Thursday, January 21, 2016

ACCESS DENIED



The topic of the Eucharist is a highly controversial one between Catholics and most Protestants.  We’ve already posted a two-part series on the Catholic Eucharist in which we believe the Catholic arguments are shown to be false.  See here:



The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus is present in the Eucharist in body, blood, soul, and divinity.  The Eucharist is “the whole Christ” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1374, and the Council of Trent, Session XIII, Canon 1.

The “whole Christ,” body, blood, soul and divinity are supposedly what the Catholic is eating!  They insist that it is literally Jesus, Himself, but how can someone literally eat Jesus’ soul?  Notwithstanding that, the emphasis is that Jesus’ body is here with us today in the form of the Eucharist.

But Scripture tells us that Jesus is no longer here in the flesh: 

John 12:7 – Jesus therefore said, “Let her alone, in order that she may keep it for the day of My burial.  

John 12:8 – “For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me.” 

In what sense do we not have Jesus today?  Did Jesus mean that we wouldn’t have Him spiritually?  Of course not, since He said elsewhere that He would be with us (believers) until the end (Matthew 28:20).  It is clear that He was speaking in John 12:8 of His physical presence.  So, in that sense, He is not “available” today.

John 16:10 – And concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me.

But wait a minute, Catholics insist that we can still behold / see Him in the form of the Eucharist, yet He, Himself is saying that we can no longer behold / see Him.  So, one of two things is happening here:  either 1) Catholics are wrong about the Eucharist, or 2) Jesus lied.  We believe it’s safe to go with the first choice.

John 17:11 – “And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee.  Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are.”

How much plainer can it be?  Jesus is speaking of His departure to the Father, and says that He is (or will be) “no more in the world,” physically speaking.  If He is no longer in the world, then He cannot be in the Catholic Eucharist, as they claim, can He?

Of course, Catholics will say that this is all a great mystery that we can’t fully understand, but this “mystery” of theirs is not biblical.  In fact, it is anti-biblical, as just demonstrated.  Or, Catholics might say that the Eucharist has some kind of special power as a “sacrament,” but this is just special pleading.  See here:


According to Scripture, we are denied access to the physical presence of His body or His blood.  Therefore, the “Jesus” in the Catholic Eucharist is an idol.  It is another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4).

The Jesus of the Bible does not want us to literally eat Him.  That is not what He meant when He said, “Eat My flesh” and “Drink My blood” (see the first two links above).  He simply wants us to believe in Him (John 6:29,35,47-51) and in His work on the cross where the penalty for sin was fully paid.  He wants us to believe and trust in the fact of His death, burial and resurrection.  That is the essence of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and the true access to the Father.  That is the good news.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

NO SALVATION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH?



When discussing salvation, the Catholic Church sometimes uses the term “extra ecclesiam nulla salus.”  This is a Latin phrase meaning “outside the Church there is no salvation.”  In Scripture, the word “church” means “called out ones,” and it refers to believers / saints (Acts 2:47), i.e., all those who are saved, throughout the world (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:17-18), and sometimes it refers to the local assembly of believers (1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:2; Revelation chapters 1 and 2).


If the biblical definition of “the church” is what is meant in this Latin slogan, then it is somewhat redundant.  It is like saying that there are no Christians outside Christianity.  But that is self-evident.  But what does the Catholic Church mean by “the Church” in this context?  Are they referring to all true believers, no matter what denomination or group you belong to?  No, when they say “the Church” here, they mean only the Catholic Church, the organization / institution headed by the Vatican in Rome, the supposed “One True Church.”  They are claiming that no one outside the Catholic Church can be saved.  If there is any doubt about this definition, here are just a few official Catholic sources to prove the point:


  • In the Lateran Council (A.D. 1215), Pope Innocent III wrote about the Catholic Church:  “One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved…” (Emphasis added)

  • On November 18, 1302, Pope Boniface VIII wrote in a papal encyclical / bull called “Unam Sanctam”:  “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff [the pope].” (Emphasis added)

  • In 1441, at the Council of Florence, Pope Eugene IV, in the papal bull, “Cantate Domino,” wrote:  “It [the Catholic Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart ‘into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock… ” 

  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church, teaches the same concept, but in a softer, less abrasive, more ecumenical language, “reformulated positively.” CCC #846, quoting the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium (LG 14), says:  “Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council [Vatican II] teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation…” (Emphasis added)

In the past, the Catholic Church has hurled many anathemas (declarations of condemnation) toward Protestants and other non-Catholics.  But it seems that today it is not as blunt as it used to be, but is more concerned now about using ecumenical, “separated brethren” language that is not as offensive.  However, the point remains.  They are clearly telling us that one needs to be a member of the Catholic Church to make it into Heaven.  They’re not saying that all Catholics are saved, but that only faithful Catholics are.


