October 29, 2015

7 Problems With the Roman Catholic Mary

by Jordan Standridge

About 10 years ago I was walking around the Duomo of Milan and these ladies captured my attention as they were staring at this stained glass picture of Mary. Being spotted by one of the ladies she quickly came to me to hand me a rosary. As she tried to convince me to take it, I said that I only needed to pray to God and that I would not pray to Mary, her shock quickly turned to anger and she said “may Mary whip you with the seven whips of Satan!” As I booked it out of there I was wondering to myself first of all, why is Mary working with Satan? But second of all and more importantly, how in the world do you get to that point where one talks to Mary more than God? How do you get to the point where you pray 10 prayers to Mary for every prayer to God? Well in honor of the lady who cursed me that fateful day, here are 7 problems with the Roman Catholic Mary.

She’s the mother of God

495 Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before
the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”.144 In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. imagesHence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).145

In order to refute certain heresies that taught against the Hypostatic Union, the early Church named Mary the Theotokos (wrongly translated the mother of God, it actually means the God-bearer), not in order to raise Mary to a God-like level but rather to correct the heresy about Jesus.  Over time this developed into this strange idea that Mary was the spiritual mother of Human beings. As time went on, Mary received more and more honor to the point where the following statements about her began to appear. It’s fascinating how in order to protect the church from heresies about Christ, the Church unknowingly ended up creating one about Mary. Some say that when Constantine made all of Rome “Christian” the pagans now forced to be “christians” brought in several idols. One of these idols was the mother goddess. They say that they replaced the worship of the mother goddess with the worship of the Roman Catholic Mary.

 She is sinless

493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”.138 By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. CCC (The Catechism of the Catholic Church)

The Bible clearly states that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) Mary herself refers to her Son as her personal savior (Luke 1:47). 1 John 1:8 adds, “If any man says he has no sin he is a liar and the truth is not in him.” Mary was a sinner who needed to be born-again just like everyone else who has ever taken a breath. Claiming that somehow she was without sin leads us to have a view of her that is unhealthy. This is an example of adding to Scripture, we end up venerating her, looking up to her and this leads us into thinking that somehow she has grace to impart on us.

She ascended into heaven

974 The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body. CCC

I still remember talking to Mario who was sure that Mary was taken up into heaven somewhere in the book of Acts. The priest had told him this in order to reassure him of its truth. For some reason the Catholic church has deemed it necessary to invent the bodily assumption of Mary. Why is this so? Why would the Catholic church invent this? It is not found in Scripture it is passed down through tradition, and this is one reason protestants warn against elevating tradition to the same level as the Bible.

She’s the queen of heaven

966 “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her mary queenearthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” CCC

While I walked around the various churches in Rome it was quite surprising to see how much Mary was depicted, so it was quite evident that it was much more than veneration, it was downright worship, but I was brought to tears when I discovered a painting that resembled the one you see to the right. How in the world could they not see that crowning Mary the queen of heaven desecrates Christ? The crowning of Mary as queen of heaven is a key component of the RCC. It legitimizes their veneration of her and allows for all the prayers that are directed towards her. It’s interesting that Mohammed thought that the Christian Trinity was Father, Son and Mary because of the pagans influence on the Church as they began to make Mary more of an object of worship over the years. Ultimately human beings will be worshippers in heaven. God will share His glory with none of His Creation (Isaiah 42:8).

She’s a perpetual virgin

499 The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man.154 In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it.”155 And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin”.156 CCC

A simple reading of Scripture shows us that Mary was not a perpetual virgin. The fact that Matthew 1:25 tells us that Joseph didn’t have sexual relations with Mary until she bore Jesus clearly shows that when he was born they consummated the marriage. Matthew 12:46 shows us that Jesus had half-brothers and sisters. We know from church history that Jude and James were his brothers and both were writers of Scripture. The only reason this heresy entered the Church was to elevate Mary to a position of what the church perceives as purity.

She is a mediator

HAIL HOLY QUEEN, mother of mercy; our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. g-maria-medianera-originalTo thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen. (A prayer in the rosary)

The thinking is this, when a loving mother comes and asks you for a favor you will obey. When Mary told Jesus to help out at the wedding at Cana John 2:1-11 it is said that he simply could not refuse his sweet mother. And so we need a mediator between us and Christ in order to get Jesus to work on our behalf. The problem is that this contradicts Scripture and it is an invention of man. 1 Tim 2:5 clearly tells us that there is only one mediator and that is Christ himself. Jesus is our mediator (Rom 8:34, Heb 7:24-26), life (John 14:6), hope (1 Peter 1:3), He willingly gave up His life for His sheep, He needs no motherly convincing, He is all we need. Mary would cry if she could hear prayers like these.

She can do miracles (apparitions)

It doesn’t take a doctorate in Roman Catholic studies to know that Mary has been credited with several apparitions/miracles. When Mary is exalted to such a high position, it becomes inevitable that people will claim to have seen her. We have seen this with the heavenly tourism books. The difference is that The Roman Catholic Church has a system in place where they have accepted these apparitions as genuine miracles. While they don’t “force” catholics to believe in “these miracles” they have approved some “private revelations” as authentic.

