Thursday, April 26, 2018

THE CATHOLIC “TIME MACHINE”


Many people are intrigued by the idea of time travel.  If there could only be a machine that would be able to bring us back into the past and hear, personally, Abraham Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address, or to experience how things were in the days of Christopher Columbus, or to go back to the time of Moses when the Red Sea was parted!  Or it could bring us into the future to marvel at the technological advances of mankind.  This idea, of course, has been used in a number of science fiction movies and television shows.  

Here Comes the Past

While time travel is not a reality, it seems that the Catholic Church claims to enjoy some sort of time travel concept.  “How absurd,” you may respond, “to say that Catholics believe any such thing!”  But consider the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.  According to the Catholic Catechism (CCC #1104, #1375, #1413, #1566), the past is not just brought to mind, but actually “made present” when the communion bread and wine are consecrated by the priest.  That is, during the mass, the event of Jesus Christ giving His flesh and blood on the cross is “mysteriously” made present… today… now.  According to the Catholic Church, Calvary (that event which happened 2000 years ago) is actually somehow transported across time, to this present moment for the one who partakes of Catholic communion.  This is a foundational claim of the Catholic Church.  

“Anamnesis” 

Catholics believe this mainly because they think that Jesus was speaking literally when He said, “This is My body… this is My blood” (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20) when breaking bread and pouring out wine at the Last Supper.  He said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).  The Greek word Jesus used here for “remembrance” is “anamnesis,” and Catholics claim that anamnesis actually means “to make present,” to “re-present,” or “memorial sacrifice.”  
  
The Catholic Church uses much flowery and philosophical language to describe this “time travel” event.  Now, participating in communion is indeed a biblical concept, but rather than using a biblical explanation of what’s happening, they have to resort to the fancy, high-sounding philosophy of Aristotle (e.g., “substance” and “accidents”) to explain why there is a supposed change in the bread and wine. 
  
But the truth is, this is not what the Greek word “anamnesis” really means.  The “Online Etymology Dictionary” defines anamnesis this way:

“Recollection, remembrance, reminiscence,” 1650s, from Greek anamnesis “a calling to mind, remembrance,” noun of action from stem of anamimneskein “remember, remind (someone) of (something), make mention of,” from ana “back” (see ana-) + mimneskesthai “to recall, cause to remember,” related to mnemnon “mindful,” mneme “memory;” from PIE root “men-“ (1) “to think.” In Platonic philosophy, “recollection of a prior life.”

This source says absolutely nothing about “re-presenting or “making present,” or that it is any kind of “sacrifice.”  Other reliable sources tell us the same thing as the previous source:

Strong’s Concordance:

“A recalling, remembrance, memory.”  

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

“A remembering, recollection; to call Me (affectionately) to remembrance (Luke 22:19).”

NAS Exhaustive Concordance:

“Remembrance, reminder.”

As for as we can tell, it is only Catholic, Orthodox, or quasi-Catholic groups that claim that anamnesis means “to make present.”  

Catholic Sources

There are two Bible verses where Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” and they are Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:25.  But even many Catholic Bible versions like the New American Bible, the Douay Rheims Bible, the Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition, and the New Jerusalem Bible, all translate the word anamnesis in these two verses as either “remembrance,” “memorial,” “memory,” or “commemoration.”  None of these translate the term as “memorial sacrifice” or “Calvary made present,” or “re-presenting Christ.”

No doubt, they certainly would have been happy to translate it that way if they could have, but, in this particular case, these Catholic Bible versions proved to be true to the original Greek.

“One and the Same?”

According to the Catholic Church, the priest’s offering of the Eucharist supposedly “transcends time” (CCC #1085).  It is not another offering of Jesus Christ to God, but is “one and the same” offering as Calvary (CCC #1367).  Therefore, it is bringing the past into the “now.”   Again, this is the stuff of which time machine stories are made.   This is an incredibly bold claim… and it is also ridiculous and unscriptural.  It is true that the effects of Jesus’ work on the cross are eternal, perhaps displayed permanently in a Heavenly scene to remind us forever (Revelation 5:6), but nowhere in the Bible is there an event that is literally brought forward on earth from the past.  

The event of Calvary is no more actually “made present” today in communion than the death angel was once again “made present” every time the Jews celebrated the past event of Passover (Exodus 12:21-25).  But it IS something “made present” mentally, something remembered.  Once again, “Do this in remembrance of Me” speaks of using one’s mental faculties, not some supernatural time travel experience whereby a past event is literally made present. 
  
Catholics may object and say that they never claimed that the event of Calvary is literally made present in the Eucharist.  They seem to go out of their way to avoid using that specific term concerning Calvary’s “presence,” but at the same time, they will insist that the bread and wine turn into His literal body and blood.  Furthermore, CCC #1104 says that this ritual supposedly does not just recall Calvary, but ACTUALIZES this event.  So, there seem to be some mixed signals here. 

More Than You Bargained For!

Furthermore, when describing the mass, they say things like, “the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained” in the Eucharist.  In that moment, Christ is present in the “fullest sense,” and He is “wholly and entirely present” (CCC #1374). 

And of course, this is all a great mystery where He is somehow “sacramentally” made present (however that’s supposed to work).  Once again, the Catholic Church is engaging in word games.  

But no, being exposed to the “whole Christ” in the “fullest sense” would be describing our state in HEAVEN.  That level of exposure to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, could only happen when we are in our glorified bodies and then able to endure His absolute fullness and glory!  Otherwise, like the apostle John, we could not even stand before Him:

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me…  
  
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead…  (Revelation 1:12, 17)

This is what happens when a mere human sees “the whole Christ” in the “fullest sense.”  Even John, probably His closest friend, fell as a dead man in Jesus’ “fullest” presence.  John was utterly stunned and unable to even look at Jesus.  He was overwhelmed by the majesty of the Son of God.  If the Eucharist was all that Catholics say it is, no man would be able to stand before it. 
 
A Dose of Reality

The Catholic concept of Calvary “made present” is a false teaching to make Catholics believe that they have more to offer than other churches do.  But their “fullness of truth” is a lie.  Their priesthood is false, and they cannot do what they claim to do in the mass.  Their priests are not able to “bring Christ down” from His throne in Heaven, to be “offered up again,” where He must “bow His head in humble obedience to the priest’s command,” as one very popular Catholic book describes.  This is utter blasphemy.  And that source is quoted in this article:


According to the Catholic Catechism (CCC #1566), when celebrating the Eucharist, it is “From this unique sacrifice [that] their whole priestly ministry draws its strength.”  Well, since the foundation of “this unique sacrifice” is based on time travel and other unbiblical concepts, it is therefore false and crumbles beneath the weight of its own outrageous claims.  

But why is this ritual the ultimate experience for Catholics?  Why do they think that physically eating and drinking “Jesus” is the greatest form of worship?  Why the focus on the bread and wine, rather than on His actual work and suffering on the cross?  There’s something fishy about this.  Jesus said that He wanted believers to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23), not by physically eating Him. 

It’s Not About Time Travel

Jesus said nothing whatsoever about communion being anything more than a holy memorial.  Sure, this is indeed a solemn and wonderful event, during which emotions may be high, and where a deeper appreciation for Calvary and a deeper love for God may be present, along with sorrow for one’s sins.

But getting the benefits of Calvary is not time travel.  It does not require God to actually transfer an event from the past to the present time.  God does not have to actually “make Calvary present” for us to have its benefits.  Its benefits are simply received by faith.  The only “mystery” involved is that He would still love us “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8).  In communion, He is making Calvary real to the hearts of undeserving souls, and making us deeply aware of the magnitude of what happened at the cross.

Whose Offering?

Again, the Catholic version of the simple ritual of holy communion amounts to an actual claim of time travel.  This is very important.  Since it is not possible and not biblical to “time travel” and transport the past into the future, therefore, it is NOT POSSIBLE that the mass and Calvary are “one and the same,” or “one single sacrifice.”

Sometimes they are accused of sacrificing Jesus again, but the Catholic Church strongly insists that they are not, but rather, that they are re-presenting that one-time, once-for-all sacrifice of Calvary.  Well, that might sound good, but that’s not what’s happening.  Only Jesus, Himself, was able to make this offer (Calvary), and He will NOT do it again.  No one can offer Him as a sacrifice.  And no one can re-offer Him.  No one can present Him as a sacrifice and no one can re-present Him.  He cannot be “presented anew.” 
 
One last time: It is impossible for Him to be offered up again, since 1) Only HE, HIMSELF, could make the offer, not man; and 2) He said it would be ONCE FOR ALL (Hebrews 7:26-27; 9:12, 26-28; 10:10-12).  This “Eucharistic sacrifice” is not Jesus.  It is a REPLACEMENT of Him.  Catholics, please let that sink in.

Conclusion

The ritual of communion (partaking of the bread and wine) is to point to the gospel message and to emphasize what Jesus did on the cross, and not to point to the elements (bread and wine) themselves (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).  That would be missing the point.  If you want His “maximum presence” on earth, do what Jesus said to do:

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

That’s how he is present on earth after His ascension to Heaven.  He would be with us spiritually.
     
