Roman Catholicism is a medieval heresy...

Under the post, Repenting of parachurch, Baptist childhoods..., one comment elicited this response from your scribe. I posted it as a comment, there, but also put it here for the benefit of those who don't keep track of comments. (TB)

Brothers, allow me a few responses, although they must be hopelessly brief considering the weight of these matters.

>>Be careful when you sling around words like apostasy, idolatry (Per Calvin we're all "fabricum idolarum") and heresy.

We are careful. That is, careful--very careful--to keep them alive. The proper word to use concerning Roman Catholicism is 'heresy'. Read Joe Brown's Heresies. Reformed pastors and elders use this word following our Reforming fathers's example because Roman Catholicism is a system of doctrine that leads souls to Hell. Systematically.

The center of Rome's system is the merchandising of salvation through...

the church's "treasury of merit," and it's all fueled by the engine of denial of justification by faith, alone, that keeps the souls under Rome's oppression busy earning what they may only freely receive from the Holy Spirit.

People always focus on tangential issues like Mariolatry and papal infallibility. I'll never forget listening to my seminary friend, Scott Hahn (Scott Hahn, David Bayly, Tim Keller, Marcus Grodi, and Tim Bayly are all GCTS grads within a few years of each other), say on an evangelistic tape he did for the Roman heresy that the biggest problem Evangelical Protestants have with Roman Catholicism is the infallibility of the Pope.

No. Our largest problem is the Roman Catholic church's formal damning ("let them be anathema") of those souls who believe Scripture's doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

God's Word is so very clear on this, as is also man's propensity to turn aside from the straight and narrow path to rituals, his own works and self-righteousness, and ceremonies. There are many, many other parts of Rome's dogma that directly attack Scripture, but every time I have another Godly friend who yearns for the bells and smells of fellow pro-fecundity, pro-natal, pro-children, pro-life, anti-abortion Rosary mantra fellow abortuary picketers, I remind them that Rome's Council of Trent anathematized God's Word, and now they're in a bind. They can hold all the meetings they want with self-appointed Protestant grandees J. I. Packer and Bill Bright and Os Guiness and Dick Mouw and John Woodbridge and Max Lucado and Chuck Colson and Herb Schlossberg and Mark Noll in Richard John Neuhaus' Big Apple offices issuing breathy statements of imminent Christian unity they've discovered after almost five centuries of failure by much better men than themselves, but it don't matter. At all. Rome is not going to repudiate one of her much-vaunted "Ecumenical councils."


(By the way, did anyone else notice the abbreviation for Neuhaus's group Evangelicals and Catholics Together, "ECT," is also the abbreviation for something serendipitously called, "Electroconvulsive Therapy." Which is a fair description of the inspiration ECT provided Jim Kennedy and RC to start Knox Seminary.) 

Sure, many worship at Roman Catholic masses and are publicly identified as "Roman Catholic" without holding, personally, to the central Roman Catholic dogmas. Some are pro-abortion and others are pro-salvation by grace alone, through faith alone--not by works lest any man should boast.

Also, there are undoubtedly many, many Protestants, Reformed Protestants, Evangelical and Reformed Protestants, PCA and OPC Evangelical Reformed Protestants whose fruitlessness and lack of fear of God demonstrate that they have not been saved by grace alone, through faith alone. Men today feel no need to believe or live in a way that is consistent with their publicly affirmed doctrinal commitments, so who's surprised?

But to conclude that doctrinal commitments don't matter is to give in to that demonic Spirit of our age endlessly attacking every distinction and rendering them meaningless. "What does it matter that one soul subscribers to the Tridentine (Roman Catholic) infusion heresy and another the Westminsterian imputation doctrine of Scripture? We all love Jesus!"

Really? So Luther and Calvin and Knox and Edwards and Lloyd-Jones and Machen and the Apostle Paul were wrong? Really? Can we truly be this foolish and proud? Can we really despise the souls God has given us to guard and protect so very much? Can we really love the lost so little? Can we really be so very heartless toward our wives and sons and daughters? Can we really hate God and love ourselves so very much that we are willing to enter the Day of Judgment clinging to our menstrual rags (Isaiah 64:6) rather than Jesus' blood and righteousness?

Now, at this point there will be many Protestants--not Roman Catholics--who will think, "Tim's gone off the reservation on this one." But in fact, those of you having that thought are yourselves the ones who have gone off the reservation. You stand absolutely alone across all salvation history because you believe that good intentions matter more than the Word and words of God.

