Category Archives: Epistemology

It’s extremely complex

Roman Catholics are forced to rely on private interpretation in order to avoid the pitfalls of private interpretation.
Roman Catholics are forced to rely on private interpretation in order to avoid the pitfalls of private interpretation.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “revelation,” or the “deposit of faith,” is that “which has been committed” to the Roman Catholic church, “and which she proposes to all her members for their acceptance.” As Catholic Answers helpfully defines, the “doctrines of the Catholic Church are the deposit of faith revealed by Jesus Christ, taught by the apostles, and handed down in their entirety by the apostles to their successors.” Having been entrusted with “the faith which was once delivered” (Jude 3), the  Roman Catholic church is alleged to be the only authorized custodian and teacher of that deposit (Catholic Encyclopedia, Revelation). Continue reading It’s extremely complex

The Great Write-in Write-out Campaign

There is nothing in history that a little creative Roman editing can't fix.
There is nothing in the historical record that a little creative Roman editing can’t fix.

We concluded our last series on The Sacrifice Challenge with a few citations from Cyril of Jerusalem, so we thought it opportune to use him to demonstrate one of the ways Rome “finds” her doctrines in the Early Church. As we noted last week, Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures were part of a late-fourth century trend during which Rome’s novel Mass Sacrifice was invented. Catholic Answers used a few select quotes to prove Cyril’s belief in transubstantiation, but as we demonstrated, those quotes were truncated in order to isolate them from their context, and Cyril—even in the midst of his other errors—nevertheless maintained his conviction that the elements of the Lord’s Supper were only figuratively Christ’s body and blood, and remained so even after the consecration.
Continue reading The Great Write-in Write-out Campaign

“A significant turning point…”

The conception of Mary occurred 400 years before Rome even dreamed of its immaculacy.
Mary’s conception was understood by the Early Church to be no different than ours, until “a significant turning point” occurred toward the end of the 4th century.

Readers who have been following this blog are familiar with our position that Roman Catholicism as a religion originated in the latter part of the 4th century A.D. The religion of Rome is not of apostolic origin. As we explained in The Rise of Roman Catholicism, distinctively Roman Catholic dogma can be traced to the late 300s A.D., no earlier. In that article, we touched briefly on the late development of the immaculacy of Mary in the imagination of Rome. This week, we explore the magnitude of Rome’s historical revisionism in its attempt to prove the apostolicity of the dogma of her “Immaculate Conception.” Continue reading “A significant turning point…”

“It’s Complicated”

" ... it seems good  to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing." — Canon XX, Council of Nicæa, 325 A.D.
“…it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing.” (Canon XX, Council of Nicæa, 325 A.D.)

Catholic Answers is a ministry that exists “to explain & defend the faith,” and seeks to “help good Catholics become better Catholics, bring former Catholics ‘home,’ and lead non-Catholics into the fullness of the faith.” The ministry began in 1979 when its founder, Karl Keating, grew annoyed at a local Protestant church’s efforts to evangelize the Catholics in his parish. The Protestant church had put flyers on the windshields of the parishioners’ parked cars during Mass, and the flyers were allegedly “riddled with misinformation.” Continue reading “It’s Complicated”

If the Light that is in Thee be Darkness (the Bowls, part 5)

"When the Church makes something infallible, I wish they would just do it plainly and clearly." — Robert Sungenis, August 5, 2008
“When the Church makes something infallible, I wish they would just do it plainly and clearly.” — Robert Sungenis, August 5, 2008

This week we continue our series on the Bowls of Judgment in Revelation 16. The first four Bowls thus far are:

The First Bowl: The Stigmata (1224 A.D. – present)
The Second Bowl: The Plague of Scurvy (1453 – late 1700s A.D.)
The Third Bowl: The Dogma of Papal Infallibility (1870 A.D.)
The Fourth Bowl: Scorching by the Sun at Fátima (1917 A.D.)

The First Bowl was poured out “upon the earth” (Revelation 16:2), the Second “upon the sea” (Revelation 16:3), the Third “upon the rivers and fountains of waters” (Revelation 16:4) and the Fourth “upon the sun” (Revelation 16:8).

