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His Master's Voice
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Written by: C. W. Booth

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Modest Christmas Present to You from My Wife

Today, I celebrated Sunday at church with my son, though my wife was still too incapacitated to join us. We sang a medley of old Christmas carols. For whatever possible reason, I was stunned anew at the rich theology in these old hymns. Perhaps it has been all that we have gone through this past year coupled with all the varied studies we have done, but what truths about Jesus as God were presented in those songs! How my heart is squeezed wishing that my Jehovahís Witnesses friends would come to the realization that Jesus is in truth the God (the God who is three persons but one God): Everlasting Father, Immanuel, Son of God, God, Creator, and Ruler.

My wife has given to all of you who may be cooks, a modest Christmas present. She has assembled a handful of her favorite original homemade soup recipes and allowed me to post them on the net. They are here: http://thefaithfulword.org/cooksoup.html . If you prepare one of these, and if you enjoy it, please send an email to my wife letting her know you liked it--the encouragement would be much appreciated.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Five "Solas"

In a recent lengthy exchange on anotherís blog (http://www.xanga.com/MC_Shann/685478015/item.html?nextdate=last&direction=n#viewcomments) regarding whether Mary is truly known by God as the "Mother of God," a commenter posted an interesting statement. She wrote that the five solas are self-contradictory because sola means "alone" or "only" in Latin. She was confused as to how "protestant" followers of Christ (as opposed to "Roman Catholic" Christians) can believe in five "only" things.

Perhaps others have this same question. Are "protestants" confused for believing in five exclusionary doctrines?

I think it may be that the question arises from a misunderstanding of what the solas stand for. These five points of belief are not all descriptive of the means of salvation, which is, I believe, what the questioner assumed. One sola is, the others describe different doctrines of exclusivity that explain salvation, but do not express the mechanism of salvation.

Sola Fide: by faith alone--the means of salvation. Salvation from sin is acquired by the means of faith in Christ alone. No other duty, work, deity, or action is needed. Christ did all the work of salvation by His perfect life, His death as a sacrifice, and His resurrection by which death was conquered. Faith alone in this gospel of Christ is the only mechanism that secures salvation.

and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Sola Gratia: by grace alone--the reason salvation is granted. Grace is a word that means undeserved and unearned favor. God grants the gift of faith (the means of salvation) to those who do not deserve His favor. We did nothing to earn Godís love. He simply chose some upon which to lavish love and appointed them to receive the gift of faith. Faith, and therefore salvation, comes from God as a gift of grace alone.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Solus Christus: by Christ alone--the one who secured our salvation. Only Christ won salvation for mankind. Salvation is only realized through and by Him alone. He paid the price, alone. He was the only one who died on that cross.

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (2 Timothy 1:9-10)

Soli Deo Gloria: glory to God alone--the goal of all things. God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--three persons being one God), who is God alone, created the universe, planned mankindís salvation from his own sins, and provided all that is needed to redeem a fallen humanity. For this, and for all that God is, all that can be accomplished is done in the universe solely for His glory, which He gives to no one else (Isaiah 48:11).

Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

Sola Scriptura: by Scripture alone--the only authoritative revelation from God of the gospel. Authority for all doctrine, faith, and belief is found only in the pages of Scripture.

and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

If I might try to wrap all this together into a single statement, faulty as it is, it might read something like this: Scripture is the sole authority by which we understand that God alone is to be glorified by sinful man who was saved only by Christ when he was granted salvation only on the basis of his faith in Christ which was given to him as a free gift solely on the foundation of Godís grace toward him.

Though that statement may be somewhat deficient, if not also inelegant, as a comprehensive statement of belief, it is my hope that it conveys the spirit of the meaning behind the five solas. They are not self-contradictory; they are complementary even as they exclude all other authorities, means of salvation, and gods. May God alone be glorified.

---

[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online December 15, 2008. As such, it was subject to public commentary as is customary with blogging. As a practical matter, I normally delete the comments entered on the blog site when building this essay archive. If you wish to read the comments posted by others about the essays, you are invited to go online, read them, or post your own comments.

However, on a few occasions the comments and perhaps my own responses to the comments are core to understanding the essay, or the implications of the essay. In this situation this essay generated a substantive number of comments, so I have chosen to incorporate them in sequence without eliminating any, though the names have been removed for privacy reasons.]

Comments to the December 15, 2008 post entitled: The Five "Solas"

Begin Comment 1

Thank you. Great post. VERY clear and concise. (from an EX-Catholic and born again believer since 1974).

Posted 12/15/2008 5:20 PM by B

Begin Comment 2

MY DEAR BROTHER! (I AM WRITING IN CAPS BECAUSE IM SO DELIGHTED IN YOUR RESPONSE ON MY SITE) Thank you for your in depth answer to our Catholic friend. You did it with much grace and wrote very well. My Pastor is preaching a series on Mary and spent the first week talking about the doctrine of Amplification. Taking a verse and magnifying it out to way more than was ever intended. I am AMAZED how much this is done by the RCC!

It's funny how I am accused of being satanic by only offering my devotion and worship to the one true God Christ Jesus. My heart hurts so much for these people. I cling to specific sentences that they wrote that speak of them only relying on Christ for redemption and I hope and pray that what they write is true. So much else of what they have written speaks otherwise.

I pray that just as we often fall in to sin and treat people and things like they were gods; that the Lord will see the Catholic sins in that same light and cover them in our Lords precious blood and righteousness!

Posted 12/15/2008 7:52 PM by M

Begin Comment 3

Thanks for your indepth exposition on the 5 solas. It is very kind of you to take the time to go into such depth. I replied back on McShann's blog.

Posted 12/16/2008 1:27 AM by L

Begin Comment 4

L wrote:

The five little "onlys"... Where to begin? The entire contrived structure falls apart with "sola Scritura." Which scritura are you talking about? The one contrived by Luther? The one used by the Eastern Church? Or maybe it's the one used by the Catholics since 380AD? If I were a betting grrrlll I'd stick with the Catholic or Eastern Church version. But then again how can the foundation of an entire faith be founded on a bet? And what about the time before for there was a compiled Scripture? "Sola Scritura" conveniently forgets about nearly 400 years of Church history. And if you're Protestant you didn't get a good Scripture until after Luther. That's "nula Scritura" for over 1500 years.

Also, the last verse of the Gospel of John completely destroys the validity of "sola Scritura." The life and works of Jesus cannot be written. There just isn't enough paper in the whole wide world. To say that the entire life and works of Jesus can be written in a book is therefore not Scriptural. So it is the very doctrine of "sola Scriture" that destroys the doctrine of "sola Scriture."

And since all the other little "onlys" proceed from a self-destroying doctrine they can be nothing more than gobble-d-gook. -- end of L's comment ---

Dear L, Thank you for commenting. You have noted your disagreement with all the solas, but most pointedly with Sola Scriptura. And more specifically, your objection seems to be rooted in two notions: that there are multiple versions of the modern Bible and that all of Christís life was not recorded.

You are probably already aware that our English texts are translations of reconstructions of the Hebrew and Greek originals. Further, you probably do not need me to inform you that the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) of the Jews never did include what we refer to today as the Apocrypha. The Jews of Jesusí day treated the writings of the Apocrypha as history and fanciful stories, but not as prophetic texts. Since it was not part of the canon in Jesusí day, we need not belabor the point that some today have decided to treat it as a form of scripture. Protestants do not accept it as sacred Scripture.

On your second point, that not all of Christís life was recorded by the authors of the gospels, that is correct. Josephus tells us in his first century historical writings that the four gospels were all well known and accepted in his own lifetime.

What seems to be the real issue is not the completeness of the gospels, but whether the Old and New Testaments are the only authority by which one may decree a doctrine. Sola Scriptura is the label for the belief that if a doctrine is not articulated in the Bible, then it is a non-authoritative teaching, and perhaps a false doctrine. By rejecting Sola Scriptura, one says, "Doctrine may originate from places other than the Bible."

This is the issue behind the doctrine of Mary as the "powerful sovereign" and "queen of heaven." That doctrine is not found in the text of Scripture, so as a doctrine, it is considered to lack authority, and may be a false doctrine. Would it have been a doctrine if "all" of the life of Jesus had been written down by the Gospel writers? Two things militate against that idea. First, the doctrine of Mary as the sovereign of heaven violates so many other passages of Scripture, it cannot stand the test of being an accurate prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:15-22, 1 John 4:1). Second, what the Gospel writers did write was written by utterance of the Holy Spirit, and so it is not incomplete with regard to doctrine, as might have happened with human-generated accounts.

Thank you for writing. Blessings in Christ our Lord.

Posted 12/16/2008 3:48 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 5

Unfortunately the facts remain the facts. There was no Canon until 380AD. And the reason Pope Damasus issued the order to create an official Canon was to separate the authentic authors from the rest.

Citing Josephus is erroneous. Accepted? Accepted by who? The elite? The clergy? Certainly not the masses since they were illiterate.

Sola Scritura is complete useless as an authority on doctrine. The gazzillion (and still growing) Protestant denominations is a living testament to that flawed bit of thinking. Only the Church has the Divine authority to interpret Scripture correctly. It was given that power by Jesus. Otherwise, as we see with Protestantism, anyone can come up with any interpretation they wish and you end up with an endless number of sects. That type of fracture is a fundamental property of Protestantism. And according to Scripture, EXACTLY what Jesus preached against. He demanded UNITY in the Church. So we see here another example of the useless and contradictory nature of sola Scritura.

Sola Scritura is also useless because even when shown Scripture that completely decimates your position, you minimize it. You proclaim (see the comments above by the McShann and the good pastor) the use of such Scripture as exaggeration. If you can simply proclaim something from Scripture as insignificant, what good is Scripture? What good is sola Scritura when you openly and wantonly defy it?

The truth is, you folks have a certain set of beliefs and you use Scripture to support those beliefs. The correct way, the Catholic way, is form beliefs around Scripture.

Posted 12/16/2008 9:13 AM by L

Begin Comment 6

Dear L, Thank you for again posting your opinions. I understand your position, and your obvious frustration evidenced in your last post. It is not wanton ignorance or ill-considered stubbornness that has brought me to my belief that Godís Word is more highly authoritative than any humanís words; I have been convinced by the very words of Scripture themselves. As I find doctrines, teachings, beliefs, and assertions that contradict Godís Word, I am forced to reject them in favor of Scripture, regardless of the source of those contradictory statements.

Why is citing historical events from Josephusí writings "erroneous"? He does not contradict Scripture (in this case), and provides a precious historical insight that the four gospels had already been widely distributed in his own lifetime. This is an historical fact, recorded by a non-Christian, nothing more. I might add, if gently, that the allegation that the Roman world was largely illiterate is difficult to sustain. In Israel, the Jews highly valued literacy and education so as to be able to read the Scriptures. In the Roman lands even lowly professions such as bakers were known to have baked written brands into their bread loaves. Most commerce was accompanied by written sales records. Ships inventories were also known to have been documented in writing. In fact, the reason that today we have such a high confidence in the letters that comprise the canon of the New Testament is that literally thousands of ancient letters (and fragments) have been found that had once been exchanged between households by which ordinary persons shared their personal learning points of Scripture from one family to those in remote areas.

Who may interpret the Word of God? Everyone already does. Every time anything is said or written, the one hearing or reading it must spend enormous mental energy interpreting the meaning of even simple messages. Was a simple statement, (e.g. "get back you nut!") meant to be read in anger, humility, urgency, derision, jest? Only interpretation will answer that. All must interpret all they ever hear and read.

To say the church is the only body "authorized" to interpret Godís Word is confusing at best, and unsupportable by Scripture at the least. Jesus spoke His words to the masses, and many heard, interpreted, and believed. The gospel message in the Bible is presented and unbelievers interpret and become saved through faith. Every believer who reads the Bible has the Holy Spirit within him or her, and the Spirit guides their minds, study, and linguistic skills to interpret. All who believe in Christ ARE the church. Yes, the church interprets Godís Word. So do the unsaved, else they would never come to faith.

Who interprets the Bible is not the real question, for we all must do so. Who creates doctrines, and on what basis, is the debatable issue. In your eyes, the Pope is a prophet. Yet, as you know, even prophets are to have their words tested against the Bible to see if the prophet has spoken truly (Deuteronomy 18:15-22, 1 John 4:1, 2 Peter 2:1, Mark 13:22). Prophets who speak things that oppose what is written in Godís Words are to be rejected. Is the Pope really the only authority from which doctrine comes forth? Not according to God, "Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized." (1 Corinthians 14:36-38) Godís Word did not originate with one man only, nor did the Spirit speak it to one man only. All who believe in Christ have the Spirit or he/she does not belong to God (Romans 8:9).

Finally, just as the Roman church has had numerous splits in its own history, the protestant churches are not centrally organized or centrally controlled. Is that what Christ wanted, for every local church to be centrally organized? Just as MCShann and I do not attend the same local church (and probably not even the same denomination), we peaceably share our faith in Christ in common--that is true unity. When entire congregations within the Roman denomination demand marriage to be permitted for their priests, or demand that women be admitted as priests, or demand that the gay lifestyle no longer be called sinful, then, even though the name on the church has not changed, there is no unity. And some "unity" is utterly detestable to Christ, such as when the Roman church banded together to persecute and execute the Lollards for doing as Christ commanded when they brought the Word of God to every creature by publishing the Bible in commonly understood languages (1 Corinthians 14:9).

L, I know we disagree, but I also do not wish to be offensive. I am not loathing of any Roman Catholic believer. Yet I also do not believe many of the doctrines of the Roman church (e.g. Mary being the sovereign queen of heaven or the Pope as the only authoritative interpreter of Scripture) are found in the texts of Scripture. In spite of our disagreement on these things, I do wish for you the blessings of salvation in Christ.

