Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How Roman Catholic Apologists Approach The Bible

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as interaction with a post written by Catholic apologist De Maria titled "Forgiveness of Sins," with the intention being to illustrate how defenders of Rome misuse the Bible to support their errant presuppositions. We begin this critique with an excerpt from the author:

          "Washing away one's sins must mean to "forgive their sins" in Baptism (Acts 22:16)."

          The Apostle Paul's recounting of his conversion before a Jewish council identifies the washing away of sins with calling on the name of the Lord. Consider also Romans 10:9-13. Even the grammatical structure of the verse renders the baptismal regeneration interpretation illogical.

          Note that Ananias, a disciple of Christ, called the man "Brother Saul" as he laid hands on him (Acts 22:13). This proves that Saul (also known as Paul) was saved during his three days of blindness, which was prior to him being baptized.  

          The reason for the New Testament writers closely associating baptism with salvation is that partaking in such a ritual placed one at a much higher risk of being persecuted for the faith. Baptism was viewed as evidence of a person's willingness to undergo martyrdom for the Cause of Christ. It is representative of the changes that the Holy Spirit has begun to work in our hearts. These articles are of relevance to the discussion:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/04/water-baptism-according-to-bible.html

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/03/critiquing-roman-catholic-doctrine-of.html

           "I guess I can understand how they question the Sacrament of Confession as I don't see it explicitly in John 20:23. However, this is where the understanding of the Traditions is invaluable to me."

           The following article is an in depth treatment on the issue of confessing sins to a priest:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/05/is-confession-of-sins-to-priest-biblical.html

           The second sentence in the quoted excerpt above is telling, as it is quite subjective. More light is shed on the implications of that remark from one of the author's answers to a recent inquiry:

           "I rarely use Bibles for study. For study, the Catechism and the writings of the Saints are my favorite source."

            It is one thing to consult a commentary when reading Scripture, but it is an entirely different matter to be using uninspired materials as the basis for making sense of the inspired text. At this point, it is no wonder that De Maria refuses correction! Nonetheless, Scripture unambiguously admonishes against placing trust in man (Psalm 146:3; Jeremiah 17:5). The object of our faith should be God. Never mind the fact that people in Jewish culture literally saturated their minds on a daily basis with Scripture (Joshua 1:7-8; Deuteronomy 17:18-20; Psalm 1:2). Furthermore, the Gnostics were the first to deny the sufficiency of Scripture and claim to possess extra-biblical divine tradition.

            "Christ can wash away our sins through the ministry of reconciliation which He appointed to the Church (2 Corinthians 5:18)."

            The context of this passage nowhere makes mention of an ordained ministerial priesthood. The ministry of reconciliation simply refers to the preaching of the gospel.

             While certain aspects of the Roman Catholic seven sacraments are biblical, the idea that the grace of God can be imparted to us through rituals is unbiblical. Justification is not by works of righteousness, but by us placing our trust in Christ and His finished work on the cross (John 1:12; Romans 3:27-28; 4:2-8; Galatians 2:16; 21; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:16; etc.). Rituals do not contribute to our salvation. It is abundantly clear that the Roman Catholic Church has a man-centered theology. Scripture is oftentimes taken out of context. Philosophy is elevated far above proper biblical exegesis.

15 comments:

  1. "I rarely use Bibles for study. For study, the Catechism and the writings of the Saints are my favorite source."

    That tells me all I need to know about that person's ignorance.

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    1. That seems to be the usual way Roman Catholics interpret Scripture.

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  2. Hi Jesse,
    My name is Phil. You disagreed with De Maria saying that "Washing away one's sins must mean to "forgive their sins" in Baptism" (Acts 22:16).
    Then you go on saying: "The Apostle Paul's recounting of his conversion before a Jewish council identifies the washing away of sins with calling on the name of the Lord. Consider also Romans 10:9-13." In support of your interpretation you said that Paul was saved, before Baptism, because Ananias had called him "Brother Saul" (Acts 22:13). Since earlier, he had also called the council members: "Brothers and fathers" (Acts 22:1), does it mean that they were saved?
    God bless you.


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    1. Hello Phil,

      Following is a citation from Acts 9, an earlier recounting of Paul's conversion:

      "But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel" (Acts 9:13-15).

      It is abundantly clear from this text that Saul's heart was converted. God personally revealed that truth to a disciple named Ananias so as to provide reassurance. In fact, we see from the context that Saul (renamed Paul by Christ) was praying to God, which strongly implies a repentant heart (v. 11). The man was humbled. Justification changes a person. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. This all took place prior to his baptism. To answer your question, I would say that context determines the meaning of words.

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    2. Hi Jesse,
      Thank you for the answer to my question. I agree with you on the importance of the context. However, unfortunately, the context can be easily manipulated to support one's opinion. If, as you say Saul was already saved, and his sins already forgiven, why did Ananias, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tell him: "And now, why do you wait? Rise and be baptize and wash away your sins calling on His name." Acts 22:16? It sounds to me more of a command than a reassurance. What do say?
      God bless you.

