Category Archives: Catholic Questions

Is the Roman Catholic Mass Biblical?

The Catholic Mass is a daily ritual performed by Roman Catholic priests.  Because the Sunday morning mass is the most well-attended mass of the week, many believe that the event is essentially equivalent to the Sunday morning Worship services held by Protestant churches.  This could not be further from the truth; there are a number of practices that set the Catholic Mass apart from Christian Lord’s Day worship.  The events of the Mass demonstrate the vast and unbiblical amount of power vested in the Roman Catholic Priesthood and should be very concerning to Bible-believing Christians.

Perhaps the most notable, and most troubling, aspect of the Mass is the sacrament of the Eucharist.  According to Paragraph #1336 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the Mass seeks to “re-present” Jesus as a sacrifice during the observance of the Eucharist. CCC Paragraph #1367 communicates that the atoning Sacrifice of Jesus and the Eucharist are one in the same.  In other words, every time the Catholic Church observes the Eucharist during Mass, it is re-sacrificing Jesus. John O’Brien explains this well in his book The Faith of Millions, “The priest brings Christ down from heaven and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal victim for the sins of man, not once but a thousand times.”  These doctrines, as presented in the CCC, conflict with the biblical account.  As recorded in John 19:30, Jesus exclaimed “Tetelestai” as he died upon a Roman cross.  This verb is often rendered in English translations of the Bible as “It is finished!”. Its use indicates that the sin debt of the elect, for whom Christ died, has been paid in full.  The Greek perfect tense in which this verb is presented indicates that the debt has been paid in full with a perpetual effect; it has been paid in full once and for all.  Since the sin debt of the elect has been fully and perpetually paid, no further works are needed; Jesus need not be re-sacrificed in the Catholic Mass. The author of Hebrews put is this way “Christ (has) offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins.” (Hebrews 10:12 ESV).

The work that Jesus did on the cross was complete and is sufficient.  Because the Roman Catholic Church is centered around the false Roman Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, Christians should neither attend nor promote it.  Doing so, only supports and perpetuates the unbiblical claims of the Roman Catholic Church and its powerful class of priests.  Priests are not only in control of the Eucharist, which is an essential sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church, they are also vested with the power to forgive sins.

CCC paragraph #1461 states that priests have, “the power to forgive all sins.” In CCC paragraph #1468, it is asserted that Indulgences can actually reconcile sinners with God. Furthermore, CCC paragraph #1471 affirms that indulgences (which are a remission of some or all sins) can even be applied to the dead. The Roman Catholic system of confession, indulgences, and penance is a system of works righteousness. Paul wrote in his epistle to the Galatians, “…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.” (Galatians 2:16, ESV) Paul wrote a similar statement to the Ephesian church, “…by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).  Paul’s statements contradict the Roman Catholic doctrines of Confession and Penance.  According to these doctrines, one must confess his sins to a priest at least once a year and perform the penance prescribed for those sins in order to receive saving grace. These doctrines were codified in Canon 21 by the Fourth Council of the Lateran and are included in paragraph #1424 of the CCC.

The Catholic Mass and the Catholic Priest are unbiblcial and should be repudiated by bible-believing Christians.

Source: Is the Roman Catholic Mass Biblical?

Catholic Questions: What Is the Cause of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church?

 

In recent years, hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals have come forward claiming sexual abuse from priests in the Roman Catholic Church. Numerous “pedophile priests” have been identified. Sadly, rather than defrocking the priests (removing from the priesthood), the Catholic Church has in most instances attempted to cover up the sexual abuse by transferring the offending priest(s) to different parishes. The scandal and attempted cover-up continues to expand, reaching all the way to the papacy itself. So, what is the cause of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church? Why does pedophilia seem to be such a common problem among Roman Catholic priests?

First, let us be abundantly clear, as an Evangelical Protestant Christian organization, we have strong disagreements with virtually every area of Roman Catholic doctrine and practice.

Second, with the priesthood of all believers and Jesus’ fulfillment/completion of the Old Testament sacrificial system and priesthood, we do not believe the New Testament instructs that there should even be priests. Biblically speaking, a priest is a mediator (primarily through sacrifices) between God and man. With Jesus as our High Priest, we already have direct access to God (Hebrews 4:14–16) and have no need for any other mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).

