Thursday, May 27, 2010


The Bible tells us of only one inspired (God-breathed) and absolutely trustworthy source of information for the church today. Only this source can infallibly (without error) supply us with doctrine, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. And this source is Scripture, itself (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It equips us for every good work. As our ultimate rule of faith, it is more than sufficient. It is God, Himself, speaking to us (Matthew 22:31-32).

However, Catholics have another source, or rule of faith, along with, and supposedly EQUAL TO, the Scriptures. According to the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and move towards the same goal…Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit…As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, ‘does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.'" (CCC #80, #81, #82)

So we see that in Catholicism, “Sacred Tradition” is on the same level as the Bible. Therefore, according to the Catholic Church, Tradition must also be infallible, since both it and Scripture are to be honored with the SAME level of “devotion and reverence.”

The Big Question

But how does the Catholic Church define tradition? They speak of small “t” traditions, which are only “disciplines,” like not eating meat on Friday, or observing certain holy days, etc. These can be changed by the Church, if they so desire. But they also have big “T” Traditions, which are the main and binding teachings (doctrines) that allegedly cannot be changed.

But, what about an actual, meaningful definition of Tradition from the Catholic Church? What is it, precisely? What does it consist of? And where can we actually find all of it? Some Catholics will say that Tradition is the “living and growing truth.” Or it is the “common teaching, common life, and common worship of the whole Church.” Still, others say that it is the “sense of the faithful.” The Second Vatican Council says that tradition is “all that she herself [the Catholic Church] is, all that she believes.” (Dei Verbum, 8, 1) Or, maybe it is what former Pope Pius IX arrogantly proclaimed: “I AM TRADITION!” In light of these extremely vague definitions, it seems that Tradition can become anything that the Catholic Church wants it to be. The Catholic concept of Tradition is so broad and so vague that it seems to be a subjective assortment of teachings, practices, historical events, and interpretations of fathers, along with an unknown number of doctrinal "developments.” But, what are the parameters of such a rule of faith? How does one know if he goes beyond the borders of Tradition? And how can the Catholic Church answer these questions without using circular reasoning?

So again, we must ask, “What is it?” Is there an official, unchanging, “infallible” list of Catholic Traditions that we can turn to, so that we can know for sure? No, there isn’t. Interestingly, the Catholic Church claims that only she can authentically interpret this Tradition (CCC #100). Suspiciously convenient, isn't it? But this is simply circular reasoning…like saying, ”It is true, because we SAY so.” In this way, the Catholic Church can force new (and false) doctrines onto the people at will. So, it is just too dangerous to ascribe infallibility to something so vague, so unclear.

Tradition in the Bible

But, tradition (Greek, “paradosis”), according to Scripture, is simply the biblical principles and teachings that were handed down from the apostles to each successive generation. The Bible does use the word in a positive way, but more often in the negative sense. There is good tradition (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 3:6), and there is bad tradition (e.g., Mark 7:1-13; Colossians 2:8; 1 Peter 1:18). Acceptable tradition is linked with the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:14-15). Traditions that are acceptable will either be in the Bible, or they will line up with the principles of the Bible; and those that don’t, should be rejected.

The “Oral” and the “Written”

There is a popular response from Catholics who try to defend their Tradition’s “equality” with Scripture. They contend that we don’t have ALL of God’s Word unless we have the “written” (Scripture), and the “oral” (Sacred Tradition), and they quote 2 Thessalonians 2:15, where Paul tells the Thessalonians:

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth, or by letter from us."

Catholics often use this verse in an attempt to show a distinction or a difference between “infallible oral" teachings and "infallible written" teachings, insisting that they are EQUAL and we need BOTH today. According to them, the Bible is not enough as a rule of faith.

First of all, Paul's "distinction" here was NOT to emphasize a difference in content between the two, but rather, to demonstrate the unity of his message in both forms. Here, Paul was addressing the fact that someone (an imposter) had apparently written a letter in Paul’s name to the Thessalonians, saying that they missed the Day of the Lord (2:2), causing the Thessalonian church to be shaken and disturbed. He is now writing to correct that false letter and to bring comfort and strength to the church. So, Paul was basically telling them, "Why are you disturbed by this letter that was supposedly from me? Any true letter from me will agree with the message I already gave to you personally / orally. I wouldn't contradict that message, or give you two different gospels."

So, when Catholics use 2 Thessalonians 2:15 in this way, it is out of context and they are misusing and abusing this verse. It is NOT AT ALL saying that we need two infallible sources today. There is no need for an “infallible” Tradition to supplement the Bible.

