Archive for the ‘Catholicism’ Category

Pope Gun body guards

A Yahoo News Article was recently titled “Pope says weapons manufacturers can’t call themselves Christian.”  Here’s an excerpt of what the news article says:

People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

Francis issued his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin.

“If you trust only men you have lost,” he told the young people in a long, rambling talk about war, trust and politics after putting aside his prepared address.

“It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn’t it?” he said to applause.

He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying “duplicity is the currency of today … they say one thing and do another.”

Is it just me but this is part of a continuing pattern by the current Roman Catholic Pope espousing a rather one sided simplistic “It’s all about love” kind of religion that tries to score with the Secular press and media when he says things that matches up more with a Leftist agenda?

So the Pope thinks those who are involved with the manufacturing of weapons are hypocrites folks who trust in man instead of God and involved with spreading distrusts that don’t live out the Christian faith.

I just think it is rather ironic that this is spoken by a man who has both a Body Guard unit and the traditional Swiss Guard unit guarding him with weapons.  These units are involved with enabling the very wicked industry he condemns.  What a Papists/Swiss Guard/Industrial Complex.

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Rosary and Bible

On February 14, my friend posted this on her Facebook wall.  Her purpose was not to pick a fight.  But here is the background- she is surrounded with many unbelievers during her weekdays most of time.  In her environment, she gets confronted with many different types of topics.  One of them had to do with Catholicism.   Because she is concerned for many who are lost in their sins, she wanted to voice her concerns about the lost.  Here is what she posted:

CATHOLICISM vs. CHRISTIANITY: To friends who has voiced their opinions about whether or not a true Catholics are “saved”. Here, I pulled out from the Catechism of the Catholic church. If you don’t believe in this, you’re not a Catholic. Here the link: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2E.HTM

Here is the explanation:

977: This teaches that water baptism by the Roman Catholic Church is necessary for forgiveness of sins.

978: This teaches that when one receives baptism, all their sins are removed – perfection is accomplished. It also teaches that the Catholic is now sinless and given the task to try to live a good enough life for God.

979: This teaches that not only baptism is necessary for salvation, but the Roman Catholic Church is necessary for the remission of sins committed after baptism.

980: This teaches that Penance – human works that supposedly offset your sins against God – is necessary for salvation.

Conclusion: So just from this section alone, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that for salvation a person must…

Believe in Jesus Christ + be baptized by the Roman Catholic Church + have the Roman Catholic declare that their sins are forgiven + the acts of penance

This is in no way salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. It is the work of Christ on the cross plus numerous, legalistic works imposed by the Roman Catholic Church. This is what the letter of Galatians warns against.”

It did not take to long to get responses back.  I had a few comments from my own end too.  I will not be quoting every comment for the sake of the length of this post.  And just as a footnote, whenever you see this: “[my friend]” that is a substitute for my friend’s real name out of respect.  But here are some of the comments from the responders who are either Catholics, professing Christians who think Catholics are Christians, and Christians who do not believe true Catholics are Christians:

Zach: [My friend] you are beating a dead horse.

EvangelZ: Do you subscribe that salvation is by Faith alone?

Matthew: Yes. But that’s beside the point.

Many Reformed people argue that Arminianism and Catholicism are essentially the same when it comes to salvation, because if faith is not gift of God’s grace, or is a gift that can be refused, then salvation does really come down to works in Arminian theology as well.

I would also like to note that Catholic theology strongly affirms that salvation and faith are gifts of God’s grace. The issue where we differ is how that gift of salvation is received; and honestly, when it comes down to it, the difference is more linguistic than many are willing to admit.

EvangelZ:  Please quote the source and please define your understanding of God’s grace from Scripture.

Matthew:  I’m not really interested in getting into an exegetical debate here. I’m simply challenging [my friend’s name will be unknown out of respect] consistency on this issue, so I’ll wait for her response.

*Matthew thinks my friend is inconsistent because Matthew thinks that if we label Catholics as not being Christians, then we must label Arminians as non-Christians too.  That is why he is challenging my friend’s consistency on this issue.  Clearly, Matthew has a distorted view because many Arminians believe in that salvation is by Faith alone, not faith + plus works, as the Catechism puts it.

Katie Hurd: Who are you to say who is and who is not a Christian? Isn’t “God” supposed to decide those things on “judgement day”?

