06 January, 2011

Bickering only serves the adversaries of the Body of Christ... especially in these dangerous times

There continues to be an enlightening and educational exchange of ecclesiology between 'Small Town Guy', 'Paul' and 'Cliff', the latest in a recent cross-post (Scripture Sola). Cliff posted the following today:

"There is one thing that is quite evident amongst all our disagreements, and that is we need to strengthen, clarify and unify the Christian position.

The Church, both Protestant and Catholic is under siege by the enemy. We cannot let our emotions run rampant and abandon reason. We need to remember there are faithful, dedicated, sanctified believers in every tradition. Respect and understanding of each other must be priority. After all it is "love" that will prevail. 1 cor 13." 
 I was moved by his comment when taken in light of some recent posts and cross posts here about the slaughter of Christians in various corners of the Muslim world to offer the following. I would be most interested in your thoughts on the topic.
Cliff: You are ABSOLUTELY correct! Instead of fighting amongst ourselves over who better understands the details of his covenant of salvation, is it not easy to see that our Father would want that we present the enemy with the strength of our common belief.

I keep saying over and over that the 'house is on fire', and it is time to put aside our squabbles and work together to address the challenges that confront the voice of faith today.

Christians are all children of the covenant of the cross and the waters of baptism. We all profess our faith in Christ as Messiah and Lord. We call claim salvation in his name, and his name alone. This is our strength... a strength that's weakened by internal conflict and bickering among those who choose to participate in this extended offer of our eternal Father, God and Lord of all.

Wolves try to cleave members away from the protection of the herd to kill them off one by one. It makes NO SENSE to be throwing members out of the Christian pack because we question the purity of their doctrine.

Fr. Tim

37 comments:

  1. Amen! and Amen!

    Cliff

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  2. 'Bickering'? Interesting.

    As I am not, and was not raised, Catholic, I would have to ask for clarification on a few points of doctrine before getting the jist of this - my information might very well be outdated.

    It is my impression that sins not shriven by an official priest were not considered forgiven (if this is not the case, why does the threat of excommunication carry any weight?) Also, I was of the opinion that the Catholic belief is that the Pope can, under certain circumstances, speak as the infallible voice of god on the earth.
    Neither Protestants, Jews nor Moslems accept these aspects of doctrine. If these doctrines are vital to the Catholic faith, why would one of these groups be more welcome than another - assuming lost souls are the result in any case. If, on the other hand, these are not vital to the purported business of churches (saving souls) then why bother with them at all?

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  3. Anri: Under normal circumstances, you would have a case. There are many points of difference in terms of dogma and practice that are significant. However, given that Christianity is coming under attack in various corners of the world, now is not the time to focus upon our differences but rather we should be stressing that which unites us... our faith in the existence of God and our belief that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. This is the reason that Christians are being killed. Our enemies do not take note of our doctrinal differences. They are attacking because of our core belief. They are attacking because we are Christians, not Catholics, Coptics, Orthodox or Protestant.

    Fr. Tim

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  4. I agree we need to focus on our common beliefs. I have many Protestant friends where we can do just that without engaging in doctrinal debates. We agree to disagree but share our faith in Christ. They don't view me as the unsaved nor do I view them that way. Admirably, many of them have a closer relationship and deeper faith than I do or a good number of my fellow Catholics.
    That said. I don't think its prudent to ignore someone that is spreading false teachings about the church either. The church has really dropped the ball in the past 40 or so years in the catechesis department and many are easily swept away from Her when they are confronted by someone firing scripture passages from all angles that on the outset, seem to discredit the Church. I think we need to answer to the fud being spread about or Church membership will continue to hemorrhage. That or the ones remaining will adopt the "me and Jesus" belief system and cherry pick truth and morality for themselves. The church is rife with that already.
    Regarding recent lengthy postings against the Church, I think we've covered most of these points in previous threads and I've no desire to rehash the same old argument. I know where our protestant brothers are coming from and they should know where we are coming from too.
    I agree we could do much more together than apart. We can see that happen with many of todays hot button issues. Tim is absolutely right that we need to come together to face the looming threat to Christendom or we could see a day where Wayne and myself could share a prison cell or an executioners sword rather than our belief in Christ.

    Cheers
    Paul

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  5. Anri makes a discerning point.

    Don't be fooled by all this talk that differences between Protestantism and Romanism are something that we should put aside. The truth is Rome and the RCC has not changed in any significant way since the time of the Reformation. In countries where Rome is in the overwhelming majority, you will find that religious freedom apart from the RC religion was limited or practically non-existent. There is still great darkness in many lands which are largely RC, such as Mexico, Haiti, Philipines, central and south America, etc. Do you think if Rome were in the overwhelming majority, freedom of religion would still be the same here?

    The history of the RCC is not one of tolerance or freedom. Just look back at the 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition which ended in the 1800s, relatively recently. This was authorized and run out of the Holy Office (which still exists, possibly under a different name). Check the history of the Popes by reading a book "Vicars of Christ" by former Jesuit, Peter De Rosa. After two millenia of anti-Semitism, driven by the theology of Rome, and after the six million died in the holocaust, we still see anti-Semitism in the world.

    Rome is one of the richest and politically a very powerful institution on earth. It has it's own nation-state status as the Vatican and has foreign diplomats in many capitals of the world. It receives heads of state and foreign dignataries who bow and kiss the Pope's hand. Check the book which is online, "The Vatican Billions".