Third, it is important not to take the horribly evil actions of some Roman Catholic priests and attribute them to the entire Roman Catholic priesthood. While we strongly disagree with Roman Catholic doctrine and practice, we have no doubt that many Roman Catholic priests truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, truly desire to minister to people, and would absolutely never molest a child. It is impossible to discover how many “pedophile priests” have been, or still are, active in the Roman Catholic Church. Whatever the number is, it is surely an exceedingly small percentage. The vast majority of Catholic priests has never, and would never, molest or harm a child in any way.

Back to the question at hand, what is the cause of the sexual abuse that has taken place in the Roman Catholic Church? Our contention is that the unbiblical requirement that priests be celibate is a primary cause. It is biblical to say that celibacy can be useful to ministry (1 Corinthians 7:32–34). At the same time, it is completely unbiblical for any church to require celibacy of its leaders. In the qualifications of church leadership (1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:6–9), the apostle Paul assumes that bishops, elders, overseers, and deacons will be married and have children. While these qualifications should not be viewed as requiring marriage/family to serve in church leadership, they are most definitely an allowance for married men to serve as leaders in the church. It is, therefore, completely anti-biblical for any church to require celibacy of its leaders.

The unbiblical requirement of celibacy on priests in the Roman Catholic Church likely contributes to sexual abuse in that men whom God never intended to be celibate are forced into celibacy, resulting in sexual tension and stress. Also, the stricture of celibacy is appealing to some men with abnormal sexual tendencies who view the priesthood as a means of keeping their desires under control. These men find that external rules do little to change the heart, and, when they give in to sexual temptations, the result is unnatural sexual acts, such as homosexuality or pedophilia.

Compounding the problem is the Catholic teaching of “once a priest, always a priest.” The fact that the “sacred ordination” cannot be invalidated has contributed to a reluctance to defrock pedophile priests. When abusive priests are transferred to different parishes, the same behavior is repeated. Also, lax rule enforcement and cover-ups have encouraged the application of pedophiles to the priesthood. Many pedophiles see the priesthood as a means of easy, unsupervised access to children.

Whatever the cause of the sexual abuse in the church, pedophile priests should be arrested and punished just as any other pedophile would be. Anyone covering up or, by negligence, enabling pedophilia in the church should be prosecuted. A priest who has sexually abused anyone should never be allowed back into church leadership, as he could most definitely not be considered “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2).

The pedophile priest scandal in the Roman Catholic Church is absolutely horrid. There is nothing more antithetical to the message of Christ than priests sexually abusing children. May God use this scandal to awaken the church of Jesus Christ to the presence of apostates within the church and to strongly motivate the church to be fully biblical in all of its beliefs and practices.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: Do Catholics Worship Idols / Practice Idolatry?

 

Sadly, our Catholic friends and family members have been indoctrinated to believe that the use of statues, relics, and other articles is acceptable and even necessary for worship. They have been taught by the Roman Catholic Church that the images and icons used in the church are not actually “worshiped” but are simply “visual aids” to worship.

The Catholic Church long ago began making allowances for the idolatrous use of images by the way they reference the Ten Commandments. In the Catholic catechism and in most official Catholic documents, the first and second commandments are combined and then summarized with “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have other gods beside Me.” Suspiciously absent is what comprises the second commandment in the Protestant numbering of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not make any graven images.”

While it is understandable for “you shall not make any graven images” to be considered an aspect of “you shall not have other gods beside me,” based on the history of idolatry involving graven images throughout biblical and extra-biblical history, it seems unwise to not include “you shall not make any graven images” in every listing of the Ten Commandments. The omission seems especially suspicious in light of the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has long been accused of the idolatrous use of graven images.

There are good reasons for not using images in worship. First of all, the use of physical images to “aid” worship violates the command to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24). Also, no one knows what God looks like, and John 1:18 is clear concerning this truth: “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” And, because God is Spirit (John 4:24a), it is irreverent to delineate Him as an iconic representation. No one alive knows what Jesus Christ looked like in the flesh, and, since there were no cameras when He walked the earth, the only description of His appearance is found in Isaiah 53:2–3, which says that He had “no stately form or majesty.”

