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Monday, February 25, 2013 | Comments (44)

by John MacArthur

The New Testament is clear about the nature of saving faith. “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:28). “A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus . . . since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5).

According to Scripture, salvation is by faith in Christ alone through God’s grace alone. When you put your trust in Jesus Christ He declares you righteous—not because you are, but because He imputes His righteousness to you, and because He paid the penalty for your sin. Christ bears our sin and we receive His righteousness. That is the indescribable glory of the doctrine of justification (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church stands in stark opposition to that biblical understanding. Rather than salvation by grace through faith, they preach a false gospel of works.

The words of the Council of Trent—convened to affirm and codify the teaching of the Catholic Church in response to the Reformation—clearly spell out the Catholic version of justification that still stands today. “Hence, to those who work well unto the end and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward promised by God himself, to be faithfully given to their good works and merits.” Salvation in the Catholic system is something you earn “by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life and to have truly merited eternal life.”

That is an absolute and total contradiction of the Word of God. It’s a completely foreign gospel, manufactured by the Catholic Church and able only to condemn, not save. No amount of repetitious prayers, veneration of the saints and other church relics, or masses attended can redeem a sinner’s soul. No priest has the power to forgive sins, and no indulgence bought and paid for can hold back the due punishment of those sins.

At the heart of the merit-based Catholic system is the unbiblical concept of purgatory. In fact, it’s the invention of purgatory that makes Catholic dogma attractive at all—without it, Catholicism would be a very hard sell. Catholics are never really on solid spiritual ground. They can’t know for certain if they’re saved or whether they will ever make it into heaven. And even confident, pious Catholics live in perpetual fear of committing a mortal sin that will throw them out of favor with God and the church.

It’s the false doctrine of purgatory that provides Catholics their spiritual safety net, bringing false hope to people trapped in a hopeless system. It’s the one relief in their entire guilt-ridden, fear-ridden system of works righteousness. And it is complete fiction—a tragic farce that’s led countless souls to hell.

The apostle Paul could not have been clearer about the true nature of justification: “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). That gracious, glorious gospel has been rejected by the Catholic Church, and they have replaced it with a corrupt, unbiblical system of works righteousness and merit-based salvation.

Presiding over that twisted system of satanic lies is the pope. And that is where we’ll pick it up tomorrow.


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#1  Posted by Victoria Kline  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 4:47 AM

Praise God, I was saved out of Catholicism almost 40 years ago, but the lingering effects of fear and judgment by a God, Who was never balanced by love, still haunts me at times. I cannot understand why the Reformed Protestant Church seems so happy to run back to Rome. Contemplative spirituality, repeating things in the liturgy, even praying a Protestant rosary are all in vogue now.

Thank you, Dr. MacArthur, for preaching the Truth faithfully. With the push to be "friends" with the Catholic religion so present now, you are a breath of fresh air to tell what Catholicism is really about.

#2  Posted by Jennifer Phillips  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:32 AM

If we earned our way to heaven through works, Christ's death would have been pointless. Note especially Galations 2:21 below: FOR IF RIGHTEOUSNESS COULD BE GAINED THROUGH THE LAW, CHRIST DIED FOR NOTHING!"

Galations 2:19-21

19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

A true Christian will hate their sin and repent because if offends our Holy God. A true Christian wants the right heart attitude and is distressed when they sin. If your heart is right, the behavior will follow - not perfectly, but you will desire to be obedient. God doesn't want hypocrisy - from anyone, Catholic or Protestant.

#3  Posted by Daniel Wilson  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:38 AM

Galatians 2:16-17

16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

#4  Posted by Moses M  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:51 AM

GTY can you pls post this:

This is what the Catholics hold on too:


If you want to get right with God you need to confess all your sins to a priest. That is the only way to get right with God.


Your prays help them and your intercession are very effective. So why you need to keep praying and encouraged to do.


