Matthew R. Perry

The Protestant Protest (MacArthur)

In Religious Organizations, Roman Catholicism, Theology on August 23, 2006 at 1:13 pm

The Reformation doctrine of justification by faith is, and has always been, the number one target of the enemy’s attack. It provides the foundation of the bridge that reconciles God and man-without that key doctrine, Christianity falls. But the doctrine the Reformers so painstakingly clarified, even spilled blood over, has become so muddled today that many Protestants barely recognize it.

Sadly, there are some who react against a clear presentation of justification, calling it nothing more than useless hair-splitting. Some evangelical reactions to Protestant doctrine are even more severe. Recently, popular talk-show host, Marty Minto, was fired by evangelical station management for discussions he was having on his daily radio program. His crime? In response to callers, he was applying a traditional Protestant perspective to the teachings of John Paul II and the Roman Catholic Church.

Many evangelicals, ignorant and unconcerned of their Protestant roots, are blithely embracing Roman Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ. They’ve become more concerned about offending and alienating Roman Catholics than they have in clearly articulating the truth. What’s so important about that? Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).

The issue, may I remind you, is justification by faith alone. Those who do not adhere to that fundamental biblical doctrine are not going to heaven.

Back to the Beginning

In the 1500s a fastidious monk, who by his own testimony “hated God,” was studying Paul’s epistle to the Romans. He couldn’t get past the first half of Romans 1:17: “[In the gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (KJV).

One simple, biblical truth changed that monk’s life-and ignited the Protestant Reformation. It was the realization that God’s righteousness could become the sinner’s righteousness-and that could happen through the means of faith alone. Martin Luther found the truth in the same verse he had stumbled over, Romans 1:17: “Therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (KJV, emphasis added).

Luther had always seen “the righteousness of God” as an attribute of the sovereign Lord by which He judged sinners-not an attribute sinners could ever possess. He described the breakthrough that put an end to the theological dark ages:

I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by his faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven.

Justification by faith was the great truth that dawned on Luther and dramatically altered the church. Because Christians are justified by faith alone, their standing before God is not in any way related to personal merit. Good works and practical holiness do not provide the grounds for acceptance with God. God receives as righteous those who believe, not because of any good thing He sees in them-not even because of His own sanctifying work in their lives-but solely on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, which is reckoned to their account. “To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). That is justification.

Declared Righteous: What Actually Changes?

In its theological sense, justification is a forensic, or purely legal, term. It describes what God declares about the believer, not what He does to changethe believer. In fact, justification effects no actual change whatsoever in the sinner’s nature or character. Justification is a divine judicial edict. It changes our status only, but it carries ramifications that guarantee other changes will follow. Forensic decrees like this are fairly common in everyday life.

When I was married, for example, Patricia and I stood before the minister (my father) and recited our vows. Near the end of the ceremony, my father declared, “By the authority vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you man and wife.” Instantly we were legally husband and wife. Whereas seconds before we had been an engaged couple, now we were married. Nothing inside us actually changed when those words were spoken. But our status changed before God, the law, and our family and friends. The implications of that simple declaration have been lifelong and life-changing (for which I am grateful). But when my father spoke those words, it was a legal declaration only.

Similarly, when a jury foreman reads the verdict, the defendant is no longer “the accused.” Legally and officially he instantly becomes either guilty or innocent-depending on the verdict. Nothing in his actual nature changes, but if he is found not guilty he will walk out of court a free person in the eyes of the law, fully justified.

In biblical terms, justification is a divine verdict of “not guilty-fully righteous.” It is the reversal of God’s attitude toward the sinner. Whereas He formerly condemned, He now vindicates. Although the sinner once lived under God’s wrath, as a believer he or she is now under God’s blessing.

Justification is more than simple pardon; pardon alone would still leave the sinner without merit before God. So when God justifies He imputes divine righteousness to the sinner (Romans 4:22-25). Christ’s own infinite merit thus becomes the ground on which the believer stands before God (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 3:9). So justification elevates the believer to a realm of full acceptance and divine privilege in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, because of justification, believers not only are perfectly free from any charge of guilt (Romans 8:33) but also have the full merit of Christ reckoned to their personal account (Romans 5:17). Here are the forensic realities that flow out of justification:

  • We are adopted as sons and daughters (Romans 8:15)
  • We become fellow-heirs with Christ (v. 17)
  • We are united with Christ so that we become one with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17)
  • We are henceforth “in Christ” (Galatians 3:27) and He in us (Colossians 1:27)
  • How Justification and Sanctification Differ

    Justification is distinct from sanctification because in justification God does not make the sinner righteous; He declares that person righteous (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16). Notice how justification and sanctification are distinct from one another:

  • Justification imputes Christ’s righteousness to the sinner’s account (Romans 4:11b); sanctification imparts righteousness to the sinner personally and practically (Romans 6:1-7; 8:11-14).
  • Justification takes place outside sinners and changes their standing (Romans 5:1-2, sanctification is internal and changes the believer’s state (Romans 6:19).
  • Justification is an event, sanctification a process.
  • Those two must be distinguished but can never be separated. God does not justify whom He does not sanctify, and He does not sanctify whom He does not justify. Both are essential elements of salvation.

    Why differentiate between them at all? If justification and sanctification are so closely related that you can’t have one without the other, why bother to define them differently? That question was the central issue between Rome and the Reformers in the sixteenth century, and it remains the main front in renewed attacks against justification.

    Justification in Roman Catholic Doctrine

    Roman Catholicism blends its doctrines of sanctification and justification. Catholic theology views justification as an infusion of grace that makes the sinner righteous. In Catholic theology, then, the ground of justification is something made good within the sinner-not the imputed righteousness of Christ.

    The Council of Trent, Rome’s response to the Reformation, pronounced anathema on anyone who says “that the [sinner] is justified by faith alone-if this means that nothing else is required by way of cooperation in the acquisition of the grace of justification.” The Catholic council ruled “Justification … is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just.” So Catholic theology confuses the concepts of justification and sanctification and substitutes the righteousness of the believer for the righteousness of Christ.