    How does all this relate to the humble Christ of the Bible who had no place to lay his head? Do you think if the Apostle Peter were to travel to Rome he would be accepted for an audience with His Holiness?

    While some talk of brotherhood and love on here, the truth is they are still committed supporters of a system which is largely man-made and demands absolute surrender of one's intellect and reasoning to an "infallible" Church, Pope and Majesterium. They sometimes refer to some verse in the Bible when it fits in with their agenda of domination, but the truth is they are poor benighted souls who are not permitted to read the Bible with their own understanding but must at all times submit to the official interpretation of mother Church and the Majesterium. This is the system that claims to be the one true and only authorized Church on earth. The world is full of books, catechisms, and internet articles and websites which will verify that this is true.

    Their goal is to bring all churches and peoples under the absolute authority of and submission to their system. That is why we see this chat about togetherness. The approach must always be adjusted to fit the circumstances.

    But we must remember these people caught up in this system are NOT the enemy.

    On that point, we can agree. The real enemy is the Father of Lies, which is behind this world system. The only anti-dote is the truth of God's Word, not some false unity behind a religious system which rejects the truth of God's Word in favour of power and control. The truth and true unity can only be found in and based upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.

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  6. "This is the reason that Christians are being killed. Our enemies do not take note of our doctrinal differences. They are attacking because of our core belief. They are attacking because we are Christians, not Catholics, Coptics, Orthodox or Protestant."

    Fair enough.

    At the risk of sounding heartless, why should a devout Christian be concerned about being killed for his beliefs? Wouldn't such an action simply entitle him to his ultimate reward?
    In other words, why fear attach unless death holds some terror? Why fear death when you believe - truly believe, mind you - that eternal paradise lies beyond?
    I understand the injunction against actively seeking death, but I have never understood why passively waiting for it was considered a sign of faith in the men of yore, but laughably unwise when applied to oneself.

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  7. Too bad Wayne isn't commenting anymore. I sorta miss him.

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  8. Paul, I can see by your post that cooperation or respect for each other is going be a difficult if not impossible path to walk. We all get defensive about our religion, and indeed it is sensitive and personal issue, and no one likes their religion discredited.

    Truth and sound doctrine are core issues of our religions, and that is why we are where we are. The reformation whether you like to admit it or not was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Iif neither side is going to admit mistakes were made we are just spinning our wheels.

    We can continue to criticize our brothers and sisters of other denominations ignoring the plank in our own eyes while pointing out the speck in our neighbor, or we can choose the path of love.

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  9. One way to overcome old prejudices against one another is work together such as pro-life. My personal experience with working on pro-life pickets is the great respect I have seen that Catholics have for life and the value of human dignity. Nothing can be more heart wrenching than the taking of human life. I have seen time and again the faithful dedication shown by faithful Catholics who let their actions speak louder than any dogma. It would take thousands of theological decrees to accomplish the same result.

    Even when these faithful Catholics pray the Rosary, which most Protestants find unsettling, one can only admire their faith and respect for life. We can see sincere faith in their hearts.
    Cliff (and previous post)

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  10. Michael,

    I'm still around. Glad to see I haven't driven you away. Did you see my three postings I made today under "Sola Scriptura takes it on the chin"?

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  11. I am thinking of the sex abuse crisis and some of the information in an article by former priest Richard Bennett, "Better to Marry than to Burn" -- Boston and Catholic troubles.

    Is there anyone in the RCC with any authority who really knows what the problem is and what the solutions should be?

    Take a look at these articles on the subject by Richard Bennett. The present system of celebacy is an invention supposedly based on tradition; it has no scriptural support. In reality it is another invention of men.

    "Marriage and Ministry
    In the Scripture, marriage is honored. The Scriptural qualifications of a pastor or minister is that he is to be the husband of one wife, knowing how to manage his own home first and then God’s church. “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,
    vigilant, sober, of good behavior…one that ruleth his own house, having his children in
    subjection with all gravity; for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take
    care of the church of God?” The gift of celibacy is spoken about by the Lord Christ Jesus, as a gift that is given only to a few. On the very topic “it is not good to marry”, Christ Jesus said, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 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. It is therefore in the context of speaking about marriage that the Lord speaks of the eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.
    It is to be noted that the Lord does not speak of an institution of celibates; rather He says, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

    To view the whole article go to:

    http://www.bereanbeacon.org/articles.php?link=?name=Articles

    Scroll down the list of articles to "better to marry than to burn".

    Another article near the bottom of the list is:
    "The root cause of Catholic scandals"

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  12. Some here talked about the need for unity. But at least one of many question must be honestly faced first:

    Why doesn't Rome apologize for the condemnations issued against Protestants by the Council of Trent in the 1500s?

    http://www.bereanbeacon.org/articles.php?link=?name=Articles

    Under the subject of False Ecumenism,
    click on Biblical Unity or Papal Conformity

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  13. Perhaps as difficult as our journey to some form of unity seems to be, we may need a different approach. With neither side giving an inch in admitting past mistakes were made, can we agree on some fundamental doctrines, as complete unity appears out of the question?

    As former Bishop Fulton Sheen stated there is a hierarchy of truths, and a similar statement was made by a former Concordia Lutheran seminary professor. Ted Janzow stated there are four fundamental truths which every authentic Christian religion must adhere to.
    1) God as Creator and Sustainer of all life.
    2) The old & new testaments as the Word of God
    3) The divinity of Jesus, both man and God.
    4) The atoning sacrifice of Jesus death on the cross.