Penance is necessary for salvation, for the regaining of justifying grace which cannot be regained by faith alone in Christ's work alone. Because of this, Catholicism teaches that good works are necessary in order to persevere so as to maintain sufficient grace so as to remain saved.

Mother church:

If you do not have mother church you do not have God the father.


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

#5  Posted by Paudge Mulvihill  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 6:24 AM

It is like a breath of fresh air to hear someone speak with clarity about Catholicism. Many thanks.

Paudge Mulvihill: Ireland

#6  Posted by Mark Vogel  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 6:42 AM

How sad that they twist scripture as many others do for there own selfish benefit. Scripture teaches to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, nor for it but with it. And the great promise is that God is already at work within you and wnats us to join in the process that he started for His pleasure and will for his glory.

In his service

#7  Posted by Mark Vogel  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 6:54 AM

I have listened to Pastor McArthur's series on the Catholic Church and if you want an very good exposition if I can use that word it is very helpful when witnessing to catholics and very eye opening . It is not exhaustive but great information. Thank oyu John for your faithfulness to the truth of God's word.

#9  Posted by Gary Lee Fennimore  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 8:49 AM

Martin Luther could see these errors and heresy in his day why can't those catholics today that search the scriptures for answers see the same. The emphasis on ecumenicalism and outrageous tolerance. The Bereans of Acts 17, the Apostle Paul commended them as being more noble minded because they checked Paul and his teachings out with the scriptures. Why are Christians so sloth with knowing the scriptures? We even have more authentication today than the Bereans had because we have a finished new testament. All they had was just the Old. GOD will hold all Christians accountable even more so today than when the Church started. How scary is that for you that think you are so secure!

#11  Posted by Devyn Plett  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 9:46 AM

#1) "The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church stands in stark opposition to that biblical understanding." & "According to Scripture, salvation is by faith in Christ alone through God’s grace alone"

Interesting note: the only occurrence of the phrase "faith alone" is in James 2:24. Interesting how we all make some sort of theological move beyond what the text says. Yes we don't need to form our theology from direct scriptural quotations, but we can't critique Catholics of modifying Scripture if we do the very same thing.

#2) Where is there any unity in Christ here? What about our first 1400 years together as a united Church. The fundamentals of the Christian faith were formed in the very cradle of the Church we are calling satanic. Is there no regard for unity in Christ?

#12  Posted by David Barrow  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Never would I have imagined that the greatest fight for truth would be within my own church. After two years of struggle I finally walked away from my former church for continuing to embrace Catholicism as a Christian denomination. I've never ever had such a hard time battling for truth anywhere else. I truly believe Catholicism is Satan's greatest masterpiece. Not only does it have over one billion members, it has the whole world believing it is the epitome of Christianity, and worst of all, it has multitudes of Protestants buying into it as well, either out of ignorance or out of cowardice. But the Bible warns us in Ezekiel 33:6 and 2 John 10-11 that those who keep quiet about the truth will be held accountable for their fellow human beings' blood. And by the way, it is not loving to tell a nonChristian they are saved from God's wrath. That is the most heinous thing anyone could do. Our mission field in the USA is the Catholic Church. We need to have such love for our Catholic neighbors that we will risk even hurting their feelings and being called "Catholic Haters" to bring them the gospel message.

#13  Posted by Sanford Doyle  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 1:56 PM

For more information on the catholic priests, I recommend Pastor MacArthur's sermon with the code 80-264.

Again, it is informative,enlightening and powerful.

Grace and Peace.

#14  Posted by Gary Scott  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 2:20 PM

A couple of notes about what we Catholics believe, Moses M:

Priests don't offer forgiveness of themselves. They are speaking in the person of Christ. Biblical basis: John 20:23.

Prayers to the dead: Catholics and Protestants define prayer differently. Proper interaction with the dead saints is simple: we ask them to pray for us. You ask each other to pray for you; there is little difference.