Ellen: It’s good you are using the Vatican website but the “explanations” are not accurate. For example the very first doesn’t even mention water. We believe there is more than one kind of baptism. Again all of you who think you know our beliefs and you believe we are going against God talk to practicing Catholics in person.

EvangelZ: Matthew, what are your thoughts on the Catholic Church? Do you believe they are Christians? If so, please state your reason.

Matthew: They are Christians. They believe in Jesus Christ; that he is one person with two natures; that he is the second Person of the Trinity; that he lived, died, and rose for us and our salvation; that we can be saved only through faith in him; that he is coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

There are many things wrong with the Roman Catholic Church in my opinion; that doesn’t mean that it’s not a Christian church.

[My friend]: Just got home from the movies. Sorry for a late reply. Matthew, I do believe that bad theology can send you to Hell, especially the ones that involve salvation. I am going to trust what the Bible says about salvation, that is, repentance and faith in Christ alone.

You asked whether or not I believe Arminians are Christians. I have to tell you it is a case by case examination. In the case of the Catholics, I don’t understand why you are defending the validity of their faith. I presented to you the Vatican above showing their understanding of salvation- Saved, in part, by good works. It doesn’t match up with what the Bible say salvation is. And if you believe the Bible is THE Word of God and nothing else is, you have to take how the Bible qualifies as salvation, and not how you think salvation should be.

The Catholics tell about us who they are in black and white on paper. I am using that as my evidence against them.

I do have a couple questions for you: Do you have any case from the Bible that proves your point of salvation is saved in part and finished off by human works added on? What about the idea of being able to pay for your own sins by punishing yourself?

[My friend]: Ellen, a practicing Catholic must have read the Vatican, right? That is what they profess that they are. And if that is what they profess they are, then the Bible is clear that they are not saved. Not saying you aren’t. When I do the side-by-side comparison, the list of necessity of salvation clearly does not match. Penance, purgatory, and so forth..

Ellen: Again [my friend] the “summaries/explanations” you providers of the little paragraphs in the Vatican are not true. Just read it as it is and things like purgatory talk to a few well knowledgable practicing Catholics. These little explanations are mostly assumptions.

I alone am no going to be able to offend every attack you have on our Christian faith and I don’t want to keep trying forever. So you and you other guys need to go talk to at least a few different REAL Catholics in person. Attacking our religion by things you will not understand by Protestant biases will lead you and others no where. Talk to those in a local Catholic Church community before you carry on further.

[My friend]: Okay, Ellen. I am reading the Vatican by itself: “This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism,….”

Ellen:  Yes. Penance for us is usually prayer and reflection. From my understanding that is how we believe we can show remorse for our sins and to keep us sinning in the future. Jesus opened this possibility for us, but we must still be responsible for the times we have offended God. Once we confess to a priest by the power of the Holy Spirit (which was given to us by Christ) our sins are completely washed away. But like I said please talk to other practicing Catholics as well because I do not know everything.

Christine Rios: This is absurd. I’m catholic and proud. I’m sorry [my friend] I can’t support this and I’m going to have to remove you from my friends list.

EvangelZ: Matthew, if you read [my friend’s] earlier post of what Catholicism believes concerning salvation, it would be a categorical fallacy to say Catholics who believe in the teachings of Rome are Christians. You seem to subscribe to a theory of coherence concerning Catholics that does not correspond to divine revelation (66 books). Therefore, your statement that Catholics are Christians is not coherent. Please explain their teachings concerning salvation accurately. Otherwise, I will consider it as a sweeping generalization on your part.

Matthew Neal: Well I guess my definition of Christian and yours are clearly not the same. I stated above what I believe (and what historically has been defined) to be the core of the Christian faith; if you want to believe that no one before 1517 was a Christian then I have nothing else to say, other than to note the fact that both Luther and Calvin used the term “Christian” in reference to the Roman Catholic faithful.

Peace out.

[My friend]: But isn’t Luther the one that nailed the 95 thesis against the Roman Catholic Church?

EvangelZ: Matthew, please quote the source where Luther and Calvin would consider a Roman Catholic that subscribes to works righteousness and Tradition (as being over and equal to sola Scriptura), as being Christians.