    These are the key or hierarchical truths that we must all agree on if we are true believers.

    While I agree with many of "Small Town Guy's" comments, I do not share the same animus for the Catholic Church. I have a great deal of respect for most Catholics, and of course we all loved John Paul II.


    Cliff

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  14. Cliff,

    "Ted Janzow stated there are four fundamental truths which every authentic Christian religion must adhere to.
    1) God as Creator and Sustainer of all life.
    2) The old & new testaments as the Word of God
    3) The divinity of Jesus, both man and God.
    4) The atoning sacrifice of Jesus death on the cross.

    These are the key or hierarchical truths that we must all agree on if we are true believers.

    While I agree with many of "Small Town Guy's" comments, I do not share the same animus for the Catholic Church. I have a great deal of respect for most Catholics, and of course we all loved John Paul II."

    Actually the Reformed Church to which I belong does confess the Apostle's Creed, every Sunday in fact. So we do agree with the four points you stated above.

    I'm not sure what your religious background or knowledge is. Today many Protestants have very little knowledge of the RC religion. You may have noticed that. It does take a significant amount of reading to learn the differences between Romanism and Protestantism. In fact today, the term Protestant has fallen by the wayside in many denominations. It is not even used in many places and many do not even know if the term applies to them.

    To be a true Protestant, one must understand to some degree what the RC church teaches and what the Bible teaches at least on basic doctrines.
    You probably noticed the word Protestant comes from the word protest. Therefore that is tied to its basic meaning. Protestants are christians who are protesting something. But again today, many people in many denominations protest nothing and don't know what it is all about. Sad reality. Even in the RC church there are many countless people who are dissatisfied with some issues. The RCC is in a kind of crisis situation itself I believe.

    But as far as your four points, I think Protestants and RCs have always agreed on those points. However, there are much greater differences. I am not sure how much of it you have studied. There are certain doctrines about Christ that one must believe in order to be born again I believe. One of them is the atonement. That is something you may wish to investigate. It is of vital importance.

    The postings I made lately from the great theologian of the 1800s, Charles Hodge comes from his monumental 3 volume set of Systematic Theology. Fortunately it is even available on the internet to read online.
    Go to the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at:

    http://www.ccel.org/h/hodge

    You can find his complete book online there and can select any part of the book to read.
    There are other books of course.
    That is a large book; you might be interested in something more concise. Loraine Boettner (now passed away) wrote a very thorough book called "Roman Catholicism." It is another good book.

    While I am opposed to what I believe are the false teachings of Romanism, I am not opposed to the Catholic people. I do have a real concern for people trapped up in what I see as false religion.

    Wayne

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  15. Cliff,

    Tim said "Christians are all children of the covenant of the cross and the waters of baptism. We all profess our faith in Christ as Messiah and Lord. We call claim salvation in his name, and his name alone. This is our strength... a strength that's weakened by internal conflict and bickering among those who choose to participate in this extended offer of our eternal Father, God and Lord of all."

    When Tim is speaking to us (non-Catholics) he may say something different that what the RC catechism teaches. This is somewhat misleading because if you read his statement above, it seems as if he believe what many Protestants believe; that is, that salvation is by faith alone in Christ. Unfortunately, the problem arises when you examine what the RC religion actually teaches. It is something totally different.

    I will post some of the differences between what Protestants believe and what the RC teaches. Hopefully you will see there is a great contradiction between his statement above and what the RC teaches. Some other RCs on here might even notice that and be willing to admit it, but most will probably say nothing about the contradiction in order to be agreeable with Tim.

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  16. "C. The Romish Doctrine of Infallibility founded on a Wrong Theory of the Church.

    The first great argument of Protestants against Romanism concerns the theory of the Church.

    God entered into a covenant with Abraham. In that covenant there were certain promises which concerned his natural descendants through Isaac, which promises were suspended on the national obedience of the people. That covenant, however, contained the promise of redemption through Christ. He was the seed in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. The Jews came to believe that this promise of redemption, i.e., of the blessings of the Messiah’s reign, was made to them as a nation; and that it was conditioned on membership in that nation. All who were Jews either by descent or proselytism, and who were circumcised, and adhered to the Law, were saved. All others would certainly perish forever. This is the doctrine which our Lord so pointedly condemned, and against which St. Paul so strenuously argued. When the Jews claimed that they were the children of God, because they were the children of Abraham, Christ told them that they might be the children of Abraham, and yet the children of the devil (John viii. 33-44); as John, his forerunner, had before said, say not “We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Matt. iii. 9) It is against this doctrine the epistles to the Romans and Galatians are principally directed. The Apostle shows, (1.) That the promise of salvation was not confined to the Jews, or to the members of any external organization. (2.) And therefore that it was not conditioned on descent from Abraham, nor on circumcision, nor on adherence to the Old Testament theocracy. (3 ) That all believers (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως) are the sons and, therefore, the heirs of Abraham. (Gal. iii. 7.) (4.) That a man might be a Jew, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, circumcised on the eighth day, and touching the righteousness which is of the law blameless, and yet it avail him nothing. (Phil. iii. 4-6.) (5.) Because he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; and circumcision is of the heart. (Romans ii. 28-29.) (6.) And consequently that God could cast off the Jews as a nations without acting inconsistently with his covenant with Abraham, because the promise was not made to the Israel κατὰ σάρκα, but to the Israel κατὰ πνεῦμα. (Rom. ix. 6-8.)