While the Catholic Church goes out of it’s way to say that you need not believe in the apparitions in order to be a catholic, they contradict themselves when they approve of them and call them authentic. Mary does not work in this life. We cannot pray to her, she has no power, and she is definitely not appearing to men, especially since it causes men to give glory to Mary rather than the trinity. A case in point is when Pope John Paul II was shot and survived, he gave all the glory to Mary.

The Outcome: The Roman Catholic Mary minimizes Christ

As we’ve seen in the post “Evangelicals and Catholics cannot be together” if you elevate tradition to the same level of Scripture it is inevitable for Scripture to be twisted and minimized. In the same way, if you elevate a human being to a level in which they don’t belong it causes Christ to lose significance to the point where he becomes a different Christ. By exalting Mary in this way it is minimizing the uniqueness of Christ. He was the only one completely pure, without sin, who ascended to Heaven, who intercedes for us, who is the way the truth and the life, who gives abundant grace, who is actively at work in our lives and who is royalty in Heaven. His work on the cross was sufficient to save a soul instantly, and therefore does not need “help” from the saints or His mother to help accomplish our redemption.

If you are Catholic and by some miracle are still reading this I beg you to think about this. Think about the pharisees who had perverted God’s religion to the point where they were babbling prayers (Matt 6:7) valuing tradition above Christ (Col 2:8) and trusting in their works for salvation (Luke 18:9-14). Please ask your self if this is not what Rome has done as well? It is no different than every other religion that exalts man to the point where he is able to contribute to their salvation based on their performance. I beg you to stop trusting in man made rules and other humans and instead trust in Jesus alone whose resume is perfect and who’s once for all death on the cross completely satisfied God’s wrath.

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is also the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion. You can find his personal blog at surrender.us.
  • Thank you Jordan for doing a pretty good job stating the Catholic dogmas on Mary.
    Of course there were some problems with your conclusions especially about minimizing Christ. This conclusion completely misses the point of every Marian dogma. Also Mary or any other Saint for that matter do not do miracles. Miracles are done only by God. Speaking of miracles. Where are they in Protestant world?

    Also to be remembered that early reformers were not as terrified of our Blessed mother as the modern Protestants.

    • jeff

      I have noticed that you have posted extensively here and on yesterday’s article too. Though I haven’t read all of your posts, you seem to think the Protestant Reformation was based on a misunderstanding of what the RCC teaches. You do know that Luther and many other Reformers were priests right? Also the issue is authority. Is it sola ecclesia or sola scriptura? How do you know which one to choose? How do you know your “church” is the right one? Isaiah 8:20 – To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Anyhow I don’t care to argue with you here(and so I will not be responding) but to direct you to some resources that could be helpful. Here are some links: http://www.amazon.com/Roman-Catholic-Controversy-James-White/dp/1556618190/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1446149941&sr=1-3&keywords=james+r.+white

  • Chuck Haddon

    Excellent article, Jordan.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks Chuck!

  • Since you will Celebrate the Reformation Day in few days lets all remember what your Reformation Heroes said about Our Blessed Mother:

    From the mouth of Luther himself:

    God did not derive his divinity from Mary; but it does not follow that it is therefore wrong to say that God was born of Mary, that God is Mary’s Son, and that Mary is God’s mother…She is the true mother of God and bearer of God…Mary suckled God, rocked God to sleep, prepared broth and soup for God, etc. For God and man are one person, one Christ, one Son, one Jesus. not two Christs. . .just as your son is not two sons…even though he has two natures, body and soul, the body from you, the soul from God alone. (On the Councils and the Church, 1539).

    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).

    There can he no doubt that the Virgin Mary is in heaven. How it happened we do not know. And since the Holy Spirit has told us nothing about it, we can make of it no article of faith… It is enough to know that she lives in Christ.

    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).

    For ONCE I agree with Luther.

    • Rachel

      Reformation Day is nothing official, there are no feasts for the reformers. Secondly Protestants nor Evangelicals worship the reformers, we do not believe they nor any man is infallible, we direct our thanks to God for using sinful men to recover, fight for and hold to the Biblical Gospel and Scripture Alone as God’s Word and final authority. Im sure if you dig deep enough there is plenty the reformers said, remnants of Rome still embedded in their theology that Protestants nor Evangelicals would agree with Biblically, but again they are not our authority Scripture is and therefore the reformers would stand corrected as would we If we strayed from, added to or took away from what Scripture teaches in favor or our own man-made doctrines, would Rome?

      • So you believe that your interpretation of scripture is the only infallible interpretation? All others are wrong except for your own? Funny that’s exactly what the early Reformers thought too!

        • Jason

          I don’t see anywhere where Rachel says her interpretation is perfect. However, I do see where she points out that if we stray from what the scriptures teach us, we too should be corrected.

          Edification is the responsibility of the whole church. We are all called, in the body of believers, to exercise the gifts we are given to build one another up. No man is above reproach and believers are all to work together in the same Spirit of truth to weed out all those false doctrines.

          Every believer starts out in a place where we hold few convictions other than what we were taught by other men or experiences in our own lives, and were, therefore, carried around by every wind of doctrine. However, as the body speaks the truth to each other in love, we grow up into Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).

          • It still boiles down to your interpretation of scripture is correct. Any appeal to scripture is an appeal to your interpretation of scripture.

          • Jason

            Any understanding (of scripture, tradition, history, etc…) is dependent upon interpretation, but that’s not the issue.