Ellen Kemper: Seriously you guys are missing the big picture. Catholics believe in Christ and are Christians. ANYONE who believes in Christ and follows the commandments are Christians. Why try to pervert someone’s genuine belief and love for God by saying they are not truly loving and following Christ when they themself KNOW they are. So much time is wasted with argument of what someone THINKS when real focus should be on what someone DOES. If you could talk to Mother Teresa face to face right now would you really tell her to stop being Catholic because she is not following Christ? What are you trying to accomplish here?

The most important is that we LOVE God with everything and that we love our neighbors as ourself. This is exactly what Jesus taught us. Why not focus on this.. Looking at what we have in common rather than our differences in showing God our love for Him and His creation. It’s pointless to “predict” who is saved and who is not because that is God’s decision and God’s decision alone. We do not save others, God does. Our job is to love one another, and by our love we will glorify God. It doesn’t matter what language someone speaks, how much I.Q. they have, or even how many bible verses they can memorize. What matters is that they truly love God and others as them self. This is what Jesus Christ taught us, and this is what it means to be a Christian. Do not criticize what you do not understand.

Also I just want to say I was extremely blessed to be raised Catholic from birth. I grew up in traumatizing and confusing situations at home, more than anyone should have to go through.

But my religion saved me because at a young age it taught me about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It convinced me and still does that there is life after death. It gave me a mother (our blessed Mother) who was trustworthy and brought me peace when my mom in the world couldn’t. It taught me about other people in history (saints) who had been incredibly blessed with Gods strength in their own personal ways and gave me something to relate to. It gave me much needed faith in a guardian angel when I was young. It taught me that “Jesus is always with us”. I can honestly say it made me survive.. If I wasn’t raised with this I could have ended up a crazy homeless lady addicted to drugs. I am so grateful to my religious educators and my family. And I will forever defend my faith. So if you want to keep driving people away from the original and unified church of Christ be my guest, but you are sadly mistaken and doing more harm than good.

[My friend]

Ellen, we try because we know to path to Heaven is very narrow. We try because we love you. This sounds cheesy, but it is not. Satan is out there getting every soul he can to go down with him. I am not driving anyone away; they are already away. There is one road to Heaven, and that road is through the life, ALONE the death, and the resurrection of Christ ALONE.

Here is where you and I differ, Ellen: Where the Bible describes salvation begins and ends in Christ ALONE, you say salvation begins in Christ and ends with human righteousness.

You help me prove my own point. You said, “Once we confess to a priest by the power of the Holy Spirit (which was given to us by Christ) our sins are completely washed away.” What if I die on the way to church and haven’t gotten the chance to confess?

You religion pays for the sins PRIOR to conversion and leave YOU to pay for your own sins after conversion via penance and purgatory. My Jesus pays for my sins once and for all, before/during/after conversion. My record of sin is empty. It doesn’t mean I don’t fall short as a human, but it means that I am relaying on Him and not myself for my deliverance when I die.

I never once said that you have to have a great IQ to be a follower of Christ. But I did say that you have to rely on Christ and Christ alone for your salvation.

I am going to go video type a priest and let him tell you that the Catholic Church believes in the necessity of penance and purgatory for salvation. I don’t do this to spike you; I do this because I love you.

As you can see this debate will never end.  It has been going on for ages.  But what is sad is that many who profess to be part of the Protestant camp or profess to be Bible believers, are saying that Catholics are Christians.  But a true Catholic who subscribes to the teachings of the Catechism as mentioned above are not Christians because it is not a true salvation based through God’s grace through faith alone (Eph. 2:8).

Not too long ago, The Domain for Truth wrote some articles on Catholicism.  For more information, please see these links:

Observations from Irenaeus’ Against Heresy Book Three Chapters 2-4 in light of the argument that it is against Sola Scriptura

Sola Scriptura Versus Sola Ecclesia: Introduction

Sola Scriptura Versus Sola Ecclesia: Part II

Sola Scriptura Versus Sola Ecclesia: Part IIISola Scriptura Verses Sola Ecclesia: Part IV

For some other great articles on this subject, please see these links:

Can you be saved and still be Roman Catholic?

Catholic Christians – is this an oxymoron?

For those, reading this blog, please feel free to share your comments.

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Here is a good sermon by John MacArthur regarding the true church and the Catholic Church.  May this video be a rebuke to Christians who think that the Catholic Church is a biblical church.