    What’s the Big Deal?

    The difference between Rome and the Reformers is no example of theological hair-splitting. The corruption of the doctrine of justification results in several other grievous theological errors.

    If sanctification is included in justification, the justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete. Our standing before God is then based on subjective experience, not secured by an objective declaration. Justification can therefore be experienced and then lost. Assurance of salvation in this life becomes practically impossible because security can’t be guaranteed. The ground of justification ultimately is the sinner’s own continuing present virtue, not Christ’s perfect righteousness and His atoning work.

    What’s so important about the doctrine of justification by faith alone? It is the doctrine upon which the confessing church stands or falls. Without it there is no salvation, no sanctification, no glorification-nothing. You wouldn’t know it to look at the state of Christianity today, but it really is that important.

    Adapted from The Gospel According to the Apostles, © 1993 and 2000 by John MacArthur. All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

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    1. Matt,
      I’m glad to see you point out one of the major problems with the sola fide argument:

      “Back to the Beginning

      In the 1500s a fastidious monk…”

      The beginning of this heresy was, as you and John MacArthur state, in the 1500s, well over one thousand years after the beginning of the Catholic Church!
      This was the misinterpretation of Scripture by one very angry man. But as the Catholic Church fought and defeated Arianism, Pelagianism, Seballianism, Nestorianism, the same could not be done to Lutheranism. His heresy caught on and spread like wildfire despite the Council of Trent. And we can see why – After all, isn’t it so much easier to be Christian and not have to be good than it is to be Christian and actually behave?

    2. What Luther did was actually go back to Scripture as a rule of faith. At the Diet of Worms, all he asked the church was to convince him from Scripture and clear reasoning that he was wrong, and he would recant it all. It seems though that the traditions that have come about from the Catholic Church over the 1500 years since the end of the Scriptural canon have become equated with Scripture and have even buried Scripture.

      Jesus stated in Mark 7:6-7

      And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

      ” ‘This people honors me with their lips,
      but their heart is far from me;
      [7] in vain do they worship me,
      teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

      Luther became convinced after reading through and teaching through Romans and the Psalms, until God revealed to him that he could not come to Christ based on the accumulation of good works in cooperation with God’s grace. That it was all of faith which changed his heart to obey.

      I do not deny that there are those who believe that this doctrine is a “Get Out of Hell Free” card divorced from their works which result from their faith. That is not biblical teaching, and I never preach that they can live with license to indulge the flesh. I tell the church, “If you are truly changed in Christ, it will show in what you do. Just because Christ already absorbed God’s wrath as a propitiation for sin (Romans 3:24-26) is no license to sin. The change of heart will show in your love for Christ as you keep His commandments (John 15:13).

    3. Matt,
      I’m sorry this is so long, but you desperately need someone to provide a Catholic rebuttal to your essays.

      I don’t claim that I can read the hearts of men, nor do I know what was in Luther’s heart, but I feel pretty safe in assuming that no matter what his accusers at the Diet of Worms showed him as a proof text from the Bible that he was wrong in proclaiming Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura, he would have rejected it out of hand, and not recanted at all. Certainly, they could have showed him James 2:24, in opposition to Sola Fide, but James was a book Luther wanted “to throw in the fire,” because he disliked it so much. And they could have showed him 2 Thess. 2:15 in opposition to Sola Scriptura (So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.). But Luther would have rejected these in the same way that Protestants today do. So I feel safe in saying that Luther was being disingenuous in claiming he would recant if shown to be wrong.

      Speaking of 2 Thess. 2:15, protestants continue to throw out the argument that Catholics are following the commandments of men as the Pharisees did and about which Jesus criticized them (as you point out from Mark 7:6-7). Of course we don’t. We are following Sacred Tradition, much like those Paul was telling the Thessalonians to “stand firm and hold to” in chapter 2 verse 15. To see what kind of commandments Jesus was berating the Pharisees for following you must read Matthew 15:1-9 – Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart if far away from me. ‘But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'” Here we read your quote from Mark 7:6-7 in its context. Jesus was speaking of truly man made commandments such as washing your hands before eating, or circumcision; laws which have no consequence on salvation which the Pharisees were teaching as doctrine.

      And remember that Jesus told Peter that, “I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” He also said to the Apostles, who were the first pastors of the Church, “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me. (Luke 10:16) These two verses alone give the Catholic Church the authority to interpret Scripture and define what is Sacred Tradition. Also remember that Paul told Timothy that it was the Church that was the “pillar and ground of truth,” in 1 Tim 3:15. That is to say that the Church cannot teach error.

      Finally, as far as tradition goes, if Protestants are so appalled by tradition as defined by the Catholic Church, I suggest you quit celebrating Christmas on December 25. In fact, quit celebrating it altogether since it is a tradition.
      You stated in your essay that Luther couldn’t get past the first half of Romans 1:17, and that it was in this verse that Luther found the truth. (For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and to the Greek. For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith.) If Luther was convinced that he could be saved through faith alone by reading Romans 1:16-17, he must have not read Romans 2:6-13, which states: God “will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”

    4. You and I seem to be coming from a differing hermeneutical viewpoints. Let’s look at your response.

      “Keys to the Kingdom.” You say, “That means that the Catholic Church, which has an unbroken line of apostolic succession, has the keys to the kingdom to let people in. They can forgive and bestow absolution.” I say this: nowhere in Scripture do we see that anyone is bestowed any type of apostolic succession in that the Pope is the head and successor of Peter. You may say, “But they have the keys to the kingdom!” What are those keys?

      The Apostles are not only the first pastors, but also the first Christians who have authority based on God’s Word in the context of the local church to forgive sins and bestow church discipline and even judgment (1 Corinthians 5 and 6, see also MAtthew 18:15-17). The church does not initiate this, but simply responds to what is laid out in the Word of God. And the tense is not, “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,” but “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven.” God’s sovereignty over all things takes place for his church from the foundation of the world. God has already sovereignly purposed what His church should be (Ephesians 1:3-14). He’s not waiting on the church to move so He can move — we are His body, His sheep, His people.