The lack of a physical description of Christ has not stopped the Catholic Church from depicting Him. Throughout Catholic churches, institutions, convents, monasteries, and every other Catholic-affiliated building and shrine, there are paintings of God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, Joseph, and a myriad of canonized saints. There are statues in abundance; there are relics, such as bone fragments, said to have belonged to certain saints. Some shrines even contain pieces of wood purported to be part of Jesus’ cross. All of these things are held to be sacred objects worthy of high regard. The idolatry is rampant and fairly obvious to non-Catholics, yet Catholics do not believe they are committing idolatry. They have been cleverly taught to believe that they do not worship these idols; they simply “venerate” them. The problem is that “veneration” still gives honor and reverence to something and/or someone other than God; therefore, veneration is idolatry.

Yes, Catholics do practice a form of idolatry, in violation of God’s command. The best way to reach our Catholic friends with the gospel of grace is to pray that the Holy Spirit will draw them and that they will respond to the Spirit’s leading. Their eyes and hearts are blinded by the false teaching they are continually hearing, and, until they begin to seek the truth, we must leave it in God’s capable hands. As we pray, we must keep loving them and trust that God will prepare the soil of their hearts (Luke 8:11–15). Never give up hope; the Holy Spirit does miracles every day.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: Is the Catholic Concept of Absolution Biblical?

 

One common definition of absolution is “the formal remission of sin imparted by a priest, as in the sacrament of penance.” The Roman Catholic Church centers its teaching on the need for absolution, and the priest’s role in obtaining that forgiveness, on a single passage in the Gospel of John. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; If you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23). But does this passage teach the necessity of the Catholic practice of absolution? Does the Bible speak of or condone the practice of absolution?

Regarding the forgiveness of sins, the Bible is clear that God alone can forgive sins (Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21), and Christ, being God, has the power to do so, but He never communicated any such power to His apostles, nor did they ever assume any such power to themselves or pretend to exercise it. In fact, it is the mark of antichrist to attempt anything of the kind because, in doing so, one usurps the divine prerogative and places himself in God’s seat. Rather, John 20:23 is to be understood only in a doctrinal or ministerial way, by preaching the full and free remission of sins through the blood of Christ, according to the riches of God’s grace. To as many as repent of their sins and believe in Christ, all disciples of Christ can confidently declare that all their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake and to His glory.

In John 20:23, Jesus is speaking directly to His disciples. It is important to note here that He is not just talking to the 11 apostles but also to other followers of Jesus called disciples (see Luke 24), as well as to all who would ever follow Him. This is important because the Catholic Church holds that only their priests (through a “passing of the absolution torch” called apostolic succession) have the authority to grant absolution.

If absolution from sin is the meaning of Jesus’ words in John 20:23, then we must ponder exactly what His intention was when He gave His followers authority to forgive sin (or not). Did He make them judges and invest in them power to pass judiciary sentence, granting or withholding divine pardon, as the Catholic Church teaches? Or did Jesus make them His ambassadors to proclaim forgiveness through faith in His name, as Christians believe? In other words, can a sinner receive forgiveness directly from God through faith, or must he avail himself of the Catholic priest’s mediation? The Bible is clear: no priest is needed to mediate between God and man, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The Catholic teaching of absolution is not scriptural.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: Did Jesus Mean that We Should Never Refer to Our Earthly Father as ‘Father’ (Matthew 23:9)? Is It Wrong for Catholics to Refer to Their Priests as ‘Father’?

 

It would be confusing for God to give the fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” and then later in the Bible to restrict us from calling our earthly father “father.” Matthew 23:9 states, “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and He is in heaven.” The context of Matthew 23:9 tells us that referring to your biological father as “father” is not what Jesus is speaking about.

In Matthew 23:1–12, Jesus is denouncing the Jewish scribes and Pharisees for rejecting Him as their Messiah, in particular for their hypocrisy in elevating themselves above others with titles such as “teacher” and “master.” The Jewish teachers affected that title because they supposed that a teacher formed the man, or gave him real life, and they sought, therefore, to be called “father,” as if they were the source of truth rather than God. Christ taught them that the source of all life and truth is God, and they ought not to seek or receive a title which properly belongs to Him.

This denunciation is equally relevant for today. In no way should any person look up to, follow, or elevate a human leader in any religious or church organization above Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Head of the Church, His body, and our one and only Master and Teacher. He alone is the author of our salvation, source of comfort in difficulties and strength to live the Christian life, and the only One to whom our prayers should be directed.

