Zins begins his article in a rather confusing/confounding manner. He speaks of the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church - then draws focus to one of them, Holy Orders. After pointing to Holy Orders he digresses into a brief discussion of celibacy of the priesthood. Then after that short discourse he admits that celibacy is not a requirement for all Catholic priests and that married clergy is even the "norm" among Eastern Catholics and Orthodoxy.
In order to understand the Roman Catholic religion one must begin with the Roman Catholic Sacraments. Roman Catholics are taught to trust in their priests who perform religious rituals called Sacraments. There are seven sacraments in the Roman Catholic religion. One is Holy Orders. The term Holy Orders extends to bishops, priests and deacons in the Roman Catholic religion. If a priest has taken a vow of celibacy then he would not be able to partake of all seven sacraments. However, celibacy is not a requirement for all Roman Catholic priests.One has to wonder what the point of this opening paragraph was! The opening statement typically would present ones case and present some preliminary arguments to be followed up upon later in the article/essay. Zins entitles his article "The Roman Catholic Plan of Salvation," but his opening statement has little, if anything, to do with the Catholic teaching on salvation! Okay, so he wants to lay a foundation of understanding of Catholic Sacraments - but all he has done is begin with a pet argument of many ill-informed Protestant apologists who like to attach priestly celibacy as if it is a dogma - but then Zins shoots down that argument himself!
"The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation." New Catholic Catechism. Paragraph # 1129.This is an accurate, if out of context, quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Zins, however, continues with disjointed argumentation.
Christians remain unconvinced that Roman Catholic Sacraments are necessary for salvation.Well, by Mr. Zins' representation - certainly non-Catholics and especially anti-Catholics would not be "convinced."
The Roman Catholic sacramental scheme is alleged to be constructed upon the Bible. However, in the Roman Catholic religion, there are other sources of authority equal to the Bible. Hence, proof for the seven Sacraments of Rome does not necessarily need to rest upon Scripture.Whether or not Mr. Zin's "however" statement is true is irrelevant to the statement that the "sacramental scheme is (alleged to be) constructed upon the Bible." Mr. Zins has adopted, accepted and embraced the unbiblical doctrine of sola scriptura - which he defines as: "That Scripture as contained in the Old Testament (39 books, English) and in the New Testament (27 books, English) is our only infallible and sufficient rule for salvation and sanctification. (2 Timothy 3:16)" My point in bringing this up is that not only is the teaching of sola scriptura NOT found in Scripture - Scripture itself OPPOSES it! In Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18 we clearly see that Jesus is empowering men with infallible authority! These men are our first bishops and their offices continue to this day in the One, True Church. So yes, while the Seven Sacraments are definitely founded upon Scripture and scriptural precedence, "proof for the seven Sacraments of Rome does not necessarily need to rest upon Scripture." I would submit that "proof" lies with one who has faith - and for one who lacks faith, no explanation will suffice.
Rome's doctrine of Sola Ecclesia [sic] (the Church alone) establishes and defines doctrine.Well, first off the Latin words would not be capitalized in this context. Second, it would be "sola ecclesiam." Third, I would challenge Mr. Zims to demonstrate the Catholic Church actually using this phrase in defining doctrine. While it is a common summary (one which I myself embraced back in 1988-89 in debates with James White), the phrase simply is not used in official teaching by the Church. That being said, Scripture is PART OF the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church, it is not apart from it! What is defined in Scripture is not defined apart from the Catholic Church! The Scriptures were written by Catholics and the Canon of Sacred Scripture was established by Catholics through the Holy Ghost.
Christians, trusting in the Bible alone for salvation and sanctification, understand that heaven is given to lost sinners on the basis of faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone. Such faith consists in confidence that Christ alone, at His cross, suffered and died for all of the sins of His Church which is the Body of Christ. Such a faith completely trusts in the promises of God in Christ Jesus. One such assurance is eternal forgiveness of all sins and punishments based entirely upon the satisfaction of Christ's death. Such a faith takes the righteousness of Christ as the complete ground of justification. Such a faith grasps Christ's righteousness immediately. Christians believe there is only One mediator between God and man and He is Jesus Christ.Again I must assert that this "Bible alone" doctrine is opposed by Scripture, but we've discussed that already. What Zins goes into next is essentially a statement of sola fide - also opposed by Scripture in James 2:24. In fact, it is James 2:24, and ONLY there that Scripture uses the words "faith" and "alone" together, and it is in NEGATION of faith alone, or sola fide! That being said, Catholics believe that all grace comes from the Cross and Jesus Christ. We believe in the promises of God in Jesus Christ. We not only believe Him, we OBEY Him! We do not doubt His Word when He said He would build His Church (singular, not plural) and that this Church would be built upon "this rock" - and in context, we find that Simon Bar-Jonah was just named "Rock" in that same passage!
Christians also believe there is no mediator between them and Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic religion believes itself to be the mediator between man and Jesus Christ. But Christians cannot conceive of a "go-between" and deny the necessity of a "a middle man" between poor lost sinners and Jesus Himself!I would challenge Mr. Zins to present the official Catholic teaching which states the Catholic religion is the mediator between man and Jesus Christ. This is simply a false statement and then while not discussing the Sacraments AT ALL in this piece, Zins concludes:
Hence, the entire Roman Catholic sacramental system is inappropriate and in the way when seen in the light of the Christian's direct access to God via a direct route to Jesus.So, Mr. Zins has missed the mark entirely. He does not discuss the Sacraments - and then based upon his misunderstanding of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Church and the Sacraments He established - he concludes this system, implemented by Christ Himself, is "inappropriate."
I would be happy to engage Mr. Zins further in a discussion of the scriptural basis of the Sacraments and the relationship of Jesus Christ to His Church through those Sacraments if he would accept this invitation to a scholarly discussion/debate.