Thursday, March 25, 2021

EXCESSIVE DEVOTION TO MARY IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

 

I recently ran across an article on a website that featured an “Ask a Priest” section.  In this particular article, an upset and frustrated woman writes in and asks the priest about Marian devotion, i.e., the intense devotion, prayers and attention directed to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

I believe that this lady was more discerning and more honest with the biblical evidence than most Catholics.  She explains that she and her husband were former Protestants, but had now been Catholic for years.  Yet, they still struggled with all the attention Mary receives.  She went on to say, “To us she receives more prayers, attention, devotion, processions and obedience than Jesus, which to us still after all these years is worship and not mere veneration.”

Yes, indeed, and it is generally referred to by Catholics as “excessive devotion.”  But the Bible calls it idolatry (Acts 17:16, 22-23).

This woman tells how this teaching had been bothering them for years and she explains what happened one day when she went to confession: “For penance the priest told me to ask Mary to pardon my sins and then say five Hail Mary’s.”  This, of course, seriously bothered her and she states, “… I had been struggling to go to church because of Mary, and now I never want to go back, not to any church.”

See the article here:

https://rcspirituality.org/ask_a_priest/ask-a-priest-what-if-marian-devotion-seems-too-much/

The Priest Responds

The priest to whom the lady wrote then answered, “… true devotion to Mary always leads us closer to her Son… But these cases of exaggeration are anomalies [i.e., something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.]” 

I’m a former Catholic, and I don’t know, but from what I’ve seen, this excessive devotion seems to be the norm for many Catholics, especially those in other, mostly-Catholic, countries.

The “Ask-a-Priest” then goes on to quote official Catholic teaching on Mary’s role and how it supposedly does not obscure or diminish the role of Jesus – yet it mentions her “salvific influence.” (Lumen Gentium, No. 60)

The priest goes on to say, “Mary is important only because Jesus is much, much more important.”

But tell that to the millions who bow humbly in prayer to statues of Mary, asking HER for things like salvation, and calling HER “our life, our sweetness, our hope,” etc.  Ask those millions who make pilgrimages every single year to shrines built in Mary’s honor and we can see who is more important to them.

If SHE is much, much less important than Jesus, then why are there so many more shrines in America and all around the world to her, rather than to Jesus?  And why does the Catholic rosary have far more prayers addressed to Mary than prayers to Jesus/God?

The priest continues: “As for the penance you received: Perhaps the priest in his zeal misspoke when he implied that Mary would be the one to forgive you.”

“Misspoke” is a giant understatement.  Don’t you think that priests (who are highly educated) should know better than to suggest such a thing as Mary forgiving sin?  Have not priests taken a solemn vow to be faithful in correctly dispensing penances in the confessional? 

In Catholicism, is the confessional the place to make flippant comments or show misguided zeal?  Surely, Catholics will say no.  So, priests need to quit making excuses for each other!

Furthermore, the priest said, “He [the priest giving penance] was probably just trying to encourage you in your relationship with Mary.” 

Well, that’s the problem!  Too much emphasis on Mary is the very thing that this woman was so concerned about.

Furthermore, he said, “The key thing is not to dismiss entirely the role of Mary simply because some folks might seem to take things to an unhealthy extreme.”

This “Ask-a-Priest” is bending over backward to avoid placing the blame on the Catholic Church who allows such behavior.  But didn’t he just say that it was an “unhealthy extreme,” yet he seems to be ok with it?  Is no one accountable in this?  Is anyone ever rebuked for this idolatry? 

And, I have to add, what exactly is the “role” of Mary in the church?  The Bible appoints no special role to her that is different from any other believer’s role.  Yes, she gave birth to and raised and nurtured the Savior, but there is no exceptional “role” for Mary in the body of Christ, especially in the exalted manner that we often see.  This priest goes on to mention the “scriptural roots” of true Marian devotion.  But there is no such thing!

Again, he said, “You want to be careful, too, because the devil would like to sow seeds of doubt about the Church in you, especially after your journey over the years.”

Yeah, be careful about doubting the Church, but never mind the possibility of idolatry, leading many to Hell… just be obedient to the Magisterium.  It just can’t be the Church’s fault, right?

And finally, “In the meantime stay focused on Jesus in the Eucharist and in Scripture.”

Notice how the priest inserts “in the Eucharist” here.  He is simply jumping from one form of idolatry to another.

Let it be known that the priest in this article never says anything about being careful in your devotion, toning it down, or warning of the likelihood of idolatry.  In fact, have you ever heard of ANYONE who was punished by a pope or other Catholic official for excessive devotion to Mary?  I certainly haven’t.

It seems that devoted Catholics are NEVER rebuked for this.  Therefore, it is a practice that actually ends up being encouraged in the Church.  Authorities may spout the official teaching of the Catholic Church, but I don’t see any negative consequences for this practice.

Defending the Problem

Another source I found is by Catholic apologist Joe Heschmeyer whose article is eloquently written and titled In Defense of Exaggerated Marian Devotion.  You can find it here:

https://shamelesspopery.com/exaggerated-marian-devotion/

Now, just looking at this title should disturb us.  Remember, the Catholic Church “officially” discourages excessive devotion, but from the very outset of his article, Joe Heschmeyer is bent on defending this behavior, instead of actually confronting it.