            The issue is who is doing the interpreting. The Holy Spirit resides in every believer (Romans 8:9). We can either submit to the understanding of another(perhaps on the assumption that he better receives the council of God), ourselves, or to God himself and cut out all the assumptions.

            Realistically, no man’s interpretation of scripture is 100% correct, because we all let ourselves and others speak over the guidance of the Spirit on occasion, but he is still in every believer offering council.

            Ultimately, just like everything else that matters, it comes down to faith. We either trust the Spirit of truth or we do not. Many do not, and even some of those who have the soundest of doctrine only do because they place their faith in other men who do submit to God and not because they actually submit to God.

            It took a long time for me to get here, as I resisted this understanding for the sake of “reason” for a long time, concerned that if we just trust the Spirit to guide people that everyone would come to their own conclusions. I realize now I’d made an idol of human understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

            However, the more I studied Christian unity in the scriptures the more I was convinced that real unity is only found when the head of the church is Christ and we all submit to his guidance together.

          • You mean like submitting to Christ and his authority which he left in his church? Which is what Protestants specifically rejected and judged the church based on their own interpretation of scripture instead of the opposite?

          • Jason

            Submitting our lives to Christ through service to the assembly of believers is certainly part of living by faith, but I was talking more specifically within the context of submitting to the understanding given by the Spirit instead of depending on the understanding of man.

            There have always been many false prophets who have gone out into the world and had infiltrated the church from the beginning (2 Peter 2:1). We are all called to test the spirits to avoid those false prophets (1 John 4:1) which means that from the beginning the real church has had to separate themselves from others who also claim to be the church. An appeal to pedigree is irrelevant given the history as recorded in scripture.

            All I have is the conviction God has given me. If you say the same than all I ask is that you test the spirits behind the institution you follow.

          • I did test the spirit, that’s why I’m Catholic.

          • John Byde

            I don’t see any logic in your arguments, Matthew. You keep on picking on people for “their” interprétations of scripture. Protestants rejected “papal authority” and heretical tradition and returned to the only source we have: the bible.

          • Lorna Drews

            realize that there is Human , Holy and evil spirit. yes we are the temple of the holy spirit but you cant define between your human or holy or unknown spirit. be careful of human wisdom its separate from holy spirit. we don’t put our faith in men only to God . do not assume. Bible said wisdom of man is foolishness to God.

          • John Byde

            No, Matthew, it’s an appeal to scripture itself, not a personal interpretation. Scripture is the only guide we have to the life, works and mission of Jesus. Traditions are only correct if they adhere to and glorify scripture.

          • Rachel

            You are correct I did not say that. You read and so then heard what I said exegetically instead of eisegetically, because you were looking to understand what was being said.
            😉

        • John Byde

          Not “our” interpretation of scripture, but “the interpretation of scripture” is what counts. The RCC doesn’t even get close to a valid interpretation on most of the major tenets of Christianity. How can an interpretation of scripture lead us to purgatory, Mary’s assumption, indulgences?

      • You are essentially saying that as long as Reformers agree with you they are correct. Otherwise they are wrong? How interesting.

        • Rachel

          I’m not going to dispute with you about something I did Not say nor did you actually read. You should make however many attempts necessary to hear what I did say and not err by interpreting what you wanted to hear.

          What I said does not require interpretation, it means exactly what it said.

  • Rachel

    I do find it interesting how the RCC refers to Mary as “Queen of Heaven”, and how the children of Israel sacraficed and burnt offerings to the queen of heaven…and God slew them for their idolatry. This again is the result of Sola Ecclesia instead of Sola Scriptura, the RCC says to believe what the RCC says to believe because the RCC says to believe what the RCC says to believe..

    Jeremiah 44:24 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including all the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all Judah who are in the land of Egypt, 25 thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, as follows: ‘As for you and your wives, you have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled it with your hands, saying, “We will certainly perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.” Go ahead and confirm your vows, and certainly perform your vows!’ 26 Nevertheless hear the word of the Lord, all Judah who are living in the land of Egypt, ‘Behold, I have sworn by My great name,’ says the Lord, ‘never shall My name be invoked again by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, “As the Lord God lives.”

    27 Behold, I am watching over them for harm and not for good, and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt will meet their end by the sword and by famine until they are completely gone.

    See also Jeremiah 7

    • Hmm Rev 11:19 – 12:5 A woman clothed with a sun. With a crown on her head. Giving birth to JESUS. How many women gave birth to Jesus? Mary is the Arc of the Covenant (carried the Word Of God in her just like the old testament prototype) She is the Mother of the King of Kings (What do we call a mother of a King?) No Catholic can give Mary more honor then God gave her by choosing her and only her out of all the women that ever lived to be the Mother of God.

      • Jane Hildebrand

        Matthew, the woman clothed with the sun in Revelation represented Israel from whom Jesus came. Notice the twelve stars on her head corresponding to the twelve tribes. Cross reference Genesis 37:10

        But that aside, please consider Jordan’s point that if Mary was to be elevated to the point that catholicism has elevated her, wouldn’t the apostles or even Christ himself mentioned that?

        Instead, consider that in Mark chapter 3 we see an account of where a crowd had gathered and Jesus mother and brothers came to take charge of him because they said, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). (Yes, Mary was in that group.) When Jesus was told that they were outside looking for him, Jesus looked at those seated around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does Gods will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:34,35).

