September 24, 2015

Why Evangelicals and Catholics Cannot be “Together”

by Jordan Standridge

As the evangelical world in America seems rather excited about the Pope’s visit, I can’t help but remember how I nf95i1-warrenpopefelt when I discovered the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document (ECT).

In 1995 the unthinkable happened. Well known evangelical pastors signed a document in which they joined themselves with Catholic priests and Philosophers, in an ecumenical fashion in order to promote the agreements over the disagreements that have plagued Protestants and Catholics for centuries dating back to the greats: Calvin, Luther, Zwingli and Knox. They agreed to no longer “proselytize” each other, agreeing that Catholics are indeed brothers, and sisters in Christ.

This article was successful in its endeavor. The vast majority of Christians in America do not evangelize Catholics. Someone like me who has shed many tears over the deception of the Roman Catholic Church is seen as hateful. I totally understand the desire to believe people are saved. I also desperately want Roman Catholics to go to heaven, but we can’t let our desire for people to be saved or our desire to please men, lead us to cheer them on as they run towards hell. We must love them.

When I first found out about the ECT, I was shocked. I was fresh off the boat and never in a million years did I imagine such confusion over what seemed to be such a clear issue to me and any Italian believer. Most evangelical churches in Italy, many of which we would never step foot into, recognize this truth.

I wondered why there was such confusion in America, and I concluded that it must come down to the Easy-Belivism mentality. In America people believe that all you have to say is, “Jesus come into my heart”, and you are saved, and it doesn’t matter what you actually believe. The devil loves to comes as an angel of light.  He loves to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and as Spurgeon said, he has created a masterpiece with the Roman Catholic Church. Here are some of the reasons protestants and Roman Catholics will never agree (based on the RCC’s teaching) and why ultimately a Born again Christian who attends a Roman Catholic Church must come out and join God’s true Church.


It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, authorityand the magisterum of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in their own way, under the action of the Holy Spirit, they all contribute affectively to the salvation of souls. – Catechism of the Catholic Church 95

Picture a company with three owners. They walk into a room they all have the same power. That’s what this is like in the RCC.
And although Scripture should trump any false interpretation in the RCC, the Pope and his cardinals, as well as tradition have undermined Scripture for centuries. God has not given man the right to alter His word, The Holy Spirit is in charge of illuminating the mind of His children and cause them to understand the truth. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us clearly that scripture is all we need to live a life that glorifies our Creator.


The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude – C of the C C 1257baptism (1)

Baptism…makes the neophyte “a new creature” an adopted son of God – C of the C C 1265

By baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin – C of the C C 1263

The only way to heaven in the Roman Catholic Church is through Baptism. Baptism cannot save anyone, especially a newborn. A baby cannot have faith. A baby cannot confess Jesus as Lord, he cannot believe the resurrection. Instead each human being at some point in their life must repent of their sin and trust in Jesus as savior and Lord (Romans 10:9).


I wrote about this last week. In summary a system that is works-based will always minimize sin. Sin will be easily overcome and in Roman Catholicism it is overcome through confession.

Salvation is found in the Roman Catholic Church alone

OUTSIDE THE CHURCH THERE IS NO SALVATION, – …it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: – Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation. C of the C C 846

It is in the Church that the fullness of the means of salvation has been deposited. C of the C C 824

This language holds people captive and forces people to trust in an institution rather than a savior. It brings fear in the hearts of those who question its veracity, and ultimately it causes a barrier between attenders and the hearing of the true saving gospel.

The Mass

As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which our Pasch has been sacrificed is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out. C of the C C 1364

In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. C of the C C 1367

The Bible Says that Christ Died Once and For all (1 Peter 3:18). He does not need to continue dying like the animals in the Old Testament sacrificial system. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The only reason he would need to continue dying would be if we needed our sins re-forgiven each week, or if we were trying to earn our salvation. In the Roman Catholic Church Jesus Christ is still on the cross and every week the Father crushes Him over and over again.

Eternal Life

The first commandment is also concerned with the sins against hope, namely, despair and presumption. C of the C C 2091

Presumption… hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit C of the C C 2092

Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification C of the C C 2010

Ultimately, as we see so clearly written by their own fingers, they believe that you must merit God’s forgiveness. It is not a free gift (Eph. 2:8-9). It is something that you must earn, and anyone who says they are on their way to heaven without having earned it over the course of many years, is presumptuous and disillusioned.

The Bible says in 1 John 5:13, “I have written these things so that you may know that you have eternal life”. It’s not something we must earn but it is a free gift. And we can have confidence in this life that we will be with Him the moment we die.

Our heart goes out to people stuck in this false system. Our desire is not to condemn but to bring the truth to these people. Sometimes you have to let people know they are lost before showing them how they can be found. If you wish to learn more about how to evangelize Roman Catholics here are 10 books I have benefited from to help you do just that.

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 the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion.
  • Thank you for this post brother. Keep on!

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks Michael.

  • wiseopinion

    I remember the furor in 1994-95 when the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document was promoted, signed and sealed by some pretty heavy hitters in both the Evangelical and Catholic denominations. Lots of dialogue, backlash, condemnation, (from both sides) and talking heads analyzing it to death (from both sides) and it all seemed to dissipate, like a roaring fire ending in ashes to be blown away and forgotten.

    Of course we don’t want a resurgence of the horrific, bloody deeds done in the name of Christ as in the past. No one would ever condone that type of resistance. However, too many have trekked too far to the polar opposite side of: We don’t want to offend…We must “love” like Christ loves…so we don’t oppose, condemn, or repudiate the “joining together” of really nice people who just want to bring peace among all faiths. The fall out is that now the Mormons are now considered Christians…as well as other “under the radar” cults…and many Evangelicals are willing to jump on the progressive, unified faith bandwagon, and some with very sincere motives, but ignorant of how sincerely deadly that Satan inspired, man devised union is and will continue to be.

    I thank you for this…and I will check out the books you have recommended.

    • Jordan Standridge

      I was writing papers in College and kept running into this ECT thing. When I looked it up I was shocked. Evangelical and catholics doing what together? I’m thankful for MacArthur and Sproul and their faithfulness in not only not signing the document, but speaking out against it.

      • wiseopinion

        The wolf in sheep’s clothing comes to mind when reading so
        many of the responses to this blog post.
        It seems that the RC Church has does some significant shapeshifting to
        defuse the issues that evangelical’s have with the RCC. Why if it sounds like Biblical Christianity,
        looks like Biblical Christianity, acts like Biblical Christianity, then by
        golly, it must be so.

        RCIA and its newer, progressive precepts sounds wonderful. Who would disagree with Social Justice to
        help the poor and disenfranchised? Birth
        control is now ok as well as eating meat on Friday. The Pope is advocating that his parishioners read
        the Bible (a lot of people died back in the day because they were reading the
        Bible all by themselves). The sin of
        abortion is now freely forgiven (well, at least for this year). A dear friend who is RC tells me purgatory really
        isn’t what people think it is and they do not pray to or worship Mary, they
        only admire her and include her in their prayers. That the Eucharist is still consecrated by
        the parish priest and therefore so much more holy then the little communion I
        take at my local church. And, somehow,
        confession isn’t really confession anymore…it is called reconciliation and it’s
        like a nice therapy session with the local priest. In other words, there is a great misunderstanding
        of the history, beliefs, practices and benefits of the RCC among people,
        especially among “us” evangelicals.

        Some people say this Pope is more politically minded than
        past Popes, and all for the good of
        spirituality and mankind. They need to
        read the history of the Popes….MOST of them were very involved in the politics
        of their countries, and not always for the good of anyone but their own power
        and prestige. Just like this currant
        Pope who is gaining momentum and enlarging his sphere of influence in the world
        and with world leaders…one must look beyond the surface.

        The Mormon’s have done the same thing. They have taken away some of the most blatant
        heresies of their faith…like abolishing polygamy and Mormon leaders eliminated
        the ban on black men in their priesthood (around 1978) and have reworded their
        tracts to include typically evangelical phases and wording to “sound” more Christian.

        The sad part is some highly influential pastors today are totally
        ignorant of the history of RC and embracing the beliefs, and practices (Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Spirituality
        and Prayer, Visions, Prayer Circles, just to name a few) and there is a long
        line at the bookstores, movies, and dings on Google and You Tube that is
        distressingly and sadly alarming.

        I find even some of what I thought were discerning, mature
        Christians are falling for it all…and I feel like Paul when he shared in Galatians…”Am
        I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Gal. 4:16

        Satan and his minions have a most skilled tailor these days…to
        make a wolf, even in the churches and among beguiled believers, look just like
        a sheep…soft and cuddly…tame and safe…all walking side by side on the wide

  • robertetozier

    “The only Baptism the Roman Catholic Church does is infant Baptism” – – ? So, other children and adults cannot be baptized?

    • Jordan Standridge

      I reworded that part since it was confusing. They do sprinkle adults if they join the catholic church later on in life. It’s called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.

      • danielle

        The wording I see still makes it seem like the ONLY way to salvation in the RC is through INFANT baptism. (Quote: ” The only way to heaven in the Roman Catholic Church is through infant Baptism.”)
        However, when read in context of the rest of that section of the CCC, that is not the case.

        There is enough evidence of a poor and misleading hermeneutic in RC doctrine to support why we cannot yoke ourselves with the RC Church. We should always be clear with the details, lest it seem like we are trying to deceive by omission or implication. That’s the tactic the cults use. We need not use such a tactic (either intentionally or because we’re being sloppy). Scripture is quite clear and can speak for itself with regard to the gospel and the doctrines of grace, without misrepresenting what the other side says.

        Please consider clarifying that paragraph more thoroughly.
        Thank you!

      • Kara

        That is not what RCIA is. Having grown up Protestant, I was not rebaptized when entering the Catholic Church because the Church teaches one baptism for the forgiveness of sin. They only baptize people who have never been baptized in a Christian church.

        • Trinitarian is the key. And this is a big issue in some Presbyterian churches today also. Should a Presbyterian church baptize someone converted from Catholicism? They are not unified in this either.

          • Kara

            Not if they profess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Not that it really matters: if some church members disagree they can just go start their own church! Ah, the paradox of schisms.

      • danielle

        wondering where my comment went?

        • I deleted it because the edit was made up top. THanks Danielle.

