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Catholic

Please see the last post on the series, “Doctrine of Salvation,” Doctrine of Salvation: Conversion.

As more and more confusion arises concerning the beliefs Roman Catholicism during these dark times, I think that it is important that I interact with Roman Catholicism’s view on salvation.  Christianity and Catholicism are not the same and those in the evangelical world that consider the Roman Catholic Church to be a Christian church should be ashamed of themselves. Basically they are undermining the Reformation and ultimately the authority of the Bible.

Roman Catholicism is a religion that is significantly different from Christianity because they do not believe in salvation as the Bible states.  But because there are so many differences in regards to Roman Catholicism, we will cover only a few areas that I think has major implications.  In order to effectively deal with it, I will cover their view concerning sola Scriptura and sola ecclesia/magisterium. With that said, let’s first cover the Roman Catholic definition of the magisterium.

The Latin word magister for the English word magisterium means, “master.”  The meaning master is not only in the sense of “teacher” but it also means in the broader sense, someone who possesses authority or mastery in a particular field.  In the contemporary Roman Catholic usage, this term basically means that the teaching is reserved exclusively for the office of the pope and bishops.  It is important that we consider the topic of the magisterium, because without it, we would not be debating the subject of tradition versus Scripture in the first place.  In regards to the magisterium, the Catholic Church considers themselves the master or the entity that possesses the authority—whether it be the written Word of God or in the form of tradition.  The concept of the Roman Catholic Church being the master dates back to the fourth session of the Council of Trent in 1546 A.D.  For example, in the first decree of the Council of Trent, it states that the Old and New Testament were not the only inspired source, but the traditions concerning faith and morals are also inspired because the Roman Catholic Church believes it came from the mouth of God; and it believes that it is preserved by the Holy Spirit in continuous succession in the Catholic Church.

When defining their source of authority, the Roman Catholic Church continues by saying, “The totality of the Bishops is infallible, when they, either assembled in general council or scattered (has to be unanimously agreed by the bishops) over the earth, purpose a teaching on morals as one to be held by all the faithful.”  That is a dangerous teaching because only God and the Bible is infallible.

Moreover, the pope, who is part of the magisterium and who is the icon of the magisterium is believed to be infallible when he defines doctrines concerning faith and morals.  To question the pope in matters of infallibility is to second-guess him.  The so-called divine promise given to him through the succession of Apostle Peter, concerning the pope’s definition of doctrine concerning faith and morals cannot be revised or altered.  For example, papal infallibility in the area of making saints is final and irrevocable.  The pope who is the iconic leader of the magisterium can speak ex-cathedra, which means, that with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the Pope speaks without error.  Next we will cover the Roman Catholic Church so-called proof that the Magisterium has divine authority.

For the Roman Catholic Church, this is more than apostolic succession, but it is the gift of inspiration itself.  Here is what the Roman Catholic Church says concerning the very gift of inspiration itself being passed down to them, “But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handling over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.’”  Dei Verbum 8 says, “This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything…”

Because apostolic succession is key to this belief of authority, let’s take a look at how the Roman Catholic Church validates this claim.  For example, they try validating their claim by using the apostles as an example to validate apostolic succession.  They claim that all of the activities such as delegating authority (2 Cor. 3:5-6; 5:18-6:1; Eph. 6:28) in matters such as the proper interpretation of the Gospel (2 Peter 2:20-21), the norm of sound teaching (2 Tim. 1:13) that is to be found with the apostles, the eye-witnesses of Christ and His resurrection (Luke 24:47-48; Acts 1:8-9; Jn 20:31; 1 John 1:3; 4:16), delegated authority to others within the church of God.  The leaders appointed by the apostles within the church, that received delegated authority from the apostles (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 5:22; cf. Titus 1:6-9) would assume the tasks such as teaching and government duties in the church of God.  This thinking results in the logic that the Catholic Church too received delegated authority that was passed down to the bishops of the church.  The biggest proof they have in order to validate the infallibility of the magisterium is Apostle Peter.  They believe that their apostolic succession came from the line of Apostle Peter.  Because Christ promised that Hades will not prevail against the church that is founded on the faith of Peter (Matthew 16:18); and that God will remain with the successors of the apostles to the end of time (Matthew 28:20), then the magisterium can be reliable and will never lead the church into doctrinal error.  Another major issue is their view of tradition.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that tradition is everything that contributes to the holiness of life and the increase of faith of the people of God.  Tradition is key to Catholics because the Bible would not be understood rightly if we limit it to sola Scriptura.  They will go on to say that the church’s history and experience cannot be excluded if the Bible is to be rightly understood.  According to Vatican II Council, the Catholic Church believes in the unity and consistency of Scripture because tradition and Scripture are closely connected.  Scripture and tradition are illustrated as the two streams flowing from the same divine well-spring; and they actually merge together.  They say the apostles handed down the traditions to them.