Posted 12/16/2008 12:50 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 7

If you believe in sola Scritura, how can you use a historian to prove it's validity? The doctrine of sola Scritura demands that Scripture be the sole source of truth. But we know that it is not. By citing an ancient historian you have shown that it is not. You have cited history as the source of truth that validates Scripture. That in itself invalids sola Scritura. YOU have invalidated the very doctrine you are trying to defend.

2 Thes. 2-15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

Again we see that the doctrine of sola Scritura is destroyed by Scripture itself.

Posted 12/16/2008 9:38 PM by L

Begin Comment 8

Where are the infallible interpretations of the verses of scripture given by the RCC? I want to know where I can read what each verse means by what it says...

2 Thes. 2-15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

I love that verse! It shows us that the TRADITIONS the church had were already given and being taught by the time of it's writing. While history and fact show us clearly how so many of the traditions of the RC church appeared hundreds of and even a thousand years later. Whats even cooler is that the traditions given to the church are spoken of in the two verses before it. Looks like the gospel to me. Nothing there about Mary, indulgences, transubstantiation, Popery etc...

So as we can clearly see when verses are read as a whole and not isolated... Sola Scriptura stands.... Also, read verse 11 of Chapter one... More of those pesky sola's!

Posted 12/16/2008 10:45 PM by M

Begin Comment 9

You wrote " Finally, just as the Roman church has had numerous splits in its own history, the protestant churches are not centrally organized or centrally controlled. Is that what Christ wanted, for every local church to be centrally organized? Just as MCShann and I do not attend the same local church (and probably not even the same denomination), we peaceably share our faith in Christ in common--that is true unity"

So true! While I am sure there are things we would disagree over I know that salvation in Christ and Him alone in not one of them. In the things we disagree... May iron sharpen iron!

It's funny you write that about unity. I currently go to a PCA church. My view of scripture and beliefs make me more of a Reformed baptist. In my current church I will never be able to serve as an elder or deacon because of my take on several doctrines of the PCA. Yet I serve in unity and complete submission to the men who do hold that office.

Posted 12/16/2008 10:58 PM by M

Begin Comment 10

Dear L, Thank you for considering further the slogan "Sola Scriptura." However I think you may be misunderstanding it. You wrote:

"If you believe in sola Scritura, how can you use a historian to prove it's validity? The doctrine of sola Scritura demands that Scripture be the sole source of truth. But we know that it is not. By citing an ancient historian you have shown that it is not. You have cited history as the source of truth that validates Scripture. That in itself invalids sola Scritura. YOU have invalidated the very doctrine you are trying to defend."

That is NOT an accurate restatement of Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura does not at all "demand that Scripture be the sole source of truth." Sola Scriptura means that the Scriptures are the sole authority for the creation of doctrine and for defining holiness.

Men like Josephus can record facts truthfully (or not truthfully). However, such men cannot write new doctrine. All doctrine comes from the Word of God, which was generated by the Holy Spirit who gave the thoughts to prophets to put into writing. That is the spirit and meaning of Sola Scriptura.

Blessings in your studies of Christ, who alone saves.

Posted 12/17/2008 12:23 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 11

Amen! At present I am a member in a Southern Baptist church. In my entire life I never thought that would come about as it was not a denomination that ever came onto my radar screen, but God moves us as He sees fit. I have been very blessed by this SBC church.. About 30 years ago, a pastor (who I must admit was my all time favorite pastor) gave us a parting talk as we left for another region of the country, and oddly, he actually said, "And don't be afraid to attend a Southern Baptist church." That comment just came out of left field. Why did he mention that one denomination of all the others he could have identified? What a wise man he was.

By the way, that was a good comment you made to L on 2 Thes., so I will defer to what you have said and not comment on it myself.

Blessings to you, MC, as you blog for Christ.

Posted 12/17/2008 12:38 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 12

The Chruch is the infallible authority on the proper interpretation of Scripture and doctrine. It has to be. Otherwise you end up like Protestants: hopelessly fractured, divided and deluded. To concoct the 5 solas, Church authority must be illiminated. Without Church authority any belief about the Bible and the Church is possible.

If you read Scripture you will see where Christ gave the Apostles and their successors his authority. The Church acts with Christ's authority just as Jesus acted with the authority of the Father. Without divine authority, Satan moves in and does what he does best: divide and deceive. Division and deception are at the root of the Protestant "solas". See the fruit, it's right there before your very eyes. Protestantism is division in technicolor. And failure to understand the unity, cohesiveness and truth in the CCC is delusion. The CCC is the written ordering of the doctrines set forth by Jesus and the Holy Spirit and preserved in the Church.

The case against the 5 solas has been crystal clear for centuries. Any person with a developed faculty of reason can see the flaws plain as day.

Religion without reason is simply fanaticism.

Posted 12/17/2008 7:27 AM by L

Begin Comment 13

If Scripture is the sole authority for the creation of doctrine why is it necessary to turn to a secular authority to prove it's authenticity?

If sola scritura were authentic, its doctrine would be written in Scripture. Sola scritura is not written in Scripture. Sola scritura is a concoction of renegades who wished to be free of Church authority. Only the Church can properly interpret Scripture. Without Church authority, anyone can read Scripture and come up with a personal interpretation. Since that makes it possible to have infinite interpretations of Scripture the doctrine of sola scritura is meaningless since infinite number of different doctrines may then be developed.

Posted 12/17/2008 7:34 AM by L

Begin Comment 14

Mary, the Pope, transubstantiation, and indulgences are all excellent doctrines beautifully explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It's available online.

All of these doctrines come from Scripture and the tradition spoke of in Thessalonians. Go here for more on indulgences.

Posted 12/17/2008 8:22 AM by L

Begin Comment 15

There are various compendiums written to explain the meaning of the Bible. Scott Hahn (former Protestant) is also renown. But the CCC is best for the doctrines of interest here. You won't find any Catholic compendium that contradicts the CCC.

Also, befriend a Catholic priest. They are very knowledgeable on Scripture and Tradition. You can have live and lively discussions versus just reading about something. A book can't give feedback. Feedback is necessary to correct erroneous thinking.

Posted 12/17/2008 8:43 AM by L

Begin Comment 16

Regarding Thessalonians... Tradition is another topic worthy of discussion. But,

2 Thes. 2-15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

shows the doctrine of sola scritura to be non-Scriptural. Here we see in Scripture, the command to hold fast to Scripture AND tradition. "AND" is not "SOLA".

And since this is one of your favorite verses, this clearly indicates how something so obvious has escaped you. You have just destroyed your own credibility.

Posted 12/17/2008 8:56 AM by L

Begin Comment 17

Dear L, permit me to begin by expressing my gratitude that you have been honest in an area in which it would be tempting not to be. You have honestly stated that a substantial part of your doctrines come from sources that are not Scripture. These extra-biblical (not sourced from God's Word) doctrines include: Mary veneration (building altars to her, giving her offerings, bowing to her image, praying to her, ascribing to her the sovereignty of heaven, naming her queen of heaven, etc.), the Pope as infallible prophet of doctrine, a celibate priesthood, etc.

The venom with which you address the slogan Sola Scriptura is interesting. You have stated that the slogan, the phrase "Sola Scriptura," is not actually in Scripture. Yet, the concept of Sola Scriptura is in the Word. Jesus endorsed Sola Scriptura when He rebuked the Pharisees for teaching their own traditions as if their own traditions were somehow as good as Scripture (Mark 7:5-13). He even called them "experts" at inventing their own doctrinal traditions instead of using the Word of God. If you do a word study on the word "tradition" in the Bible you will find it is not often favorably spoken of unless the word is used as a way of talking about the tradition of following the Word of God, as in 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:16.

Jesus also endorsed the idea of Sola Scriptura quite literally when He said, "men shall not live by bread alone but by every word from God." In this way He said that the only really necessary thing in life, besides food, is to know and to live by Scripture. Not Scripture AND tradition, just Scripture. Sola Scriptura.

Many times Jesus told us that the world would one day be destroyed, but His Word would live forever. Again, not His Word and tradition, but just His Word.

Thank you again for your honesty with regard to acknowledging that much of your religious beliefes come not from the Bible but from other places. And while you may be correct that the phrase "Sola Scriptura" is not in the Bible, the idea that the Bible is the only legitimate authority for the creation of doctrine is often repeated in it. Sola Scriptura.

Blessings as you seek to glorify God alone.

Posted 12/17/2008 10:39 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 18

Let's take your additional list of proofs that sola scritura is doctrinal non-sense one at a time.

Regarding living by every word from God... Jesus spoke many words, the majority of which, were NOT written down. We know this, once again from Scripture: the last verse from the Gospel of John. So the adherent of sola Scritura is depriving himself of all of the words spoken by God that were not written down. How tragic! Once again, sola Scritura is proven fallacious.

And even without Scripture, it's patently obviously that every word Jesus spoke could never have been written down. Jesus traveled around with his Apostles not a company of scribes. He imparted Revelation by teaching and preaching, not writing. And, as mentioned above, the Apostles continued the work of Jesus by teaching and preaching. The teachings of Jesus that were not written down and the influence of the Holy Spirit on the Church are refered to as Tradition. Thessalonians makes reference to Tradition and Scripture. Both Scripture AND Tradition are necessary for the transmission and reception of the full Gospel message of Jesus Christ. It is simply a modern contrivence and deprives it's adherents of the full Gospel message of Christ.

Regarding Mary and idolatry, the heresy of iconclasm that you have fallen victim to was settled by the Church over a thousand years ago. True, we are commanded not to build idols to false gods. But Jesus is not a false god. Jesus IS God. And his mother is the Mother of God. So building statues of Jesus is a tribute, a show of reverence to him. Likewise Mary. Since we revere her like her own Son revered her, building statues of her has nothing false or idolatrous about it. Revering Mary sings the praising of God Almighty and his Son. This is exemplary discipleship not idolatry. Building a statue paying tribute to the One True God is the opposite of idolatry.

Jesus named Peter the first Pope. Peter was the leader of the Church. Saint Paul even went to Saint Peter and paid his respects. Jesus created the Church hierarchy and provided for succession (the Apostles and their successors). This is the Catholic interpretation of Scripture. The Protestants obviously see it differently. This difference of interpretation of Scripture points to the foolishness of sola Scritura. For it isn't Scripture that creates doctrine. It is the people who interpret Scripture who create doctrine. The use of simple reason debunks sola Scritura.

Additionally Protestants tolerate the endless proliferation of Protestant sects based on personal interpretation of Scripture. But somehow it is intolerable for another church, the first Church, the one Church created by Jesus himself, to have its own interpretation of Scripture. This brazen and obvious bigotry is the result of pre-conceived agendas and belief systems. This indicates that Scripture is irrelevent to the pursuit of Truth since the Protestant will bend and mold Scripture to support any of an infinite set of favored beliefs and agendas. Therefore, sola Scritura is nonsensical with respect to doctrine and the proper understanding of the Gospel. It is, however, crucial to the renegade who wants to proclaim himself the ultimate authority on the intrepretation of Scripture and then self-righteously crow "sola Scritura" as if it meant anything but complete non-sense.

The pope must be the final authority with regard to faith and morals. Though completely scriptural, it is self-evident that the pope as final authority is absolutely necessary to preserve the unity that Jesus demanded the Church have. Otherwise you get Protestantism, a disunited and endlessly dividing set of factions. The unity brought by the pope follows the wish of Jesus. The division and factions of the Protestants opposes the wish of Jesus. Simple reason then indicates that even if the pope were an institution created out of whole cloth, it is an institution that results in following the wish of Jesus. It is therefore infinitely preferable to that which opposes the wish of Jesus: Protestantism.

The celebate priesthood is an incredible tradition. By renouncing the world priests and religious pay tribute to Christ by following in his footsteps of purity. Jesus was celebate. Priests and religious provide living examples of Christ's own celebate purity. Like the veneration of Mary, the priesthood and religious orders venerate Jesus with their celebate lives.

I think that about covers it for this episode.

Posted 12/17/2008 6:03 PM by L

Begin Comment 19

Correction to the last sentence in the second paragraph: "Sola Scritura is simply a modern contrivence that deprives the adherent of the full Gospel message of Christ." Sorry about that.

Posted 12/17/2008 6:13 PM by L

Begin Comment 20

When you view the "and" as not being sola, it is clear that you do not understand the idea behind those doctrines of grace that have been held forth from the time of the Apostles. lets look at two points of the sola's for example. I am saved by faith alone... True! But that faith is in something! It's not just faith in faith.... It's faith in Christ. So it is my faith alone in Christ alone that saves me.... Does that make any sense to you on any level at all?

Also, go back and read the 2Thes verses again.... All of the verses! Not just the one. my points still stand. The traditions were already final at the time of it's writing. Nothing anywhere in the whole of scripture shows that we should venerate Mary in a religous context. Does the word of God in any place tell us that unto us a woman will be given? She will be called Queen of Heave, Holy Mother, Everlasting Virgin?

For the Love of all thats Holy! The bible even names her OTHER CHILDREN! Yet in order to keep the virgin claim alive the RCC states these were children from Josephs other marrage or cousins. C'mon! And were the ones getting it wrong?

May God help us all because we will never agree on this!

Posted 12/17/2008 11:26 PM by M

Begin Comment 21

You wrote "All of these doctrines come from Scripture and the tradition spoke of in Thessalonians. Go here for more on indulgences"

Please tell me where in the word of God can I find that beating my chest 3X while taking the Eucharist is a partial indulgence? Or the paying money to free a loved one from pergatory. Show me in the word of God.