          • danielle

            With due respect, the paragraph in question is still unclear. The opening sentence deleted infant baptism, and yet your supporting argument is still regarding babies being unable to have faith. I’m being particular not because I am a RC sympathizer or because I want to be ornery…but because when this article is read by people who have converted to Roman Catholicism, it is dismissed or dismantled because the argument you pose was inaccurate but is now disjointeed (at least on this point, and the reason I am harping on it is because I had someone challenge my sharing of this article which caused me to look up the CCC proclamations myself).

            If we are going to reach this population with the truth, we have to be very careful about how we handle said truth. We have to be explicit and clearly articulate the issues rather than to muddy them up because our research was done without the full context. If we goof up on one point, no matter how innocently, we have in many cases shut the ears of our hearers because they’ll assume all of our points are inaccurate or nonsensical.

            I don’t *want* to do this as a comment, but I don’t know how else to contact you.

  • Johnny

    This was very good and helpful. It breaks my heart talking with a RC friend of mine who is so convinced of Rome’s teachings even when the teachings are completely contradictory to what Scripture teaches. We need to pray more for our lost friends in the religion of papist tradition.

  • kevin2184

    Amen, Jordan

  • Zephaniah

    Thanks Jordon.

  • Chris
  • Ted Bigelow

    Not sure why you write this:

    “The only Baptism the Roman Catholic Church does is infant Baptism. A baby cannot have faith.”

    It isn’t true, for adults are also water baptised in the RC system:

    And then this: “Salvation is found in the Roman Catholic Church alone.”

    Well, they simply no longer teach that, but teach that people outside their institution are saved by the God based on their sincerity. They view such people as you, for instance, as saved through the RC church due to your ignorance of who they really are (i.e., who they claim themselves to be).

    This statement might not help folks struggling with assurance: ” The only reason he would need to continue dying would be if we needed our sins re-forgiven each week, or if we were trying to earn our salvation.” They might say, “yeah, exactly. That’s why I better go get Christ in the Mass!” I know what you’re trying to say, but the opening the door to the possibility in anyone’s mind that Christ would “need to continue dying” is misleading.

    The following two quotes are incomplete and don’t properly represent the RC catechism. You assume the catechism is speaking of the presumption of going to heaven, but it is more likely it is speaking of the presumption of going to hell:

    “The first commandment is also concerned with the sins against hope, namely, despair and presumption. C of the C C 2091

    Presumption… hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit C of the C C 2092”

    If you read the context in their catechism, you’ll see they are speaking of presumption of hell. As well, the theology of merit is left undefined at that moment. Are they speaking of the merit of the person himself, or the (condign) merit of Christ? Again, your assumption is the former, but that is not at all clear or necessitated by the catechism.

    Your article is concerned with salvation, but this statement in your post is not concerning salvation but sanctification:

    “Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification C of the C C 2010.”

    This is due to the Roman Catholic (and Protestant) doctrine of the sacraments (sacramentology). The full quote of CCC 2010, which you did not include, says:

    “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.”

    Now, you and I both know they don’t draw a strict line between justification and sanctification as you and I do, nor did they before Trent (and Martin Luther). But your post is misleading as to what they are teaching at that point in their catechism.

    For another analysis on Roman Catholicism, please read:

    • Jordan Standridge

      Brother in one place you exegete the CCC like a ninja (in a way that I disagree, I mean it can’t be talking about hell it says glory without merit! Glory can’t be hell!) and then in another place you say that the CCC is no longer valid because Catholics don’t believe it anymore. Which is it? I’d be interested to talk to the American priests you’ve been talking to as they don’t represent the priests around the world. Btw there is no assurance in an impotent savior that must continue dying because he is unable to pay for sin once and for all, that’s the last place I’d go if I struggled with assurance.

      • Ted Bigelow

        Jordan, you wrote,

        Brother in one place you exegete the CCC like a ninja (in a way that I disagree, I mean it can’t be talking about hell it says glory without merit! Glory can’t be hell!)

        Indeed, you are correct that when it speaks of “glory” it is speaking of a presumption of obtaining heaven, and my quote above did not reflect that properly. However, you first quoted 2091 which does not mention glory but rather despair. Hence 2091 is not speaking of people hoping for heaven, as your article claims, but in despair of hell.

        You are also correct that when the catechism speaks of a person who “hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit” that is referring to a hope of heaven (2092). However, the merit spoken of in 2092 is not explained there as personal merit attempting to obtain salvation, and since RC theology teaches both condign and congruent merit, it isn’t equity to attribute the one and not the other.

        Further, when you quote their catechism as teaching the necessity of personal merit for eternal life you make a category mistake by quoting their teaching on sanctification (2010). The RCC does allow for death bed salvation, etc., but you are quite correct in the sense that RC soteriology conflates justification and sanctification.

        When you write,

        in another place you say that the CCC is no longer valid because Catholics don’t believe it anymore. Which is it? I’d be interested to talk to the American priests you’ve been talking to as they don’t represent the priests around the world.

        I imagine you are drawing inferences from what I wrote since I didn’t say that (nor mean that). I assume you are referring to my critique of your analysis on the statement, “Salvation is found in the Roman Catholic Church alone.”

        At this point it is important to understand how RC’s themselves understand the phrase in development from the 4th Lateran Council (1215 AD). It used to mean only those in submission to the Pope had a reasonable hope of salvation, but after Vatican 2 it now means anyone who has a “proper” conscience (my words). Here is a link you might read:

        Now, 99% of Roman Catholics haven’t a clue about this, but we who critique their religion have the responsibility to properly explain it in order to protect people from adopting it, and in order to rescue people from it.

  • Ira Pistos

    I grew up Catholic. Catholic church, catholic school, catholic
    family. Through all of that, there was not a great deal of Bible

    As a young adult, somewhere from 19 to 21, I read the Bible cover to cover. That first reading took me about a month or so.

    It was such a revelation. During that reading, I realized that I was no longer a catholic.

    My point and question: Shouldn’t scripture be sufficient to do that for everyone?

    How am I not now a catholic, while others who are catholic absolutely reject these things?

    If scripture isn’t working on them, can anything written in another book do so?

    Is a catholic who is as a matter of course already open to faith in Jesus, more likely or less to accept the veracity of scripture than is an atheist?

    Do extra biblical books really help non believers?

    I want this saving Word to reach people.

    Before I was a Christian, I was so many wrong things, I had no problem with casual lies, I was shiftless and I was inconstant. How can I ever hope to have the people who knew me then to accept what I have to say now?

    • As I understand the question: Does growing up Catholic make you more likely to believe the gospel when you finally do read it, because you were prepared to believe the Bible, even if it wasn’t taught?
      And that is really the question that swept through Europe after the reformation. This is really what drove the RCC to claim that scripture is one of their streams of authority. Before that they were really ambivilant to scripture, if not outright opposed. But after the reformation, when the truth of the Bible was being unleashed, I think there was an attempt by the RCC to then say “Bible? We are cool with that too! As long as it is under the authority of the church/tradition.”
      So in one sense, I agree with you. In another sense, it prepares Catholics to say “it doesn’t really matter what the Scripture says, because the church tells me what it says.”
      But fortunately–the scripture is strong enough that when unleashed it can change hearts and open minds to the truth.

      • Suzanne

        Have you ever studied any theology from the middle ages? The Church was VERY concerned with understanding the Bible. Just look at the Summa Theologica as one example! One of the greatest works of the Christian faith! It’s not without error, obviously, but it is so rich with Christian truth. Do you have any proof to back up your claim that before the reformation the Chruch was ambivalent to Scripture? Have you read Augustine? Bonaventure? Boethius? Erasmus? Catherine of Sienna? St. John of the Cross? I’d would not call any them “ambivalent” to Scripture. I wonder who you think it was that transcribed the Bible by hand for nearly 2,000 years?

    • Jordan Standridge

      I understand what you are saying. I agree that God will use scripture to reach souls. I also believe that he has gifted us with pastors, theologians and evangelists who have more time to learn and study scripture. One of the ways that they teach scripture is through theology. I think the books I link to were written to equip believers to understand scripture better so that they can use scripture to win souls to Christ. I’m with you I encourage people to read scripture and I love to read scripture to people as I’m evangelizing, but I do think God has blessed certain men with the ability to explain difficult concepts in scripture. I wouldn’t waste time reading books about spiritual things that don’t help me understand the Bible better.

    • Suzanne

      Or, an even scarier thought: how could someone like me, someone who was raised in a loving, devout, evangelical home; someone who has read the Bible cover to cover many times, how could someone like me convert from being a lifelong Protestant to joining the Catholic Chruch? Simple answer; as G.K. Chesterton once said, “Because it’s true.” Study early Church history and you will find the Catholic Church. Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide leave Protestants in spiritual poverty, and that makes me very sad. Our one hope is that we all agree on Sola Gratia.

      Ira, I’m sad that your parish did a poor job of preparing you for a lifelong relationship with Christ and his Church. I’m glad your experience is not universal.

      • Jake

        How could someone like you convert to RCC? I saw you write about the faith of your family, and about your reading of the Bible. I missed the part that spoke of you being born again. Might it be that you never came to realize that you were a sinner, in need of a Savoir? Did you ever pray the sinner’s prayer, and mean it in your heart? That may be an explanation as to why it was so easy to be drawn away from the Gospel. Those that are unsaved, or those that don’t have their feet firmly planted in God’s Word, are often drawn away by Satan.

        • 4Commencefiring4

          Hers is a change that doesn’t compute to me, either. But here’s something to consider: Does being a part of a church mean you necessarily subscribe to all it “officially” teaches or practices? I’d have to say, no. I don’t agree on all of my church’s teachings, yet I am confident my salvation is not in peril.

          Is an individual’s salvation dependent on how close his church’s teaching is to Scripture? I’m sure we’d all say no–Christ saves us by His grace through faith, not by our church’s doctrinal statement or its constitution.

          It may be argued that if one is truly saved, there are some matters with which we cannot compromise by associating ourselves with an organization that represents something contrary to them.

          All right, but where is the line that separates something a true believer can and cannot embrace by their presence? The RCC teaches transubstantiation. Are those who believe that damned to an eternity of suffering, or merely mistaken? They teach that confession of sins to a priest is the means whereby God grants His forgiveness to us through the shed blood of Christ. Is that a damnable rejection of the Gospel of grace, or merely poor theology?