Man does not live on good intentions and sincerity and authenticity and passion, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

>>The Roman Catholic Church maintains a good memory of the many 4th Century Christological and Trinitarian heresies.

Of course they do. Why shouldn't they? They received those creeds from the true Christian church and it would be extremely unwise for Rome to allow their Tridentine apostasy to grow to the further repudiation of Biblical doctrines she inherited intact from the true Christian Early church. If Rome started to add an attack upon the Trinity to her attack upon the sufficient and perfect righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, even dense and somnolent souls might wake up and smell the fire and flee for their souls.

>>That's why they formulated the Nicene Creed…

What? WHAT? "They," sir, had nothing--absolutely nothing--to do with formulating the Nicene Creed. And if you changed your statement to "The Holy Spirit used them to put down in writing what He had already revealed in Holy Scripture," I'd still be filled with indignation at your blatant falsehood.

The Roman Catholic heretics had nothing to do with the Council of Nicea. Rather, the Council of Nicea was a council of the Christian Church, that glorious Mother of us all in which we have the unity of the Spirit in the bond of love. To cede the first fourteen centuries to those who lie and cheat and steal in the Name of Jesus Christ is to connive at lies that boggle the mind. The Vatican has nothing to do with Bernard of Clairvaux, let alone Jon Hus or Peter Waldo or  Augustine or Irenaeus or Cyprian or Perpetua or Polycarp or Stephen or the Apostles Peter and Paul.

Or our Glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.

>>Although, the 16th Century Reformers would have wished that "imputation" were in the Creed, curiously their heirs, after almost 500 years, never added it.

No one of us has ever wished any such thing. Imputation is all through the Bible and all through our summaries of the Bible known as "catechisms" and "confessions." For instance, here is Chapter XI of the (1646) Westminster Confession of Faith:

I. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

III. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction of his Father's justice in their behalf. Yet inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for any thing in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify the elect; and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins and rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.

V. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God's Fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.

VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respect, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.

Impututation and the denial of the Roman Catholic church's Tridentine counterfeit, infusion, are all through every Biblical catechism and confession ever written. And yes, I mean "Biblical" in the sense of denying the Roman Catholic church's Tridentine counterfeit, infusion. It's circular with the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect righteousness Alone at the center. No man or woman nearby, but Christ Alone. Praise Him!

>>Without Protestant leaders regularly teaching from and reciting this Gospel litmus test, how would their followers avoid these heresies by merely reading the Bible?

A better question would be how would the Church ever have been able to declare the Nature of the Trinity and avoid all the heresies that deny It unless they had read and studied, and then summarized the Bible's Trinitarian doctrine?

>>With an ignorance of the Nicene Creed, why wouldn't a Protestant assume he knows who Jesus is and that, according to his leaders, Jesus is "in love" with him? 

A very valid question today when many, many Protestants, including conservative Evangelical and Reformed Protestants, have not the slightest commitment to the Word of God or the summaries of Scripture we have inherited from twenty centuries of faithful fathers. Like Roman Catholicism, Reformed and Evangelical Protestantism today is awash in cheap grace and false emotion and the absence of compunction of conscience. This is due to the refusal of pastors to preach the Word in dependence upon the Holy Spirit rather than our own hip factor, famous associations, cultural acumen, and antinomianism. Thus our sheep are headed for Hell being bound with chains in an error that Martin Luther, having just been rescued by God from the error of Roman Catholicism, called "the error worse than all those hitherto prevailing."

When we preach forgiveness without repentance, the Gospel without the Law, he said, we will create a people "without compunction of conscience," and this is "an error worse than all those hitherto (prior to the Reformation) prevailing."

>>If a denomination never recites the Nicene Creed, aren't they breeding vast armies of heretics making the 16th Century sale of indulgences seem rather parochial?

Like many, many Biblical churches, we recite the Nicene Creed regularly.

>>Is there any wonder that even average Catholics emerge as those best able to defend the Christian faith in an antinomian age when heresy runs wild?

You're absolutely right, and thus many discouraged souls turn to the Roman heresy. Discouragement over the silence of Biblically reformed pastors preaching and shepherding through both God's Law and His Gospel--or better, through the grace of the law and the law of grace--could cause any of us to turn to Satanic despair and throw in the towel, repudiating our Lord Jesus Christ by embracing the Pope. 