Roman Catholics call their priests “father” and the pope is called “the holy father.” This is clearly unbiblical. The priest as “father” is problematic. Catholic priests are doing precisely what Matthew 23:9 condemns by allowing the term “father” in a spiritual sense be applied to them. In no sense is a priest or pastor a “spiritual father” to a Christian. Only God can cause a person to receive “spiritual birth”; therefore, only God is worthy of the title of “Father” in a spiritual sense.

In the case of the “holy father,” there is no doubt this is unbiblical. No man can take on the title of “holy” anything, because only God is holy. This title gives the pope a status that is never intended for any man on earth. Even the apostle Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:14). Clearly, Paul made no claim to holiness. Although as Christians we have exchanged our sin for the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), holiness will not be attained until we are in heaven and have left the last vestiges of our sin natures behind. Until then, the pope has no more holiness than the average Christian and is not entitled to be called “holy father.”

But there is no reason not to call our earthly parents “father” and “mother” because in doing so we are not giving them an elevated title or position that belongs to God. Our earthly parents are worthy of honor, not just on one special day of the year (Father’s Day, Mother’s Day), but we are to honor our parents daily in the spirit of Exodus 20:12, Matthew 15:4, and Ephesians 6:1–3.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: What Is the Catholic Understanding of Baptism?

 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (or CCC), water baptism is the first sacrament and gives access to the other required sacraments. It is also the act that forgives sins, grants spiritual rebirth, and makes one a member of the church (CCC, 1213). The Catholic Church also believes that Jesus requires one’s baptism in order to receive eternal life.

Catholics view baptism as the means by which one receives the Holy Spirit. The sacrament is called “the gateway to life in the Spirit” (CCC, 1213). The “washing of rebirth” in Titus 3:5 is interpreted as a literal washing by water and is associated with the rite of baptism. The same is true for Jesus’ mention of being “born of water” in John 3:5. Even non-Catholics who have been baptized are considered “justified by faith in baptism” (CCC, 1271) because baptism incorporates all into Christ.

According to Catholicism, a long process precedes any hope for “salvation.” Required are a “proclamation of the Lord, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion” (CCC, 1229). Baptism is necessary because, according to Catholicism, “By baptism, all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sin” (CCC, 1263).

CCC 1274 teaches, “The Holy Spirit marks us at baptism with the seal of the Lord for the day of redemption.” However, there is no security in this seal, for the baptized Christian must be “faithful” to keep the seal “until the end.” Only then will he “be able to depart this life in the hope of resurrection.”

Catholics practice infant baptism, which they consider a gift of God’s grace. Infants and young children are “baptized in the faith of the Church” (CCC, 1282). So important is baptism in the Catholic faith that they teach that an unbaptized child who dies either goes to hell or to purgatory.

Catholics use verses such as Luke 18:15–16 and 1 Corinthians 1:16 in support of the practice of infant baptism. However, these passages are misused. The Bible does not teach infant baptism. In Luke 18, parents are bringing their children so that Jesus might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for it. Christ told His disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” The Lord said nothing about baptizing infants here; He only said not to forbid children from following Him. To draw a teaching on baptism from this verse is incorrect.

In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul speaks of a family (a household) that was baptized. He says in verse 16, “I also baptized the household of Stephanas.” Do we know if infants or very young children were in Stephanas’s household? No. We do not know the ages of anyone in the household, and it is unwise to base a doctrine on assumptions.

So, we have some key differences in the Catholic doctrine of baptism compared to Scripture. One is that the Bible says to be baptized once we have faith and repent of our sins (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15–17); no one should be baptized “in the faith of the Church,” their parent’s faith, etc. The Bible says we receive the Holy Spirit when we have faith in Christ (Ephesians 1:13–14; Galatians 3:2–3). There is no other way to receive Him but by faith. Works, even the work of baptism, are not the reason a person is saved (Titus 3:5).

Catholics teach that a baptized person begins participating in eternal life at the moment of baptism, but they also teach he loses that “eternal” life and the Holy Spirit when he sins. The Bible says that a Christian might “grieve” the Holy Spirit, but the “seal” the Spirit places on us cannot be broken (Ephesians 4:30).

In all instances of baptism in the New Testament, the act always followed a person’s faith in and confession of Christ, along with repentance (e.g., Acts 8:35–38; 16:14–15; 18:8; and 19:4–5). Baptism is not what gives us salvation. Baptism is an act of obedience after faith.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: Is Mary the Mother of God?

