"But Tim, there are real Christians in the Roman Catholic Church!"

For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. - Galatians 6:13, 14

Ideas have consequences. So does doctrine. That there are true Christians who trust the blood of Jesus Christ alone to make their garments white who worship in the Roman Catholic church is no less extraordinary for being true. They are the exception that proves the rule. They go against the grain of their entire doctrinal system and many Anglicans and Protestants across the centuries put their life at risk to recover Biblical doctrine, calling to those in the Roman bondage to repent and believe. Those who imply that Luther and Calvin and Knox were fools for doing so are ignorant of what Scripture and Rome teach, or they are opposed to the very idea that ideas have consequences and that it is the job of the Church to make disciples of all men, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything He commands.

But really, we do run into the most basic failures of logic in our blind world. Systems of doctrine which are heretical (of which Rome is our primary example, here) are generally held by those who align themselves with the churches who claim that system of doctrine. What a world we live in that we must say such an inane thing!

Which is to say, priests sacrifice Christ over and over again... This is the primary duty of their ordination. They are priests, after all—not pastors—and they preside over the sacrifice of the Mass. This is contrary to the "once and done" teaching of Hebrews (e.g. Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 28; 10:10).

Does it matter?

Luther and Calvin and Knox thought it does. And you? Or are generalizations so distasteful to you that you will never allow that any system of doctrine can be denounced as heretical, nor that any person who is a member of the communion holding to that system of doctrine can be expected to hold to that heresy and be in spiritual jeopardy because of their membership in that heretical communion?

Ideas have consequences. Doctrine has consequences. Rome has anathematized my faith and doctrine for over half a millenium, now, and they're right to do so if their dogma is what Scripture declares. So I reciprocate and anathematize their system of doctrine (as they have mine) because I know their system of doctrine is a fulsome denial of Romans and Galatians, for starters. But I don't stop there: I go on to the work of warning Roman Catholics to leave the dead to bury their dead, to turn away from the dead and enter Christ's true church where the doctrine of salvation has not been (and is not) corrupted by the systematic monetization of justification-not-by-faith-alone which is the heart of their error and which, tragically, their purported "ecumenical council" of Trent deposited permanently at the center of their church.

Do we really care for souls? Do we really love anyone? Do we really see deceptions and grieve over them, or are we simply committed to the laissez-faire spirituality Rodney King summarized best when he spoke for a decadent age, asking "Can't we all get along?"

The Apostle Paul writes the book of Galatians defending the doctrine of justification by faith alone and we respond, how? "Oh, Paul, there you go again getting on your high horse! Don't you know how many sincere and well-meaning Judaizers there are? And how can you know men's hearts? How harsh you are, Paul, telling them that, while they're at it, you wish they'd just go ahead and cut it all off. Grow up, Paul; are you a misanthrope? Take a chill pill, dude! I mean, really!"

Now you might resent my putting it this way, but in every discussion with weak and sentimental moderns we find that the exception to the rule is all that matters—never the rule.

Roman Catholicism is a heresy and its main heretical dogma is most clearly seen in the Tridentine documents which, according to church law, can never—may never—be repealed. Which is to say the magisterium is stuck down a mine shaft they can never escape without denying one more false doctrine which is the authority of church tradition.

And their false doctrine really does lead most of the souls under the care of those defending and teaching and preaching and practicing that false doctrine to Hell.

If all we ever feel compelled to say is that there are some people who are real Christians in the Roman Catholic Church and some parish priests who don't sodomize little boys, what have we said that anyone needs to hear?

Nothing—nothing at all. Everyone knows it and no one will argue with it.

Which really is why saying it is so very popular.

But what does a true Christian shepherd say to Rome and her subjects?

A true Christian shepherd says to Rome and her shepherds what the Apostle Paul says in Galatians: if you continue to trust your sacraments and good works to save you, there is no hope for you of eternal life.

We need to keep in mind the statement that we moderns are given over to the morbid habit of sacrificing the normal on the altar of the abnormal. Rome is blind masters leading their blind subjects further into their blindness. That is the norm with Rome and unkindness is not saying it, but failing to say it.

The abnormal is Roman priests and parishioners who reject Rome's heresies and truly believe in the work of Christ alone for their salvation; souls who trust in Jesus Christ and, therefore, love God and their neighbor. Faith working through love. But such souls are the exception to the rule and we must not focus on these abnormalities so we may not have to blow the trumpet warning of the normalities of the false doctrine Rome is steeped in to her neck.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Tim,

Thank you for this timely response.  I do fear that Protestants have for too long been more eager to stand side-by-side with Rome on "moral grounds" than to defend the Gospel.  The moral thing is to rescue those for whom are duped by the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).  Sadly, I see many Protestants eager to work alongside the new leadership of Rome than to be concern for the correction of her understanding of the Gospel.

There seems to be a minority of Protestants that seem to remember that they are still in Protest.  It would be a glorious day if the RCC denounces the teachings of the Council of Trent.  Until that time comes, we must warn and share the dangers of their teachings to those who belong in hopes of winning even a few to the Kingdom!

Soli Deo Gloria 

Thank you again Tim. Two days ago I was in one of these conversations and said, "An 'evangelical' Roman Catholic is like a man in a Nazi uniform insisting he loves baseball, apple pie and Chevrolets. If he means it, let him take off the uniform."

