Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Response To Jacob Allee's "It's Time For Protestants To Remember Why They Are Protestants" By A Concerned Protestant, p. II

In part I of this article, I noted that Jacob Allee had raised a stink about something he really didn’t want his readers to be concerned about: the fact that he and another preacher are evangelicals. And that in contrast to being Roman Catholic. In fact, he continues on from neverminding his evangelicalism to explain that his sensitivities have been overwrought by “the inclusiveness of Roman Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ.”

From there, he admits a point of ignorance to shoulder his muffled protests, “… I don’t know the people he [the preacher] was referring to, maybe they trust in Christ alone, by faith through grace, but if they believe in the teaching of the Roman Catholic church, they are not believers.” Taken as a whole – that is, neverminding Jacob’s evangelicalism and thereby pretending he has no doctrinal investments in his words combined with the fact that his discourteous position necessitates an inclusiveness he’s not willing to admit – it quickly becomes clear that Jacob really has no idea what he’s trying to write, much less convince everyone of.

Essentially, Jacob’s admission that he “doesn’t know the people [the preacher] was referring to” stood alongside the possibility that “maybe they trust in Christ alone, by faith through grace” amounts to: those people may be Christians, but I really can’t say. That’s a reasonable glance at a very real possibility: he really doesn’t know who’s who and how they came to be that way. But then Jacob loses sight of his sensibility again by combining his confession that he doesn’t know with the condemnation, “but if they believe in the teaching of the Roman Catholic church, they are not believers.”

At this point I’m forced to ask myself, ‘what happens if those people do believe in Christ alone, by faith through grace (a formula I will take up in a moment), and are Roman Catholics? Has Jacob then blasphemed by judging a person as condemned (“they are not believers”) who has be declared righteous by God (“maybe they trust in Christ alone, by faith through grace”)? Does this mean that God can save Roman Catholics despite their institutional communion? If so, what is Jacob left with? A bunch of people who are Roman Catholic and saved.

Now what?

Well, Jacob doesn’t answer that question. Pity, really. I would’ve like to have seen him wrestle with the issue a little more before throwing in the towel and thinking it means that he won – that is, that he’s irrefutably right. Instead he calls on St. Paul to do his fighting, noting that “if anyone should preach another gospel that they should be accursed” (cf. Gal. 1:8-9) and that “this is clearly what the Roman Catholic church does.”

Since this paper is an examination of Jacob’s paper, and since I’ve worked almost line through line of his first two paragraphs, I have to ask my readers, how is it clear from what Jacob has expressed so far that this is what the Roman church does? What of what Jacob has written makes it clear that the Roman church preaches a different gospel? The fact that Jacob says so? The fact that Jacob’s fallacy of hasty generalization could possibly lull a less aware reader into sympathetic agreement? It’s plain to see both from Jacob’s paper so far, and my response that “this is [not] what the Roman Catholic church does.”

Aside from mere academic concerns with Jacob’s paper though, I have representational concerns. That is, like Jacob, I am Protestant, and have not given my voice over to Mr. Allee to represent me. Thus far his critique of why Roman Catholics are not brothers is predicated on nothing more than his evangelicalism, and we’re asked to nevermind that. But couched in his comment that maybe the Roman Catholics at the funeral “trust in Christ alone, by faith through grace” is a grave misrepresentation of the Protestant motto, Sola Fide (Justification by faith alone).

Now, if it was just Jacob and I in conversation, I might add the corrective: ‘do you mean “by grace through faith”’? But Jacob has published a paper – that is, made public – demanding Protestants everywhere remember why they are protesting. This wouldn’t really be much of a problem for me if it were used in a different context, say, one that isn’t directly opposing Roman Catholicism. As it is, we need to make sure we’re being very clear here, and not just glossing over misconstructions as if we’re talking to people who don’t care, and glad-hand based on superficial affiliations.

Jacob has accidentally misrepresented the Protestant position by mixing up the way God operates with the gift His operations enable. That is, we are save by grace through faith alone, not the other way around. This completely agrees with Sola Fide which is not a declaration against God’s grace (afterall, one of the other pillars of the Reformation was ‘by grace alone’, or Sola Gratia) but against the mentality and teaching that anyone can effect, or assist in their own salvation through meritorious acts, or by collecting indulgences. Sola Fide does not exclude the initial operation of grace; it requires it. God’s grace enables the faith by which we believe and are saved.