 

The phrase “mother of God” originated with and continues to be used in the Roman Catholic Church. One of the topics at the Council of Ephesus in AD 431 was the use of the Greek term Theotókos, or “God-bearer,” in reference to Mary. That council officially proclaimed Mary as the “mother of God,” and the doctrine was later included in the Catholic catechism. The idea behind calling Mary the “mother of God” is that, since Jesus is God and Mary is the mother of Jesus, she is the mother of God.

The major problem with this logic is that the term “God” implies the totality of Yahweh, and we know that Yahweh has no beginning and no end (Psalm 90:2). First Timothy 6:15–16 says that God is immortal. Being immortal, God never was “born” and never had a “mother.” The second Person of the Trinity, Jesus, did have a beginning to His earthly ministry when he was conceived in Mary’s womb and was born, but from eternity past He had always been the Son of God.

Philippians 2:6–7 gives us a bit more insight on what transpired when Jesus left heaven to become man. The New Living Translation says, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” Jesus was already one with the Father, but He set aside His rights as Divinity and took the form of a baby (John 1:1). He went on to live the normal life of a Jewish boy, obeying His earthly parents (Luke 2:51).

A mother by definition precedes her child and at some point is more powerful than her child. So to call Mary the “mother of God” gives the misleading implication that Mary preceded and at one time was more powerful than the Lord God Almighty. Although Catholic doctrine tries to deny this implication, it is inescapable.

It is biblical to say that Mary was the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ during His incarnation on the earth. However, Catholics believe it is not enough to say that Mary was the mother of Jesus. Pope John Paul II, in a speech in 1996, encouraged people “not only to invoke the Blessed Virgin as the Mother of Jesus, but also to recognize her as Mother of God” (L’Osservatore Romano, 4 December 1996, p. 11). This is not biblical. The Lord God Almighty has no mother, since He has no beginning and no end (Genesis 1:1; Revelation 4:8).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: Witnessing to Catholics—What Is the Key?

 

To know best how to witness to Catholics, it is good to know some of the things that make Catholics resistant to the idea of being “born again.”

Catholics are indoctrinated from an early age, and a barrier to biblical truth is carefully erected in their minds. Catholics are taught that everything that comes from Rome takes precedence over the Bible. “If the Pope says it, it must be true” is a cultivated mindset. Unfortunately, Catholics are not taught to think for themselves, and many do not know why they believe what they do. Many Catholics have no concept of what is written in the Bible, other than the two or three passages that are read during Mass.

Also, human nature being what it is, any threat to one’s belief system is automatically resisted. Apologetic confrontation tends to make Catholics defensive and to put up walls. To directly attack the apostasy of Catholic teaching is the wrong way; Catholics have been told to expect this from “Protestants,” so most of them are prepared for confrontation or simply cut off communication. Therefore, generally speaking, confronting a Catholic friend with the unbiblical doctrines of his church is self-defeating. It is usually better to gently point him to Scripture and its authority as God’s Word. Never underestimate the power of God’s Word to change a person’s heart (Hebrews 4:12).

The simplicity of the gospel is what will speak to Catholics the most. That’s the “key” in witnessing to them. In many ways, the Catholic Church insulates people from God, who can only be approached through priests and saints, and then only with the proper prayers, penance, and piety. The Bible teaches us “the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3, NASB). Jesus extends the invitation to all: “Let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17). “Whoever has the Son has life” (1 John 5:12). Such simplicity appeals to those laboring under a merit-based system of religious works.

Reaching the heart of a Catholic is a gradual process. The armor he wears must be chinked, piece by piece, as doubts arise in his mind about what he has been taught. The idea is to “draw him out” and cause him to ask questions about his own faith. Catholics have to be “spiritually thirsty” in order to search for valid answers. When their questions arise, we want to be in a position to answer them from the Bible. It’s easy to simply condemn what someone believes, but that can easily lead to a lost opportunity for further witness. A Catholic must see the truth for himself.

Of course, it goes without saying that we who witness to Catholics must be in the Word and “prayed up.” We must be compassionate, not antagonistic, and we must let the Holy Spirit guide us. Our prayer should be along these lines: “Lord, You know the heart and the motives of this person. Give me the words she needs to hear.”