      So let’s define the Roman Catholic’s version of tradition and Paul’s definition of tradition. You quote 2 Thessalonians 2:15, a favorite of Roman Catholics. But are these traditions based on God’s revealed Word in Scripture, or in the centuries since.

      The issue of the veneration of Mary. Mary was called “blessed” (Luke 1), but in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ beatitudes say that we are all blessed if we pursue these different items he presented. Same word. In Mark 3, someone says, “Blessed are the breasts that nursed you and the one who brought you forth.” Jesus turns and says, “Blessed RATHER are those who hear my word and keep it.” So we all are blessed like Mary if we keep His Word.

      Her immaculate conception. Where is that in the Bible? She even says in Scripture, “God my savior.” She needed salvation just like everyone else.

      Her bodily assumption. Where is that in the Bible? Nowhere.

      Traditions are supported in Scripture when they are in harmony WITH THE BIBLE, NOT SIMPLY WITH CATHOLIC DOGMA (such as 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:5, and 1 Corinthians 11:2). Traditions are not supported when they go outside of Scripture and elevate the teachings of man that are not supported but added to Scripture (such as Mark 7:6-7 which quotes Isaiah 29:13).

      So the definition of tradition for Paul (who is really the only one I’m concerned about) is, revealed tradition that is in harmony with the Scriptures and not added on by man when those additions are not supported by Scripture but simply by other false teachers. If a tradition cannot be supported clearly and succinctly by Sacred Scripture, it should not be held as Sacred Tradition.

      As for Luther and Romans, certainly you have seen that Paul was painting the picture that NO ONE is righteous in and of themselves, for Romans 3 clearly states that all are subject to sin, both Jew and Gentile. Romans 1 dealt with the sin of the Gentiles, Romans 2 with the sins of the Jews, Romans 3 says, “There is none righteous, no not one; There is none that seeks after God” (Romans 3:9-10). So God has to impute a righteousness into us since we cannot fully keep his word. That was done through the atoning and propitiating work of Christ who absorbed God’s wrath that was due us and made us righteous through His justifying work. Romans 2 is showing that, yes, this is what God’s standard is but, no, no one can attain it.

      And those who reject this teaching of Scripture are then living their lives in hope that they can in their own power or even their cooperating power with God’s grace avert His wrath. But outside of Christ and Christ alone through faith alone, we are by nature objects of His wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3) and that it is by grace we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

    5. Matt,
      You say that traditions can only be valid if they are supported through Scripture. I say that Catholic teaching has always used Scripture to support its traditions.
      First let’s deal with the Immaculate Conception: “The Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instance of her conception was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin by a singular grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race.” The immunity from original sin was given to Mary through the same merits of Christ, by which other men are cleansed from sin by baptism. Mary needed the redeeming Savior to obtain this exemption, and to be delivered from original sin. The person of Mary, in consequence of her origin from Adam, should have been subject to sin, but, being the new Eve who was to be the mother of the new Adam, she was, by the eternal counsel of God and by the merits of Christ, exempted from original sin. So as you pointed out, Mary was right in claiming God as her savior, for indeed He was.

      “And coming in, he said to her, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28) This greeting describe Mary as having a unique abundance of grace, unlike any other human (not counting Jesus, of course) which can only be explained through an immaculate conception. This is not specific proof of the dogma of the immaculate conception, but is an illustration of it.

      It is interesting that Protestants would be fine with the concept that the body from which the flesh of the Son of God would be formed would belong to a sinner, a slave to the temptations of Satan. I find it more credible to describe Jesus as the New Covenant and Mary as the Ark of the Covenant.

      Now let’s go back to your argument against tradition, or what you continue to call the Catholic traditions of men. You misrepresent what Paul was telling the Thessalonians to do in 2 Thess. 2:15. He told them to hold to the tradition he taught them, whether orally OR by written letter. He didn’t say, “Hold to the traditions which you were taught by letter from us.” He specifically mentioned oral tradition. This squares perfectly with the Catholic concept of Sacred Tradition.
      You go on to say that traditions must be proven from scripture. Then please prove from scripture Matthew 2:23 – “But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Since the prophecy that “He shall be called a Nazarean” can be found nowhere in the Sciptures, this is clearly an oral tradition.
      We can argue even more simply in favor of tradition, for example:
      Who wrote what we call the Gospel of Matthew? How do you know this from Scripture?
      How were early Christians supposed to learn and live the Gospel if they didn’t have a canon of Scripute until the fourth century? Teachers could teach them from certain Pauline writings, as they did, but Christians also had the Gospel of Thomas, the Shepherd of Hermes and the Didache from which they could be taught. How were they to distinguish, from Scripture, what was orthodox and what was heretical? For that matter, why is Philemon more worthy of being included in the canon than is the Didache? Did Scripture say that the Didache wasn’t inspired? If you say that Philemon belongs because it was written by Paul, then I ask where is Paul’s letter to the Laodicians mentioned in Col 4:16? Why is that not in the canon? Remember, you must argue only from Scripture and not Tradition.

    6. Hail Mary, full of grace: Some versions translate this, Hail Mary, O favored one. Naturally, this would be right since God chose Mary and blessed her with the task of bearing the Christ-child. And God bestows His favor/grace on all those who trust in Christ’s work on the cross for their justification. It is an illustration of a doctrine/dogma that is found nowhere but in Catholic tradition that was found nowhere in the Apostles but was brought forth centuries later with Pope Pius IX in the 1800s!

      Secondly, sins are passed from one generation to another federally, that is through the federal head of men. This is why even though Eve sinned, Adam was considered the representative head of all those who sinned (Romans 5:12-21). So the basis of Christ’s sinlessness too is based on the Father. Mary served as a vessel to bring Christ in through the flesh (John 1:1, 14), God the Father served to be Christ’s Father and to preserve his holiness and sinfulness. It seems that this is a doctrine conjured up to try and preserve Christ’s sinless nature though borne of a woman. A nice sentiment, but not correct.