Tim, you offer a great post with excellent insight.  Thanks for calling attention to the great Reformers who paid such a cost to reclaim the Gospel.  From my perspective, there is a different question that should be addressed.  In Roman Catholicism, the Bible is read in the services.  It is very much a possibility that there are those there who have trusted in Christ alone for their salvation (in spite of the context in which the Scriptures are heard).  There may be those among that group who have heard the testimony of Scripture and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus.  It is another concern to argue that they should align themselves with another community of faith.  In my experience, limited though it may be, some may simply not be paying attention to the doctrinal issues you raise.  In their minds, they love the Lord and are hearing a message.  Though that is not an excuse for their choices, it is an attempt to understand such people.  While I agree that we should not cease our efforts to clarify these issues, I would also want to keep my heart open that God may have saved some solely through the witness of the Word of God. 

As the post says,  a Protestant who argues that a  true Roman Catholic can be saved must deal with the fact that a true Roman Catholic believes that a true Protestant  (or Greek Orthodox) is damned.  I happened to look this up yesterday after Pastor Killingsworth preached a sermon on “the holy catholic church” in the Apostle’s Creed.  The modern position is well-expressed in this  1856 papal encyclical:      “There is only one See founded on Peter by the word of the Lord (St. Cyprian, Epistle 43), outside of which we cannot find either true faith or eternal salvation. He who does not have the Church for a mother cannot have God for a father, and whoever abandons the See of Peter on which the Church is established trusts falsely that he is in the Church.   ... Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control."  http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9singul.htm      Thus, an adult,  literate, Protestant  is damned no matter what, though a child or a pagan who has not heard the Gospel might be saved by extraordinary grace.   That’s a moderated position. The Council of Trent put  it more strongly. The 2013 position of the Roman See seems to be the same, but with intentional lack of clarity and more emphasis on  the virtuous pagan:    "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation" (Second Vatican Council,  Lumen Gentium, 16)." cited in  “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extra_Ecclesiam_nulla_salus

   Of course,  just because the true Roman thinks I am damned does not mean I have to think he is damned too.  As I understand it,  the orthodox Protestant position is that the Roman may well be saved despite his sinful errors, since the elect are forgiven much worse things than incorrect beliefs about their neighbors. (The Roman’s blasphemous belief that God commands cannibalism, for example,  is a far greater sin.) 

>>just because the true Roman thinks I am damned does not mean I have to think he is damned too.

No, dear Eric; not on an emotional level; I agree.

But if he anathematizes your faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone, at some point you 'fess up admitting he got you right and that is your faith. That this is your only hope in life and in death, so you must admit either he's right and you're wrong or you're right and he's wrong.

Again, this is not personal. It's no grudge match. It's theological. Doctrinal. It's a disagreement over dogma—if, that is, anyone at this late date is still able to grant there is such a thing as objective doctrinal commitments, something other than the personal and political?

Someone once said something like our problem isn't that we don't understand each other or that we dislike each other. Our problem is that we both understand each other perfectly and see clearly that our positions are mutually exclusive. Orthodox Roman Catholics see this and with a heavy heart I agree with them.

The destiny of man's soul hangs in the balance and this is why we reciprocate the Roman Catholic's Tridentine anathema. If any man teaches and preaches that justification is not by faith alone, but rather that the work of Christ remains incomplete until the charity of man is given in response and joined to it, let him be anathema.

So say I. From love of God and man.

Truly.

I don't disagree about the crucial importance of doctrine, and that we can't afford to grey out the differences. But I am left thinking that we are up against an immense paradox here.

We think of Catholicism as a doctrinal monolith, but what people believe is definitely another matter. One byproduct of what I have heard called, "cafeteria Catholicism", is that we have many Catholics who are saved. We have known for years in Protestantism that "the centre cannot hold"; well, I am left thinking that it cannot hold in Catholicism either.

Dear Pastor Tim,

This is very helpful, and I really needed to hear it said this matter-of-factly.  I have some catholics in my life, and I am afraid to speak to them.  

I know that their central heresy is that justification is not by faith in Christ alone.  Yet I find myelf thinking, "O, I'm not really sure what to say to them.  It's so confusing.  And aren't I making a big deal over such a subtle, insignificant difference?"

The fact that I find myself thinking this way exposes my remaining self-righteous mindset....my unbelief.  I know that this is issue of justification by faith in Christ alone is not a "subtle, insignificant difference" in our theology.  I know that!!  And yet...

By God's grace may I, may we, continue to repent of this unbelief!

"Our problem is that we both understand each other perfectly and see clearly that our positions are mutually exclusive."

I'll disagree with both of these assertions.

You write above: "priests sacrifice Christ over and over again".

This is not a correct statement of Catholic doctrine. During the Mass, Christ's once-and-for-all-time sacrifice is re-presented. He is in no way re-sacrificed.

This is a common mis-perception among Protestants. It cannot be said that anyone with such as incorrect view of Catholic doctrine rightly understands what the Church teaches.

On the second point, most Protestant readers also mis-interpret the anathemas in the Council of Trent. Most of the anathemas do not apply to Protestants who are not anti-nominan. Had I more time, I would go into this in detail. Unfortunately, I will be traveling for the next few days and my Internet access may be limited.

For now, I will simply quote chapter 8 of the sixth session of the Council of Trent. I do believe that we can both agree with this passage:

"And whereas the Apostle saith, that man is justified by faith and freely, those words are to be understood in that sense which the perpetual consent of the Catholic Church hath held and expressed; to wit, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all Justification; without which it is impossible to please God, and to come unto the fellowship of His sons: but we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justification-whether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace."

In Christ, John

John Callaghan said:

This is not a correct statement of Catholic doctrine. During the Mass, Christ's once-and-for-all-time sacrifice is re-presented. He is in no way re-sacrificed.

I'm afraid you may be anathematized.

Council of Trent
ON THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS.

CANON I.--If any one saith, that in the mass a true and proper sacriflce is not offered to God; or, that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat; let him be anathema.

CANON II.--If any one saith, that by those words, Do this for the commemoration of me (Luke xxii. 19), Christ did not institute the apostles priests; or, did not ordain that they, and other priests should offer His own body and blood; let him be anathema.

CANON III.--If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema.

John Callaghan said:

On the second point, most Protestant readers also mis-interpret the anathemas in the Council of Trent. Most of the anathemas do not apply to Protestants who are not anti-nominan. 

In a sense, you're correct. The Council failed to properly define crucial doctrines we hold to because they either a) did not understand them, or b) purposefully misrepresented them. Seeing that the Council was started in response to Protestantism, it would be disingenous to say it wasn't trying to anathematize Protestants.

Perhaps you disagree, but you're in no position to interpret it (if you're a faithful Roman "Catholic", that is).

Council of Trent
BULL OF OUR MOST HOLY LORD PIUS IV., BY PROVIDENCE OF GOD, POPE, TOUCHING THE CONFIRMATION OF THE OECUMENICAL (AND) GENERAL COUNCIL OF TRENT.

Furthermore, in order to avoid the perversion and confusion which might arise, if each one were allowed, as he might think fit, to publish his own commentaries and interpretations on the decrees of the Council ; We, by apostolic authority, forbid all men, as well ecclesiastics, of whatsoever order, condition, and rank they may be, as also laymen, with whatsoever honor and power invested ; prelates, to wit, under pain of being interdicted from entering the church, and all others whomsoever they be, under pain of excommunication incurred by the fact, to presume, without our authority to publish, in any form, any commentaries, glosses, annotations, scholia, or any kind of interpretation whatsoever of the decrees of the said Council.

If it's true that Protestants don't understand RCC teaching, then it's just as true that 99.99% of the RCC membership don't understand it either. The RCC really teaches justification by faith alone (so it is said), but all the Catholics you'll find are praying for the dead and making "penance" by reciting an incantation. Bowing down to images isn't really a violation of God's 2nd commandment, but there's your old aunt praying to her statue of St. Anthony because she lost something. The Mass isn't really sacrificing Jesus again, even though the "priest" says "Pray that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God" over the bread. Bread which is magically transformed into Jesus body (I must be mad to speak this way), and then is broken. Protestants don't understand RCC doctrine which really, deep down is true to the Scriptures, but as Tim said, I think we understand it very well.

I spent the first 18 years of my life in Catholic church, and I was paying attention. I had a true faith in God while I was there (albeit sick and weak faith), but when God started to work in my life and call me away from the sins I was living in I knew immediately that I had to leave that behind and worship in a church where true faith was taught, and where I had better chance than .01% of finding fellowship with real believers. I came to learn that (contrary to many young Internet evangelists) that the true measure of a church is not its doctrinal statements on paper (buried deep away in the vaults of Rome), but the practice of its worship, the teaching which becomes ingrained in its members, and the fruit of holiness which is borne in the long term.

Which is why I am a bit skeptical when I hear Protestants talking about all the "true believers" they know over there in the RCC. Those "true believers" are usually so spiritually sick that any life that they claim to have is in constant danger of being choked out by all the evil superstitions they have to endure. What kind of "true believer" could enjoy walking into God's house of worship surrounded by detestable images? What kind of "true believer" could kneel in homage week after week while a priest crucifies the Lord again to His shame? What kind of "true believer" could thrive in a church where he's ten times as likely to hear a superstitious encouragement to pray to some saint as he is to hear a word of rebuke or encouragement from the Bible? Perhaps there are some real reformers that God is raising up to work on that church from the inside out, but they must be aware of these dangers to their souls and in constant grief about the dangerous calling they have.

Matt Hoover

Craig, thanks for that.  I think Canon III is the one that really nails the problem.

What kind of "true believer" could enjoy walking into God's house of worship surrounded by detestable images?

Ah, that would be Martin Luther.

"doctrinal statements on paper (buried deep away in the vaults of Rome)"

Goodness! I must have been given secret access to a well-guarded cache of documents. How came I to be so privileged that I have discovered the vault's location and secret access codes like a heroine in a Dan Brown novel? For I have free access to encyclicals and letters and all manner of church documents. I am able to read them freely and even have some secreted in a super-secret, extra special device called a Kindle!

i wonder if I can make my fortune by selling my copies odocuments hidden documents?

One might as well say the Westminster Confession, etc are deeply hidden in vaults under John Knox's house on the Royal Mile or some other such nonsense for all the attention paid to those documents in some Reformed bodies. Not to mention the heretical beliefs held to and taught By the graduates of some of our (ahem) finer Evangelical institutions of lighter learning. 

http://www.redeemer.com/connect/prayer/resources.html

before criticising finer evangelical institutions - have a look at who has started to use counter reformation mysticism.

(I am also certain that this is the key link in the increased use of intinction - thoughts?)

Can you please share which of those resources originate with the counter-reformation?

To be precise, mysticism did not originate in the counter reformation , but was a significant plank in the RC strategy . The mystical practice of Lectio Divina, starts with a breathing exercise, includes repeating words and phrases, moves through a slow read of a portion of scripture (but can be any writing, poetry..) and then into a contemplative phase, searching out that silence within where one finds God present. You should know that Jan Johnson is steeped in Madam Guyon (and her mentor Fenelon, who was sent by the RCC to convert the Huguenot back to mother church)

so try resource 5 and 13

 

A moral mudslide (including evolution, materialism, contraception, abortifacients, no-fault divorce, abortion, sterilization, homosexuality, IVF, handheld pornography, gay adoption, embryonic stem cell research, homosexual scout leaders and SSM) is shearing the western family and church from their historic moorings. Meanwhile Protestants and Catholics poke each other in the eye (a la Larry, Moe and Curly) over which Christian team has the gospel football (WCF v. Trent)? Good grief. Now one of the most strident defenders of the Reformed gospel, Pastor John Piper, stated this last week: "I am thankful that God is willing to save us even when our grasp of the gospel may be partial or defective. None of us has a comprehensive or perfect grasp of it (sola fide)." (March 14, 2013) So either the gospel is that hard, that obscure or we're that muddle-headed. Whatever the case, apparently God's grace even covers 21th century gross imbecility. By Piper's definition and evident reason, Tim, there are boatloads of Christians in the Roman Catholic Church. SDG! Love,

all good stuff .   Be mindful that the protectors and defenders of the pre- born ,  the proclaimers of God's truth about marriage , for many decades have been virtually only the Romans , at least here in NW Ohio .   Yes, others have come on the scene as of the last few years,  welcome aboard !     Rome's  missteps , sins are many ,  but many have a heart for God , He leads them toward Him still.    David and Tim,   one of your biggest allies in defending life, babies,  and the truth of God's say of life and marriage is the local bishop Blair .    Reject him ,   rebuke him,   but he is one of the few locally with kahonies to stand tall against the culture. He takes much heat from his own people for this too.

>>By Piper's definition and evident reason, Tim, there are boatloads of Christians in the Roman Catholic Church.

No disagreement, here. Furthermore, there are boatloads of unbelievers in orthodox Reformed churches. But we're still left with one system that teaches and preaches the Gospel and one that teaches and preaches heresy leading souls to Hell. This must be said, again and again.

Love,

>>he is one of the few locally with kahonies to stand tall against the culture. He takes much heat from his own people for this too.

May God bless him for it. Truly.

Love,

Matthew Hoover's comment about the difference between a church's theology in documents and in practice is perceptive. It can work both ways, though. On some points---image worship--- Roman Catholic documents are better than its practice, and its sophisticates better than its common people. On others--- the mass as a sacrifice, transubstantiation, the Immaculate Conception--- the more ignorant the worshipper, the better, and there the ordinary Catholic's  ignorance of   his church's position is a good thing. Viewed in terms of what doctrines are actually believed by its members, the Roman Catholic church is extraordinarily diverse, especially in view of the apparent homogeneity of beliefs in the Vatican City and the official centralization of doctrine. 

     I like his comment, too, because it points to a big practical problem that Reformed folk are particularly apt to miss: that a church can get every detail of salvation by faith correct in its documents,  and teach everyone the catechism, but still have 99% of its members believe in their hearts that they are saved by works. But I guess that's why it's important to get the documents reasonably correct; our hearts need all the help they can get.

leading souls to hell ?  -- when I was a practicing Cath, I had a simple faith and devotion to Christ .   It's intellectual heavyweights who slug out this dogma stuff .   Yes,  the dogma is still wrong ,  Rome is an old lady with alot of needless baggage .  But this bad doctrine seldom if ever  comes up before the common believer.   She has begun to shed some of it  ( post Vatican ll )  .  Let's see if she continues to come to the light .    I still see her a positive force leading folk toward Christ  .   No , not the church I would pick ,  but one God can still use . 

>>one that teaches and preaches heresy leading souls to Hell. 

One more poke in the eye, Tim? ;)

Love,

Craig,

You'll notice that the Canons you quote do not refer to the mass as a "re-sacrifice". Nor will you find the term in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/cat...) Here's how it describes the relevant section of the mass:

1353 In the institution narrative, the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all.

Jimmy Akin has what I'm sure is a very useful explanation here: http://jimmyakin.com/2011/07/video-do-catholics-re-sacrifice-christ.html (Unfortunately, I cannot view it from my current location.)

The Council of Trent followed the practice of previous councils in condemning errors by definition rather than individuals by name. In any case, it would not have been possible, even back then, to point to a single "Protestant" position on most matters, including Justification.

Unfortunately, people all too commonly read the Council of Trent simply with intention of finding out where Protestants have been anathematized, rather than with a view toward understanding the full Catholic teaching on Justification.

This may be why Pius IV reserved the right to publish interpretations of the Council to himself: to prevent the Council's writings from being used as a weapon in the ongoing religious conflict. (He subsequently delegated the publishing task to others.) 

In Christ,

John

<<One more poke in the eye, Tim? ;)

I didn't mean it that way; I meant it as a warning, dear brother.

Love,

Appeals to Rome's "official interpretation" of its own canons are just so much blather, and that because of ~Rome's own dissembling and equivocation~ when it comes to its own spokesmen. 

Case in point: Francis' supposed "eucharistic discipline" concerning politicians who support and advance abortion. Who shows up at his own intallation mass but Biden and Pelosi.  And who gets served the Pope's communion? Why Biden and Pelosi.

It wasn't Biden or Pelosi who "stirred controversy." It was Francis, who like other Popes says one thing and does another, or says different things depending on the audience.

Francis turns out to be another empty suit, talking a nice talk, but walking a crooked walk. No wonder the Catholics can't get their act together.