Now I have a question for Protestants: upon what authority do you follow the Bible? If you say, "The Bible itself," that's fine, but there's a small problem: a sola scriptura position is lacking because it cannot produce a list of the canonical books of the New Testament. How do you know that the Gospel of Thomas, for example, is not divinely inspired? Who had the authority to determine which books to include in Holy Scripture and which to exclude? Bear in mind also that any reference to "scripture" in the NT could only be referring to the OT, as the NT was in the process of being written.

#15  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Devyn (#11)

No "modification" required here:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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 2:1-9)

As for unity in Christ, it's only possible if we're worshiping the same Christ.

#16  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 4:00 PM


Your question is off topic for this forum but I can briefly answer it for the sake of your curiosity and the satisfaction of other readers.

To quote John Macarthur (

The New Testament writers then came together to write the remaining 27 books of Scripture. And they had similar tests to determine a book's canonicity. One, was the book authored by an Apostle or someone closely associated with an Apostle? They knew who the Apostles were and they knew who their close associates were. The key question about the book's inspiration was tied to Apostolic authorship or one closely associated. For example, the Gospel of Mark was written by Mark, and Mark was not an Apostle but a close associate of Peter...

Another test applied by the Early Church was the test of content. Did the writings square with what the Apostles taught? In those early years of the Church, heretics such as the Gnostics tried to slip in phony books, but none of them ever made it. If it didn't square with Apostolic doctrine - it didn't pass. And the doctrinal aberrations were very easy to spot.

A third test was this; is the book regularly read and used in the churches? In other words, did the people of God readily accept it? Read it during worship and make its teachings a part of their daily living?

A final test was determined that would sort of pull it all together and that was the book recognized and used by succeeding generations after the Early Church?

All of those tests applied leave us with the 27 books that we have in our New Testament.

The Gospel of Thomas was easily detected as a gnostic text that clearly did not belong in the Canon. Quotes like this clearly contradicted the harmonious teaching found within the Canon: "When you make the male and female one and the same so that the male not be male nor the female, female, then you will enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

Furthermore, the term “Scripture,” as found in the New Testament, sometimes referred to New Testament writings. Peter referred to Paul as an author of Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16), and Paul described Jesus words in Luke 10:7 likewise (1 Timothy 5:18).

We can trust the Scriptures when they verify their own authority, just as we can trust them on the Gospel of grace in contrast to the false Catholic system of works plus grace.

#17  Posted by Daniel Wilson  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM

We can't pray to the dead nor the dead can pray for us...

Ecclesiastes 9:4-6

English Standard Version (ESV)

4 But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.

#18  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Excellent reproof Daniel (17). Keep up thee good work, not of yourself.

#19  Posted by Devyn Plett  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Jeremiah Johnson,

Yes, that is a direct quote from Scripture. I wasn't solely referring to the changing of wording, rather, I'm suggesting that we all bring a theological framework to the text. It was a theological move that prompted you to quote Ephesians, which is a beautiful text that both Catholic and Protestant believe. Catholic development of doctrine is just as 'biblical' as Protestant doctrine. They themselves developed the New Testament Canon. As a Protestant speaking, we're not the only side being guided by Scripture. We're just the side that claims to be solely based on Scripture alone, which, as I said earlier, is impossible without some sort of theological framework.

In regards to your second comment:

Surely we worship the same Christ. The "Christ" you understand, in accordance with the Nicene creed and a Trinitarian framework, was doctrinally formulated by the Catholic Church. Yes Christ existed, but we communicate who he is by relying upon the doctrine developed by the Catholic Church in the early Church. I'm saying that maybe a move for unity in Christ and in love would be more beneficial that condemning the beliefs of others.

#20  Posted by Josué Morissette  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:47 PM


"What about our first 1400 years together as a united Church?"

I would challenge you to review that period of history. God always had His remnant. The reason why they are not well known today is that were systematically pursed and eliminated when found by the Catholic's agents. Read about the Waldenses and people like John Huss who would not submit to Rome's authority and paid the price for it. The appearance of unity was only on the surface and only existed because it was tyrannically imposed by all means available on those you would not bow the knee to the papal authority.

