Friday, November 10, 2006

An Important Message for Evangelicals Concerning Roman Catholicism

About 1 year ago (sometime in May or June) I was given a sermon/lecture concerning Roman Catholicism focusing on the Pope and the Papacy. But before I talk a little bit more about this lecture, let me bring forward some of my background as it relates to this issue.

I grew up in a Christian home where we attended an Assemblies of God church. When I was in the eighth grade (or so), my parents decided to seek a better church for us to fellowship and worship in. Over the next two (or so) years we went to a few different churches, but I never felt comfortable with them. Finally, we settled in at a local church (LeMars Bible Church, called LBC), and my parents have been there ever since.

Over the course of my life, I have attended a Pentacostal church (Assemblies of God), a charismatic church (Cornerstone Faith Center - I never liked this church because even as a child I could sense the "ickiness" of the health and wealth gospel), a non-denominational Baptist-style church, and now I attend a very good fundamental Baptist church. I bring up this history for a few reasons.

First of all, my theological formation started out more on the Pentacostal and Arminian side and has developed (through study and agony) to be conservative, Baptist, and Calvinistic. So the first reason is to show the diversity of my exposure to various doctrines and traditions.

The second reason that I bring this up is that even though the various churches had different doctrines on Spiritual gifts, doctrines of the roles of men and women, different worship style, various preaching styles, and other issues, one thing remained consistent. These churches agreed on the essential truths of scripture - the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the inerrancy and infallibility and sufficiency of the Bible, and the message of salvation - the gospel.

The gospel message that I was given as a small child by Mrs. Sylvia Shultz is the same message that was proclaimed to me at LBC, at Ambassador Baptist Church, and it is the same one that I proclaim. Salvation is by grace alone through faith apart from works in Jesus Christ alone.

As a child (and now as an adult) I have had close friends and family members who were not Christians. Some of them professed to be Christians and even went to churches, some were basically irreligious. I also have and have had family and friends who are Roman Catholic. The gospel message that these people knew (and was established in their confirmation classes) was not the same gospel.

The gospel of Roman Catholicism is as different from the Biblical gospel as that of Mormonism in that they both are false, and they do not save. I say this not as a stick in the eye of a Catholic who might be reading this (although, that is unavoidably going to be the outcome). I say this to make plain that there is no fellowship of the faithful or believers that can exist in any real form between those who confess a biblical gospel and those who confess the doctrines of Rome.

There have been moves recently to reconcile the Protestants with the Catholics which many (on both sides) vehemently disagree with. For, even if traditional Roman Catholics disagree with my conclusion that their system is false (they charge Protestants with being false), they agree that our systems are so vastly different that there is no way to be acceptable to both Protestants and Catholics in any real theological sense.

With that background....

The lecture that I was presented was delivered by John MacArthur. He articulated, very well, in one message some of the very reasons why Catholicism and the true gospel message are not compatible. In fact, he opens his message by saying that if a Roman Catholic hears this message, they will surely be offended. But it is not the purpose of offending people or inculcating "anti-Catholic" sentiment that either he preached this message or that I talk about it here. It is to defend the gospel of Christ, defend Christ Himself, and to call out to those who are lost with the truth.

You can listen to the message as it was played on the Way of the Master Radio program. It is divided up into two parts (the two portions of the show) by clicking below:


For my brothers and sisters who desire to reconcile with the Catholic Church, I hope that this will help articulate or clear up why there can be no "blurring" of the distinctions between Catholicism and true Christianity. For my friends and relatives inside of Roman Catholicism, I hope that God will open your eyes, show you the false system that you are in, and call you out of it.


Soli Deo Gloria - Solus Christus - Sola Fide - Sola Gratia - Sola Scriptura

15 comments:

St. Michael the Archangel said...

EJ,

Can't you find a real teacher, church father, or prophet from God to qoute from instead of the great MacAuthor? That is the only person you seem to want to quote. You are always saying that there are false teachers out there in sheeps clothing, well I think we have one right here and you have been blinded by him!

I cannot even listen to this false propoganda. IF we (Catholics) were the ones that broke from the church of Christ, you might have a valid argument, but the funny and sad part is, YOUR church, YOUR belief system, and YOUR false teachers and prophets broke away from the True church of Christ, the Catholic one. Why are you pretending to be right, when YOUR church was the one that split from CHRISTS???

Its mind boggling that you read the bible (a bad translation and missing books) but none the less, you read part of it, you try and interpret it personally (which in the bible it says not to do), and then you formulate these wack ideologies (ones that are not in line with Christs church) and then you top it off by listening to some fool that preaches like he knows what he's talking about (when following a false teaching ie:Protestantism, you can never be right) and then tell people that may have the blinds pulled away from their eyes and see the truth in Christs church, you try and rob them of their faith and love for Christ and his church at the last moment by posting a sensless and theological trainwreck of a sermon by a Protestant teacher who refuses to go back to the church that Christ started... no thats not good enough for him, so he wants to lead as many as he can down the broken road.

I will post more on this, if I get bored enough today, I might listen to your PROPHET's speach, but quite frankly I feel doing so would only be the devil tempting me to evil.

You know what is funny? I never hear you cracking on the Mormon theology, the Jewish one either, or the Jehovah witnesses, or better yet the seventh day adventists... why is it that you only crack on the Catholic one and try to make your own theology better than Christs? I think that what it boils down too, is that you know in your heart that the Catholic Church is right, you just don;t want to admit it, because if you do then, you will know that you are not guaranteed salvation and then also you will see that the Eucharist is truly the body of CHrist, and all the wonderful truths of the faith, your eyes would be opened and you would be held more accountable. So you pull up all the anti-Catholic garbage that you can, you try to convince yourself daily that your right, and in the end... in the end, you will see whether you want to or not... and what will Christ say to you then... perhaps "Why did you try to lead people away from my bride?"

St. Michael the Archangel said...

I have copied some text from Catholic Answers.com This is written by Karl Keating, and is based on a letter he received from Rosalind Moss a former member of Macarthur.

JOHN MacARTHUR NEEDS TO TALK WITH ROSALIND MOSS

Before she became a Catholic, staff apologist Rosalind Moss used to be a member of John MacArthur's congregation, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. He runs a ministry called Grace to You. Its motto is "Unleashing God's Truth One Verse at a Time." The unleashing is done chiefly through a widely-syndicated radio program.

In a June letter to his ministry's supporters, MacArthur wrote about John Paul II and the "amazing release of emotion" that accompanied his death. "From politicians and media pundits to Hollywood celebrities and everyday citizens, everyone had praise for John Paul II, his gentle ways and his social and political achievements as a world leader and statesman. I can understand that.

"What I cannot understand," continued MacArthur, "is the response of some Evangelicals to what matters most about the pope: his beliefs about God and the gospel. ... Influential leaders embraced the deceased pope as a brother in Christ and the Catholic church as just another Christian denomination. ...

"During the Reformation, countless men and women died rather than deny the biblical truths of salvation. Countless others today are giving their lives as missionaries to people lost in the darkness and guilt of Catholicism."

MacArthur goes on to write about the "damning error" that is Catholicism and notes that he has released a new 90-minute lecture called "Unmasking the Pope and the Catholic System." He says that "the church I pastor is loaded with people who were saved out of the Catholic church. ... A longtime Grace to You board member and dear friend of mine is a former Catholic. He speaks with great emotion about the bondage he and his wife lived under."

How many times have we heard these claims before? "The Catholic Church is not really Christian." "Catholics believe you 'earn' your salvation through good works." "Catholicism is based on guilt, not truth." "People are in 'bondage' to Catholicism--and we need to save them."

Each Sunday 7,000 people attend MacArthur's church. This is what he tells them about an institution that was around for nineteen centuries before he was born and that is now headed by a man who shows not a hint of MacArthur's arrogance.

It is MacArthur who claims a divine commission: "I do have a mandate from God to compare what others teach to the gospel of the Bible." He says, "'Does the pope teach the gospel?' is a valid question."

Rosalind Moss left John MacArthur's church because she realized that, yes, the pope really does teach the gospel--and that John MacArthur does not.

The Grace to You ministry's letterhead has this slogan at the bottom: "The Bible Teaching of John MacArthur." Benedict XVI is more modest in his claims. His letterhead does not have at the bottom "The Bible Teaching of Benedict XVI" because the Pope is not trying to push his own agenda.

Instead, he is the custodian of what has been passed down through the centuries. His job is not to refashion the Bible in his own image but to convey to us what each of his predecessors conveyed to the people of their time.

Grace to You is built around one man. It may have many employees, but when John MacArthur dies, his ministry will die. His flock will scatter, taking with them the silly prejudices he has imbued them with.

When Benedict XVI dies there will be another pope to succeed him, and another, and another, until the end of time. Each of them will demonstrate to those with open minds and hearts that, yes, the pope does teach the gospel.

St. Michael the Archangel said...

EJ,

I listened to a few minutes of that... and all I can say is sick, sick, sick... Macarthur is a sick man, and so is anyone that listens to that and gives it a second thought.

Here are a few links to both Catholic and Protestant websites that refute the false teachings of macarthur. I would ask you to look at each of them and compare his teachings to your own and what you think God truly teaches.

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Wolves/john_macarthur_exposed.htm

This is a great letter to macarthur by a young man, macarthur of course didn't answer him, but none the less, you need to read his whole letter:

http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/macart.html

http://www.iconbusters.com/iconbusters/htm/false_prophets/JOHN%20MACARTHUR%20False%20Prophecies.pdf

http://www.faithalone.org/journal/1993ii/faith-works.html

EJ said...

Michael, I am not surprised that you are offended. That is why I intended this message for Protestants. You said that you listened to a few minutes, but if you are going to rail against it (or him) then you should listen to his entire point and reasons for his conclusions. If you're not, then you're not being fair (in an academic sense) to his arguments.

Also, if web sites refuting the teachings of people are the answer to false teachings, then you can't believe anything - because there are as many crack pots out there who hate everyone call everyone (even Jesus Himself) a false prophet.

I have listened to the arguments and accusations from you and others about the tenants of my faith as found in the Bible, so the least that you could do is give it a fair listen and then examine the bible to see if there is any truth in them.

Anonymous said...

You aren't lumping yourself in with Mormans or Jehovah's Witnesses are you? They are clearly cults.

EJ said...

I was not making a correlation between the cults and the RCC or Protestantism. The statement, "The gospel of Roman Catholicism is as different from the Biblical gospel as that of Mormonism in that they both are false, and they do not save." is a comparison of the salvation messages between Rome and that of Scripture are very different.

Rome says that your salvation is contingent upon faith and works. If I don't do certain things (baptism, eucharist,etc) I'm not saved. Likewise, if I have done those things and I commit a mortal sin - I lose my salvation. But then, I can regain it by confession and penance.

Mormons say that one is saved by grace "after all that we can do." Mormons believe basically that one must be a good person and God makes up the difference. In their system you are saved by baptism - i.e. if you're not baptized, you cannot be saved. This is a much more crass works-righteousness system, but it is works-righteous all the same.

Biblical protestant theology sees man's deadness in sin - the complete inability to do anything good - and the need for the total power of God working in salvation. Also, this theology sees that salvation is completely divorced from any human contemporary work.

Anonymous said...

How do you know that your assertion that Catholicism is not consistent with the Biblical gospel is even correct? The truth is that you have no way of proving that conclusively. You can quote MacArthur, Sproul, or Piper all you want and it doesn't prove anything. None of these guys have the same standing as the Apostles or Church Fathers.

All of your arguments are based on your interpretations of the Bible and not directly on the Bible itself. Your idea of 'Biblical' and 'non-Biblical' interpretations is completely flawed. Danny, Michael, and I have been able to counter every single one of your arguments from the Bible. Your latest article and comments have proved that you haven't understood a single thing that we have said about the primary role of grace.

Your latest article is extremely offensive and is in fact a barrier to Christian unity. This idea that Catholics 'aren't saved' was started by the fundamentalist movement a little over 100 years ago. No decent Protestant theologian would suggest such a thing.

Much of your arguments can also be leveled against the Orthodox Church as well. So are the Orthodox all going to hell too? Is everyone who is not a hyper-Calvinist Baptist or fundamentalist Christian damned even if they have faith in Christ?

Anyone who expresses faith in the Trinity and trusts in Jesus Christ for their salvation is a Christian. That is true regardless of the fact that a person is a Baptist, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc.

Nate J. said...