Luther came close to this in his death throes back in July of 1527 (he ended up living on more than twenty years, to everyone's surprise). He wrote of his death-bed temptations to despair:

For more than a week I have been thrown back and forth in death and Hell; my whole body feels beaten, my limbs are still trembling. I almost lost Christ completely, driven about on the waves and storms of despair and blasphemy against God. But because of the intercessions of the faithful, God began to take mercy on me and tore my soul from the depths of Hell.

And when the Black Death swept through Wittenberg a short time later, Luther wrote:

Satan himself is raging against me with all his might….He affects me with indescribable spiritual weakness….My hope is that the fight will benefit many, although there is nothing in this misery that my sins have not deserved….But I know that I have taught the Word of Christ purely and truly for the salvation of many. That is what the Devil is angry at, that is why he wants to crush me together with the Word.

And this also from Apostle Luther (that's what Calvin called him):

World and reason have no idea how difficult it is to grasp that Christ is our justification, so deeply embedded in us--like a second nature--is the trust in works.

So, dear brothers and sisters, it has always been difficult for depraved man to turn to Christ Alone. Luther had difficulty himself, as has every other true follower of Jesus Christ. Our pride is insatiable, but praise God, we have a jealous God Who will brook with no competitors! Thanks be to God! 

Right now Christians do it, but One Day soon, every man will come to an end of Himself and declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God The Father.



"HSY" (honestly, what's the problem with signing our names???) posted this comment to the above:

>>(1.) You interpret Ephesians 2:8-9 your way, relying on Luther, Calvin, Knox, Williams, Wesley, etc. (2.) Catholics interpret Ephesians 2:8-9 through understanding the Book of James and the Whole Counsel of God. (3.) "He who earns his living by his faith will eventually lose one or the other."

Taking them in order:

(1) Christians interpret Ephesians 2:8,9 in according to the Holy Spirit's meaning and in accordance with the entire history of our our Mother Church.

(2) First, it's not "Catholics" but the schismatic "Roman Catholics." And I don't this to make you angry, but to encourage us all to return to simple truths. Roman Catholics aren't "Catholic" because they anathematize all true Christians. And second, Roman Catholics deny the plain meaning of Ephesians 2:8,9 and use other Scriptures to justify their denial. But really, that denial is lodged, properly, in their own sectarian "tradition."

(3) You quote someone saying "He who earns his living by his faith will eventually lose one or the other." This is one more of the Roman schismatics' endless straw men. The Biblical reformed Christian doesn't "earn his living" by faith. Did you not read Ephesians 2:8,9? Faith is "a gift."

Most Evangelicals today, including most Reformed Evangelicals, think faith is the one work that pleases God--the one thing God can't do that we must. That is directly contrary to Scripture, and thus to every Church father faithfully preaching the Gospel down through the ages.


>>The Roman Catholic heretics had nothing to do with the Council of Trent

I think you meant to say ...nothing to do with [one of the Councils of Nicaea]?

Thanks, Joseph and Daniel, I fixed it.


>>Most Evangelicals today, including most Reformed Evangelicals, think faith is the one work that pleases God--the one thing God can't do that we must. That is directly contrary to Scripture, and thus to every Church father faithfully preaching the Gospel down through the ages.

It took me decades to get that and it still is a daily struggle to slough off decades of error.

It's shocking how many Evangelicals I know who have family and friends who are Roman Catholic and yet they think they're "saved" because they "talk about Jesus" too.

One of my friends will actually attend a "Mass" (how dishonoring to Christ!) when she visits her family in Minnesota. In fact just this past Saturday an Evangelical friend said she wouldn't "attack" the Roman Catholic Church or think poorly of it as some of her family is in it, so I said "Well I will!" It's a hell bound church with an apostate leader. No Gospel there. May the Lord be pleased to deliver people out of the darkness of the RCC into His Kingdom of light.

I was raised in it and most of my extended family is still in it including my older brother. My parents died in it.... I hate it.....

Thank you for standing on the truth, no matter how unpopular it is. What has Christ with Belial? 2 Cor. 6:15 It is indeed heresy.

Speaking of standing on the truth, I just received your dad's book I sent for and am looking forward to reading it. Thank you for continuing to make it available so "that he being dead still speaks".


I hesitate to write anything in response to can't reason with a man sold on man-made arguments...put another way, show a conspiracy theorist that he's wrong and he fills the vacuum with his new "air-tight" conspiracy.