      Where did Paul’s “tradition” come from? His own head? No. Acts 20 shows that Paul spoke the whole counsel of God. What is that counsel? 2 Timothy 3:16-4:5 speaks of the authority of Scripture, where Paul tells Timothy to “Preach the Word.” That all Scripture is sufficient to make the man of God complete, not lacking anything (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If Scripture is sufficient to make the man of God complete, then why add all the other items that are not expressly represented in Scripture (such as Mariolatry, the RC priesthood and hierarchy, etc.)? If that is so very key, then why did not Christ and Paul and the other writers make it more plain. Protestants say Scripture is sufficient, it seems that Roman Catholics say the Church is sufficient and is the only one that may appropriately interpret Scripture.

      It seems as if the Church interprets Scripture for Roman Catholics. I hear one Roman Catholic say that we Protestants are crazy because we believe that the Church comes from the Scriptures when “of course the SCriptures come from the church!” Athanasius in 367 AD was the first theologian of the church to have the canon of Scripture. So what did the church do for those 300+ years? The Holy Spirit preserved His Word. Why did He not include the Didache and the Gospels of Thomas, Judas, and the Shepherd of Hermas? Don’t know! And it doesn’t matter. We believe that He preserved what He preserved because He preserved it!

      But God’s people never make God’s Word — God’s Word has always created from nothing and God’s Word always makes God’s people.

    7. What did Martin Luther have to say about the very doctrine we are debating, the Immaculate Conception?

      “It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin” (Sermon: “On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God,” 1527).

      “She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin- something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.” (Personal {“Little”} Prayer Book, 1522).

      Was Luther involved in the same “Mariolatry” you claim Catholics are?

      Hail, full of grace! This is taken from the Greek kecharitomene, which means “grace filled.” I would have to say there was something really, really special about Mary that God would choose her from all women throughout eternity to be the one in whose womb the second person of the Trinity would become man. Funny how when you drive down the streets of any small town in America, you will find Protestant churches named “St. John,” or “St. Mark,” or “St. Alban,” etc., but you will never see a Protestant church named “St. Mary.” Why is that?

      Just a final point about Mary and why we as Catholics accept her as our spiritual mother: If you read Matt. 27:55-56 you will notice the names of some of the women who where eyewitnesses to the crucifixion, “And there were there many women afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” You see that one of the women was the mother of John the disciple (the mother of the sons of Zebedee). However, in John 19:26 we hear Jesus tell John that Mary is his mother now, “When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he said to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.” Jesus told John, whose own mother was nearby, that Mary was his mother. What does this mean?
      As an aside; Why would Jesus turn His mother over to the care of a young man like John when she supposedly had so many other sons and daughters who should be responsible for caring for their mother?

      You state, “It seems that this is a doctrine conjured up to try and preserve Christ’s sinless nature though borne of a woman. A nice sentiment, but not correct.” The Catholic Church does not claim that Christ was sinless because Mary was sinless. We claim He was sinless because He was God.

      You state, “It is an illustration of a doctrine/dogma that is found nowhere but in Catholic tradition that was found nowhere in the Apostles but was brought forth centuries later with Pope Pius IX in the 1800s!” That is a major falacy that Protestants continue to make. You assume that a Pope just comes up with an idea like the Immaculate Conception and then one day declares it to be dogma. This never happens, as is illustrated below. You say the idea was brought forth in the 1800s. We already saw what Luther thought about the Immaculate Conception, well before the 1800s. The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia says:
      • The Fathers call Mary the tabernacle exempt from defilement and corruption (Hippolytus, “Ontt. in illud, Dominus pascit me”);
      • Origen calls her worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, most complete sanctity, perfect justice, neither deceived by the persuasion of the serpent, nor infected with his poisonous breathings (“Hom. i in diversa”);
      • Ambrose says she is incorrupt, a virgin immune through grace from every stain of sin (“Sermo xxii in Ps. cxviii);
      • Maximum of Turin calls her a dwelling fit for Christ, not because of her habit of body, but because of original grace (“Nom. viii de Natali Domini”);
      • Theodotus of Ancyra terms her a virgin innocent, without spot, void of culpability, holy in body and in soul, a lily springing among thorns, untaught the ills of Eve nor was there any communion in her of light with darkness, and, when not yet born, she was consecrated to God (“Orat. in S. Dei Genitr.”).
      • In refuting Pelagius St. Augustine declares that all the just have truly known of sin “except the Holy Virgin Mary, of whom, for the honour of the Lord, I will have no question whatever where sin is concerned” (De naturâ et gratiâ 36).
      • Mary was pledged to Christ (Peter Chrysologus, “Sermo cxl de Annunt. B.M.V.”);
      • it is evident and notorious that she was pure from eternity, exempt from every defect (Typicon S. Sabae);
      • she was formed without any stain (St. Proclus, “Laudatio in S. Dei Gen. ort.”, I, 3);
      • she was created in a condition more sublime and glorious than all other natures (Theodorus of Jerusalem in Mansi, XII, 1140);
      • when the Virgin Mother of God was to be born of Anne, nature did not dare to anticipate the germ of grace, but remained devoid of fruit (John Damascene, “Hom. i in B. V. Nativ.”, ii).

      These writings are way before the 1800s. And by the way, let’s see what Martin Luther had to say about Mary:

      “The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.” (Sermon, September 1, 1522).
      “[She is the] highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ . . . She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough.” (Sermon, Christmas, 1531).
      “No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity.” (Sermon, Feast of the Visitation, 1537).

      What would Luther think of the way Protestants ignore Mary today?

