Thursday, June 8, 2017

THE CONFUSION OF STEVE RAY



Catholic apologist, speaker and author Steve Ray has written an article about the debate between Catholics and Protestants on the topic of faith and the role of works in salvation.  The article is titled, “St. Paul did not Write to Us!” and it can be found here:


In the article, Steve Ray mentions that when arguments about salvation come up:

“Protestants quickly accuse Catholics of teaching a salvation based on works and Catholics quickly point out that Protestants have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction by refusing to accept human cooperation and obedience as necessary to the process.”

This is pretty much an accurate account of what normally happens.  Catholics emphasize the role of works (faith plus works) and Protestants emphasize “faith alone,” or faith apart from the merit of works in order to be justified / saved.

Ray mentions the fact that Protestants usually go to the books of Romans and Galatians in the Bible to prove their point (and we would say, rightly so, because this is where justification is defined).  But according to Ray:

“But there is a huge problem here. Paul did not write these letters to us and he knew nothing of the Catholic-Protestant debate. The huge problem we have is the problem of anachronism.”

He goes on to define “anachronism,” which means:

“1. the representation of an event, person, or thing in a historical context in which it could not have occurred or existed; 2. a person or thing that belongs or seems to belong to another time.”

For example, saying that Moses looked at his wristwatch to see what time it was… or saying that the apostle John got in his Ford pickup to go to the market… these would be anachronisms, since wristwatches and Fords didn’t exist during their day.  

So, Steve Ray’s main points here are 1) Paul did not write specifically to us, 2) Paul didn’t know anything of a “Catholic-Protestant” debate back in his day, and 3) Applying Paul’s teaching in Romans and Galatians to the present day Catholic-Protestant debate is out of touch with reality in the sense that it is anachronistic.

But first of all, Ray’s point that “Paul didn’t write to us” is actually untrue and Ray is simply using this as a diversion.  Now, of course, we all know that Paul was not purposely writing SPECIFICALLY to us in the twenty-first century.  But the title of Ray’s article and his opening comments seem to suggest that Paul’s writings don’t apply to us today in any way.

But with this kind of reasoning, why should we obey any of the Ten Commandments today?  Would Ray say that since these also were not specifically written to us, but to Old Testament Jews, therefore, they are not to be observed by modern Christians?  He obviously wouldn’t say that!  So why does Ray even bring up this point?  Why use this deceptive title?  Again, this is simply a diversion that he uses to try and weaken or disregard the biblical evidence found in Romans and Galatians against Catholic teaching. 
   
But in a real sense, Paul did indeed write to us through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Paul’s words were infallible and God-breathed because they were Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-17).  And ALL Scripture was written to us, indirectly, and ALL Scripture has some application for us today.  Paul’s words were not only directed to the people of his own day, but to all generations in the future, as well.  The principles within Scripture are always there, for every generation, to guide us into the truth.

Furthermore, the fact that Paul had never heard of a “Catholic-Protestant debate” is irrelevant.  But Paul was certainly very familiar with the substance of that debate.  It is not just about “Jew versus Gentile.”  It is the argument of the Judaizers, which was “faith plus works = salvation.”  But Paul specifically dealt with this same problem in both the Roman church (Romans 3:19 thru 5:21) and the Galatian church (epistle to the Galatians) in his day.   So today we are still wrestling with the same issues as they did back then.  Yet, Ray tries to spin this in such a way as to accuse Protestants of anachronism.  

But the fact is, Ray contradicts himself and admits at the end of the article that there is not really a problem after all, since he confesses that:

“… even though Paul didn’t specifically write his letters to us, if we study the cultural climate in which they were written, and stay faithful to the tradition in which they were passed on to us, the Holy Spirit (the primary author of the letters) will help us apply the principles and truth of those letters to our current situation.” (Emphasis added)

Notice the bold print.  Ray now admits that the Holy Spirit is able to help us apply these same biblical principles to our situation today.  But this is what we already said earlier.  So, where is the anachronism now?  First, he says that the principles in Romans and Galatians are anachronistic (don’t apply today), and now he’s saying that they do apply today (with the Holy Spirit’s help).  But if it applies today, then it is not an anachronism.  Steve Ray is backpedaling and admitting that there IS no “huge problem” here.  What starts off as his main complaint is now dismissed as no problem at all!  Confusion indeed.