Joe states that these affectionate prayers and all this special attention given to Mary are “more like love letters to the Virgin Mary than they are like carefully-worded theological treatises.”

Well, no one is expected to act as a theologian when praying, but common sense and the Bible expose what is really happening here.

He also says, “Shouldn’t we be careful not to exaggerate or use over-the-top or flowery language?  No.  There are two reasons for this.  First, it limits the fullness of human emotional expression… Second, rejecting exaggeration thwarts our ability to understand the Bible… because the Bible employs exaggeration.” (Emphasis in original)

This was the thrust of his whole article.  Ok, so let’s look at this.  First, he says we shouldn’t limit “the fullness of human emotional expression” in prayer.  Ok, then would it be ok to add curse words and blasphemous phrases in prayer, as well… you know, since that carries a lot of emotional expression, right?  No sane Catholic would suggest this.  So, of course there should be limitations.  And biblical prayer must indeed be limited, and it is rightly limited to God, alone (Psalm 73:25).  No one should even be praying to Mary at all, much less using such exalted language toward her in prayer.

One must ask, where does all this “freedom of expression” stuff end?  If the fullness of freedom has no limits, then let’s just take it to the next level and “venerate” anyone and everyone!  Better yet, let’s just worship everything!  Of course, that’s silly, but that’s what can happen if you erase proper biblical boundaries.

Secondly, Joe says that we shouldn’t reject exaggeration, since the Bible sometimes uses exaggeration.  Ok, the Bible sometimes employs exaggeration… therefore, we should use extreme measures approaching the worship of Mary?  I’m sorry, but that just does not follow.  Again, what is it that properly limits this exaggeration, if not biblical principles of worship?

Very eloquent article, Joe.  Too bad you’re promoting idolatry and you’ll have to answer for that.  And so will the two priests mentioned above.

“Veneration” in Catholic Countries

I couldn’t find the exact quote, but the late Dave Hunt, who had travelled around the world, once said that the devotion to Mary in the United States was different than in other (mainly Catholic) countries.  He basically said that American Catholics observe a more “politically correct” version, one that is toned down, as opposed to the more freely expressed version of “veneration” in other countries.  In these countries, it often seems that it is simply open and outright worship of Mary.

To further confirm that idea, in another article on the Berean Call website, a questioner stated that Catholics don’t worship Mary.  The host answered, in part:

“… many a Catholic has commented that, ‘Catholics in Mexico (and throughout Latin America), in their devotion to Mary, do things that we would only do when worshipping God.’”

See here:

https://www.thebereancall.org/content/question-what-do-you-mean-mary-worship

In yet another article, a former Catholic nun shed a little more light on this:

“However, many years later I realized that if you want to know what something really is, then look at how it behaves when it is in a position of power.  In America, Catholics are in the minority.  To see the true spirit behind Catholicism, watch what the Catholic Church does in countries where it is in power.”

See here:

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Roman%20Catholicism/mary_worship_a_study.htm

Conclusion

As long as the Catholic Church defends (or makes excuses for) its members who practice “excessive devotion,” they will never get rid of this problem – and more and more people will be lost for eternity.

According to Lumen Gentium 51:

“… if any abuses, excesses or defects have crept in here or there, [we urge all concerned] to do what is in their power to remove or correct them…”

I don’t see it happening, folks.  I don’t see it now, nor have I ever seen this happen… and I suspect that it never will.

The faults or excesses of some people are no excuse to leave God or leave Christianity altogether, as the lady in the first article was about to do.  However, when a group/system/religion purposely ignores the wrongdoing of its people and offer no discipline, the leaders of that group are at fault.

So, the bottom line is that the Catholic Church officially looks down on excessive devotion to Mary.  But practically speaking, it seems that they (those “venerating” Mary) can all get away with it.  The pope, as the “Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church” has the power to stop all this at any time.  The problem is, I don’t think he wants to.

I often wonder – what exactly would it take to cause Catholics to see through the false claims and the obvious idolatry within the Catholic Church?  Has the Church so indoctrinated them, that they can no longer recognize truth?

The Bible describes a hardening process by which one suppresses the truth, and his foolish heart is darkened, little by little, until the light that he has been so graciously given dims more and more… and he ends up worshipping the creature, rather than the Creator. (Romans 1:18-25)

It appears that this may be the case in Catholic obsession with Mary and their excessive devotion to her.

 

Friday, February 26, 2021

EUCHARISTIC WONDERS – MIRACLES OR DECEPTION?