#21  Posted by Marie Ann  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:50 PM

John MacArthur above cites the Council of Trent, "Hence, to those who work well unto the end and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward promised by God himself..."

This echoes Saint Paul: "For he will render to every man

ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life, but for those who are factious and DO NOT OBEY THE TRUTH, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who DOES EVIL, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who DOES GOOD, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality." (Romans 2:6-11)

Are we saved by faith? Yes! Jesus said, "He who believes in me,

though he die, yet he shall live." Are we saved by faith ALONE? No! Jesus also says, "If you would enter life, keep the commandments." The Catholic Church reconciles these verses. We are saved by "grace working through love." (Galatians 5:6)

#22  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Gary Scott stated "Bear in mind also that any reference to "scripture" in the NT could only be referring to the OT, as the NT was in the process of being written."

Actually Gary you are in error with your assertion. In fact, Peter referred to Paul's writings as Scripture just like "other Scriptures" in the text below:

Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16).

Further, Paul referred to Luke's writings as Scripture in his letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 5:18). In the first part of the text Paul refers to Deuteronomy 25:4 but the second portion of the text is from Luke 10:7..."And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house."

Even further, Paul asserted that he and the other Apostles spoke "the word of God"...(1 Thessalonians 2:13).

As Brian Edwards has written..."Before the close of the first century, Clement of Rome either quoted from or referred to more than half the New Testament books and called them “scripture.” By AD 180, Irenaeus of Lyons quoted over 1,000 passages from all but a handful of the New Testament books, calling them “holy Scriptures” given by the Holy Spirit. At the same time, Tertullian from North Africa referred to the “New Testament” and expounded on most of it. Origen from Alexandria in AD 240 referred to our 27 books as Scripture, and Athanasius used the same list in AD 367.5 They used no other books in the same way.

It is certain that by the early second century, the four Gospels (and never any others) and the thirteen letters of Paul were accepted by the churches across the Roman Empire without question. "

I hope this helps to clear up your misunderstandings Gary and I pray that God will use this resource to open blinded eyes to the truth of the apostate religion known as Roman Catholicism and to bring about true repentance and saving faith in the hearts of those who are drawn here.

#23  Posted by Gary Scott  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Re: the canon: You're missing the point, Cameron. These were all tests that someone used to determine the divine authenticity of a given book, but someone -- some group -- had to make that decision. On whose authority was that decision made?

Re: Asking for the intercession of saints: Are they dead if they're in heaven, Daniel?

Re: being off-topic -- I was responding to a comment, not the article.

#24  Posted by Moses M  |  Monday, February 25, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Thanks GTY for posting my previous post:

Quote from Gary Scott:

Priests don't offer forgiveness of themselves. They are speaking in the person of Christ. Biblical basis: John 20:23.

Gary if you have been a devote catholic that you would know this is a common pratice among them. This is what the Catholic teaches and they define forgivness as:

It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament..It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by

thepriest’s sacramentalabsolution God grants the penitent pardon and peace.

Forgiveness through a priest is the sacrament of Penance,another name for Confession, and declared to be necessary for salvation.

The official words of Rome are:

It is through the sacrament ofPenance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church..This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn./Forgiveness for literally everything is proclaimed to be in the power of the priests of the Church.

In the Vatican’s own words: There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive.There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest.

And another that the catholic church teaches:

Priests have received from God a power that he has given neither to angels nor to archangels..God above confirms what priests do here below. Were there no forgiveness of sins in the Church, there would be no hope of life to come or eternal liberation. Let us thank God who has given his Church such a gift.

And they use john 20:23 as you quote as evidences for priest to forgive sins. But if you understand this verse correctly it does not mention at all about confession of sins or suggest either. And neither suggest that the authority to forgive sins would be passed on to the successors of the apostles.

The promise from Jesus was specifically directed to the apostles.