But perhaps he would say that the biblical principles would only apply within the context of “Catholic Tradition,” but there is nothing in Tradition that can offset the clear message of unearned salvation in the inspired books of Romans and Galatians.

No, the real “huge problem” is that Catholics often ignore context in those sections of Romans and Galatians that actually deal with the specific doctrine of justification, and they try to add their works to their faith in order to earn salvation, as we have demonstrated elsewhere on this blog.  But, tragically, in combining their own works with Jesus’ work on the cross, Catholics are telling Jesus that His work and suffering was just not enough, thus bringing upon themselves the same curse that the first-century Judaizers brought upon their own selves (Galatians 1:8-9; 3:10-11; 5:1-4).  See this link:


See also these other related articles:








Friday, May 19, 2017

CAN WE “BECOME CHRIST”?



According to Paragraph 795 of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church (Second Edition – Revised in Accordance with the Official Latin Text):


(Start Quote)


“Christ and his Church thus together make up the “whole Christ” (Christus totus).  The Church is one with Christ.  The saints are acutely aware of this unity:
 

‘Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself.  Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us?  Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ.  For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man…  The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members.  But what does “head and members” mean?  Christ and the Church.  [Quoting Augustine]


Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself. [Quoting Pope Gregory I (“the Great”)]


Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person. [Quoting Thomas Aquinas]


A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter”.”
 

(End Quote) 


(CCC #795 – emphasis in bold added)


What?!!!  We (Christians) have BECOME CHRIST? Are they really saying this?  Isn’t this blasphemy?  Why would the Catholic Church teach something like this? 


Ok, perhaps they meant something else, or maybe we’re just not fully understanding their words.  So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for a moment.  Maybe we should let them explain what they really mean.  But in doing research on this, their answers are far from satisfactory.  When Protestants express concern over CCC #795, the Catholic answers to this seem to fall into three basic categories:


  1) They try to tell us that we are taking this “out of context.”


This whole context of Paragraph #795 deals with a special unity between Christ and His church.  But the language of “becoming” Christ doesn’t match the context.  There is a world of difference between being in union with Him, and BEING HIM.  So, the Catechism is violating its own context at this point.


  2) Some will say that we don’t really become Christ, but it’s only emphasizing our special union with Jesus, where we are conformed into the image and likeness of God’s Son, since He is the Head and we are members of His body, together making the whole man, or the “whole Christ.”  They’ll say that the church is “one with Christ,” creating “one organism,” just as husband and wife are made “one flesh,” etc, etc.  So, it’s only about the union.


We all agree that we (Christians) are in a special union with Christ, but notice that the Catechism is going out of its way to point out a CONTRAST:  It says “… we have become not only Christians, but Christ Himself.”  It is telling us that we are not only members of the body of Christ, but something more, something different than mere members of the body, apparently something greater.  And then it reinforces that by again saying, “… we have become Christ.”  So, Catholics can’t claim that this is only about our union with Him.
   

If all that this controversial Catechism statement means is that we are in union with Jesus, then the Catholic Church is only being redundant (repetitive) here.  It is like saying, “we have become not only members of the body of Christ, but something even greater… we have also become members of the body of Christ!”  This makes no sense.  Using this argument, they are building up to a supposed contrast, yet, there is none.  This “union only” argument simply renders the Catechism quote meaningless.  Yes folks, this is just another example of Catholic word games.
 

  3) Some will say that this “becoming Christ” is simply a great “mystery” that we can’t understand.


Then, if that’s the case, there is no limit to the “mysteries” we can use.  Anyone can teach almost anything and declare it to be a “great mystery.”  Then, they can tell outsiders that no one can understand this, but they must accept it, since their church says it is so.  This could get quickly out of hand.  Simply calling it a “mystery” doesn’t make it true, especially since it flies in the face of Scripture.


And what is this “whole Christ” business?  According to Augustine’s quote above, we need Christ AND the church to have the “fullness of Christ.”  But is Christ somehow “incomplete” without us? Or, in some way dependent on the church?  Absolutely not.  He can exist without the church, but the church cannot exist without Him.  He does not “need” the church, or anything else, for that matter (Colossians 2:9-10).  Jesus Christ has existed from eternity past and will continue to exist for eternity future (John 1:1-2; Revelation 1:8).  The only reason that the church is even involved at all is because of His grace and His choice to include Christians in His plan.  It is certainly not because of any need on His part.  But it almost seems that the Catholic Church wants to make it sound as though the church is somehow equal with Him here.