          Some believers would say this-or-that church is dead because there’s no expository teaching, salvation by grace is not taught, and the social gospel is all that’s ever heard from its pulpit. Those who attend might not know 1st Peter from 1st Samuel, or James the Elder from Jimmy Hoffa.

          Yet, because of temporal things like its beautiful stained glass artwork depicting scenes from the Scriptures, or a pipe organ playing the great classical hymns of the faith, an air of holiness and reverence is there, people are lifted to another place, and they are typically dressed like they are there for something serious. God’s presence is very much sensed, even if those who are there couldn’t quote anything He said outside of the Ten Commandments.

          Meanwhile, at the “Bible church” down the street–although the original Greek tense of a word is taught in detail and everyone can quote Romans 3:23–christian “pop tunes” are played before the service, there’s movie theatre seating, “praise bands” with electric guitars and a drum kit get the crowd going in a frenzy, and everyone’s dressed like they’re going to a Foo Fighters concert. All that’s missing is the ticket window. Stained glass? Hymns? Reverence? Just get your groove on and forget all that Old School stuff.

          In one place, God may seem like Someone to bow down to and be still before; at the other, He’s your pal Who you’d want to give a “high five.” But we put down that first place because they misconstrue doctrines they should know, all the while our church–the one that’s “right” about everything–has long ago traded away a sense of reverence that, while not a complete statement of truth, has taken away something else that all that “truth” we teach just can’t make up.

          So no, I don’t recommend the RCC. Nor plenty of others. But where true saints may reside? That’s not for me to say.

          • Alex

            The “line” exists between room for disagreement amongst Christians, and the departure from the body of Christ. The apostle Paul draws the line very clearly in the book of Galatians; it is the gospel of grace.

            “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Gal 1:6-9)

            Paul goes on in Galatians, and in his other epistles, to describe in detail the gospel of the grace of Christ. The addition of any type of religious merit through works (Gal 3) to the grace of God as an avenue to righteousness is a different gospel. Supplanting faith in the work of Christ with faith in a sacramental system is a different gospel (Gal 5:4-6). The insertion of any human mediator between God and man other than our great High Priest Jesus is a different gospel (1 Tim 2:5).

            No, you are not saved because of the doctrinal statements of the church you attend. Membership classes and creeds carry no salvific impart. But these codified documents reveal the gospel taught at a church. And any church which teaches, either in word or practice, a gospel different from Scripture is, according to Paul, to be “accursed!”

            Within the body of Christ a great degree of honest disagreement can/does exist about a great many issues. Stained glass, electric guitars, modes of baptism – eternity in glory will contain believers from across the spectrum. But it will not include those who have rejected and perverted the gospel of grace.

            I do not write those words callously or flippantly. My heart breaks for dear friends who reject the gift of salvation, and trust in a wide number of things (good deeds, church membership, that one time they said a prayer at church camp, etc.) as sufficient.

          • Suzanne

            You know that Catholics believe in salvation by grace, right? It’s the sanctification part we disagree on. Let me break it down for you. Protestants: Salvation by Grace THROUGH faith alone. Catholics: salvation by Grace THROUGH faith and works. This “through” is called sanctification. God, in His grace, allows us to participate in our sanctification, not our salvation.

            Why do we believe this? Because the Bible says so.

            James 2: 14-25 (NIV)

            “14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

            18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

            Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

            20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

            25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

          • Alex

            I know that Catholics in America like to say that they believe in salvation by grace. Even in your own “broken down” version of events, you add the qualification of works as the means THROUGH which we receive salvation. (Although I admit to having difficulty understanding your argument that faith + sanctification = salvation, we participate in sanctification, but do not participate in salvation. Perhaps I am just not following your train of thought.)

            Let me first respond to the passage in James. At no point in this passage does James state, imply, or encourage one to believe that justification (aka “salvation”) is merited THROUGH deeds. His argument is simply that the proclamation of having faith that is not accompanied by regenerate fruit is a demonstrably false proclamation.

            Notice his language, “I will SHOW you my faith by my deeds…a person is CONSIDERED righteous by what they do…Rahab the prostitute [was] CONSIDERED righteous for what she did…”. This is language that describes the verification and acceptance of being righteous, not the attaining of righteousness.

            It is important to remember that the book of James does not exist in a vacuum. But rather must be read and understood along the whole counsel of Scripture, to include Romans 4.

            “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.’” (Rom 4:1-3).

            Paul makes clear the relationship between faith and works regarding salvation, both in the life of Abraham and all believers. James makes clear the relationship between faith and works regarding sanctification, both in the lives of Abraham and Rahab, as well as all believers.

            Let me break it down for you. No one is saved THROUGH sanctification. But also, no one who is saved will fail to be sanctified.

            Herein lies the trouble with Catholic doctrine. In conflating the ideas of salvation and sanctification, the remove the element of grace from the gospel of grace. We are saved only through the grace of Jesus Christ apart from our works (Eph 2:8). We are sanctified as the grace of Jesus Christ, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, enables us to work in accordance with His will (Phil 2:13). As we are sanctified, we produce deeds which demonstrate the vitality of our saving faith – this is James’ point.

          • Suzanne

            Let me repeat: Protestant= salvation by grace through faith. Catholic = salvation by grace through faith and works. James is saying that faith and works work together and cannot be separated from one another. Protestants try to separate the two, Catholics do not. Faith itself is a work. In fact, James is saying that faith without works isn’t even faith at all! Praying the “believer’s prayer” requires human action. Faith and works cannot, and ought not, be separated. Catholics believe that salvation is totally dependent on grace, we just believe that God asks us to participate in our sanctification through our faith and works. Belief is an action.

            Does that mean we believe that we save ourselves? By no means. The only reason we can even participate in our sanctification is because of grace. It is entirely the work of Christ (Eph 2:8). In this we actually agree more than we disagree. We are quibbling over terms here, and over how Christ chooses to distribute his grace.

            Read this passage Phillipians 2: 12-18 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

            14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

            You see? It’s entirely the work of Christ, but Christ calls us to participate. DO x so you may BECOME y.

          • Alex

            I sincerely appreciate the generous way in which you are willing to have this discussion. I hope I am being likewise generous.

            But let me point out that we are not merely arguing terms. We are seeking to clarify the means by which God saves those who are His. This is not an issue of terminology. This is an issue of eternity.

            Let me ask you a question. How does a person in the Catholic church receive grace? Your responses so far indicate that saving grace is imparted to you as you respond in faith and fulfill sacramental deeds. Notice, that in this definition you are the primary actor. You generate faith. You accomplish deeds. God is relegated to the role of signing the salvation check so you can deposit it in the eternal bank account.

            Grace, by definition, cannot be merited through any work on behalf of the recipient. That is why it is called grace; it is unmerited favor.

            If God’s plan for salvation was, “generate a response of faith and then remain obedient to my commands via the church and you will receive salvation.” That is not an unmerited gift.

            If God’s plan for salvation was, “I will give you faith, and then you must remain obedient to my commands via the church to receive salvation.” That is not an unmerited gift.

            God’s plan for salvation, as He describes it in Ephesians 2, is that we were dead people with no capacity to do anything but be spiritually dead. But “by grace (unmerited favor) you were saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God.” Because of nothing that we have done, God convinces us of His gospel and causes our belief. This faith, and this faith alone, is the basis for salvation (Rom 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”)

            This salvation brings with it a regeneration of the believer that will produce the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit, which we shall call sanctification, is not the basis for salvation but rather the demonstration of a living, true faith, received as the gift of God independent of our work.

            Christ does not call us to “DO so you may BECOME.” He calls us to “Come and see what He has done.”

          • Suzanne

            Alex, I think you are being perfectly charitable. I still believe that most Protestants and Catholics fundamentally agree about salvation.

            Because I am not nearly as knowledgeable as my other brothers and sisters in Christ, I will direct you to the Catachism for a fuller understanding about what we believe about salvation. I must confess that after years of study I still find it an impossibly hard topic to understand. Why would God bother giving anyone grace? That, to me, is the greatest mystery of all.

            Here is a particularly choice section: “Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life”

            Another: “The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.”

            But you really should read it all:

          • Alex

            “Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ (AGREED) who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God (AGREED), and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men (MOSTLY AGREED). Justification is conferred in Baptism (TIMEOUT!), the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God (NOT SO MUCH), who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy (AGREED). Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life (AGREED)”

            This section of the RCC Catechism is like an Oreo whose delicious cream filling has been replaced by toothpaste. It might look good at first, but it’s not quite right.

            Romans 2:28 warns us of the danger of viewing any religious practice as salvific or capable of imputation of justification; whether that practice is circumcision or baptism. So, I do not accept as an axiomatic truth that justification is conferred in baptism. Especially not on the testimony of the RCC Catechism alone.

            The second of the two section you posted is equally difficult to substantiate with Scripture. The RCC idea of salvation seems akin to a dad giving his son the rake, and then paying him $5 for picking up the leaves. It no scenario would you consider that $5 an “unmerited gift” of the father.

            Of, if you prefer, that the dad raked all the leaves, then gave his son the rake, made him re-rake the clean lawn, and gave him the $5.

            I recognize that we come from a different background, and so the catechism is a compelling piece of evidence in how you form your understanding of spiritual truth. But it is unconvincing for me on its own merit. I would need to see how the idea of salvation being composed of both faith + works is substantiated in Scripture. Which would be a difficult task, as it would need to overcome pretty explicit language to the contrary in Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

          • Suzanne

            Alex, your metaphors are delightful, but they don’t really address the topic.I’m a little sad that you see it in such a negative light. I think it’s a beautiful act of grace that I’m allowed to participate with Christ in my sanctification. There is another way to say it: love through free will.

            I think that we can at least agree to mostly agree.

            I also would like to note that we do not come from a different background, I grew up Protestant.

            I will say that, at last, we have come to the crux of our disagreement: who interprets the scriptures correctly? This is ultimately why I could no longer be Protestant- because Protestantism leaves it up to each individual. I find your interpretation of Romans 2:28 questionable at best.

            The relationship between faith and works is described most clearly in James 2, as we already discussed. The Catholic Church and I (unlike Martin Luther) do not believe that Romans and James are contradictory. Rather, they are complimentary.