John,
you are the one who introduced the word “re-sacrifice” and based on your comment above (and Jimmy Akin’s video), you’ve also introduced your own limiting definition of “re-sacrifice”. Not to speak for Tim, but I doubt he intended to mean the priest hides a flux capacitor under his gown so he can go back to Calvary and participate in sacrificing Christ.

Here’s what Tim said originally that prompted your comment:

Which is to say, priests sacrifice Christ over and over again... This is the primary duty of their ordination. They are priests, after all—not pastors—and they preside over the sacrifice of the Mass. This is contrary to the "once and done" teaching of Hebrews (e.g. Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 28; 10:10).

Rome feigned concern over the “legal fiction” of imputed righteousness while she publishes lie after lie attempting to reconcile her words with the plain teaching of scripture. The Roman priests offer a “propitiatory sacrifice” to God at the Mass (Canon III). If they offer it, it is another sacrifice. Saying it is re-presented is to say that it is again given. It has to mean this; otherwise you are left with a commemoration (which is resolutely condemned in Trent), or you are left affirming what you began this discussion attempting to refute.

Canon I makes it clear that it is a continual present offering to God. What is being offered to God? A sacrifice. But your wordsmithing is an attempt to make it sound like the priest is participating in the original and conferring it; not sacrificing again, rather, offering what was once for all.

Following that line of reasoning; if the priest is making an offering to God, what is he giving that has not already been given since you agree the sacrifice was once for all? If the sacrifice was once for all and complete, then you must say the priest offers nothing to God. If that is the case, you can’t really call it a sacrifice.

Trent does call it a sacrifice. So I am going to assume you will, too.

Either priests sacrifice Christ again, contradicting Hebrews, or priests participate in slaying Christ presently in the past at every Mass. Which is to say, ironically; the very thing you tried to refute is beginning to look like what you actually affirm! Perhaps newly ordained priests are also issued flux capacitors!

These are really your only options (#3 and 4 if you want to affirm Trent):
1. Mass is not a sacrifice - Trent is contradicted.
2. Mass is not a sacrifice but a re-presenting of that once for all sacrifice - Trent is contradicted.
3. Mass is a sacrifice offered to God and is propitiatory - Blasphemy. Trent is affirmed and Hebrews contradicted.
4. Mass is a participation of the priest in sacrificing Christ on Calvary - Blasphemy. Trent is contradicted. Priests stand in need of repentance as preached by Peter who called the Jews to repentance for killing Jesus (Acts 2:36-40). Also, priests are issued flux capacitors.

John said:

Unfortunately, people all too commonly read the Council of Trent simply with intention of finding out where Protestants have been anathematized, rather than with a view toward understanding the full Catholic teaching on Justification.

I’m one of those weird Protestants who actually reads Roman councils and encyclicals online. My background includes legal research and writing and my current position involves lots of legal review, contract revision, and more (not an attorney)…not tooting my own horn (it's not braggable, trust me)…it’s just a fact that when you do this you tend to pick up on obfuscation, convenient loopholes, and equivocation very quickly. Just part of the job. It’s no coincidence that, years ago, many theologians were also students of law. You have two kinds of men who end up in law: careful, and cunning. Rome persuades men through cunning.

John said:

(He subsequently delegated the publishing task to others)

Yes, but did he ever delegate the publishing of opinions and interpretations of the decrees of the Council to laymen? Keep on publishing your interpretations of the decrees if you like. You're at variance with them. Just thought I’d warn you.

Thank you, Craig, for doing this superb work. We're all helped immensely.

Love,

>>  I still see her a positive force leading folk toward Christ.

No. Impossible.

Ryan wrote:

To be precise, mysticism did not originate in the counter reformation , but was a significant plank in the RC strategy . The mystical practice of Lectio Divina, starts with a breathing exercise, includes repeating words and phrases, moves through a slow read of a portion of scripture (but can be any writing, poetry..) and then into a contemplative phase, searching out that silence within where one finds God present. 

This is a side issue, but Lectio Divina is not limited to the RC church. It is also practiced in some Anglican and Lutheran churches. So if you consider it sinful, don't just condemn the RC church for their practice of it. Personally, I don't know enough about it to have an opinion one way or the other.

Tim, you wrote, in part:

Or are generalizations so distasteful to you that you will never allow that any system of doctrine can be denounced as heretical, nor that any person who is a member of the communion holding to that system of doctrine can be expected to hold to that heresy and be in spiritual jeopardy because of their membership in that heretical communion?

I don't want this to sound flip, but yes, I'll call the LDS (Mormon) Church, the Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientists, the Pentecostals who don't believe in the Trinity [to name several] heretical any day, any time. 

Sure, I don't believe that everything that the RC church is correct (or I'd be a member), but I do not believe that their views are heretical either, especially on the "street level".  I can also see a great change from the time when I was growing up and a greater change from when my parents (particularly my father) were growing up. RC priests and church members now consider Protestants and Anglicans fellow Christians (although we are outside of the "true fold"). When I was in elementary school, my RC relatives had to get some kind of dispensation to even attend a marriage of non-RC friends or relatives. Now they can even serve as lay readers or attendants in Protestant or Anglican weddings. At my sister-in-law's wedding ~20 years, ago her husband's RC priest even gave the homily at their wedding even though they had an Episcopalian ceremony and did not pledge to raise their children in the RC church.

I know this may offend some people but I also believe that denominations who consider baptism and the Eucharist/Holy Communion to be ordinances rather than sacraments to be in error. I don't think this belief will send anyone to hell, but neither do I think the views of many, many RCC members who do trust in Christ as their Savior as the way to their salvation even though they may have some other aberrant views will go to hell either. 