 

In the sixth century, the story has it that a monk known as “Saint Zosimus” of Palestine intended to bring the Eucharist to a “Saint Mary of Egypt” (not the mother of Jesus).  But she was on the opposite side of the Jordan River and he had no way to get to her.  Saint Mary then made the sign of the cross and was able to walk on water in order to personally receive the Eucharist from Saint Zosimus…

In 1247, in Portugal, a woman hides the Eucharist in a drawer in her bedroom, but it produces a very powerful and bright light, which could easily be seen outside, and it attracts many townspeople to her home…

In 1263, a German priest consecrates the Eucharist… and blood begins to stream out of it…

In 1433, in France, a consecrated host (Eucharist) was on display for the purpose of “perpetual adoration” in the church, but heavy rains and dangerous flooding occurred in that location.  Nevertheless, in spite of four feet of standing water all around the church (whose altar contained the host), a dry pathway remained in front of the church, just like the parting of the Red Sea…

In 1649, in Peru, a priest saw an image of “the Christ Child” on the host…

In 2001, in India, a priest saw three dots on the Eucharistic host, which later changed into a human face…

See here:

https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/eucharistic-miracles-evidence-of-the-real-presence-0

Bread that says, “Worship me!”

There are many, many other such stories, and it is these types of claims that support the Catholic zeal surrounding the Eucharist.

In fact, Catholics claim that there are hundreds of these “miracles” that happened throughout the centuries connected with the Eucharist.  The article in the link above claims that many times these Eucharistic miracles have happened when a Catholic was beginning to doubt the supposedly miraculous change that occurs when priests consecrate the bread and wine, but God helped to make it real to him.  In other words, it was assumed to be God’s strategic timing in some of these cases that saved the person from falling away from their belief in this Catholic dogma.

This ritual, this Communion service, is also known as the Lord’s Supper.  But remember, the Catholic Church officially teaches that every time the Eucharist (i.e., the wine and bread of Communion) is consecrated (blessed by the priest), these items turn into the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, Himself (CCC #1374).  This is called transubstantiation.  That also means the consecrated bread and wine are to be worshipped.  So when a Catholic partakes of communion, he believes that he is actually eating Jesus.  By the way, this is how the Catholic says he “receives Jesus.”  But this is not the biblical way to receive Him, which is simply by faith (John 1:12-13).

Although transubstantiation is a dogma of the Catholic Church that must be believed by faithful Catholics, it is interesting that no one is forced by the Catholic Church to believe any of these “miracle events,” even though some of these events are officially believed and accepted by the Catholic Church.  It seems the Catholic is obligated to believe in the miraculous change in transubstantiation, but he doesn’t have to believe in an official case “proving” this dogma.

The Power of the Priest!

According to priest John Anthony O’brien’s very popular book, The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion:

“When the priest announces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man… not once but a thousand times!  The priest speaks and lo!  Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows His head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.” (Page 255-56)

See here:

https://jamesattebury.wordpress.com/2017/10/14/the-priest-as-alter-christus/

This statement is nothing short of absolute blasphemy!  Yet, this popular and influential book has the Catholic seals of approval, called the Imprimatur and the Nihil Obstat.  These seals mean that the book is “free of doctrinal and moral error.”    

This sure sounds like an official endorsement of a blasphemous doctrine to me!  They had every chance to condemn the book, but I know of no pope, bishop or priest who tried to discourage the reading of this book or the statement I just quoted above. 

This book should be on their “Index of Forbidden Books” list because of such statements above, but instead, it is a Catholic best seller, it was reprinted in 27 editions, and translated into 10 languages.  Apparently, the book and its contents are fully accepted by the Catholic Church.  See here:

http://archives.nd.edu/findaids/ead/html/OBR.htm

Again, it is this type of mindset that leads the Catholic Church to twist the biblical Communion service into a perverted ritual, causing many to fall into idolatry.  This Catholic Eucharist is a dangerous and unbiblical doctrine.

Real Miracles

Interestingly, the “miraculous change” in the Catholic Eucharist is virtually never apparent in the day-to-day Catholic Mass.  The bread still looks like bread, feels like bread, and tastes like bread.  The same goes for the wine.  The Catholic Church claims that the elements have indeed changed, but are still “under the appearance of bread and wine.  How convenient. 

But compare this to the actual miracles in the Bible that Jesus did.  For the record, Jesus performed real transubstantiation.  When He turned water into wine, we know from the reaction of the people that the result no longer looked or tasted like water (John 2:6-10), and that fact was obvious to everyone. Jesus didn’t say that He was tuning water into wine, but “under the appearance of it still being water.”  The appearance changed along with the substance.

Another miracle that Jesus performed was walking on the water (Matthew 14:25).  But He didn’t swim across the sea and say, “Hey, look folks, I am walking on water, but ‘under the appearance of swimming!’”

Jesus also raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-43).  In this event, He didn’t stare at the still-lifeless corpse of Lazarus in the tomb while saying, “Look, I have raised Lazarus from the dead, but “under the appearance of lifelessness!”

No, all His miracles were real – they were verifiable and observable, every time.  His miracles were not fake, and they verified His message and His claims.  So did the miracles of the apostles and the very early church.

If the consecrating of the Eucharist was really a miracle, it would be clearly demonstrated each and every time the priest performed the Mass.

What Lurks Behind the “Miracle”

Ok, one might say that there must be a reason why all these stories of Eucharistic wonders exist.  It is not likely that every person in these stories is telling the whole truth, but neither is it likely that they were all lying, either.  Surely, something must be going on.  Apparently, they witnessed something that seemed miraculous.  Something unusual is happening in (at least some of) these cases, something supernatural. 

Many people don’t know this, but not everything that is supernatural is from God.  The seven sons of Sceva can attest to that truth (Acts 19:13-17).  These seven men were severely beaten and stripped naked by one man – a man who was possessed by demons, and Sceva’s seven sons were no match for him.  The supernatural strength of this man and his reactions were certainly not from God. 

But any supernatural event will never be alone – it is always attached to a message of some kind.  There are only two types of supernatural events: 1) True, God-inspired miracles (Acts 5:12-16), and 2) Lying wonders (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 16:14).  To be a true miracle, it must point to the gospel of Jesus Christ, or to the principles of the Bible.  If it does not, then it is a lying wonder.

There was actually a test for miracles in the Old Testament.  Deuteronomy 13:1-3 says that you must not accept a sign or miracle which results in turning away from the true God.  In fact, the one who did such a “miracle” was to be put to death (Deuteronomy 13:5).

Furthermore, when Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh and Aaron threw down his staff, it became a serpent.  But Pharaoh’s sorcerers were able to copy/counterfeit this same miracle (Exodus 7:10-12)!  But that doesn’t mean that the sorcerers were also from God.  They did their miracles through the power of the devil.

Conclusion

Catholics may say that there is indeed proof that these Eucharistic “miracles” are from God.  They will point to “scientific proof” of hosts turning into human flesh (cardiac tissue), the host bleeding or being preserved for centuries, or other unusual events.

But if this type of evidence goes against the biblical truth concerning the bread and wine in Communion, science is no help at all.  The devil can manipulate science or physical events and circumstances.  But he cannot change Scripture.  The Bible is the ultimate standard against which all things are tested (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and it is the spiritual “toolbox,” which can train the Christian and fully equip him for every good/spiritual work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Science does indeed agree with the Scriptures, but it certainly does not ever override or overrule them.

Ok, some Catholics will say that there are good personal fruits coming from these Eucharistic wonders.  They’ll say that those who experienced or saw these miracles have demonstrated a rise in piety or in religious practice, or an increase in Catholic submission to the Church, or had a more thriving sacramental life, an increase in pilgrimages or in “conversions,” had a warm and fuzzy feeling or a greater willingness to live out their faith, etc., etc.  But all this is just begging the question.  These are not biblical proofs of questionable events, but just an increase in religious activity.  This logic in no way verifies these wonders, or gives us sufficient reason to believe them.

So, since they are not biblical, either these “Eucharistic wonders” are tricks played on the gullible, or (if they are indeed supernatural) they are demonic false wonders and genuine deceptions.

Someone could argue that God could indeed change the bread and wine into His actual body and blood if He wanted to.  So why do Protestants limit God? 

But “limiting” God to the scriptural pattern of miracles is not limiting Him at all.

The bottom line is that if the Catholic Eucharist and its miracles are true, then they need to show how this lines up with the Bible (and they can’t)...  See here:

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2009/10/eucharist-part-1.html

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2009/11/eucharist-part-2.html

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2016/01/access-denied.html

But if it isn’t true, Catholics are guilty of idolatry in the most basic sense.  And we know the end of those who practice idolatry:

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)


Monday, February 1, 2021

THE GATHERING STORM


There is an interesting video on You Tube posted by Dr. Taylor Marshall (Catholic author, commentator and former academic) which addresses Pope Francis’ new book, Let Us Dream.  Dr. Marshall is not a fan of the book.  He says that in this book, one of the things that the pope wants everyone to do (apparently, for the sake of peace and harmony) is to set aside morality and dogma.  He wants Catholics to join together with other religions, even non-Christian ones, and accept their diversity in order to dialogue, to respectfully listen to each other, and to “journey together.” 

Hmmm, we’ve heard this before.  Pope Francis expects everyone to put aside doctrine and biblical teaching (2 Timothy 1:13) in order to ultimately join together with these other religious groups.  But this only creates a false unity.  The pope said he wants believers to “shed our rigidity and our agendas” and then “the God of surprises” will reveal to us “something new.”

Oh, I’m sure it’ll be something new, alright.  That “new” thing (in Marshall’s words) is a “New World Order Religion.” Marshall further adds, “…and the pope wants to be the chaplain of that whole arrangement.”  Sound familiar? (Revelation 13:11-18; 19:20)  Marshall agrees with most Protestants that this is NOT a good thing.

See here:

https://www.newsbreak.com/videos/2131848588103/god-of-surprises-pope-francis-pushes-new-world-religion

I, as well as others, have been saying this for a long time.  The Ecumenical Movement is the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy of a dangerous movement that ultimately leads this planet into a one-world religion (Revelation 13:4-15), leading millions to Hell (Revelation 14:9-11).  Remember, the Catholic Church (i.e., the Vatican) is spearheading this whole thing.  This has been the plan for a long time.  This is the endgame.  This is the spirit of antichrist.  Taylor Marshall (a Catholic) recognizes the danger of the Ecumenical Movement pushed by the Vatican.  Shouldn’t we, as Protestants, recognize it, as well?  Wake up, church!

But wait.  Maybe some are thinking that I am misrepresenting the pope.  Maybe that’s not the gist of his new book.  Maybe he doesn’t really want a merging with pagan religions.  Ok, so we need to ask, are there any other Catholic sources that speak of this type of “unity” with other non-Christian religions?  Yes, there are. 

According to Pope Francis’ latest encyclical: Fratelli Tutti (“Brothers All”):

“The Church esteems the ways in which God works in other religions, and ‘rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions.  She has a high regard for their manner of life and conduct, their precepts and doctrines which… often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men and women.’” (Paragraph 277, Emphasis added)

According to Paragraph 279 in the same encyclical:

“… It is religious freedom for believers of all religions.  That freedom proclaims that we can ‘build harmony and understanding between different cultures and religions.  It also testifies to the fact that, since the important things we share are so many, it is possible to find a means of serene, ordered and peaceful coexistence, accepting our differences and rejoicing that, as children of the one God, we are all brothers and sisters.’” (Emphasis added)

See here:

http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20201003_enciclica-fratelli-tutti.html

Also, if you can remember, a previous pope (John Paul II) has had public “prayer meetings” with members of other religions, including Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, witch doctors, a voodoo high priest, and others.  I am not making this stuff up.  See here:

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-10-28-mn-8024-story.html

https://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2010/08/cant-we-all-just-get-along-ecumenical.html

https://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-churchs-fatal-error.html

So you see, this type of “unity” is Pope Francis’ plan, as well!  And it doesn’t end there.

Taylor Marshall also states that “Ecumenism is the globalist version of religion” and “The globalist view of economics is called socialism.”

We certainly agree with that.

It should be noted that Pope Francis is not only interested in a one-world church, but also a one-world government. 

In the above Fratelli Tutti encyclical, the pope also writes:

“When we talk about the possibility of some form of world authority regulated by law, we need not necessarily think of a personal authority.  Still, such an authority ought at least to promote more effective world organizations, equipped with the power to provide for the global common good, the elimination of hunger and poverty and the sure defence of fundamental human rights.” (Paragraph 172 – emphasis added)

So, yes, according to his official teachings, he is pushing for a New World Order, as well.  Furthermore, there are plenty of articles in newspapers, magazines, and the internet (many from Catholic sources) that link popes from the past and the present pope with the New World Order.

Another one of Pope Francis’ disturbing ideas that revolves around the New World Order is that climate change is an imminent danger to the world.  This would no doubt be used to bring about a New World Order.  You can read all about it in his encyclical Laudato Si:

http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

Scientists disagree on this topic of global warming and climate change.  But the issue is not whether there are warming trends in certain parts of the world.  The issue is that politicians (and others) hyper-inflate the data to make it sound far, far worse to the public than it really is – very much like the corona virus scare.  Politicians do this in order to frighten the public into allowing them (the politicians) to make drastic changes.  Of course, they will say that the changes are to “help” us out of a crisis, when there is often no crisis at all. 

There are different theories on the cause of climate change, and I am about to share with you the latest word on that topic.  Hold on to your seat.  According to the Joe Biden administration’s team of “experts” on climate change, “systemic racism” is the cause.  That’s right, folks… racism causes climate change.  That’s what they’re telling us.  I kid you not! (Romans 1:22)

As an American, doesn’t it just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, to know that our country is safe in the hands of such capable authorities?

See here:

https://freebeacon.com/2020-election/incoming-white-house-climate-team-blames-systemic-racism-for-climate-change/

Apparently, Pope Francis has fallen for the leftist agenda that has infected America… and the world.

Conclusion

Either the pope has fallen victim to believing the climate change hype, or he is knowingly perpetuating that hype.  I believe it is the latter, but either way, he’s not looking good in this.  He is contributing both to the One World Religion and the One World Government.  This won’t end well for Catholics or anyone else.  (Revelation 13)

Pope Francis, it is not the weather or the physical climate you should be worried about, but rather the spiritual climate of your church and this world.  Yes, there is indeed a storm coming, one like the world has never seen, and YOU, Pope Francis, are responsible for leading so many directly into it. (Revelation 13:8-9)

I could only hope that Dr. Taylor Marshall, after recognizing some of these problems, would do the logical and biblical thing and part with Catholicism.  My Catholic friends, get out of that church while you can.  Leave the pope and his unbiblical and corrupt institution.  Prepare for the inevitable storm by joining a Bible-believing church and prayerfully study the Scriptures daily, which are able to lead you into all truth (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

 

Friday, December 25, 2020

CAN THE GIFT OF GOD BE PURCHASED?

 

Acts 8:18 – Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money,

19 – saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

20 – But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”

21 – “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.”

22 – “Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.”

23 – “For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”

According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (online), the term “simony” comes “from Simon Magus; Acts 8:18-24.”  It describes simony as “a deliberate intention of buying or selling for a temporal price such things as are spiritual or annexed unto spirituals.”

This same article also states that simony is a very serious sin:

“To estimate accurately the gravity of simony, which some medieval ecclesiastical writers denounced as the most abominable of crimes…”

“To uproot the evil of simony so prevalent during the middle ages, the Church decreed the severest penalties against its perpetrators.”

See here:

https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14001a.htm

Ok, that’s great.  I am glad to see the Catholic Church officially condemning the sin of simony.  They certainly should.  However, there is another aspect to what Simon did. 