This Fifth Bowl is poured out directly “upon the seat of the beast” and the people “gnawed their tongues for pain” because of it (Revelation 16:10). We therefore note with no small interest that at the Third Bowl, when the Dogma of Papal Infallibility was proclaimed, the Pope was said to be infallible “when he speaks [with his tongue] ex cathedra [from his seat]”  (Vatican Council I, Pastor Æternus, chapter IV). The Pope’s seat, from which he claims to speak infallibly, is the target of this Fifth Bowl, and his kingdom is thereby plunged into darkness. Continue reading If the Light that is in Thee be Darkness (the Bowls, part 5)

They Hewed Out Broken Cisterns (The Bowls, part 3)

"...they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." (Jeremiah 2:13)
“…they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

This is our third week in the series on the Bowls of Revelation. Thus far, we have covered,

The First Bowl: The Stigmata (1226 A.D. – present)
The Second Bowl: The Plague of Scurvy (1453 – late 1700s A.D.)

As we have progressed through the Seals, the Trumpets and Bowls of Revelation, we notice that there are aids to interpretation provided within the text, aids that assist in the identification of each Seal, Trumpet and Bowl. It is our conviction that each Seal, Trumpet and Bowl is sufficiently described in Revelation that it is possible to identify each particular one particularly. Whereas there have been interpretations in the past that identify the Trumpets generally as a series of calamities, we believe each calamity can be identified. The same is true of each Seal and each Bowl, and even the fractions matter (i.e., 1/3 of the trees (Revelation 8:7), 1/4 of the earth (Revelation 6:8), etc…). Continue reading They Hewed Out Broken Cisterns (The Bowls, part 3)

That He Might Purify the Water, part 6

The Early Church did not teach Baptismal Regeneration.
The Early Church did not teach Baptismal Regeneration.

This week we conclude our series on Baptismal Regeneration in the Early Church. The purpose of this series has been to evaluate Called to Communion‘s attempts to find Baptismal Regeneration in the Early Church Fathers, and we have limited our discussion to a critique of their analysis. We encourage our readers to read the full text of Called to Communion‘s arguments at the link above. Each week in this series we have provided hyperlinks to the Church Fathers where we cite them, so that our readers may read them in their context. We have thus far covered Ignatius of Antioch, Barnabas of Alexandria, the Shepherd of Hermas, Justin Martyr, Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Cyprian of Carthage, Gregory Thaumaturgus and Pamphilus of Caesarea. Continue reading That He Might Purify the Water, part 6

That He Might Purify the Water, part 5

The Early Church did not teach Baptismal Regeneration.
The Early Church did not teach Baptismal Regeneration.

We are now in our fifth week of analyzing Called to Communion‘s efforts to find Baptismal Regeneration in the Early Church Fathers. Thus far, we have covered Ignatius of Antioch, Barnabas of Alexandria, the Shepherd of Hermas, Justin Martyr, Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Origen. We have found in many cases that the Church Father saw the Word, the Holy Spirit, Christ, His Passion or the preaching ministry of the Church as the “laver” of washing, illumination, regeneration, repentance and knowledge, but Called to Communion simply interpreted “the laver” to be the Roman baptismal font, and  concluded that the Church Father supported Baptismal Regeneration. We have also seen in several cases that a Church Father was writing or speaking metaphorically about baptism, or in some cases he was talking about something entirely different from baptism, and Called to Communion simply separated the father from his context and placed him in the Baptismal Regeneration column. Continue reading That He Might Purify the Water, part 5

That He Might Purify the Water, part 4

Water
The Early Church did not teach Baptismal Regeneration.

We are now in our 4th week of evaluating Called to Communion‘s analysis of the Church Fathers on Baptismal Regeneration. We originally planned to limit this to a four-week series, but we will continue beyond four weeks due to the volume of material.

Thus far, we have seen Called to Communion read Baptismal Regeneration into Ignatius of Antioch and the Shepherd of Hermas, and we have seen them read regenerate baptism out of Barnabas of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian.

To this litany of interpretive errors, Called to Communion adds its mishandling of both Hippolytus and Origen. The former refers to Christ’s Passion as “the laver of washing,” and the latter refers to the Holy Spirit as “the laver of regeneration.” True to form, Called to Communion can only see Baptismal Regeneration whenever the laver is mentioned by a Church Father. But context tells a different story. Continue reading That He Might Purify the Water, part 4

That He Might Purify the Water, part 3

The Early Church did not teach Baptismal Regeneration
The Early Church did not teach Baptismal Regeneration.