So having cleared up that misrepresentation of Protestant Sola Fide, let’s return to the next part of Jacob’s paper.

Having already asked his readers to nevermind the issue of ‘evangelicalism’ Jacob raises it once again. He asks, “Why are supposed [yes there’s that snobbery again!] ‘evangelicals’ becoming more and more ready to include Roman Catholics as Christians?” I think we’d be flogging the proverbial dead horse if we faced-off with Jacob on the issue of ‘evangelicalism’ again, so let’s move on to his primary concern: considering Catholics Christians.

Jacob began his paper – more or less – by stating that he doesn’t know if the Catholics at the funeral were saved (that is, Christian) or not. He takes up a non-judgmental stance and grants that some of the Catholics may, in fact, be saved – albeit only if they agree with his Protestant misconstruction of Sola Fide. So putting it all together, Jacob has demonstrated that his pious, non-judgmentalism is a false humility from which he judges the final condition of others’ souls based on whether or not they happen to know Jacob’s misunderstanding of Protestant theology and then believe it.

Given the above, let’s make allowance for Mr. Allee to retract his misunderstanding, and gain a proper Protestant perspective; that is, a correct view of Sola Fide. For in truth, Jacob has judged the hearts of others through a mistaken theological perspective, all the while admitting he doesn’t know the condition of others’ hearts. That’s an awkward contradiction that should be resolved by giving Jacob some wiggle-room, as it were, and space to correct himself. And interestingly, the 1st century church, before the advent of institutional Catholicism, would’ve been more likely to excommunicate Jacob for condemning others based on his erroneous teachings, and false humility than they would have been for people believing wrongly and requiring education.

To be continued…

(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Response To Jacob Allee's "It's Time For Protestants To Remember Why They Are Protestants" By A Concerned Protestant, P. I

Jacob Allee published an article called “It’s Time For Protestants To Remember Why They Are Protestants” on November 29th, 2006. His main point was not so much a recapitulation of Protestant distinctives but an outright lampooning of the Roman Catholic Church. I say, lampooning because it’s really a fit description for the lack of ecclesiastical, even academic integrity one would hope to expect from a person in his position; that is, a pastor and teacher.

So saying, Mr. Allee begins his article by letting the reader know that he was at a funeral with a brace of other Christians. In particular, he identifies the preacher for the occasion as a “self proclaimed evangelical.” He then moves on to note the preacher’s appreciation for the variety of Christians and ministers gathered together for a common focus. In itself, none of this would really pose much of a problem, but in the context of the rest of Jacob’s paper, his descriptor “self proclaimed” intimates a snide estimation of the preacher, and his intentions.

You see, Mr. Allee assumes a voice for Protestants everywhere (evident by the title of his paper), and makes himself their spokesman in a long-standing disagreement with the Roman Catholic Church. That a fellow-Protestant would happily receive Catholics as labourers in a common cause irks Mr. Allee’s doctrinal securities, and gives the Baptist minister reason to doubt the preacher’s evangelicalism. Thus he throws in the modifier “self proclaimed” (without the proper hyphen, I might add) in an effort to discredit the man. At the same time he allows the title “evangelical” to stand, perhaps with the notion in mind that the preacher will eventually recognize his error and return to ‘true’ Protestantism.

What follows is an interesting, if not revealing digression. Mr. Allee admits, “I consider myself an evangelical too” but fails to first, set out a definition for what that means, and second, aligns himself thereby with the preacher he just finished discrediting. So by an act of self-proclamation, Mr. Allee is an evangelical because he protests the Catholic Church. But by the same act of self-proclamation, the preacher for the funeral (another evangelical) is discredited because he enjoys harmonious causes, joint labour, and over-looking differences for the sake of peace, and common charity.

Given Mr. Allee’s concern for the preacher who appreciates Christians of other stripes, even Roman Catholics, one could really develop a concern for what this important title “evangelical” actually means. Doubtless Mr. Allee is familiar with the Greek root ευαγγέλιον (euangelion) meaning “promise,” “gospel,” or “good news,” making the extension “evangelical” take on the definition “one who brings the ‘promise’ or ‘good news’ of the ‘gospel’.” Surely Jacob didn’t overlook that! If so, then we should wonder whether Mr. Allee has identified himself with a catch-word, or means something more substantial by making such an explicit identification of himself. And further, by taking difference with someone else proclaiming the same pedigree.