        At another point, Luke 11:27 records where a woman called out saying to Jesus, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you,” to which Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

        Now think about that. Why would Jesus ever say those things if Mary was who catholicism claims she is? This is where your tradition must be weighed in light of scripture.

        • Jason

          Great reminder Jane!

          There are other verses that speak of Israel birthing the Messiah of the world, but Genesis 37:9 is the direct parallel to the imagery used in Revelation.

        • Yes absolutely. But the passage has multiple meanings. It also symbolizes Mary. Who actually gave birth to Jesus. She is also the actual arc of the covenant like Revelations speaks.

          How much more can you elevate her then to make her the Mother of God! And scriptures clearly does that. God elevates her not the Church.

          Mark 3:34, Luke 11:27 don’t exclude Mary. If anything she is the model of faith and obedience to God.

          Mary herself said the all generations will call her Blessed.

          On the cross Jesus gives his Mother to the disiple John. Woman behold your son. To the disiple he said behold your Mothet! All this pitting Jesus against Mary is a new Protestant invention unknown even in your founders of Protestantism

          Also Mary was completely part of the early Church. How else would the gospel writers get all the details about Jesus’s birth and childhood!

          It is also worth nothing that since John wrote Revelation he knew Mary more intimately then anyone else. He took care of her! It is no wonder he presents her so beautifully in Revelation. In Mary the whole Israel finds fulfillment. She gives us Jesus.

          Plus I’m not bound by your man made doctrine of sola scriptura. So I can look at earliest Christians and see how they viewed our Blessed Mother.

          Protestantism continues to strip away everything Christian in the name of man made tradition of sola scriptura.

          • Jordan Standridge

            Praise God you see this Matthew! It does come down to our view of scripture. We are bound to believe what scripture says about itself. We don’t get to add to it or take away from it. The beauty of it all is that the Holy Spirit working in the heart of a born again evangelical Christian (even if that individual is uneducated) can help him understand God better than the most highly educated Pope. We reject man made traditions that alter what the Bible says about God.

          • I know, it just happens to be that this doctrine of sola scriptura is a man made tradition.

          • Jordan Standridge

            Matthew it is an interpretation of what scripture says about itself. All of the Sola’s of the reformation were not man made traditions (I think you need to go look up the definitions of those words) they are interpretations of what Scripture says. Friend I have tried to reach out to you in private, and many on the blog have tried our best to help you understand, you know where our differences are, now it’s up to you to decide if you are going to trust in yourself, in popes and tradition or whether you will trust Jesus alone.

          • I trust Jesus and his Authority that he gave to His Church. You trust yourself. Sola Scriptura does not work. I will paste this from a comment that was deleted in another post:

            Once Protestantism unites in one faith in matters of doctrine and morals and church practices I would take your statement seriously. I believe you have some work to do there. Your gospel contradicts another Protestants gospel. Get your own house in order first. There are 9 bible churches in 2 blocks near my house. All preaching different things. You all claim to be lead by the spirit. The Spirit unites. Protestantism divides. Therefore it is not of the Holy Spirit.

            I don’t accept your authority. I don’t accept your interpretation of scripture. Sola scriptura is the biggest failure in the history of man made doctrine. It is self refuting and completely illogical and to any observer of reality of Protestantism it is completely unworkable.

            I accept only the Church Christ started and the church he gave his authority to and that my friend is not you. I trust Jesus, you trust yourself in the end.

          • Matt Mumma

            That is quite the claim to know the hearts of men by saying that Jordan and others trust in themselves.

          • Trusting your own interpretation of the bible which is then varified against your own interpretation of the bible is indeed trusting in yourself. I don’t have to know his heart to know that. Nor do I claim too. It’s just what sola scriptura boiles down too.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Matthew, we actually trust in the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the Bible, not our own. That is not arrogance, but faith in what Jesus promised us. Listen to what He said;

            Jesus said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said.” ‎(John 14:26)

            “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true–it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” (1 John 2:27)

            Those verses are not reserved for catholic authority as they would have you to believe.

            Now I know your rebuttal will be, then why are protestants not always united? But again, unity is by the Spirit. Does every Protestant have this Spirit? No. But those who do are the true church of Christ, not bound by rituals or buildings or any human authority. If that were the case I could have stayed a Jehovah’s Witness whose organization pumped out the same information and ritual to every Kingdom Hall in the world from the same self-proclaimed authority, all the while bragging that their unity was evidence of them being the one chosen church of God. Sound familiar?

            Matthew, have you ever truly asked the Holy Spirit to teach you? Do you even believe that He would?

          • You are assuming I don’t have a Holy Spirit guiding me when I read the bible. I do. And the bible is as Catholic as the Pope.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Why would the Holy Spirit guide you when you believe that the magisterium has the sole authority to interpret scripture? Really, what’s the point? If you have questions you are directed to catholic websites or to your priest, never to pray and ask God for help like James directed us to do. You’ll never hear a priest tell you to ask God for wisdom! That would require faith in God, not man.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            You’re right, I do assume that because as long as you believe that the magisterium holds the sole authority to interpret the scriptures, you have no need for the Holy Spirit to teach or guide you. You have relegated that to the magisterium vs. the Holy Spirit.

            And before you defend their authority from their own tradition, show me from the Bible where Jesus or the apostles tell us that interpretation is limited to a few.