There is only one head of the church – its not the Catholic Church, but God alone.


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I believe that the Bible presents an overwhelming case for sola Scriptura—not only because it has a strong history to back it up, but also it provides a strong case because it is the only book that can claim all of the following characteristics: accuracy in prophecy, influence upon the lives of humans, the unity of the books in describing the drama of creation and eternity, indestructibility against the attacks of those who tried/tries to destroy the Bible, Divine inspiration, the power to set people free from the slavery of sin, popularity, and reliability.[2]  All of these characteristics are addressed in Scripture.

The power of sola Scriptura is revealed in Romans 10:17 when it comes to the authority of faith.  When it comes to authority of faith, Romans 10:1 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”[3]  Also when it comes to the power of prophecy, no other books can predict the future like the Bible.[4]  Psalm 119:60 says, ” The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”  2 Peter 1:19-21 says, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

We are also told to examine Scripture and be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11).  They used Scripture to verify the truthfulness of one’s teaching.  According to the catechism of the Catholic Church, Roman Catholics are told to listen to the pope and the magisterium.[5]  But if we leave humans to mediate, we open the doors for ourselves to be deceived.[6]  1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,…”  Scripture does not give power to a select group of men (magisterium) to interpret to every man.[7]  For example 2 Corinthians 4:2 says, “… but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”  The magisterium distorts the Word of God by teaching unbiblical doctrines contrary to Scripture such as papal infallibility.

The Catholic Church claims to get its authority from Peter.  It claims that Peter was the chief apostle and the rock that Jesus build His church upon.[8]  This teaching is a result of a misinterpretation of Matthew 16:18 where Jesus said, “You are Peter (petros-stone) and on this rock (petra-mass of rock) I will build my church.”  But upon analyzing this phrase, the Greek word “petra” is feminine and it is not normal to use it in reference to masculine Peter.[9]  It is clear that Jesus was not referring to Peter as the mass rock because Peter was referring to Jesus as the “rock.”[10]  Instead, he was the small rock.  The mass rock is referring to Peter’s confession of faith, which he confessed after Jesus asked him, “Who do you say that I am?”[11]  Moreover, the Catholic Church makes a big deal that Peter is the rock because he was the one that was in control of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:13,19).[12]  But upon looking at Acts 15:13, 19, it was James that was presiding over the council.

This is why the foundation cannot be found with Peter or the magisterium.  The sole authority is Jesus Christ Himself.  He is the head of the church.  1 Corinthians 3:11 says, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  Also Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:20 says that Christ is the chief cornerstone.

Another powerful claim that Scripture possess is the power of the Gospel.  In other words, any born-again Christian possesses the keys to heaven.  However, the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus gave Peter and His successors authority over the church when Jesus offered Peter and His successors the keys to the kingdom in Matthew 16:19.  The church believes that Peter first opened heaven by proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 15:7, 14)[13]  This is a distortion of truth.  Only by believing the Gospel can a person be loosed from his or her sins.  And those who reject the Gospel will be bound to his or her sins.[14]  Here is what Apostle Paul says about the Gospel, Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  And John 3:36 says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

The Catholic Church makes another big claim when it comes to the pope being infallible in his teaching.  But when you look to Scripture, their supposed chief pope, who is Peter was not infallible.[15]  For example, Paul used the Gospel to show how Peter was wrong in Galatians 2:11-14, ” But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.”  Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:23, “The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.”

The Catholic Church also makes much about the hierarchy or the magisterium.  What we see in the Catholic Church is an enormous structure of monsignors, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and a pope that is ruling the people.[16]  But here is what Scripture says in Matthew 20:25-26, “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,…'”  Here is what Psalm 118:8 has to say about those who trust in the teachings of men rather than God, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord Than to trust in man.”  Psalm 146:3-5 teaches that man is nothing compared to God.  Man decays and dies, but God does not.  That is why it is better to trust God first.