    134Romanists have transferred the whole Jewish theory to the Christian Church; while Protestants adhere to the doctrine of Christ and his Apostles. Romanists teach, (1.) That the Church is essentially an external, organized community, as the commonwealth of Israel. (2.) That to this external society, all the attributes, prerogatives, and promises of the true Church belong. (3.) That membership in that society is the indispensable condition of salvation; as it is only by union with the Church that men are united to Christ, and, through its ministrations, become partakers of his redemption. (4.) That all who die in communion with this external society, although they may, if not perfect at death, suffer for a longer or shorter period in purgatory, shall ultimately be saved (5.) All outside of this external organization perish eternally. There is, therefore, not a single element of the Jewish theory which is not reproduced in the Romish."

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  17. "Protestant Doctrine of the Nature of the Church.

    Protestants, on the other hand, teach on this subject, in exact accordance with the doctrine of Christ and the Apostles: (1.) That the Church as such, or in its essential nature, is not an external organization. (2.) All true believers, in whom the Spirit of God dwells, are members of that Church which is the body of Christ, no matter with what ecclesiastical organization they may be connected, and even although they have no such connection. The thief on the cross was saved, though he was not a member of any external Church. (3.) Therefore, that the attributes, prerogatives, and promises of the Church do not belong to any external society as such, but to the true people of God collectively considered; and to external societies only so far as they consist of true believers, and are controlled by them. This is only saying what every man admits to be true, that the attributes, prerogatives, and promises pertaining to Christians belong exclusively to true Christians, and not to wicked or worldly men who call themselves Christians. (4.) That the condition of membership in the true Church is not union with any organized society, but faith in Jesus Christ. They are the children of God by faith; they are the sons of Abraham, heirs of the promise of redemption made to him by faith; whether they be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free; whether Protestants or Romanists, Presbyterians or Episcopalians; or whether they be so widely scattered, that no two or three of them are able to meet together for worship.

    Protestants do not deny that there is a visible Church Catholic
    135on earth, consisting of all those who profess the true religion, together with their children. But they are not all included in any one external society. They also admit that it is the duty of Christians to unite for the purpose of worship and mutual watch and care. They admit that to such associations and societies certain prerogatives and promises belong; that they have, or ought to have the officers whose qualifications and duties are prescribed in the Scriptures; that there always have been, and probably always will be, such Christian organizations, or visible churches. But they deny that any one of these societies, or all of them collectively, constitute the Church for which Christ died; in which He dwells by his Spirit; to which He has promised perpetuity, catholicity, unity, and divine guidance into the knowledge of the truth. Any one of them, or all of them, one after another, may apostatize from the faith, and all the promises of God to his Church be fulfilled. The Church did not fail, when God reserved to himself only seven thousand in all Israel who had not bowed the knee unto Baal.

    Almost all the points of difference between Protestants and Romanists depend on the decision of the question, “What is the Church?” If their theory be correct; if the Church is the external society of professing Christians, subject to apostle-bishops (i.e., to bishops who are apostles), and to the Pope as Christ’s vicar on earth; then we are bound to submit to it; and then too beyond the pale of that communion there is no salvation. But if every true believer is, in virtue of his faith, a member of that Church to which Christ promises guidance and salvation, then Romanism falls to the ground."

    Charles Hodge - Systematic Theology

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  18. "Winer in his “Comparative Darstellung,”8989Page 165. thus briefly states the two theories concerning the Church. Romanists, he says, “define the Church on earth, as the community of those baptized in the name of Christ, united under his Vicar, the Pope, its visible head. Protestants, on the other hand, as the communion
    137of saints, that is, of those who truly believe on Christ, in which the gospel is purely preached and the sacraments properly administered.”

    Proof of the Protestant Doctrine of the Church.

    This is not the place to enter upon a formal vindication of the Protestant doctrine of the nature of the Church. That belongs to the department of ecclesiology. What follows may suffice for the present purpose.

    The question is not whether the word Church is not properly used, and in accordance with the Scriptures, for visible, organized bodies of professing Christians, or for all such Christians collectively considered. Nor is it the question, whether we are to regard as Christians those who, being free from scandal, profess their faith in Christ, or societies of such professors organized for the worship of Christ and the administration of his discipline, as being true churches. But the question is, whether the Church to which the attributes, prerogatives, and promises pertaining to the body of Christ belong, is in its nature a visible, organized community; and specially, whether it is a community organized in some one exclusive form, and most specially on the papal form; or, whether it is a spiritual body consisting of true believers. Whether when the Bible addresses a body of men as “the called of Jesus Christ,” “beloved of God,” “partakers of the heavenly calling:” as “the children of God, joint heirs with Christ of a heavenly inheritance;” as “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification and sprinkling of the blood of Christ;” as “partakers of the like precious faith with the Apostles;” as “those who are washed, and sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God;” as those who being dead in sin, had been “quickened and raised up and made to sit together in heavenly places with Christ Jesus;” it means the members of an external society as such, and because such, or, the true people of God? The question is, whether when to the men thus designated and described, Christ promised to be with them to the end of the world, to give them his Spirit, to guide them unto the knowledge of the truth, to keep them through the power of the Spirit, so that the gates of hell should not prevail against them — he means his sincere or his nominal disciples, — believers or unbelievers? These questions admit of but one answer. The attributes ascribed to the Church in Scripture belong to true believers alone. The promises made to the Church are fulfilled only to believers. The relation in which the Church stands to God and
    138Christ is sustained alone by true believers. They only are the children and heirs of God; they only are the body of Christ in which He dwells by his Spirit; they only are the temple of God, the bride of Christ, the partakers of his glory. The doctrine that a man becomes a child of God and an heir of eternal life by membership in any external society, overturns the very foundations of the gospel, and introduces a new method of salvation. Yet this is the doctrine on which the whole system of Romanism rests. As, therefore, the Apostle shows that the promises made to Israel under the Old Testament, the promise of perpetuity, of extension over the whole earth, of the favour and fellowship of God, and all the blessings of the Messiah’s reign, were not made to the external Israel as such, but to the true people of God; so Protestants contend that the promises made to the Church as the body and bride of Christ are not made to the external body of professed Christians, but to those who truly believe on him and obey his gospel."