            It’s funny to me how much Protestants (Americans in particular) struggle with the role Baptism plays in our salvation. Wait, wait, wait a minute: something physical affects my eternal soul? Yes; yes it does. John 3: 2-5 “2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

            Christ is being quite literal here, but arguing against the literal and physical nature of Christ’s message is not new. In fact, the first early Church heretic, a man named Simon Magus, taught that Baptism was not necessary for salvation and that communion was not actually the body and blood of Christ. It is Simon Magnus who Paul speaks against in Galatians 1.

            You said that the RC catechism is not enough. Fine, how about the early Church fathers then? If you really want a concrete answer to these questions, one good place to start would be reading the early Church fathers. Before I started reading early Chruch history, I thought that the time after the apostles was a vague time. How wrong I was! It was a rich time of spiritual history. These fathers teach us a lot about what the Apostles believed and practiced. St. Clement of Rome was converted by Peter himself. Every Christian should read: St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, and St. Polycarp- just to name a few! As a Christian, you are part of a rich history of faith. Study well. I wish you the best.

            Sincerely, A Fellow Pilgrim

          • Nicole

            I would be interested to know the works that the theif, on the cross, performed. I have never read that he performed any good works, and yet, Jesus told him that he would be with Him in Paradise.

            Works are not necessary for salvation. The Bible couldn’t be clearer about that. To say that works are required, diminishes the finished work of Jesus Christ, on the cross. I absolutely believe that we will want to do good deeds upon being saved. It’s man made doctrine that states it as a requirement.

          • Suzanne

            His acceptance of Christ was his work, Nicole. Through the grace of God he believed in Christ and through his own free will he accepted Christ.

          • Zachary

            Our will rejects Jesus Christ, His will saves and transforms us. Suzanne you are preaching a false gospel.

          • Nicole

            We see in scripture that our very faith is not of ourselves. It is given to us through God. He works in our life to increase our faith. Look at the example in Luke 22, with Peter. Jesus prayed for him that his faith would be increased. Jesus knew it would take a work of God for that to happen. Also in Mark, when Jesus healed the epiletic boy. We see that the boy’s father cried out for the Lord to help his unbelief. Again, the father’s increase in faith, was to come from God. The works that we do are done through the Holy Spirit that lives within our hearts. I’m glad for that too. It’s very easy, with our sinful flesh, to hinder the work of the Spirit. He doesn’t need our aid to accomplish His works. Many times He just needs for us to get out of the way. The RCC belief, regarding our works, is an issue of pride, in our hearts, and we know that pride goeth before the fall.

          • Suzanne

            The Church does not disagree with anything you said above (well, until you start telling the Church what she believes). I think you’re confused about what “works” are and what role they play. Works cannot save us, they aid in our sanctification. Acceptance of Christ’s gift is participating in it, not diminishing it. Would it really be a gift if we did not have the moral agency to accept this gift? We recognize that it is only through grace that we are able to accept Christ, but through his grace Christ still leaves us with free will.

          • Shane Welch

            Actually Suzanne, Rome confuses justification and sanctification. You are justified at baptism, but can loose justifying grace through mortal sin. Protestants believe in both justification and sanctification, which are distinct, not separate. We believe we are justified by the perfect righteousness of Christ. When one is converted we live out the life of faith through sanctification.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            “The insertion of any human mediator between God and man other than our great High Priest Jesus is a different gospel (1 Tim 2:5).”

            What about going to a christian marriage counselor, or a minister/pastor for advice in a personal struggle, to seek God’s wisdom? One could say that, too, is allowing a man to stand in the gap for us, hence engaging in a different gospel. True, a marriage counselor is not preaching a false gospel, but they are being used as (possibly) God’s instrument in your life at that time and for that purpose. Most would have no compunction about employing such a person in time of need.

            Before we sit and listen to a preacher on a Sunday morning, don’t we often pray that he will be used of the Lord to transmit His Word to us? Are we thus engaged in another gospel by listening to–and attributing God’s words to–a man? I don’t think so.

            Again, I’m the last to be an apologist for Catholic beliefs. Many need serious reexamination and outright rejection. But even in evangelical circles, sometimes we give our practices a gold star and are quick to condemn those of others. Perhaps their heart is not so much off track as their method. And since we can’t see the former, we tend to draw conclusions based on the latter.

          • Alex

            Websters defines mediator as “one who settles a dispute between parties; reconciles.”

            As 1 Tim 2:5 makes clear, only Christ Jesus, the God-man, can act as the intermediary to reconcile a holy God with sinful man. The function of a Christian marriage counselor isn’t even an apples to oranges comparison. It’s apples to peace treaties.

            But, since I’ve brought up fruit, let’s be reminded that fruit is precisely the illustration that Jesus gives us to make informed decisions regarding the state of peoples’ hearts. Of course we cannot see the imputed righteousness of God in a person’s heart. But we do know that those whom God has made righteous, He will sanctify (Phil 1:6). And those who are being sanctified by the Spirit will produce fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). And by looking at a person’s fruit, we can know from what kind of tree it came (Matt 7:16).

            This isn’t my rallying cry to start burning people at the stake (although, if we’re going to talk about burning people at the stake…). Nor am I about to go stock up on pitchforks and torches. But, we do need to take seriously the command to hold fast to the gospel (Gal 3:3), to hold professing believers fast to the gospel (1 Tim 4:6), and to remove the leaven from among us (1 Cor 5:6).

          • Nicole

            I believe that we must agree on the tenets of faith. If the pastor of a church is preaching things that are contrary to the word of God, they are preaching a false gospel.

            There are differences of opinion among believers about traditions (that’s what I would call it), in individual churches. Things like women wearing pants, order of services, etc. These differences don’t matter, in the end (in my opinion).

        • Suzanne

          That would be an easy explanation for you, wouldn’t it? No, I prayed that sinner’s prayer quite sincerely. I remember asking to be baptized and I remained very involved in my church even through college. I was saved then; I have no doubts about it. I was on the debate team, and I spent one evening desperately trying to convert my Catholic acquaintance to Protestantism. God has a sense of humor, I think. My conversion to RCC had nothing to do with any lack of sincerity. I could not drink spiritual milk forever, I was ready for solid food, and no one could answer my questions. I began reading like crazy: any Christian theologian I could lay my hands on. Then I began reading the early Chruch fathers: St. Polycarp, St. Iranaeus, St. Justin Marter, St. Cyprian. These were the apostles of the apostles, surely they would have my answers? They did, and I did not like what they told me. I realized that the Protestant church did not look anything like the early Church. Early Church history led me to Rome. I resisted God’s calling for 4 years. I did not want to be Catholic. I knew many of my friends and most of my family would reject me. It was the hardest and best thing I have ever done.

          • SavedbyGrace

            The early Church has been known to pervert theology from the very beginning Suzanne. Just look at who got scolded and who did the scolding.

            “My conversion to RCC had nothing to do with any lack of sincerity. I could not drink spiritual milk forever, I was ready for solid food, and no one could answer my questions. I began reading like crazy: any Christian theologian I could lay my hands on.”

            If you were reading theologians like John Piper, John MacArthur, Wayne Grudem, Adrian Rogers, etc., and not understanding their answers, then I’m afraid that’s a sign of not being Saved. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Following the voice of men writing books about the Saints versus following the voice of God is a sign you can’t tell the voice of God from a voice saying “this is what God says” and then following the man rather than the Maker.

            “Then I began reading the early Chruch fathers: St. Polycarp, St. Iranaeus, St. Justin Marter, St. Cyprian. These were the apostles of the apostles, surely they would have my answers? They did, and I did not like what they told me.”

            Honestly, the verse in Proverbs about boasting of finding sin in one’s life comes to mind. Of course you didn’t like what you found…the flesh is never pleased by any call towards God, even bad theology is a theology of God, the enemy of our flesh.

            “I resisted God’s calling for 4 years. I did not want to be Catholic.”

            God never calls someone to separate from His teaching. You can only confirm that it was God calling and not evil tempting by “testing the spirits” of who is talking.

            “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

            Unless you take every thought of theology captive to the Word of God, you will be deceived and believe that a voice that explains God is actually aligning to the voice OF God…and they are not the same…one is an imposter tempting you to follow its voice to the wider path, while God calls only to abide in His Word, to remain on the path of truth that is narrowly defined and very accurately defined by His Will and His Word. Wide is the path that leads to destruction, and wide is the path of imaginations about God, for they are almost infinite in scope or potential…but the actual definition of God is narrow and finitely defined in comparison to imagination’s infinite capacity to create false concepts and ideas about God. Sounds very clear to me that you’re following the imaginations of men who’ve authored their thoughts rather than following the Word of God.

            It may not be a sincerity issue, but one rather of very deep sin.

          • Suzanne

            Honestly, SavedByGrace, you’re assuming you’re correct without actually addressing any of the Biblical and theological claims that the Catholic Chruch has made.

            You’re right about one thing: theology was perverted from the beginning. I can assure you that all of that names I listed were people doing the “scolding”, especially St. Irenaeus who wrote five books called “Against Heresies”. That does not mean that they are infallible, it just means they are really solid resources. For me, I was struggling with questions of authority and sacramental theology. These men helped me understand what the early church thought about those issues and helped me understand Scripture better.

            I also have read many of the modern theologians you’ve listed and a few others besides. I have actually learned a lot from those men, especially John Piper. Just because I disagree with them on some points does not mean I do not find their thoughts helpful. While I think they have a lot of good things to say, they could not answer some questions that the Catholic Church and early Chruch fathers did.

            You referenced the verse in Proverbs about boasting. While I will freely admit that pride is one of my strongest sins, I fail to see how the statement I quoted was prideful. I really did not want to become Catholic. Unless my pride was ignoring the call of God to become Catholic and performing my own will instead? Yes, that I did. For four years.

            I agree that the Bible is God’s infallible word at that all teaching should be looked at in light of Scripture. I’m unsure of what it was that I said that made you assume otherwise? Perhaps you could clarify.

            Lastly, by accusing my reconciliation with the Catholic Church as being rooted in “deep sin” you accomplish nothing. You fail to uphold your own standards of reviewing that claim against Scripture. Not only is your claim insulting, it is also unhelpful.

            You fail to understand how someone can think differently from you, and that is very sad. I will pray for you.

      • Shane Welch

        Suzanne, you certainly do find the catholic church in the early history of the church, but it is not the Roman Catholic church. Actually Protestants and Roman Catholics do not agree on Sola Gratia. The Roman Catholic system crumbles without the Papacy and it was not fully developed until the 5th century.