Still, after making it a point to name names, Mr. Allee, in an awkward twist of logic, states, “But nevermind that.” It’s quite likely that Jacob was simply intending to create a casual tone in his writing by dismissing out of hand a point he seems so eager to hold on to. Or should we just view Mr. Allee’s condescending remark, “self proclaimed evangelical,” and his subsequent “I consider myself an evangelical too” as points that are largely irrelevant to him? If so, then why draw so much attention to the issue? If it doesn’t matter so much that we can simply “nevermind that” then why mention, or emphasize the title ‘evangelical’ three times in the first seven lines of his paper?

Well perhaps, dear reader, we should follow along Jacob’s digression for now, and see where it leads us. I can assure you that the scenery throughout the rest of his paper is depressing. I can assure you equally well, however, that the method we use to view the scenery – simple logic – will bring some light, and humour to Jacob’s otherwise moribund theological landscape.

To Be Continued…

(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Quid Est Veritas?

Or, Maybe If I Say It Enough Times, It'll Become True.

For pastor and fellow blogger, Jacob Allee, the adage, "history repeats itself" looks more like a broken record. When he and I first "met" it was through comments and questions of his at my Youth Ministry blog, Grace for the Wayward Heart, which in turn prompted my visiting his blog, To Die is Gain. One of the first real dialogues that I had with Jacob (a Southern Baptist Calvinist) was, unsurprisingly, on the differences between Catholics and Protestants. He had started a series on his blog, "Why the Reformation was and still is Necessary", to which I felt compelled to debate with him (which is chronicled here). Since that time, I've stopped in at Jacob's blog (which on the whole is pretty decent) to review what he says--and a surprising amount of the time, it's devaluing Catholicism (which, he claims, is not a true Christian religion, but a false Gospel--and while some Catholics might be saved, it is because they have rejected certain key Catholic teachings...). Even his seemingly denominationally-neutral posts end up containing anti-Catholic rhetoric, such as his recent argument for the Bible as God's word, to which I replied, again on this blog, here.

Over and over again, I have corrected Jacob's misapprehensions of what Catholicism teaches, and yet, time and again, he's posted a short time later decrying Catholicism for precisely the things which I patiently explained to him, we don't believe. After my reply to his defense of Scripture (about which, in all honesty, I was expecting to have very little complaint, but then he accused the Church of forbidding the Bible), he actually asked me if I had nothing better to do than to reply to him. The truth is, I do, and I only write responses to him during times when I've managed to squeeze out some extra moments for myself. It's not even that I expect to convince Jacob that Catholics are, in fact, Christian, much less to actually become Catholic (though, with God all things are possible). Rather, it is possible that those who read Jacob's anti-Catholic rhetoric (or similar other claims from other sources) may take it at face value, when it is full of errors and half-truths. As someone passionate about his faith, I strive to proclaim the truth of Catholicism as ably as I can. If one still chooses to reject it, I hope it will actually be the Church he is rejecting, and not some strange caricature of it. And that, dear reader, is why I am again undertaking to reply to another article of Jacob's, linked to in the title of this article.

As usual, Jacob's words will be blue, and mine, white. A fellow Catholic, Phillip Davis, also posted some comments. His words will be in green.

"It's time for protestants to remember why they are protestants".

I ran sound at a funeral today. The preacher was a self proclaimed evangelical. One of the first things that came out of his mouth was how he appreciated that a Baptist minister (referring to me) an evangelical preacher (referring to himself) and several Roman Catholics who were providing some music for the funeral, were all working together as one family as brothers and sisters in Christ.

"How good it is when brethren dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133:1). Or, not...?

First of all (just to clarify) I consider myself an evangelical too. But nevermind that. What got to me is the inclusiveness of Roman Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ. Now, I don't know the people he was referring to, maybe they trust in Christ alone, by faith through grace, but if they believe in the teaching of the Roman Catholic church, they are not believers. Paul is very clear that if anyone should preach another gospel that they should be accursed, but this is clearly what the Roman Catholic Church does.