In Part 3 of this series, we continue where we left off last week with Called To Communion‘s efforts to find Baptismal Regeneration in the Early Church Fathers. In the first week, we covered Ignatius of Antioch, Barnabas of Alexandria, The Shepherd of Hermas, and Justin Martyr. Last week, we covered Theophilus of Antioch, and Irenaeus.

What we find as we proceed through the Patristic writers is that the Fathers often referred to Christ Himself, His Passion, His Word, His Gospel and the preaching ministry of the Church as the “laver of washing” or the “laver of regeneration.” Because the “laver of washing” under the Old Covenant was a basin of water placed “between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar” (Exodus 30:18), the Church Fathers saw it as a figure or a type of Christ Who would wash the nations by His Passion, His Word, His Gospel, etc…. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, see the Old Covenant basin of water as a figure or type of yet another basin of water—the Roman Baptismal font. Carrying the full weight of that assumption into their reading of the Fathers, Roman apologists then seek to prove that the Fathers taught Baptismal Regeneration. Continue reading That He Might Purify the Water, part 3

That He Might Purify the Water, part 2

The Early Church did not teach Baptismal Regeneration
The Early Church did not teach Baptismal Regeneration.

This week, we continue where we left off last week with Called To Communion‘s efforts to find Baptismal Regeneration in the Early Church Fathers. Last week, we covered Ignatius of Antioch, Barnabas of Alexandria, The Shepherd of Hermas, and Justin Martyr. In each case Called to Communion either interpolated its own beliefs into the Church Father, took the Church Father grossly out of context, or ignored the Church Father’s own statements which clarified his position. This week we cover Theophilus of Antioch, and Irenaeus, and we find that Called to Communion continues in the same pattern. Continue reading That He Might Purify the Water, part 2

“Getting Sanctification Done”

Sanctification is by the Truth (John 17:17)
Sanctification is by the Truth (John 17:17)

For those concerned about the plight of homiletics within the Church, this quarter’s Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (Spring 2014) has picked up our article on Tim Keller’s exegetical method, “Getting Sanctification Done: The Primacy of Narrative in Tim Keller’s Exegetical Method.” It is also available under the same title at the Trinity Foundation.

Tim Keller is the pastor of one of the largest and most influential PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) congregations in the country, so his approach to the Scriptures is of no small concern to us. The article evaluates Keller’s exegetical method using his own words about his approach to homiletics. As noted in the article,

“… it does not take long to discover a pattern of eisegetical license in Keller’s works, a license he affords to himself as the need may arise in order to support his prevailing narrative, whatever it may be. This pattern was especially odd because of Keller’s admonition to his hearers that we must ‘be true to the text, listening as carefully as we can to the meaning of the inspired author.’ As the examples … will show, his advice is more of a suggestion than a rule. … Because Keller is one who is quick to dismiss the opinions of others because their opinions violate ‘authorial intent,’ it is valuable to know whether he exhibits a reasonable duty of care when handling ‘authorial intent’ himself.”

What we find, ultimately, is that Keller teaches a form of sanctification by worship, and by this thinks he can “get sanctification done on the spot,” even if it requires him to affirm things that he does not believe to be true.

But sanctification is by the truth (John 17:17), not by worship. Sanctification by worship is nothing more than mysticism, which is why Keller has such an affinity for Roman Catholic mystics as we noted in And the Diviners Have Seen a Lie, and Wolves Within the Gate.

We hope this article will be a helpful resource to those who either consume, or are concerned about, Keller’s vast quantity of books, papers, sermons and other ministry related materials.

Enjoy.

Because Keller is one who is quick to dismiss the opinions of others because their opinions violate “authorial intent,”[7] it is valuable to know whether he exhibits a reasonable duty of care when handling “authorial intent” himself. – See more at: http://trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=293#sthash.UtSHbP4T.dpuf
Unfortunately, it does not take long to discover a pattern of eisegetical license in Keller’s works, a license he affords to himself as the need may arise in order to support his prevailing narrative, whatever it may be. This pattern was especially odd because of Keller’s admonition to his hearers that we must “be true to the text, listening as carefully as we can to the meaning of the inspired author.”[1] As the examples in the following section will show, his advice is more of a suggestion than a rule. – See more at: http://trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=293#sthash.UtSHbP4T.dpuf