However, in all fairness, the Catholic Church does also teach that a non-Catholic can still possibly be saved, if he is “invincibly ignorant” about the Church, “through no fault of his own” (CCC #847).  We can agree with the concept that a person who has never heard of Jesus Christ (and perhaps never will) can still be saved if he reaches out for God (Acts 17:26-27; Romans 1:18-20).  But these people are the exceptions to the rule.  We don’t have a problem with these exceptions.  But we do have a problem with the Catholic Church claiming that the norm is that no one is saved apart from the Catholic Church.  That’s an extraordinary claim, and as we’ve said many times before, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.  But biblical proof of this teaching is not to be found.


Catholicism’s concept of “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” exists because of their belief that they are the “One True Church,” as mentioned earlier.  And why do they say this?  Mainly because they believe:


  • The Catholic Church has all the right sacraments. 

  • The Catholic Church has “Sacred Tradition.” 

  • The Catholic Church has a leader in the pope who unifies its people, backed by apostolic succession.

  • The Catholic Church has the “four marks of the true church,” and therefore, the fullness of the truth.

But we would respond in this way:


  1) Concerning the sacraments, it is (supposedly) through these that one can obtain and maintain eternal life, especially baptism, the Eucharist, and confession to a priest.  For the Catholic, the sacraments are inseparably tied into salvation (CCC #1129).  But there are some major problems with this system of salvation by works.  See here: 
 



  2) Concerning “Sacred Tradition,” not only does this teaching have some special problems, it has an identity crisis, as well.  See here:




  3) Concerning the concept of a pope, there is nothing in Scripture that teaches there is such a person or such a position in the church.  Furthermore, the Catholic Church’s concept of “apostolic succession” is not scriptural either, and it is morally and historically unsustainable.  See here:





  4)  Concerning the “four marks of the true church,” the Catholic Church cannot claim either the fullness of the truth, nor can it claim all four marks.  Actually, they cannot even claim one of the marks in the way they define them.  See here for a four-part series of articles addressing this topic:










In conclusion, this idea that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church is a trap; it is just as much a trap as Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-6).  The temptations may not be the same, but the end result is:  spiritual death (Genesis 2:16-17).


When a person joins the Catholic Church, he is hoping to obtain eternal life, but if he is faithful to the Church’s teachings, he will only have a system which attempts to gain salvation through faith plus works - a network of bondage that enslaves its members from cradle to grave.  It is a method in which there is no power to save.  It is precisely the type of system that the Apostle Paul warned us about in Galatians 1:8-9, one which condemns the individual because it attempts to add our pitiful, imperfect works to the perfect, complete, and absolutely sufficient work that Jesus did on the cross (Romans 5:9; Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:16-20).


The bottom line is that “No Salvation outside the Catholic Church” is an arrogant and unscriptural concept that has burdened and entangled millions of souls.  So, dear friend, what will you do?  Will you give in to the many unproven claims of the Catholic Church… or will you submit to the simple gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16)?


Thursday, November 19, 2015

MARTIGNONI AND SOLA SCRIPTURA



Last month, we specifically addressed the “authority to interpret Scripture” concept which we found in one of John Martignoni’s newsletters (#268).  Martignoni is a well known and influential Catholic apologist who has thousands of people who subscribe to his newsletter and other materials.  So, we feel that it is important to address some of his errors and misrepresentations.


This month, we will take a look at Martignoni’s view of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (“Bible Alone”).  In newsletters #83 through #85, which can be found here




Martignoni addresses Sola Scriptura and claims that this doctrine is not logical, not historical, and not scriptural.  But his foundational argument is based on a couple of false premises.  For example, Martignoni first defines Sola Scriptura in this way in newsletter #83:


“First, let me define the dogma of Sola Scriptura so that you know exactly what I mean when I use the term.  As I understand it, it is the belief that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is the only thing that a Christian needs in order to know whatever they need to know about Christian teaching and practice.”


