Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Real Issue About Roman Catholicism

This, according to James White in a video response to a blog article by C. Michael Patton, states is "the bottom line" which is "the Gospel" because, as he claims, 
...that Rome's gospel does not give anyone peace because it is not the biblical gospel, there is no finished work of Christ upon which true PEACE can be established between the believer and God.  That's the issue.  Are there all sorts of other issues?  You bet.  Is it a blaspheme against Christ, the elevation of Mary?  You bet!  False worship!  Is it not amazing that the only thing Rome can use its alleged authority on the past 200 years is to define beliefs on that were NEVER a part of the Church and never part of the primitive Church, but they're all about Mary?  Yeah, is that not a blight upon the faith?  Yes, it is.  Isn't Purgatory a (sic) horrific thing?  Yes, it is.  Isn't the infallibility of the pope an absurd attack upon God's revelation in Scripture?  Yes, it is.  But the fundamental issue is the fact that the Roman Catholic Church does not possess and in fact anathematizes the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That's the issue.  So, I answer the question, presented by C. Michael Patton in his article, Are Roman Catholics Saved?  If a Roman Catholic is saved, they are saved in spite of the Roman Catholic Church, not because of it.  But, the specific said, presented in the article, Do I believe that someone who is a committed MEMBER can be a true Christian?  If what you mean by that they are a knowl... (sic) that they understand, that they are a knowledgeable member of the Church, they understand what's teaching?  The ONLY answer to that question that I can offer while holding the New Testament in my hand, open to the Book of Galatians is, NO.  C. Michael Patton says, yes.  There's the difference.
Well, OK, let's take the side-topics first.
      1) The "elevation of Mary" White calls a "blaspheme."  After literally years, even decades now, of dealing with White, I can't understand how he can continue to present this falsehood!  IF Catholics had made the Blessed Virgin into a goddess, THEN he would have an argument of blaspheme.  Mary is not a goddess in Catholic theology, regardless of that which non-Catholics wish to impute to us.  Is she elevated?  YES!  As Scripture teaches, ALL generations shall call her blessed (pronounced "bless+ed").  In this scriptural teaching we see this not as merely a descriptive adjective, but a title - the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Catholicism (and Orthodoxy) fulfills this scriptural prophecy.  This certainly is not a "blaspheme."
      2) False worship, White also alleges.  Again, he is simply wrong.  Catholics do not worship the Blessed Virgin in any way like one would worship God.  Worship, simply stated, is honor.  We are instructed, in Scripture, to "honor your father and your mother," does that mean we "worship" our parents?  Well, again, not in the same sense we worship God!  Catholicism actually has different words to distinguish between the honor given to God, which is latria, and the honor given to the Saints, which is dulia - and the honor given to the Blessed Virgin, which is hyper-dulia.  In TRUE Catholic teaching, not that which is continually misrepresented by White, there is quite a distinction between the honor given Mary v. the honor given to God.  I grant you, White cannot see this distinction - but this only shows his blindness, even bigotry, toward the TRUTH.
      3) Is Purgatory an horrific thing?  Again, White exposes his willful ignorance of this subject.  I say willful ignorance because he and I have discussed this before and yet he continues to misrepresent and misalign the Catholic Church's teaching on Purgatory - which is scripturally based.  I realize White rejects our interpretation of Scripture on this matter, and even rejects part of Scripture itself on this matter - but his rejection does not equate to truth.  His rejection only posits that he has a different view of the Scriptures on this subject and does not negate that the Catholic Church bases her teaching in Scripture on this subject.
      4) The infallibility of the pope, White claims is "an absurd attack on God's revelation in Scripture."  Well, there are two things here which White rejects - a) the papacy itself and b) infallibility of the pope.  
     So, to begin, the papacy has ALWAYS been part of the Church and began with St. Peter, continued to St. Linus, then St. Cletus, then St. Clement, etc. and all the way to the current successor, Pope Benedict XVI who, as of this writing is now Bishop Emeritus of Rome and the "seat is empty" while we await the election of the next successor of St. Peter.  Even though we are in a period of sede vacante, Pope Benedict remains the most recent successor of St. Peter.  Rejection of the papacy is scripturally and historically unsound.
     Secondly, infallibility.  Again, this is based in Scripture.  In Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus is speaking directly to, and solely to, St. Peter.  He tells St. Peter that whatsoever he binds or looses on Earth is bound or loosed in Heaven.  Unless White contends that error could be bound or loosed in Heaven, THAT is infallibility!  The only absurdity here is in DENYING papal infallibility!