So, John 20:23 is not saying that Catholic priests have the authority to forgive sins. It is saying that Christian disciples have the authority to pronounce what sins "have been forgiven."

The concept of confession of sin to a priest is nowhere taught in Scripture.We are to confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9). As New Covenant believers, we do not need mediators between us and God. We can go to God directly because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. First Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

I really hope this helps you understand this better! Other Questions found in GTY resources. So go there if you can! :)

You can pray for the living but not any of the dead

Communication with the dead is forbidden: Deut. 18:10-13 NKJV, Leviticus. 20:6-7 /Dead Judged - Hebrews 9:27

#25  Posted by John Bugay  |  Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 4:06 AM

I am all in favor of Reformed and Evangelicals discussing the heresies of Roman Catholicism. However, I would urge you to take into account the epistemological challenges offered by a group such as Called to Communion. They will look at everything you say, and tell you that since it's from a "Sola Scriptura" (and hence from a Protestant) presupposition, therefore it's "begging the question in the dialectical sense". They will dismiss everything you have to say with a mere wave of the hand precisely for that reason. The individuals at CTC will offer greater challenges than you may be ready for. They won't simply acquiesce to the arguments that have been given here so far.

#26  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 5:58 AM

John (#25),

We are aware of folks like CTC and others who certainly wouldn't acquiesce to anything we are saying here. We don't expect them to and as you point out, more than likely they'll read our posts on this subject, snort and roll their eyes and move on.

Our primary focus is more lay level. But, if they come and cause trouble, we'll just point them back to your's and Steve Hays's fine work answering them. =-)

#27  Posted by John Bugay  |  Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 7:19 AM

Thanks Fred. As you may have seen, I'm doing a series on the nonexistent early papacy, which I hope will be meaningful for mon-theology-geeks, in time for the upcoming conclave. If I can be of any help, please let me know.

#28  Posted by Michael Kennedy  |  Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 8:30 AM

I heard this with my BAD ear (haha)...thanks and I used to be Catholic; I'll send this info to my dear sister and her husband for the umpteenth time; I hope it finally registers... God bless!

#29  Posted by Alejandro Gonzalez  |  Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Can anyone recommend a solid book on church history?

#30  Posted by John Bugay  |  Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Alejandro, check out this work by Everett Ferguson:

It'll get you half-way through the middle ages. He's got a second volume that covers the Reformation, but I don't know that he's updated that.

Also, Justo Gonzalez has a single volume history:

#31  Posted by Beth Varley  |  Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Well said! Those are my feeling exactly and it breaks my heart. I am always being called unloving, a legalist and even when I quote the bible--to literal.

#34  Posted by Marie Ann  |  Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 2:17 PM


You listed the criteria the early Christians used to determine which books were to be included in Holy Scripture. Interesting. But, who were these people that determined which books were inspired by the Holy Spirit and which ones were not?

-Early Fathers of the Church (Bishop Irenaeus, Bishop Eusebius, and others) had put together lists of inspired books.

-392 A.D., Pope Damasus listed the present canon of books.

-393 A.D., The Council of Hippo listed the same canon.

-397 A.D., The Council of Carthage again approved the same canon.

Finally, Pope Innocent in 405 A.D., approved the present canon and closed the canon of the Bible.

Even Martin Luther said, "We are obliged to yield many things to the Papists (Catholics) - that they possess the Word of God, which we received from them, otherwise we should have known nothing at all about it."

#35  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 7:17 PM

Marie #34,

You have a misinformed understanding on how the Canon of the Old and New Testament came about. It wasn't "approved" by various councils some hundreds of years after their completion, but the Bible believing NT Christians recognized the letters as Canon as they were written. Those individuals and councils merely affirmed what was already established as the Canon. They didn't pick and choose the Canon.

Some resources you need to avail yourself of in order to have a proper handled on this subject would be,

Michael J. Kruger's three works, "The Early Text of the NT," the "Canon Revisited," and "The Heresy of Orthodoxy." All of those books are available at his website, He also has a number of online articles that address these claims you lay out about the various councils.