This definition is the first false premise.  Perhaps there are some Protestants who would define Sola Scriptura in this way, but that is certainly not a biblical definition.  We believe that Sola Scriptura is indeed a biblical concept and we would simply define it this way:


  • Scripture is the only infallible Rule of Faith for the church today.


Key word, “infallible.”  There are indeed other sources of authority (or rules of faith) in the church today, like church leaders, theologians, the writings of church fathers, archaeological and historical evidence, traditions, councils, Bible commentaries, catechisms, etc.  We are free to use these things to help us learn and grow spiritually, but none of these are infallible.  Scripture is the ultimate Rule of Faith today because it is the only infallible one.  But John Martignoni’s false premise is that those who believe in Sola Scriptura must use ONLY the Bible to learn anything spiritual.  But that is a misrepresentation of Sola Scriptura.

At the end of this particular newsletter, Martignoni appeals to his audience to help him by asking for advice from his readers so he can “tweak” his upcoming article on Sola Scriptura.  And, in fact, in newsletter #84, his readers are the ones who pointed out that his original definition was “too narrow,” and convinced him to use a somewhat more biblical definition of Sola Scriptura.  His second (refined) definition is this:

“The Bible is the sole authority that one needs to decide what is and is not authentic Christian teaching and practice.  Now, that is not to say that one cannot learn things from sources other than the Bible, but these other sources are not infallible, as is the Bible, and do not carry the kind of binding authority that the Bible carries.”

Here, it appears that he is starting to understand the meaning of Sola Scriptura.  But immediately after this, Martignoni turns right around and contradicts this new definition by saying:

“In other words, the Bible is the sole rule of faith for the Christian.  If it’s not in the Bible, then I, as a Christian, am not bound to believe it.”

He misses the fact that Sola Scriptura allows for the Christian to believe in other rules of faith, as long as that rule does not conflict with Scripture.  Again, he goes from “sole authentic teaching” to “sole rule of faith.”  He reverts back to his original (faulty) definition.

And once again, in newsletter #85, Martignoni does another word switch:

“Does the Bible teach that it is the sole infallible authority for deciding matters related to Christian teaching and practice?  In other words, does the Bible teach that it is the sole rule of faith for the Christian?”
 
Do you see what he does here?  In the first half, he gets the biblical definition right, but then turns right around and switches back to his original wording.  This is a typical bait-and-switch tactic.

Still again, he later contradicts his refined definition of Sola Scriptura by saying:

“However, it nowhere says anything about the Bible being the sole rule of faith for the Christian.”
 
Martignoni seems to have trouble maintaining a consistent definition of Sola Scriptura.  How many times do we need to remind him that Sola Scriptura DOES NOT mean that the Bible is the sole rule of faith.  It is the sole INFALLIBLE rule of faith.  There is a world of difference. 
 

Is Martignoni intentionally muddying the water?  A professional apologist like himself should know better; he should easily be able to recognize the difference between the two definitions.  Apparently (by his own admission) even his readers can tell the difference, since they were the ones who suggested the new definition.


John Martignoni’s second false premise in these articles is that we need infallible authority when we interpret the Bible and we cannot allow “individual interpretation” of Scripture.  But we already addressed that error in last month’s article here:




Again, this “authority to interpret” argument is one of Martignoni’s foundational arguments that he uses often.  For him, it is a major building block for many (if not most) of his teachings.  But exposing this false “need” for infallible interpretations undercuts Martignoni’s whole “authority argument” and brings it crumbling down.


We cannot emphasize this enough:  Even if John Martignoni’s church was infallible (and we strongly assert that it is not) and if they were able to perfectly and infallibly interpret Scripture, he would still be in the same “trap” as the Protestant.  He must still use his own fallible mind and faculties, along with common sense, to interpret his supposed infallible source (the Catholic Church).  He cannot claim that fallible interpretations are a problem for Protestants, but not for Catholics.  We are all fallible.
 

So, John Martignoni is off to a very bad start if he cannot even get the definition of Sola Scriptura right, and if one of his most foundational arguments (“authority to interpret”) is invalid.  Interested readers can find, in this blog, answers to Martignoni’s other arguments against Sola Scriptura, as well.  See these links:









We also have an eight-part series on Sola Scriptura starting here: