Wednesday, February 28, 2018
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.
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).
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
…and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” (Luke 20:2)
After observing the many miraculous signs that Jesus had done in public, the chief priests, scribes, and elders of Jerusalem approached Him while He was teaching in the temple. They then asked Him by what authority He was doing all these things. But Jesus detected their trickery, and He masterfully thwarted their question and asked one of His own. The end result is that they could not answer His question (without either causing a riot or humiliating themselves), so they backed off (Luke 20:1-8).
You see, these people were working closely with the Pharisees, and Nicodemus, the Pharisee, had previously revealed their dirty little secret – that they already knew that Jesus was from God (John 3:1-2), and therefore, had God’s authority. But their purpose here was to trick Him and to turn the crowd against Him. But of course, they failed to do so.
A Loaded Question
But we want to point out in this article that Catholics often use this same phrase, “By what authority…”, when confronting Protestants. Taking their cue from the enemies of Jesus, they use this same question on us concerning Bible interpretation, thinking that this is an effective argument.
Aside from the fact that the priests, scribes and elders were questioning the very authority of God, the Son, and aside from the fact that they were corrupt in their hearts and only wanted to start trouble… at least they applied the question (“By what authority…”) to a more proper object, i.e., Jesus’ miracles and His great wisdom. But Catholics wrongly apply this same question to Bible interpretation. That is to say, they are wrong to ask, “By what authority do you Protestants interpret Scripture?”
You see, this is a loaded question. It’s sort of like asking, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” With this question, whether you answer “yes” or “no,” you are implying guilt even if you are not guilty. This is because of the way the question is phrased. It forces you to buy into the false assumption built into it. So it cannot be answered directly without incriminating yourself. Asking “by what authority do you interpret…” is similar in that way.
This is because Catholics start off with a false premise, a wrong assumption, and that assumption is that one needs some kind of “special authority” to be able to interpret Scripture. But that’s not true at all.
No one in the Old or New Testament was ever rebuked for (or discouraged from) attempting to interpret Scripture. While it is certainly possible for someone to misinterpret a particular passage, no one in the Bible is ever told that they should not interpret – even when they got it wrong (John 5:39-40)! While Jesus and the apostles often pointed the people to the Scriptures, they never tried to ban anyone from interpreting them because of possible abuse, misunderstanding, or “lack of authority.” They never said, “No, you need the church’s authority to interpret this!” This seems to be a Catholic concept, and it is a false one.
Only the Leaders?
So, being able to interpret Scripture has nothing to do with AUTHORITY on our part. It’s simply something that God expects us to do. He tells us to interpret (rightly divide) His Word in 2 Timothy 2:15:
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
But someone may try to argue that in 2 Timothy 2:15, the apostle Paul’s command to “rightly divide” was not to the “laity,” but only to Timothy, who was a pastor / bishop. But notice that in this same chapter from which we first quoted under the title of this article (Luke 20), Jesus tells a parable to “the people” (Luke 20:9), that is, “the laity,” and He expects them, if their hearts are right, to understand (rightly divide) what He is saying. And it is absolutely clear that this group of people is separate and distinct from the leaders, i.e., the elders, scribes and priests (v. 1, 6, 19). So, yes, God does expect the common man, who comes to Him humbly and trusting, to be able to interpret the Scriptures. So, no special “gift” or “authority” is required for that. And there are many other passages that confirm this truth. See a few of them here:
Caught in Their Own Trap
Many Catholics believe that any interpretation apart from the Catholic Church’s Magisterium is “private interpretation,” and that this is somehow a bad thing. But they misunderstand the meaning of the term. We all have to use our private judgment to interpret and understand Scripture. NO ONE can avoid private interpretation. See this link:
Catholics are setting a trap for themselves that they can’t escape. At no point in this process do we stop using private interpretation. Either, everyone must interpret any and all communication that we encounter, or we can’t make any determinations or conclusions about anything. Are we devolving into solipsism (the belief that we can’t really know anything except that our minds exist)? But if that’s the case, then no one at all can use Scripture!
It seems that the problem stems from an unhealthy Catholic concept that says that unless you have a sufficient authority, you cannot be sure what you really believe. But here is what it all boils down to: Catholics want “infallible certainty” concerning Scripture reading and interpretation, but that is an impossible request for the post-apostolic church. See this link:
Although we deny that we can have infallible certainty in our interpretations, this is not an excuse for anyone to interpret the Bible sloppily or carelessly. Interpretation of Scripture should be done prayerfully, and with reverence and humility toward God (James 1:21). We all have to start with the right attitude, and use basic hermeneutics (principles of Bible interpretation), context, etc., but the question is this: Is the resulting interpretation a reasonable and consistent one? Note that God has not abandoned common sense.
The “by what authority” argument is simply a diversion. And unfortunately, many times unsuspecting Protestants have unnecessarily fallen victim to this, not knowing how to answer. But rest assured, we need not be shaken by this false argument. Trust God’s Word and incline your heart to understand it, and God will not let you down (Psalms 111:10; 119:99-100, 130).
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Imagine two guys having a discussion about the correct way to drive a car. After some disagreement, one of them gets frustrated and says to the other, “Your argument is wrong because you don’t even know how the engine works! You don’t know all the parts that make up the car! You wouldn’t know the difference between a carburetor and a catalytic converter!”
Of course, this is silly because you don’t have to know all the parts of a car in order to drive the car. There are probably thousands of people who could not tell a catalytic converter from a carburetor. But so what? In spite of their lack of knowledge in this area, they would still be able to drive the vehicle. There is a difference between properly using a car and knowing everything about the car.
Ok, most people would agree that the frustrated guy above has a very poor argument. Yet, this is exactly the tactic that many Catholics will try to use against Protestants when debating about the Bible. The Protestant will quote a Bible passage and the Catholic might say, “You’re quoting the Bible, but you don’t even know WHAT the Bible is! You don’t know which books belong in it!” (i.e., the canon) – as though that somehow stops the Protestant from understanding what he is reading.
One does not have to know the authors, the original languages, or the full canon of Scripture in order to sufficiently understand and gain useful information from it. By reading the Bible, a person can get saved, learn to live for God, and teach others the same, without ever having an exact knowledge of the canon. Sure, it can certainly help to know all about the background of the Bible and have a fuller knowledge of it. If a person does know all this, then great. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that those who don’t are unable to grasp what Scripture says.
The point is, Catholics and Protestants are basically on equal ground when simply using / reading / interpreting the Bible. The Catholic seems to be missing the point that they share a common source. You see, both the Catholic and the Protestant agree that Scripture is from God. They both agree that it is an authoritative and inspired guide. They both agree that it is (at least part of) their rule of faith. So, at this point, it is irrelevant if one does, or does not, have a full knowledge of how the Bible came about. Just as in the car analogy above, there is a difference between properly using the Bible and knowing everything about the Bible.
So why would anyone even use this argument? This tactic is just a smokescreen, a distraction that just muddies the water. Catholics usually resort to it when they are losing an argument.
If the original argument is not about the canon itself, then you don’t have to know the canon for your argument to be valid.
There is a time for studying the origin, background, and canon of the Bible. But using it to divert attention from a different argument is misguided, at best, and deceptive, at worst.