Secondly, the Catholic Church claims to have this Tradition (that is supposedly different from Scripture) which Paul said to hold on to. Yet, what infallible information do we have from Paul that is not found in the Scriptures? None. Does the Catholic Church have any infallible statements from Jesus (or any of the apostles), apart from the Bible? No, they don’t. Then why do they claim to have this extrabiblical (i.e., outside of the Bible) Tradition that they say Paul is speaking of, if they can’t tell us what it is? Remember, we don’t have access today to all of the information that Paul taught them.

It is not that God was unable to infallibly preserve all this information, it's just that He chose not to. There may even be other writings that Paul sent them that we don't have access to today. But we don't NEED to know every single thing he told them. We can know the essence of what he taught them by looking to God-breathed Scripture, which we do have available to us. But we can be sure that the things that Paul wrote to them will not contradict the things he spoke to them. This is his whole point. They would be the same basic message, the same Gospel.

The Test

But this Catholic argument just begs the question. It's easy to say, "Oh, yeah, that was us back then and that was our tradition, and that was the same church as ours, back in Jesus’ day", etc. It's easy to claim a traditional "link" to the past, but it's another thing to prove the legitimacy of that "link"… especially when it contains teachings that contradict Scripture.

If Catholics want to claim that Paul was speaking of infallible Tradition as something different from Scripture, then they have the responsibility to do three things:

1) Identify exactly what that "Tradition" is,
2) Demonstrate that it is indeed DIFFERENT from Scripture, and
3) Demonstrate that it is Apostolic and infallible...


Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. But we don’t see this type of proof from the Catholic Church. In fact, we don't see anything near "extraordinary proof." Remember, any message today claiming to be "Apostolic Tradition" must line up with, and be tested by, Scripture (Mark 7:1-13).

History has shown us that when anything is considered “equal” to Scripture, it will eventually, and inevitably, override Scripture and produce unbiblical doctrines (like the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, Purgatory, indulgences, the Treasury of Merit, etc.). Catholic Tradition supposedly complements the Bible, but has actually steered multitudes away from the pure truth of the Scriptures… perhaps gradually, yet surely.

Long ago, the Lord Jesus Christ showed us that the Pharisees and the scribes were guilty of usurping the authority of Scripture with their own traditions (Matthew 15:1-9). The Catholic Church is guilty of that same error today.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Different types of rosaries have been used throughout history and in many cultures. Shamans, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Wiccans (witches), and other Pagan religions used them, and still do today. By no means is the rosary a biblical concept, but sad to say, rosaries are even sometimes used by some who claim to follow Jesus Christ: Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and even some Lutherans and Methodists. But this article will deal specifically with the Catholic rosary.

The word “rosary” comes from the Latin term “rosarium,” meaning “rose garden,” and later came to mean “garland of roses.” The traditional Catholic rosary is a stringed loop of different-sized beads (each bead representing a particular prayer) with a crucifix (cross) on the end. The beads are used to keep track of the number of prayers said during the many repetitions. Rosaries are not only used to make supplication (prayer requests), but are also supposedly an aid to “contemplative prayer.” They are sometimes worn around the neck, and can often be seen hanging from a vehicle’s rearview mirror.


The first, and greatest, problem with the Catholic rosary is its frequent repetition of the “Hail Mary” prayer. It is a fact that this rosary is dedicated to the veneration of the “Virgin Mary.” The 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary. (CCC #971)

If there is any doubt as to the purpose of the Catholic rosary, and its devotion to Mary, read the following quotes from “Rosarium Virginis Mariae,” an official “apostolic” letter on the rosary, written by former Pope John Paul II:

…With the Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary... Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer… In the recitation of the Rosary, the Christian community enters into contact with the memories and the contemplative gaze of Mary… In this process of being conformed to Christ in the Rosary, we entrust ourselves in a special way to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin... Never as in the Rosary do the life of Jesus and that of Mary appear so deeply joined… The Rosary is both meditation and supplication. Insistent prayer to the Mother of God is based on confidence that her maternal intercession can obtain all things from the heart of her Son… The Rosary is at the service of this ideal; it offers the “secret” which leads easily to a profound and inward knowledge of Christ. We might call it Mary's way… To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother…

This is totally unscriptural, and should be deeply disturbing to every true, God-fearing Christian. Nowhere, in all of Scripture, are we encouraged to pray to ANYONE other than God. Prayer to anyone else is nothing short of idolatry. The Psalmist said of God, “Whom have I in heaven BUT THEE? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. (Psalm 73:25) This point, alone, should cause every Catholic to put away his rosary and leave the Catholic Church.