      Finally, since this post is already long, I must point out another major error in your statement. You said, “…Paul tells Timothy to “Preach the Word.” That all Scripture is sufficient to make the man of God complete, not lacking anything (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If Scripture is sufficient to make the man of God complete, then why add all the other items that are not expressly represented in Scripture (such as Mariolatry, the RC priesthood and hierarchy, etc.)?”
      Your problem lies in the fact that 2 Tim. 3:16 does not say that Scripture is SUFFICIENT. I can’t find a translation that uses that word. The most common translations, including the King James and the New American Standard say “profitable”: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” This does not mean sufficient. Something can be profitable for teaching without being sufficient.

      As to the rest of your point (why add all the other items that are not expressly represented in Scripture), such as “Mariolatry” (nice word, by the way) and the priesthood. I believe I covered why we venerate Mary. The priesthood was established by Christ at the last supper and we see the succession of priests in the selection of Matthias to replace Judas and in Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Tim 2:2, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Once again, these are not doctrines that the Catholic Church made up out of thin air. They have their origin in the Scriptures.
      Along these same lines, where in the Protestant world do we see any church following the prescription of James in James 5:14-15, “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” This is exactly what is done in the Catholic sacrament of Extreme Unction (the Sacrament of the Sick). Why don’t Protestants do this as James instructed?

      Sorry for being so long. I will try to be more concise next time.

    8. Dan:

      Thank you for those quotes by Martin Luther. Luther, as you well know, desired to reform the Church, not breakaway. Yet, even though he considered himself a “faithful son of the Church,” he was excommunicated and anathematized. So, no, I am not surprised by this quote from Luther. And, no, I do not agree with it. Just because Luther says it, doesn’t mean I agree with it because it is not expressly supported by Scripture.

      Mary being called “blessed” does not warrant such Mariolatry. Mary being called “full of grace” should not be blown up into making her into one who never faced death and never had original sin removed. The only One in Scripture with that designation of having no original sin was the Second Adam, Jesus Christ. If someone else possessed those traits that was born of a woman, the Apostles would certainly have been more blatant about it. But all of those descriptions given to Mary were spoken to other faithful ones as far as being blessed and being favored — this is the description of all true followers of Christ.

      For instance, Stephen is described thusly in Acts 6:8:

      “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people,” (Acts 6:8).

      Full of grace does not mean what your teachings proclaim:

      “…It was fitting that the mother of him in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” should herself be “full of grace.” She was, by sheer grace, conceived without sin…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 722).

      Why is Stephen not given the same status as Mary, since he is described in the same way?

      The problem is, the Church has used the Vulgate, a Latin translation, to come up with this doctrine, rather than the Greek. The Greek word is kexaritomena which means highly favored one, make accepted — not “plaras karitos” (full of grace) which is how the Latin fathers translated the Greek.

      Concerning Scripture. You are correct, the word sufficient is not used in 2 Timothy 3:16, but please move on to 2 Timothy 3:17: “… that the man of God may be perfect/complete/competent/mature, equipped for every good work.” The sufficiency of Scripture is outlined there that the man of God only needs Scripture to be equipped for every good work. We hold that the lens of Scripture and what is expressly condones determines what the church of Christ does, not the other way around. It seems that so many use the Church to determine what Scripture should say. So when Paul goes on in the next chapter of 2 Timothy 4, we are to “preach the Word,” with us understanding that the Word is Scripture and Scripture alone. (See Is The Bible Sufficient? by Matt Slick of CARM for a good response.)

      Concerning Pope Pius IX. It is certainly one thing for theologians of the Church to speak of these things concerning the issues of Mary — but when in 1854 a Pope who speaks ex cathedra about these issues that are not expressly condoned in Scripture and that means these are irrevocable and part of canon law, that is something far far different. It is a dangerous path to go.

      Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, you mention a lot of theologians — where in Scripture does it say that, like Christ, Mary knew no sin and that she was removed from all stain?

      More later.

    9. Matt,
      This is a Protestant predicament. You yourself point it out in this series of posts. In short, the predicament is Sola Scriptura, another doctrine taught nowhere in the Bible.

      The problem arises when it comes to interpretation. I can best describe this from your own post:
      You said, “What Luther did was actually go back to Scripture as a rule of faith. At the Diet of Worms, all he asked the church was to convince him from Scripture and clear reasoning that he was wrong, and he would recant it all.”
      Now you say, “Just because Luther says it, doesn’t mean I agree with it because it is not expressly supported by Scripture.”
      So your argument is circular – Luther demanded Scriptural evidence against his 95 theses at the Diet of Worms. Several years later he stated that Mary “is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin- something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.” Now you claim that Luther was being unscriptural in a major article of faith. So Luther is a heretic in your view.

      Do you see the problem with Sola Scriptura and the individual interpretation of Scripture? You claim that Luther was claiming something that cannot be found in the Bible, and yet Luther was among the original founders of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. On a matter as critical as whether or not Mary was conceived without sin, you say no, it is not Biblical, and Luther says yes. Both of you use the Bible as your ultimate and only authority, but not both can be right. That’s a big problem wouldn’t agree?

      I’ll get to your other points after your next post.

    10. Luther is not my standard — Scripture is. Where Luther is correct about an issue, I acknowledge it. Where he is incorrect, I attempt to expose that. Nothing circular about that. And at least we have the freedom as a “royal priesthood” as Christians to go to God in our liberty in Christ and go to Scripture in our liberty in Christ.

    11. Dan,

      I have read your responses to Bro. Matt, and I have likewise read Bro. Matt’s statements in response to you.

      I did notice one thing that you said among others that stuck out greatly to my eyes. You say, “That means that the Catholic Church, which has an unbroken line of apostolic succession, has the keys to the kingdom to let people in. They can forgive and bestow absolution.”

      Question – Why did Christ die for His elect upon the Cross of Calvary if all that was necessary to forgive sin was the creation of the Catholic Church?

      For Christ My King!

      Rev. Josh Buice
      http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com
      . . . . . . .
      http://www.ptdc.blogspot.com

    12. Dan,

      You say, These two verses alone give the Catholic Church the authority to interpret Scripture and define what is Sacred Tradition. Also remember that Paul told Timothy that it was the Church that was the “pillar and ground of truth,” in 1 Tim 3:15.