Posted 12/17/2008 11:33 PM by M

Begin Comment 22

Greetings again, L. Respectfully, I will decline to interact with the majority of your last post to me since it simply repeats what has already been asserted before, and I have already addressed those issues on this blog and the one at MCShann's.

Perhaps the one thing that I found that might be edifying to discuss is your comment, "True, we are commanded not to build idols to false gods. But Jesus is not a false god. Jesus IS God."

In fact, your understanding of this commandment is imprecise. Your statement implies that is only wrong to build idols to false gods but it is acceptable to build idols to the true God. God stated over and over again that no image carved of wood, stone, or precious materials was ever to be bowed to or worshipped, for that would make of it an idol. All idolatry is sin. Or, perhaps, you know of a Bible verse which permits bowing to idols in the form of a true God?

"You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God." (Lev 26:1)

It would appear that God disallows all idols, not just the ones to false gods, but all images that one would be tempted to bow the knee to.

More to our point of common interest, God warned that no image of even the true God should ever be manufactured, because the true God has no visible form.

"So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female" (Deu 4:15-16)

God did not command, as you alleged, that it is only idols of "false" gods that are forbidden, He commanded us not to make images of the true God in any form whatsoever. Of more interest to you, probably, would be the statement, "do not act corruptly and make a carved image for yourselves in the form of any figure...or [any] female." No image in the figure of a female is to be made for the purpose of bowing the knee.

"Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him." (1Ki 19:18)

Do you remember the account of Daniel and his three friends? The three Jewish friends would not bow their knees to the golden statue of the king, so they were put into the furnace (and God spared them). Daniel was thrown into the lions' den for not praying to the king. My friend L, what you need to do, if you wish to be persuasive, is to show the Bible verse that encourages the use of idols of God and idols of Mary for the purpose of bowing our knees to them. It would be equally good if you could find a Bible verse that encourages men to pray to a spirit other than God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Until then, your repeated assertions that God wants us to bow to idols of Mary and wants us to pray to invisible entities like Mary (who is not God) is simply unconvincing.

Thank you for considering this request. Blessings as you worship Christ alone (Solus Christus).

Posted 12/18/2008 12:44 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 23

As a general notation on this entire set of comments about the five solas, I have found it interesting that unity of doctrine among protestants is so strong as to be able to identify a common universal set of creeds. While protestants may not be organized as a political unit goverened by a single human, the body of Christ, the church, largely holds dear certain doctrines that uniquely identifies them as "protestant." These unifying protestant doctrines are so firmly established as to make it simple to refer to "protestants" as a single identifiable group. This fact, that when someone says "protestant" that they are instantly identified with a core set of doctrines is, by itself, an eloquent testimony of our unity in and through Christ.

Though some of these doctrines and creeds overlap with Roman professions of faith, doctrines that identify us as a unified group known as "protestants" generally seem to include: the Five Solas, the Apostle's Creed, TULIP (more or less accepted), the Westminster Catechism (long or short version--always with some small exceptions), etc.

What other such doctrines / creeds should be added to this list of unifying doctrines of the Christian faith?

Posted 12/18/2008 1:07 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 24

With regard to idolatry, like the Pharisees you mentioned before, you miss the spirit of the law and simply apply a lifeless rule. The Old Testament is full of rule after rule after rule dictating behavior. Jesus made it clear that these types of rules were necessary because of hardness of heart.

Jesus concerned himself with the "inner game." He wanted us to be sincere instead of just act sincere. The prohibition against building idols that you cite is for pre-Christian Hebrews who'd lived for centuries in pagan Egypt. It is the want of any lover to have a picture or image of the beloved. Building images of the beloved is only natural. We now have the law written into our hearts, just like it says in Scripture. We are free to love without fear because the light from Heaven has shown upon us, just like is says in Scripture. We don't need to live life with every action dictated by Leviticus. We are Christian and thus, are able to live naturally, freely, artfully, poetically, romantically, because of Jesus.

Having images of Jesus, Mary and the saints is infact, a great sign of true faith. The images remind us of our beloved. We are not worshipping the images, we are loving what the image stands for. The rules you cite have nothing to with love. They were written for the faithless, for people completely unfamiliar with the love of God.

Sola scritura is so dangerous! In your personal interpretation of Scripture you have manufactured meanings that deprive love of its full expression.

One other thing that I wanted to address: One of the tactics of the wicked is to make wickedness look righteous by accusing the righteous of doing what the wicked do. The technique you employed is called, "tearing someone down, to build your own self up." You don't support your own position based on it's own merits.

You have stated that the Catholic Church is divided and thus has the same wicked property of divisiveness as Protestantism. Even if this were true, which it is not (actually this is a lie), any perceived divisions within the Catholic Church can't, don't and will never even get close to the profoundly divisive nature of Protestantism. Division and factionalization are built into Protestantism. There is no hope of unity in Protestantism because unity simply can't happen in a house created to be divided against itself. Stating falsehoods about the Catholic Church will not change that. It will simply lend a false, wicked sense of self-righteousness.

Further, you said that you have addressed my points. In truth you have not. All you've done is throw Scriptural quotes at the wall hoping that something will stick. Your discourse demonstrates argrument based on the parroting of dogma instead of argument base on the application of reason informed by faith. When reason is annihilated, faith just becomes a set of behaviors based on the dead echos of people who lived long ago.

My so called "venom" as you put it, is enthusiasm that the truth be told. Christianity was not spread by parroting dogma. It was spread through reason and example. Example is the living expression of faith (Tradition) and reason is the means of how faith is incorporated into all aspects of everyday life (our laws, institutions, families, churches, etc.). For this, Scripture is critical for in reading Scripture we may use and develop are faculty of reason and further nourish our faith.

Fideism (faith only, one of the five onlys) unbalances the intellect. The same inbalances occur with the fideist as with the atheist who instead of foresaking reason, has forsaken faith. Reason and faith must be inseparable if the disciple is reach full blown expression of his humanity.

Modern philosophy, starting around the time of the Reformation, has severed the unity of faith and reason. The negative impact of this on humanity is incalculable. The Church was shattered, and the basis for athiesim, abortion, relativism, scientism (the belief that science is the only route to truth), nihilism and many other pernicious philosophies was established.

From the long view of the Church, the Reformation one of the negative consequences resulting from the impact of modernity on the human race. The Second Vatican Council was convened back in the early 60's to deal with the phenomena of modernity. Vatican II as it is called created quite a stir and many people left the Church. Nevertheless, the Church stands united as always like the rock that it is, was and always will be. That's Scripture so you can bank on it.

Posted 12/18/2008 8:12 AM by L

Begin Comment 25

Sorry but "and" means plural which is the antithesis of "sola". My lack of understanding has nothing to do with that. When language means nothing, truth means nothing, and then Scripture can mean anything thus destroying it. That's exactly the point I have been trying to make.

Posted 12/18/2008 8:25 AM by L

Begin Comment 26

Those are not doctrines. Those are heinous. To my knowledge those practices were completely squashed by the Church. Is this still happening? If so, I will write the Pope myself and ask about it!

Posted 12/18/2008 8:29 AM by L

Begin Comment 27

Dear L, Thank you for adding your additional opinions regarding how you feel idolatry (bowing to carved images of Jesus and Mary) is a godly practice. You wrote, "Jesus concerned himself with the 'inner game.' He wanted us to be sincere instead of just act sincere." That is correct, but only up to a certain limit. But sticking with the intent of your comment, has it not escaped your notice that making carved images to which to bend the knee is entirely an outward act of the flesh that requires no inner heart love at all?

You also wrote, "Having images of Jesus, Mary and the saints is infact, a great sign of true faith." Here the question is always: Faith in what, the carvings, the spiritual beings that the carvings are intended to represent, or the only true God? If they are meant to show faith in the only true God, then why bow to carved images of Mary, for she is not the true God?

L also wrote, "The prohibition against building idols that you cite is for pre-Christian Hebrews who'd lived for centuries in pagan Egypt." You then continued to explain that the Law of Moses, as it describes idolatry, is no longer binding on New Testament Christians and that there is no biblical commandment that forbids the use of idols. With no disrespect intended to you, that assertion is without merit and ingorant of the writings of the apostles in the New Testament. Peter and Paul wrote to every church in the world that they no longer had to follow the Law of Moses AND that they must also at the same time avoid idolatry (Acts 15:20). What is idolatry? Bowing the knee to carved images.

John wrote, "Little children, guard yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21)

Paul further wrote that there is no agreement between the living church of Christ with idols (2 Corinthians 6:16). He also wrote to flee idolatry because while an idol is nothing but a piece of dead carved rock and has no power, demons live in the midst of them and accept the worship, honor, prayers, and sacrifices offered before them (1 Corinthians 10:14-21).

While we are not under the Law of Moses, we are under the Law of Christ's grace, and He has commanded we have nothing to do with bending the knees to carved images (idols). Therefore, when one makes, finds, or buys a carved image, and bows to it, they are not worshipping Christ at all, for they are being disobedient to Him with their very act of attempted "worship."

"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (John 15:10)

L, it is my ongoing prayer for you that you come to see Christ as the sole redeemer of all people, for no one but He was pierced with nails and shed blood that we might be forgiven our sins, and that one day, your faith will lead you to become born a second time.

Blessings to all who live in the commandments of Christ, and so abide in His love.

Posted 12/18/2008 1:07 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 28

Reverence for God is not idol worship. We are physical beings who perform physical acts of worship. If the God-loving heart commands the body into a physical act of worship then that is good. As Scripture instructs: It is what is inside that defiles us not what is outside. And here again we see that your personal interpretation of Scripture is very different than that of the Catholic Church. This difference in interpretation renders sola scritura useless. It shows the necessity for divine authority where interpreting Scripture is concerned.

Great caution should be taken not to use the mind as if it were a computer database. Instead of commanding the mind to think a person commands his mind to search the database for the appropriate Scripture quote associated with any given situation or snippet of information. That is the mechanic behind brainwashing.

Consequently, any discussion will be like trying to converse with a fortune cookie machine. No matter what gets said, out pops a little fortune cookie.

Let me demonstrate: "What's the sound of one hand clapping?"

Posted 12/18/2008 3:38 PM by L

Begin Comment 29

Regarding Protestant unity (another oxymoron): We reap what we sow. Believing in a common set of falsehoods is an example of the wrong type of unity. Protestantism is fractured by nature because its doctrines are false by nature. Falsehood leads to fracture. What is sown in falsehood will be reaped in fracture. That is the nature of things.

Posted 12/18/2008 4:49 PM by L

Begin Comment 30

You wrote "Sorry but "and" means plural which is the antithesis of "sola"

If I told you I was going to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwitch, would you assume I was going to have two of them? Would you assume I was going to have one sandwitch with PB and another with jelly? As you can see the way we view things is not always absolute. When you confess that you believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ His only Son "and" the Holy Spirit are you saying you believe in 3 gods? I mean if "and" absolutely has to mean plural then by your definition you hold to 3 gods right?

Posted 12/18/2008 6:06 PM by M

Begin Comment 31

Greetings once again, L. I do not wish to be unfriendly, but time is limited, so I will try to be brief while making three points, and then will come back later to check on any reponses you might leave.

1) You have completely ignored directly interacting with the arguments of my last post: that bowing to and kissing carved images is idolatry according to numerous Bible passages, the New Testament forbids the religious use of carved images (idols), and that Peter and Paul required the 1st century Christians to not bow to carved images. It was your own words that said that God permits bowing to idols of true Gods but not false gods. You have not produced any Scripture to uphold your statement.

2) You wrote, "And here again we see that your personal interpretation of Scripture is very different than that of the Catholic Church. This difference in interpretation renders sola scritura useless. It shows the necessity for divine authority where interpreting Scripture is concerned." L, in truth, if the only infallible source of an interpretation of the Bible comes from the Pope, then all Roman interpretations are the product of but one man, the very thing you keep accusing protestants of doing. Do you not see this as self-incriminating?

3) L, you wrote, "Great caution should be taken not to use the mind as if it were a computer database. Instead of commanding the mind to think a person commands his mind to search the database for the appropriate Scripture quote associated with any given situation or snippet of information. That is the mechanic behind brainwashing."

Indeed! If I were to say to myself, "I am not permitted to study the meaning of this Bible verse for myself so as to find its meaning using the Holy Spirit's power to illumine my mind, but instead I will simply look up the interpretation provided to me by one infallible man," then would I not be doing just exactly what you have just condemned? Is not saying that the Pope will provide the one true interpretation of every Bible verse nothing more than turning off the reasoning ability of the mind and treating the brain as little more than a database? You have spoken truly in this matter, for that is the essence of "brainwashing," as you have termed it.

That is why Sola Scriptura is so precious a biblical concept. Each believer is required to study every passage for himself. He must use the full reasoning capacity of his mind. He may reference what others have said through their own studies, but ultimately, he is responsible for being convinced of the truth in his own mind. When all doctrine is both dictated and all interpretations of Scripture are mandated by one man, then there is no more use of the thinking mind, for all dissent is useless and will be viewed as dangerous by that one authority.

As you say, Sola Scriptura is dangerous, but not to God, and not to those He has saved. Sola Scriptura is noblemindedness, searching the Scriptures to see if those things said and taught by others is true (Acts 17:11). May that spirit of Sola Scriptura never again be silenced before Christ returns.

Blessings in your search of the Scriptures, L, to see if these things are true.

Posted 12/18/2008 6:45 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 32

Peanut butter and jelly are two incredients. You said sola scritura. That means only one incredient. Catholics say Tradition and Scripture. "And" is plural so that means two ingredients, not only one (sola). The plural ingredients, Tradition and Scripture make one complete entire Gospel.

To believe in sola Scritura is believe in an incomplete Gospel. Tradition is what keeps unity. Having foresaken Tradition as part of the complete Gospel, Protestantism is bereft of completeness and thus prone to disunity and wrongheaded interpretations of Scripture. The Catholic position on Protestantism is that it lacks completeness. Every human being who chooses Christ should be able to enjoy the complete Gospel. Protestant doctrine is simply not generous in this regard.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are 3, and thus plural. The rub is accepting the Christian doctrine that God is family and that the plurality refers to 3 individual and distinct persons that are God. Btw, Muslims think Christians are kind of nutty for believing in 3 gods. They don't get how one God can be 3 persons.

Posted 12/18/2008 6:46 PM by L

Begin Comment 33

You wrote "The Chruch is the infallible authority on the proper interpretation of Scripture and doctrine. It has to be. Otherwise you end up like Protestants:"

And you wrote this about indulgences "Those are not doctrines. Those are heinous. To my knowledge those practices were completely squashed by the Church. Is this still happening?

So, If I show you that the RC Church is still teaching these things and you view them as heinous; does the infallibility of Rome still stand? Do they become a false church? Does the fact that they once did teach them make the RCC fallible?

Please answer these questions directly....

Posted 12/18/2008 7:38 PM by M

Begin Comment 34

Concerning idolatry. I addressed your concern completely. I will do so again. Your use and interpretation Scripture is wrong according to well established Church doctrine. Iconoclasm came up in the Church very early. The Church catagorically stated that iconoclasm is a heresy because it denies the divinity of Jesus. Since Jesus is God there cannot be a false idol of him. Therefore making an image of him is an act of worship. Venerating Mary and the saints honors Jesus. Therefore, making images of them is an act of worship. In this case you are using Scripture to deny the divinity of Jesus. To understand this you have to give it some thought. Instead of merely parroting Scripture a person must actually think about Scripture in order gain a proper sense of it. I accept the doctrines of Catholic Church because I have thought about them. They make sense.

I was a Protestant for about two months. I couldn't stand it. The underlying doctrines such as sola Scritura don't make any sense. Neither does the heresy you advocate concerning idols.

Concerning the pope. Remember that Peter the Apostle was the first pope. Jesus chose Peter and Peter chose a successor. And so on and so on. This mechanism was created by Jesus so it is full of grace. Popes don't create doctrine. They preserve what was handed on to them and teach it. The pope of today preserves the same doctrines reveled to Peter by Jesus. The popes aren't like Protestants. They don't just make things up on personal whim. If changes come they have usually been percolating for centuries. Additionally the pope works in unity with his council of bishops. So doctrines like those concerning Mary developed over centuries as part of Church Tradition. The veneration of Mary goes back to the early Church. Making images of Jesus, Mary and the saints goes back to the early Church also. It is necessary to understand that the wisdom of the Holy Spirit though contained in Scripture, is not limited to Scripture. The Holy Spirit works through the Church. That is one reason why the Church was created in the first place. The Church is the place on earth were the Holy Spirit resides fully and clearly. And people join the Church, the Body of Christ, to be with the Holy Spirit.

Posted 12/18/2008 10:59 PM by L

Begin Comment 35

L wrote, "The Church catagorically stated that iconoclasm is a heresy because it denies the divinity of Jesus. Since Jesus is God there cannot be a false idol of him." Hmmm, I think I understand the rationale behind this comment. This is a doctrine based on philosophy and not based on Scripture, and that is why you said you have answered the question--whereas I was looking for an answer from Scripture, you were providing one based on philosophy. The conclusion (that bowing to idols of Mary is not "idolatry") is derived from this chain of reasoning: idols are nothing more than carved images, and since Jesus is God, making a carved image of Jesus is making an idol out of the true God, and since it is "not wrong" to idolize the true God, then it cannot possibly be wrong to also make an idol out of the mother of the true God.

Of course, the first flaw in the flow of logic is that God forbade men to make any carved image of Him (Deuteronomy 4:15-16). He did not consider bowing to images of Him to be proper or loving worship, because He had forbidden it. God considered it an insult to be reduced to any likeness of a created thing because He has no form and is the Creator of all. Further, in addition to forbidding the carving of idols, He forbade the bending of the knee (bowing) to any carved image, because He is not really like the thing carved, and bending the knee is a form of worship, but because He is not represented by the idol, all the worship goes to the idol itself. Worship is to be to the invisible God alone and never to an idol which cannot represent Him (Leviticus 26:1).

It is impossible to genuinely worship God if one uses a form of worship that He finds repulsive (remember that Cain offered a grain sacrifice and God was displeased because He had commanded worship by means of blood sacrifices, which Abel did offer and was therefore approved by God--Genesis 4:3-7, Hebrews 11:4). Since God has already told us He is offended when anyone bows the knee to idols (in both the Old and New Testaments), how unrighteous are we to mock God by telling Him that He is wrong and we will worship Him any way that we find most amusing? I fear for the eternal destiny of any who would mock God and call it love. With all urgency, please bend your will to Godís will, and bend no knee to an idol.

L wrote, "To understand this you have to give it some thought. Instead of merely parroting Scripture." When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He quoted back Scripture. Nothing that has yet been said makes me see that quoting Scripture is either brainless or unlike the Lordís own example. To be honest, I find it absolutely shocking to hear a religious person say, "Stop quoting the Bible, Jesus would not do it." True, Jesus in the form of an idol would not quote Scripture, but the living Jesus found in the Bible did so quite often.

L wrote, "Concerning the pope. Remember that Peter the Apostle was the first pope. Jesus chose Peter and Peter chose a successor. And so on and so on. This mechanism was created by Jesus so it is full of grace." Assuming one accepts that Jesus was creating an office called "Pope" in Matthew 16:18 (I do not see that as a valid "interpretation" of the passage since I see it as of talking about Peterís faith in Christ being the rock upon which the church would be built), even assuming that, then why does the Pope not follow this "mechanism" you speak of and choose his own successors? If Jesus created that mechanism, then why do the cardinals elect the Popes today? The point is this: Romanism does invent doctrines, even when the doctrine appears to have a biblical basis, the doctrine is modified to suit the church instead of the church modifying itself to suit the Bibleís precepts. That is why bowing to idols has become the accepted norm in Roman worship today, because the doctrines of Godís Word have been replaced to suit the preferred doctrines of manmade tradition. I am sorry if this sounds harsh to your ears, but certainly this is what you have been telling me throughout our discussion.

I did get confused, a bit, by you, however. Sometimes you have written that the doctrines of the church are fluid, always evolving because the Pope is a living prophet who infallibly provides the church its doctrine. This is one of the things you said, "If changes come they have usually been percolating for centuries. Additionally the pope works in unity with his council of bishops. So doctrines like those concerning Mary developed over centuries as part of Church Tradition. Ö It is necessary to understand that the wisdom of the Holy Spirit though contained in Scripture, is not limited to Scripture." At other times you indicate that the doctrine of the church never changes, "Popes don't create doctrine. They preserve what was handed on to them and teach it. The pope of today preserves the same doctrines reveled to Peter by Jesus."

This becomes very confusing to a protestant, because we know from history that the doctrine of Rome has changed over the centuries. For example, to cite MCShann, indulgences were sold by Rome and were commanded to be sold by priests throughout Europe--a teaching of the Pope involving the afterlife of church members is a doctrine by anyoneís definition of the word "doctrine." So indulgences were once a doctrine of Rome, but they are not now. Did Jesus tell Peter to teach the doctrine of indulgences? If so, why has Rome stopped teaching this doctrine? If Jesus did not tell Peter to teach this doctrine, then why did Rome teach it? So the truth is Popes do invent doctrine which Jesus never told Peter about. L, even you called the doctrine of indulgences "heinous." So some of Romeís doctrines are faulty (or "heinous" if you prefer that word) and are not from God. This is why it is necessary that the authority to create doctrine not reside with a single man (especially one established by a secret election process) and instead resides with Scripture alone. And that is why every Christian is obligated to study the Bible for himself/herself, so that they can be equipped and able to discern every doctrine offered to them, to test it to see if it is true or false, whether the doctrine is in the Bible or made up by men (Ephesians 4:12-14, Acts 17:11).

Finally, L wrote, "people join the Church, the Body of Christ, to be with the Holy Spirit." This is not correct. Before a person becomes a part of the church, the body of Christ, they must first have the Holy Spirit living inside them. "However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him." (Rom 8:9) Anyone who is not yet indwelt by the Holy Spirit does not yet belong to Christ, and he or she is not yet part of the church, the body of Christ.

It is my prayer that if the Holy Spirit does not yet dwell inside of you, that some day He will.

Posted 12/19/2008 1:39 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 36

WAIT! What happened? Did I miss something? Is it over?

I love your quote above about the Holy Spirit. It is absolutely wonderful that we have a Savior that loves us so much that He sends His Holy Spirit in to us to begin the work of regeneration. This is such a hard statement for most ears! It is the natural and fleshly understanding that we must get our selves in order to make our body a suitable dwelling place for the Spirit. Thank you Lord Jesus that this is not the case! At what point would we be an acceptable dwelling place for a Holy God! Also, when would we want Him to indwell us? The scripture is quite clear that no one seeks after God. If not for the regenerating act of the Holy Spirit, removing our hearts of stone and giving us a heart of flesh we would never want the one true God as He reveals Himself in the scripture. This truth is echoed in the miracles of our Lord. The blind made to see, the dead raised to life and the deaf being made to hear.

Posted 12/20/2008 9:50 AM by M

Begin Comment 37

M wrote, "WAIT! What happened? Did I miss something? Is it over?"

I think the discussion, which your original blog sparked, has indeed run its course. However, it was profitable in that everyone had an opportunity to express their opinions, ask their questions, and to consider the evidences from alternative viewpoints. No one, Roman or protestant, can cause another person to believe something, that is the domain of the Holy Spirit. We can persuasively offer explanations of what we have become convinced of, and we should do so, then allow God to do a work of transformation in the heart of those with whom we have discoursed.

Perhaps this discussion of the five solas could be recapped as follows: Protestants are only known as protestants because they are unified by a common belief in a common set of doctrines, succinctly summarized as the five solas, the Apostle's Creed, and TULIP. These doctrines establish a foundation of reliance upon Scripture as the present and only authority for the creation of any other doctrine. Rome rejects both the five solas and TULIP, holds the Pope as the sole authority for ongoing creation of new doctrines, and therefore embraces such ever developing doctrines as: bowing to and kissing idols of Mary, praying to the saints who have died, establishing Mary as the "powerful sovereign" and "queen of heaven," believing Mary to be the co-redeemer of humankind, and paying for indulgences to reduce one's time to be apart from Jesus in the afterlife (all of which are counter to the five solas).

Each party to this discussion has had ample time, I feel, to have presented their biblical evidences. Now, each reader will need to determine who has presented a more compelling case from Scripture. In the words of an Indiana Jones movie, "Choose wisely."

Blessings to all in Christ, and Merry Christmas.

Posted 12/21/2008 2:46 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 38

It was a well written discussion - and I enjoyed following it. I am more convinced than ever for the Reformed faith. Blessings to you!

Posted 12/22/2008 3:19 AM by n

Begin Comment 39

Regarding idolatry... Common sense, that is reason, must be consistent with faith. We were created in God's own image. What makes us the image of God is our intellect and free will. Reason is a function of the intellect. If you don't use reason you can't even begin to interpret Scripture correctly. Without reason the Scripture may be construed to mean anything. Every single quote that you took from the Old Testament concerns the worship of false gods. It is only reasonable that an image of Jesus has nothing to do with idolatry because he is God.

You impune logic, you impune reason. And what is truly scary is that you do it with pride. You wave your Bible as if that takes the place of the very gift that God gave us to be like him - our intellect that is able to reason. This Bible waving that you do is what makes Christianity look so laughable. If you can only wave your Bible, why even have a conversation then? Waving your Bible like a magic wand will not spread the Word.

For reason informed by faith is the common currency of evangelism. Philosophy is what bridges one culture to another. Philosophy is the language of thought and the avenue by which we pursue Truth. By repudiating both reason and philosophy you are religating your brand of religion to a stagnant backwater.

Posted 12/26/2008 7:16 PM by L

Begin Comment 40

One last thing needs to be said about the tragedy of sola scritura and the Reformation.

To create the doctrine of sola scritura Luther had to repudiate Church authority. In so doing Luther had to take Church authority unto himself. But since Luther isn't anyone special, it follows reasonably that everyone can then become their own personal authority and develop their own interpretation of Scripture. And we see this develop through history as the so-called reformed churches split and fractured into hundreds if not thousands of sects.

Sola scritura allows for an infinite number of interpretations of Scripture. This makes quoting Scripture as a source of useless. Sola scritura has actually invalidated the very thing it says is the sole source of truth.

Posted 12/26/2008 7:33 PM by L

Begin Comment 41

The doctrine of indulgence if a doctrine of the Church. You have asked me questions about indulgences that are obviously meant to trap me. How can you disgrace yourself by acting like a Pharisee? I will NOT answer you directly on this matter. I refuse to subject myself to such vile intent. Go to the link I provided. It will give a good explanation.

A link to the section of the Catechism that covers indulgences is here. The pertainent section of concern is:

1478 An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.

As you can see, power to grant indulgences finds its source in Scripture. The doctrine of indulgences is one of mercy. I urge you to read what the Catechism has to say in this regard as it builds a greater understanding of the nature of sin. Obviously your hostility to mercy is the result of brainwashing.

Posted 12/26/2008 7:56 PM by L

Begin Comment 42

Instead of using your mind to understand my comments you nitpicked them by focusing on parts that you can throw Scripture at.