What he witnessed was the people receiving the gift and manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  But what about the gift of salvation?  Almost everyone would agree that salvation (the new birth) is certainly a gift from God.  In fact, eternal life is the greatest gift that God has offered mankind.

But can anyone buy this gift?  Absolutely not.  The very fact that it is called a gift tells us that it is not for sale. 

Then why do so many people in the world (including Catholics) think that salvation can be received, or merited (at least partially), by good works?  Catholics would look down on Simon for what he did, but they are doing exactly the same thing!  Aren’t they trying to buy salvation/eternal life when performing good works?  They’re trying to purchase it, but they’re just not using money here.  So, what’s the difference?  

Peter didn’t say, “No, Simon, you can’t use money to obtain this gift, but you can use good works or personal suffering!”  No, attempting to buy salvation with works or personal discomfort also falls under the condemnation of Simon Magus.  It is just as bad as trying to do it with money.

But Catholics may say, “But the works that merit justification/salvation are grace-driven (or grace-infused) works from God.  These works come from God’s grace, so our works-based salvation is still by grace!”

But if these works are done by grace, then aren’t our money and our effort obtained by God’s grace also, since God gave us the strength to earn that money?  Grace-infused good works would be no different than grace-infused labor to earn and use money, right?  It would be the same thing – but the Bible tells us that works and grace are in two different categories.  Romans 11:6 says:

“But if it [salvation] is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”

If Simon was so severely rebuked for trying in any way to purchase any gift from God, shouldn’t those who try to earn or merit salvation by anything other than faith be rebuked just as harshly?  What Simon did was an insult to God and to the apostles, and if Simon was wrong, so are all those who believe in a works-based salvation (including Catholics, Orthodox, and even some Protestants).

We MUST understand that the new birth is not obtained from the ability to do “grace-infused” good works, but it is obtained by faith, apart from works (Romans 3:21, 28), by SURRENDERING to the will and purpose of God and by trusting ONLY in Jesus’ work on the cross.  Again, it is a gift. 

Trying to buy salvation with your works tells everyone that:

1) You, like Simon, have no portion in the kingdom of God (Acts 8:21)

2) Your heart is not right before God (v. 21)

3) You need to repent, since it is wickedness in the eyes of God (v. 22)

4) You are in the gall of bitterness (v. 23) and

5) You are in the bondage of iniquity (v. 23).

Doesn’t sound like a very good place to be.  Once again, to answer the question that the title of this article asks, eternal life/salvation is a gift, and no, this gift can never be purchased.

Catholics, along with the apostle Peter, rightly condemn Simon for trying to buy this gift of God.  Interestingly, the Catholic Church has recognized simony in their own papal “elections” in the past where the “chair of Peter” was given to the highest bidder, yet, they don’t seem to recognize the parallel when it comes to purchasing salvation with good works.

We could also mention indulgences, which could certainly be considered (by Catholics) to be a gift from God.  An indulgence was a promise to get out of Purgatory earlier than “scheduled” and not suffer as long.  Yet this “gift” of an indulgence, from its beginning, was always purchased with either money or good works, and it still is today.

Let’s learn a lesson from Simon – salvation is not obtained by silver or gold, not with good works, or a “spiritual” lifestyle.  It is not by godly suffering, enduring persecution, being kind to people, helping the elderly across the street, or by being a pastor’s kid.  It is not by going to church every week or by frequent Bible reading.  These may all be good things, but none of these can do what only the blood of Jesus Christ can.

See these links:

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B171030/the-obscenity-of-indulgences

https://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2010/02/faith-alone-part-3.html

https://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2011/01/sacraments-gods-grace-for-sale.html

 

 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

“JESUS DIDN'T LEAVE US A BOOK – HE LEFT US A CHURCH!”

“Sola Scriptura” (Latin for “Bible only”) – you’ll hear this term often in discussions and debates between Catholics and Protestants.  It simply means that Scripture is the final authority for the church, since it is the only infallible authority we have today. 

Protestants generally believe in Sola Scriptura, but Catholics will often tell us that Jesus didn’t leave us a book, He left us a church.

But what does that mean, “Jesus left us a church”?  Who is the “us” in this sentence?  I think that we can safely assume that Catholics mean the “us” is referring to believers, those who are saved, those who are right with God.  But according to the Bible, believers ARE the church!  Since we are the church, it doesn’t make sense to say that Jesus left the church a church!  That would mean that He left us ourselves, and that is ridiculous.

When they say that Jesus didn’t leave us a book, but a church, what they mean is He left a final authority for all believers, and they believe that this authority is the Catholic Magisterium.

But Catholics are defining “church” in an unbiblical way.  According to Scripture, the church is not a building, nor is it a “magisterium” of infallible leaders.  Catholics will often say things like, “The Church teaches…” or “The Church has always believed…”, etc.  When they use the term in this way, they are speaking of their leaders, the Magisterium.  But the Bible never uses the term “church” when referring to leaders only.  Never.  The Bible uses the term to mean either the local assembly of believers, e.g., the church of Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:2) or the church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:1), or to mean the universal assembly of believers worldwide (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:17-18).

Yes, Jesus did indeed establish a church.  No one is denying that.  But we Protestants could counter and say that Jesus didn’t give us an infallible church, but an infallible book, the Bible, as the final authority.  Catholics act as though the Bible has less authority than the church.  Are they suggesting that Jesus did not leave us an infallible book?  Would they dare say that Scripture is not inspired (God-breathed)?  2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work. (BSB)

Keep in mind the fact that 2 Timothy is the Apostle Paul’s last letter he ever wrote to the church, and that he knew he would soon be martyred.  And because of that, we know that he wanted to impart some very critical information to believers in this letter, but he never said that the church or church leaders were God-breathed.  Not in this or any other of his many letters does he state or imply this.  If the church’s leaders were the final authority for the rest of the church, it seems that this would have been the time to say so.  But Paul leaves us with the understanding that Scripture is the only thing God-breathed today.  Not only is it inspired/God-breathed, it also equips us for every good work.   

Catholics admit that Scripture is inspired.  In fact, it is the official position of the Catholic Church that Scripture is above, or greater than, the Magisterium:

“This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it…” (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, chapter 2, paragraph 10)

“Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #86)

Ok, that sounds really good, even biblical.  But in actual practice, it is the Catholic Magisterium that is over Scripture.  I say this because it is supposedly the Magisterium alone that infallibly determines what Scripture is, and it is the Catholic Magisterium alone that officially and infallibly interprets Scripture.  Therefore, for the Catholic, the Magisterium is really the ultimate authority.

If common sense dictates that verse “A” should be interpreted a certain way, but the Magisterium demands that it be interpreted a different way (even if it appears to be contradictory), then they must obey the Magisterium.

If other Bible passages, as a whole, taken together, dictate that verse “A” should be interpreted a certain way, but the Magisterium demands that it be interpreted a different way (even if it makes the Bible contradict itself) the will of the Magisterium must prevail.  That’s why they say that Jesus gave us a church, not a book.

For Catholics, lip service to the idea of the Bible being over the Magisterium is just that – lip service.  But the Catholic idea of an infallible Magisterium does not line up with the very Bible that the Magisterium claims to follow!  They want their members to think that the Catholic Church holds the Bible in high regard, yet in practice, the Bible is down-played. 

But according to Scripture, the bottom line is this:  Jesus Christ made believers (imperfect, common, fallible people) to be a church, both as part of a universal entity and as part of a local assembly, and He gave us an infallible book to guide us.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

MARTIGNONI, ASSURANCE OF SALVATION, AND WORKS

Today, I’d like to address another one of Catholic speaker/writer John Martignoni’s newsletter articles which is on faith, works, and assurance of salvation.  This one is #319, titled “Matt Slick’s False Teachings,” and it can be found here:

https://www.biblechristiansociety.com/newsletter/409-apologetics-for-the-masses-319-matt-slick-s-false-teachings

In this particular newsletter, John Martignoni critiques a letter from (Protestant) Christian apologist Matt Slick of C.A.R.M. (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry).

I do enjoy many of Matt Slick’s articles, but I don’t agree with his Calvinism.  For the record, I’m not associated with him, so I’m not one of his students trying to blindly defend him at all costs, or anything like that.  I just think what he wrote in his letter is correct.  But John Martignoni doesn’t agree.   

First, John Martignoni deals with the issue of assurance of salvation.  Matt Slick says that he knows he is going to Heaven.  But John accuses Matt of being arrogant in saying this and John responds with two Bible passages:

1 Corinthians 10:12 – Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

In the context of this verse, the apostle Paul is warning us not to do as the Jews did in the Old Testament, not to fall away from the truth through unbelief and disobedience.  Of course, this is great advice, but this verse is NOT saying that we can’t have the assurance of going to Heaven.  In fact, it is implying just the opposite!  Just as a coin has two sides, so does this promise in 1 Corinthians 10:12: 

1) There is a warning if we don’t learn from the Old Testament Jews’ example, and

2) There is the promise of eternal life if we do continue to trust God.  There’s the assurance.  

Either way, the warning/promise stands.  But John is wrong if he thinks that this verse denies us assurance.  If we maintain our faith, our trust in Jesus, we will make it to Heaven.  That is a promise from God.

The second passage John quotes is:

1 Corinthians 4:3 – But to me it is a very small thing that I should be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 

4) I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 

5) Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

This passage is speaking of passing judgment on someone concerning the stewardship of his ministry.  It is about divisions and boasting in favor of one minister over another (v. 6).  There is nothing at all here to indicate that we cannot have assurance of salvation.  So John is trying to twist these passages and force them to say something they’re not saying.  He seems to want them to say that we can’t have the assurance of making it to Heaven.

But the beloved apostle, John, says that we can know:

1 John 5:13 – These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (Emphasis added)

So, it is not arrogant to say you have assurance of your salvation if you maintain your trust in Christ.  It is not wrong to say that you know you are going to Heaven.   

Salvation by Works

In Matt Slick’s letter, another of his main points is that the Catholic Church offers a works-based salvation, which means “faith plus works equals salvation.”  Matt quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church several times to prove his point:

“The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.” (CCC 1257)

“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation.” (CCC 846)

“This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn.” (CCC 980)

“The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.” (CCC 1129)

“Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation...” (CCC 1816)

“The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation.” (CCC 2036)

Notice how many times “necessary for salvation” occurs.  This means that the Catholic Church believes these things are the MEANS and the CAUSE of salvation, at least indirectly; in the Catholic Church’s eyes, they are REQUIREMENTS to get to Heaven.

·      To recap the Catholic Catechism above, sacraments (like baptism, penance, etc.) are necessary for one’s salvation.  And these are works – no one can deny that.  They are religious formalities and rituals that one performs, or at least allows the priest to perform on him.

·      Also, the Church is mentioned as a means of salvation.  That’s because it is the (Catholic) Church who supposedly dispenses the true sacraments.  Again, works.

·      The Catechism also mentions service and witnessing.  These are also works.

·      And lastly, Matt Slick brings out one part of the Catechism that requires a person to observe the Law (the Ten Commandments).  The works of the Law are certainly considered good works.  No one denies this.

So, Matt is correct in saying that the Catholic Church promotes a works-based salvation.  This is clear by the Catechism quotes he used. 

Strangely though, Catholics are often offended when Protestants point this out. If you’ll notice when you debate a Catholic on justification, that it is almost a guarantee that they will initially deny that they teach a works-based salvation (just as John Martignoni does in his newsletter).  It is almost as if this concept would be embarrassing to them.  Yet, in the end, they will forcefully proclaim that works are indeed necessary for salvation (again, just as John does) and will often wrongly appeal to passages like James 2:24.  But the context of James 2 is NOT “how to be saved.”  It is about the demonstration of your faith when you are truly saved.

“Grace-empowered” Works?

But John Martignoni would say that Catholics do not believe that their works, in and of themselves, merit eternal life.  He says that it is not by a person’s “own goodness and abilities.”  He would say that only special works can merit salvation, those that he elsewhere calls “works empowered by God’s grace,” and he would therefore say that because of that, they contribute to your salvation. 

But EVERYTHING we can possibly do is by God’s grace!  You can’t speak or sing or even breathe, except by His grace.  Just because we are given grace to do something, doesn’t mean that that particular “something” will save us.  It is the work that Jesus did on the cross that saves us – but the way to enter into this eternal life is to believe, to trust in Him, accessing His benefits by faith, not works.

The Scriptures clearly teach that salvation is not by works of righteous (Titus 3:5) and that it is by faith apart from works (Romans 4:4-5).  It is by grace through faith:

Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

9) not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Paul is saying about these works, to “walk in them,” meaning after salvation, not in order to be saved.

Question: Were these works that the apostle Paul speaks of here “grace-empowered” saving works?

If yes, then why does it say that we are NOT saved as a result of these works (v. 9)?

If someone says that the works in this context are merely “works of the Law” from the Old Testament, or some form of “lesser” works, we can ask, why then should we walk in them?  Those same works that we should walk in are the ones that cannot save us.  They cannot merit our salvation, but God does expect us to walk in them daily.

The Bible never makes a distinction between “works of righteousness that save” and “works of righteousness that don’t save.”

If these God-ordained, “grace-empowered” works that John Martignoni mentions can save, then Abraham should have been saved this way.  But he was clearly not saved by his circumcision (Romans 4:9-13) – even though his circumcision was a God-ordained work!  God specifically told him to do it.  I don’t think that John, nor any other Catholic, can answer this dilemma.  Again, no matter how great a work is done by mere humans (even if "grace-empowered"), it cannot save.  Only the work of the Savior on the cross can.

Justification vs. Sanctification

In Matt’s letter, he states that Jesus cleanses us totally of our sin.  But John asks him, “Oh, and one other thing: If Jesus has cleansed you from your sin ‘totally,’ then how come you still sin?”

The answer is, we still sin because we are not yet fully sanctified, even if we have already been justified through faith.  Catholics conflate the two terms and it causes them trouble by muddying the water, like in this scenario.  What Jesus did on the cross is to totally pay the penalty for sin.  He paid it all and there is nothing left to pay.  “It is finished!” (John 19:30).  No more works or suffering are needed as a payment for sin. 

In justification, Jesus paid the PENALTY for sin.  The sanctification process helps us against the POWER of sin, and final glorification will deliver us from the very PRESENCE of sin.

Conclusion

Those passages in Scripture that link salvation with works need to be balanced with the passages that teach faith APART from works.

Question: If salvation is by faith plus works, what were the works of the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43)?  He had none!  Yet, for centuries, the thief on the cross has been the great example of salvation by faith alone, i.e., by faith apart from works.

In the end, what does the Catholic do with passages like Romans chapters 3 and 4 (which actually deal with justification)?  There is nothing Catholics can do to escape the plain meaning of these passages, as well as the book of Galatians.  They either ignore them or misinterpret them by taking them out of their proper contexts.

And what about Romans 11:6:

But if it [salvation] is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

It can’t be any plainer.  It is telling us that grace and works are opposites!  John Martignoni would have us believe that they are actually in the same category!  It is not Matt Slick’s teachings in his letter that are unbiblical, but rather, John Martignoni’s.

I have previously seen John Martignoni accuse another Christian teacher of “linguistic trickery,” but, in this case, he is the one guilty of this.