     Now, to the meat of this response, that which White calls "the bottom line," is the Gospel.  C. Michael Patton, while himself opposed to Catholicism, actually gets this right - but White's whole response is an attempt to discredit Patton.  One might say that by White's stance in this response that he doesn't even consider Patton to be a Christian.  Let us look at Patton's own words here (which White read at the beginning of his video response) and let the objective reader decide who is really preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and who is preaching a false gospel.
Are Roman Catholics Saved? Short answer: I don’t know. However, don’t read to much into that. I don’t know if Protestants are Christian. I don’t know if many who go to my evangelical church are Christian. By “Christian” I mean someone who has truly been regenerated by God and is, as a result, a genuine disciple of Christ.

Of course, a better question that people are getting at is this: Do I believe that someone who is a committed member of the Roman Catholic Church can be a true Christian? To this I answer “yes.” Now, to be fair, I do not feel that the majority of Roman Catholics with whom I have come in contact are true believers. But, to be fairer, I don’t believe that the majority of Protestants (and Eastern Orthodox for that matter) with whom I have come in contact are true believers either! It is the problem of nominalism. Simply confessing to be a part of any Christian tradition does not mean that one truly embraces the ideals of said tradition. Christians are those who truly believe in who Christ is and do their best to follow him.

I think the most important question that has ever been asked in the history of the world is, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). The confession of Roman Catholicism, along with that of Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy, has been united concerning this for two thousand years: “Jesus Christ is the God-Man who died for our sins and rose from the grave.” Getting that right is no small thing. In fact, I would say that to have a true belief in such a creed requires the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Roman Catholicism is to be commended, in my opinion, for being an ardent defender of the Trinity, the resurrection of Christ, and the necessity of belief in such. Though there are many passages I could turn to, I think 1 John 4:2 says more than we often give it credit for. In fact, I would say that this is one of the most neglected passages which could be used to defend the deity of Christ. Notice:

1 John 4:2
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.
Without getting too much into this (as it deserves its own blog post!), this passage teaches that a true belief that Christ is man and God is an indication that someone is “from God.” You may say that it only talks about his humanity (“in the flesh”) and not his deity. But I believe that implied within this is an assumption of Christ’s deity. Why? Because there would be no reason to deny that Christ had come in the flesh were it not assumed that he was God. I mean, how hard is it to deny that someone has come “in the flesh”, if they were only thought of as being human? It is a foregone conclusion that they have ”come in the flesh”! This passage makes no sense, unless it is assumed that a person believes that Christ is God. But the point that I want to make right now is that it is a big deal to believe in the humanity and deity of Christ. Think about how rare this really is outside of Christianity. Obviously, atheists do not confess this, but what about Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, and agnostics? They don’t have as an essential core to their confession (to say the least) that Christ is the God-man. The best of Catholics do. The best of Protestants do. The best of Eastern Orthodox do. It is because of this that I don’t easily dismiss Roman Catholics’ status before God. They get the “Who do you say that I am?” question right.

Not only this, but Catholics believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ. They believe that we are sinners in need of grace.  Even though they lean toward inclusivism since Vatican II, they still believe that there is no other name by which we must be saved. Again, this is significant stuff which, if truly believed, I don’t see how an unregenerate person can confess without salvific implications. All of this can be said about Eastern Orthodoxy as well.
      Now I ask the reader - who is more in line with the preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, White or Patton?  What strikes me is that Patton does not put himself in God's Judgment Seat - and White does.  Patton allows for God to be the judge of Catholics, White does not.  That being said, White is a bit inconsistent on this, even within this video response!  While White's ultimate answer is "NO" - Catholics are not Christians, he does state, "If a Roman Catholic is saved, they are saved in spite of the Roman Catholic Church, not because of it."  For White to be consistent he must give up this "if clause," otherwise he's really in agreement with Patton's article.

     So, what IS "the Gospel of Jesus Christ?"  It can be quite concisely summed up in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
      Patton does well to repeat the question Jesus Himself asked of the Apostles, "Who do you say I am?"  To which St. Peter stands up and answers, "You are the Christ, Son of the Living God."  (Matthew 16:15-16)  It is this testimony which Jesus responds to, stating flesh and blood did not teach this to Peter, but the Holy Ghost did - and then, as mentioned above, states that whatsoever he, Peter, binds or looses on Earth shall be bound or loosed in Heaven.  Infallible authority is given to St. Peter, but I digress.  The point is that St. Peter confesses with his mouth who Jesus is - and as he was led to that truth by the Holy Ghost, so are Catholics.  The message of John 3:16 truly is the summary of the Gospel and the belief in the finished work of Jesus Christ.   The other (side) issues which White addressed are misconceptions on his part.   I have peace in understanding God's love for me and confidence that He will provide me with the ability to persevere in the One, True Faith and that He will not allow me to be tempted beyond that which I can handle.  I am quite at peace.

Below is the video response in its entirety, the section I transcribed was in the last 15 minutes or so.

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