The Catholic Church also makes much of tradition.  They teach that the Scripture cannot be without the aid of the traditions. In their mind, Scripture can only be accurately interpreted if tradition is used.  First, in response, they must understand that the Bible teaches about traditions, but it does not mean the same thing as what the Roman Catholic teaches concerning tradition.  The traditions that the apostles spoke about were in accordance with Scripture.[17]  But the Roman Catholic concept of tradition is basically a separate source of revelation independent of Scripture and contradicts many doctrines in the Bible.[18]  Their exalted view of tradition has led to the contamination of the Gospel.  They teach a perverted Gospel message.  Here is what Colossians 2:8 has to say when it comes to traditions, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition ofmen, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Another notorious claim is the idea that the Catholic Church sees themselves as the “one true church” and states that there is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church (CCC, para. 846).[19]  But Scripture define the true church differently.  1 Cor. 1:2 says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours…”  Hebrews 12:23 says, …”to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect…”

Also the Catholic Church has made other crimes against God.  Since their presupposition is rooted in tradition, the church has added other apocryphal books that are at odds with Scripture.[20]  Roman Catholic Church needs to understand that the apocryphal books were not entrusted with the oracles of God.  The oracles of God were entrusted to the Jews (Romans 3:1-2).[21]  And since their presupposition is rooted in their tradition, the Vatican divided the tenth commandment into two in order to replace the one they removed.[22]  They deleted the second commandment.  Deuteronomy 4:2 says this about those who delete His words given to Moses, “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”  Since the Catholic Church is rooted deeply in tradition, they have adulterated the Gospel because they have allowed tradition to misinterpret the Gospel.  This is dangerous because it affects the souls of men.

While discussing sola Scriptura, some Catholics bring up the issue of canonicity.  They believe sola Scriptura is inseparable in this discussion.  The outcry or the objection is that the 66 books are based on the Protestant councils and Catholic Church objects to the idea that there are only 66 books.  As a result, since they claim that Protestants have no authority to say that the 66 books are inspired, sola Scriptura too, is not taught in the Bible.

The objections they bring up are fallacious because it misrepresents the Protestant understanding of canonicity.  It is a straw man argument.  Here are a couple of reasons of how they misrepresent the Protestant understanding of canonicity.  First of all, the church does not determine the canon, but discovers the canon, the church is not the mother of the church, but is the child of God, the church is not the magistrate of the canon, but is the minister of the canon, the church is not the regulator of the canon, but the recognizer of the canon, the church is not the judge of the canon, but is the witness of the canon, the church is not the master of the canon, but the servant of the canon.[23]   At the end of the day, the Catholic Church needs to understand that Almighty God providentially guided the canonical process.  God is the One who determines the canon and Christians recognize it.


Because the Catholic Church does not believe in sola Scriptura, it ruins the Gospel of Christ in many ways.[24]  Here are some of the ways they do that: baptismal regeneration and progressive justification, confirmation, penance, transubstantiation, papal infallibility, purgatory, and marion idolatry.[25]  The Catholic Church has robed many in their understanding of God’s truth.  I would say that if Apostle Paul was alive today, he would probably be in tears because of what this church has done to many people, negatively.  Listen to the heart of Paul in Acts 20:29-31, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

May we as Christians guard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and take heed to his warnings not only what he said in Acts but also what he wrote to the church in Galatia.  Paul says in Galatians 1:6-11, ” I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. 11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.”

[1] All Scripture is quoted from the New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update.

[2] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity (Springfield, Mo.: 21st Century Press, 2005), 10.

[3] Ibid, 11.

[4] Ibid, 11.

[5] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity (Springfield, Mo.: 21st Century Press, 2005), 12.

[6] Ibid, 12.

[7] Ibid, 13.

[8] Ibid, 13.

[9] Ibid, 13.

[10] Ibid, 13.

[11] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity, 13.

[12] Ibid, 13.

[13] Ibid, 14.

[14] Ibid, 14.

[15] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity , 14.

[16] Ibid, 15.

[17] William Webster, Roman Catholic Tradition: Claims and Contradictions (Battle Ground, WA: Christian Resources, 1999), 15.

[18] Ibid, 15.

[19] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity, 17.

[20] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity , 18.

[21] Ibid, 18.

[22] Ibid, 18.

[23] David F. Farnell, “Canon of the New Testament” (lecture, The Masters’ Seminary, Sun Valley, CA, 2009).

[24] Robert Michael Zinns, “Why the Bible Alone?” A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism, http://www.cwrc-rz.org/whybiblealone.html (accessed December 1, 2011).