HSY said: "You interpret Ephesians 2:8-9 your way, relying on Luther, Calvin, Knox, Williams, Wesley, etc. (2.) Catholics interpret Ephesians 2:8-9 through understanding the Book of James and the Whole Counsel of God."

Actually, you don't know how the Magisterium interprets Ephesians 2:8-9...or the book of Ephesians period...or any other book of the Bible.

You can't know...there are many reasons why.
1. The magisterium offers no infallible interpretations to date. It was brought to the attention of Trent's framers that the older Hebrew and Greek manuscripts did not agree with the a new translation was commissioned *after* Trent approved a non-existent version of the Bible (embarrassingly, Sixtus V sought to fulfill Trent's decree by offering his own translation with a papal bull to make it binding...he completed his translation, composed the papal bull then died before enacting it himself. Others decided his translation was heretical and chose to not circulate what he decreed from his authoritative seat). Five hundred years later, Pius XII issued an Encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu" which, in the Spirit of Trent, commended the advances of Protestants in gathering older manuscripts and working to translate the Scriptures more clearly...Pius XII understood that Trent decreed a Bible that didn't exist yet, which is why he commended such work...don't take my word for it, this is from Divino Afflante Spiritu:
"Nor should anyone think that this use of the original texts, in accordance with the methods of criticism, in any way derogates from those decrees so wisely enacted by the Council of Trent concerning the Latin Vulgate.[24] It is historically certain that the Presidents of the Council received a commission, which they duly carried out, to beg, that is, the Sovereign Pontiff in the name of the Council that he should have corrected, as far as possible, first a Latin, and then a Greek, and Hebrew edition, which eventually would be published for the benefit of the Holy Church of God."

The bottom line: Rome doesn't have a Bible yet. She's still looking for it! Not only that, she commends the work of Protestants...I guess we're closer to obeying Trent's decrees than Romanists are.

2. Given the above, that might explain why there is no infallible set of commentaries from Peter’s “successors”. But let’s say that edition of the bible did exist, why haven’t the PJs done this? Well, that brings us to three:

3. Even if Peter Junior (PJ) offered what he called “PJ’s Ex Cathedra Commentaries”, the truths proclaimed would be "true" but not necessarily how those truths were arrived at. So says the magisterium. Arriving at a set of true propositions is not the same thing as providing an infallible interpretation of the Word. Even if Trent had a Bible to offer the faithful, PJ can't even guarantee his interpretations, only propositional truths.

4. You said Rome interprets Eph 2 through the book of James and the “whole counsel of God”…I assume you mean Scripture. You do realize this is part and parcel to that Reformation “innovation” called sola scriptura? Don't forget, Rome still doesn't have the Scriptures. Also, don't forget points 1-3.

These are just a few arguments against Rome’s illegitimate claims. I'm sure there's some apologetic tap-dancing to Romanists might come up with to avoid these problems...but that underscores the fact that informed "faithful" Romanists aren't misguided saints but heretics suppressing the truth.

Thank you for making it clear that the debate is really between imputation and imputation-plus-infusion, but what I don't understand is this: who gets to define what faith is? Because even the Pope has said that if the definition of faith includes love, then he agrees with Martin Luther in salvation through faith alone. It's all in how you define it, it seems to me. I have gravitated towards Rome in large part because I can't figure out who or what church within Protestantism has the authority to define these rather important terms. And Rome obviously sees infusion in scripture as well as imputation, so there we have to decide who has the authority to interpret scripture with finality. I also don't completely understand the conflict between faith and works, in light of Augustine's comment when he said, "How can eternal life be both a reward for good works and the free gift of God? Because the good works themselves are the gift of God." That is what I understand the Roman Catholic position on works to be - if our works have any merit, it is because they are the gift of God, so in the end, it is all of God.

"In the light of the virtual Pelagianism of American religion (e.g., Protestantism without the Reformation), [Reformation soteriology] doesn't look that different [from Catholic soteriology]: At least Rome is semi-Augustinianism."

-WTS Professor of Theology and Apologetics, Dr. Michael Horton, "Is the Reformation Over?," October 20, 2011

Because the vast majority of Protestants are Pelagians, those denominations who subscribe to Reformation theology (PCA & OPC) no longer seem very far from Trent.

>>Because the vast majority of Protestants are Pelagians, those denominations who subscribe to Reformation theology (PCA & OPC) no longer seem very far from Trent.

If you actually read Horton you realize that he is saying that in the essentials Rome has not improved in a meaningful way since Trent. Recognizing failure and sin among American Protestants doesn't elevate Rome.