Unfortunately, it does not take long to discover a pattern of eisegetical license in Keller’s works, a license he affords to himself as the need may arise in order to support his prevailing narrative, whatever it may be. This pattern was especially odd because of Keller’s admonition to his hearers that we must “be true to the text, listening as carefully as we can to the meaning of the inspired author.”[1] As the examples in the following section will show, his advice is more of a suggestion than a rule. – See more at: http://trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=293#sthash.UtSHbP4T.dpuf
Unfortunately, it does not take long to discover a pattern of eisegetical license in Keller’s works, a license he affords to himself as the need may arise in order to support his prevailing narrative, whatever it may be. This pattern was especially odd because of Keller’s admonition to his hearers that we must “be true to the text, listening as carefully as we can to the meaning of the inspired author.”[1] As the examples in the following section will show, his advice is more of a suggestion than a rule. – See more at: http://trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=293#sthash.UtSHbP4T.dpuf

Unfortunately, it does not take long to discover a pattern of eisegetical license in Keller’s works, a license he affords to himself as the need may arise in order to support his prevailing narrative, whatever it may be. This pattern was especially odd because of Keller’s admonition to his hearers that we must “be true to the text, listening as carefully as we can to the meaning of the inspired author.”[1] As the examples in the following section will show, his advice is more of a suggestion than a rule.

 

“What is Truth?” (John 18:38)

In The Reason for God, Keller explains that he is writing the book in order to show how he implemented a “moderate or conservative” church in a “liberal and edgy” city (xiii). With that in mind, it is easy to see why he cited Matthew 21:31 to his readers saying, “It was the Bible-believing religious establishment who put Jesus to death.”[2]There is some tangible benefit to casting the religious establishment of Jesus’ day as “Bible-believing” to his liberal and edgy readers. But the problem is that Matthew 21:32, the very next verse, declares that “‘the religious establishment” did not believe at all, and they certainly were not “Bible-believing” (see also, John 5:46). Was it the intent of the inspired author to portray the Pharisees as “Bible believing”? Of course not. The New Testament repeatedly portrays those who rejected Jesus as the unbelievers (John 8:45-46; Romans 3:3, 10:21, 11:20; 1 Timothy 1:13; 1 Peter 2:7-8). But the context of the passage and the consistent testimony of the New Testament was no barrier to Keller who needed a narrative for his book.

In Prodigal God,[3]Keller wanted to show that the parable of the Prodigal Son contains “the secret heart of Christianity” (xiii), and adds this paradox for good measure: “one of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do” (xi). To underscore this theme, he uses Matthew 21:31 again to show that Jesus’ teaching attracted the irreligious while “offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day” who “studied and obeyed the Scripture” (Prodigal God, 8, 15, 29-30). It hardly seems to matter to him that Jesus described His bride, not the Pharisees, as the obedient Bible-believers who “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17, 14:12). The consistent testimony of the New Testament is that Jesus was rejected by those rife with disobedience and unbelief. But Keller needed a narrative to carry the message of the book, and the original context of the passage did not seem to matter.

In Counterfeit Gods,[4] Keller’s objective is to show that we moderns are tempted by heart idols like “beauty, power, money and achievement” (xii). Indeed, we are. Keller uses Ezekiel 14:3a to suggest that the elders of Israel were struggling with heart idols, not physical idols, and indeed were not even aware of, and could not see, any physical idols in their midst:

In Ezekiel 14:3, God says about the elders of Israel, “these men have set up their idols in their hearts.” Like us, the elders must have responded to this charge, “Idols? What idols? I don’t see any idols.” God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. (Counterfeit Gods, xiv)

But the second half of Ezekiel 14:3 states explicitly that their idols were in plain sight, “before their face.” The Israelites had not forsaken “the idols of Egypt” (20:8), and were offering incense to their idols “round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak” (6:3). Who can possibly read Ezekiel and then have the elders of Israel saying “Idols? What idols? I don’t see any idols”? But this plain context of Ezekiel 14:3 was no constraint to Keller’s narrative. He was writing about heart idols, and it served his purpose to cast the elders of Israel as puzzled and ignorant, unaware that they were worshiping physical images.