Tim, you also wrote:

Which is to say, priests sacrifice Christ over and over again... This is the primary duty of their ordination. They are priests, after all—not pastors—and they preside over the sacrifice of the Mass. 

Well, could part of the reason for this be the current shortage of priests in the West? Maybe they don't have the time to provide the pastoral care that they used to be able to provide when there are one or maybe two priests for a parish of say, 2,000 members. Or where one priest has to serve several rural parishes? 

I obviously can only discuss what little bit I know about the pastoral care my RC friends and relatives have received; some has been mediocre, some has been excellent. When I was a Protestant, the pastor in my last Protestant church (before I became an Episcopalian, then Anglican) talked about his relationship with the RC priest in their small city in his former call. They met regularly to pray and encourage each other, and also discuss how they could better serve the needs of their respective flocks. 

I also occasionally listen to a local RC radio station when I'm in the car. Many of their teaching programs discuss the Bible and their call-in programs also do so.

I've said more than enough. I pray that more people may be won to Christ and subsequently joins any church or denomination that is part of "one holy catholic and apostolic church".

P.S. Tim, I wasn't trying to ignore you. I started a new job (temp, but it brings in some needed income, and is a resume builder) on Monday, and have had very little Internet time except for necessity until today.

Sue,

One thing you may wish to consider that the RCC in America isn't identical to the RCC in some other parts of the world.  Rome says it is one church so in a sense they can't just be judged on their North American face.  Rome isn't quite as gentle in some other locations.

Dear Sue,

Congrats on your new job!

Since Trent, Rome has been heretical at the very core of its doctrine regarding the doctrine of justification which is the heart of the Gospel. Those who minimize its heresy don't understand Rome, nor its impact on its members. The vast majority of Protestants think the disagreement between Rome and Protestantism is niggling. Those who listen to this blog know otherwise, or should.

But if those who dismiss Rome's heresy had been around when the Apostle Paul was writing Galatians, they would have explained to him how he was missing the point, also.

Sorry to have to say these things, but that's it.

Love,

David Gray,

You have a point to consider. I presume that the RCC in the UK,  Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries that share similar values would be like the RCC in North America.

I don't know about what the RCC is like in where it's growing most -- Africa and Asia. I hope and pray that it is living and dynamic and that it doesn't have the rigid stronghold over the population like it does that it does in large parts of South America, for example.

On the other hand, as I understand it, the RCC faces losing membership to evangelical Protestants (especially charismatics) in South America. And Pope Francis seems to be a breath of fresh air in the Vatican.

P.S. Just for grins, I've never posted on any blog before during halftime of a NCAA tournament game.

Tim,

Thanks for the congratulations on the new job. I've gotten out of the habit of getting up before sunrise, but I'm sure it will grow on me :).

I don't think I have much to add to this thread and we will always disagree on this issue.

However, our rector (and our denomination, the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA], I'm sure) sees the RCC and its members as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have no active effort to evangelize their members or any other Christians; we want to reach the unchurched, lapsed Christians of any denomination who would like to become Anglicans, or non-Christians, but we don't "steal sheep".  

We welcome anyone baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to share the Eucharist with us, so that includes RCs. On the other hand, the ACNA is not trying to unite or have altar and pulpit fellowship with the RCC (nor would the RCC want us to, I'm sure.) But have you heard about the North American Lutheran Church? They are comprised of congregations who broke away from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) when they started allowing non-celibate homosexuals to serve as clergy and allowing clergy to perform "so-called" same-sex marriages where they were legal or same-sex commitment ceremonies where they were not? Like the ACNA, their stance on homosexuality was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back after years of fighting the lack of adherence to Biblical adherence in their former denomination. The ACNA and the North American Lutheran Church consider themselves "close relatives living in the same duplex" and are considering altar and pulpit fellowship, I believe.

Love in Christ,

Sue

P.S. If you are an IU basketball fan, good luck in the NCAA tournament. You have a great team and several of your players seem like they are young men with character. Unfortunately, the WI Badgers just didn't play well enough to win (I watched the replay of the game online earlier today). 

I truly loathe the term "sheep stealing."  The only way that term makes sense is if the differences between tradition have no real meaning.  And Rome doesn't hesitate to proselytize among Protestants, it is simply that their methods and targets are different than those typical among evangelicals.  Even if someone in the Roman church, or to some degree any other church, is regenerate you should always seek to worship where the word is most rightly preached, the sacraments most rightly administered and church discipline is rightly applied.  And persuading somebody to step closer to the truth is only a good thing, not "sheep stealing."  Otherwise somebody better tell Frank Beckwith to leave Rome now.

David Gray,

About "sheep stealing":

Well, of course, none of us in our local parish or our denomination would be Anglicans if we didn't think it was the denomination that it was the most Biblical. Of course, we'd like to see as many new Anglicans as possible.

Having said that, we recognize that other Christian denominations are also part of "one holy apostolic and catholic church".  We're not going to say, for example, going to say that Baptists aren't true Christians because they believe that baptism and Holy Communion/Eucharist are ordinances rather than sacraments and that they don't believe in infant baptism. Or that Methodists aren't Christians because they don't support apostolic succession as we do (although differently than the RCC does), and so on. So we don't actively evangelize people who are part of most Christian denominations or individual congregations/parishes that still carry the marks of "one holy catholic and apostolic church".

It is different, though, if a member has a friend, neighbor, coworker, or relative that expresses disappointment in his or her church/denomination or is curious about our faith. Then it's both our joy and our responsibility to tell them about our own faith story and relationship to Christ and then invite him or her to "Come and See!" (our church's motto); that is, attend church with us. Others may do this differently, but I personally plant a seed in advance by offering to pray with or for anyone who tells me about any difficulty or problem in his or her life. 