    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      Ira, thanks for sharing your testimony, mine is similar to yours in that I was saved by reading through the Bible in a month as well. You ask if scripture should be sufficient to do that for everyone. My answer would be, only if God is drawing them. No one comes to Christ unless God draws them.

      Also, I don’t believe being a catholic (or a Jehovah’s Witness as I was), opened me up to a faith in Jesus any more than anyone else. The Jesus I was taught to believe in was not the Jesus of the Bible. I needed to be drawn to God’s Word which explained who Jesus was in order to be saved (a de-programming if you will). I believe our job is to present the gospel to everyone we can in hopes that God is already drawing them to salvation and by chance he may use us to accomplish that.

  • Jay Klein

    “Picture a company with three owners. They walk into a room they all have the same power. That’s what this is like in the RCC.”

    >This is a weak analogy at best and it only serves as a straw man for the heart of the quote from the CCC above. Lets analyze the above quote that you listed: Its claiming the tripartite authority structure laid out was ordained in the wise providence of God in history. The quote depicts them as though they are interdependent in different yet integral ways, not locked in some stalemate as his analogy implies. God reveals Himself and His primarily TO his people. The bible was oral before it was written(OT or NT) The people it was committed to and transmitted and preserved through were inspired by the Holy Spirit, that i’m sure we agree upon. Precisely because the “traditions” that became texts didn’t fall out of the sky in a vacuum with an exhaustive definition and explication of every word as it relates to every other around it and as it relates to the context of the texts in part or as a whole, the disciples who by God’s providence and direct choosing via Christ, they also learned proper understandings of the “traditions” which became texts, that they were given. These ways of understanding scripture were hermeneutics that largely came out of the tradition of the ancient israelites who learned it from the patriarchs who were also enlightened by God in this way with hermeneutical understandings that were passed on orally to the time of Christ. (matt 23:2 seat of moses) That is the core of ‘Sacred Tradition” – ensuring and safeguarding historical understandings of the text, by the gifts of the holy spirit -as it says in the above quote- to the Apostles and their successors(the Magisterium being the apostolic successors tracing their lines back to the apostles themselves), like Matthias in acts.
    The point is that the bible is God’s word speaking to men, but bibles don’t have infallible mouthpieces attached to them that explain what each verse or story mean spiritually and doctrinally, obviously. Christ speaks to us through His Church, his Mystical body present on earth until his second coming. His Mystical Body is in dwelt with the Holy Spirit, guiding Her and calling the World to follow Jesus. In that sense ensures that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church as he says in Matthew 16. His truth would be preserved through the power of the Holy Spirit living in the Church, his mystical body. So all these work together in harmony, not compete or are at a stalemate for power as his analogy erroneously depicts them.

    “And although Scripture should trump any false interpretation in the RCC, the Pope and his cardinals, as well as tradition have undermined Scripture for centuries.”

    >By what authority can he say that an interpretation is definitely false? If his final authority is scripture alone, the scripture has no infallible divine mouthpiece built in for him to press and clear up the matter. In reality we see the truth exposed as such: he in fact places his interpretation of that text as the ultimate standard by which he judges the truth or falsity of another interpretation. By that he calls all other definitions false. However what guarantees his interpretation to be correct? How can he be certain? Well surely he will appeal to hermeneutical “norms” and “proper” exegesis. Both of which are traditions, properly defined. He learned them from men who learned them from other men etc. So to assert scripture alone, he appeals to tradition. This is self evidently problematic as it is a self refuting argument. Assert A to refute B, though B must be used to support the claims of A. In the words of Van Til, this argument requires you to climb on grandpas lap before you are able to slap him in the face.

    God has not given man the right to alter His word, The Holy Spirit is in charge of illuminating the mind of His children and cause them to understand the truth. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us clearly that scripture is all we need to live a life that glorifies our Creator.

    >This text actually teaches the view which you purport to deny, its convenient to your position to only quotes verse 16-17…lets check the rest of the passage out in context.

    10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out ofthem all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    “13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, ”

    The passage lifts up the scriptures as the key to salvation through faith in Jesus, but Paul appeals to the facts that heresy will come, meaning people who falsely interpret scripture and misuse the family of God’s most sacred family heirloom in ways it was not intended. He then appeals to Timothy to continue in what he has learned and been assured in, and encourages him to remember from whom he learned it. So the text in context appeals to both the scriptures themselves, but also in their proper context of those appointed by God as teachers, the apostles and those that they ordained and gave instruction too, of which timothy was in the line of. Rather than saying trust the bible alone, all you need is you and the holy spirit timothy, don’t even trust me, Paul. You just need you and the bible and the holy spirit to lead you into all truth, Paul seems to be saying that the Bible properly understood being rooted in the apostolic tradition(which he appeals to in verse 14) is where his assurance should stand in the face of false teachers – those who contradict the apostolic doctrinal interpretation of scripture.
    This is a common understanding of this text throughout the early church fathers and apologists.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks for commenting Jay. I don’t believe that just me, the Holy Spirit and the Bible would conclude that Mary never sinned, never had any children and was taken up into heaven. I wouldn’t arrive to the conclusion that Jesus must continue dying, or that we can earn our salvation. I definitely wouldn’t come to the conclusion that some can earn sainthood through miracles, or that we are to pray to God through human intermediaries. When tradition is brought to the same level of scripture chaos ensues. That’s all I was trying to say.

      • Jay Klein

        Your reply could barely be called such. Would you care to address and interact with the things that I brought up?

        • Jordan Standridge

          I was trying to clarify the point you disagreed with. You wrote 1000 words based on 50 of mine, so I was trying to explain why I believe The Bible > Tradition. I cant’t interact with every word of your comment (since it was long and hard to understand) but I tried to at least show you why I wrote the paragraph the way I did. I know you don’t deal with tradition in your comments and mainly deal with the Magisterium and their interpretation of scripture, but I would respond with: when tradition clouds the mind of the Magisterium it ultimately affects their interpretation of scripture, they don’t read the scripture and then come to conclusions about Mary/saints/earning way to heaven but rather have traditions and beliefs and then try to read them into scripture. It’s backwards and it ultimately leads people to preach another gospel.

          • Jay Klein

            I slammed the response out before I left the office, I apologize for my muddled words, perhaps these would be better suited to further discussion, as they are very well written.



            If you want to read these, i’d love to interact with you or anyone else on some key points Jordan.

            This area is precisely why i left the reformed tradition and am now Byzantine Catholic.

          • Jay Klein

            Also, I would be very interested in you interacting with my points above about sola scriptura being dependent on human traditions. i.e. sola scriptura does not get away from the “problem” of tradition. Any thoughts there?

          • Jason

            I’d agree with the idea that sola scriptura still depends on tradition. Tradition can get a bad rap in scholarly circles because people tend to think of it as the uncritical acceptance of things from other people.

            Scripture itself is beliefs past down to other generations from those through whom God spoke, therefore it *is* a tradition (by the undecorated definition of the word), and sola scriptura clearly depends on scripture!

            However, I do not believe that this method of understanding the scriptures itself depends on *human* tradition. The very same ultimate author of scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) lives in each believer (Ephesians 1:13-14).

            The discussion should not be whether tradition as a concept is bad, but rather what traditions have authority. This becomes a serious matter when the traditions of man begin to crowd out the traditions of God.

            I understand that it’s basically my word against the magisterum’s in how to properly interpret the Bible. However, Paul believed that the church would be able to tell the difference between the truth he had earlier taught and any false teachings he (theoretically) may teach later (Galatians 1:8). He knew there would be no arguing that others are just misinterpreting what had previously been taught!

            We *all* can be aided by the Spirit of truth into all truth (John 16:13), and I’m convicted that everyone in the church could be working toward the same mind if we trusted the Spirit we all share more completely (1 Corinthians 1:10).

            The issue is that we neglect discernment when we don’t test beliefs and hold only to what is good(1 Thessalonians 5:21). This neglect has been happening since the church was formed (Romans 16:17-18, Colossians 2:8, etc…) so even a tradition from that time cannot be trusted implicitly. Discernment is every believers responsibility.

          • Suzanne

            We Catholics don’t believe it’s based on human tradition either, Jason. The real question you’re going to have to ask yourself is this: is the Bible the ONLY source of infallible authority that Christ left us with? Or did he also give us the infallible authority to assemble the Bible and make doctrinal creeds that establish important truths like the Trinity (a word that never appears in scripture)? I don’t know about you, but on my own I would never have established the doctrine of the trinity. It also might be important to ask yourself if Martin Luther and the translators of the KJV Bible had the authority to take out previously accepted books of scripture… hmmm…

          • Nicole

            The concept of the Trinity, is most certainly taught in the Bible, in John and Revelation, just to name a couple. There are many words that didn’t exist when the Bible was translated. For instance, abortion was never mentioned, by that name. Does that mean that it’s fine, in God’s sight, to kill babies in the womb. Certainly not. His commandment to us, is not to kill. The same is true for gay marriage. God certainly could have addressed every issue, and called it by the names we would eventually adopt. It wasn’t necessary for Him to do that.

          • Suzannre

            Catholics also believe that the foundation for the doctrine of the Trinity is in the Bible. That’s why we established it. My point was simply that an ordinary reader of the Bible would easily miss that doctrine, and that I’m one of the people who would. In fact, there are lots of non-Trinitarian heresies from people who read the Bible and do not believe it’s in there. Look it up. I’m not going to address your comments on abortion and gay marriage because the Catholic Chruch agrees with you.

          • Nicole

            Once again, you diminish the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that scripture is interpreted with the help of Holy Spirit. I wouldn’t say that the Holy Spirit is a “ordinary reader,” as He is the One that inspired it.

            I would comment further, but I don’t think you are particularly interested in what the Bible says. You have your Catholic “talking points”, and you are able to pull a verse or two from here and there, to try and make the RCC teachings valid. God is not the author of confusion, Satan is. He does not contradict Himself. Many of the beliefs that you have, don’t bear out in scripture. When you stand before God, in judgment, He won’t be interested in how many books you have read from the early church fathers.

            I have been surprised at many of the RCC teachings, over the years. I was never more surprised than to learn how Catholics view Muslims, and THAT is really all I needed to know.


