by faith in Him. Go to a church ,who teaches to hold NO ONE or anything above or equal to Jesus! But by me(Jesus said) is the only way. Not by Mary or the Pope or whatever else they put equal to Jesus. There is NONE equal to Him.We are in times that are spoken of, in His Word…..being deceived by the “antichrist” mindset.Wake up people, be not deceived!!

    • Z-Man says:

      Jestolle,
      You might find the comments I posted on the website interesting.

      • I did read your comment but I want to read it again on something other than this tiny iPod; it is hard to comprehend when I’m cross eyed! Will let you know in a few days!

  2. Z-Man says:

    Note: Real long email. Make sure to read all the way down.

    http://www.stfonline.org/pdf/rev/appendix%20b_commentary.pdf

    Clearly, there is a confusion on terminology. Prayer means “to ask”, not to worship. The Bible tells us the saints do communicate with Christ as he showed the Apostles at the Transfigueration. Just looking at the objective truth. Truth will lead intellectually honest people to were it leads as the Handbook to Christian Apologetics states:

    Objective vs. Subjective Reason

    However, we must not naively, indentify objective rationality with subjective rationality. (See chap. 16 on objective truth.) Truth is objective, but people usually aren’t! We are obviously living in a fallen world, not a perfect world, one where people’s exercise of reason is expressed in various forms of irrationality. An argument that is in itself perfectly rational and valid will often fall on ears deafened by prejudice, passion, ignorance, misunderstanding, and incomprehension or ideology.
    The last of these seems especially dangerous today. Usually, people seem to choose what to believe not by looking at the evidence but by looking at ideological labels, especially “liberal” or “conservative,” or by asking which group of people they want to be associated with, or by vague feelings and associations evoked by an idea within their consciousness, rather than by looking at the idea itself and at the reality it points to outside their consciousness.
    We need not and should not employ any of these substitutes for reason in order to “make contact with” or “be relevant to” those who are doing so. We make contact and relevance not by changing rationality into irrationality but by changing irrationality into rationality. That is what education is. That is the goal of this book.

    Objective Truth vs. Subjective Truth

    4. The consequences of a subjectivism and relativism of truth are destructive not only to apologetics but also to intellectual honesty and to life.

    For if Truth is objective, if we lie in a world we did not create and cannot change merely by thinking, if the world is not really a dream of our own, then the most destructive belief we could possibly believe would be the denial of primary fact. It would be like closing your eyes while driving, or blissfully ignoring the doctor’s warnings. (C.S. Lewis, “The Poison of Subjectivism” in Christian Reflections)

    Of all the symptoms of decay in our decadent civilization, subjectivism is the most disastrous of all. A mistake can possibly be discovered and amended if and only if truth exists and can be known and is loved and searched for. If you close your eyes to the light in the operating room, there is no chance at all that the operation will work and that the patient will be saved. But prophetic warnings by themselves are not enough; we need careful definitions and analyses.

    What objective means in “objective truth” is “independent of the knower and his consciousness.” “I itch” is a subjective truth; “Plato wrote the Republic” is an objective truth. “I don’t want to be unselfish” is a subjective truth; “I ought to be unselfish whether I want to or not” is an objective truth.
    Aristotle, the master of common sense in philosophy, defined what ordinary people mean by truth as “saying of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not.” Truth means the correspondence of what you know or say to what is. Truth means “telling it like it is.” (p.363-364)

    Alternative Theories of Truth

    5. The Emotivist Theory of Truth: “Truth is what I feel.” This is held by many teenagers but few philosophers. It is also a linguistic confusion between two distinct notions: feeling and knowing truth.
    These two notions may coincide. Sometimes feelings may be perceptions of objective truth: for instance, when a saint feels love for an ugly person and perceives the intrinsic value of the person through this feeling. Love is more than a feeling, but it can include feeling, and this feeling can perceive truth.
    But to identify truth with feeling is absurd. For many feelings are false–for example, irrational fears or infatuations–and many truths are not felt emotionally at all–for example, “there are four paper clips in the wastebasket.”
    All theories of truth, once they are expressed clearly and simply, presuppose the commonsensical notion of truth that is enshrined in the wisdom of language and the tradition of usage, namely the correspondence (or identity) theory. For each theory claims that it is really truth, that is, that it corresponds to reality, and that the others are really false, that is, that they fail to correspond to reality. (p.366)

    The Nature of God

    Is God a “He”?
    The hottest controversy today about God concerns the traditional exclusive use of the pronoun he. Nearly all Christians admit that (1) God is not literally male, since he has no biological body, and (2) women are not essentially inferior to men. Those are red herrings.
    There are, however, two reasons for defending the exclusive use of masculine pronouns and imagery for God. One issue is whether we have the authority to change the names of God used by Christ, the Bible and the church. The traditional defense of the masculine imagery for God rests on the premise that the Bible is divine revelation, not culturally relative, negotiable and changeable. As C.S. Lewis put it, “Christians believe God himself has told us how to speak of him.”
    The other reason for calling God “he” is historical. Except for Judaism, all other known ancient religions had goddesses as well as gods. The Jewish revelation was distinctive in its exclusively masculine pronoun because it was distinctive in its theology of the divine transcendence. That seems to be the main point of the masculine imagery. As a man comes into a woman from without to make her pregnant, so God creates the universe from without rather than birthing it from within and impregnates our souls with grace or supernatural life from without. As a woman cannot impregnate herself, so the universe cannot create itself, nor can the soul redeem itself.
    Surely there is an inherent connection between these two radically distinctive features of the three biblical or Abramic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam): their unique view of a transcendent God creating nature out of nothing and their refusal to call God “she” despite the fact that Scripture ascribes to him feminine attributes like compassionate nursing (Is 46:3). The masculine pronoun safeguards (1) the transcendence of God against the illusion that nature is born from God as a mother rather than created and (2) the grace of God against the illusion that we can somehow save ourselves—two illusions ubiquitous and inevitable in the history of religion. (p.98)

    Divinity of Christ

    Impossibility of the Alternative:
    7. Why has the “myth” continued to attract the brightest minds in history? If you pit Paul of Tarsus, John the Evangelist, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, John Damascene, Origen, Augustine, John Chrysostom, Boethius, Erigena, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Boneventura, Scotus, Ockham, Nicholas of Cusa, Cajetan, Luther, Calvin, Kepler, Ignatius of Loyola, Dante, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Decartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Berkeley, Copernicus, Newton, Kierkegaard, Newman, Pasteur, Jaspers, Marcel, Galileo, Tolstoy, Chesterton, Dostoyevsky, T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis against Machiavelli, Hobbes, Renan, Freud, Darwin, Marx, La Mettrie, Skinner, Nietzsche, Sartre, Bertrand Russell, Ayer, Paine and the ACLU, it would hardly be a fair fight.

    Aquinas argues that if the Incarnation did not really happen, then an even more unbelievable miracle happened: the conversion of the world by the biggest lie in history and the moral transformation of lives into unselfishness, detachment from worldly pleasures and radically new heights of holiness by a mere myth. (p. 157)

    Why, then, are people not compelled to believe?
    1. Not for rational reasons. No reason has ever been brought forth against Christianity which has not been refuted (see chap. 2). The vast majority of those who disbelieve in Christ’s divinity disbelieve for other reasons, not because they have confronted the arguments.

    2. Often, the thing hated and rejected is not Christ but Christians. G.K. Chesterton said, “the only good argument against Christianity is Christians.”

    3. Often, it is fear of the church and its teachings and authority that scares people away. The church is a concrete, visible, present institution that makes demands on our intellect to believe and on our will to practice a whole way of life that conflicts with our natural inclinations. Exactly like Jesus, who did the very same thing. The church doesn’t wield a club, but it does wave a cross.

    4. The reluctance is usually moral. To admit that Jesus is divine is to admit his absolute authority over your life, including your private life, including your sex life. Can a drug addict think clearly and objectively about moral truth when it comes to drugs? Why should a sex addict be different? We are all addicts to something–to selfishness, at least. That is the meaning of sin, the very disease Jesus came to cure. Of course the cancer is going to fear the surgeon. That is exactly what you would expect. That is not a reason to disbelieve the surgeon’s claim to be the specialist. Just the opposite. The old self in us is no fool. It sees that Christ comes to kill it. It knows Christianity is not a harmless theory, but something alive and dangerous.

    5. Some people are afraid of the supernatural because it is mysterious and uncontrollable. If there is a supernatural God, and if this God did such a strange thing as becoming a man, then reality vastly escapes the neat and comfortable little boxes that some of us like to stuff it into.

    6. There may also be simple pride, refusal to loose control of the reins of our lives.

    7. It is also not intellectually fashionable to believe in Christ as anything more than a human teacher. We Americans love peer acceptance, approval and support. We fear nonconformity, eccentricity, “weirdness,” and being “out of it” even when “it” is a society that looks increasingly like garbage swirling down a drain.

    8. Finally, Americans’ deepest religion is often equality. The notion that Christ alone is God–superior, authoritative, supernatural–and that Christ’s teaching and person is far greater than Buddha’s, or Muhammad’s, or Moses’, no matter how much great and good wisdom may be contained in those others, is scandalous. The notion that all religions are not equal offends our real religion of equality, which makes no demands on us to discriminate and choose one and to justify that choice (see Chap. 14).
    None of these eight causes of unbelief is a reason, only a motive; that is, they are subjective, not objective; psychological, not logical.
    If everything we have said so far is true, a surprising consequence necessarily follows. It is that there are only two things that are needed for anyone to be converted, for the whole world to be converted, and to worship Christ as God. (Grace is also needed from God, of course, but God is willing to give his grace to anyone who is willing to seek and receive it.) These two things are intellectual honesty and the moral honesty that goes with it. This is exactly the attitude most unbelievers praise and claim to have: toughminded, skeptical, scientific, logical honesty. Well, if they really have that, it will lead them to Christ.
    It is exactly the opposite attitude that keeps unbelief alive, the attitude most unbelievers claim Christians have succumbed to–namely, wishful thinking, subjectivism, thinking not with the head but with the frightened heart or the quivering guts.” (p.172-73)

    Hell

    Fourteen Things Hell Is Not
    14. Perhaps the worst exaggeration of hell is the Calvinistic doctrine (not even held by all Calvinists) of a double predestination. According to this doctrine, God decrees and designs some souls for hell before they are born; God wills their damnation. This contradicted both by Scripture (Mt 18:14) and by moral sanity—how could one love such a monster God?
    There is indeed a predestination to heaven, like a AAA road map plotting the right road for your happy vacation. The words destined and predestination are right there in Scripture (Rom 8:29-30; Eph 1:5, 11). We think the pre has to be interpreted nonliterally, since God is not in time. But the crucial point is what kind of God God is. We must not think that just because there is a hell God acts like a divine concentration camp commander who capriciously sends some to the gas chambers and spared others. Christians believe God himself has told them how to think of him, and they always bear in mind his images of love—father, good shepherd and mother hen (Mt 23:27) (p.292)

    Seven Reasons for believing in Hell
    3. The church has always taught, and has dogmatically defined, hell. Even a traditional Protestant, who would appeal to Scripture alone, would be disturbed if such a central part of the church’s message was a lie. A Catholic should be scandalized. If the church is deceived or deceiving about this, why not about anything else–like heaven or salvation?
    A Christian who does not believe in hell is a contradiction in terms, because a Christian is one who believes in Christ, and Christ is one who believes in hell. The only way to believe in Christ without believing in hell is to reconstruct Christ according to your own desires. (He wants to reconstruct you according to his desires!) Then the game begins: Christ the Marxist, Christ the capitalist, Christ the Democrat, Christ the Republican, Christ the environmentalist, Christ the magician, Christ the homosexual, even Christ the Nazi. Why not? Why not? Hitler’s propagandists created such Christ. They subtracted his Jewishness to suit their ideology, just as the modernists subtract Christ’s otherworldliness to suit theirs. The fact that modernist ideology is “nicer” than Nazi ideology does not justify the principle that you can fudge your data to suit your ideology. If the modernist can use that principle, why can’t the Nazi? The logic of the argument is indifferent to niceness or nastiness.
    If there is no hell, Christ is not only a deceptive teacher but a wicked one, for he terrifies us needlessly, falsely and harmfully. Everyone knows the horrible abuses that have come from believing this doctrine—the private fears and the public manipulation of those fears. Unless there is a hell and the other-worldly consequences of not believing in hell outweigh the very considerable this-worldly consequences of believing in it, it is a terribly harmful doctrine and its teacher is terribly at fault for laying this terrible and unnecessary burden on our shoulders.
    In fact, the kindest, gentlest, most loving and compassionate man who ever opened his mouth has warned us with the greatest seriousness, strenuousness and sternness about hell. That is the irrefutable argument for it. (p. 296)

    Salvation

    The When and the Where of Salvation

    One of the most well-known jibes against Christianity is that it offers “pie in the sky bye and bye.” Two answers must be made to this. First, as C.S. Lewis said, “either there is ‘pie in the sky bye and bye’ or not. If there is, then this fact, like any other, must be faced whether it is useful at political meetings or not.” In other words, simple honesty demands that the first question is not whether an idea is useful or relevant but whether it is true. Second, it is not only “in the sky bye and bye.” “The kingdom of heaven,” or “the kingdom of God,” or “eternal life,” or “grace,” or “being born again,” or “regeneration,” or “life in the Spirit,” or “the state of grace” (these all refer to the same thing) begins before death, not after. To prove that, just get a concordance and read
    every New Testament passage that uses the above phrases. Notice the context each time. (p. 317)

    Faith and Works:

    The issue of salvation sparked the Protestant Reformation and split the church. It seemed to both sides at the time that Protestants and Catholics taught two radically different gospels, two religions, two answers to the most basic of all questions: What must I do to be saved? Catholics (and Eastern Orthodox) said you must both believe and practice good works to be saved. Luther, Calvin, Wycliffe, and Knox insisted that faith alone saves you. Unfortunately, both sides have been talking past each other for 450 years. But there is strong evidence that it was essentially a misunderstanding and that it is beginning to be cleared up.
    Both sides used key terms, faith and salvation, but in different senses.
    1. Catholics used the term salvation to refer to the whole process, from its beginning in faith, through the whole Christian life of the works of love on earth, to it’s completion in heaven. When Luther spoke of salvation he meant the initial step–like getting into Noah’s ark of salvation–not the whole journey.
    2. By faith Catholics meant only one of the three needed “theological virtues” (faith, hope, and love), faith being intellectual belief. To Luther, faith meant accepting Christ with your whole heart and soul.
    Thus, since Catholics were using salvation in a bigger sense and faith in a smaller sense, and Luther was using salvation in a smaller sense and faith in a bigger sense, Catholics rightly denied and Luther rightly affirmed that we were saved by faith alone.
    Catholics taught that salvation included more than faith, just as a plant includes more than its roots. It needs its stem (hope) and its fruits (love) as well as its root (faith). Luther taught that good works can’t buy salvation, that all you need to do and all you can do to be saved is to accept it, accept the Savior, by faith.
    Both sides spoke the truth. Since truth cannot contradict truth, the two sides really did not contradict each other on this most important of all questions. That assessment may sound unduly optimistic, but it is essentially what Catholic and Lutheran theologians said publicly in their “Joint Statement on Justification” a few years ago. Pope John Paul II said the same publicly to the German Lutheran bishops. It both astonished and delighted them.
    Such real agreement in substance beneath apparent disagreement in words should not be surprising, for both Catholics and Protestants accept the same data, the New Testament. The New Testament teaches both points: both the “Protestant” point that salvation is a free gift, not earned by works of obedience to the law; and the “Catholic” point that faith is only the beginning of the Christian life of good works, that “justification” (being made right with God) must, if it is real, lead to “sanctification” (being made holy, saintly, good), that “faith without works is dead.”
    Regarding the last point, the Scottish Presbyterian preacher George MacDonald wrote, “The notion that the salvation of Jesus is a salvation from punishment for our sins is a mean, selfish, low notion. He was called Savior because he would save us from our sins.”
    The official teaching of Catholicism (as distinct from the popular misconception) is that salvation is a totally free gift that we can do nothing to “buy” or produce. The Council of Trent’s (1565 A.D.) “Decree on Justification” is as insistent on the gratuitous nature of grace as Luther or Calvin. So is Aquinas in the Treaties on Grace in the Summa Theologiae, the bottom line of which is that we can do nothing without God’s grace–not be saved, not deserve grace, not even ask for grace.
    It would be absurd for Catholics and Protestants to disagree about this fundamental point of how to be saved as for two astronomers to disagree about whether stars exist. The answer is not in doubt because it is not in our theories but in our data, in Scripture.
    Scripture clearly says both that salvation is a free gift to be accepted by faith (Romans and Galatians) and that “faith without works is dead” (James). “Works” means “love,” and “love” means “the works of love,” for Christian love (agape) is not a feeling, like worldly love (eros, storge, philia); if it were, it could not be commanded. (p. 320-321)