The ACNA is also seriously interested in planting new churches throughout the U.S. and Canada, and in building up parishes that broke off from (or were kicked out of) their former Episcopalian parishes.  And like I wrote earlier, we want to introduce non-Christians, lapsed Christians, and the unchurched to our Anglican faith.

I hope this clarifies what I meant by "not stealing sheep".

P.S. Anglicans are not Protestants. So if the RCC tries to evangelize us, they aren't evangelizing Protestants :).

Anglicans aren't Protestants and Roman Catholics are Presbyterians and scratch a Baptist and under his skin you'll find that every one of them is actually a Wisconsin Synod Evangelical Lutheran.

And Henry VIII was a godly reformer and every baptized Brit is a Christian and...

Maybe I should be more forthright and say that I find Anglicans, present company not excepted, to be in the unenviable position of constantly trying to define precisely who they are and where they stand because the fact is they stand out in Death Valley with the vultures circling and no matter how loud they yell "I'm not a Protestant" and "I'm lovin the Roman Catholics but I'm not a Roman Catholic either" and "I'm not an Episcopalian" and "Bishop Wright is wrong" and "that lesbian Episcopalian bishop got no authority over me" and "I used to be under the West Central Southern African archdiocese of the Third Order of Rwandan episcopacies, but now I'm under the primate of the Second order of Sydney Australia Baptist-Anglicans under that iconoclastic triumvirate, Phil and Peter and Helen Jensen," the vultures don't stop circling.

I mean being a Protestant Anglican today anywhere other than Sydney gives a whole new meaning to the old saying, "the whole world's crazy but me and thee, and sometimes I do wonder about thee."

Speaking truthfully as a pastor—not just as one more voice in the dialog—at some point I would hope that even an Anglican could allow himself or herself (aren't I progressive?) to read the Bible and discover that God chose "unschooled ordinary men" to be His Apostles, and that there are no such men in the Anglican church. It's always been a snob communion and, although Presbyterians are nipping at Anglicans' heels in this regard, there's really no competition.

As Bishop Moore of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine's dad was quoted by the New Yorker as saying years ago, "Salvation may be found outside of the Episcopal (Anglican) church, but if it is, no true gentleman would care to avail himself of it."

From my youth, I've carefully watched my friends who went what my Dad called "smells and bells," and it's always, always bound up with social class and a hankering to escape the poverty of one's youth.

But really, you never can fully escape it until you go ahead and swim the Cuyahoga.

And yes, some of my best friends are Anglicans, starting with Peter and Helen Jensen and Bill Mouser and Dick Lucas and Jim Packer and Rob Bell...

Wait, something's wrong? Oh yeah, Rob Bell's not a Protestant, is he?

Bad me.

But hey, doesn't that mean he can be an Anglican?

Love,

PS: Yes, Fr. Bill, I do love you as I love Phil and Helen. And if you three defined Anglicanism worldwide, I wouldn't be as firm in warning readers against Anglicanism as I just did (and must).

Anglicans are not Protestants.

I've spent a great deal of time in Anglican churches, although in England, not here, and they are Protestant.  As are Lutherans who like to deny it as well.  There are times I appreciate why but history won't permit such an understanding. 

I'll comment on this tomorrow. I have get ready for bed, especially since we may have 4-6" of snow by morning and I have no idea whether I'm going to work or not. If I am, hubby will be shoveling out at half the driveway for me. For everyone's sake I'm praying that it will not be too bad, or that's it's bad enough for a Level 2 snow emergency, which will keep most people home and get the freeways and most major streets plowed.

Dear, dear Mrs. McKeown,

When will you stop talking and listen to a pastor?

Love,

Daniel

Dear Daniel,

When the Revs. Tim or David Bayly say something that I agree with or that I've learned from, I try to state that. I greatly appreciate their posts that discuss the problems in our society and our churches, even if I don't agree with everything they say. I also knew nothing about the Presbyterian faith before finding this blog except that you believed in predestination. Now I realize that you are about much more than that. I credit this to the Bayly brothers. 

On the other hand, I don't think anything about my faith is outside the realm of Christian orthodoxy (little "o" orthodoxy). My faith/denomination may diverge from the Presbyterian/Reformed faith but that's far from saying that it's not part of the "one holy apostolic and catholic church".

Listening to the Bayly brothers doesn't necessarily that I agree with everything they say, nor does it believe every word that comes out of the mouths of my priests. On theological issues, Scripture trumps anything that any minister or priest says.

Sincerely yours,

Sue

Tim and others:

Sheesh, I wish I would have left the PS off.

(1) If you want to know what the ACNA stands for, go to this link: http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/about-acna or browse the rest of the site. They used to have a nice brochure available for download but I can't find it there any more. I think I have a copy of it on my hard drive and I'll try to post it tomorrow.

(2) I know you don't believe in the traditional seminary model for training pastors/ministers, but why pick on the Anglicans specifically? Why not the Lutherans, Methodists, Southern Baptists, Church of the Nazarene, etc.

(3) I mentioned that Anglicans want to introduce non-Christians or lapsed Christians to Jesus Christ through our Anglican faith. How is that different than you or your church members wanting to introduce non-Christians to Jesus through your Presbyterian (or similar faith, since it sounds like you're not in the PCA any more), which I'm sure you would prefer to do? As I also said, we would never try to talk someone out of their sincerely held faith in another Christian denomination. Why should we?