David King and William Webster's massive three volume treatment on defending the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura, particularly volume 2, pages 301-389.

For a more lay level treatment, two works to consider is "From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man" which is a collection of essays on the subject of Scripture, it's authority, infallibility, transmission, and translation. And then James R. White's "Scripture Alone" that is a fabulous summation of the information contained in the above works.


#36  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 6:29 AM

The doctrine of sola scriptura is a huge point of contention for Catholic apologists. With regards to the statement made by John Bugay that many will dismiss out of hand assertions against Romanism based on the foundations of such assertions being in Scripture Alone is an indication of the extent of this issue.

However, one must keep in mind that while those individuals may dismiss out of hand our arguments due to "begging the question" their position likewise faces the same difficulty in terms of burden of proof.

James White demonstrates this in his mock debate with a Catholic apologist when he states that his Catholic opponent seeks to "attack sola scriptura so as to establish sola ecclesia. It is vital that everyone see that there are two positions being presented, and that the standard of proof demanded for one side be demanded of the other as well.”

Ultimately there must be a final standard which stands in authority over all other standards...and in all cases this authority must be assumed-presupposed. At some point, as has been noted by writers such as Cornelius Van Til and echoed somewhat by men like John Frame, all argument is reduced to some measure of circularity.

Here is how Frame states this ultimate authority: "a belief that takes precedence over another and therefore serves as a criterion for another. An ultimate presupposition is a belief over which no other takes precedence. For a Christian, the content of Scripture must serve as his ultimate presupposition.... This doctrine is merely the outworking of the lordship of God in the area of human thought. It merely applies the doctrine of scriptural infallibility to the realm of knowing."

Van Til states: "“…all reasoning is, in the nature of the case, circular reasoning. The starting-point, the method, and the conclusion are always involved in one another” (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 101).

The point here is this...we need not be ashamed, intimidated, nor pushed back by the arrogant psuedo-intellectualism brought forth by those who would dismiss out of hand our standard for ultimate authority...God's Word. We must take our stand in the arena of world views as our opponents have done...and as John Frame notes:

" God created our minds to think within the Christian circle: hearing God’s Word obediently and interpreting our experience by means of that Word. That is the only legitimate way to think, and we cannot abandon it to please the unbeliever. A good psychologist will not abandon reality as he perceives it to communicate with a delusional patient; so must it be with apologists.

In the final analysis, saving knowledge of God comes supernaturally. We can be brought from one circle to another only by God’s supernatural grace."

#37  Posted by Marie Ann  |  Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Fred (#35)

Thanks for your reply, Fred. But it is you who are mistaken.

Before the Catholic councils and popes settled the issue of the canon of Scripture, there was great debate. Some Christians did not believe that the Church should accept Hebrews, Jude or 2 Peter. Jerome did not want Revelation to be included.

On the other hand, some Christians thought that Shepherd of Hermas, Gospels of Peter and Thomas, and Clement were inspired books.

There was no unanimity. The authority of the Catholic Church finally settled the matter.

#38  Posted by Daniel Wilson  |  Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Pope did'nt close the canon... Apostle John did... that would be the last book... Relevation... when John was exiled on the island of Patmos.

#39  Posted by Daniel Wilson  |  Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Gary S,

if one talks us from the dead... that's demons and their tricks..

#40  Posted by David Dejonge  |  Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 5:42 PM

book on church history? Get the DVD series by Diarmid MacCulloch/ BBC you won't regret it.

#41  Posted by John Bugay  |  Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:57 AM

Marie Ann (#34) -- you said -392 A.D., Pope Damasus listed the present canon of books.

Would you be upset to know that you are passing along false information? The document you are speaking of here is attributed to Damasus, but rather it was a sixth-century forgery attributed to him. (See F.F. Bruce, "The Canon of Scripture", IVP (c)1988, pg 97 for details).