Furthermore, the great majority of the rosary’s prayers are “Hail Mary’s,” (which request her “help”). But the Catholic Church has given Mary a role that Scripture does not give her. The Bible nowhere tells us of Mary, or anyone else, who intercedes for us from Heaven, with the exception of Jesus Christ, Himself (Romans 8:34). We are never told that Mary prays for us, and the Bible will never encourage us to pray to her. Let us remember that the Lord God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:15).


Another prayer that is recited in the rosary is the “Lord’s Prayer” (or the “Our Father”). Catholics will often be quick to point out that this prayer is found in the Bible (Matthew 6:9-13). Although it is in the Bible, it was never meant to be used as a specific FORMULA (a fixed, mechanical prayer to be repeated over and over), but rather, as an outline, a guide, as an example of how to pray.

But, because of its specific number of repetitions, reciting the rosary more closely resembles some sort of self-hypnosis technique, or the casting of a spell, rather than any prayer request found in the Bible. Using the rosary is worship that is reduced to a formula, which is not true worship of God at all. (John 4:23-24)


We mentioned that the rosary is a string of beads used to help keep track of the number of prayers that one says while reciting it. But this raises some important questions: Why would anyone need to keep track of the number of prayers said? What happens if someone says “too few” or “too many” prayers while reciting the rosary? Why is the number of repetitions even an object of consideration? Does the number of prayers matter, as in some sort of magical formula or spell? If the number doesn’t really matter, then why use the rosary at all? The truth is, the counting of prayers is a PAGAN practice.

Jesus said: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matthew 6:7)

Some will consider this verse to be a condemnation of the rosary, and it may well be, but there is debate over what the Greek word “battalogeo” actually means. While the King James Version says “use not vain repetitions,” some Bible versions say “do not keep on babbling” or “do not heap up empty phrases.” Unfortunately, the Lord Jesus gave us no specific examples of this type of praying, so the debate remains. Now, not all repetition in prayer is bad, but we see no one in the New Testament using pre-fabricated, mechanical prayers, much less in continuous repetition.


However, a Catholic may say that he is simply being “persistent in prayer” when praying the rosary. But using multiple repetitions of prescribed, fixed prayers is NOT the same as biblical persistence in prayer. In the Bible, persistence is simply “not losing heart / not fainting,” but trusting God and continuing in faith, even when we don’t see the answer. (Luke 18:1-8)

We need to remember that Christianity is based on a RELATIONSHIP with God. Constant repetition of the same pre-packaged, mechanical “prayers” does nothing to nurture a true relationship. As parents, would we want our own children to ask us for something by using a fixed number of repetitive requests? Of course not. So, why should anyone think that God would respond to such prayer?


While the Catechism of the Catholic Church claims that the rosary is a Christian concept (CCC #2708, #1674), we must realize that:

1) The concept of the rosary is totally absent from the Scriptures
2) Tradition tells us that the Catholic rosary did not come along until about 1200 A.D.
3) Rosaries have been used by pagans long before Christianity began.

Interestingly, in “Rosarium Virginis Mariae,” (mentioned above) the pope links the rosary with a prayer “rhythm(paragraph 12), with prayer repetitions (paragraph 26), and with the “rhythm of breathing(paragraph 27). Taken together, these concepts tie in with the OCCULT, and can be found within the schools of Transcendental Meditation (TM), Yoga, and Wicca (Witchcraft), in which an altered state of consciousness can be obtained. But the Bible warns us against such activity (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Leviticus 19:26, 31; 20:6, 27).

On the one hand, the Catholic Church condemns occult activity (CCC #2116, #2117), and yet, on the other hand, it encourages the use of occultic concepts in using the rosary. This would be like a dad telling his teenage son that he must totally abstain from sexual activity, but then turn around and give him condoms. Why does the Catholic Church forbid its people to engage in something, but then give them the tools and the encouragement to do that very thing?


In the above-mentioned letter by Pope John Paul II, the rosary is considered a tool for unity, and is called “an aid…to ecumenism.” The rosary is one of the things that the Catholic Church and many pagan religions have in common, so it is very likely that the rosary will play a significant role in the end-time Ecumenical Movement. This movement (spearheaded by the Roman Catholic Church) is an attempt to draw all the religions of the world together in the name of “peace.” But this is a totally unbiblical “unity”, and the beginning of the one-world church that the Bible describes in Revelation 13.

The problems associated with the rosary cancel out any Catholic claims of “benefits” for the one who would pray the rosary. Bottom line: Christians should have nothing to do with any kind of rosary… Catholic, Protestant, or otherwise.