In The Meaning of Marriage,[5]Keller sought to apply the Scripture to the institution of marriage, promising to adhere to “a straightforward reading of Biblical texts” (16). But within four pages, Keller had already recast Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:32, “This is a profound mystery,” as if Paul was stating that the institution of marriage is the mystery:

[I]t is not surprising that the only phrase in Paul’s famous discourse on marriage in Ephesians 5 that many couples can relate to is verse 32…. Sometimes you fall into bed, after a long, hard day of trying to understand each other, and you can only sigh, “This is all a profound mystery!” At times, your marriage seems to be an unsolvable puzzle, a maze in which you feel lost. (Meaning of Marriage, 21)

The context, however, is that Paul is explicitly referring to Christ’s affection for His church, and not to the legal union of the husband and wife. The reformers battled Rome on this very point, as Calvin shows, saying, “no man should understand him as speaking of marriage” in Ephesians 5:32, but rather that the “profound mystery” is “the spiritual union between Christ and the church.”[6] But this was no constraint to Keller. When writing a book subtitled “Facing the Complexities of Commitment,” his overarching narrative needed a verse that made marriage the unsolved mystery, irrespective of the context.

We could go on and on with examples, for there are many. We could also spend considerable time showing that in spite of these lapses, Keller actually states many things that are true. That Christ is preached, we rejoice, and Keller on many occasions does so. But to understand just what latitude Keller allows himself, it is necessary to produce more than a passing sample of his license. Because Keller is one who is quick to dismiss the opinions of others because their opinions violate “authorial intent,”[7] it is valuable to know whether he exhibits a reasonable duty of care when handling “authorial intent” himself.

– See more at: http://trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=293#sthash.UtSHbP4T.dpuf

Unfortunately, it does not take long to discover a pattern of eisegetical license in Keller’s works, a license he affords to himself as the need may arise in order to support his prevailing narrative, whatever it may be. This pattern was especially odd because of Keller’s admonition to his hearers that we must “be true to the text, listening as carefully as we can to the meaning of the inspired author.”[1] As the examples in the following section will show, his advice is more of a suggestion than a rule.

 

“What is Truth?” (John 18:38)

In The Reason for God, Keller explains that he is writing the book in order to show how he implemented a “moderate or conservative” church in a “liberal and edgy” city (xiii). With that in mind, it is easy to see why he cited Matthew 21:31 to his readers saying, “It was the Bible-believing religious establishment who put Jesus to death.”[2]There is some tangible benefit to casting the religious establishment of Jesus’ day as “Bible-believing” to his liberal and edgy readers. But the problem is that Matthew 21:32, the very next verse, declares that “‘the religious establishment” did not believe at all, and they certainly were not “Bible-believing” (see also, John 5:46). Was it the intent of the inspired author to portray the Pharisees as “Bible believing”? Of course not. The New Testament repeatedly portrays those who rejected Jesus as the unbelievers (John 8:45-46; Romans 3:3, 10:21, 11:20; 1 Timothy 1:13; 1 Peter 2:7-8). But the context of the passage and the consistent testimony of the New Testament was no barrier to Keller who needed a narrative for his book.

In Prodigal God,[3]Keller wanted to show that the parable of the Prodigal Son contains “the secret heart of Christianity” (xiii), and adds this paradox for good measure: “one of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do” (xi). To underscore this theme, he uses Matthew 21:31 again to show that Jesus’ teaching attracted the irreligious while “offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day” who “studied and obeyed the Scripture” (Prodigal God, 8, 15, 29-30). It hardly seems to matter to him that Jesus described His bride, not the Pharisees, as the obedient Bible-believers who “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17, 14:12). The consistent testimony of the New Testament is that Jesus was rejected by those rife with disobedience and unbelief. But Keller needed a narrative to carry the message of the book, and the original context of the passage did not seem to matter.

In Counterfeit Gods,[4] Keller’s objective is to show that we moderns are tempted by heart idols like “beauty, power, money and achievement” (xii). Indeed, we are. Keller uses Ezekiel 14:3a to suggest that the elders of Israel were struggling with heart idols, not physical idols, and indeed were not even aware of, and could not see, any physical idols in their midst:

In Ezekiel 14:3, God says about the elders of Israel, “these men have set up their idols in their hearts.” Like us, the elders must have responded to this charge, “Idols? What idols? I don’t see any idols.” God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. (Counterfeit Gods, xiv)

But the second half of Ezekiel 14:3 states explicitly that their idols were in plain sight, “before their face.” The Israelites had not forsaken “the idols of Egypt” (20:8), and were offering incense to their idols “round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak” (6:3). Who can possibly read Ezekiel and then have the elders of Israel saying “Idols? What idols? I don’t see any idols”? But this plain context of Ezekiel 14:3 was no constraint to Keller’s narrative. He was writing about heart idols, and it served his purpose to cast the elders of Israel as puzzled and ignorant, unaware that they were worshiping physical images.