4 p.m., April 9, 1865: The Union didn't change their doctrines, but when Lee finds himself completely surrounded and cut off, he surrenders to Grant at the Appomattox Court House, Virgina.

For Luther's Reformation, it's now 4 p.m., April 9, 1865. Rome has not changed its soteriology: A Catholic is saved by ...

[NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: Since "Oxon" lied here, making it appear that Roman Catholics believe the same thing historic Protestants believe, I've removed it. Rome has never repudiated her heretical Council of Trent and allowing Roman Catholics to comment here in such a way that it confused simple historic Protestants as to what Roman Catholics really believe is lying and will not be allowed. Words have meanings and I'm happy for Roman Catholics to argue, here, that works save us--after all, THAT is what they believe. That's the whole meaning of infusion. That's the whole meaning of their treasury of merit. That's the whole meaning of their contra-Biblical doctrine of Purgatory. Let a Roman Catholic distinguish himself from historic Protestant doctrine, here, and he may be allowed to do so. But if a Roman Catholic comes on here and tries to hide what he believes, acting as if Roman Catholicism is actually historic Protestantism misunderstood, he'll find his deceptions deleted as I've deleted "Oxon's," here. I've also removed the link "Oxon" put up to an ECT document because their documents depend upon the same sort of equivocation that "Oxon" himself or herself was using. Forget private men in this battle. Trust the Council of Trent. Trust the declarations of the Vatican. Trust the Magisterium. Private men hobnobbing in Richard John Neuhaus' offices over in New York City are going to equivocate because they like each other. But as the Roman Catholic hierarchy indicated at the time, Neuhaus and his cronies don't speak for Rome. The Council of Trent--now THAT speaks for Rome! And I might add that I'm a charter subscriber to "First Things" and own every issue to this day. Fr. Neuhaus had his excellencies and his weaknesses, and ECT was one of those weaknesses.]

Like Lee, the OPC & PCA are now surrounded by their clear and present enemy, Pelagianism. In light of this ubiquitous heresy, "[Reformation theology] doesn't look that different [from Trent]: At least Rome is semi-Augustinian" (Horton), perhaps this is the moment when Dr. R.C. Sproul Sr. (on behalf of the dwindling PCA & OPC) surrenders.

"He who earns his living by his faith will eventually lose one or the other."
-Quote from my First Baptist (SBC) Single Adult Sunday School teacher

I guess it is too much to expect people quoting Horton to actually read Horton.

The following is a direct quote from the official Roman Catholic Church website:

"The present Joint Declaration has this intention: namely, to show that on the basis of their dialogue the subscribing Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God's grace through faith in Christ."

[NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: The following is a direct quote from Roman Catholic Ecumenical Council of Trent, which obliterates the authority of any document the Vatican or Neuhaus or some group of Roman Catholics and Lutherans publicize acting as if the Pope has called an "Allee Allee In Free":


CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

CANON XIV.-If any one saith that man is absolved from his sins and justified because he believes for certain that he is absolved and justified...and that by this faith alone absolution and justification are perfected: let him be anathema.

CANON XX.-If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

CANON XXX.-If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.

This is the reason orthodox Roman Catholics denounce the Join Declaration as "heretical." Trendy modern ones who like to mislead Protestants, deceiving them, act as if the the decrees of the Council of Trent are meaningless and we can just start over again, right now. True Roman Catholics, though, point out that the Council of Trent is still binding and that it itself doesn't allow the Join Declaration.

So read this:

And from the Protestant side--in fact, from Richard John Neuhaus' own "First Things," read this clear exposure of this ridiculous "Joint Declaration" that "Oxon" is so triumphant about:

Oxon, move on to something else, please. I don't want you deceiving souls here concerning what actually is the authoritative doctrine of your heretical church. Thank you.]

"I don't want you deceiving souls here concerning what actually is the authoritative doctrine of your heretical church."
-Pastors Bayly

If the Roman Catholic Church ever became a "heretical church," what was the event, including the year and day?

Yours in Christ,

That breeds a certain affection for our LCMS brethren...

Dear Tim,
I will never cease to be grateful to God for delivering me from the deception of Roman Catholicism. If any of your readers would take some time to read portions of the catechism of the RCC they would shiver at the devil's ability to paint something so near the truth and yet the great chasm between heaven and hell remains underneath it all.