          • To you its magisterium vs Holy Spirit. What it actually is Magisterium guided by the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus vs your own interpretation of scriptures which has no protection against errors.

            You can interpret all you want as long as you don’t contradict what the authoritative interpreter that Jesus gave us says. Reading the bible is one of my favorite things to do. Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ, as Saint Jerome said. After all “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be equipped, prepared for every good work”

            And quoting Cardinal Newman: “It is quite evident that this passage furnishes no argument whatever that the sacred Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for, although sacred Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still it is not said to be sufficient. The Apostle [Paul] requires the aid of Tradition (2 Thess. 2:15).

          • Karl Heitman

            “…for every good work.” What does “every” mean?

          • Alex

            I think that we must take seriously the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2, that believers being indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God are capable of appraising spiritual things.

            The trouble with elevating a magesterium approach to interpreting the Scripture, over trusting in the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit on an individual basis, is two-fold. First, the trustworthiness of the interpretation could never exceed the trustworthiness of the men doing the interpretation, if they exist as the ultimate authority. Second, it is not the example given in Scripture for how to determine theological validity of any given proposition.

            Fallen, sinful human being are prone to err. It’s what we do, and all of us do it. Be it Israelite kings, Jewish sanhedrins, Catholic synods, or Protestant denominations, given time and opportunity, human agencies will err in interpreting Scripture. The only possible protection would be a supernatural infallibility. Sadly, the papacy has not shown itself to have enjoyed such infallibility, despite papal bulls to the contrary. (For reference, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_John_XII, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Alexander_VI, et al).

            In light of the propensity of man to introduce inaccurate interpretation, believers are called frequently to weigh for themselves the trustworthiness of teaching against the testimony of Scripture. (For reference, the Bereans in Acts 17:11, “testing the spirits 1 John 4:1, the ability of God’s word to discern between false and true teachers 2 Peter 1:19-3:2).

            But while the Bible contains infallible, eternal truth, the ability to rightly discern it is only possible through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, given to believers through faith in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 2:10-15, 2 Cor 3:14).

            What sola scriptura “boils down to” is trusting that God will fulfill His promise to reveal Himself through His word as attested to and confirmed by His Holy Spirit who illuminates that revelation in the minds of believers, and furthermore, that this revelation and Holy Spirit are the ultimate authority of truth on earth.

          • Yeah sounds great in theory. In practice you have thousands of denominations. Plus you are completely ignoring how Jesus actually set up his Church.

            It’s a very attractive doctrine it makes leaving Christ’s church very easy. Simply come up with your interpretation and judge the church based on that. And presume it’s the Holy Spirit taking. That is how every single herecy starts.

          • Alex

            Sounds good in theory; is good in practice. Doesn’t Romans 14:5 explicitly state that there will be differences in practice as each believer’s conscience is guided by the Holy Spirit? It’s almost as if Paul has expressed that the individual believer’s conscience (informed by Scripture, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and attuned through Christian fellowship) should serve as the rudder to their Christian life. Which would make sense if God the Father had sent the Helper to guide His children into all truth (John 14:26).

            I have a legitimate question, hypothetically, how would one know if the Roman Catholic Church had incorrectly interpreted Scripture? (I recognize your faith is predicated upon the belief that Christ superintends the infallibility of the spiritual successors to the apostles, but let us ask ourselves the question anyway.). Afterall, we are told that false teachers will arise and try to deceive believers. What is the metric Jesus Himself gives for making the determination?

          • It is obvious how it is done. There were times in history where Catholic clerics/bishops tough heresy. (Luther being one example) The church deals with it by Church Councils as is evident from the bible and history of the Church. The councils are called precisely because bible alone is not enough. The teaching of the heretics is compared to the faith of the apostles as preach everywhere from the beginning of Church history and the heretics are judged based on that. A creed is then produced which clarifies the issues in question. Note that creeds always go above scriptures in the explanation of the faith because the scriptures are not always clear, hence heretics arise who twits the words of scripture to their liking.

          • To address your differences in practice section. This is not what Protestants have. Protestants have differences in faith. Paul is clear that we should be united in faith. Ephesians 4:13.

            The Catholic Church has both. Great diversity in practice! There are 21 Catholic Churches, not Roman, with their own expressions and beautiful liturgies. All united in faith. Even in the Latin (Roman) Church there is great diversity of spirituality, but ALWAYS unity in faith. Jesus prayed that they may all be ONE.

            Protestantism is the exact opposite. Nothing but division.

          • jeff

            Do you trust the choice you made about the “church” you attend? Aren’t you trusting in yourself?

          • Joshua Frederico

            Pardon my naïveté, but this sparks some curiosity on my part.

            First, I can’t help but wonder how you know Christ started what you or Protestants are calling the “church”? I had always come to this conclusion based on Scripture – the authority God left on earth – but since you apparently have no confidence in the sufficiency/trustworthiness of Scripture, how is it you came to that conclusion?

            Second, (similar to the first), how do you know Jesus (or even know He existed/exists) since the Scripture is not your authority (I assume this is your position, since you clarified that “Sola scriptura is the biggest failure in the history of man made doctrine” and, in contrast, “I accept only the Church Christ started and the church he gave his authority to..”)? Is this, perhaps, a tradition you heard about? By extension, how is it you know that Christ started the Church outside of Scripture?