Concerning Joan of Arc’s quote above, it is truly interesting that the Catholic Church (the masters of complicating simple spiritual concepts) is telling us to just believe them and not to complicate things?!!!  It is hard to take them seriously when they say things like this.


Conclusion


As we mentioned before, we all know that there’s a special bond between Christ and His church.  We’re not denying that, but Scripture never suggests that we can ever “become Christ” – that idea is totally foreign to God’s Word.  You can use all the “union with Christ” verses in the Bible that you want, but these verses do not support #795 in the Catechism.  We are not Christ, either individually or corporately.
   

So, once again, why would the Catholic Church say that we have become Christ?  They don’t officially believe in more than one true God, or more than one true Christ, do they?  This is a very controversial statement, one that stands out like a sore thumb, yet the Catholic Catechism doesn’t seem to be trying to explain it.  After all, isn’t the purpose of a catechism to explain the faith?  It’s almost as if the Catholic Church is purposefully leaving us hanging there, without any real attempt to clarify.  The silence is deafening.


Is this “becoming Christ” idea possibly part of the end-time one-world religious system?  We suspect that this quote from the Catechism may likely be used to further the Ecumenical Movement, where all faiths will come together.  Perhaps the Catholic Church is saying this to be “inclusive” of evolutionists, New Agers, Eastern mysticists, and members of other world religions (that is, those who might see themselves as their own “christ” or “god”).  Time will tell.


And why do we see so few objections coming from Catholics about this?  It appears that either they are not aware of these strange comments from the Catechism, or they are simply being faithful to “Mother Church,” no matter what kind of outrageous (and unbiblical) ideas she teaches.


The three points that we listed above appear to be the most common arguments for including CCC #795.  The only other option seems to be that we actually become Christ in an absolute sense, but this is outright heresy.


At any rate, the Catholic Catechism is wrong.  Jesus Christ is indeed the Head of the church.  But in saying that we (Christians) “become Christ,” do we now also become the Head?  Certainly not!  We can’t even always function properly as lesser members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:14-24), much less function as the Head!  We are part of the body, but not THAT part!



Sunday, April 30, 2017

THE CATHOLIC MINDSET



Sometimes in discussions between Catholics and Protestants, it is interesting to see how their minds operate.  Catholics are geared to think one way, while Protestants have a different mentality.  We recently read an article that clearly demonstrated the difference between the two.  The article is titled, “Is Catholicism Biblical? That Question is Backwards!” by Dr. Jeff Mirus.  It can be found here:


The Cart Before the Horse?

In the article, Mirus recognizes the fact that Protestants (in general) see the Bible as the ultimate authority for the Christian.  According to Protestants, it is (or should be) the Rule of Faith.  But Mirus finds fault with this concept and believes that we Protestants have it all backwards.  He states:

“The key question is not whether Catholicism stands the test of Scripture, but whether Scripture stands the test of Catholicism.” 

He also says that it is “not whether the [Catholic] Church is Scriptural… [but] whether Scripture is Catholic—whether what we call ‘scripture’ is or is not part of the original Revelation which the Church received.”

And again, he says, “The Bible did not give rise to the Catholic Church; the Catholic Church gave rise to the Bible.” 

According to Mirus, this was all because “the Church came first.”  That is, the church was established before the Bible was, and it was the church that then “created the Bible by definitively proclaiming which early writers were inspired and which were not.” 

But is this true?

A Faulty Foundation

All right, notice that Mirus is operating on several false premises:

First, the Scriptures were not at all “created” by the church.  The early church simply recognized the Scriptures (the infallible writings) that God, Himself, created.  It was by His inspiration that every word was divinely spoken, recorded and preserved.  Yes, God used people as instruments to hear it, and to write it down, but He is the Creator of Divine revelation, which contains HIS thoughts and HIS plans (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21).  It is erroneous and arrogant to say that the church “created the Bible.”