    The Bible: Myth or History?

    The Fundamentalist Extreme
    Most fundamentalists, as well as many who do not call themselves fundamentalists but evangelicals, will do apologetics only from the starting point of the authority of Scripture. We think this is a tactical error. There are three points to their tactics that seem questionable.
    1. They think that it is necessary to begin by convincing you of the authority of Scripture because they think that natural human reason alone, apart from Scripture, is not strong enough or good enough to direct unbelievers to belief.
    2. They think that therefore the only right order in apologetics is first to prove the authority of Scripture, and then to move on to other apologetic questions with this all-important weapon in hand.
    3. They think that special standards must be used to understand and interpret Scripture since, unlike all other books, it is not just man’s words about God but God’s word about man.
    But remember: for many years early Christian apologists and church fathers argued quite
    effectively for Christianity without even having the New Testament Scriptures as authoritatively defined, since the canon was not established until generations later (starting in 382 A.D. at the Synod of Rome to be precise). And down through the centuries many people have in fact been led to belief—at least belief in a Creator God and in the possibility of salvation—through rational arguments not based on Scripture. (Of course, saving faith, as distinct from intellectual belief, is not the work of reason alone.)
    Also, it is very difficult to prove the authority of Scripture first to the unbeliever. It is much easier to prove something like the existence of God (chap. 3), or even the divinity of Christ (chap. 7), where arguments can be simple, short and clear in a way that the arguments for the authority of Scripture can never be. Traditional apologetics, Protestant as well Catholic, has more often used the opposite order, coming to the authority of Scripture later. Instead of
    1. Scripture is infallible,
    2. therefore Christ is infallible,
    3. therefore Christ is divine,
    the more convincing order is:
    1. Scripture is reliable as historical record, as data;
    2. Christ’s claims to divinity are found in Scripture;
    3. then comes the argument for the truth of these claims (chap 7).
    You don’t need to prove scriptural infallibility first to confront someone with the claims of Christ.
    The third difficulty is that the unbeliever will not accept the use of any special standards or assumptions or attitudes toward Scripture at the outset, since they clearly beg the question. You must first prove that Scripture deserves such special treatment. Otherwise you argue in a circle, assuming what you need to prove. (p. 203-204)