            Thirdly, you seem to have an aversion to “man made traditions”, given that you applied that term to Sola Scriptura in attempt to dismiss the doctrine. If, then, the sufficiency of Scripture is a man made tradition, and thus we need not bother trusting it alone, what else is left? Are you aware of some other trustworthy reference point which is not a man made tradition? If you say “the Church”, I again wonder how you have any confidence in a “Church” when you don’t appear to have confidence in the Scripture that taught about the Church in the first place?

            Fourth, if a person truly trusted Jesus as you claim to do, wouldn’t he or she be obligated to trust His word? Did He, maybe, mess up?

          • To your first point. God did not leave the scriptures as the authority. He left His Church. Matthew 28:16. I have trust in Scriptures. I have no trust in Protestant interpretation of scriptures because protestants have no authority to interpret scriptures. They are not from the apostles or their successors. Matt 28:16 again.

            To your second point. Just like you learned about Jesus from scriptures. I learned about Jesus from the Church He started and gave his authority too. I was nurtured by scripture in this Church since childhood and fell in love with everything to do with Jesus. Learning about Jesus from scriptures only is a new invention. This would be impossible for about 75% of the history of Christianity since bibles were so rare and majority of people were illiterate. Christianity was ALWAYS passed on by the Church. The people heard the scriptures in the context of the liturgy, the settings for which the scriptures are made.

            To your third point. The bible is materially sufficient. It however needs a authoritative interpreter. It’s a good thing that is exactly what Jesus left us in His Church. Without that you have Protestantism which is chaos. Everyone inventing their own Jesus. (Jehovah’s witnesses, oneness Pentecostals etc… )

            To your fourth point. I am a Catholic because I trust Jesus. If you claim to trust Jesus why are you not in the Church he started?

          • 4Commencefiring4

            According to you and the RCC, Peter was the Apostle to whom Christ left the keys to the Kingdom; was the “rock” upon whom the church would be built; and hence “his church” was–and is–the true one. So Peter, as the first “Pope”, or human authority from Christ, would have been the true interpreter of God’s word…and on down the line until today.

            Am I right so far?

            So Peter’s understanding of God’s revealed will would therefore be expected to be without error, and his successors equally dependable. This is the whole object of the exercise and the whole claim of the RCC.

            Am I right so far?

            Then what do you have to say regarding Paul’s upbraiding of Peter–the foundation of the true church and rock upon which it is built–in Gal. 2:11? Paul stood up to Peter and “opposed him to his face because he stood condemned” regarding Peter’s understanding the place of Jewish law under the New Covenant. Sounds to me as though the “foundation” had cracks, right from the jump.

            Unless, of course, Christ Himself was the Rock, the True Foundation and Cornerstone, and not a mortal man like Peter.

          • You were not right in your first paragraph and just continued to get thing more wrong from there. I encourage you to actually read what the church teaches on the papacy and the church so you don’t make silly errors.

            It is not me and the Catholic Chuch that claims Peter got the keys to the kingdom it was the bible.

            Your second point is also incorrect and not what the Chuch teaches.

            The fact that Peter was a sinner is pretty obvious. We don’t depend on peters or any popes holiness to trust Jesus. We depend on the promises of Jesus to guard his Church.

            The scriptures are clear who/what the Rock on which Christ’s church is build. It is Christ himself. It is Petres confession of faith and it is Peter himself. The Chuch is build on the foundation of the apostles. Like the bible says.

            Protestantism is build on sand.

          • Reuben

            “It is not me and the Catholic Chuch that claims Peter got the keys to the kingdom it was the bible.”-but according to you and RC tradition, the RC Church gave us the bible.

            FYI, I’m not pointing out your inconsistency. This post is pointing out your inconsistency.

          • Alright, fair point. Let me restate that.
            It is not me and the catholic church that claim Peter got the Keys to the kingdom, it was Jesus, the church and the bible.

          • Reuben

            How do we know what Jesus said? The bible. How do we know what the bible says? The Church.

            Therefore, it can be reasoned that we can trust the RC Church, because the RC Church says so.

          • Catholic Version: Christianity is a faith based on a historical event. One can use the bible as a historical book to find out about Jesus. Once one is convinced to the historical claims about Jesus one seeks the Church that he started. Historically that is the catholic church. Once you find the Church you accept or deny its authority. I accpet its authority. The church says that the bible is the Word of God in a written form. Trusting the Church you trust the bible. Trusting the bible you learn about Jesus more and more.

            Protestant version: Listen to this book, don’t worry about how it got here, who put it together, why these books or no other, why reformers removed some books, why was it put together, what context it was put together, just read it and believe that your interpretation of it is of the Holy Spirit.

          • Reuben

            It’s interesting that you get upset with straw man arguments about the RC Church, and then set up a straw man for the Protestant view.

            Humor me for a moment: grant me the possibility of the RC Church being corruptible. How would one determine if it was indeed corrupt?

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Matthew, do you hear what you’re saying? You’re saying that catholicism is simply an intellectual assent to a historical event, a historical book and then complete submission to church authority. How tragically sterile and joyless that must be. You made no mention of personal faith, the comfort of the indwelling Spirit or the indescribable joy which are hallmarks of the born again believer.

            But you are right in the protestant version in that we do listen to the Bible. It is precious to us because within its pages are recorded the voice of our Shepherd. And we recognize that voice and follow it through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot explain intellectually the love He has poured into our hearts, because it was nothing we expected or deserved. It was a gift that we stand in awe of by faith, and that without buildings or rituals.