You didn't even address the MAJOR point I made so clearly: Sola scritura is a doctrine that advocates an incomplete Gospel.

Babeling Scripture and waving your Bible won't make the terrible and obvious flaws in the doctrine of sola scritura go away.

Posted 12/26/2008 8:25 PM by L

Begin Comment 43

You said, "Indeed! If I were to say to myself, "I am not permitted to study the meaning of this Bible verse for myself so as to find its meaning using the Holy Spirit's power to illumine my mind, but instead I will simply look up the interpretation provided to me by one infallible man,""

As usual your entire comment is completely flawed. First, what makes you think your mind is illuminated by the Holy Spirit enough to intrepret Scripture? It's this one flaw that makes it possible for anyone to interpret the Scripture anyway they want. If we all had minds embued with the Holy Spirit there would only be one interpretation of Scripture coming out of all of us. There would be no difference in the interpretations offered by the pope, Luther, Calvin or Pepe Gonzales.

Second, the Bible is not interpreted by one man the pope. Scripture says that Jesus revealed the meaning of Scripture to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Where you on the road to Emmaus with Jesus?

I didn't think so. Therefore YOU KNOW NOTHING. It took Jesus himself to explain the true meaning of Scripture. And Jesus taught the Apostles and created the Catholic Church with Peter as the first pope, to continue teaching the true meaning of the Gospel for time immemorial. The pope, working in union with the bishops in Christ's Church, protect and teach what Jesus taught. They perform their duty with the authority that Jesus gave him.

There is nothing in Scripture that gives anyone other than the leaders of the Church the authority to interpret Scripture.

Therefore, how anyone comes to understand Scripture is a matter of grace, not some very erroneous notion of having a mind enlightened by the Holy Spirit. And whatever someone comes to understand about Scripture had better conform to the teachings of Christ or else they are erroneous.

Posted 12/26/2008 8:56 PM by L

Begin Comment 44

Dear L, it is becoming evident from the choice of your words and phrases that your emotions are becoming quite strong in the course of this discussion. For example you wrote, "YOU KNOW NOTHING." Please know that I am harboring no ill will toward you, nor do I wish you to be insulted. My passion for Jesus and for the Word of God does not extend to trying to injure you. It is my pleasure to continue to dialogue on this subject, but I want you to know that it is not in any way antagonistic.

L wrote, "Every single quote that you took from the Old Testament concerns the worship of false gods. It is only reasonable that an image of Jesus has nothing to do with idolatry because he is God." This is not a correct or accurate statement. "So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female" (Deu 4:15-16) This passage is quite clearly stating that the true God cannot be represented in any "image" because He did not then, nor does He now, have a visible form, none (we serve an invisible God--1 Timothy 1:17) therefore, to create an "image of God" to which to bow, is to create an idol, which God here forbids. This passage is expressly talking about not making God into an idol. Period.

Another passage, which I did not previously mention, is 2 Kings 18:1-4, "Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan [the copper serpent]." (2 Kings 18:1-4)

In the 2 Kings 18 passage, King Hezekiah is commended by God for destroying the bronzed serpent Moses had created when God commanded him to so that the snake-bitten Israelites in the wilderness would be healed. The bronzed serpent, though originally a legitimate religious tool by which to cause people to turn their attention back to God, had become an idol when the people began burning incense to it, a form of worship. Any physical object that is worshipped is an idol, regardless of who made it, why they made it, or what the image is that it represents. God says no image accurately represents Him (Deuteronomy 4:15-16). Any image to which prayers are offered or incense is burnt is an idol, just as the bronze serpent of Moses had become. God hates the worship of anything but Himself.

L wrote, "To create the doctrine of sola scritura Luther had to repudiate Church authority." There is a bit of truth to this comment, but it is incomplete. What is repudiated with the notion of Sola Scriptura is that any single man within (or over) the church has the sole authority to interpret Scripture. The authority over the church is Christ (the head of the church--Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 1:18), and His Word/commandments are the authority which we must obey (1 Corinthians 7:19, Romans 16:26, 1 John 2:3).

L wrote: "But since Luther isn't anyone special, it follows reasonably that everyone can then become their own personal authority and develop their own interpretation of Scripture." Fascinating turn of a phrase! However, the very concept of Sola Scriptura is that Scripture is more authoritative than any man. Further, Sola Scriptura embraces, "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."(2 Peter 1:20-21)

L wrote, "First, what makes you think your mind is illuminated by the Holy Spirit enough to intrepret Scripture?" As with all who have been born again from above by God (not by any merits of mine but entirely by His mercy and grace--John 3:3) I have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside me ("However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him"--Romans 8:9), and it is He who guides His children into all truth (Luke 16:13). Having the Holy Spirit in us allows us to understand spiritual things, like the meaning of Scripture, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words."(1 Corinthians 2:12-13)

L wrote, "There is nothing in Scripture that gives anyone other than the leaders of the Church the authority to interpret Scripture." That, of course, is also untrue. Paul wrote to young Timothy, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling [interpreting] the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15) Paul expected Timothy to interpret ("accurately handle") the Word by means of diligent study. Further, Paul states that all who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (that is, all who have been born a second time from above--1 Peter 1:23, John 3:3-7) are able to understand and appraise (study and correctly comprehend) the things in the Bible because such people have "the mind of Christ" as written, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ."(1 Corinthians 2:14-16)

L, I can guess how frustrating this conversation has been for you. Yet, I do hope you realize that it is conducted in love, with the hope that you would embrace the salvation of Jesus by becoming born a second time from out of heaven, which is the only way by which a person will ever see or enter the Kingdom of Christ, "Jesus answered and said to him, ĎTruly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.í" (John 3:3)

Blessings.

Posted 12/26/2008 11:15 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 45

This is clearly hopeless. Throwing Scripture around won't make the truth go away. All your quotes about idolatry are meaningless because they have nothing to do with Jesus. You are quoting Scripture that was meant for a people prone to idolatry - the ancient Hebrews. A Christian cannot be idolatrous.

My phrasing is exact and meaningful not angry. The mind of Christ is the mind of the Church, not your mind and not my mind. If we don't accept Church teaching, we are thinking and interpreting things with our own mind and thus prone to error. Your Peter quote also proves what I wrote previously. The Holy Spirit recides in the Church and teaches the Church. Without the Church where do you think the Holy Spirit will come from? The Church is Christ's continued presence on earth.

You are making the most arrogant and terrible assumption that just because you call yourself Christian, that you are one. You say that you have the Holy Spirit when that may not be true at all. You only assume such a thing. The only sure thing is that the Church is Christ's presence on earth. We must be part of the Church to have the fullness of the Holy Spirit. All your Scripture quoting says exactly that.

Your quote about Timothy also proves my point. Timothy was a duly appointed minister of the Church. He was the recipient of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He was not a layperson. He was part of the clergy. You will read in Timothy where Paul cautions Timothy not "lay hands" too quickly. The Sacrament of Holy Orders was instituted by Jesus and quite evident in the writing of Saint Paul. It was administered by the Apostles and their successors up to the present day.

Because you received doctrine that is unorthodox, you read the same Scripture that I do and understand something completely different. This is why sola scritura is so wrong. The proper understanding of Scripture cannot happen outside of the Church. You folks are just people who think they know something. In actuality you are simply repeating the dead echos of men long dead.

The living truth resides where Jesus put it-in the Church. So the name "Reformation" is even without meaning. For how can you reform Jesus? How can mere men like Luther and Calvin reform what is already perfect?

Posted 12/26/2008 11:51 PM by L

Begin Comment 46

Itís not my attempt to trap you. Itís truly an attempt to try to understand how beating my chest three times is an indulgence. To say that I do not believe in mercy because I see hitting my chest as silly does not add up. I personally think I should go and actually serve in a mercy ministry. Or if it is the churchís job to show mercy to me for my sins and help me out of them I would hope they give me good council and talk with me about why what I did was wrong, NOT have me punch my chest or pray to a false co-redeemer by counting a beaded necklace 20 times. Where can a person find that stuff in scripture? That is why I can agree with you when you say above that indulgences are heinous!

So with that being saidÖ. My question still standsÖ.. My exact questionÖ Iíll ask it againÖ.

You wrote "The Chruch is the infallible authority on the proper interpretation of Scripture and doctrine. It has to be. Otherwise you end up like Protestants:"

And you wrote this about indulgences "Those are not doctrines. Those are heinous. To my knowledge those practices were completely squashed by the Church. Is this still happening?

So, If I show you that the RC Church is still teaching these things and you view them as heinous; does the infallibility of Rome still stand? Do they become a false church? Does the fact that they once did teach them make the RCC fallible?

Please answer these questions directly....

Posted 12/27/2008 1:28 AM by M

Begin Comment 47

I think the argument about scripture alone from the Catholic side is kind of funny. When asked where they get the idea about them having the authority to interpret they point to passages of scripture. When asked about where does one see that Peter was the first Pope they point to the scripture. When asked about where Mary became the Queen of Heaven they point to the scripture. Yet when we read those passages they are clearly not addressing those issues.

So then we ask "How do they get this from the scriptures?" Then they tell us that it is what the church has ALWAYSE believed and tought! Then we ask them "well how do we know that is what they taught?' Then they retort "IT'S IN THE SCRIPUTRES!"

So round and round it goes!

Posted 12/27/2008 2:12 AM by M

Begin Comment 48

Let me restate: "An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishment due for their sins." The Church does this not just to aid Christians, "but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity" (CCC 1478).

So the power of the Church to grant indulgences has its basis in Scripture.

The propaganda associated with indulgences is that they somehow buy forgiveness for sins. This incorrect. It is through the Sacrament of Confession that sins are forgiven. The Roman Catholic Church does indeed teach the doctrine of indulgences. Sin has two effects. One, it separates the soul from God. This is eternal punishment. The second effect is temporal punishment.

Indulgences deal with temporal punishment. Temporal punishment is mitigated by prayer, fasting and charity and indulgences. So the indulgence is merciful in that it relieves the disciple of temporal punishment due to sin.

Therefore beating the chest 3 times before taking Communion as a partial indulgence is extraordinarily appropriate and merciful. This type of physical action draws the attention to Christ. Whereas paying money to free a soul from purgatory does not seem appropriate. Do you have any details on that one?

You, M wrote, "So, If I show you that the RC Church is still teaching these things and you view them as heinous; does the infallibility of Rome still stand? Do they become a false church? Does the fact that they once did teach them make the RCC fallible?"

So to answer your questions directly... If I think that a Church teaching is heinous, than I am the one who is in error. The Church is infallable with regard to morals and doctrine. Malpractice on the part of a pope or bishop (creating an indulgence of paying money to free a soul from purgatory, for example) does not destroy the doctrine. The indulgence was granted to the victim of the malpractice regardless of the corruption of the clergyman.

Posted 12/27/2008 2:16 AM by L

Begin Comment 49

If we cite Tradition you will not accept it. Citing Scripture is done so that our source will be in common and we may continue the discussion. The Church teaches that the Scripture is the divinely inspired Word of God. But that teaching comes from Tradition as there was a time when Christianity fluorished without Scripture.

Posted 12/27/2008 2:35 AM by L

Begin Comment 50

If we think something is silly we don't do it. There is no requirement to seek indulgences or venerate Mary or have statues or rosaries. All of these things are part of the treasure that the Church offers. And there is plenty of opportunity to receive good council about what you did wrong. This is what happens during Confession. The disciple should seek out an able and fitting confessor, in fact.

Posted 12/27/2008 2:42 AM by L

Begin Comment 51

Dear L. Thank you for your response. I am pleased that you are not angry. It began to worry me that this conversation had become too emotional and thus would serve no good purpose any longer.

L wrote, "You are quoting Scripture that was meant for a people prone to idolatry - the ancient Hebrews. A Christian cannot be idolatrous." Actually, many of the apostles said that Christians can be idolatrous and warned us against indulging in idolatry (1 John 5:21, 1 Peter 4:3, Galatians 5:20, 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, Acts 21:25). Perhaps Colossians 3:5 summarizes it best when it notes that greed is the same thing as idolatry (i.e. greed being the worship of money), which a Christian should not do, but often does do, "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry." (Col 3:5)

All those Scriptures against idolatry are indeed written to us today, to Christians today.

L wrote, "The mind of Christ is the mind of the Church, not your mind and not my mind." Not to put too fine a point on this, but, I am a part of Christís body, His bride, the church. Myself and millions of others are the church. The church is not an organizational structure or a set of buildings located in Rome, it is the body of all believers in Christ who comprise the body of Christ, the church itself (Colossians 1:18, 1:24, 3:15, 2:19, Ephesians 4:4, 4:12-16, 5:30), "And [God] put all things in subjection under [Christís] feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Eph 1:22-23)

If, as you say, you do not have the mind of Christ, I am most unhappy for you, for all Christians have the mind of Christ, "But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ." (1Co 2:15-16)

L wrote, "The Holy Spirit recides in the Church and teaches the Church. Without the Church where do you think the Holy Spirit will come from?" This comment is partially correct, and partially wrong. The Holy Spirit resides in every believer (Romans 8:9-11, 2 Timothy 1:14, James 4:5, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 2:22). In that sense, yes, the Holy Spirit resides in the church, for we are the church. And where does the Holy Spirit come from? He proceeds directly from the Father (John 15:26).

L wrote, "The Church is Christ's continued presence on earth." In this we agree, though, again, the church means the collective body of all those who believe in Christ, not an organizational structure or a set of buildings.

L wrote, "You are making the most arrogant and terrible assumption that just because you call yourself Christian, that you are one. You say that you have the Holy Spirit when that may not be true at all. You only assume such a thing. The only sure thing is that the Church is Christ's presence on earth. We must be part of the Church to have the fullness of the Holy Spirit."