      I say —- Can you prove [through Holy Scripture] where the Catholic Church is mentioned as the authority? I see the word Church – which is the Greek word – “Ekklesia” – “Called out assembly.” Therefore, if anyone is called out of the world through the gospel – they are apart of the Church of Christ. Nowhere does it [Holy Writ] speak of these traditions and common practices of your Church.

      The Scripture does say —- Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

      Rev. Josh Buice

    13. Rev. Buice,
      This is not a quote of mine: “That means that the Catholic Church, which has an unbroken line of apostolic succession, has the keys to the kingdom to let people in. They can forgive and bestow absolution.” So I won’t argue in defense of it. I don’t think I would defend the keys in those words.

      If you want to argue Colossians 2:8 and what you interpret to be the “traditions of men,” I have already discussed this in previous postings. My main point is that Catholic tradition is NOT man made, but divinely inspired. Just ask Martin Luther vis a vis the Immaculate Conception. We use 2 Thess. 3:16 to defend Sacred Tradition.

      Can I prove that the Catholic Church is the authority? Certainly.

      You state, “I see the word Church – which is the Greek word – “Ekklesia” – “Called out assembly.” Therefore, if anyone is called out of the world through the gospel – they are apart of the Church of Christ.”
      As you know, the Catholic Church traces its origin to Matthew 16. That is to say, the Apostolic church was the Catholic Church. I know that the word “catholic” had as its definition “universal” during the early days of the Church, but the phrase “the Catholic Church” is found for the first time in the letter of St. Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, written about the year 110. The exact sentence is “Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be, even as where Jesus may be, there is the catholic Church (he katholike ekklesia).” As the years went on, this phrase became synonimous with the Christian Church.

      As for the authority of the Catholic Church, Jesus said in Matthew 18, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Notice He said “tell it to the church.” He didn’t say, “If he refuses to listen to them, point out from Scripture why he should.” After all Jesus had already given the power to bind and loose to Peter, the Kepha upon whom He would build his Church. He didn’t build His Church upon Scripture. The New Testament had not been written yet, and would not be available to Christians until hundreds of years later when the Roman Catholic Church, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, would decide and compile the books that would be the sacred canon. Clearly, someone had to make authoritative decisions for Christians before there was a complete Bible. That would be the apostles and their successors. (I have previously discussed Apostolic succession in these posts, but I will point out here how Iranaeus was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John who was a disciple of Jesus). I could go into the Fathers of the Church and how they appealed to the Bishop of Rome, but that’s a different debate.

      Matt,
      You said, “Luther is not my standard — Scripture is. Where Luther is correct about an issue, I acknowledge it. Where he is incorrect, I attempt to expose that. Nothing circular about that.”
      That is my point! You and Luther BOTH appeal to Scripture, yet on a major point of doctrine you DISAGREE. Who is right? How do you know?

      Catholics have the assurance of Jesus that He would be with us “even unto the end of the age,” and that He gave us the infallible Papacy when He told Peter that anything PETER bound would be bound in Heaven. We also have the infallible, inerrant Scriptures, which Luther credited the Catholic Church for giving Christianity. So we rest assured in the authority of the Church. Where is your assurance when you and Luther can’t even agree on something as important as the Immaculate Conception?

    14. We disagree on how he interpreted it (which is the same reason I disagree with you and Roman Catholic dogma) because he took two or three words/phrases and expanded it unduly. That’s the beauty with us Protestants — we have the freedom to look at the marvelous Word of God as found only in the Scriptures and sharpen one another.

      Plus, here is another issue. If the Immaculate Conception and all the other issues dealing with Mariolatry are so important and were so important in Christian life and faith, why is Mary only mentioned once (ONCE!) in the time after the Gospels, and that one time was when she was in Jerusalem with the other 120 praying in Acts 1. She is not mentioned in the rest of the 27 chapters, nowhere in Paul’s 13 epistles, nowhere in the three epistles of John, nor in Revelation, nor any of the other letters. If she really holds such a prominent place, why is there nothing written of her in the majority of the New Testament?

      The reason is because this is not only not a major doctrine, it is a contrived doctrine that only came on the scene centuries after. And even when she is mentioned, she is mentioned with terms that are applied to other Christians.

      As for Peter, God bases His church not on Peter, but upon Peter’s confession. Peter’s name means stone or little pebble, but what His confession was (“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”) was the Rock upon which the Church is built. And even Jesus said that this didn’t come from Peter, but from the One who revealed it to Peter as He reveals this to every other believer. Peter, I believe in his humble writings in 1 & 2 Peter, would be mortified to see that there is a denomination that places to much emphasis on him (as would Mary, I believe) rather than ALL the glory, all the salvific work, all the absolutive powers going to Christ and Christ alone.

      So again, these issues dealing with Mary are not a “major point of doctrine.” It is a contrived, man-made doctrine with no base but theological logic brought about centuries later and superimposed on the Scriptures.

      1 Timothy 2:5: “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”

    15. Matt,
      I see I’m not going to change your mind about Mary. So I will ask you to address two points I made earlier:
      First: If you read Matt. 27:55-56 you will notice the names of some of the women who where eyewitnesses to the crucifixion, “And there were there many women afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” You see that one of the women was the mother of John the disciple (the mother of the sons of Zebedee). However, in John 19:26 we hear Jesus tell John that Mary is his mother now, “When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he said to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.” Jesus told John, whose own mother was nearby, that Mary was his mother. What does this mean?
      As an aside; Why would Jesus turn His mother over to the care of a young man like John when she supposedly had so many other sons and daughters who should be responsible for caring for their mother?

      Second: Funny how when you drive down the streets of any small town in America, you will find Protestant churches named “St. John,” or “St. Mark,” or “St. Alban,” etc., but you will never see a Protestant church named “St. Mary.” Why is that?

      Catholics believe that Jesus perfectly obeyed the commandment “Honor thy Father and thy Mother.” As Jesus perfectly honored His mother Mary, so we too try to imitate Him in honoring her.