There was a great deal of that sort of thing in the early church. And much of Roman Catholicism takes its shape from this kind of forgery. See, for example, this link:

#42  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:50 AM

Marie Ann,

It would be helpful to actually go and check out those resources I cited. John mentioned another one I forgot and that is F.F. Bruce's book on the Canon of Scripture. The easiest thing for you to do is check out Michael Kruger's website because his material is on line and readily accessible. Rather than pronouncing me "wrong" go and interact with the arguments I present and offer a rebuttal.

#43  Posted by Marie Ann  |  Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Fred and John (41 and 42)

I would like to recommend a book to you as well. You may find Where We Got the Bible, by Henry G. Graham, to be very helpful. I did.

You inadvertently recognize the authority of the Catholic Church when you declare Sacred Scripture to be the Word of God.

If you believe the decree of Pope Damasus to be a forgery, then perhaps you will still recognize the Councils of Hippo and Carthage, or Pope Innocent I.

Many Protestants will acknowledge the Council of Carthage as the authority for the books that make up the New Testament.

#44  Posted by Mary Freeman  |  Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:14 PM

in the Lord's Prayer Jesus said " Our Father .......forgive us our trespasses as WE forgive those who trespass against us...." Jesus gave all of us the authority to forgive each other. John chp 20 and the last chp of Luke is saying that WE ALL have been given the authority to preach the forgiveness of sin in Jesus' name. the book of James tells us to confess our sins one to another, in other words we are to apologize to others when we hurt them and ask for their forgiveness with meekness. if i offend a priest, or anyone, then i will apologize and ask him/her for their forgiveness; but for the RCC to think that scripture was written only to give them the authority to forgive ALL sin and offer the Lord's Supper as an unbloody sacrifice is beyond pride, it is an insult to what Jesus taught us.

#45  Posted by Vernon Berry  |  Monday, March 4, 2013 at 3:07 PM

I grew up in the 7th day Adventist church. Although I have long been disassociated with that church, while with them, I was taught over and over again that the Catholic Church had been historically identified, the Pope in particular, as the Antichrist. They also taught that the papacy would be, in conjunction with other false religions, as the primary "front" for Satan's final assaults on Christ's kingdom.

Aside from Pastor John and a few others, I've heard very little about the evils of Catholicism from many other Churches, preachers, etc.

Has the Catholic Church fooled a lot of people, intimidated a lot of people....or is it that, simply put, a lot of people simply don't care.

#46  Posted by Steve Kloostra  |  Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 7:45 AM

When the canon of the Bible is brought up, there are a couple things to remmeber:

1) The Roman Catholic Church wasn't born over night. It slowly, over decades and even centuries became what it is, as heretical doctrine piled up on heretical doctrine.

2) The Roman Catholic Church distorts history. It claims continuos succession and a history to the very early age - but it is not true. They claim for themselves "Catholic Saints" who were not Catholic in the terms of the RCC and even claim Popes who would have had no idea, at the time, what a Pope was and would have found the doctrine offensive. With their great power, in the middle ages, the RCC essentially had the power to "write" history in their favour, as if to suggest the RCC was around since the accension of Christ. It is a lie.

In short - when the canon of the NT was established, the RCC as it exists today was non-existent. It was still centuries away from becoming what it is today. Like all corruption, it takes time to unfold and although some of the seeds had already been planted, these early "Catholic Church Fathers" were by no means Roman Catholic.

This arguement is often used by RCC apologists and it is a straw man arguement. Their history (as espoused by the RCC) is a lie!

#48  Posted by Shawn Wescott  |  Friday, March 8, 2013 at 12:02 PM

If the RCC eucharist is the actual body of Christ and essential to "catholic life", then what of the statement in Psalm 16:10 which states that the Holy One will not see decay? This means that the eucharist, which DOES see decay or corruption when it enters the human body, is simply not the actual body of Christ thereby discrediting an essential "works" of the the RCC system.

#49  Posted by Gary Orlich  |  Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Also, if we could be saved by keeping the law (works) then Christ died in vain. Galatians 2:21