In The Meaning of Marriage,[5]Keller sought to apply the Scripture to the institution of marriage, promising to adhere to “a straightforward reading of Biblical texts” (16). But within four pages, Keller had already recast Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:32, “This is a profound mystery,” as if Paul was stating that the institution of marriage is the mystery:

[I]t is not surprising that the only phrase in Paul’s famous discourse on marriage in Ephesians 5 that many couples can relate to is verse 32…. Sometimes you fall into bed, after a long, hard day of trying to understand each other, and you can only sigh, “This is all a profound mystery!” At times, your marriage seems to be an unsolvable puzzle, a maze in which you feel lost. (Meaning of Marriage, 21)

The context, however, is that Paul is explicitly referring to Christ’s affection for His church, and not to the legal union of the husband and wife. The reformers battled Rome on this very point, as Calvin shows, saying, “no man should understand him as speaking of marriage” in Ephesians 5:32, but rather that the “profound mystery” is “the spiritual union between Christ and the church.”[6] But this was no constraint to Keller. When writing a book subtitled “Facing the Complexities of Commitment,” his overarching narrative needed a verse that made marriage the unsolved mystery, irrespective of the context.

We could go on and on with examples, for there are many. We could also spend considerable time showing that in spite of these lapses, Keller actually states many things that are true. That Christ is preached, we rejoice, and Keller on many occasions does so. But to understand just what latitude Keller allows himself, it is necessary to produce more than a passing sample of his license. Because Keller is one who is quick to dismiss the opinions of others because their opinions violate “authorial intent,”[7] it is valuable to know whether he exhibits a reasonable duty of care when handling “authorial intent” himself.

– See more at: http://trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=293#sthash.UtSHbP4T.dpuf

That He Might Purify the Water, Part 1

Baptismal Regeneration was not taught by the early Church.
The Early Church did not teach Baptismal Regeneration.

Called to Communion is a Roman Catholic organization comprised of former Protestants. The desire of Called to Communion is “to effect reconciliation and reunion between Catholics and Protestants, particularly those of the Reformed tradition.” Of course, there can never be “reunion” unless there had first been a “union,” and Roman Catholicism as it is practiced today was never a part of the Church of Jesus Christ. As we have noted in The Rise of Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholicism was formed out of a great apostasy that took place in the late 4th century and many of its doctrines—its own apologists admit this—cannot be traced any earlier than that.  As we noted in When ‘Mary’ Got Busy, Eucharistic Adoration did not even arrive on the scene until the 11th century. Roman Catholicism simply is not as old as it claims to be, and is certainly not as old as the Church of Jesus Christ.

Continue reading That He Might Purify the Water, Part 1

Eating Ignatius

Ignatius of Antioch was not a Eucharistic Devotee
Ignatius of Antioch was not the staunch defender of transubstantiation that Roman Catholicism makes him out to be.

One does not have to study the Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation very long before finding how important Ignatius of Antioch is to its defense. As a martyr of the late first, or early second century, he is alleged to be the first witness in the sub-apostolic era for Transubstantiation and the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist. Fr. John Hardon, in his The History of Eucharistic Adoration lists Ignatius first after the apostle Paul in defense of the doctrine: Continue reading Eating Ignatius

Removing Jesus

Two Crosses
The doctrines of Rome amount to a material rejection of the incarnation.

Long before Jesus turned water into wine, He turned Mary’s amniotic fluid into meconium, and her breast milk into transitional stools. Anyone who has ever changed a child’s diaper knows that the resulting odor offends the nostrils greatly. As Jesus would later instruct us, “whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly” and ends up in the toilet (Matthew 15:17), or in His case as an infant, in the diaper. Thus did Jesus’ lower gastrointestinal tract operate as it must for all men, and thus did our Lord endure the gastrocolic reflex, as all we mortals do. We therefore have no doubt that Mary’s milk passed through Him according to the course of nature, and into His diapers in a common and necessary movement. And thus did Jesus come all the way down to earth to save us, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15).

If that opening paragraph offends you, you do not know why Jesus came to earth, and you have not understood the Gospel. Continue reading Removing Jesus

One Kingdom Too Late

Revelation 13
Roman Catholicism was 300 years too late to be “the stone that … became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).

[This is the third installment of a three part series.]