As an encouragement, here is a testimony from a former Catholic: “I recall what ministered to me was first hearing the Word several times and then the awesome realization that I could know the Lord personally. For me, all the other Catholic doctrines that were wrong fell away gradually after I was born again and continued to read the Word.”[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: Is Mary the Co-redemptrix / Mediatrix?

 

Some Catholics view Mary as a co-redemptrix or a mediatrix who plays a key role in the salvation of mankind. (The suffix -trix is a feminine word ending in Latin, so a redemptrix is a female redeemer, and a mediatrix is a female mediator.) Within Catholicism, there is a drive to define a new Marian dogma in which Catholics, as a matter of faith, would be obliged to accept these three doctrines: (1) Mary participates in redemption with Jesus Christ, (2) grace is granted by Jesus only through the intercession of Mary, and (3) all prayers from the faithful must flow through Mary, who brings them to the attention of her Son. This movement would, in practice, redefine the Trinity as a kind of Quartet.

The belief in Mary as a co-redemptrix would be in addition to current Catholic teaching on Mary, which states that Mary was a virgin perpetually, that she never had intercourse with her husband, Joseph; that she never had children other than Jesus; and that she was sinless and ascended into heaven. These teachings are more than unscriptural; Scripture directly refutes them.

The idea that Mary is a co-redemptrix or mediatrix contradicts 1 Timothy 2:5, which says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” Jesus is the Mediator. There is no mediator between man and Jesus. Jesus Himself dwells in believers; thus, none is required (Colossians 1:27).

Jesus is the perfect and sole Mediator between man and God because He is the sinless Son of God. Mary was not sinless. There is no Scripture whatsoever to back the claim of Mary’s sinlessness or of her assumption into heaven. This dogma was accepted as a result of papal proclamation. In the biblical narratives, Mary is pictured as a humble and submissive young woman, faithful to God, grasping the implications of what is about to happen to her, and uttering praises and doxologies (Luke 1:46–55). In fact, in her Magnificat, Mary says, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (verse 47). The clear implication of Mary’s calling God her “Savior” is that she recognized her need of salvation. Just like the rest of us, Mary needed a Savior, a Redeemer.

Jesus Himself indicated that Mary holds no special place relative to redemption or mediation. In Matthew 12:47–50, Mary and her other sons were trying to see Jesus while He was teaching. “Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’ ”

Later, at the foot of the cross, Mary is a grief-stricken mother. She did not suffer for mankind as a whole; she clearly suffered her own pain and mourning. She is one of the people receiving salvation from Jesus, not a contributor to His work. She is anguished and must be cared for by the apostle John.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Mary was part of the community of believers continuing in prayer and supplication prior to Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Mary is “most blessed among women” (Luke 1:42) because she was the mother of the Messiah. But she is not divine and cannot be seen as part of the Trinity. She did not redeem us from sin and cannot be made part of the redemptive process.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: What Is the Catholic Bible?

 

Many Christians are surprised to learn that the Catholic Bible is different from the Bible used by Protestants. While all 66 books found in Protestant Bibles are also found in the Catholic Bible, the Catholic Bible also contains other books, and additions to books. The Catholic Bible contains a total of 73 books, 46 in the Old Testament (Protestant Bibles have 39) and 27 in the New Testament (the same as Protestant Bibles).

The additional books in the Catholic Bible are known as the deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha. They are Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom (Ecclesiasticus), Sirach, and Baruch. The Catholic Bible also includes additions to the books of Esther and Daniel. Should the Apocrypha be included in the Bible? There was significant debate in the early Christian church, with a majority of the early church fathers rejecting the idea that the Apocrypha belonged in the Bible.

However, under tremendous pressure from Rome, Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate, included the Apocrypha, despite Jerome’s insistence that the Apocrypha did not belong in the Bible. The Latin Vulgate became the dominant and officially sanctioned Catholic Bible, and remained that way for around 1200 years. Thus, the Apocrypha became a part of the Catholic Bible.

The Apocrypha was not formally/officially made a part of the Catholic Bible, though, until the Council of Trent, in response to the Protestant Reformation. The early Protestant Reformers, in agreement with Judaism, determined that the Apocrypha did not belong in the Bible, and therefore removed the Apocrypha from Protestant Bibles.