          • Suzanne

            I am saddened by the lack of Christian charity shown in this response, Nicole. I’m not commenting with the intention of frustrating you. My intention is to show that Catholics take questions of theology seriously and deserve to be considered by evangelicals as brothers and sisters in Christ. For while our human errors might divide us on earth, I hope that we might be unified in Heaven.

            I could just as easily accuse you of having your Evangelical “talking points”, but I won’t. I can see that you take questions of Scripture seriously and I don’t believe that is your intent.

            If I did not believe that my views, and the views of the RCC, held up to Scripture, then I would not believe them, but as we’ve noted before, faith is a gift.

            The comment on Muslims is a bit out of the blue, but I fail to see where the disagreement lies. I mean, nothing stated in the CCC, or this explanation of the CCC, differs from what I believed as an Evangelical. In other words, if this is an issue of disagreement between us, it is not an issue of “Protestant vs Catholic”.

            We can agree that Satan is the author of confusion and disunity within the Church. I look forward to the day when his reign on earth is ended.

          • Suzanne

            It’s funny that you say “The Bible > Tradition”. Catholics actually don’t dispute this, we just see it differently. We believe that Christ left us with the Bible AND with the Chruch. They work together, not against one another. Sola Scriptura is not actually scriptural; the Bible itself never claims to be the only source of authority.

            2 Thess 2:15 “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

            1 Corinthians 11:1-2 “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 2Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.”

            Acts 8:30-31 “Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. ”

            You see, Sola Scriptura is such spiritual poverty! To believe that Christ only left us a series of books but no infallible authority to assemble them and interpret them? The first years of Christianity must have been dark years indeed! The Bible wasn’t even assembled yet. No wonder there are over 40,000 Protestant denominations around the world. How could anyone agree on anything?

            I cannot be mad at you, because I used to be like you. I was a happy Protestant content to tear down Catholicism at every possible moment. Then I started reading early Church history, oh and what rich tradition it is! I almost cried when I read St. Iranaeus condemning Simon Magnus for reducing the Mass to meer symbology. I realized that I my beliefs were more similar to what Simon taught than what Christ taught. Christ has truly blessed us with a communion of saints. I encourage you to read.

          • Nicole

            Have you ever read the last couple of verses in Revelation? Mormons claim their “Book of Mormon” is also from God. Muslims claim the same regarding the “Quran”. It’s funny to me, how these additional books become more precious to those religions than the Bible. There are far too many contradictions between them, and the Bible, as well. If it’s in opposition to the Word of God, it’s not inspired by God. God is the ultimate authority, and the Word of God is complete.

          • Suzanne

            Yes, I have, which is why I wonder why Martin Luther and KJV Bible people felt they had the authority to take out books of the Bible. Fortunately, at least the KJV Bible people did not take out James as Luther did. They felt content to take out: Sirach, Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and Baruch, as well as longer versions of Daniel and Esther. Do not confuse the deuterocanonical books with the books rejected by the Church.

      • Suzanne

        1. I would never have concluded the doctrines of Mary either, but then I also would never have concluded the doctrines of the Trinity. That does not mean there is no scriptural support for the doctrines of Mary and the Trinity.

        2. Jesus does not die anew… This is a gross misunderstanding of the Mass. Jesus’s sacrifice transcends time. We believe that communion is the body and blood of Christ, as Christ himself said it was.

        3. You don’t “earn” sainthood, through miracles or otherwise.

        4. We don’t pray to God through human intermediaries, we ask human intermediaries to pray for us.

        • Nicole

          The doctrines of Mary? Is that to include the RCC belief that she was sinless? Interesting that there was no caveat given for her when Jesus said there is none righteous, no not one. He also said that all fall short, of the glory of God. Didn’t see Mary’s name mentioned in the verses that tell us we must be born again. Mary was special in that God chose her to be the mother of Jesus. She was still born, with the same original sin, that was given to mankind through Adam and Eve. She still needed to be redeemed, through the death of Jesus.

          Are you implying that the RCC doesn’t depend upon the pope/priest to absolve their sins? What is the purpose of confession to the pope/priest then? The Bible gives us no condition, that we must confess our sins, to anyone but Jesus Christ. Indeed, it says that there is but One mediator between the believer, and God. His name is Jesus. We are no more dependent on the pope absolving our sins, than we are the guy at our local gas station. The pope is not the sinless Lamb of God that bore our sins on the cross. The pope is not deity. He resides in the same carnal flesh that we all do.

          • Suzanne

            That is one doctrine of Mary, yes. I understand your confusion it was the last thing and hardest thing for me to accept when becoming Catholic. Actually, Catholics believe that Mary was created in the same way as Adam and Eve- without original sin. Is God not powerful enough to do this? Mary is the new Eve who’s “yes” to the angel counteracts Eve’s “yes” to Satan. Yet, it is important to note that Mary is not good of her own merit: it is only the work of Christ that was miraculously transcribed to her. You see, God was preparing a new arc of the covenant for the new covenant. If God could make an object holy with his presence why could the same not happen to a person? In fact, that is why Catholics believe Mary lived without the mark of original sin: because God was preparing her for a new covenant, and because Jesus fulfilled ALL of the laws of the Old Testament, including honor your father and mother. Christ not only honored Mary, he perfectly honored her by transcribing his righteousness upon her from her birth! Again, is God not powerful enough to do this?

            It’s not the Pope or priest who does the forgiving, only God forgives sin. Turn your Bible to Leviticus 19:21-22. In the Old Testament, Israelites would have to give their animals to the High Priest who would then perform the ceremony. Was it the priest who was forgiving them then, or was it God? I think we know the answer to this.

            John 20: 21-23 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

          • Nicole

            God was certainly capable of creating Mary with no original sin. He didn’t though. God could have accomplished the birth of Jesus in whatever way He chose. He could have placed baby Jesus in the womb of a cow, but He didn’t. A “perfect Mary” is not biblical. I have already cited the verses that disprove that anyone was born perfect, other than Jesus Christ. In the few accounts of Mary, in the Bible, she certainly never makes that claim, nor does anyone else. To say she had no sin, would also take away the free will that God has given us all. Mary was not a “perpetual virgin”. Matthew 1:24-25, also debunks that man made teaching. When it says that Joseph “knew her not TILL she had delivered her firstborn”, that means they consummated the marriage after Jesus was born. Mary also went on to have more children. Now, I ask myself, do I believe the unbiblical teachings of RCC, or do I believe God’s Word? I think I’ll stick with God.

          • Suzanne

            We can agree that God did not, in fact, place Jesus in the womb of a cow. The real difference between our views lies in the question: why Mary? Or, what’s so different about Mary?

            I believe that God does things in very particular ways for very particular reasons.

            I really don’t see how that Bible verse proves that Mary was born under the mark of original sin. For one thing, we know that Adam and Eve were already created without it so they must not be included in that “all”. For another thing, the purpose of that statement was not meant to be a commentary on Mary.

            Matthew 1: 24-25 demonstrates the diffuculty of translating a greek text to an english text.

            To quote a friend, “The reason is because in the Greek, the term being translated “until” has different connotations than in English. Depending on where it’s found, this same generic conjunction is translated “to,” “unto,” “as far as,” “even,” “till,” and “until.” So we see it in phrases like, “least to the greatest,” and “I say unto you.” It’s not a perfect translation, which is where the confusion comes in.…gs=G2193&t=KJV

            Even when it means “until,” it sometimes means, “until that point and not after,” and other times, it’s just used as sort of a narrative point. In the OT (1 Samuel 15:35), we hear: “Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him.” Does this mean that on the day Samuel died, he went and say Saul? No. It means, even up to the point that he died, he didn’t see him. There’s no suggestion whether he saw him or not afterwards. (Incidentally, he did, in 1 Samuel 28:13-14, but that’s not implied by the “until”). Granted, that’s in Hebrew, but the same principle holds true in the Greek.

            Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, and as the Old Ark was not to be touched by man, as Uzzah found out the hard way in 2 Samuel 6:1-8.

            Mary’s status as Virgin is prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, but note that in neither Matthew nor Luke’s Gospel do we find Mary (or Joseph) being told not to have sex. There’s not just a lack of instruction to remain perpetually a Virgin, we don’t find the angel telling her even to remain a virgin until Jesus is born. And remember, she married Joseph in the interim, as the verse you cited points out. So why was she even a virgin prior to Jesus’ birth? There’s two options: either the angel instructed her to remain a Virgin (and it just wasn’t recorded), or more likely, she’d taken a vow of perpetual chastity.

            We see a hint of that in the Gospel, in Luke 1:34, when Mary asks, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” If Mary was about to be married, and the angel comes and says, “you’re gonna bear the Messiah!” a normal bride-to-be wouldn’t have to ask, “But how?” Because a normal bride-to-be is intending upon having sex. To the extent that the Bible suggests an answer to why Mary was a virgin prior to Jesus’ birth, this is that answer.

            Jesus describes this type of vow in Matthew 19:12:

            “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

            A eunuch is someone incapable of having sex. Jesus is using some pretty irretractable language – not just a hold-out-wait-and-see, but a give-it-up-for-good. So Jesus considers the highest form of devotion to Him the kind of devotion that will forgo the earthly marital pleasures to which we’re entitled, just to focus more on the Kingdom of Heaven. St. Paul desires something similar in 1 Corinthians 7:7-9:

            Quote:I would like everyone to be like me [celibate], but each has from God a particular gift, some in one way, others differently. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it would be good for them to remain as I am, but if they cannot control themselves, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

            Paul even requires the widows supported by the community (something like nuns) in 1 Timothy 5:11 to be celibate. Note: that these celibate women needed to be supported, because women in the 1st century generally weren’t able to support themselves. So they were either supported by the community (as in the 1 Timothy 5 example) or supported by a man willing to abide by their vows (usually an older widower, just happy to have the companionship). It is into this latter category which the early Church claimed that Mary belonged.

            I suppose that my question is: if Mary is the most blessed of all women, then why are you surprised that she fits this category of celibates? And secondly, if not for a vow of celibacy, how do you explain the strange question Mary asks, and her and Joseph’s refusal to engage in marital sex even prior to the birth of Christ?”

            I don’t mean to diminish the intensity of the question of Mary’s role in the Church. In fact, the Catholic Church spent the better part of 2,000 years studying the scriptures and the beliefs of the early church fathers before making an “official” doctine on Mary.

  • As a child I was warned to never date or marry a Catholic. “Orthodoxy” by C.K. Chesterton was a recommended book I was encouraged to read.I read it and then I was horrified that Chesterton was Catholic. I complained to the Christian publishing company for publishing a book written by a Catholic. I received no explanation. Later I discovered that R.C. Sproul, Jr. recommends the book to his students. I was relieved to get his explanation as to why he recommends the book:

    “1. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. Why would a rabidly anti-Romanism Calvinist insist his teens read a rabidly anti-Calvinism Romanist? Why for all the biblical wisdom of course. That, and the writing. Chesterton was Lewis before Lewis, and clearly Lewis to Lewis. This book, rightly handled, is gold for the soul.”

    • Chris Nelson

      And Lewis is one of the chief apostates of the last 60 years. It is sad to see our complacency with such wickedness.

    • GinaRD

      It’s rather funny how some evangelicals handle the issue, isn’t it? To take another Lewis-related example, look at Tolkien. Somehow he’s simultaneously the devout man of faith who helped Lewis to see the truth of Christianity, and the man who wrote a great work founded in a Christian worldview, AND one of those evil godforsaken spawn-of-Satan Catholics. Good luck figuring that one out; I never have.

  • Pingback: Resources/Materials on Roman Catholicism | Effectual Grace()

  • tovlogos

    “…but we can’t let our desire for people to be saved or our desire to please men, lead us to cheer them on as they run towards hell. We must love them.” Absolutely. I know many Catholics who know nothing about Catholicism, but are part of a cultural phenomenon. They are often more open to a gospel message.
    Generally Catholics don’t know Scripture; and when they do they have read from a false gospel. They have an answer for everything you said. Mary’s virgin birth, who is the queen of heaven, and God’s wife is their sense of logic because the Holy Spirit miraculously impregnated Mary. In a works perspective, it’s much better if the mother of Jesus remained a virgin all of her life, effectively making her more holy. The Pope is supposed to be the vicar of Christ…the personification of Peter; yet Peter was very clear in his straightforward presentation of Christ as Savior — Solo Christo. I have always identified 1 Timothy 4:1-3 with Roman Catholicism, in spirit.
    The Pope is being celebrated by the secular world, as he brings a message of peace, harmony among all men; but ecumenism was diametrically opposite Christ’s message. He doesn’t believe we can operate today on the criteria of the past, yet God doesn’t change. So, who will be served if the whole world comes together in a John Lennon, “Imagine”, society? Not Jesus. If the Pope put forth a sermon similar to Peter’s first sermon in Acts, he would begin to serve Jesus.
    The idea that Catholics are actually eating the physical body of Christ — transubstantiation — is effectively cannibalistic, and not “spiritually” oriented, which naturally carries over to physical water baptism. This is why John 3:3 should always be emphasized.

  • Matthew Sewell

    I’d be interested to know where you think the Bible came from? It’s not as if there’s a “Divinely-Inspired Table of Contents”…

    Secondly, I encourage you to watch this great video by Bishop Robert Barron (in case you haven’t seen his material in the past) —

    Eight minutes — I’d love to hear your thoughts on both points after watching it.

  • Nicole

    Thank you so much, for this article. My heart has been so saddened by the worship of the pope. So many have made him a false idol. As I saw all the crowds standing, for hours, to catch a glimpse of him, I couldn’t help but wonder if they spent an equal amount in worshipping God that day. How many “faithful, religious people” will die and go to hell, because they never believed in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They were busy replacing the Gospel, with the traditions of this church, or that church, and completely missed the chance to be saved. I think the loss of those souls, probably grieves God the most. Just because a religion has been around for ages, and has “tradition”, doesn’t mean that it’s teachings are true. It just means that it’s been wrong, for a really long time.

    Enjoyed your article.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks Nicole, sometimes we feel like we are alone and the reaction to this post has reminded me that there are many who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal.

      • Suzanne

        Jordan, there are people who still worship the demon Baal. They are those who sacrifice unborn children in the name of convenience and self-love. Your Catholic brothers and sisters are not those people. Please consider praying about this accusation.

        • Jordan Standridge

          Hey Suzanne, I understand your frustration, I know you are bothered by how we are treating your religion. I get bothered as well and that’s why I write articles like this one in order to challenge fellow Christian’s to discern the truth. Its imperative that we get the Gospel right. That’s why Paul warns about different gospel’s in Galatians 1 and man’s tendency to twist the gospel and turn it into a works based religion That’s what happened with Roman Catholicism and it happens with every false religion. Ultimately there are only two religions as I write in this article Please read it to understand where I’m coming from.
          b.t.w. there’s a story in The Bible where Elijah is discouraged by the lack of faithful Jews, and God reassures him that there are 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal. In other words there are 7000 people out there who don’t worship idols but worship the one true God, that’s all I was saying. I am thankful that some Catholics fight against abortion. Moral issues can unite us in this life, but they can’t unite us in eternity. The only thing that can is the Gospel, we must get that right.

          • Suzanne

            I’m glad Catholics do not view Protestants this uncharitably. We still believe you all are going to Heaven. Of course, I should not put all 40,000 denominations in the same bucket. I left my Protestant background because I take the Bible seriously. I also take history seriously. Do you know what Paul was addressing in Galatians 1? He was addressing the first church heresy, preached by a man named Simon Magnus, who, among other things, claimed that communion was merely a symbol and not the actual body and blood of Christ. He claimed that Jesus only came to the earth in spirit and not in flesh. Oh, yes, there were schisms from the true Bishops even back then. This is why Church authority is so important. Protestants did not start anything new: they carried on a tradition that started less than one generation after Christ left. Read the five books of St. Irenaeus’s “Against Heresies”. I will pray for you. I once believed exactly as you do.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            The heresy of Simon Magnus, according to Irenaeus was that he exalted himself above others, claiming to be of special importance. Irenaeus writes, “This man, then, was glorified by many as if he were a god. He represented himself, in a word, as being the loftiest of all powers, that is, the Being who is the Father over all, and he allowed himself to be called by whatso-
            ever title men were pleased to address him.”

            Sounds like the pope to me.

          • Suzanne

            Yeah, Simon Magnus was a seriously bad dude. He also claimed to have special knowledge from Jesus that was not given to the Apostles… talk about presumption!

            I like what Peter says about him in Acts 8 “20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

            We know from history that he, sadly, did not give up his sin. He multiplied in and caused division in the Church.

            Honestly adding your commentary of what it “sounds like to you” isn’t very helpful in terms of the discussion. It might sound like a pope to you, but that’s certainly not what St. Irenaeus thought.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Suzanne, Paul wrote Galations because the Jews had infiltrated the church and were trying to get new believers to follow the Mosaic Law after they had received the Spirit. (see Galations 4:10 and 5:11,12)

    • Suzanne

      You are right in one thing: in order to be an intellectual Protestant you have to be willing to accept that Christ left his church in spiritual darkness until the time of Martin Luther. I, for one, find that absurd. Christ established his Church and promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it.

      2 Thess 2:15 “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

  • Michael Newhouse

    If salvation is a free gift, then why can’t infants receive it?
    Why must they attain a certain maturity in order to make an ‘informed decision’ of faith, repentance, and placing trust? (And therefore anyone who is mentally incapacitated and unable to make an intellectual assent must then be unable to be saved, right?). Those choices are all “works”. You condemn works out of one side of your mouth, then require them out of the other.
    If you truly believe that the Catholic Church is the heretical anti-Christ that leads people astray (funny, they don’t condemn you)…then you must believe in “the Great Apostasy” that the true faith was lost for about 1200 years between ad313 and ad1517 when it was somehow magically ‘reconstituted’ by Protestant Reformers. You must believe that those reformers were led by the Holy Spirit. Why would the Spirit abandon his Church and all believers and the whole world for 1200 years? How do you have the authority to determine the Spirit’s true actions in the Church?
    How can you know that what the reformers ‘reconstituted’ is true? (since they all disagree with each other, they can’t all be correct). You tear down the Church for claiming authority to judge from where salvation comes from…then you claim to have the authority yourself.
    You claim the Catholic Church is false, yet it was the Catholic Church who wrote the New Testament, gathered the New Testament and determined its canon, and preserved scripture for the approximately 1450 years until Protestantism magically awakened to its true meaning and interpretation?
    Why would the Holy Spirit abandon Christ’s Church, but preserve his presence in a book and its copying and translating and eventual interpretation? Is the Holy Spirit fickle that he turned his back on the Church for 15 centuries?
    How can the Spirit use the Catholic Church to write and preserve scripture for future generations, but abandon 1200-1500 years of humanity to ignorance and damnation by going dormant?

    That’s a sacrilege to assert against God (and contrary to scripture where Jesus assures his apostles that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Chuch).
    You cite 2 Tim to prove “sola scriptura”, yet nowhere does 2 Tim say anything about scripture being a stand alone, only that it is a help. And the Gospels themselves did not exist at that time…so 2 Tim was only talking about the OT, that does not address salvation in Christ at all.
    Nowhere does scripture claim that it is the sole authority. Christ never speaks of sending a book or scripture. He *does* talk of sending his Spirit who will guide the apostles into all truth. The apostles then handed on the faith to their successors…not by writing anything down and claiming it was the ‘Constitution’ of the Church (you think at least the apostles would get it right!), but by the laying on of hands and passing of the Holy Spirit (which the Church calls ordination).
    I trust the words of Jesus in Scripture.
    I trust the words and actions of the apostles.
    We have a living Church full of the Spirit, not merely a book to interpret and argue over.
    Scripture does not testify to itself. It testifies to Christ, the true Word of God.
    Salvation is not interpreting a book.
    Salvation is encountering God in and through Christ, repenting of our sins, accepting his forgiveness, rejoicing in his life and freedom, becoming new creatures, turning away from all that is not him, taking up our cross and following him.
    Non-Catholic Christians would not exist were it not for the Catholic Church through the millenia. Respect your holy Mother Church.
    In Mark, the apostles want to stop a man who is casting out demons in Jesus’s name. When they tell Jesus, he commands them to leave the man alone – that no one who invokes his name can be false.
    The Catholic Church glorifies the name of Jesus. +IHS+
    She teaches in his Name. Reverences him. Worships him. Continues the succession of bishops down from the apostles themselves, the Holy Spirit alive within the Church. She wrote and preserved the Bible and continues to preach and preserve and study and proclaim it.
    Yet you accuse her of apostasy. Of being heretic. Of being false.
    The words of Christ admonish you. Disagree with the Church if you must…but do not speak against her or claim she is false.
    If you slander the bride, do not expect the Bridegroom to look kindly upon you when you stand before his throne.