Jeff,
You, Danny, and Michael have not answered all of Eric's arguments Biblically - you always point to the authority of the Church, Pope, and Tradition as part of your arguments. I'm not saying that you have not used Scripture in responding to all of the comments - that would be an unfair accusation. But, it seems like most of them somehow come back to the authority of these three things I have mentioned somehow. Can I ask you a question? What if the RCC as a whole or the Pope suddenly began to teach something that you believed was false doctrine - something serious enough for you to believe a person would be lost for believing in it. What would you do?
I'll tell you what I would do if my Baptist church started teaching a false doctrine - I would hold to what Scripture says, fight for it, and then leave the church if the church did not follow Scripture. Why? Because the church is only right insomuch as it follows what the Bible says! That is what makes it the true church. I have no loyalty to the Baptist church other than the loyalty that comes from it holding as best it can to what the Word of God teaches. Sure, we also base our faith what the Apostles (because of their apostolic authority), and early church taught and practiced - BUT it is interesting that nothing they (the apostles) wrote or said as authoritative contradicted any other part of Scripture. Peter was scolded by Paul in the book of Acts at one point for something he did. Paul even told the Bereans to examine the things that he was saying according to tradition/church/pope/scripture - NO according to Scripture. I am asking you sincerely because I am concerned for you - please examine what your church says and what the pope says by the Word of God ONLY! I am not telling you that the early church fathers are not important, or that church tradition is always wrong. They are right, only as much as they hold to what the Bible, and it alone, says. The same thing applies to John MacArthur, Sproul, Piper, Spurgeon, Augustine, or Pope Benedict for that matter.

Anonymous said...

I have supported each of my arguments through Scripture since I know that is the only point of reference you guys will accept. One problem is that if I cite a quote from Jesus that supports Catholicism you guys say, "He was just speaking metaphorically." but if a quote from Jesus supports Calvinism you guys say "Jesus was speaking literally."

How do you know that Jesus is speaking metaphorically in particular verses? The answer is that no one can know the answer for sure. That's why Catholics rely on tradition to help them interpret the Bible instead of just guessing at the meaning based on our own feelings or biases.

The situation you describe (i.e. the Church as a whole falling into heresy) will never happen. That's what Jesus meant when he said 'the gates of hell will not prevail against it.' The Holy Spirit protects the Church from making these kinds of mistakes. Unauthorized actions may occur on a small scale but the Church as a whole will be protected.

The problem with sola scriptura is that it is an untenable concept for either Catholics or Protestants. At some point to establish doctrine you have to interpret the Bible unless you are fundamentalist and take every word literally. Once you have delved into interpretation you are in the realm of tradition.

The Church Fathers that Danny, Michael, and I have been citing were involved in selecting the books of the Bible that you now read. The Church formed the Bible over several hundred years -- the Bible didn't just drop out of the sky after Jesus' ascension. The books of the New Testament were chosen from among hundreds of books on the basis of tradition. If tradition was good enough to select the books of the Bible it should be considered valid for use in interpreting the Bible.

Tradition and Scripture work in harmony and are not meant to be antagonistic to each other.

EJ said...

Jeff - Much can be said about your recent comments, and I will address some of the outlandish claims that you made.

“How do you know that your assertion that Catholicism is not consistent with the Biblical gospel is even correct? The truth is that you have no way of proving that conclusively.”

Rome advocates salvation by baptism, eucharist, etc - the Bible says that we are justified by faith apart from works. You will object and throw James 2 in my face -well, I confess and treasure the truth of James 2 and I know that the overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that we are saved by faith apqart from works, and you articulated the idea behind interpretation correctly when you said (in a comment on another blog), "One verse cannot be elevated above all the others that appear to contradict it,".

“All of your arguments are based on your interpretations of the Bible and not directly on the Bible itself.” Quite honestly, I am not even sure what you mean by this. Of course my arguments are based on what Christ (or the writers of Scripture) meant by what He said.

“Your latest article is extremely offensive and is in fact a barrier to Christian unity." It was meant to show that we cannot be unified if we don't even preach the same gospel.

"This idea that Catholics 'aren't saved' was started by the fundamentalist movement a little over 100 years ago." Seriously, this is the most rediculous thing I have heard. Charles Spurgeon lived and preached a little over 100 years ago, and he preached this...but so did Luther, Calvin, and others prior to the Reformation in the 1500s. You accuse me of misrepresenting and missunderstanding Catholic doctrine, but if you truly think that this teaching was "started" a little over 100 years ago...you truly don't understand the reasons for our comments. But this should not suprise me since you also said (in another blog), "The problem with eternal security is a doctrinal innovation that was invented 500 years ago in order to create Calvinism." That is such an inept and asenine comment, I cannot even begin to contemplate what your logic or systematic study was that led you to this conclusion.

"No decent Protestant theologian would suggest such a thing.” Yes we would, because we are decent and we do love you. It is the most loving thing that a person can do to point out error and call you to the truth.

“Much of your arguments can also be leveled against the Orthodox Church as well. So are the Orthodox all going to hell too? Is everyone who is not a hyper-Calvinist Baptist or fundamentalist Christian damned even if they have faith in Christ?” First of all, "hyper-calvinist" has a definition, and I do not fall into that category.... I am a Calvinist in soteriology, yes, but it isnot hypercalvinism.

But I would take your accusation a step furhter - all men who call themselves Christians are unsaved unless they understand and confess that they have been saved by God's grace alone through faith apart from works in Jesus Christ alone. Catholics and Orthodox believe in Baptismal (and some Lutherans) regeneration - i.e. you're saved by baptism - and that works get you saved or keep you saved...and anyone who believes that is not saved. Whether they're Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Pentacostal, etc...it doesn't matter.

“How do you know that Jesus is speaking metaphorically in particular verses? The answer is that no one can know the answer for sure.” One word: context.

“The Church formed the Bible over several hundred years” The Catholic Church did not select the books of the Bible. The believers saw that the books that we have were inspired. The Catholic Church did add its own books to the bible in the 1400's or 1500's when the Apocryphal books were officially added into the Catholic cannon for various reasons.

St. Michael the Archangel said...

When was the first bible written in whole, what year EJ, who was the writer, who commissioned the bibled to be put together and written including both the old testament, and the new. What language was it written in, and how long did it take to write it.

EJ said...

As far as the canon of Scripture goes, the majority of the NT books were recognized by the churches (4 gospels, Acts, 13 Pauline epistles, 1 Peter, 1 John) by the end of the 2nd century. (http://www.angelfire.com/
nt/theology/theology/04canon.html and http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/etc/printer-friendly.asp?ID=131 and referring to Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament, [New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1987])

Similar to how the council of Nicea articulated already held Christian doctrine concerning Christ to speak against false teachings, the NT Canon was “officially” recognized in order to reject books that were being introduced by false teachers.

When the first bible was “written”? Well there are several compilations of writings (many of the Pauline epistles) that were in use and circulation called Codex. So from very early on, the letters that were recognized as being inspired were compiled and circulated.

St. Michael the Archangel said...

What YEAR was the bible indexed and put together? Who indexed it, numbered it, and translated it?

Again I ask, who commissioned the first bible to be written and indexed? What year was this completed in?

In this first official bible, what books were included in it?

St. Michael the Archangel said...

One thing I meant to include in my previous post, was that the Codex as you mentioned it, contains all the books of the Catholic bible, which is basically the 7 books that the Protestants reject. If this is one of the first manuscripts, aka bibles, then how can you reject the 7 books of the Catholic one, if they are in a bible that can over 1000 years before the Protestant one?

Pontificator said...

Before one writes an article accusing the Catholic Church of preaching a false gospel, one should work very hard to actually learn, from Catholic sources, what the Catholic Church teaches. Indeed, one is morally obligated to do so. I suggest that the Lutheran/Catholic Joint Declaration on Justification is a good place to begin. The following two paragraphs from the JD put the lie to the claim that the Catholic Church does not teach salvation through Christ alone and grace alone:

"In faith we together hold the conviction that justification is the work of the triune God. The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners. The foundation and presupposition of justification is the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. Justification thus means that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.

"All people are called by God to salvation in Christ. Through Christ alone are we justified, when we receive this salvation in faith. Faith is itself God's gift through the Holy Spirit who works through word and sacrament in the community of believers and who, at the same time, leads believers into that renewal of life which God will bring to completion in eternal life."

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