The most popular English translations of the Catholic Bible today are the New American Bible, the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, and the New Jerusalem Bible. Aside from the inclusion of the Apocrypha, each of these Bible translations is reasonably good and accurate in how it renders the biblical text into English.

In summary, the Catholic Bible is the version of the Bible promoted by the Roman Catholic Church and used by the majority of the world’s Catholics. Aside from the inclusion of the Apocrypha, the Catholic Bible is identical to Protestant Bibles in terms of the canon (the books belonging in the Bible).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: What Is a Papal Conclave?

 

The papal conclave is the gathering of the College of Cardinals to choose a new Pope for the Roman Catholic Church. The College of Cardinals is the collective body of all cardinals around the world. In order to prevent political interference, deadlocks, and intrigue, qualifying cardinals are secluded in an area of the Vatican consisting of the Sistine Chapel (where the voting takes place) and dormitory-style housing. The cardinals are to remain until a new Pope is chosen. If a cardinal leaves for other than health reasons, he is not allowed re-entry.

The procedure for the papal conclave is fairly basic. After hearing sermons on the state of the Roman Catholic Church and the rules of the conclave, the cardinals vote up to four times a day with secret ballots. The ballots are counted, read, recorded, and burned. A Pope must be chosen by two-thirds vote. If the count does not result in an election, chemicals are added to the burning ballots to turn the smoke dark; if it does result in an election, the smoke is colored white and bells ring. Every three days or seven votes, the conclave takes a break for prayer and contemplation.

Devout Catholics gather in St. Peter’s Square to watch the chimney on the Sistine Chapel. When the smoke turns white, the Pope-elect takes a vow of office and dons the papal vestments. He then greets the people in the square from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

It is tradition that the office of Pope is not campaigned for. Any baptized male Catholic can be elected Pope, although the last non-priest elected was Leo X in 1513, and every Pope since then has been chosen from among the cardinals. Any who do not wish to be considered make their wishes known beforehand. The office is considered to be a lifetime appointment. Pope Benedict XVI was the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.

Is the idea and procedure of the papal conclave biblical? No, it is not. Since the office of Pope is itself unbiblical, the Roman Catholic procedure of selecting a new Pope is also unbiblical. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18). The Holy Spirit is the true “Vicar of Christ” (John 14:16–18, 26; 16:13).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: Do Eucharistic Miracles Really Happen?

 

Supposed “eucharistic miracles” are often pointed to by Roman Catholics as evidence for the “real presence” and/or transubstantiation in the Eucharist. Most of the claimed eucharistic miracles involved one or both of the elements miraculously being turned into literal blood or literal human flesh. Some of the reputed events are as follows:

Sienna, Italy—August 17, 1730: Consecrated Hosts remain perfectly preserved for over 250 years. Rigorous scientific experiments have not been able to explain this phenomenon.

Amsterdam, Holland—1345: The Eucharist thrown into fire overnight miraculously is miraculously unscathed.

Blanot, France—March 31, 1331: The Eucharist falls out of a woman’s mouth onto an altar rail cloth. The priest tries to recover the Host but all that remains is a large spot of blood the same size and dimensions as the wafer.

Bolsena-Orvieta, Italy—no date specified: A priest has difficulties believing in the “Real Presence,” and blood begins seeping out of the Host upon consecration. Because of this miracle, Pope Urban IV commissioned the feast of Corpus Christi, which is still celebrated today.

The Roman Catholic Church has connected many so-called miracles to what they call the “Presence” (the actual body of Jesus Christ) in the “hHost” (the piece of bread taken as communion). This teaching, called “transubstantiation,” is absolutely not biblical, even though scriptural references are applied—misinterpreted and out of context—to support it.

First of all, it is necessary to refute any false teaching by weighing itthem against what the Bible has to say. Jesus’ position is presently “seated at the right hand of the Father” in heaven, according to Colossians 3:1. No priest, pastor, or anyone else has the power to call the King of Kings down from His lofty position, particularly to enter into a piece of bread which will then be eaten. This is not what Jesus meant when He stated that He was “the bread of life,” as written in John 6:51: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” He did not mean that we literally eat His flesh, as Catholic dogma teaches. Rather, JesusHe is referring to spiritual life which is available only in Him. We no more eat His literal flesh than we literally eat the Word of God. When Jesus said to Satan, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ ” (Matthew 4:4), He was obviously referring to spiritual life depending on the spiritual food that is the Word of God, just as physical life depends on physical food.