            Please know that I’m still praying that God opens your heart to that joy when you least deserve it.

          • Jane, you constantly make assumptions about me. You constantly pretend to know what is in my heart. I’m on a Protestant forum answering a question. My acceptance of Christ’s Church is in obedience to Jesus my Lord.

            I can say the same thing about Protestantism. How incredibly unfulfilled it must be. How little of the gift’s of God you are getting. How many graces you are missing out on. You can’t even imagine what it is like to be with the Lord. To know he is there. To eat his flesh. To drink his blood. To be filled with Him. Explaining Catholicism to a Protestant is like trying to explain sunlight to a blind person.

            There is that better?

          • Jordan Standridge

            No that’s not better you need to stop being condescending.

          • Joshua Frederico

            First, I am not quite certain how Matthew 28:16 pertains to the authority of the Scripture or the Church. Perhaps you could clarify that point?

            Second, you harken to “the Church” as the source of the

          • Charles Frederico Jr

            Would you say that your authoritative interpreter of the scripture is inerrant and completely consistent? What happens
            When your sole interpreter directly contradicts the words on the page? Or is that even possible?

            It seems to me that the Roman church has been inconsistent with both itself, the Bible, and may I even suggest science also (you know the whole Galileo incident. The church came to the conclusions that it did in that incident independent of what the Bible actually said). I would say that the problem of inconsistency lies worse in the Catholic Church than Protestantism for you claim that you are THE sole interpreter of the Scriptures. Councils and popes contradict themselves as well as the Bible! If the Catholic Church was the sole interpreter then the Scriptures ought to be full of contradictions. No sane evangelical would claim the be the sole interpreter of the Bible.

            You are right, there many people inventing their own Jesus. That type of apostasy was prophesied of in the NT. But why run to an institution that also invented their own Jesus to escape from everybody else’s?

            Also, I would have to say that historically the Roman church has been extremely cruel (which is an example of inconsistency with itself for the Catholic Church today is denouncing the death sentence and is gaining an ecumenical flavor). That cruelty is something that makes me weary of the legitimacy of the Catholic Church. Cruelty has dominated the Catholic Church for most of its history. How is that Christ like? Who is that like? Is it relevant (and maybe it is not) that the first leader of unified Italy who could get along with the pope was Benito Mussolini?

            As far as illiteracy of the common people throughout history, may I suggest that it was exploited by the Catholic Church? Illiteracy allowed the higher ups to have a monopoly on Bible interpretation.

            The earliest church fathers all held to sola scriptura. There was no oral tradition passed down from the apostles to them. The Traditions of the Apostles can go by another name and that is the New Testament.

            My last point is this. The people do not hear the Scriptures from the church. The people of God are the Church!

          • Joshua Frederico

            First, I’m really not sure what Matthew 28:16 has to do with the authority of the Scripture or of the Church. Perhaps you could explain?

            Second, I again appeal to your aversion to man made traditions. If what you believe about Jesus is not purely from Scripture, even if repeated by a fellow human, then have you ever wondered if you’re simply receiving another sanctified man-made tradition?

            And, just to clarify, I assume that by “church” you are not referring to the regenerate body of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, but the leaders in the formal RCC?

            Thirdly, have you ever considered the possibility of an inaccurate interpretation? Unless all interpretations are created equal, then some must be demonstratively wrong. Thus, the problem lies not in that there are a lot of different interpreters, but in the accuracy/inaccuracy of these various interpreters. The solution is not to pick one and go with it (much less blame that on Christ), but to examine the Scripture again to verify the interpreter’s accuracy. Consider the Bereans of Acts 17. They weren’t official “church” people, but there they were investigating the Scriptures daily for themselves in order to verify what Paul was teaching them. No pre-packaged doctrine there. How about what Paul told the Galations in Galations 1? If anyone were to present a different Gospel – not matter who it was – they were to be accursed. The issue was content, and Paul expected the Galations to identify the error without partiality to the speaker. I’m afraid that if you defer you’re understanding of Scripture to any particular man/system and reject further examinations as merely some other “interpretation”, you have made yourself very vulnerable. It may be worth considering what the Psalmist said in Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” Notice he requested this before there was any “church” around to do the sole interpreting.

            Fourth, both of us would claim to be in the Church Christ started. However, my question didn’t hint at why you are a Catholic. My question was, if you claim to trust Jesus, why do you have such distrust for His word?

          • A lot in this comment and I won’t be able to get to everything.

            First I meant Matthew 28:18 and on.

            The chain of authority is important. God – Jesus – apostles – their successors. You find the authority you find Christ’s church.

            By church I mean a visible body of all believers with a visible hierarchy. If you are baptized you are in the church. The fullness of this church subsists in the Catholic Church.

            The Bereans were consulting the Old Testament and like any Jews they were relying on both written and oral traditions. I’m mostly concerned about New Testament.

            Anyone can read the scriptures and interpret them as they want. There’s only one gospel and one teaching of Christ. My point was that without that church to verify personal interpretation when defining a gospel you run into Protestant problems. The books themselves must be authenticated by an authoritative Chuch. Without that what’s in New Testament would not be possible to determine. The authority of the church is to stop people from inventing their own gospels and doctrines. (Like sola scriptura)

            To your last question I don’t distrust the scriptures. I love the scriptures. I distrust Protestants who tell me that I got it wrong because I don’t agree with them. When I read scriptures I see nothing that contradicts the Catholic Chuch.