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  19. "The absurdities which flow from the substitution of the visible Church for the invisible, from transferring the attributes, prerogatives, and promises which belong to true believers, to an organized body of nominal or professed believers, are so great that Romanists cannot be consistent. They cannot adhere to their own theory. They are forced to admit that the wicked are not really members of the Church. They are “in it” but not “of it.” Their connection with it is merely external, as that of the chaff with the wheat. This, however, is the Protestant doctrine. The Romish doctrine is precisely the reverse. Romanists teach that the chaff is the wheat; that the chaff becomes wheat by external connection with the precious grain. Just so certain, therefore, as that chaff is not wheat; that nominal Christians, as such, are not true Christians; just so certain is it that no external society consisting of good and bad, is that Church to which the promise of Christ’s presence and salvation is made. It is as Turrettin says,9090Locus XVIII. ii. 12. “πρῶτον ψεῦδος pontificiorum in tota controversia est, ecclesiam metiri velle ex societatis civilis modulo, ut ejus essentia in externis tantum et in sensus incurrentibus consistat, et sola professio fidei sufficiat ad membrum ecclesiæ constituendum, nec ipsa fides et pietas interna ad id necessario requirantur.”

    D. The Doctrine of Infallibility founded on the False Assumption of the Perpetuity of the Apostleship.

    As the first argument against the doctrine of Romanists as to the
    139infallibility of the Church is, that it makes the Church of Rome to be the body to which the attributes, prerogatives, and promises of Christ to true believers belong; the second is that it limits the of the teaching of the Spirit, to the bishops as successors of the Apostles. In other words, Romanists falsely assume the perpetuity of the apostleship. If it be true that the prelates of Church of Rome, or of any other church, are apostles, invested the same authority to teach and to rule as the original messengers of Christ, then we must be bound to yield the same faith to their teaching, and the same obedience to their commands, as are due to the inspired writings of the New Testament. And such is the doctrine of the Church of Rome."
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hodge/theology1.iii.v.vii.html
    Charles Hodge--

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  20. Cliff,

    The RC catechism on the internet says this:

    "985 Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of the forgiveness of sins: it unites us to Christ, who died and rose, and gives us the Holy Spirit.

    986 By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance.

    987 "In the forgiveness of sins, both priests and sacraments are instruments which our Lord Jesus Christ, the only author and liberal giver of salvation, wills to use in order to efface our sins and give us the grace of justification" (Roman Catechism, I, 11, 6)."

    This is an example of how in the RC forgiveness of sin, God's grace, and salvation are dispensed through the claimed power of priests in the sacraments. I think you yourself pointed part of that out earlier. The RC church has made itself the essential mediator between God and men. It is kind of a re-establishment of the Old Testament priesthood where the Jewish priests offered sacrifice for the sins of the people. Of course there are many added features and rituals.

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  21. "Modern Prelates are not Apostles.

    To determine whether modern bishops are apostles, it is necessary in the first place to determine the nature of the Apostleship, and ascertain whether modern prelates have the gifts, qualifications, credentials of the office. Who then were the Apostles? They were a definite number of men selected by Christ to be his witnesses, to testify to his doctrines, to the facts of his life, to his death, and specially to his resurrection. To qualify them for this office of authoritative witnesses, it was necessary, (1.) That they should have independent and plenary knowledge of the gospel. (2.) That they should have seen Christ after his resurrection. (3.) That they should be inspired, i.e., that they should be individually and severally so guided by the Spirit as to be infallible in all their instructions. (4.) That they should be authenticated as the messengers of Christ, by adherence to the true gospel, by success in preaching (Paul said to the Corinthians that they were the seal of his apostleship, 1 Cor. ix. 2); and by signs and wonders and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost. Such were the gifts and qualifications and credentials of the original Apostles; and those who claimed the office without possessirig these gifts and credentials, were pronounced false apostles and messengers of Satan."

    When Paul claimed to be an apostle, he felt it necessary to prove, (1.) That he had been appointed not by man nor through men, immediately by Jesus Christ. (Gal. i. 1.) (2.) That he had not been taught the gospel by others, but received his knowledge by immediate revelation. (Gal. i. 12.) (3.) That he had see Christ after his resurrection. (1 Cor. ix. 1 and xv. 8.) (4.) That he was inspired, or infallible as a teacher, so that men were bound to recognize his teachings as the teaching of Christ
    140(1 Cor. xiv. 37.) (5.) That the Lord had authenticated his apostolic mission as fully as he had done that of Peter. (Gal. ii. 8.) (6.) “The sins of an apostle,” he tells the Corinthians, “were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” (2 Cor. xii. 12.)

    Modern prelates do not claim to possess any one of these gifts. Nor do they pretend to the credentials which authenticated the mission of the Apostles of Christ. They claim no immediate commission; no independent knowledge derived from immediate revelation; no personal infallibility; no vision of Christ; and no gift of miracles. That is, they claim the authority of the office, but not its reality. It is very plain, therefore, that they are not apostles. They cannot have the authority of the office without having the gifts on which that authority was founded, and from which it emanated. If a man cannot be a prophet without the gift of prophecy; or a miracle-worker without the gift of miracles; or have the gift of tongues without the ability to speak other languages than his own; no man can rightfully claim to be an apostle without possessing the gifts which made the original Apostles what they were."

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  22. The last posting, in the second last paragraph should read "The SIGNS of an apostle," he tells the Corinthians, "were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deed." (2 Cor. xii.12.)

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  23. This may be a bit late as interest has passed, but to address an answer to Wayne's query about what religious background I am from. The second point about my knowledge of RC church needs an answer.

    Coming from a Lutheran background, I can safely say we have as much difficulty with "Reformed Theology" as we do with Roman Catholics, in fact we may have more differences with you than with Catholics!

    On the basis of my knowledge of the RC church you seem to assume I have little knowledge about their teachings. I think that was a little condescending in tone since my personal situation, which you do not know, is very close to the Roman Catholic Church.

    But I do look forward to continuing a friendly dialogue with "Reformed", "Evangelical", and "Catholic".

    Cliff

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  24. Cliff,

    "On the basis of my knowledge of the RC church you seem to assume I have little knowledge about their teachings. I think that was a little condescending in tone since my personal situation, which you do not know, is very close to the Roman Catholic Church."

    You are correct. I owe you an apology for being condescending in my tone.

    One thing that strikes me as sad though is from what I have learned some large Lutheran denominations seem to have departed from the basic biblical teaching which Martin Luther discovered in the Reformation. You can correct me if I am off base on that. I will welcome any correction.

    My understanding was that the central teaching of Luther and the Reformation was justification by faith. Is that still true as far you know for major Lutheran denominations? Why did the World Lutheran Youth Federation sign some kind of agreement with the RCC on justification? Do you know anything about that? What is the present belief of the Lutheran church on justification by faith as taught by the Apostle Paul in Romans ch3,4, and 5? How can you say the teaching of the Lutheran church is very close to the RCC? What has changed since the Reformation? That is why I was confused about your knowledge of the RCC. I was not trying to offend you, but if I did, I apologize.

    When you say you have as much difficulty with the Reformed church as the RCC, that also raises questions because as far as I know Luther and Calvin were in agreement with some pretty basic theology such as justification by faith, etc. but they differed on the meaning of the Lord's Supper.

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  25. There are several points to answer in your recent response, and yes some Lutherans have sold their "birthright" and abandoned biblical teachings. There is much consternation in some Lutheran corners over this and much soul searching. Fortunately I belong to the more conservative branch of Lutheranism, which is very pro-life and believes marriage to be between one man and one woman. We strongly embrace "Justification by Faith". For this I praise God!

    However, Lutherans do have a liturgical approach to worship and believe in the sacraments, and I recall a story that a Lutheran pastor related to us. He had a little congregation among a strongly Baptist area, and the Baptists thought he was Catholic while the Catholics assumed he was Baptist. So Lutherans are viewed as bridge builders or go-betweens.

    Cliff

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  26. Cliff,

    You say Lutherans are viewed as bridge builders or go-betweens. It seems as if you are trying to have it both ways. Rome unequivocally rejects justification by faith and claims salvation is through receiving it's sacraments. Also claims everyone must recognize the Pope as the Vicar of Christ on earth. None of this is supported by the Bible. How does one build a bridge with a system which rejects biblical christianity or how do you find common ground? What is the point? Attempting to do so must naturally raise the question of what the Lutheran church now believes. How do you believe a person is saved? It seems to me the answer is for those in false religion to come out of it and believe in Christ as taught in the Bible.

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  27. Small town guy, I see why we differ from "Reform" theology as it appears to be a legalist system, and by you’re attempting to discredit the Lutheran Church shows the Pharisaical attitude.

    Dialogue is perhaps useless? Fundamentalism is not my brand of Christianity.

    We had a nice attempt at dialogue, but I see it would be fruitless to continue.

    Have a good day and God Bless!

    Cliff

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  28. Dismissing any opposition to the Roman Church or dogmas of Rome as "bickering" is really saying "all debate is irrelant; only the Roman Church has the truth". This stems from the belief in an infallible church. This is another reason I agree with theologian Charles Hodge when he says:

    "In the presence of the authority of God, every other disappears."

    Those who act as the spokesmen of an infallible church consider themselves to be far above the common debate of mankind and well above those common folk who would try question their church's teachings or authority, even if such opposition is based upon Holy Scripture. This is because the Roman Church reserves to itself the right to be the interpreter of Scripture, regardless of the fact that no such authority can be found or proven to exist anywhere in the Scriptures of in any authoritative source. --Wayne

    "H. The Recognition of an Infallible Church incompatible with either Religious or Civil Liberty.