The reality of Rome's salvation is seen in its fruit, which is not good fruit. I am speaking of the issue of certainty of salvation. How many Catholics do you know who have a certainty of their salvation? How many have you met who believe it is right to claim certainty? How can one be certain when he views works as a basis for justification instead of the fruit of justification? I know this all from my own experience and the experience of many other Roman Catholics.

Some months ago a woman attended a funeral at our church. She attends the local Catholic church. At the luncheon she told me that at a recent mass her parish priest told her that because she brought her wayward friend to mass that all her sins past, present and future were absolved. She told me this with the smile of one who had found the pearl of great price. She seemed so genuinely happy and at rest. God gave me the courage to tell her that her priest could not do this. I asked her to consider what had happened i.e. you did something and your priest rewarded you with forgiveness of sins. When I told her he could not do this, her face dropped, she was immediately concerned. I assured her that all her sins could be forgiven and not because she did something but because Christ did everything for her. There was reluctance to believe it. Her effort and the priest's promise gave her hope. The gospel promise that Jesus did it all for her left her doubting, how sad. Those moments reminded me how ferocious we must be about the false teachings of Rome.

I am grateful for your willingness to call Catholicism "heresy". We need to do this. It is hard I know. Some of us have been RC, many of us have relatives who still are. We admire their stance on life and other moral issues and the devil works very hard at getting us to go light on the doctrine of Rome because of these issues. As much as we care for the unborn, even that goal must not rise above Rome's false salvation.

Dear Tim,

One other matter...As we watch Rome it is interesting to me how increasingly it is the den of lies from other faiths. I am thinking initially of the day of prayer sponsored by John Paul II in 2002. You may remember that gathering in Assisi with virtually every world religion represented. Here is the breakdown of the participation:

(17) Orthodox Christian churches, (14) Anglican and Protestant communities, (30) Islamic leaders, (10) rabbis, as well as representatives from Buddhism, Tenrikyo, Shintoism, Jainism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism and traditional African religions.

This is the depository of the truth? Words fail me as I seek to describe how idolatrous, blasphemous and displeasing to God this event was. Wickedness! Can we imagine Peter and Paul calling for an event like this? This is Apostolic succession? My eye it is.

I also wanted to share this from the catechism of Rome concerning Islam:

The Church’s relationship with the Muslims: “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” (Catechism #841)

Did you know that Rome has declared that Christians and Muslims both adore the One, merciful God?

I marvel that the only vehemence Rome seems to have is toward Protestants. John Hus had to be burned and Tynedale killed but Muslims share in the plan of salvation and the pope can pray with Zoroastrians!

Let us keep using the word "heresy" and speak with boldness as we warn people to "come out from her".

If you're a Catholic priest, all you have to support is yourself. Your monthly pay is low to nil. If you desire to leave the priesthood, get married, have children etc, your financial commitments as a priest certainly afford you that flexibility. For this reason a practicing Catholic priest is likely to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (as best he understands the many nuances) about the Catholic faith.

However, if you're a Protestant pastor deriving a significant income by your preaching, then that income could impact your honesty. Especially, for conservative Protestant pastors who have a wife and 3, 4, 5 or more children, you're pretty much stuck in your ministry for decades to come -- regardless of what you believe -- or grow to not believe about Faith Alone, Sola Scriptura, etc.

For example, Faith Alone is an impossible doctrine. What about preaching in that formula? Isn't preaching necessary *before* faith according to the Bible? With no preachers there would be almost no faith and certainly no Church. But this doctrine boasts selfishly from the steepletop: "Faith Alone!" Not: "Preaching precedes Faith Alone!"

Further, if you preach Faith Alone loudly enough and long enough during the digital age, you'll eventually lose your church. Your congregation will take you at your word and the PCA's word

["The view that an individual is “elect” by virtue of his membership in the visible church ... but that this individual could lose his “election” if he forsakes the visible church, is contrary to the Westminster Standards." (Ref.; IV. Declarations, 2.)],

stay home and enjoy the best preachers there. Now that Protestantism's crown jewel -- preaching -- is 24/7 accessible, with millions of the best totally free online sermons, why would Protestants bother going to hear their local pastor preach, yet, another dull sermon?

However, as a conservative Protestant pastor, with a growing family and exponential financial obligations, you may be willing to entertain this in your heart, but you could never say a peep about them to another living soul, especially not your wife. No, you're forced to roar that old 16th Century battle cry: "Faith Alone!" until even your last elect member finally reads the PCA's Federal Vision Report (IV. Declarations, 2.) ... and returns not.