    Use Common Standards, Methods and Approaches
    Our first principle for interpreting the Bible is to use the same standards, methods and approaches to the Bible you would use for any other book. This is the only way of making contact with unbelievers (which fundamentalists find hard to do) without patronizing them by fudging your textual data to make it more acceptable or palatable to them (as modernists do).
    Read the Author’s Intended Meaning
    The most important positive principle for interpreting any book is to read the book in the same spirit or mind as its author wrote it. In other words, exegesis, not eisegesis. Don’t try to understand the author’s mind through the colored eyeglasses of your own worldview, assumptions, beliefs, catagories, ideologies or prejudices. Just the reverse. Look at everything, including yourself and your views, through the author’s eyes. He’s trying to communicate something new to you, something you did not know before; your job is to receive it intact, as fairly and objectively as possible. That is, after all, the purpose of reading any book in the first place: to grow and learn something new, not just to reinforce something old or flatter your own prejudices. As C.S. Lewis says,
    “The first demand any work of art makes of us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way. There is no good asking first whether the work before you deserves such a surrender, for until you have surrendered, you cannot possibly find out.” (An Experiment in Criticism)
    Before we respond, actively and critically, to a book (or a person), we must first receive docilely. It takes great mental activity and effort to be docile, that is, teachable.

    Separate Interpretation from Belief
    We must clearly separate interpretation from belief. Many people, professional exegetes and ordinary readers alike, make the basic mistake of practicing, and even preaching, the opposite: the idea that we should interpret a book “in light of our own sincerely held beliefs.” Drop the words “sincerely held” and it is clear how absurd this is. Interpretation means finding out what the other person meant and believed, not what you mean or believe. It means interpreting the author’s words and thoughts and mind, not yours, and therefore this must be done in light of his beliefs, not yours.
    After interpretation comes the question of belief or unbelief; after you understand what the other person means, you can and should make up your own mind whether you agree or disagree with it. But until you know what the author’s words mean to him, you cannot either agree or disagree with him, because there is as yet no “him” in your mind, only you.
    This principle is easy to preach but hard to practice. We love to flatter our own prejudices by making others agree with us, and we find it hard to stretch and open our minds to new, startling or offensive ideas. The Bible is full of new, startling and offensive ideas, because it claims to be the record of the words and acts of a God whose ways and thoughts are as far above our own as heaven is above earth (Is 55:8-9). A God who only comforted and reinforced us, and never shocked and puzzled us, would be a false God, one made in our own image—a mirror, not a light. (p. 207-208)

    Know When to Interpret the Bible Literally vs. Symbolically
    Modernists often interpret “turn the other cheek” literally and embrace pacifism, but interpret the miracles symbolically and embrace naturalism. Why? Fundamentalists often interpret the “days” of creation literally and reject evolution, but interpret “This is my body” symbolically and reject the notion of the real presence in the Eucharist. Why? Are there any consistent and objective guidelines for literal versus symbolic interpretation?
    The first and simplest answer is this: When the biblical author claims he saw something in the external world with his own eyes, or that someone else did and told him, then we are to interpret it literally. (Remember, we must distinguish interpretation from belief; to say we must interpret it literally is not to say we must believe it.) On the other hand, when a thing is not visible to the eye, we cannot interpret it literally. Here are three such cases.
    1. Sometimes the object in question is by its nature invisible, like God or the soul.
    2. Sometimes the author claims to have “seen” it only with the inner eye, in a vision/dream.
    3. And sometimes the author “made it up”; it is fiction, like a parable.
    The line between literal and nonliteral is not simply the line between natural and supernatural, or miraculous. For one thing, miracles are visible, not invisible, at least in their effects, though not in their causes. For another thing, the natural-or-supernatural criterion is an external criterion taken from philosophy or theology, not an internal criterion taken from the form of the text itself. (p. 211)

    Historical Proximity
    The closer a source is to the event it describes, the more likely it is to be reliable, all other things being equal. Modernists assume that the message of Jesus was misunderstood by his own disciples, by their disciples, by the church fathers and by nearly all Christians for so many centuries until contemporary scholars finally doped it out. It is exciting and flattering to think that you can decipher a puzzle which fooled centuries of the most profound, honest and passionate thinkers, but it is not likely—especially if your cultural assumptions, values, categories, and worldview are quite different from those of the people who wrote your data and are closest to it. Who is more likely to understand an ancient Etruscan?—another ancient Etruscan or a bookish twentieth-century museum curator?
    There is an implicit but astonishing arrogance in the idea that all the apostles, all the church fathers and all the millions of ordinary Christians were fundamentally mistaken about Christ (and all the teachings of the church) for nineteen centuries, and only a few theologians, sitting at their desks, in a very different culture, nineteen centuries later, finally understood him (and the church’s universal teachings). (p. 215)