    38John said to him,l “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”39Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.40For whoever is not against us is for us.m

    • Zachary

      The true Church has persevered for millennia under oppression from ” Roman Catholicism” and have burned and martyred on her stakes.

  • Lizzie

    I have serious question. Is there two branches of the Catholic Church ; one being called Roman Catholic ( which teaches all of the normal heresies) and a more reformed protestant type Catholic Church ( which may teach partial heresies)? I’ve been confused about this for many years now because many protestant leaders refer to them as Roman Catholics, not just Catholic. Seems to me that if your parish is under that umbrella of the Pope, with out declaring Catholic heresies, you are never the less heretical and damned just the same.

    • Suzane

      Hi Lizzy, resident RC here. No, there is only one church. There are different rites and different priestly orders but there is only one church and heresy is not allowed 🙂

      • Zachary

        Catholic means whole and encompasses the whole Church. “Roman Catholicism” is a contradiction of terms.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Hi Lizzie, I guess i’d say that there are different types of Catholics in the world. There are those who actually believe everything that the Church teaches all the way down to the atheist who still baptizes his children and grandchildren “just in case”. Ultimately there is only one Roman Catholic Church.

  • Zachary

    The anti-Christ will likely be a universally loved pope. Performing miracles and preaching peace on earth and unity amongst men. Beware!

    • Zachary

      2 Thessolians 2

  • Zachary

    Ephesians 2

  • Thank you for this well composed post! I’d like to add another reason why Evangelicals and Catholics cannot be “together”… we worship different gods.

    That sounds like an outrageous claim but consider the following from the Catholic Catechism:

    CCC 841, “The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

    The Roman Catholic Church teaches that they worship the same god as the Muslims.

    Allah of the Quran is not Almighty God of the Bible.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thank you for pointing this out. John 14:6 just got thrown out of the window.

    • Suzanne

      *sigh* If you’re going to disagree with the CCC, at least have the intellectual honesty to take the entirety of the section and not take one piece out of context. You’re not going to convince anyone using such poor methods. I mean, we all have confirmation bias, but we must try very hard to see things as they actually are and not as we want them to be.

      • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

        Question: Do Catholics believe that people of other religions, such as Muslims, will go to heaven?

        Answer: Historically Rome taught that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church; therefore Muslims, like other non-Catholics, could not be saved unless they convert to the Catholic religion.

        Relatively recently the Catholic authorities changed their mind; now they assure Muslims (and members of other religions) that they can be saved if they follow their religion conscientiously. ‘The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.’ (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium). (

        Suzanne, apparently this was not taken out of context as you assumed. Your authorities have spoken. Do you agree with them or the Bible?

        • Suzanne

          Context, Jane, context. No to just about everything you said. Let’s also do away with false dichotomies, while we’re at it.

          Do you actually want to know what the Church teaches about these things? I hope I’m wrong, but I get the impression that your interest mostly lies in having a witch hunt and I don’t like wasting time.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            You said, “No to just about everything you said.” Suzanne, these aren’t my words, they are quotes copied and pasted from Catholic CCC sites. I don’t understand what false dichotomies you’re talking about. If I am taking these out of context, please explain their proper context.

  • carol

    I believe each religion has errors. There is no perfect religion because its doctrine only developed throughout from imperfect men that could make mistakes. I am also evangelical, but i disagree their doctrine of salvation. Predestination, Eternal Security, Sins are automatically forgiven are erroneous. If you really read the whole NT, and just take the word as they are, it is clear that we need works, and obedience for salvation. What evangelicals do not understand is when we initially believe from our PAST SINS, we are forgiven, cleanse, and justified from all PAST SINS prior believing Christ. This does NOT include FUTURE SINS. And now we are made righteous, and justified, our salvation should be maintained by obedience to the commandments, or works. That is why it says, we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Why does someone need to work out something? Whether they are debts that have been paid, Grades that you made in good standing, fat body that you just reduced, salvation that God made you in good standing, WE NEED TO WORK THEM OUT because we might screw, blew, or fail it. “SALVATION by
    CHRIST as the son of God, Lord & Savior of our souls”. (Because Only
    Believing in His name, that God can FORGIVE, CANCEL, CLEANSE and JUSTIFY us
    from ALL our PAST SINS. For past sins, All We need is to Believe: and Obedience
    to the Law, Or Commandments without believing Jesus will NOT CANCEL our PAST
    SINS (Romans 3:21-31). NOW that WE ARE in GOOD STANDING with GOD(by making us
    righteous in the Father’s sight), We Need TO MAINTAIN OUR SALVATION by WORKS(obedience
    to the COMMANDMENTS. Our Connotation as Evangelical Christians is that Once God
    Saved us from all our PAST SINS, we mistakenly think our FUTURE SINS are automatically
    forgiven. Nowhere in the entire NT specifically says that future sins are
    automatically forgiven.

    Then AFTER believing Christ, the proper gospel
    should be Salvation by Faith PLUS WORKS.

    For FUTURE SINS, to be forgiven &
    justified, we need to CONFESS, ask forgiveness for our sins so God would
    forgive, cleanse, justify us again from all sins. (That just means if we do
    not, then we won’t be forgiven, justified, cleanse from those sins). Jesus
    saved us from PAST SINS, and not automatically FUTURE SINS. The belief of we do
    NOT need OBEDIENCE(works) even AFTER receiving Christ is HERETIC in context of
    the whole scriptures. Obedience really matters AFTER believing Christ. For PAST
    SINS, all you need to do is to BELIEVE. For past sins, We need NOT Obey any
    law. We need NOT do any WORKS(our works are filthy rags, anc cannot cancel our
    past sins); NO matter how BIG & MANY are our sins, the grace of God is more
    to forgive all our past sins. We are under a curse if we thing our past sins
    can be forgiven/justified without believing Jesus)

    Read the ENTIRE ROMANS, Chapter 3, And PAY
    ATTENTION very closely to verses 23 through 31. Notice WHAT SINS ARE REMITTED,
    FORGIVEN & JUSTIFIED?; that is why in ROMANS 2:13 for it is not the hearers
    of the Law who are just before God, but the DOERS of the LAW WILL BE JUSTIFIED;
    contradicting ROMANS 3: 20 Therefore by the DEEDS of the LAW there SHALL NO
    FLESH be JUSTIFED in HIS SIGHT: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Why are
    these 2 statements contradicting? cos we are only forgiven or justified for our
    past sins. (I will discuss later further).


    VERSES that SHOWS that we are ONLY

    —ROMANS 3: 23 For all have sinned, and come
    short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the
    redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God put forward before the eyes of
    all as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and
    life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, TO BE RECEIVED THROUGH
    FAITH. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance
    He had passed over and ignored PAST SINS WITHOUT PUNISHMENT.

    —GALATIANS 2: 17 “But if, while we seek to
    be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ
    therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 FOR IF I BUILD AGAIN THOSE

    —Jesus said to MARY MAGDALENE, “REPENT,
    YOUR SINS are FORGIVEN, and GO, & SIN NO MORE”, but of course she is
    going to fall even she tries her best not to sin, so she may confess her sins.



    =>> VERSES that shows that AFTER
    SALVATION if we do NOT.

    — 1 JOHN 2:3 Now by this we know that we
    know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 HE WHO SAYS, “I KNOW HIM,”
    By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought
    himself also to walk just as He walked.(How can we sin if there are no laws for
    us to transgress??It just means we are still under some laws)

    —HEBREWS 10:26 For IF WE SIN WILLFULLY after
    we have received the knowledge of the truth (spiritual truths of the gospel),
    EXPECTATION of JUDGMENT, & FIERY INDIGNATION which will devour the
    adversaries (the disobedient children are considered to be enemies of God) . 28
    Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two
    or three witnesses. 29 Of HOW MUCH WORSE PUNISHMENT, do you suppose, will he be
    thought worthy WHO HAS TRAMPLED THE SON OF GOD UNDERFOOT, counted the blood of
    the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and INSULTED the SPIRIT
    of GRACE? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[e]
    says the Lord.[f] And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 IT IS A

    —-HEBREWS 6:4 For IT IS IMPOSSIBLE for those
    WHO WERE ONCED ENLIGHTENED, and have TASTED the HEAVENLY GIFT, and have become
    PARTAKERS of the HOLY SPIRIT 5 and have TASTED the GOOD WORD of GOD, and the
    POWERS of the AGE to COME 6 IF THEY FALL AWAY, if they fall away, AND to RENEW
    and PUT HIM to an OPEN SHAME. 7 For the EARTH WHICH DRINKS in the RAIN hta
    often comes upon it, AND BEARS HERBS USEFUL for those CULTIVATED, RECEIVES
    NEAR to being CURSED, WHOSE END is to be BURNED.


    FAITH WITHOUT WORKS CANNOT JUSTIFY US. (Works alone without Christ would not
    save us, but works with Christ will save us)

    — ROMANS 2:13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God,
    but the DOERS of the LAW WILL BE JUSTIFIED.

    — JAMES 2:19
    You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and
    tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is
    dead?[f] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac
    his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his
    works, 24 You see then that FAITH IS JUSTIFIED BY WORKS, and NOT BY FAITH ONLY.

    2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence
    only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR SALVATION WITH FEAR AND

    — 2
    every one may receive the things “DONE in HIS BODY, according to that he
    hath done, whether it be good or bad.(Doesnt that sound “works” or
    “performances” in the body?)



    — 1 JOHN
    : 9 IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS, he is
    faithful and just to FORGIVE US OUR SINS, and to CLEANSE US FROM ALL
    UNRIGHTOUSNESS. (NOTE: So what happens if we do NOT confess our sins, then we
    won’t be forgiven, cleanse from our sins, and be justified) 10 If we say
    that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

    — 1 JOHN 2:2
    My little children, these things I write to you, so THAT YOU MAY NOT SIN. And
    IF ANYONE SINS, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the
    righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours
    only but also for the whole world.

    — LUKE 11:4 And FORGIVE
    US OUR SINS; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us
    not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

    (NOTE: We are
    instructed to ask forgiveness for our sins).

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