When former Protestant, Taylor Marshall, wrote Eternal City, he sought to explain why Christianity is necessarily Roman. “The Church,” he wrote, “receives the Roman empire” from its previous custodians. But in concluding this, Marshall has mistakenly transposed two kingdoms—both of which Daniel addressed, and both of which Daniel set against the background of the rise and fall of four world empires. One kingdom is of earth and the other of heaven, and Marshall has unfortunately confused the two. Continue reading One Kingdom Too Late

What the Fathers Feared Most

St. Augustine
Augustine was worried that what was about to happen… was about to happen.

There is a tendency in some Christian circles to view all things eschatological through the lens of current events. This was epitomized in the late 1980s and early 1990s by a popular T-shirt that read, “If you want to understand the Book of Revelation, just read the headlines!” Every earthquake, every war, every powerful new politician was understood as evidence that the end times were now upon us. This method of interpretation is nothing new.

In some senses, we can say that Luther used this method to interpret Daniel and Revelation: Continue reading What the Fathers Feared Most

Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 2)

John Paul II and Mary
The visions of Mary have a long-standing, two-way, verbal relationship with the Papacy.

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Last week, we discussed the propensity of Roman Catholics to rely on visions of Mary “to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation” despite the clear instructions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church not to do so (paragraph 67). Taylor Marshall relied on several visions of Mary to bolster his argument that Jesus was born on December 25th, and Fr. Livius relied on a private revelation to help him determine the meaning of the writings of several Church Fathers. But as apologist Fr. William Most has said, “In public revelation, the Church has the promise of divine protection in teaching,” while on the content of private revelation, including apparitions, “the Church does not have such a commission.” Thus it is true that while Roman apologists cite apparitions of Mary to bolster their arguments, it is also true that Roman Catholics “can refuse assent to such revelations … provided this is done … for good reasons.” It is not uncommon (in our experience) for a Roman Catholic on the one hand to cite the many examples of apparitions as evidence that Roman Catholicism is the true church, and then, on the other hand—when the actual content of the visions is brought forward—to dismiss those same apparitions “because we are not required to believe them anyway.”

But the freedom to reject the teachings of the apparitions as “private revelation” is not so simple as that. Continue reading Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 2)

Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 1)

Vision of Mary
The visions of Mary provide additional revelation that is outside the original “Deposit of Faith.”

According to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, everything that is to be known and taught by the Church is to be found in the original “Deposit of Faith,” beyond which, “no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Catechism, p. 66).

As we have discussed elsewhere, Mary is alleged to have appeared many times and in many places over the last 2,000 years. During those appearances, the visions of Mary leave behind explicit instructions and other information: one provided a design for a medal for a particular form of devotion; another provided the design for an image to be venerated; others have provided private messages for the pope; and others have left behind prophecies of things to come. These visions of Mary, or what we call “apparitions of Mary,” have very much to say. “However,” warns the catechism, “They do not belong … to the deposit of faith“: Continue reading Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 1)

Was Mary the Mother of John the Baptist, too?

Aaron's Rod Blossoming
There is a reason the Scriptures never refer to Aaron’s Rod Blossoming as a figure for Jesus.

In Rome’s unwavering efforts to honor Mary with the accolades of immaculacy, the mantle of inviolable purity, the admiration of angels and the veneration of men, there is an unfortunate tendency to see Mary in every reference in the Bible. It would seem that there is not a verse in the Old Testament that does not prefigure her: she is the “land of Havilah” in Genesis 2:11. She is, at once, Noah’s Ark, the dove he released, and the olive branch it returned. She is Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, from which the Almonds of Jesus grew. She is Jesse’s Rod from which the branch of Jesus sprung (for “rod” in Latin is “virga,” which must refer to the Virgin), and she was present when the Spirit blew upon the seas at creation (for the Latin word for “seas” is “maria,” which must refer to Mary). She is the virgin soil from which Adam was made, and she is the cloud that led the Hebrews out of Egypt. She is Gideon’s fleece, the temple, the tabernacle, the ark, as well as the golden urn containing the manna within it. When David danced, he danced for her, and what Moses saw in the burning bush prefigured her—she was at the same time the flame and the unconsumed wood of the bush. She is even prefigured in the rotting manna, and Jesus is prefigured by the worms that fed on it.

There are, of course, dangers in finding Mary in everything, Continue reading Was Mary the Mother of John the Baptist, too?