Yes, clearly. After all, it wasn't the Catholic Church that preserved and canonised that Gospel, and proclaimed it from the beginning in the face of heresies and persecutions! For 1500 years, there was One Gospel, and then in the Reformation, suddenly there were two, then three, then four! If there is "another Gospel" being preached, it is not that of the Catholic Church, who has proclaimed the way of Salvation with uniformity throughout the world since the beginning of the Church. If Jacob disagrees with that, it is not because the Church has changed the Gospel.

Phillip Davis said...
As a fellow Christian, your ignorance of the Catholic Church and your anti-Catholic view greatly trouble me. But I won't really get into that. Try reading some books on the Catholic faith to see what it is really about. I highly recommend Dave Armstrong's books reguarding Catholic beliefs and their presence in the Bible.

The main purpose for my comment is because of what you call unbiblical teaching that are found in the Catholic faith.

Why are supposed "evangelicals" becoming more and more ready to include Romans Catholics as Christians?

Possibly because they've realised that Catholics are, in fact, Christians? Perhaps it is because the things that the Protestants continue to protest aren't actually true of the Catholic Church?

Have they forgotten that they are protestants? Protesting the false gospel of the Roman Catholic Church?

Between the disagreements with each other, is it any wonder that they've forgotten what they're "Protesting"?

Things haven't changed since the reformation in the 1500's. The RCC still teaches a works salvation,

We do not, and never have. We teach a grace salvation, a response to which--of faith and obedience--is required to appropriate that salvation.

teaches that salvation can be lost,

Since many Evangelical Protestants believe that, too, based on Scripture, it just shows how "Sola Scriptura" is a failure in upholding absolute truth.

teaches that purgatory exist,

Even C.S. Lewis believed in Purgatory.

that the Bible isn't the final authority,

The Bible never claims to be the final authority, so what's your point?

that the pope is sinless,

Jacob, that statement really is just ignorant. We've dealt with this over and over again. I notice that even though in the comments to your post, you admit that you were wrong on that fact, it was not altered in the main post.

teaches that indulgencies can shorten your temporal punishment,

Do you even know what that means?

veneration of the saints,

Something I could easily support from Scripture.

that Mary is a co-redeemer and co-mediator with Christ,

Not nearly in the sense which you take it to mean.

and so on.

I have, and will again below, responded in depth to everything on that list.

Jacob, for one who is so insistent on protesting the "false Gospel" of Catholicism, you'd think you'd have actually taken the time to figure out what Catholicism teaches! You simply aren't listening to any of the things I've written in any of our dialogues! How can you really protest something when your protestations all attack something completely different than what you've set out to oppose?

That is not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ who paid it all and said "It is finished." It's time that we remember what we are protesting and get busy seeking the salvation of our Roman Catholic neighbors who need the pure unadulturated gospel of Jesus Christ.

"Lord, to whom shall we go? To the SBC? To the Pentecostals? To the Lutherans? To the Anglicans? To the Methodists? You have the words of eternal life!" (cf. John 6:68). Or, as Thomas à Kempis wrote in his Imitation of Christ, "He to whom the Eternal Word speaks is set at liberty from a multitude of opinions."

With so many various forms of Protestantism running around out there, I'm wondering what exactly each of them would hold together to be the "unadulterated Gospel"? And, if they got right down to where they could all agree, would it really be different than the Gospel that Catholics proclaim? More likely, in the trying they would find as much to protest in each other as they have in Catholicism. The claim to find an "unadulterated Gospel" on which all Protestants can agree--one that is somehow different than Catholicism, is an assertion that has never been demonstrated to me, and this is not the first time that I've asked.

The Roman Catholic Church Teaches:

RCC:Works are necessary for salvation.

The Bible teaches: Ephesians 2:8-9, "8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

John 3:16, "16"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

The Bible also teaches:

Ephesians 2:10, "We are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God already designated to make up our way of life."

John 3:20-21, "And indeed, everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, to prevent his actions from being shown up; but whoever does the truth comes out into the light, so that what he is doing may plainly appear as done in God."

Philippians 2:12-13, " work out your salvation in fear and trembling. It is God who, for His own generous purpose, gives you the intention and the powers to act."

Romans 2:6-7, "He will repay everyone as their deeds deserve. For those who aimed for glory and honour and immortality by persevering in doing good, there will be eternal life..."