      In Catholic theology, Mary is always and only a pathway to Jesus. She is only human, not divine. No glory or praise is directed to her, but to her Son. But she is very special as I described earlier. We Catholics are not ashamed to be identified with our mother.

      You said, “As for Peter, God bases His church not on Peter, but upon Peter’s confession. Peter’s name means stone or little pebble, but what His confession was (“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”) was the Rock upon which the Church is built.”
      This interpretation makes a mess out of the words of Jesus, not only in Matthew 16, but in the Gospel of John as well. When Jesus first meets Simon the first thing He say to him is, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). (John 1:42). So here we have Jesus changing Simon’s name to Rock, a very odd name, indeed.
      Now let me try to figure out what you believe Jesus was telling the man He renamed “Rock” when He spoke directly to him in Matthew 16.
      “Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Rock, and upon this rock, which is the confession you made that I am the Messiah, I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
      This makes no sense. It would make more sense if Jesus had said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that upon the confession you made that I am the Messiah, I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
      It would be more clear had Jesus not mentioned the word “rock” at all. But He did, and for that reason we have to be clear on what and who is that rock.
      We see that Jesus changed Simon’s name to Cephas (or more precisely Kepha in Aramaic) in John 1:42. Why would He do this? It is precisely for this moment that Jesus gave him the name Kepha, so that it would be clear that upon this Kepha He would build His church.

      You said, “Peter, I believe in his humble writings in 1 & 2 Peter, would be mortified to see that there is a denomination that places to much emphasis on him…”
      The Catholic Church only gives Peter the respect afforded to him in Scripture. He is clearly the most prominent Apostle:
      “Now the names of the apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter…”(Matt.10:2) We know Peter wasn’t the first Apostle called to follow Christ, so why does Matthew name Peter as “the first?” In fact, when Scripture lists the apostles, Peter is always named first.
      Peter also speaks for the twelve on several occasions as he did in Matthew 15:15, 16:16, and 19:27, and John 6:69.
      Also please read Mark 16:7 where we see an angel give special emphasis to Peter by naming him apart from the other disciples.
      Paul tell us in 1 Cor. 15:5 that Jesus appeared to Peter (Paul calls him Cephas) before He appeared to the eleven other apostles.
      Finally, as Catholics we believe that Jesus gave Peter infallible authority to bind and loose in Matthew 16. He reiterated Peter’s authority over the Church in John 21:15-17 when He told him to feed His sheep and lambs. Only Peter was given this special role as shepherd of His entire flock.
      So Catholics are only giving Peter the honor and respect bestowed on Him by Christ.

      Lastly, you quoted 1 Tim 2:5. “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”
      If you interpret this verse the way I believe you do, I suggest you never ask anyone to pray for you, nor should you pray for anyone else. Perhaps you should check your interpretation of the word “mediator” in context of the verse following 2:5. You will see that Christ is the one and only mediator of redemption.

    16. Dan:

      With Matthew 27:55-56 and John 19:26-27, Jesus is merely making provision for his mom as the primary breadwinner. Joseph has not been on the scene for some time, and some speculate that he died (although this is not supported by Scripture, so I digress).

      So why not his older brothers? According to 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, James and Jesus’ other brothers were very unsympathetic to Jesus’ Messianic claims until after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. So for Mary as a regular human mom to call one of the children that came from her womb not only special, but the Messiah — in their eyes this was blasphemy.

      John 7:1-5
      After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. [2] Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. [3] So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. [4] For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” [5] For not even his brothers believed in him.

      Yet in James 1:1, we see the brother of our Lord believing. So it would be easier to deduce that his brothers had left the scene given what they believed were their mother’s and brother’s delusion — and also that Jesus as the breadwinner of the family was simply honoring his father and mother by taking care of his mother via John — than it is to say, “Well, since Jesus said, ‘John, behold YOUR mother,’ that must apply to everyone!” So that’s my answer to that point, though I doubt it will be satisfactory.

      As for Peter, Matthew 16 must be seen in the context of Matthew 18 where the church is seen as the one who is used by Christ to discipline sin.

      Matthew 18:15-17
      “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. [16] But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. [17] If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

      The Church is not the final arbitor of these things, but as are all of God’s people who are created by His Word, so too must the church remain within the confines of Scripture. The Apostles remained in the confines of Scripture — as opposed to the Pharisees who confined themselves to the Scriptures and their interpretations, soon elevating those interpretations to the level of Scripture.

      The Church merely reflects what has already happened in heaven. “Whatever you bind on earth SHALL HAVE BEEN BOUND in heaven… .” The church merely reflects what has already happened in heaven given the sovereignty of God. The Church reflects what God is already doing, for we are His body. The Church does not dictate to God what He should do. Peter spoke out, God used Him to show how he would use His church — not just Peter.

      As for the angel naming Peter apart from the others, the only reason he did that (and that is only in Mark) is because it was Peter who denied Christ three times (and this took place after he was called Rock). Mark served as the amanuensis for Peter, and Christ simply stated, “Peter, I know denied me — but I still have a work for you.” How one makes the leap from Peter being called out by the angel in one Gospel to making Him Pope is a stretch.

      Plus, yes, Peter was to feed His sheep — because Peter had to be restored for his rebellion in his three denials. So, he was told three times that he would feed His sheep after Peter confessed not his denial but his love for Jesus.

      All Christians and all churches are to feed His sheep, which Peter .. and Paul … and John … and James … and all the Apostles … and Barnabus … etc. In fact, Peter even blew it big-time in Galatians 2 and PAUL confronted PETER! If Peter had the same infallible authority as the Pope does now, Paul would have been severely out of line. But Peter was a servant of the church like Paul (and in fact, Peter was hardly mentioned after Acts 11-12). If he was truly the Head of the Church and not just another servant of the Church, he would have certainly been given a more prominent role. And the Epistles of Peter would not be stuck back in the New Testament so far! Peter was certainly a leader amongst the Apostles, but all of the Apostles are given equal status in this:

      Ephes. 2:20
      built on the foundation of the apostles [note: not just Peter, but all the apostles] and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…

      As far as 1 Timothy 2:5… there is a difference in asking someone to pray for me, and asking someone to be a qualified mediator. Christ is a mediator to helps resolve and reconcile a conflict or help ratify a covenant. In this way, Jesus is the only one who can restore and reconcile and make peace between a holy God and sinners like I am. There is a difference between asking someone to pray and someone to be a full-fledged mediator — and there is only One outlined in Scripture who can truly do that. So, again, I am not talking about an intercessor — but a true Mediator. He is Christ and Christ alone.