“But,” the Catholic may object, “don’t you think that God is certainly able to bring something back from the past?  He has all power.  He transcends time.  Why would you Protestants think that this is impossible with God?”

But this is not about God’s power or ability.  Yes, God transcends time, and yes, He could do this if He wanted to, but the question is not “CAN God do this?”  The question is, “What is God really saying here concerning communion?”  And Jesus gives us the answer all along, right there in the context:

“Do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)

That’s it, folks.  He simply wants us to ever be mindful of the incredible work that He did on the cross.  The event of Calvary is the apex of all human history.  He paid the penalty for OUR sins there.  And for those people who embrace this truth, and trust in this work alone, and are humble enough to surrender to His will, He gives eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

See also these articles on the Eucharist:




Tuesday, March 27, 2018

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CHURCH AT ROME?


It has been said that the epistle of Romans, written by the apostle Paul, is one of the greatest and most sublime books of Scripture.  It is his masterpiece.  It is one of the most profound and influential books ever written.  This book is called “Romans” because it was, of course, written to the first-century church (that is, the assembly of Christians) in the city of Rome. 
   
It is a unique book, at least partly because no other book in the Bible deals specifically, and at such great length, with the doctrine of justification like this book does.  As we have said before, when discussing justification, this is the book to which one must go.  It does not deal with justification only as a passing reference, but in great detail.  All other references to justification should revolve around this context, namely, chapters three through five of Romans. 
 
Again, this message was written to the early Roman church.  But the church that most people identify as the Church of Rome today is the Catholic Church, or the Roman Catholic Church, headquartered in the Vatican.  But the “gospel” of the modern Roman Catholic Church is not the same gospel as that of the first-century assembly of believers to whom the apostle Paul wrote in Rome.  The gospel that Paul delivered has the power to save:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17 - KJV)

Notice that the just “shall live,” i.e., shall obtain eternal life and make it to Heaven – by his faith, rather than by his works.  Paul goes on into the next few chapters to make this concept abundantly clear.

But the gospel of modern Rome is “faith plus works equals salvation.”  It seems to ignore the clear message that Paul stressed 2000 years ago:

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. (Romans 3:28)

Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness. (Romans 4:4-5)

Just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: (Romans 4:6 - NASV)

Justification happens that first moment when a man recognizes his desperate spiritual need, when he surrenders to God, and allows Him to change his heart.  At this point he is made right with God.  He is now eligible for Heaven.  Although the man will now go on to do good works, notice that justification is APART FROM the merit of any of those works.  It cannot be any clearer from the passages above.

So, again, the “gospel” of the Catholic Church (modern Rome) is not the one that Paul shared with the original church in Rome.  The Catholic gospel does not have power to save, since it’s power depends (at least partially) on the works of the individual striving for salvation.  This causes a man to trust in his own labor to “help” Jesus save him.  But Jesus doesn’t need any help from us.  There is nothing that we can do to “supplement” His work.  It is utterly blasphemous to think that His work is lacking in any way.  In saying this, they are denying the full atonement of Jesus Christ.   Remember, we (corrupt mankind) are the very reason that He had to go to the cross in the first place! 
No, His suffering and work on the cross is fully sufficient (all by itself) to redeem us. 
 
Whatever happened to this critical, foundational teaching given to the church of Paul’s day at Rome?  Somewhere along the way, something seriously went wrong.  Paul’s message was changed.  Mostly because man wants to take credit where he should not.

But note this claim from the Catholic Church.  According to the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, titled “Dei Verbum,” the task of the Catholic Magisterium concerning the Word of God is:

“…guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully…” (chapter 2, paragraph 10)  See also CCC #86.

But have they really guarded Paul’s original sacred message, the inspired gospel of Jesus Christ?  Are they “explaining it faithfully” today?  Indeed not.  Once again, what the Catholic Church is telling us today is not what Paul told the church at Rome back then.  What we have is a different and unbiblical message from modern Rome.  

The word “gospel” means “good news.”  And Paul’s words concerning justification are indeed good news.  They can be summed up in this way: Jesus Christ is powerful and His work is absolutely sufficient.  He has mercifully and graciously paid the full penalty for sin on the cross, so man doesn’t have to attempt to work his way into Heaven.  He doesn’t have to wonder if he did enough good deeds or earned enough “brownie points.”  He doesn’t have to worry about whether his good works outweigh his bad works.  He can rest assured of his salvation by simply maintaining his faith, by trusting only in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. 