"Romans 10:9-10, "That if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved. It is by believing with the heart that you are justified, and by making the declaration with your lips that you are saved."

James 2:24, "You see now that it is by deeds, and not only by believing, that someone is justified."

Revelation 14:11-12, "'And the smoke of their torture will rise for ever and ever. There will be no respite, night or day, for those who worship the beast or its statue or accept branding with its name.' This is why there must be perseverance in the saints who keep the commandments of God and faith in Jesus."
I could go on, but I don't think that I need to. Yes, we need faith, as the Bible teaches. But the Bible nowhere teaches "faith alone. Teaching Sola Fide is to, like the Arch-Heretic Marcion of old, cut out from Scripture the parts one does not like.

You say this as if faith and works are exclusive from each other. The Catholic view would be more to the likeness of two different sides(faith and works) of one coin. You can't have one side without the other.

James 2:24: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

James 2:26: "faith apart from works is dead."

RCC: Salvation can be lost by commiting mortal sins.

Bible: Ephesians 1:13-14, "13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."

John 6:37, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out."

Neither one of these verses preclude the possibility that we, by our own volition (and, in particular, choice to turn our back on God in unrepented sinfulness), can therefore reject God's salvation. We don't "lose" it in the sense that we could misplace it, or be robbed of it, or be snatched from God's hand. But we can choose to walk away from His hand.
Philippians 3:11-15, "...striving towards the goal of the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have secured it already, nor yet reached my goal, but I am still pursuing it in the attempt to take hold of the prize for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not reckon myself as having taken hold of it; I can only say that forgetting all that lies behind me, and straining forward to what lies in front, I am racing towards the finishing-point to win the prize of God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus. So this is the way in which all of us who are mature should be thinking, and if you are still thinking differently in any way, then God has yet to make this matter clear to you."

Romans 11:17-22, "Now suppose that some branches were broken off, and you are wild olive, grafted among the rest to share with the others the rich sap of the olive tree; then it is not for you to consider yourself superior to the other branches; and if you start to feel proud, think: it is not you that sustain the root, but the root that sustains you. You will say, 'Branches were broken off on purpose for me to be grafted in.' True; they through their unbelief were broken off, and you are established through your faith. So it is not pride that you should have, but fear: if God did not spare the natural branches, He might not spare you either. Remember God's severity as well as His goodness: His severity to those who fell, and His goodness to you as long as you persevere in it; if not, you too will be cut off."

Hebrews 10:26-29, "If, after we have been given knowledge of the truth, we should deliberately commit any sins, then there is no longer any sacrifice for them. There is left only the dreadful prospect of judgement and of the fiery wrath that is to devour your enemies. Anyone who disregards the Law of Moses is ruthlessly put to death on the word of two witnesses or three; and you may be sure that anyone who tramples on the Son of God, and who treats the blood of the covenant which sanctifies him as if it were not holy, and who insults the Spirit of grace, will be condemned to a far severer punishment."

Hebrews 10:36, "You will need perseverance if you are to do God's will and gain what He has promised."

2 Peter 2:20-21, "And anyone who has escaped the pollution of the world by coming to know our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and who then allows himself to be entangled and mastered by it a second time, ends up being worse than he was before. It would have been better for them never to have learnt the way of uprightness, than to learn it and then desert the holy commandment that was entrusted to them."

1 John 5:16-17, "If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to this brother--provided that it is not a deadly sin. There is a sin that leads to death and I am not saying you must pray about that. Every kind of wickedness is sin, but not all sin leads to death."

Revelation 2:4-5, "Nevertheless, I have this complaint to make: you have less love now than formerly. Think where you were before you fell; repent, and behave as you did at first, or else, if you do not repent, I shall come to you and take your lampstand from its place."

Revelation 3:3, "Remember how you first heard the message. Hold on to that. Repent! If you do not wake up, I shall come to you like a thief, and you will have no idea at what hour I shall come upon you."

Revelation 3:15-16, 19, "I know about your activities: how you are neither hot cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other, but since you are neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of My mouth...I reprove and train those whom I love: so repent in real earnest."

Revelation 13:10, "This is why the saints must have perseverance and faith."

Revelation 14:12, "This is why there must be perseverance in the saints who keep the commandments of God and faith in Jesus."
(Hmm, twice in two chapters. Maybe it's important?)