(4) I don't know all of our ~320 members well enough and some not all (16+ years and older), so I certainly can't comment on their socioeconomic status as children and their current socioeconomic status. But trust me when I say that it's probably more diverse than you might expect and even more racially diverse than you might expect given where church is located.

(4) I'm not picking on Fr. Bill or his wife here (and I respect Fr. Bill a lot), but how come his Anglicanism is OK and the Anglicanism of my parish/denomination isn't?

Love in Christ,

Sue

Sue,

Doesn't ACNA have "ordained" women within it?

Dear Sue,

Likely I should say my generalization only pertains to those I've known personally, which means mostly those who have grown up in Baptist or mainstream Evangelical churches. Of course, the Prayer Book is a great relief to us all after Rob Bell and Rick Warren and Bill Hybels.

Love,

On theological issues, Scripture trumps anything that any minister or priest says.

Dear Sue,

That is right, and we have to decide of a pastor at a high level, is this a faithful pastor or not? Does he rightly divide the word of truth?

If he is an unfaithful pastor, we should not listen to him. We should get away.

But if he is a faithful pastor, we have a responsibility to give weight to his words: he a minister of God. It's not just a friendly discussion among friends. He has authority.

I'm not saying we can never question. That is often helpful and necessary. And your questions and challenges have sometimes helped clarify the arguments on Baylyblog. But what I'm not seeing is you giving any weight to the authority vested in a faithful minister of the gospel. And knowing our place is one of the foundational things about true faith.

Love,

Daniel

David Gray,

The ordination of women is decided at the diocesan level. Some dioceses permit no women to be ordained. Others allow women to be ordained as deacons (clergy, but not priests), but not priests. Still others allow ordination of both deacons and priests. Any church in a diocese that allows women to be ordained as priests and/or deacons is under no pressure to ordain women. All bishops are men and it looks like this will not change. 

Some individuals, clergy, and dioceses find the current system acceptable; others don't. 

Daniel,

Although it's hard for me :), I'll try to keep this brief 'cause I have to leave for church soon.

I believe that the Rev. Tim is a faithful minister of the Gospel and he has caused me to dig deeper into my our faith and the Bible to clarify my beliefs. For example, I'm more pro-life than I used to be since reading this blog. He (and others who write blog posts) has/have also done a great job in keeping readers informed of many very important issues of the day that are important. But is he the only faithful minister of the Gospel? No doubt there are other faithful ministers of the Gospel to be found in almost any Christian denomination.

The priests in my church are faithful ministers of the Gospel. The Lutheran minister in my brother's church who performed my father's memorial service and the Lutheran minister who pastors my sister's church are faithful ministers of the Gospel. i visit an an Anglican church in my home city when I visit there; I believe their priest is a true minister of the Gospel. I have a friend who belongs to a local Vineyard church. From the fruit in her life and what I see that her church does, it seems very likely that their ministers are true ministers of the Gospel.

Gotta leave and set up DVR for March Madness.

Hope that clarifies things.

Love,

Sue

David Gray,

Before I hit the hay so I can make it to Easter Sunday worship/Eucharist this morning, I felt I should mention something in the way of honest disclosure. Our parish has been blessed by the ministry of a female priest, a widow who served as our associate pastor for pastoral care until poor health required her to retire. I doubt there is anyone in St. Andrew's who would say that she had not ministered to them in a meaningful way, whether it was through her preaching and celebration of the Eucharist, her hospital visits, encouraging, visiting, praying for and bring the Eucharist to the sick and homebound among us, and for assisting us in crisis situations. In crisis or counseling situations, she was particularly helpful to the women of our  parish.

We are also currently fortunate to have what we call a female "priest associate" among us. She is a married woman with children on their own, An ordained priest, her primary call to ministry is to the hospital chaplaincy, but she has not been able to find a steady call to this ministry. So she assists our rector on a non-stipendiary basis wherever she is needed. She does a lot of what our female priest does, except she rarely delivers homilies (she told me that homiletics was her hardest class in seminary) assists in celebrating the Eucharist (and celebrates herself when necessary, performs baptisms, weddings, and funerals if asked to so (most people prefer our rector but she's asked occasionally). She's the Director of our Drama Ministry (a position she had before becoming a priest). She has also been a Godsend to me in dealing with my husband's current difficulties. She has made herself available to me regularly. Could she have done for me and others as one of our church's Stephen Ministers? Sure. But her call was to full-time ministry in the hospital chaplaincy. Until God gives her a chance to exercise this call, she joyfully serves our parish gratis and out of her love for Jesus and her brothers and sisters in Christ. (If you aren't familiar with Stephen Ministers, they are laymen and women who receive extensive instruction in lay counseling and walking with fellow church members going through stressful life events. The Stephen Ministry program is transdenominational and I'm aware that it exists in a number of Christian denominations.) 

We also had a wonderful male assistant pastor for discipleship, but God called him to plant a new church in another part of our metro area. We also miss him, too.

In Sunday School this morning, we talked about how conflict over doctrine has always been at the center of the Church.  We read different passages in the New Testament that show that this was the case even with the early Church.  We read the part in Galatians where Paul says that if anyone preaches a different gospel than the one he had preached to them that he is to be accursed.  We learned from this that we are to discern between true and false doctrine (especially concerning the gospel) and to condemn what is false.  This made me think of Catholicism and its false gospel.  As Christians, we cannot be wishy washy and compromising (as I have been) about the false gospel of the Catholic Church.  We must boldly, lovingly condemn it.  

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