This has become the stance of Rome, that all believers in Christ who do not join the Roman organization are not saved, and are therefore not Christians. Yet, happily, I need not trust Rome, any man, or any woman regarding my faith in Christ. For His Word states so very clearly that whosoever believes in Him, whosever calls upon His name, whosever is born a second time from above, whosoever confesses Christ with his mouth and believes in his heart, it is that person who is assured of His salvation, for He will in no way cast that one out (John 6:37). Salvation is not dependent on joining up with the right organization, but with joining up with Christ Himself, for He is the only Savior and the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).

L wrote, "The proper understanding of Scripture cannot happen outside of the Church. You folks are just people who think they know something." To state that only the organization residing in Rome can interpret the Scriptures strips those of us who comprise Christís body of the very priesthood He has granted us (1 Peter 2:5-10). Since Christ Himself has granted us this priesthood, I must consider God the more faithful witness, and accept that as part of His priesthood, I am obligated and empowered to interpret the Scriptures. It is for this very reason that I have studied the Greek language, so as to better to translate and interpret the New Testament. Although you have said that Rome reserves to itself the right to interpret the Scriptures, I cannot find any Bible passage that would give Rome that exclusive right. Can you provide one?

L wrote, "So the name ĎReformationí is even without meaning. For how can you reform Jesus? How can mere men like Luther and Calvin reform what is already perfect?" Again, interesting turn of a phrase. Of course, the Reformation was a reform of the political structure by which believers in Christ organize themselves, and a reclaiming of the doctrines preached by the gospel writers, doctrines that had become embellished with human traditions over time. Christ was never reformed, for He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That the church politic often needs reforming (and is in no way perfect here on earth) is stated over and over again by the Lord, Jesus Christ, Himself: Revelation 2:4-6, 14-16, 20-23. So, if Jesus can say of His own body, "repent, change, stop doing wrong things, stop teaching bad doctrine," then we too may join with Him and say, "reform." Christ has indeed built His church in the temple of menís hearts, and Satan can never destroy that church so constructed.

L, it is my fond hope that you too will become born a second time from above, and have the absolute assurance of eternal salvation which M and I share. We have this assurance not because we are in the same religious or political organization (for we are not), but because we are part of Christ through faith, not by reason of anything we have done, but just through faith alone by His grace.

Blessings.

Posted 12/27/2008 5:02 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 52

The idolatry we were writing about was idolatry caused by making graven images. Your quotes again prove my point. Not once in any of your New Testaments quotes was idolatry the result of graven images. The early Christians knew from then get-go that making an image of Christ is not idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of false gods and has absolutely nothing to do with graven images created to reverence Christ, as your most resent quotes prove.

"This has become the stance of Rome, that all believers in Christ who do not join the Roman organization are not saved, and are therefore not Christians." This is simply a lie and you know it. The Church of Rome says no such thing.

It doesn't make any difference what languages you speak. Everybody still interprets what they hear, read, see and feel with their own mind. This is why one cannot interpret Scripture by one's self. Again, I repeat, it is only the Church who has been given the authority to intrepret Scripture. Otherwise everyone may interpret Scripture the way they want, which is precisely what Protestants do. Since all interpretations cannot be the truth, this renders the Scriptures useless as a source of truth. From your point of view, Scripture is truth because you say it is. Others think the Scripture is a crock. Your view is no better than anyone else's. I say Scripture is true because that is what the Church teaches. I believe in the Church. Therefore it doesn't make any difference what anyone else thinks about it. The truth derives from Christ who created the Church perfectly. If you say but the Scripture is truth because the Scripture says it is the truth you have committed a flaw in reasoning. This flaw is called "begging the question." You cannot use as proof, the thing you are trying to prove. Scripture is the Truth because the Church says it is. For it from the Church that Scripture sprang. What about the Old Testament you say? Again, I repeat, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus interpreted Scripture for his disciples and showed them that the Old Testament was really all about him. He thus validated the Old Testament not as Jewish Scripture but as Christian Scripture. Why then did Luther reject the Bible of Jesus and choose the Jewish Bible from 70AD? Because he was heretic.

Therefore, belief in the Church is belief in Christ and the salvific work of the Father which began long ago. To not believe in the Church is not to believe in the full Gospel message of Jesus. So we must understand that belief in the Church is a fundamental act of faith. This is because within the Church is the culmination of all of God's work to save mankind. Conversely, belief in sola scritura is an act of rebellion. To break away from the fundamental act of faith reduces the doctrine of sola scritura to a truthless shambles.

Regarding your comments on priesthood. Our priesthood speaks to our ability to worship, not our ability to translate and interpret Scripture. The Church has ministers who have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Some are bishops, some are called priest (a usage different from what your are trying to say), some are deacons. This is the Church hierarchy. There job is to guard and teach the proper meaning of Scripture.

Regarding the Reformation... It is unbelievable what you say. The five solas and the rejection of the Church is about doctrine PERIOD. The people and institution of the Church can be reformed without a change in doctrine. And this is precisely what happened. There was no reclaimation of doctrine but as with all heresies a creation of new and unorthodox doctrine.

Making the claim that the Reformation reclaimed doctrine is simply false. It's another lie that has been passed on through the generations. The doctrine of Luther is made specifically to reject the authority of the Church. And that is a slap in the face of Jesus who created the Church. There is nothing in Scripture about Luther and his brand of religion. He simply plucked things out of Scripture to suit his purpose. He created a tradition called Protestanism. And that is what you follow. All your scriptural interpretations spring from the Protestant tradition. It is self evident that interpretation springs from culture and tradition. To deny tradition is unreasonable.

If you read the Catechism of the Catholic you see that all the articles are referenced with Scripture and Church Councils that have convened down through the ages. The councils were convened to settle issues and clarify doctrine. The Council of Trent addressed the Reformation. Yet the basic doctrines of the Church remained unchanged. Church Tradition presides over the proper and truthful interpretation of Scripture.

Posted 12/27/2008 11:06 AM by L

Begin Comment 53

Correction the last paragraph about Catechism references. The work of the popes down through the ages is also cited.

Posted 12/27/2008 11:11 AM by L

Begin Comment 54

So quoting the CCC makes indulgences verified by scripture? Where is beating my chest in the scriptures?

Also, Im glad to see that you can view yourself as wrong. I know now that regarding indulgences that when I presented this argument that you went out and learned about them and what the RCC teaches about them. As a result you have modified your views. I only wish you would move more toward good exegesis and away from a holy infallible church that has had (in your words) only 10 bad Popes and a magistrate that has allowed heinous teachings about indulgences and purgatory to be issued. This is why we state let God be true and every man a liar! Thus validating the idea of scripture as the only true rule of faith.

How is it that the false teachings of the past can not be held to the account of the RCC Magistrate and it's Popes? How can they be excused as bad men who truly did not represent the church when the Pope is the Vicar of Christ? The Church has become this non entity that can never be pinned down and held accountable for it's heresies.

Posted 12/27/2008 11:52 AM by M

Begin Comment 55

Christ gave the Apostles the power to "bind and lose". That power remains in the Church. The indulgence remits temporal punishment for sin. Jesus gave the Apostles power over sin. That power remains in the Church. It is totally Scriptural. The Bible doesn't tell you to wipe your butt. But you do it. Cleanliness is next to Godliness after all. You were given an intellect and free will and the power to act with great latitude toward the good. Likewise, the Church in union with Christ has the power to act with great latitude toward the Good.

By your logic Protestantism was destroyed long ago by the likes of Jim and Tammie Faye Bakker. They weren't the first and they'll not be the last. Infact, there is an entire corrupt industry of Protestant preachers alive and well today bulking money from little old ladies and the gullible. You can see it in all it's glory on TV. I used the word heinous to refer to human corruption, not the holy teachings of the Christ's Church.

Regardless, corrupt individuals do not change the truth of the teachings. The teachings of the past are not false. They have always been true. To say they are false is to say Jesus is false, since Jesus gave us the teachings and gave his authority to the Church.

There is nothing heinous about the doctrine of indulgence. It is a doctrine of mercy. Relieving the sinner of temporal punishment for sin is merciful. Also, to receive the benefit of an indulgence, the penitent must take it to heart. Merely going through the motions will have zero effect. Likewise, going to Confession will have zero effect unless there exists genuine sorrow for sins committed. And the forgiveness of Confession does not relieve the penitent of temporal punishment resulting from sins committed. And the doctrine of Purgatory is not heinous, but perfectly reasonable if one truly understands the nature of sin and what it does to us. That is why I so hoped you would read and understand the passages from the Catechism. They are ever so instructive.

Lastly, the bad men you speak of are not excused. They died long ago and here you are today raving about their iniquity. Such scandal has contributed to the devastation of Church unity and driven people away from Christ.

Posted 12/27/2008 1:00 PM by L

Begin Comment 56

Using the Bakers will not help you here. The logic does not apply to protestant churches because they do not claim infallibility. The RCC does however. If the top protestant preacher falls and sins or teaches a bad doctrine he only shows himself a sinner in need of Christ. If the infallible Vicar of Christ falls however he destroys all of your doctrines.

I HAVE read and DO know all about your churches teachings on indulgences. So you can not use ignorance as your defense. It was you who did not know they were still in practice until I showed you. To say that your quote above was not calling indulgences heinous is an outright deception.

Also, the idea that the passages about binding and loosing on earth are about temporal forgiveness is not true. A simple reading of the text shows that to be a lie. But even if it did """ Where does it say to beat your chest???"""

There is no way around the argument that if an infallible body teaches something that is false then it is guilty of a minimum of two heresies... 1. The false teaching it put forth and 2. The claim of infallibility...

Posted 12/27/2008 4:42 PM by M

Begin Comment 57

Im putting together a little Ancient church father teaching statements that I will post here when done.... Who's side were they really on! The RCC claims them but they just claim them they never let them speak for themselves.... Oh, unless it's a single sentence taken completely out of context. Im going to give topic and background info with my quotes...

Posted 12/27/2008 4:49 PM by M

Begin Comment 58

Dear L. Your interest in this subject is quite commendable. It would be a sad day should your heart ever turn against inquiry and against a love of Godís Word.

L wrote, "The idolatry we were writing about was idolatry caused by making graven images. Your quotes again prove my point. Not once in any of your New Testaments quotes was idolatry the result of graven images." It is possible that you are unaware that the word "graven" means "to carve, chisel, or draw by making imprints;" it is a short form of the word "engrave." All idols are carved (free standing sculptures), friezes (flat cuttings), or drawn paper images. Idolatry is the praying and bowing to carved or drawn images. Except for the passage on greed being idolatry (the worship of money), all the passages I used are about praying to, bowing to, or burning incense to carved (engraved-graven) images, which the Lord calls "idols." Oddly, you have yet to quote a Bible verse in which God says, "Oh, go on, bow to that idol of a woman, itís ok."

L wrote, "This is simply a lie [Ďthe stance of Rome, that all believers in Christ who do not join the Roman organization are not saved, and are therefore not Christiansí] and you know it. The Church of Rome says no such thing." L, with all due respect, your understanding of this pronouncement from the Pope is lacking. Here is a quote from a blog I wrote on July 10, 2007, "Differences between Catholicism and Protestantism were spotlighted last week when the Pope reissued a positional stance. He asserted that the Vatican II conference was misunderstood and he desired to correct that misunderstanding. He stated that: 1) no other churches but Catholic churches had the Ďmeans of salvationí because they are not Ďtrue churchesí at all, and 2) masses (church services) must be conducted in Latin." (see: http://www.xanga.com/craigwbooth/603145334/popes-latest-pronouncement.html )

Without the "means of salvation" available to them, anyone not in the Roman organization obviously cannot be saved. This pope is not the first clarify this stance.

L wrote, "From your point of view, Scripture is truth because you say it is. Others think the Scripture is a crock. Your view is no better than anyone else's." Perhaps of all the comments you have made this one alarms me and simultaneously saddens me the most. Please note this carefully: Scripture is the truth BECAUSE God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) have said it is the truth. "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." (John 17:17) When God has spoken via His Word, perspectives are irrelevant, because His Word is always true, whether we believe it or not. I choose to believe it, but that does not make it true--it was, is, and will always be true because God cannot lie. Long before there was a "church," Godís Word to the Jews was true, and remains true.

L wrote, "I say Scripture is true because that is what the Church teaches. I believe in the Church. Ö . If you say but the Scripture is truth because the Scripture says it is the truth you have committed a flaw in reasoning." This is a great difference between us. I say the Word of God is true whether or not anyone teaches it ("let God be found true, though every man be found a liar"--Romans 3:4a). I do not "believe in the church," rather, I believe in Christ. Believers (who are the body of Christ, the church) are honored to be such, and I respect those who call on the name of Christ, but I do not "believe in them."

L wrote, "Why then did Luther reject the Bible of Jesus and choose the Jewish Bible from 70AD? Because he was heretic." This comment I found quite confusing. Why is it "bad" (heretical) that Luther relied on the original language texts of Godís Old Testament Word to render a faithful German language version? Even the Greek Septuagint (a non-inspired Greek version of the Old Testament) was translated in the same manner and from the same language texts as used by Luther. How is that heretical? Was it a heresy for Jewish scholars to translate the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek? Was it a heresy for Greek scholars to translate the Old Testament into Latin? Was it a heresy for the famed Bible scholar Wycliffe to translate the Word? A yes answer to any of those questions must be backed up by a Bible passage that says, "To deliver the Word of God to every person in their own language is a heresy." I have not seen such a passage, but I am willing to listen if you can offer one.