[25] Robert Michael Zinns, “Why the Bible Alone?” A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism, http://www.cwrc-rz.org/whybiblealone.html (accessed December 1, 2011).

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Sola Scriptura

Christian Definition and Description of Sola Scriptura

            Scripture is the writings of the Old and New Testament, which have been historically recognized as God’s Word in written form.[1]  And it is by these two books that we can say sola Scriptura (Scripture alone).  Scripture alone teaches that the Holy Bible is our final and sole infallible source of authority when it comes to matters of life and practice of the Christian faith.[2]  Moreover, sola Scriptura echoes the concept that perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture is the invaluable source to the Christian faith; and that church tradition is not necessary for determining the right interpretation of Scripture.[3]  Since the Catholic Church seems to assume or attack Protestants for totally ignoring tradition, let’s take a look at what the early Church Fathers had to say about Scripture alone.  Protestants don’t ignore tradition totally (except for bad tradition), but Protestants have a problem with how Catholics see tradition contrary to Scripture.

According to Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), he pronounced this about Scripture,

He, then, who of himself believes the Scripture and voice of the Lord, which by the Lord acts to the benefiting of men, is rightly [regarded] faithful. Certainly we use it as a criterion in the discovery of things.” (The Stromata, 16).

Tertullian (c. 160-235) said

That Scriptures . . . indeed furnish us with our Rule of faith. (Against Praxeas, 11).”

Origin (c.185-254) said,

In proof of all words which we advance in matters of doctrine, we ought to set forth the sense of the Scripture as confirming the meaning which we are proposing . . . . therefore we should not take our own ideas for the confirmation of doctrine, unless someone shows that they are holy because they are contained in the divine Scriptures (Homily 25 on Matthew).”

Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) said,

Do not then believe me because I tell these things, unless thou receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of what is set forth: for this salvation, which is of our faith, is not by ingenious reasonings, but by proof from the Holy Scriptures. (The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril 4.17).”

Athanasius (295-375), the man who was prolifically known to defend the Trinity against heretics declared,

In the Holy Scriptures alone is the instruction of religion announced—to which let no man add, from which let no man detract—which are sufficient in themselves for the enunciation of the truth.”

Chrysostom (344-407) said,

When there is a question of Divine things, would it not be a folly rashly and blindly to receive the opinions of others, when we have a rule by which we can examine everything? I mean the Divine law. It is for this reason that I conjure you all, without resting in the slightest degree on the judgment of others, to consult the Scriptures.”

Augustine (354-430), who John Calvin modeled after when it came to the Doctrines of Grace, said this concerning the Scriptures,

What more shall I teach you than what we read in the apostle? ‘For Holy Scripture fixes the rule for our doctrine, lest we dare be wiser than we ought.'”

And Theodoret of Cyrus (393–457) said,

Bring me not human reasoning’s and syllogisms, for I rely on the divine Scripture alone.”

Proof that Scripture has Divine Authority

We have heard much about the definition and description of Scripture alone from the early Church Fathers, but lets take a deeper look into how the early Church Fathers argued specifically for the divine authority of sola Scriptura.  We will take a look mainly into the origin of Scripture (the Words of God), and the nature of Scripture (infallible) from Clement of Rome.  Then we will take a look at the origin of Scripture and the nature of Scripture from Irenaeus.  The last person we will refer to is Tertullian’s (ca. 160-225) address concerning the nature of Scripture.  There are many other early Church Father’s I can refer to, but I will narrow it to a few so it won’t be too superflous.

Concerning the origin of Scripture as being the very Words of God, Clement of Rome said,

Let us act accordingly to that which is written (First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 13).[5]

Clement said that we must look carefully into the Scriptures because they are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit (ibid., 45).[6] He also said that the Word of God is also infallible because they are the very Words of God.  In his First Apology Clement pointed out,

But when you hear the utterances of the prophets spoken as it were personally, you must not suppose that they are spoken by the inspired men themselves but by the divine Word who moves them.”[7]

He continues by saying,

We must not suppose that the language proceeds from the men who are inspired, but from the divine Word, which moves them.  Their work is to announce that which the Holy Spirit, descending upon them, purposes, through them, to teach those who wish to learn the true religion.”[8]

And he has this to say about the passing down of divine revelation to the prophets,