One trouble we have in engaging with the Roman church is that it is like China: that is, it is so large that whatever you say about it will be true at least some of the time. And related to that is the problem of what sort of Roman Catholic we are dealing with:

* The sort who still hold to the anathemas of the Council of Trent.

* The 'cultural Catholicism' of Europe, in many ways in decline.

* The Catholic writers on marriage & family life who are deeply respected and appreciated by the moderators of this site.

* Or, the ordinary Catholic Christians some of us know who *have* been justified by faith, tho' we really don't know how, and they probably don't know either.

This is not to minimise the doctrinal issues our moderators mentioned, far from it. But, years ago, and for whatever reason, I was hanging round a Catholic Charismatic group. I had, and have, no problem in acknowledging them as saved, born-again, whatever you call it. The time I had with them, before I called it a day for other reasons, was very positive.

Is this a paradox? Absolutely, and I would be interested as to what others think about it.

So are there true believers in the Roman Catholic church? I agree with Ross that there are. However, the question remains: Is the Roman Catholic church a true church? G.K. Chesterton (a Roman Catholic whom I greatly respect) once said that being in a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. In the same vein, I think it could be said that parking your car in the living room doesn't make the living room a garage. You can't say that the Roman church is a true, orthodox church just because there may be true believers in it. The only real test for orthodoxy of a church or an individual is the testimony of the Scriptures, a test which the
*official doctrine* of the Roman Catholic church has failed in multiple respects.


>>However, the question remains: Is the Roman Catholic church a true church?

Charles Hodge thought it was. Encrusted with all sorts of pernicious error but still a church.

#20 Elliot

I think I agree with your take on things, but will be interesting to see others' views.

Further - whatever we say about official doctrine, it may be the case that Rome has suffered from the same sort of 'confessional drift', at least in people's practice, that the rest of us have. We are not the only people for whom "the centre cannot hold".

"The sort who still hold to the anathemas of the Council of Trent."

This sort is official, and Rome's understanding of its own magisterium pretty well paints it into a corner. It cannot repudiate or change its own conciliar decrees (such as Trent, such as making Aquinas' explanation of the real presence, aka transubstantiation, dogma, and so forth.

The best I've seen Rome do is to play a game of weasel-words with its own decrees, when the only other option is to say "We were wrong" here or there. But, that would give up its claim to an infallible magisterium.


Great coinage, Bill: "self-checkmate."


If Roman Catholicism is a "medieval heresy," then why did Luther state the following?

"I would rather have only Christ's blood with the Romanists than just have mere wine with the Zwinglians.
-Dr. Martin Luther"

-Pastor Will Weedon, St. Paul Lutheran (Hamel IL), "Reformation Week," Issues Etc., October 24, 2011

"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."
-Jesus of Nazareth (John 6:53)

When John Calvin developed his theological novum, a "real spiritual presence" of Christ in Communion, he envisioned a congregation being transported up, Up, UP --- as if on an elevator --- into the very throne room of God.

Instead, Luther and earlier Christian leaders took Jesus at His Word: "This is My body."

Why wouldn't you join Luther and the Romanists at Christ's Table?

>>Why wouldn't you join Luther and the Romanists at Christ's Table?

Because Luther specifically taught that the bread and wine DO NOT become the body and blood of the Lord (see his Small Catechism). And Luther distinguished between the Calvinists and the Zwinglians on the matter of the Lord's Supper. That is why he would sign the Wittenberg Concord. That is why he had positive things to say about Calvin's treatise on the Lord's Supper. That is why he would take Bucer's hand when he would not take Zwingli's hand at Marburg. What Romanist's hand would Luther take?

Shorthand for the Reformation on the Lord's Supper; "This is my body" (Luther physically) (Calvin spiritually) (Zwingli no, no, no).

>>Luther and earlier Christian leaders took Jesus at His Word: "This is My body." Why wouldn't you join Luther and the Romanists at Christ's Table?

This is such bogus hocus-pocus.

Why wouldn't you take Jesus at His Word: "This is the cup..." But of course, it's never occurred to you that taking Jesus literally would require you to drink clay or porcelain or glass, so you take it metaphorically and cop a posture as if you're taking it literally. Put simply, if it's the bread, it's also the cup--not the wine in the cup. Jesus said "this is the cup," not "this is the wine."


"Luther specifically taught that the bread and wine DO NOT become the body and blood of the Lord"

"Lutherans expound a presence "in, with and under the forms" of bread and wine of communion."