In sinning, it is not us being cast out by God (as we all know he'd like for all of us to be with him), but our sin (which is our rejection of Him and his gift of our salvation) that seperates us from Him. We are seperating our selves from Him, and not vice versa.

Hebrews 10:26: "For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,"

Galatians 5:19-21: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like . . . "those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

RCC: Mary is a co-mediator.

Bible: 1 Timothy 2:5, "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,"

Mary is not a mediator of Salvation (which is what 1 Timothy 2:5 is specifically referring to), but simply an intercessor (the best one, and the one closest to Jesus, as His Mother), but her "mediation" is the same as that of any Christian, which the Bible calls us to in the self-same passage from which Jacob quotes!
1 Timothy 2:1-6, "I urge then, first of all that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving should be offered for everyone, for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live peaceful and quiet lives with all devotion and propriety. To do this is right, and acceptable to God our Saviour: He wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and humanity, Himself a human being, Christ Jesus, who offered Himself as a ransom for all."
It is in the last phrase where lies the rub. Jesus mediates to us salvation, and is the only one who can because He was our ransom. The Church does not claim anything like that about Mary. It was not she who offered herself for us as our ransom. However, she did participate in that One Mediation in a unique way--a way in which no one else has or ever will contributed. Her "Yes" to God, her willingness to bear Christ into the world so that He could fulfil His mission to ransom us from sin, rightly gives her the title of "co-mediator". In a subordinate way, she cooperated in Christ's Mediation, making it possible! She could, after all, have refused the Angel's commission.

RCC: Mary is a co-redeemer.

Bible: John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Just as with the above (especially since "co-redeemer" and "co-mediator" in the Catholic Church are synonymous terms for the role which Mary played in Salvation history), Mary is "co-"redeemer in the subordinate sense that her agreement to the plan of God for our salvation was what allowed Jesus to be born in the first place. "Co" does not mean "equal", but simply "with", such as "cooperate", to "work with".

RCC: Purgatory is a place to pay for sins commited until a person is purified and can enter heaven.

A more accurate way to phrase this is "Purgatory is a state in which we are cleansed of our attachment to sins before we can enter into the presence of God in Heaven."

Bible: The Bible does not teach the existence of purgatory. The Bible does teach that once a person is justified by faith in Christ that their sin is paid for by Christ and no longer the burden of the believer.

This is true, so far as it goes. However, that's not very far, since the Bible never contradicts or denies the existence of Purgatory, either--and, while it never explicitly teaches the doctrine of Purgatory, there are some implicit references to it, as I will endeavour to demonstrate.

Hebrews 10:11-12, "11And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God," Sin has already been paid for the believer by Christ's death and resurrection, there is no need for purgatory.

Jacob's continued misrepresentation of Purgatory leads to his erroneous conclusions. Yes, Christ paid the penalty for our sins. Yes, they are forgiven when we repent of them. But that does not therefore mean that we are not still attached to our desire for sin. In other words, we are not fully sanctified when we are initially justified. It is a process, lasting a lifetime (and often longer, since we are not all of us completely holy when we die). Since nothing imperfect can enter the presence of All-Holy God, our imperfections must be cleansed before we can enter His presence. This is the Catholic notion of Purgatory.

As such, Hebrews 10:11-12 does not pertain specifically to the question of Purgatory at all, and, ironically enough, the very context of Chapter 10 provides evidence against Jacob's belief in Once-Saved,-Always-Saved, which I quoted above (vv. 26-29), as well as a denial of faith alone saving, in verse 24: "Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response of love and good works." Aside from that, though, let us consider, immediately in the vicinity of Jacob's quotation, two verses later:
Hebrews 10:14, "By virtue of that one single offering, He has achieved the eternal perfection of all who are sanctified."
So we see that Christ's sacrifice has purchased "eternal perfection" of whom? The sanctified--those who have been made holy. While to some degree, we all share in that holiness, it is hardly a level that could be considered "perfect". So when are we made perfect? After our deaths, in Purgatory. But it is not us paying for our sins, but Christ who has done so. Purgatory is not something that we contribute to our salvation, but rather, something that, by the Grace of Christ, finishes the job that our own sinful attachments prevent Him from accomplishing (in most of us, anyway) during our earthly lives.