    A church which claims to be infallible, ipso facto, claims to be the mistress of the world; and those who admit its infallibility, thereby admit their entire subjection to its authority. It avails nothing to say that this infallibility is limited to matters of faith and morals, for under those heads is included the whole life of man, religious, moral, domestic, social, and political.
    A church which claims the right to decide what is true in doctrine and obligatory in morals, and asserts the power to enforce submission to its decisions on the pain of eternal perdition, leaves no room for any other autority upon earth. In the presence of the authority of God, every other disappears.
    With the claim to infallibility is inseparably connected the claim to pardon sin. The Church does not assume merely the right to declare the conditions on which sin will be forgiven at the bar of God, but it asserts that it has the prerogative to grant, or to withhold fogiveness. "Ego te absolvo," is the formula the Church puts into the mouth of the priesthood. Those who receive that absolution are saved; those whom the church refuses to absolve must bear the penalty of their offences.
    An infallible church is thus the only institute of salvation. All within its pale are saved; all without it perish. Those only are in the Church who believe what it teaches, who do what it commands, and are subject to its officers, and especially its head, the Roman pontiff. Any man, therefore, whom the church excommunicates is thereby shut out of the kingdom of heaven; any nation placed under its band is not only deprived of the consolations of religious services, but of the necessary means of salvation.
    --Charles Hodge in Systematic Theology
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hodge/theology1.html

    If such a system is incompatible with religious or civil liberty, one might wonder what effect such a system has had on the life of a nation where is exists in a significant degree.

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  29. "If the Church be infallible, its authority is no less absolute in the sphere of social and political life. It is immoral to contract or to continue an unlawful marriage, to keep an unlawful oath, to enact unjust laws, to obey a sovereign hostile to the Church. The Church, therefore, has the right to dissolve marriages, to free men from the obligations of their oaths, and citizens from their allegiance, to abrogate civil laws, and to depose sovereigns. These prerogatives have not only been claimed, but time and again exercised by the Church of Rome. They all of right belong to that Church, if it be infallible. As these claims are enforced by penalties involving the loss of the soul, they cannot be resisted by those who admit the Church to be infallible. It is obvious, therefore, that where this doctrine is held there can be no liberty of opinion, no freedom of conscience, no civil or political freedom. As the recent ecumenical Council of the Vatican has decided that this infallibility is vested in the Pope, it is henceforth a matter of faith with Romanists, that the Roman pontiff is the absolute sovereign of the world. All men are bound, on the penalty of eternal death, to believe what he declares to be true, and to do whatever he decides is obligatory."

    --Charles Hodge
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hodge/theology1.iii.v.vii.html

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  30. Cliff,

    "Small town guy, I see why we differ from "Reform" theology as it appears to be a legalist system, and by you’re attempting to discredit the Lutheran Church shows the Pharisaical attitude.

    Dialogue is perhaps useless? Fundamentalism is not my brand of Christianity."

    The Reformed faith is neither fundamentalism or legalist. It is simply biblical christianity. I don't think you really have any idea what it is. But you want to stop talking fine. You started by remarking earlier on the comments. I was simply responding.

    I was not attempting to discredit the Lutheran church particularly. I know there are some Lutheran denomination which may be still defending the faith. I don't know what you are involved in because you have not said. You raised a lot of questions but now you want too back out without answering them.

    If you wish to throw in the odd comment without discussing anything, that's fine. A lot of people do that. But it doesn't answer the questions you've raised. It would be nice to know what you believe and why, but again you are on the defensive and don't want to say.

    I don't think that is the biblical approach. We are supposed to be able to explain our faith, and answer questions when asked as to why we believe what we believe.

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  31. Cliff,

    "1) God as Creator and Sustainer of all life.
    2) The old & new testaments as the Word of God
    3) The divinity of Jesus, both man and God.
    4) The atoning sacrifice of Jesus death on the cross.

    These are the key or hierarchical truths that we must all agree on if we are true believers."

    If you can make a statement like that, you demonstrate you have very little knowledge (or none) of what Romanism teaches, and limited knowledge what biblical christianity teaches.

    Rome does not accept your first and last point without adding entirely new dogmas which in effect destroy those statements.

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  32. Cliff,

    From comments you have made you have the belief that the Roman Church is just another christian church. If that is your view, we would have to consider ourselves in complete disagreement. I have studied this matter for decades and have a fairly good idea of the differences between Romanism, and biblical christianity which is found in many evangelical, baptist, reformed, presbyterian churches and some Lutheran churches (although I don't have a lot of knowledge on Lutheran churches). I was hoping you would be able to shed some light on that, but if you are in a defensive mode and want to avoid further discussion with me,that's fine. I cannot force you to explain your views or where you're coming from. I assume you have bought into the ecumenical movement and believe that Rome is a true church and that christianity is taught there. This I would completely reject as straight from hell. The Bible makes it clear. If you want to reject dialogue with me because of that, that is your choice. I think it is a serious mistake.

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  33. Cliff,

    "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy ch2 vs15.

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  34. Salvation does not come through water baptism as the RC catechism teaches, but through the preaching of the gospel and faith in Christ. That is why the apostle Paul stressed the preaching of the gospel.

    "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." Romans ch1 vs16,17.

    Charles Hodges says:
    "The Call to Salvation is only through the Gospel.

    The call in question is made only through the Word of God, as heard or read. That is, the revelation of the plan of salvation is not made by the works or by the providence of God; nor by the moral constitution of our nature, nor by the intuitions or deductions of reason; nor by direct revelation to all men everywhere and at all times; but only in the written Word of God. It is not denied that God may, and in past ages certainly did, convey this saving knowledge by direct revelation without the intervention of any external means of instruction. Such was the fact in the case of the Apostle Paul. And such cases, for all we know, may even now occur. But these are miracles. This is not the ordinary method. For such supernatural revelations of truth after its being made known in the Scriptures and committed to the Church with the command to teach all nations, we have no promise in the Scriptures and no evidence from experience.