Likewise, no one has the authority to turn wine into blood, another teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that is not found in Scripture, although, again, they attempt to apply the words of Mark 14:24 to support theirs belief: “ ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them.” Using common sense, what possible spiritual gain could there be from the physical eating of the person of Jesus Christ? He is Lord; He is God of all creation, why on earth would He agree to become a wafer, or a piece of unleavened bread? Besides this, when He was resurrected, He was in His glorified body. How can a glorified/eternal/undying body become a piece of bread? What Jesus was saying is that without Him, it is impossible to sustain life in an eternal sense, because without Jesus, a person is lost and they are facesing not life, but spiritual death, which means that histheir eternity will be spent away from the presence of God, in hell.

All of the above “eucharistic miracles,” plus many, many others, have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation, or with the spreading of the gospel. When we assess each one and let the light of Scripture shine upon it, it becomes evident that none of them are beneficial to the body of Christ, but are either demonically -inspired tricks to confuse and seduce people into believing something that is false, or are just flatly untrue stories that have been made up by those who put stumbling blocks in the path of those who might be seeking after the true God of the Bible.

Just because the name of Jesus Christ is invoked does not mean that the person or persons “worshipping” Him are focusing on the true Jesus, nor does it mean they even know Him. Jesus is not brought down from heaven to enter the bread, as the Catholic Church claims. Such an idea has no basis in Scripture and, in fact, is flatly contradicted. There are many other questionable doctrines and dogmas, teachings and traditions, rites and rituals within the Roman Catholic Church, of which “eucharistic miracles” is one.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: What Is the Meaning of Lent?

 

Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays). During Lent, participants eat sparingly or give up a particular food or habit. It’s not uncommon for people to give up smoking during Lent, or to swear off watching television or eating candy or telling lies. It’s six weeks of self-discipline.

Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves of the value of repentance. The austerity of the Lenten season was seen as similar to how people in the Old Testament fasted and repented in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1–3; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3).

However, over the centuries Lenten observances have developed a much more “sacramental” value. Many Catholics believe that giving something up for Lent is a way to attain God’s blessing. But the Bible teaches that grace cannot be earned; grace is “the gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17). Also, Jesus taught that fasting should be done discreetly: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:16–18). Jesus’ command to “wash your face” seems to conflict with the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s face on Ash Wednesday.

Fasting can be a good thing, and God is pleased when we repent of sinful habits. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting aside some time to focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, repenting of sin is something we should be doing every day of the year, not just for the 46 days of Lent.

If a Christian wishes to observe Lent, he is free to do so. The key is to focus on repenting of sin and consecrating oneself to God. Lent should not be a time of boasting of one’s sacrifice or trying to earn God’s favor or increasing His love. God’s love for us could not be any greater than it already is.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: What is the origin of Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras?

 

Mardi Gras, which is French for “Fat Tuesday,” is the last day in a season called Carnival and the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Depending on the location, the Carnival season is two weeks in length and is characterized by merrymaking, feasting, dancing, masquerades, and general licentiousness. The carnival season is typically celebrated by Catholic countries of Southern Europe and Latin America.

How Mardi Gras relates to Lent is as follows. Lent is a season of fasting, penance and preparation for Easter. Christians who observe Lent usually do so by abstaining from certain foods or activities they enjoy with the express purpose of focusing that time to prayer, penance, and almsgiving. There is also regular fasting prescribed during Lent. Since Carnival leads up to Lent, it can be rightly seen as the indulgence before the fast. Think of it as one last “binge” before giving something up for 40 days.

What does the Bible say about all of this? There is nothing in the Bible that either explicitly or implicitly suggests that early Christians observed either Lent or Carnival. Let’s first look at Carnival a little more closely. We would be very hard pressed to find biblical support for any kind of fleshly indulgence such as is practiced during Carnival, especially on Fat Tuesday. The Bible expressly forbids drunkenness, sexual fornication, and debauchery of any kind. The best verse for this can be found in Romans 13:13–14, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” We are exhorted to be sober-minded and alert, not engaging in debauchery. The idea of a binge of sinning before a time of consecration to the Lord is completely ridiculous and utterly unscriptural.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.