Another category that is important when it comes to the Vatican view of tradition is the context of locations or loci of tradition.  There are four loci of tradition: rite of baptisms accompanied with prayers, repetition of the Eucharist, the writings of the church fathers, and the life of the church.

The loci of tradition in the area of liturgy for example such as baptism, imparts a sense of the universal need for redemption and the removal of sin by grace; and the Eucharist, together with the elevation of the consecrated elements impresses a realization of the real presence of God.  Church Fathers are also important sources of tradition, because they are believed to be the one’s who established the canon of Scripture, articles of the creed, the basic dogmas of the faith, the basic structures of the church, and also the essential forms of the liturgy.  The last location of tradition, which is the life of the church, is key, because the Roman Catholic Church believes that the Holy Spirit gives inspiration to the church in producing faithful members a sense of what is agreeable and disagreeable when it comes to salvation.  Vatican II says this about the faithful members of the church, “The sense of the faithful is not a totally autonomous source of doctrine, since it depends in part on the other bearers of tradition and overlaps with them, but it can often help identify the true content and meaning of tradition, especially when it confirms what is also attested by other sources.”

The Roman Catholic Church also contests that traditions are important.  For example, they believe that Paul spoke about tradition when he wrote to the Corinthian Church (1 Cor. 11:2).  However, they Roman Catholic Church misinterpreted that passage.  The Catholic Church traditions are unbiblical and different from what Paul is referring to.

It is clear that the Roman Catholic Church sees that tradition, the magisterium, and Scripture cannot be without the other.  They have a problem with the idea of sola Scripture.  They are three reasons why the Catholic Church rejects the doctrine of sola Scriptura: the Bible does not argue for the doctrine, the Bible teaches the authority of tradition, and the Bible cannot be interpreted correctly without tradition.  In light of their unbiblical foundation, there are negative implications on salvation.  Salvation can only be rightly understood through sola Scriptura.

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mike2011

Dear Mr. Mike Gendron:

We at The Domain for Truth would like to express our sincerest gratitude to you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do an interview with us.  It was not too long ago since we first fellowshipped together at the Shepherds’ Conference.  One of the main topics we addressed were the Roman Catholic religion, Robert Jeffress’ comments concerning the Tim Tebow controversy, the signing of the Manhattan Declaration, and the Christian evangelization to Roman Catholics.  We also understand that you were saved out of the Roman Catholic religion by the grace of God through faith.  Now your ministry is one that focuses heavily on reaching out to Roman Catholics.

For those of you who are not acutely aware of Mike’s ministry, here is a brief description about him and his ministry.  Please see their website for more information.  If the Lord leads, I encourage you to surf their site and perhaps support their ministry financially.  They are one of the very few ministries out there that are aggressively and actively trying to reach Roman Catholics with the Gospel of grace.  Proclaiming the Gospel ministry has a huge heart for Roman Catholics.

ptg2012

Here is their website:  Proclaiming the Gospel.  There are books and tracts that you could purchase there.

Here is a brief description about Mike, the founder of Proclaiming the Gospel:

“For over 30 years, Evangelist Mike Gendron was a devout Roman Catholic and a strong defender of the ‘one true church.’ He was taught from a very early age, to trust and rely on the church, its priests, the sacraments and his own good works for salvation. However in 1981 while attending an evangelical seminar, he realized the Bible is the supreme authority for knowing truth. His new excitement and hunger for the inspired word of God led him to help organize the very first Little Rock Scripture Study at a Catholic Church in Dallas. Mike soon realized that many of the teachings and traditions of the Catholic religion were not found in the Bible. After more study he discovered the Roman Catholic plan of salvation was diametrically opposed to the Gospel of grace that is revealed in the Bible. After discerning that God seeks worshippers in spirit and truth, Mike left the Catholic Church in 1985 for a church where the true Gospel is proclaimed and the Scriptures are the final authority in all matters of faith.

In 1988 he left a successful career in corporate management to study at Dallas Theological Seminary. Four years later, during his last semester at DTS, Mike and his wife Janeʼs love for Catholics inspired them to begin a ministry that would point Catholics to the Lord Jesus Christ as their all sufficient Savior. Their hearts are now burdened for those who may be where they were for most of their life – eternally condemned and not even aware of it.”

I believe they also have a new staff member named Jason Hauser—a TMS graduate who serves alongside Mike.  It is great to see another person serving alongside him.

Without further ado, here are some questions we have for you, Mike.