    The Bottom Line—The Four Steps in Becoming a Christian

    We must distinguish four steps in becoming a Christian.
    1. The first step is mental belief. This is the first because you cannot take any other step toward a goal unless you believe it exists. You cannot seek or deal with a Person you do not believe exists. You cannot pray to a God you think is dead.

    The next three steps are (2) repentance from sin; (3) saving faith, faith in a more than mental sense, acceptance of Christ as Savior; and (4) living out the Christian life. These three steps all presuppose the truth of the God to whom you repent, in who you believe and with whose real presence and help you now live.
    This book is designed to persuade you to take that first step, if you have not taken it, by means of rational arguments. If you have taken that step and believe Christianity is true, this book is designed to help you to persuade others to take that first step. (p. 384-385)

  3. MK McCormack says:

    Interesting. Enjoyed this post!

      • Z-Man says:

        Chris,
        I agree that Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s Son of God is “Jesus light”. I have a problem with that as well. However, in God’s greater plan, it may still get more people to think about the christian faith and investigate it more, hopefully in an intellectually honest manner. I ask that you check out the Early Apostolic Fathers and the Early Church Fathers. It’s historically important for a christian to see why they are so important in leading and instructing the early christian faith. Remember, there was no agreed upon authoritative “canon of scripture” until after the Synod of Rome in 382 A.D. and then there had to be a series of councils in North Africa that didn’t finish until around 415 A.D. So what or who had the authority to determine what was christian and what wasn’t for the first 350 years?

    • Z-Man says:

      Thank you Ms. McCormack. God created men’s minds and women’s minds differently (and objective scientific facts support this). As a result many women can have a hard time grasping the logical truth of Chrisitanity as it’s represented in the Handbook of Christian Apologetics. However, on bigger issue, traditional schooling in logic and philosophy is completely lacking in the modern education system and has had a major negative impact on the populations ability to think clearly, reasonably, and logically without contradiction. Remember, truth cannot contradict truth and still be true.

      • Scarlett says:

        Z-man, I am a woman and I have had no problem “grasping” spiritual truths. The reason for this is that I have been blessed to have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit; have at the Spirits leading, entered into a study of the Word and a life of prayer and faith. With the Holy Spirit as my teacher and guide, I understand also the concept that the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life. There is the realm of the spirit beyond the letter of the Word which is very much in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ, Yes, far beyond a mere intellectual “form” of religion.

        God is no respecter of persons, whether male or female.

        May the Lord bless you,
        Scarlett

      • Z-Man says:

        Scarlett,
        Please define what you mean by “spiritual truths”? You say that the Holy Spirit is leading you, but many believe the Holy Spirit is leading them and yet they cannot agree on what scripture is saying or what is christian practice and what isn’t. Since you say the Holy Spirit is your teacher and guide, then is your interpretation of scripture infallible? That is what it appears you are saying. Please explain.

        As far as women and men, their minds are different, since men and women are equal in dignity, but created by God for different roles. Men’s minds are like waffles…with compartments. So men can focus on one task at hand better than women and learn and understand in a more linear form. Great for leadership. Women’s minds are like spaghetti. Very integrated and great at multitasking, which mothers have to do all the time when dealing with children. It’s part of our biological nature and God’s design for us.

  4. robhar says:

    Chris, I just found your blog. Good stuff. You are on the right path…sounding the warning! I would invite you to investigate a couple of videos on you tube by Jim Staley. “Truth and Tradition” takes this observation a step further. It really opened my eyes to some important historical facts. And then “Identity Crises” totally shifted my paradigm. You may or may not like his “style” but that’s beside the point IMO. Thanks for your courage in presenting the truth!

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