John 3:18 says "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." When a person dies there destination is either Heaven or Hell and it all depends on what they have done with Jesus.

Catholics would certainly agree with this statement (it certainly does depend on what we do with Jesus!), but John 3:18 has absolutely nothing to do with admitting or denying Purgatory, and is therefore entirely beside the point of Jacob's argument.
Revelation 21:27, "Nothing unclean may come into it [the Heavenly Jerusalem]: no one who does what is loathsome or false, but only those who are listed in the Lamb's book of life."

1 Corinthians 3:10-15, "By the grace of God which was given to me, I laid the foundations like a trained master-builder, and someone else is building on them. Now each one must be careful how he does the building. For nobody can lay down any other foundation than the one which is there already, namely Jesus Christ. On this foundation, different people may build in gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw but each person's handiwork will be shown for what it is. The Day which dawns in fire will make it clear and the fire itself will test the quality of each person's work. The one whose work stands up to it will be given his wages; the one whose work is burnt down will suffer the loss of it, though he himself will be saved; he will be saved as someone might expect to be saved from a fire."
RCC: The Pope is sinless.

The Bible: 1 John 1:8, "8If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

Since the Roman Catholic Church most certainly does not teach that the Pope is sinless, this point is irrelevant, and demonstrates again both Jacob's lack of understanding of Catholic teaching, as well as his refusal to be corrected on these points.

Need I go on?

For heaven's sake, please don't! Not unless, or until, you understand the Church which you choose to rail against, and can present cogent arguments against her teachings! In the meantime, the lack of accuracy, knowledge, and charity serve only to add confusion, and demonstrate ignorance of the topics you desire to pontificate on.

If you are a protestant evangelical born again believer, wake up.


You say all these things as if all Protestants agree with everything you personally believe, which is definitely not the case. Jesus calls all of us to be one in both mind and spirit in John 17:20-23, and this is just one of the things that the Catholic Churh has always been concerned with, unlike the Protestants. I know of several Protestant denominations that would be more likely to agree with the two supposed "Catholic" teaching shown above, than with your own views. If their definition of sola fide (faith alone), disagrees with your defintion of sola fide, are they not Christians as well?

Your Brother in Christ,
Phillip Davis

To another commenter's post on his blog regarding the Pope's "sinlessness", Jacob replied,

Jon, I did some research and have found that (as far as I can tell) there is no official teaching in the RCC that upholds the pope as sinless, but merely infallible when speaking on matters of faith and practice. My apologies.

Faith and morals, and again, only when he's specifically exercising his authority as Pope, not simply in any private statement he may make.

However, nonetheless, Peter the first pope in RC estimation was rebuked by Paul in Galatians 2:11-14 for his error in doctrine. He was guilty of legalism.

Peter was guilty of the sin of legalism in his private life--but Peter never proclaimed his personal sin as binding on the Church. The example doesn't pertain to Ex Cathedra infallibility.

And what would you say to my other points that very clearly shows the contradiction between what the RCC teaches and what God's word teaches?

I covered those above. In sum, I would say that the Catholic Church never contradicts the Bible. It only contradicts your personal interpretation of the Bible. That your arguments stem from your personal interpretation is evidenced by the very fact that not even all Protestants agree with you! What makes your interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:5 binding or correct, Jacob?

To my question as to whether Jacob actually knew what his description of Indulgences meant, he replied,

Yeah I know what it means:

"An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins and may be applied to the living or the dead." (CCC, para. 1471)

Wonderful. What's that mean? You said that Indulgences reduce the temporal punishment due to sin, and then when I asked if you knew what it meant, you quoted the Catechism saying "Indulgences reduce the temporal punishment due to sin." That's pretty much the same as saying "the definition of 'red' is a colour that is red." Greeeaaaat. What's that mean? I would suggest that you don't actually know, nor could you demonstrate from Scripture why it's a wrong belief.

It used to be you could buy these for the sins you were going to commit.

No, actually, it never was that. It used to be you could buy them for sins you'd already committed, which was an abuse in Luther's time, which was condemned then by the Catholic Church (even before Luther) and no longer practiced today.

You know I've talked to many, many Roman Catholics who would disagree with you, including the local priest who once told me knowledge of the person of Jesus isn't necessarily needed for entrance into heaven.