That really about sums up the situation, I think. Salvation, in your way of thinking, is based on faith in the Roman organization of the church, "Therefore, belief in the Church is belief in Christ and the salvific work of the FatherÖSo we must understand that belief in the Church is a fundamental act of faith" (L). Whereas salvation, as uniformly held by protestants, is only by faith in Christ by the grace of God, and is confirmed and conferred by being born a second time from above. Faith, and trust for salvation, in anything else, or via anyone else, is idolatry. May you become born again a second time from above and realize the absolute assurance of eternal redemption.

Posted 12/27/2008 4:56 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 59

Your position is that the Church is corrupt. My use of the Bakkers shows that while you are completely consumed with the splinter in some centuries old Church hierarchy, you are also completely unaware of the beam that rots in the eye of Protestantism. You attack the Church for being corrupt and completely ignore worse routine and on-going corruption in your own house. Bigotry has its roots in such thinking.

With regard to doctrine and correct interpretation of Scripture, there must be a claim of infallibility somewhere along the line, for if what you believe in is fallible then it is worthless. Because the Church is infallible concerning doctrine and morals, I do not have to be infallible. Conversely, because each Protestant may interpret Scripture his own way, he must be infallible. Otherwise, the interpretation is fallible and consequently wrong. If your interpretation is wrong then you are in error. And all doctrine that springs from error is itself, erroneous. If your doctrine is fallible then it isn't worth believing in.

God is perfect and as a result his doctrines are perfect and infallible. If you are going to belief in the truth, it must be perfect and its source infallible. The Church was created by Jesus as that infallible interpreter of the Gospel, not the individual. We know that individuals are flawed and so are not capable of infallible interpretation of the Gospel.

Again, it makes no different if I am ignorant or in error. The truth stands. The doctrine of indulgences is sound, trustworthy and perfect. Trying to take down the Catholic Church because of some error that I have made doesn't make much sense. The Church stands on its own merits.

It just takes simple reason to see that there must be an infallible source for the truth and the correct interpretion of Scripture (the Truth). The Church is either infallible or each person who makes his own personal interpretation of Scripture must be infallible. Both cannot be true. Only one is obviously true.

If you admit that the Church is fallible and that all people are fallible than your faith has its foundation in sand. If you admit that each person is infallible than you are obviously wrong and have no real faith at all. Either way you look at it there is no real basis for the doctrine of the solas and rejection of Church authority. Nevertheless, we know that Jesus established his Church on rock to serve him in unity as the infallible teacher of his doctrines. This is Scriptural and is completely opposite of what you profess as sound doctrine.

Regarding binding and loosing. This refers to the Church's power to deal with sin. Indulgences is a doctrine that saves the sinner from temporal punishment. It is completely logical and reasonable that the Church should have such a doctrine if it were given power over sin. Since you only believe in sola scritura your knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is necessarily limited. The Scripture came from the Church not the other way around. That makes the Church the arbiter and source of what Scripture means. You will never know what the Scripture truly means unless you accept the source of it.

Posted 12/27/2008 6:00 PM by L

Begin Comment 60

The Church holds that Protestantism is unorthodox and thus not complete. The Protestant way is to interpret Scripture and Church documents as exclusive thus insuring that some great mass of people gets sent to hell.

Protestants baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Protestants hold that Jesus is the Son of God who was sent to save mankind. Protestants hold that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. These are Catholic doctrines. Jesus died for all men, not just Catholics.

This idolatry thing is way past old. It is impossible to carve an idol of Jesus and thus be idolatrous. For Jesus is true God no a false god. Your interpretation of Scripture is erroneous and your insistence on using error to prove a point makes my use of Scripture pointless. I therefore resort to reason, which is a valid way of understanding self evident truth.

There is no disagreement that Scripture is the Word of God. The disagreement is over the doctrine of sola scritura. Without the Church as the ultimate, infallible interpreter of Scripture, the only alternative is that each individual person is infallible in his interpretation of Scripture. That this cannot be the case is self evident. So whatever Luther came up with is fallible.

Posted 12/27/2008 6:20 PM by L

Begin Comment 61

Regarding your fallacious interpretation of recent Church pronouncements: For the actual truth go read the actual documents here and here. There is no change in Church doctrine at all concerning non-Catholic churches. And the reinstatement of the Latin Mass is entirely voluntary as anyone can see by reading the actual document.

And as an actual Church goer, I have never been to a Latin Mass. I regularly attend Mass in Spanish and English as those are the major languages of the community in which I live.

Apologies for my errors on your New Testament quotes concerning idolatry. I am suffering from fatigue and beginning to make more mistakes than usual.

Posted 12/27/2008 7:38 PM by L

Begin Comment 62

You wrote "With regard to doctrine and correct interpretation of Scripture, there must be a claim of infallibility somewhere along the line, for if what you believe in is fallible then it is worthless. Because the Church is infallible concerning doctrine and morals, I do not have to be infallible. Conversely, because each Protestant may interpret Scripture his own way, he must be infallible. Otherwise, the interpretation is fallible and consequently wrong. If your interpretation is wrong then you are in error. And all doctrine that springs from error is itself, erroneous. If your doctrine is fallible then it isn't worth believing in. "

This is soooo far off base! Firstly you are right there MUST be a claim of infallibility somewhere. THAT is why we protestants claim that the WORD itself is THAT infallible source. That is why it (the word of God) is not worthless to us. HOWEVER! The RCC IS fallible and by your own standard is worthless.

You like to say I am ignoring the false preachers on our "side". You are either missing the point or purposefully trying to avoid it. I can not believe you are missing the point because it can not be made any clearer. BUT just so you can not hide behind it any longer I will tell you that YES indeed there have been protestants that have done horrible things in the name of Christ! They all are worthy of rebuke and severe discipline. It still does not apply to the topic. Protestants have never made the claim of infallibility. So pointing fingers back and saying "your bad too!" doesn't mean anything to this topic.

How is it that the infallible church taught that a person can get a soul out of purgatory through indulgences and later remove such a teaching? Do you realize that if it were still in practice today (or better yet, if we were having this conversation back then) that your defense would be "that the church has always taught this!"? If your infallible source is guilty of falsehood, then it is also NOT infallible. Game over!

Posted 12/27/2008 7:44 PM by M

Begin Comment 63

All things written are subject to interpretation. You continue to beat a dead horse by saying that the Word of God is infallible. Of course it is. But because it is written each person may interpret what is read in his own way. It is the interpretation of Scripture that is the problem. The Scripture must be interpreted infallibly in order for its full value to be known.

The Protestant claim to infallibility is implicit in the doctrine of the solas. Without Church authority, each person is free to interpret the Scripture however it pleases them. So for the interpretation to be true, the person must be infallible. And this is clearly not the case. Only the Church was given the authority by Jesus to interpret and teach Scripture.

Your diatribe on indulgences results from your belief that the Church is corrupt and therefore it's teachings heinous. I merely pointed out that pound for pound there is more corruption among Protestant communities than there is in the Catholic Church. I turned the basis for your argument back upon you. If you fault Catholic doctrine because of corruption then the same is more than true for Protestants. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

My purpose here is to destroy your arguments. Since your arguments are simple they may be destroyed with simple reason. There is no need to even waste a Scriptural quote though out of courtesy many such quotes were referenced.

The problem I find is that you are not well versed in the use of reason nor in your knowledge of the facts. Here is the Catholic teaching on Indulgences:

1471 The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance. What is an indulgence? "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."81

"An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin."82 Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead. Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead. The teaching concerning indulgences and the dead has not been removed.

Posted 12/27/2008 9:24 PM by L

Begin Comment 64

Your doing a great job destroying my arguments btw. I hope you don't back yourself into any more corners that you have to lie about to get out of.

The reason your skipping verses is not because you don't want to waste them on my simple arguments. It's because no scriptures exist to support any RCC dogmas or teachings. In order to find anything about Mary that even resembles RC teachings you would need to quote the 2nd century apocryphal book the Gospel of James.

How is it that you can state the protestants claim to infallibility is "implicit" in the solas? Each person is not free to interpret the scriptures as they see fit. There are hermeneutical principals and proper methodologies that must be taken. A properly trained protestant will tell you lesson number one is this; What does this verse mean by what it says? Not what does it mean to me! There are rules to interpretation. I listened to a debate with a protestant and a catholic several weeks ago. The catholic was whining about the protestant guy using the Greek words and explaining them.

Im not out to defame the church Charlie, Im out to show the error in RCC doctrine. The church or "the called out ones" as the name implies consist of people like Mr. Booth and myself. Im out to edify, encourage and defend the church. I want to defend my brothers and sisters from the RCC and it's ever shifting doctrines. Mary veneration, indulgences, idol worship, prayer to Saints, calling anathema those that hold salvation in Christ alone while allowing Jews and Muslims entry into Heaven by it's Baptism by Desire doctrine. Are you that blind? Has reason and sanity left you? How can I be under the condemnation of Trent for holding to my salvation in Christ alone but a Muslim who is trying hard to please a false God be acceptable? The contradictions are endless! That is why the RCC and it's claim to be the infallible interpreter of scripture fail.

Posted 12/27/2008 11:38 PM by M

Begin Comment 65

From the very beginning of the post apostolic age with the writings of what we know as the Apostolic Fathers we find an exclusive appeal to the Scriptures for the positive teaching of doctrine and for its defense against heresy. The writings of the Apostolic Fathers literally breathe with the spirit of the Old and New Testaments. With the writings of the Apologists such as Justin Martyr and Athenagoras in the early to mid second century we find the same thing. There is no appeal in any of these writings to the authority of Tradition as a separate and independent body of revelation. It is with the writings of Irenaeus and Tertullian in the mid to late second century that we first encounter the concept of Apostolic Tradition that is preserved in the Church in oral form. The word Tradition simply means teaching. But what do these fathers mean when they say this Apostolic Teaching or Tradition is preserved orally. All they mean is that the Bishops of the Church preach the truth orally and anyone interested in learning the true Apostolic Tradition could learn by simply listening to the oral teaching of the Bishops of any orthodox Church of the day. Irenaeus and Tertullian state emphatically that all the teaching of the Bishops that was given orally was rooted in Scripture and could be proven from the written Scriptures. Both fathers give us the actual doctrinal content of the Apostolic Tradition that was orally preached in the Churches and every doctrine is derived from Scripture. There is no doctrine in this Apostolic Tradition that is not found in Scripture. And there is no appeal in the writings of these fathers to a Tradition that is oral in nature for a defense of what they call Apostolic Tradition. The Apostolic Tradition for Irenaeus and Tertullian is simply Scripture. It was Irenaeus who stated that while the apostles at first preached orally their teaching was later committed to writing in the Scriptures and the Scriptures have since that day become the pillar and ground of our faith. His exact statement is as follows:

"We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith" (Alexander Roberts & W.H. Rambaugh Translators, The Writings of Irenaeus, Against Heresies (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1874), 3.1.1).

Tradition, when referring to oral proclamation such as preaching or teaching, was viewed primarily as the oral presentation of Scriptural truth, or the codifying of biblical truth into creedal expression.

Irenaeus and Tertullian had to contend with the Gnostics who were the very first to suggest and teach that they possessed an Apostolic oral Tradition that was independent from Scripture.

These early fathers rejected such a notion and appealed to Scripture alone for the proclamation and defense of doctrine. Church historian, Ellen Flessman-Van Leer affirms this fact: For Tertullian Scripture is the only means for refuting or validating a doctrine as regards its content...For Irenaeus, the church doctrine is certainly never purely traditional; on the contrary, the thought that there could be some truth, transmitted exclusively viva voce (orally), is a Gnostic line of thought...If Irenaeus wants to prove the truth of a doctrine materially, he turns to scripture, because therein the teaching of the apostles is objectively accessible. Proof from tradition and scripture serve one and the same end: to identify the teaching of the church as the original apostolic teaching. The first establishes that the teaching of the church is this apostolic teaching, and the second, what this apostolic teaching is (Ellen Flessman-van Leer, Tradition and Scripture in the Early Church (Van Gorcum, 1953, pp. 184, 133, 144).

The bible was the ultimate authority for the fathers of the patristic age. It was materially sufficient and the final arbiter in all matters of doctrinal truth. As JND Kelly has pointed out: The clearest token of the prestige enjoyed by (Scripture) is the fact that almost the entire theological effort of the Fathers, whether their aims were polemical or constructive, was expended upon what amounted to the exposition of the Bible. Further, it was everywhere taken for granted that, for any doctrine to win acceptance, it had first to establish its Scriptural basis (Early Christian Doctrines (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978), pp. 42, 46).

Heiko Oberman makes these comments about the relationship between Scripture and Tradition in the early Church: Scripture and Tradition were for the early Church in no sense mutually exclusive: kerygma (the message of the gospel), Scripture and Tradition coincided entirely. The Church preached the kerygma which is found in total in written form in the canonical books. The Tradition was not understood as an addition to the kerygma contained in Scripture but as handing down that same kerygma in living form: in other words everything was to be found in Scripture and at the same time everything was in living Tradition (The Harvest of Medieval Theology (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1963), p. 366).