1) Is it wrong for evangelicals to sign unity accords with Catholics?  Did the signing of the Manhattan Declaration by renowned Christian leaders vastly affect your ministry?

Yes, it is wrong for evangelicals, who have been sanctified by the truth, to sign unity accords with Roman Catholics, who believe and teach a false and fatal gospel. It is wrong for several reasons. First God’s Word makes it clear: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? The Lord gives the command, “therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them.”

Second, when highly visible and influential evangelicals sign unity accords with Catholics, it brings confusion to the Body of Christ. They do not know if they should consider Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ or as unbelievers who need to be evangelized. Evangelicals who sign unity accords with Catholics are not aware of Rome’s strategy to bring all “separated brethren” back home to Rome.  Part of their strategy is to persuade evangelical leaders to profess Roman Catholicism as a valid expression of Christianity. Tragically they have been successful in their seduction.

Third, when confused evangelicals do not recognize Roman Catholicism the world’s largest and most neglected mission field, it leaves 1.2 billion Catholics on the wide road to destruction with less of an opportunity to hear the Gospel of grace.

2) Why do Catholics need to be evangelized if they already believe in Jesus?

The Jesus of Roman Catholicism returns every day when the priest calls Him down from heaven to be worshipped and represented as a sin offering on their altar. The Lord Jesus warned us, “If anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ, do not believe him’” (Matthew 24:23). Yet this is what Catholic priests proclaim each time they lift up the Eucharist. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Eucharist becomes “the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ…[such that] the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1374). This is done so that “the same Christ who offered himself” on the cross can “be offered” on Catholic altars (CCC, 1367).

The Catholic Jesus does not offer eternal life. He offers only conditional life. After the sacrament of baptism each Catholic is placed on probation and must strive to remain in God’s favor through good works, sacraments and law keeping (CCC, 1129, 2068). Those who die in a state of mortal sin will suffer in hell’s eternal fire (CCC, 1035). As we witness to Roman Catholics we must present the Lord Jesus Christ in all of His sufficiency! He is the perfect High Priest, who offered Himself, the perfect sacrifice to a perfect God who demands perfection. Then He cried out in victory, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

3) Do you believe there are any Christians in the Catholic Church?

Yes, but they are no longer Catholic. There are born again Christians in the Catholic church because God has granted them repentance and true saving faith upon hearing His Gospel. Eventually the Spirit of God will lead them out of the false religion that once held them in bondage. God will deliver them from idolatry as they are discipled in the truth of His Word.

4) What are your thoughts on Christians (former Catholics) who are staying in the Catholic Church to reform it?

I tried doing this when God opened my eyes to the true Gospel but I was quickly marked as a heretic and trouble maker. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is diametrically opposed to the Catholic plan of salvation. When Christians begin sharing the truth of God’s Word clearly, objectively and passionately, they will be asked to leave.

5) What are the most critical differences between the Catholic faith and the Christian faith?

The most critical difference is how one is justified and the promises of the Gospel. Whenever another Jesus is embraced, it always leads to another gospel. Since Catholics do not see Jesus as the all-sufficient Savior they need another gospel to instruct them what they must do to be saved. The biblical Gospel proclaims salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, all for the glory of God alone. Rome denies the work of redemption is done and offers a list of requirements for salvation.

From the Council of Trent, Canon 24, we read: “If anyone says that the justice [or justification] received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema.” Canon 9 reads: “If anyone says, that by faith alone the impious is justified . . . let him be anathema.” Rome teaches that “all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments” (CCC, 2068).

Rome also denies the Gospel’s promise of eternal life by declaring that justification can be lost by mortal sin. Catholics must then be re-justified through penance. If they die in the state of mortal sin, they spend eternity in hell. This is a total rejection of God’s power and promise in Romans 8:28-30 and 1 Peter 1:1-5).

6) Here is a question from one of our subscribers of The Domain for Truth, “If the Pope is the ultimate authority of the church and he confirms something to be true but contradicts a previous pope—who should be followed?”

Rome has three authorities that they say are equal – Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magesterium of Bishops led by the “infallible” pope. In actual practice, it is the pope and bishops who twist and distort the Scriptures to harmonize their interpretations with 1600 years of Sacred Tradition. Catholics will admit that popes have disagreed with one another in the past. Their  explanation is not everything they teach is infallible, only when they speak from the Chair of Peter. Catholics should test every man’s teaching with the Word of God (Acts 17:11).

Well, this is the wrap-up of this very important meeting with Mike.  We thank you, Mike and Jason, for standing up for the truth in a day where compromise seems to be the norm.  May we pray for more Martin Luthers to rise up and proclaim the Gospel in a dark and confusing world.  Sola scriptura!

What are your thoughts, readers?

 

Sincerely,

 

The Domain for Truth

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