Then those Catholics, including that priest, are believing contrary to what the Church teaches.

Why should a person being paying for any sin when Christ made atonement for those sins already?

This question simply demonstrates that you have no idea what your definition of indulgence means!

And no matter how you define it, you still believe that good works and sacraments are necessary for salvation.

I believe that the sacraments are necessary for Salvation, because in them we receive the Grace of God through Jesus Christ, as the Bible teaches. I believe that performing the Works that God wills us to perform is necessary to continue in that salvation, again, as the Bible teaches.

Those who in the protestant churches believe salvation can be lost need to be corrected too.

Then the Bible needs correction.

I once thought that, but Scripture showed me otherwise.

Since Scripture clearly indicates that Salvation can be lost, I'd love to see evidence to the contrary.

The Bible is the word of God.


And it is our final authority because he revealed in it all that He wished us to know about Him and how we ought to relate to Him.

The Bible never makes the claim to be the final authority.

And after the last Apostle died so did the era of God's revelation of new things.

Yes. But that's immaterial unless you can determine that the Bible alone is our final authority.

Say what you will put whatever spin you like on things, but different things are being taught and believed all over the place. In the Phillipines every Sunday men have themselves nailed to a cross for a short time to receive time off from purgatory.

According to an article from CBC news:
And in the Philippines, nine Filipinos re-enacted the crucifixion by nailing themselves to a wooden cross as scores of other pilgrims flagellated themselves.

The annual re-enactment in the village of San Pedro Cutud, about 80 kilometres north of Manila, is frowned upon by the local church. But it has become one of the most awaited events in the local church calendar.
In one place they take offerings for the burial of Jesus.

I'm not sure what you're talking about here. Source?

All sanctioned by the church in these places.

I can't speak for the burial thing, since I have no idea what you're referring to, but as the CBC pointed out, the Catholic Church does not approve of the extremes of self-mortification gone to once a year, on Good Friday--not every Sunday in the Philippines.

I don't need to "put a spin" on anything in order to demonstrate that your knowledge of the Catholic Church is sorely lacking. All I need is the truth. I might suggest you actually state the truth about Catholicism, but that exhortation has gone largely unheeded by you so far.

One billion Catholics all under one roof with tons of different views.

You critisize protestants for being divided, but you all are just as much so, you simply claim the same banner.

No, Jacob. The difference between Protestant disunity and Catholicism is that Protestantism has institutionalised their differences. Denominationalism is a Protestant ideal, which many Protestants (including a Calvinist professor at my Bible College) said was a good thing! If you stand by what you posted in your description of 1 Cor 1:10-17, you would see that Protestantism, in institutionalising its divisions, is committing major schism and sinning.

Catholicism, on the other hand, has one unified teaching, which must be believed by faithful Catholics. Yes, not all of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics believe every tenet. But the difference between Protestantism and Catholicism on that point is that those who disagree are not therefore permitted to disagree. The Catholic Church condemns false opinions and strives to correct them or to discipline their proponents, in order to maintain Doctrinal Unity.

So no, Jacob, there is a vast difference between the disunity of which you accuse us, and the disunity which is permitted and part and parcel of the structure of Protestantism.

Jacob, as a minister of God's word, it is incumbent upon you to speak the Truth. That truth includes providing an accurate description of others--even when you disagree with them! Repeatedly, here in this article, and in others you have written before, you have not spoken the truth about what Catholics actually believe, but what you, it seems, wished they believe so that you would have an excuse to write us out of the Christian faith.

Moreover, you prove nothing, even when you accurately describe our beliefs, when you use one or two prooftexts, torn wholly out of context, in order to support your claim that our beliefs are unbiblical. The vast majority of the time in this very essay, I had but to look two or three verses either before or after the verses you quoted, in order to demonstrate the truth of Catholic claims, or, at the very least, that Catholic teaching doesn't, in fact, contradict the Bible's teaching. Unless you can demonstrate why it is that you have the correct interpretation of Scripture, over and above the Catholic Church and the numerous other Protestant denominations who believe oppositely of what you do, simply quoting scripture out of context will not help your case.
"The first to plead is adjudged to be upright,
until the next comes and cross-examines him" (Proverbs 18:17).

(Category: The Church: Ex Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations.)