The great apostle Paul had quite a resume concerning his religious achievements.  But his resume meant nothing when it came to meriting salvation!  He considered all his achievements as dung (Philippians 3:4-9).  Even Paul did not trust in his works, so how much more should we avoid trusting in ours? 
 
On the other hand, the “gospel” of modern Rome is another gospel, with another Jesus, and another spirit (2 Corinthians 11:4).  The poor faithful member of “Holy Mother Church” serves a weak Jesus who is not able to fully pay sin’s penalty, and the Catholic therefore needs to “cooperate with the grace of God” by maintaining his duty to perform the sacraments – and it is indeed by his works that he must merit eternal life (Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter XVI).  Talk about bad news! 
 
To make matters worse, he is also surrounded by a multitude of unbiblical teachings from his leaders.  Yet, one of his leaders (Pope Pius X), in an official Catholic statement says that the Catholic’s “one duty” is to obey his leaders [apparently, no matter what they teach] (Vehementer Nos, paragraph 8). 
 
Conclusion

We would encourage everyone from ANY church (whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant) to do what the Bible says and test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21) with Scripture.  That even includes testing what your own church teaches. 
 
The ancient Roman church of the first century had it right.  But somewhere along the way, that simple gospel message got corrupted.  Although they try, the modern Roman church cannot rightfully claim to be the historic Christian church.  Because of their many false teachings, they are disqualifying themselves as the church that “guards” and “faithfully explains” the Word of God.

By the way, there is no group today that can rightfully claim that they are the original, or first, Christian church.  The best they can do is to be faithful followers of the original church’s teachings found in God-inspired Scripture.

We will end on this point.  The Judaizers were another group that Paul contended with.  And they were committing the same error as the Catholic Church - the error of adding their works to the cross (Acts 15:1, 5).  And Paul strongly condemned them:

But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9 - KJV)

For more info. on Rome’s weak view of the work of Christ, see this link:



Wednesday, February 28, 2018

THE CATHOLIC “VACCINE”



After watching, reading, and participating in hundreds of discussions and debates with Catholics, it has become obvious that some, if not most, Catholic apologists believe that their church can never teach anything wrong, even when it is obvious to others that certain Catholic teachings contradict the Bible.

Apparently, the Catholic Church is immune to any arguments against it from Scripture.  It seems there is always a reason that the Bible doesn’t really mean what it clearly seems to be saying.  What is clear to the avid Bible student is philosophized away by these Catholic apologists. 
   
So, what about philosophical arguments?  Philosophy can be a good thing, but the apostle Paul warned us against using philosophy wrongly:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

There are some Catholics today who will start off with, and base their arguments almost entirely upon, philosophy, rather than on the principles and exegesis of Scripture.  But any philosophy that is not first based on biblical principles is a deceptive philosophy (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
  
But philosophy is not the Catholic apologist’s only tactic.  There are many others.  It is as though Catholic apologists have received an “argument vaccine” and feel that they are therefore immune to any biblical arguments used against them, no matter how common-sense, scripturally accurate, or logical the Protestant arguments are. 
   
So, how does this Catholic system of arguments work?  Here are only a few of the many tactics that Catholic apologists use to deny the clear teachings of Scripture in order to promote Catholicism:

1  1)  When the Catholic is at a loss to refute common-sense arguments that are based on simple biblical statements or principles, he “waxes eloquent” and tries to use philosophy to prove his point (as mentioned above), but philosophy that twists biblical concepts.  

    2)  They’ll tell you that you don’t understand what the Catholic Church teaches (even though you are directly quoting official Catholic sources)

3   3) They’ll tell you that their argument is based on a “mystery” (even though this particular “mystery” is not a biblical concept)

4   4) They’ll tell you that you’re just a “Johnny come lately,” and you are ignoring the Church that Jesus has established, which has been around for 2000 years (although the Catholic can never prove from the Bible that the teachings of the church in the New Testament match his own church’s teachings – They often place their version of church history above Scripture)

5    5) When they are in a real bind and at a loss for answers, they’ll tell you that what you’re saying is “just your interpretation” of the Bible, and that we can’t really know anything for sure without an infallible interpreter of Scripture

6    6) They’ll play word games or change the defintion of certain words (for example, when Catholics claim they don’t use “their own authority” in Bible interpretation, but claim that Protestants do – or they will effectively re-define terms by clouding the meaning of words like devotion, vereration, and worship)  