Second, the church did not “come first” (i.e., before the Bible).  The Old Testament (which makes up about three-forths of the Bible) has been around for hundreds of years before the church ever existed.  Although the church started before the canon (list of inspired books) was complete, it is not true that the church pre-existed Scripture.  This claim is deceptive, at best.

Third, it seems that every time there is a controversy with Protestants, Catholics will say something like, “But the Catholic Church is right because she gave us the canon!”  This seems to be the “go to” answer in many of their arguments!  But see these links which put this false idea to rest:



But building upon Mirus’ first two points above, he believes that since it is the church that has recognized which of the books are actually Scripture, that this somehow means that the Bible should be subject to the church.  But recognizing or discovering something does not make you lord over it.  Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity did not give him any authority over gravity.  He discovered it, but he was still subject to its forces.  Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of electricity in no way made him master over this powerful force, either.  It is the same with the church and Scripture.  The church recognized the inspired books, but the church is still subject to those books’ authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The fourth false premise is the way most Catholics use the word “Church.”  Notice how Mirus uses the term in his article: 

  •   “… the Church’s infallible authority.”

  •   “… only the Church could identify which books were…inspired…”

  •   “What is the judgment of the Church about this text?”
  •   “Does the Church judge it to be inspired?”

  •   “… only by the authority of the Church…”

  •   “…the Tradition and teachings of the Church…”

  •   “… Revelation which the Church received.”


In each of these, the Catholic assumes a reference to an infallible hierarchy of leaders within the organization.  This demonstrates the deep-rooted mindset of the devout Catholic.  Now, in contrast, notice how the Bible uses the word “church.”  Note that it is only used in two ways:  as either 1) the local assembly of believers, as a whole (1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:2; Revelation chapters 1, 2, and 3), or 2) the “universal” body of Christ, including all true believers worldwide (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:17-18).  It is never used in the Bible to refer to a church leader (or leaders) only.  In the way that Mirus uses the seven examples above, none of them fit the biblical definition.  This point is very important, but seems to be missed by most people.  This subtle difference in the misuse of the term “church” is ingrained in the Catholic and it becomes a deep-seated part of his mentality. 

The next time you hear a Catholic use the term “the church,” listen closely and see if he is speaking of the leaders only (for example, “the Church teaches…”, or “the Church’s infallible authority…”)… OR, if is he using it biblically.  Substitute his use of it with the phrase “local assembly of believers,” or “the universal church worldwide” to see if his meaning actually lines up with the way the Bible uses the term.

Who Serves Who?

Catholics will officially claim that the Catholic Church serves Scripture (“Dei Verbum,” Chapter 2, paragraph 10), which would make their Church a SERVANT thereof, but it is obvious in practice that they see their Magisterium as ABOVE the Bible.  For example:

If the Bible says A about a particular topic, but the Ecumenical Councils say B, the Catholic will go with B.

If the Bible says C, but “Sacred Tradition” says D, the Catholic will choose D.

If the Bible says X, but church fathers say Y, the Catholic will say Y.

Time and time again, the Bible is put on the back burner so that the Catholic Church can be exalted.

It is hard to take the Catholic Church’s supposed “servant” status toward the Bible seriously, when Catholics like Dr. Mirus write this kind of article.

Word Games

In this next pitiful attempt to weaken the authority of Scripture, Mirus said:

“But Revelation was not given to a book but to persons. Revelation was not even given originally in and through a book. It was given by Jesus Christ to His apostles and disciples.” 

But saying that revelation is not given to a book, but to persons, is like saying that money is not given to a bank, but to tellers.  The point is, the money eventually ends up in the bank and is stored and protected there.  In the same way, infallible revelation is ultimately “stored” in the Bible, even if first given to men.

Conclusion

Yes, folks, this is the mentality of the devout Catholic.  He claims to have equal devotion to Scripture and to the Church’s Tradition (CCC #82), but in practice, the Bible often takes a back seat.

Jeff Mirus’ article is a good example of many Catholics’ condescending attitude toward the Bible.  Saying things like, “[it’s] not whether Catholicism stands the test of Scripture, but whether Scripture stands the test of Catholicism,” is not only untrue, but it also clearly demonstrates arrogance.  You can’t say things like that and still have a truly healthy respect for Scripture (See Psalm 119).  It is the Catholic Church’s great (and false) claims about itself that give rise to this type of mindset.