    It has ever been, and still is, the doctrine of the Church universal in almost all its parts, that it is only in and through the Scriptures that the knowledge necessary to salvation is revealed to men. The Rationalists, as did the Pelagians, hold that what they call “the light of nature,” reveals enough of divine truth to secure the return of the soul to God, if it be properly improved. And many Arminians, as well as Mystics, hold that the supernatural teaching of the Spirit is granted in sufficient measure to every man to secure his salvation, if he yields himself up to its guidance. It would be very agreeable to our natural feelings to believe this, as it would be to believe that all men will be saved. But such is not the doctrine of the Bible; and it requires but little humility to believe that God is better as well as wiser than man; that his ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts; and that whatever He ordains is best."

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  35. "That the Scriptures do teach that saving knowledge is contained only in the Bible, and consequently that those ignorant of its contents, are ignorant of the way of salvation, is plain, —

    1. Because the Scriptures both of the Old and of the New Testament, constantly represent the heathen as in a state of fatal ignorance.
    647They are declared by the ancient prophets to be afar off from God; to be the worshippers of idols, to be sunk in sin. The people of Israel were separated from other nations for the express purpose of preserving the knowledge of the true religion. To them were committed the oracles of God. In the New Testament the same representation is given of their condition. It is said, They know not God. The Apostle proves at length in the first chapter ef his Epistle to the Romans, that they are universally and justly in a state of condemnation. He exhorts the Ephesians to call to mind their condition before they received the gospel. They were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God, in the world.” (Eph. ii. 12.) Such is the uniform teaching of the Word of God. It is utterly inconsistent with these representations, to assume that the heathen had such knowledge of God either by tradition, or by inward revelation, as was sufficient to lead them to holiness and God.

    2. This doctrine follows also from the nature of the gospel. It claims to be the only method of salvation. It takes for granted that men are in a state of sin and condemnation, from which they are unable to deliver themselves. It teaches that for the salvation of men the Eternal Son of God assumed our nature, obeyed and suffered in our stead, and having died for our sins, rose again for our justification; that, so far as adults are concerned, the intelligent and voluntary acceptance of Christ as our God and Saviour is the one indispensable condition of salvation; that there is no other name under heaven whereby men can be saved. It provides, therefore, for a Church and a Ministry whose great duty it is to make known to men this great salvation. All this takes for granted that without this knowledge, men must perish in their sins."

    Charles Hodge

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  36. "3. This is further evident from the nature of the message which the ministers of the gospel are commissioned to deliver. They are commanded to go into all the world, and say to every creature, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt he saved.” “He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Where is the propriety of such a message if men can be saved without the knowledge of Christ, and consequently without faith in Him.

    4. This necessity of a knowledge of the gospel is expressly asserted in the Scriptures. Our Lord not only declares that no man can come unto the Father, but by Him; that no man knoweth
    the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall revel Him; but He says expressly, “He that believeth not, shall be damned.” (Mark xvi. 16; John iii. 18.) But faith without knowledge is impossible. The Apostle John says, “He that hath the Son, hath life; he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” (1 John v. 12.) The knowledge of Christ is not only the condition of life, but it is life; and without that knowledge, the life in question cannot exist. Him to know is life eternal. Paul, therefore, said, “I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil. iii. 8.) Christ is not only the giver, but the object of life. Those exercises which are the manifestations of spiritual life terminate on Him; without the knowledge of Him, therefore, there can be no such exercises; as without the knowledge of God there can be no religion. It is consequently, as the Apostle teaches, through the knowledge of Christ, that God “hath called us to glory and virtue.” (2 Peter i. 3.) To be without Christ is to be without hope, and without God. (Eph. ii. 12.) The Apostle Paul, while asserting the general vocation of men, saying, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved;” immediately adds, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. x. 14.) Invocation implies faith; faith implies knowledge; knowledge implies objective teaching. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Verse 17.) There is no faith, therefore, where the gospel is not heard; and where there is no faith, there is no salvation.

    This is indeed an awful doctrine. But are not the words of our Lord also awful, “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”? (Matt. vii. 13, 14.) Is not the fact awful which stares every man in the face, that the great majority even of those who hear the gospel reject its offers of mercy? Facts are as mysterious as doctrines. If we must submit to the one, we may as well submit to the other. Our Lord has taught us, in view of facts or doctrines which try our faith, to remember the infinite wisdom and rectitude of God, and say, “Even so Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” The proper effect of the doctrine that the knowledge of the gospel is essential to the salvation of adults, instead of exciting opposition to God’s word or
    providence, is to prompt us to greatly increased exertion to send the gospel to those who are perishing for lack of knowledge."- Charles Hodge

    Sadly some reject the gospel in favour of man-made religion. They think sacrifice can be made in the Mass for sin when Christ has already made a full atonement for sin. (read Hebrews) There is no more sacrifice for sin possible.

    Then they also believe they can receive the literal body of Christ in the Mass; a misinterpreation of John ch6. Jesus was not speaking in a literal sense, but spiritually (see vs66). Jesus physical body is in heaven now. (Hebrews 9:24; Hebrews 10:12)

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