7    7) They will often ignore the apostle Paul’s teaching in order to favor certain things that Jesus said, for example, when dealing with justification (even though Jesus is the One who inspired Paul to deal with the doctrine of justification at length, and inspired him to say exactly what he said in Scripture)

8    8) The Catholic will point to “development of doctrine” to prove his point (even though this “developed” doctrine totally contradicts God’s Word)

9    9) They’ll use ideas that are unfalsifiable, or untestable (For example, the concept of transubstantiation, or the changing of bread and wine into Jesus’ actual body and blood.  If someone says, “There is no change in these elements after consecration,” the Catholic will respond with, “Oh, yes, but it DOES change.  It’s just that the appearance does not change, but only the essence.”  To this nonsense, we will only say that no miracle in the Bible was ever done with this kind of fake “evidence.”

1   10) They believe that “submit to your leaders” (Hebrews 13:17) means submit to the Church, i.e., the Catholic Church, and that we Protestants should do the same (but they seemingly forget that we must follow our leaders ONLY AS THEY FOLLOW CHRIST [1 Corinthians 11:1]!  To be biblical, one does not submit to the Catholic Church) 

1   11) Sometimes they’ll protray us (Protestants) as automatically guilty by association, as they brand us as “followers of Luther” or “followers of Calvin” (even though we may be neither Lutheran nor Calvinist)

1    12) The Catholic can’t give you an answer to your scriptural points, so he casually diverts your attention by claiming that you don’t know the canon, i.e., the correct list of Bible books (even though it has nothing to do with the topic at hand)

1   13) He may argue against your point because the exact wording you used is not in the passage, for example, when denying Sola Scriptura (2 Timothy 3:16-17) they’ll say, “But it doesn’t say only Scripture!” (although the concept is there; and furthermore, we can present many, many instances where specific Catholic terminology is NOT used in Scripture, yet they can make these teachings into infallible dogmas!) 

1    14) They’ll very often ignore CONTEXT (for example, when Catholics try to refute “Faith Alone,” they use James 2 when we point to Romans 3 and 4, which specifically deals with, and defines, justification, whereas James does not)

1    15) They’ll isolate a verse without considering the whole of Scripture (like when they try to promote “prayer to the saints,” yet, they ignore the fact that NOWHERE in Scripture do we see the actual practice, but on the contrary, there are multiple warnings about prayer to someone other than God)

1    16) When losing an argument, they’ll refer to a very ambiguous (unclear, vague) term like, “But ‘Tradition’ says…” (and worse yet, they even attribute infallibility to it)

1    17) They will use special pleading, for example, when speaking of Mary’s “sinlessness.”  (Why is Mary exempt from mankind’s sin when Scripture never suggests such?)

1    18) They are very often guilty of using eisegesis, i.e., reading something into the text that isn’t there (for example, deriving Mary’s “sinlessness” from Luke 1:28)

Ok, so these are just a few of the many tactics that Catholics use in their arguments.  But what all of these tactics have in common is that they either directly violate the principles of sacred Scripture, or they point to the fact that Catholics have a low view of it.  Catholics can talk all they want about how they love the Scriptures, but these types of arguments betray them. 

This is not to say that none of these fallacies ever occur in Protestant circles.  They sometimes do.  But anyone using these types of invalid arguments is just as wrong.  The problem in either case is that they are not giving the Word of God its rightful place.

Conclusion

Someone once said that the dogmatic Catholic teaching concerning the pope is a lawyer’s dream.  There are all kinds of qualifications and exceptions so that no matter what the pope teaches, no matter how much nonsense appears to exist in his statements, there can never be an official contradiction in that teaching (paraphrased).

This same idea seems to be the goal of the tactics mentioned above.  They want to teach and promote Catholic concepts and they don’t want Scripture to interfere with that process.  But suppose there are a few Catholics who disagree with the Church?  Is a Catholic layman allowed to protest against any teachings in his church?  

Not according to Pope Pius X.  In a 1906 papal encyclical, he said:  the “one duty” of the laity “is to allow themselves to be led, and like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.” (Vehementer Nos, paragraph 8)

Well, there you have it, folks.  Rome has spoken!  And, according to Pius X, don’t you dare question your leaders!  According to this pope, you should check your mind out at the door when you come in.  And they call this “unity.”
 
Beware of the Catholic apologist who believes that he is unstoppable.  No “Bible evidence” can sway him.  He is immune!  He has taken the powerful “Catholic vaccine” and all is well… 

until Judgment Day when he is reminded what Jesus Christ said about His Word:

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day (John 12:48).