      More later.

    17. Dan,

      I do apologize for the incorrect quotation, and I understand if you do not want to defend another person’s words.

      In response to your statements about Catholic authority, I would ask this question —- Do you defend the killings of hundreds of thousands of Protestant men and women for rejecting the Catholic dogma? Is this part of the “authority” that you support?

      Rev. Josh Buice
      For the glory of Christ Jesus – apart from all religious practices!

    18. Rev. Buice,
      To throw out such inflammatory rhetoric is beneath the discussion on this blog. However, I would ask you to please cite the source of your statement.
      If you will not deal with the substance of my points there is no need to continue a discussion with you.

      Matt,
      You stated, In fact, Peter even blew it big-time in Galatians 2 and PAUL confronted PETER! If Peter had the same infallible authority as the Pope does now, Paul would have been severely out of line. But Peter was a servant of the church like Paul (and in fact, Peter was hardly mentioned after Acts 11-12). If he was truly the Head of the Church and not just another servant of the Church, he would have certainly been given a more prominent role. And the Epistles of Peter would not be stuck back in the New Testament so far!”

      Two quick points:
      1. Paul was right to confront Peter, but this matter was not a matter of faith and morals and did not reflect negatively in any way on Peter’s ability to infallibly teach on such matters. Catholics today are likewise free to criticize the Pope if we feel he is making a mistake in some way, such as his reluctance to deal with the so-called Catholic universities in the US. Where we cannot challenge him, and where Paul did not challenge Peter, is on matters of faith and morals.
      2. I do not believe that the placement of Peter’s Epistles after Paul’s in the Bible makes them any less important than Paul’s. By this logic, the Letter to Philemon would be more important than Revelation. Are you making that claim?

      More later.

    19. Dan:

      Peter’s thoughts on faith were exactly the problem Paul confronted — he removed himself from Gentile believers when Jews came on the scene. This was a theological and moral dilemma that was a huge stumbling block on both parts.

      Plus, with the council of Trent, the Pope and the dogmas of the church could not be challenged without an anathema being presented to them.

      Secondly, of course that’s not my claim — if it’s in the canon, it’s all Scripture. My claim is that if Peter were truly the visible head of the church, his epistles would not simply be grouped with other servants of God but would certainly have a more prominent role as would Mary if she was as exalted as RCs claim her to be, she would have been spoken of SOMETIME after Acts 1.

    20. Matt,
      You stated, “The Church merely reflects what has already happened in heaven. “Whatever you bind on earth SHALL HAVE BEEN BOUND in heaven… .” The church merely reflects what has already happened in heaven given the sovereignty of God.”

      Let me place the emphasis on the more correct word: “Whatever YOU bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven.” Jesus told Peter that whatever PETER binds or looses shall have been bound in heaven. This only gives more strength to the Catholic position. Since we will both agree that God does not lie, and we agree that Jesus told Peter that whatever he binds on earth God has already bound in heaven, and since Jesus said he would be with us until the end of the age and send us a paraclete to lead us in truth, we are assured that the Catholic Church cannot teach error in matters of faith and morals. Whatever the Pope binds has already been bound in Heaven.

      Your belief that Peter was making an error on a matter of faith is due to the Protestant misinterpretation of what Paul meant when he spoke of works of law and justification. You claim that Peter was wrong on a matter of faith because Paul said, “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” He said this while confronting Peter. This is a perfect chapter to use to explain what Paul meant when he spoke against those who think they can be justified by obeying the law. As we see in the previous verses, when Paul speaks of the law, he is speaking of Jewish customs, not the good works that Catholics speak of. In other words, those who think that God owes them salvation because they observe strict Jewish legal customs (circumcision, etc) will not be justified.
      So Paul was criticizing Peter for the hypocracy in his actions, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” Peter was never teaching that anyone who obeyed the Jewish law would be justified, nor would he as we read in Acts 15:7-11.

      You say, “Plus, with the council of Trent, the Pope and the dogmas of the church could not be challenged without an anathema being presented to them.” The dogmas of the church cannot be challenged by faithful Catholics. That is absolutely true. The Pope can be challenged otherwise. He is a man, after all, a sinner, and can be guilty of poor judgement. He is only protected from error in matters of faith and morals.

      In regard to your final point on Peter and Mary – Your arguments are from silence. You cannot say that just because they are spoken of less and less as Scripture goes on that their importance is likewise diminished. I could likewise say that since Paul is nowhere mentioned in the Gospels, and because Jesus spoke to him far less than he did Peter, Paul’s Epistles are less important than what Peter had to say. Of course, this is nonsense. The point is, you can’t make an argument from silence. Unfortunately, since all your arguments are made from the Sola Scriptura viewpoint, much of your arguments must come from silence – If it’s not in the Bible, it can’t be true. Even if the Bible itself never makes that claim.

    21. Matt,
      Thank you for letting me go on and on. I know I can be long-winded but I appreciate the opportunity to defend my faith, and to attempt to present a better picture to you of what the Church truly teaches. I hope I have provided a little clarity.

      Just to change the subject a bit, but still concerning the issue of the authority of the Catholic Church and Sola Scriptura: We both agree that every book of the New Testament is the inerrant, Holy Spirit-inspired Word of God. Can you tell me how those 27 books were gathered and compiled into one volume which we call the New Testament? Which men, guided by the Holy Spirit of course, were responsible for this? Would you call the Bible “a fallible collection of infallible books,” as R.C. Sproul does?

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