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    3. Phil,

      A person should get baptized out of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Participating in this ritual is a response to believing on the gospel, which was in the case of Paul given by Christ Himself (Galatians 1:10-12).

      Baptism is an external sign of an internal reality. It is symbolic of His blood purifying our hearts. It serves as evidence of salvation, in that we are identifying ourselves with Jesus Christ. The Lord provided Ananias assurance that the man's heart had truly been changed. The disciple clearly used the term "brother" in a spiritual sense, and is utilized in the same fashion elsewhere in Scripture (Matthew 12:46-50; 1 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 1:1).

      The very reason that we consult context is to correct misinterpretations of biblical texts, with the Roman Catholic use of Acts 22:16 to prove that baptism is necessary for salvation being a perfect example. The idea is simply not there, as the text identifies "washing away sins" with "calling upon the name of the Lord". Paul emphasized faith as being the key factor in preaching the gospel as he recounted his conversion for the third time (Acts 26:12-18). Nowhere does Scripture make baptism the instrumental cause of justification.

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  3. Mr. Unknown,

    Baptism is NOT a sign of salvation; i.e. people are saved without baptism. The point made by Ananias was for Paul to complete the process and be baptized. And it was a command because we are commanded to be baptized, and Paul was to be a role model. Baptism does not save you.

    Jesse's main article and comments are 100% on target with proper hermeneutics.

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  4. Hi Jesse,
    Thank you for your answer. There are many things that we can agree on and others where we disagree. I will only deal with one point at a time. Fair enough? Paul's gospel is the same as the gospel Jesus and the other apostles preached. Jesus is the only one who saves and the one who said to Nicodemus: "unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God." John 3:5 This is the gospel preached from the beginning in Acts 2:38 "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Does that contradict Acts 22:16? Of course not. In Baptism we do proclaim the name of the Lord. You deny that "the grace of God can be imparted through rituals" even though He may be telling us to do so. He cured many blindness by His word and yet in John 9:7 He told the blind man: "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam", before He gave him the sight.
    God bless you.

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    1. Phil,

      You cited John 3:5 and Acts 2:38 as proof of baptismal regeneration, but those also do not support your position when examined in context. There are more reasonable, alternative explanations of the verses you provided, which do not pit them against the myriad of other texts that exclude works from justification. For instance, John 3:5 can mean that salvation comes with the transformation of the heart "by the washing with water through the word" (Ephesians 5:26). See these articles for more in depth analysis:

      https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/04/do-john-35-and-titus-35-prove-baptismal.html

      https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/03/acts-238-and-baptismal-regeneration.html

      You referenced to the healing of the blind man so as to provide biblical basis for sacraments. But the application of mud (a symbol) by Christ to the person's eyes has nothing whatsoever to do with the symbol having an inherent ability of transferring God's grace to people. The forgiveness of God is not restricted to a set of rituals. We cannot earn His grace. It is by faith, not by works.

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  5. Baptism is what the Christians do because they have become Christians by being justified by faith in Christ; it is an outward, public sign of the person’s confession. There is nothing about baptism that saves a person who has not placed their faith in the atoning work of Christ. One is forced to ask why Christ never baptized anyone, and why Paul baptized only a few, if baptism was required for salvation? Faith in Christ alone is what saves us from sin (John 3:16, 36; John 5:24; John 6:47; John 20:31; Acts 16:31; Rom. 1:16; Rom. 3:22,25; Rom. 10:9; Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9, 16; et al).

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  6. I direct Phil to two articles I have written in regards to baptism, that it doesn't save anyone and that one does not have to be baptized to be saved:
    https://watchmansbagpipes.blogspot.com/2013/12/some-thoughts-about-baptism_12.html
    https://watchmansbagpipes.blogspot.com/2017/04/does-1-peter-321-teach-baptismal.html

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  7. Hi Glenn,
    Water and Spirit (John 3:5) cannot be separated in Baptism. Jesus is the Savior, not Baptism. When Peter says that"Baptism saves" (1 Peter 3:5) he is referring to the Christian Baptism (a free grace from God) that cannot be separated from faith in Him but is its fruit. Of course, God can save an unbaptized person if He chooses, but that is not the norm (Acts 2:38).
    God bless you.

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    1. Phil,
      "water and the spirit" is a parallelism, both meaning spirit. Look at Isaiah 44:3 where there is a parallelism with water an spirit.

      Um baptism is NOT part of salvation, and all people who are saved are saved BEFORE baptism. THAT is the norm.
      I don't think you even read my articles proving your erroneous interpretation of those passages.

      You are unteachable.

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    2. I don't think that he even read my article on baptism linked above.

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  8. Consider this syllogism:

    1.) Baptism is a work.
    2.) Works do not save.
    3.) Therefore, baptism does not save us.

    It does not get any simpler than this.

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