            Sorry I didn’t get to all your points. Typing on phone.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            One other RCC matter that–for me, anyhow–I can’t make sense of: Mary (or the Blessed Mother, if you prefer), in stark contrast to her earthly existence, has somehow been transformed into an ever-present, all-knowing, all seeing entity from her heavenly post, who not only hears the prayers of hundreds of millions of people, in hundreds of languages all over the world, but is somehow able to attend to them and be concerned about anyone praying to her at all hours and in all places at once.

            She has somehow acquired, in other words, the characteristics of God Himself upon her translation to heaven (however she was taken there). This is the same person who, as an earth-bound entity, was a woman living in a small village in Israel and who said, upon hearing the role in history she was about to have, “I rejoice in God my Savior.”

            She had no such miraculous abilities–to be everywhere and hear everyone on earth–back then, nor as she raised the Lord Jesus with her husband, nor at the cross, nor at any other time we can cite prior to her absence from this world. Yet somehow, upon either dying or (as the RCC teaches) being assumed into heaven, she is granted these amazing characteristics to interface with all who pray to her.

            Does it make any sense to you that the same humble woman to whom God announced the coming of the Messiah through her, would then be someone to whom all His true devotees would appeal personally? Can you really see such a humble person changing into such a role as is assigned to her in RCC doctrine?

            And further, why the extra door to the throne of grace? Did Jesus say that, where two or three are gathered in His name, there His mother would be in their midst? He said it would be Him; we weren’t told that there was to be an additional layer between us and God’s ear, called His mother. He promised to be the One to attend to us personally, not anyone else.

            As a matter of fact, doesn’t the role of Jesus and Mary actually get reversed in RCC doctrine? What I mean is, Jesus had omnipresence in heaven as part of the Godhead, and upon coming to earth, He set that aside. He was only in one place at a time during His earthly ministry. Mary, by contrast, had no omnipresence on earth, yet somehow acquired it in heaven.

            I don’t know, friend. I’m having a tough time with that one.

  • fundamentals

    Thank you for this, Jordan. It is much needed truth. Essentially, the RC church has made Mary, the mother of Jesus into a female deity. It is an insult to Christ, and a grave sin.

    Soli Deo gloria — to God alone be the glory

  • Jane Hildebrand

    I also think it’s interesting that the ancient Goddess Isis held the titles of “Queen of Heaven,” “Mother of God,” theotokos(“God-bearer”) and Virgin. In fact, many temples to Isis were converted into temples dedicated to Mary. Apparently, by morphing Isis into Mary, the Egyptians were willing to convert to catholicism. What a costly compromise.

    • Still Waters

      It needs to be pointed out that theotokos is a doctrinally sound term, used by such orthodox writers as Athanasius (also by Augustine) to refute Arianism, which denied that Jesus was fully God and that He had come in the flesh. By emphasizing that Mary, a human woman, did indeed give physical birth to Jesus the Son of God, the term ‘theotokos’ actually exalts Christ as being the perfect Lamb of God.

      In, rightly, protesting against the excess of the Catholic tradition regarding Mary, we can be in danger of losing sight of the great significance of the Virgin Birth, and how that was a fulfillment of God’s declaration that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent. There is a world of God’s power and grace displayed in that genealogy in the first chapter of Matthew and the women of Christ’s lineage which it lists: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.

  • Matthew

    Is this discussion really profitable at this point? Apart from the Holy Spirit regeneration, man cannot understand the spiritual. Would it not be better to better to preach the Gospel, and pray for God to give ears to hear?

    • Jordan Standridge

      I feel your pain. It’s a tough balance in the comment section, because you want to win the one you’re talking with but you also want to instruct those who watch the interaction.

  • tovlogos

    Amen Jordan.

    “Why is this so? Why would the Catholic church invent…?”

    Great point; but I have heard numerous rationalizations as odd as the exaltation of Mary, or the pope.
    In Mark 3:21 we read: “And He went home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, ‘He has lost His mind'”.
    Neither the Father, nor the Holy Spirit would have had such a thought about the Son.

  • Adam

    The various RC teachings concerning Mary is just another example of how tradition has usurped Scripture as the final authority when it comes to matters of faith.
    Did the apostles ever preach/write anything about Mary that is essential for us to know or put into practice in order for our faith to grow? Where is Mary’s influence on the church in its founding and infant stages as recorded in the Book of Acts? Was she at the council of Jerusalem as were the other apostles? How come Peter, the “first pope,” never established any Marian doctrine in his epistles? Why was not Paul, who was Sovereignly chosen to write over 50% of the NT not also Sovereignly chosen to write about such an influential figure as Mary? Why is it that in the Gospels, Jesus Christ never points out to His apostles and others the importance of Mary His mother when it came to issues of faith? Why is it that when Jesus returns nothing is ever mentioned about “the Mother of God” returning with Him, but the saints and angels are mentioned? Why is it that the prophets in the OT never saw any significance concerning “the mother of God” but only in one brief place mention a virgin to whom would be born the One called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace? Just wondering….

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  • John Byde

    All very true, Jordan. How on earth did the “one true Church” that “gave” us the bible fail so miserably in so many key interprétations?

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