Therefore, Luther thought of the Lord's Body in Communion in an ethereal sense. He considered the Lord's Body as metaphysically (spiritually) surrounding and even inside the bread & wine.

Apparently Calvin and Luther are in one accord on the "real spiritual presence" of Jesus at the Lord's Supper in this sense: With Calvin, each congregation goes UP spiritually to Heaven every Communion Sunday. However with Luther, Jesus spiritually comes DOWN and envelops each congregation's Lord's Supper every Lord's day. After Communion, Calvin's congregation would come back DOWN and in Luther's congregation, Jesus would go back UP.

Although Jesus left His Holy Spirit with us, therefore wouldn't Jesus' additional "spiritual" presence (that is, in addition to the Holy Spirit who is with us always) in a worship service be redundant and even confusing when considering these details?

Finally, what Bible passage substantiates either of these views on the Lord's Supper?

Where did Christ say the bread ceased to be bread?

>>Why wouldn't you join Luther and the Romanists at Christ's Table?

And what happened to this jewel?

"Where did Christ say the bread ceased to be bread?"

"This is My Body."

After the word "is."

"For he carried that body in his hands"
-St. Augustine, "Was Augustine a Protestant?"

>>After the word "is."

Scripture interprets scripture.

(1Co 11:23) For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,

(1Co 11:24) and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

(1Co 11:25) In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

(1Co 11:26) For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

(1Co 11:27) Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.

(1Co 11:28) Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

(1Co 11:29) For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

>>discerning the body

What did St. Paul mean?

>What did St. Paul mean?

That those who take the Lord's Supper should understand that what is offered is the body and blood of our Lord.

But note that while that is true he also says we eat bread when we take the Lord's Supper. Transubstantiation says "no bread." To which we must reply in obedience to scripture "no way."

>>Transubstantiation says "no bread." To which we must reply in obedience to scripture "no way."

"For he carried that body in his hands"
-St. Augustine, "Was Augustine a Protestant?"

Was St. Augustine wrong in his interpretation of Scripture? Or was St. Paul using metaphorical language at this point (i.e., "eat this bread and drink the cup") as we often refer to Christ as the "Lamb of God"?

>Or was St. Paul using metaphorical language at this point

You do realize the deep level of irony reached with that comment...

"Was Augustine a Protestant?" a previous poster asked. On the doctrine of the Eucharist, he was:

Augustine (On Christian Doctrine, 3:16:24)
If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime
or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it
is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or
vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is
figurative. 'Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,' says
Christ, 'and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.' This
seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure,
enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of
our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable
memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified
for us.

While I'm at it, was Jesus a Protestant on the subject of the Eucharist? Yes: John 6:63 (After the disciples were having a great deal of difficulty in comprehending his statement about the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he explained to them, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."

And, in response to an earlier post, here are some of the Fathers of the Church, writing on the subject of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to the believer:

Augustine (The Spirit and the Letter 15)
The righteousness of God is not that by which God is
righteous but that with which he clothes man when he
justifies the ungodly. To this the Law and the Prophets bear
witness….The righteousness of God is not manifested outside
the law, since in that case it could not have been witnessed
to in the law. It is a righteousness of God apart from the law
because God confers it on the believer through the Spirit of
grace without the help of the law.

Mathetes (The Epistle to Diognetus, 9)
As long then as the former time endured, He permitted us to
be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the
desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at
all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them;
nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then
was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of
righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our
unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it
should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us;
and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable
to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power
of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its
height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward,
punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the
time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting
His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through
exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor
thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but
showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took
on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a
ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless
One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous,
the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One
for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of
covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one
was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be
justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O
unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all
expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a
single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One
should justify many transgressors!

Eusebius (Demonstratio Evangelica, 1:10)
And then 'He made him sin for our sakes who knew no sin,' and
laid on Him all the punishments due to us for our sins,
bonds, insults, contumelies, scourging, and shameful blows,
and the crowning trophy of the Cross. And after all this when
He had offered such a wondrous offering and choice victim to
the Father, and sacrificed for the salvation of us all, He
delivered a memorial to us to offer to God continually
instead of a sacrifice.

The above patristic quotes are just a sampling of the more than 75 pages I have of such quotes that refute various current dogmas of Rome. I will be happy to forward the entire batch to anyone interested. You may contact me via email through ClearNote Church, Bloomington.

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