That the fathers were firm believers in the principle of sola Scriptura is clearly seen from the writings of Cyril of Jerusalem, the bishop of Jerusalem in the mid fourth century

. He is the author of what is known as the Catechetical Lectures. This work is an extensive series of lectures given to catechumens expounding the principle doctrines of the faith. It is a complete explanation of the faith of the Church of his day. And his teaching is thoroughly grounded in Scripture. There is in fact not one appeal in the entirety of the Lectures to an oral Apostolic Tradition that is independent of Scripture. He states in unequivocal terms that if he were to present any teaching to these catechumens which could not be validated from Scripture, they were to reject it. This tells us that his authority as a Bishop was subject to his conformity to the written Scriptures in his teaching. The following are some of his statements from the Lectures on the final autghority of Scripture:

This seal have thou ever on thy mind; which now by way of summary has been touched on in its heads, and if the Lord grant, shall hereafter be set forth according to our power, with Scripture-proofs. For concerning the divine and sacred Mysteries of the Faith, we ought not to deliver even the most casual remark without the Holy Scriptures: nor be drawn aside by mere probabilities and the artifices of argument. Do not then believe me because I tell thee these things, unless thou receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of what is set forth: for this salvation, which is of our faith, is not by ingenious reasonings, but by proof from the Holy Scriptures (A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1845), The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril 4.17). But take thou and hold that faith only as a learner and in profession, which is by the Church delivered to thee, and is established from all Scripture. For since all cannot read the Scripture, but some as being unlearned, others by business, are hindered from the knowledge of them; in order that the soul may not perish for lack of instruction, in the Articles which are few we comprehend the whole doctrine of Faith...And for the present, commit to memory the Faith, merely listening to the words; and expect at the fitting season the proof of each of its parts from the Divine Scriptures. For the Articles of the Faith were not composed at the good pleasure of men: but the most important points chosen from all Scriptures, make up the one teaching of the Faith. And, as the mustard seed in a little grain contains many branches, thus also this Faith, in a few words, hath enfolded in its bosom the whole knowledge of godliness contained both in the Old and New Testaments. Behold, therefore, brethren and hold the traditions which ye now receive, and write them on the table of your hearts (Ibid., Lecture 5.12).

Notice here that Cyril states that these catechumens are receiving Tradition and he exhorts them to hold to the traditions which they are now receiving. Where is this Tradition derived from? It is obviously derived from the Scriptures. The Teaching or Tradition or Revelation of God which was committed to the Apostles and passed on to the Church is now accessible in Scripture ALONE. It is significant that Cyril of Jerusalem, who is communicating the entirety of the faith to these catechumens, did not make a single appeal to an oral Tradition to support his teachings. The entirety of the faith is grounded upon Scripture and Scripture alone.

Posted 12/27/2008 11:54 PM by M

Begin Comment 66

"There are hermeneutical principals and proper methodologies that must be taken." Where is that in Scripture?

Nowhere, naturally. Yet another self admitted inconsistency. By denying the precept of personal interpretation, you have denied your own religion. Protestantism is based on the power of the individual to be able to interpret Scripture correctly. Mr. Booth even said as much in his defenses. The power of personal interpretation of Scripture means that the individual must be infallible or else his interpretation is fallible. Of course this is not the case. Consequently the case for Protestantism destroys itself.

Bad mouthing Catholicism will not change that. You must be able to defend your religion on its own merits. Tearing down another religion does nothing to validate your own. Citing "hermeneutical principals and proper methodologies" is completely inadequate since it is not only non-Scriptural buit it still leaves the individual in charge of determining the nature of the principles and methodologies used.

You clearly don't know what you are talking about. If you don't even know your own religion it follows that you would know even less about Catholicism. That is also evident. What you have said about Catholicism is hateful and has no basis in fact.

All of which result from personal, fallible interpretation, the basis of the Protestant religion.

Posted 12/28/2008 2:43 AM by L

Begin Comment 67

"Behold, therefore, brethren and hold the traditions which ye now receive, and write them on the table of your hearts (Ibid., Lecture 5.12)."

I see that nasty little word "tradition". How kind of you to continue to prove my points.

Posted 12/28/2008 2:51 AM by L

Begin Comment 68

Scripture is derived from Tradition since Tradition came before there was Scripture. You have it backwards. That Scripture springs from Tradition is obvious.

That you have it all backwards is a result of your dogmas and faulty personal interpretations. If you would only use your mind to think you would see that the written word always springs from some sort of tradition.

Posted 12/28/2008 2:55 AM by L

Begin Comment 69

I would like to call your attention to a wonderful book on Mary, Mother of God. It is written by former Protestant, Scott Hahn. The book is called "Hail, Holy Queen - The Mother of God in the Word of God." I think you will enjoy it. Hahn is an excellent author and inspite of his Ph. D in whatever, he is an easy read. I saw him give a talk at Loyola Marymount University in Southern California a few years ago. He is kind and sweet and communicates with a gentleness that is endearing.

Inspite of centuries of propaganda I can say that the Church is gentle. Pope Benedict XVI is a gentle teddy bear. Every doctrine of the Church springs from the gentle heart of Jesus. The doctrines of the Church are merciful and sweet.

The Gospel is truly the mind of God. Saying that the mind of God is restricted to what can be written about him truly demeans Him. As Saint John said at the end of his Gospel, what Jesus did cannot be written. There is simply not enough paper in the whole wide world.

The Catholic Church sprang forth from the gentle heart of Jesus, not the written page. Writing came later. It is therefore obvious that the Scripture you wish to cite was written by men who had first witnessed the unwritten Gospel. That is, the Scripture was written by men who had witnessed the life and teachings of Jesus.

The life and teachings of Jesus came before Scripture was written. The Catholic Church is a witness to the life and teachings of Jesus. Certain witnesses wrote a part of what they saw Jesus do. Saint John made it clear that what could be written about Jesus could not be the whole story.

This is proof positive that sola scritura cannot be the true doctrine.

Posted 12/28/2008 4:03 AM by L

Begin Comment 70

The Roman Catholic Church states that it possesses an oral Apostolic Tradition which is independent of Scripture and which is binding upon men. It appeals to Paul's statement in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 for the justification for such a claim, where Paul states that he handed on traditions or teachings to this Chruch in both oral and written form. Rome asserts that, based on Paul's teaching in this passage, the teaching of sola Scriptura is false, since he handed on teachings to the Thessalonians in both oral and written form. But what is interesting in such an appeal is that Roman apologists never document the specific doctrines that Paul is referring to which they claim they possess and which are binding upon men. In all the writings of apologists from the Reformation to the present day no one has been able to list the doctrines that comprise this supposed Apostolic Oral Tradition. From Francis De Sales to the writings of Karl Keating and Robert Sungenis there is this conspicuous absence. Sungenis is editor of a work recently released on a defense of the Roman Catholic teaching of Tradition entitled Not By Scripture Alone. It is touted as a definitive refutation of the Protestant teaching of sola Scriptura. It is 627 pages in length. But not once in the entire 627 pages does any author define the doctrinal content of this supposed Apostolic Tradition that is binding on all men. All we are told is that it exists, that the Roman Catholic Church possesses it, and that we are bound therefore to submit to this Church which alone possesses the fullness of God's revelation from the Apostles. But they can't tell us what it is. And the reason is because it doesn't exist. If they are of such importance why did Cyril of Jerusalem not mention them in his Catechetical Lectures? I defy anyone to list the doctrines Paul is referring to in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 which he says he committed orally to the Thessalonians.

If you had read the sitings above you would see that the word "Tradition" means teaching. And like I stated soooooo many posts ago that when 2 Thes 2:15 is read in it's context even a blind man can see that the traditions spoken of are written in the preceding verses. Every time you (and the RCC for that matter) quote a verse you prove the need for interpretive rules. Is there a section in scripture that tells us this? Not really, it's actually common sense. However if you desire a verse that may help you try this...

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

The word "dividing" actually means "cutting it straight". Timothy is implored to cut straight the word of God, that is the scriptures.

The one thing I see in all of this debate is that when it come to the "sola" idea you have no clue as to what the reformers even meant. I believe you need to go read your own history about the council of Trent and their 4th meeting. It is here that we see that even the church in Rome was arguing over this idea. Alas, I would never expect you to read your own history because it will prove to be the fatal cut to all of your arguments.

Posted 12/28/2008 9:00 AM by M

Begin Comment 71

"This Mediator [Jesus Christ], having spoken what He judged sufficient first by the prophets, then by His own lips, and afterwards by the apostles, has besides produced the Scripture which is called canonical, which has paramount authority, and to which we yield assent in all matters of which we ought not to be ignorant, and yet cannot know of ourselves." ~ St. Augustine

So scripture, according to St. Augustine, is the supreme authority and reveals all truths we should know. That sounds about as good as any Protestant definition of Sola Scriptura. Could Augustine be more clear about the sufficiency of Scripture in matters of Christian faith? Here are more quotes of Augustine on the authority of scripture (emphasis is mine):

I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture:

of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error.

... as I have said already, it is to the canonical Scriptures alone that I am bound to yield such implicit subjection as to follow their teaching, without admitting the slightest suspicion that in them any mistake or any statement intended to mislead could find a place.

These above 2 quotes are from his letters to Jerome. I think the case that the church "has always taught" that it's traditions are from the begining and on equal foot with the scriptures is closed.

Posted 12/28/2008 10:11 AM by M

Begin Comment 72

For some reason the above post did not include my opening statement... So read this first then read the above post...

Charlie, I noticed in your profile that you have a fondness for St Augustine. Are you aware of what he believed concerning the authority of scripture and outside views? lets take a look shall we.....

Posted 12/28/2008 10:15 AM by M

Begin Comment 73

Dude, I don't think you're gonna get an answer to the 5 questions you asked [back in comment 58]:

1. you have yet to quote a Bible verse in which God says, "Oh, go on, bow to that idol of a woman, itís ok."

2. Why is it "bad" (heretical) that Luther relied on the original language texts of Godís Old Testament Word to render a faithful German language version? Even the Greek Septuagint (a non-inspired Greek version of the Old Testament) was translated in the same manner and from the same language texts as used by Luther. How is that heretical?

3. Was it a heresy for Jewish scholars to translate the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek? Was it a heresy for Greek scholars to translate the Old Testament into Latin?

4. Was it a heresy for the famed Bible scholar Wycliffe to translate the Word?

5. A yes answer to any of those questions must be backed up by a Bible passage that says, "To deliver the Word of God to every person in their own language is a heresy." I have not seen such a passage, but I am willing to listen if you can offer one.

 

Great questions. So sad to read that some folks really are against the Bible being a higher authority for doctrine than any human. Great questions.

 

Posted 12/30/2008 3:42 PM by j

 

 

 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Your Heart in Your Present

This year will be a lean gift year in our household. Finances being what they are, we are necessarily going to give and get few presents, especially when compared with years past. As I stand and look at the meager set of packages on the floor where the tree usually sat (none of us had the desire to assemble and decorate the artificial tree given all that has happened recently--it just was not a priority task) I feel somewhat sad on behalf of the family. Oh, I know that sometimes a little self-control in such areas is a healthy spiritual exercise. And I also know that we are immensely blessed when set against the backdrop of global poverty. Further, part of our present situation was a personal ministry choice (the other part being the tanking of the economy), so I am hardly resentful or engaging in self pity.

Yet, as I look at the wrapped packages awaiting their public unveiling in three days, I wonder what went into their selection. I wonder whether they will be well received. My wife likes to say I am good at picking out presents to give to others. Maybe. Who am I to reject a compliment? But what goes into a good present selection? Knowing the other person is the key: know their likes (AND dislikes), understand their ambitions, think not of what they need but what they dream about, and mostly, put your heart in the present you select for them. Your heart is your mind, your aspirations, your emotions, your intellect, and your spiritual/moral compass. In other words, you are selecting something for them that will benefit them, will do them the most good. You are investing in them. Your desire is to see them better off tomorrow than today. You are putting a present where your heart is.

As I contemplate presents I have received in the past, there is a short list of really good ones. Almost never has it been the price of the gift that made it special.

All time favorite: 2 inch steel wire figurine of a man skiing--my teenage son gave it to me 3 years ago because he so much appreciates that once a year I take him for a day of skiing, just him and me

Favorite present as a child: large toy military transport airplane that opened up and let army men in--I was enamored with travel, flight, and adventure, and I never have gotten over that.

Favorite present as a youth: pop gun (sorry fans of A Christmas Story, it was not a BB gun because the parents were afraid I would shoot my eye out)

Favorite present as a young adult: my first NASB Bible--my fiancée gave it to me

Favorite present as an adult (and second all time favorite): DOS-based NASB Bible software--my wife gave this to me so that I might better study the Word, little did she know where that was going to take us!

Most heart warming present: a homemade skeetball game--when I was twelve, my father (low on money) made it with his own hands; possibly he chose that style game because whenever he took the family to an amusement arcade he would always buy me a round to play on my own (I was otherwise very non-athletic, the opposite of him, and he dealt with that fairly well).

Oh sure, over the years I have gotten the "I could not care less about you, but I drew your name from a hat so I had to get you something" kind of gifts (e.g. Time-Life plastic camera that came free from somebody elseís magazine subscription, an empty picture frame, a money envelope without the money, etc.). Sometimes, the least expensive gifts (like the skiing man) are the most meaningful, because they represent someoneís good will toward you. And sometimes the most expensive presents leave you utterly cold because the one giving it neither knows you nor cares about you. I suppose the empty picture frame is an apt metaphor, it may well have been an expensive frame (it was not, but pretend it was) yet because the person has no interest in your life (past or future) they did not / could not supply a memory to fill it with or an image of a dream that you have which is yet to be realized. Like the frame, their knowledge and heart toward you is empty.

Yet, this season is about the greatest gift! You are right, I hate being trite, too. But come on!!!! A pardon from all your sins, a get out of Hell free pass, removal of all your guilty feelings, a lifetime of love, an eternity with God! That really is a gift filled with meaning; a gift full of Godís own heart.

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What presents were your:

    All Time Favorite:

    Favorite Present as a Child:

    Favorite Present as a Youth:

    Favorite Present as a Young Adult:

    Favorite Present as an Adult:

    Most Heart Warming Present:

 


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