To him [Moses] did God communicate that divine and prophetic gift…and then after him the rest of the prophets…These we assert to have been our teachers, who use nothing from their own human conception, but from the gift vouchsafed to them by God alone (Justin’s Hortatory Oration to the Greeks 8).”[9]

According to Irenaeus, a second century Church Father, he too said the Scriptures are the Words of God.  To him the Scriptures are perfect since it was spoken by God and His Spirit (Against Heresies 2.28.2).[10]  When it came to the nature of Scripture, Irenaues pointed out that Scripture is the foundation of faith because Scripture is the ground and pillar of our faith.[11]  And it when it came to the infallibility of Scripture, here is what he declared,

Let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel…The writings of those apostles,…being the disciples of truth, are above all falsehood.”[12]

And here is what he has to say about those who tried to twist Scripture,

Heretics adduce an unspeakable number of apocryphal and spurious writings which they themselves have forged, to bewilder minds of foolish men, and of such as are ignorant of the Scriptures of truth.”[13]

Now for our last Church Father, Tertullian.  Here is what he has to say about the authoritative nature of Scripture:

In granting indulgence, he [Paul] alleges the advice of a prudent man; in enjoining continence, he affirms the advice of the Holy Spirit.  Follow the admonition which has divinity for its patron.  It is true that believers likewise no “have the Spirit of God;” but not all believers are apostles.  When, then, he who had called himself a “believer,” added thereafter that he “had the Spirit of God,” which no one would doubt even in the case of an (ordinary) believer; his reason for saying so was, that he might re-assert for himself apostolic dignity…Apostles have the Holy Spirit properly, who have Him fully, in the operations of prophecy…Thus he attached the Holy Spirit’s authority to that form [of advice] to which he willed us rather to attend; and forthwith it became not an advice of the Holy Spirit, but, in consideration of His majesty, at precept.[14]

With that said, I think it is appropriate to leave you off with with a quote from Martin Luther concerning Scripture alone.  May we mediate upon this sobering quote.

Before I do that, let me first give you the context behind this quote.  It was after nailing the 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, that Martin Luther was later held on trail in the Diet of Worms in 1521.  It was there where Martin Luther boldly proclaimed before the secular dignitaries and powerful Roman Catholic clergy with this statement,

Unless I am refuted and convicted by testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear arguments, I am conquered by the Holy Scriptures quoted by me, and my conscience is bound in the Word of God: I can not and will not recant anything, since it is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against the conscience.”[15]

Martin Luther was clearly a man that championed sola Scripture.  Scripture was his absolute source of authority, not tradition.  Tradition was subordinate to sola Scriptura.  Sola Scriptura in a sense is the Father and tradition is the son.  But if tradition went bad, tradition would be an apostate  child.  Martin Luther clearly understood that all matters of life and practice of the Christian faith was seen through the lens of Scripture.

Luther continued and ended his bold statement by saying:

Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me! Amen.”[16]

We have seen much concerning the authority of Scripture pronounced from the early Church Fathers, but we will take a look at the message from “Scripture itself” concerning sola Scriptura in the next installment.

[1] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1254.

[2] Busenitz, Nathan. “The Faith of Our Fathers.” Lecture, The Master’s Seminiary, Sun Valley, CA, September 24, 2009..

[3] Nathan Busenitz, Class Lecture 7, Faith of Our Fathers.

[4] Nathan Busenitz, Class Lecture 7, Faith of Our Fathers.

[5] Norman L. Geisler, How History Views the Bible: Decide For Yourself (San Francisco, CA: The Zondervan Corporation, 1982), 23-24.

[6]Ibid, 23-24.

[7] Norman L. Geisler, How History Views the Bible: Decide For Yourself , 23-24.

[8] Ibid, 23-24.

[9] Ibid, 23-24.

[10] Norman L. Geisler, How History Views the Bible: Decide For Yourself , 26.

[11] Ibid, 26.

[12]Ibid, 26.

[13] Ibid, 26.

[14] Ibid, 26-27.

15] Charles R. Biggs, “The Story of Martin Luther: The Reformation and the Life of Martin Luther Until the Diet of Worms (1521),” Monergism,http://www.monergism.com/Reformation.Church.History.Martin.Luther.pdf(accessed March 17, 2012), 130.

[16] Ibid, 130.

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A Christian needs to pay careful attention when the Roman Catholic Church challenges sola Scriptura.  When they are challenging the Bible alone as the only Word of God, we as Christians need to ask them, “What other sources do you have that are equal in weight of authority to the Bible?”  If they say that there is a source outside the Bible that is equal in weight to the Bible, then we as Christians should let the Roman Catholic present his or her case.  At the same time, we need to ask them, “Are there other words of God outside of Scripture that is inspired by God?”

The topic of Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) as being the only source of authority, is a big deal to the Catholic Church.  When the belief of sola Scriptura is presented to them, there is a question that often arises, “Does the Bible teach sola Scriptura?” That is a good question because that leads into a discussion of the implicit versus explicit method.  According to New Oxford Dictionary, the word implicit means that something is implied but not expressed clearly; and explicit means something is stated clearly. When it comes to sola Scriptura, the Christian should consider the dichotomy surrounding the implicit and explicit method.

When articulating sola Scriptura, one must consider using logic and necessary deduction.  Logic and necessary deduction should be considered because sola Scriptura is not explicitly taught in Scripture.  For example, there is not one Scripture in the Bible that will use the expression, “the Bible alone is the Word of God.”  But just because the Bible does not explicitly use the expression, “the Bible alone is the is the Word of God,” does not mean that sola Scriptura is not a fact in the Bible.  Sola Scriptura is taught, but it is demonstrated implicitly. So the question that arises is this, “Does implicit evidence teach sola Scriptura?”  The answer to that is yes!  Just like how the Trinity is proven implicitly by overwhelming evidence, sola Scriptura is proven implicitly too with overwhelming evidence.

When it comes to sola Scriptura, there are two different viewpoints from the Catholic Church.  For example, the traditional viewpoint believes that the pope and bishops have power over the body of beliefs and practices from Jesus Christ.[1]  People are called to obey the written Word of God and also the unwritten word of God—tradition (with a capital T).[2]  In other words, this viewpoint believes that God passed down the written and unwritten word of God to the Roman Catholic Church.  According to the nontraditional viewpoint, the Roman Catholic Church believes that divine revelation is taught within the pages of Scripture and is also taught within tradition.[3]  This viewpoint believes that tradition is taught implicitly in Scripture.[4]  This means that their teachings such as the immaculate conception of Mary, papal infallibility are taught implicitly.[5]  At the end of the day, whatever viewpoint a Roman Catholic adheres to, it is transparent that the Roman Catholic Church rejects sola Scriptura.  This is evidential because their presupposition is rooted in sola ecclesia.

When discussing sola Scriptura, point out to the Catholic person that the Roman Catholic Church admits that the Bible is one source that God sees as inspired.  Tell them that according to their dogmatic constitution on divine revelation that was solemnly promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965, the DV 24, NCC #135, says, “The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God.”[6]  This is an important quote to help stir them to search the Scriptures.  But since DV 24, NCC #135, believes the Bible is the written Word of God, they will still need to dig through Scripture in order to have an cogent and logical conversation.

When Roman Catholics makes the claim that the Bible is not the only source of authority, the burden of proof falls on their shoulders because they are the ones that will need to show us how their tradition, Scripture, and the magisterium cannot stand without another.  They will need to show us if there are others sources that can give people “certainty,” besides the Bible.  As Christians, we believe the Word of God is the only source of revelation that has absolute certainty.

[1] Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics (Eugene, Or.: Harvest House, 2000), 48.

[2] Ibid, 48.

[3] Ibid, 48.

[4] Ibid, 48.

[5] Ibid, 48.

[6] Pope Paul VI, “Dogmatic Constitution On Divine Revelation: Dei Verbum,” Vatican, http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html (accessed December 1, 2011).

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This debate between Eric Svendsen and Mitchell Pacwa is on the subject of Sola Scriptura vs Sola Ecclesia.

HT: Rhoblogy (a review of the debate is posted as well)

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This is the preaching of Dr. Bahnsen on this very topic; though it was years ago, it is eerily timely….

As a courtesy, we recommend those who want to see more lectures by Bahnsen in other areas to visit CMF.

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These are some resources for those who are engaging with Roman Catholics.

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Francis Beckwith was interviewed by David Neff. His view on justification and Sola Scriptura are starting to come out.

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