Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #172

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Thank you to all of you who emailed me to let me know that you would be praying for my friend, Peter, who is a husband and father of six young children, who has been diagnosed with, and is being treated for, leukemia. And I know many more of you are praying for him also – thank you to all of you.

The EWTN Family Conference is this coming week in Birmingham. If any of you are planning on being there, please come by the radio booth and say hello. I will be doing the radio coverage of the event along with Thom Price of EWTN radio. Would love to talk to you…


Okay, last week I went about answering the “Questions for Protestants” that I had posted in Issue #170, which were compiled from a dialogue I had many moons ago with Pastor Matt Johnson of the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ denomination, the totality of which is in Issues #32-38 (see “Newsletter” page at www.biblechristiansociety.com).

These questions had been asked repeatedly of Pastor Johnson during our dialogue but, unfortunately – and not surprisingly – were never answered. Last week I gave you the reasoning behind why I asked questions #1-18, this week I will give you the reasoning behind questions #19-#26.


19) Can those who do not have God’s approval be saved? Yes or no?

In Pastor Johnson’s particular translation of Scripture, 1 Cor 11:18-19 reads as follows: "In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval."

So, there were divisions among the Corinthian congregation.  And, these divisions were such that they helped to reveal who had God’s approval.  Which means, on the flip side, that there were those among the Corinthian congregation who did not have God’s approval.  Thus my question to Pastor Johnson about whether or not those who did not have God’s approval could be saved.

You see, Pastor Johnson is one of those Protestants who believes in essential vs. non-essential doctrines and in a sort of Rodney King Christianity: "Why can’t we all just get along?" In other words, as long as we believe in the "essentials," it’s okay to disagree on the "non-essentials."  And, as long as we agree on the "essentials," then we can have union with one another and we’re all saved.  Problem is, who gets to decide what is an essential and what is a non-essential doctrine?  And, since doctrines come from the Word of God, which part of the Word of God does one actually dare to call "non-essential?" 

So, this question, along with questions #20-#26 below, has to do with this false notion that we can be in union with those we have doctrinal disagreements with…that there can be true unity among those with doctrinal differences…those with different versions of what is and is not truth.  1 Cor 11:18-19 shows that divisions among Christians – the Corinthians being written to by Paul were all members of the Church…they were all Christians – cannot simply be ignored by using a contrived theological system which divides doctrines into essential vs. non-essential.  Differences among Christians are serious matters that lead to some being approved by God and some not being approved by God.

Those, like Pastor Johnson, who believe in salvation by faith alone (Sola Fide), would say that as long as one has faith, it doesn’t matter what else they believe, they’re still saved.  So, those who believe in different doctrines, as long as they all have faith, all get saved – all have God’s "approval."  Yet, we see here from 1 Cor 11:18-19, that there were Corinthians who had faith, but they obviously believed and did things that caused division in the congregation, and that these beliefs and/or actions resulted in some of them not receiving God’s approval.  So, can you be saved if you do not have God’s approval?  It doesn’t make any sense to me that God would say of anyone who was saved that they did not have His approval, would He?

If Pastor Johnson answers, "Yes," to #19, then He is basically saying that God’s approval or disapproval doesn’t really mean a thing.  I mean, if you can be saved whether God approves of you or not, then why worry about His approval?  If Pastor Johnson answers, "No," to #19, then he is admitting that doctrinal differences, differences that lead to divisions within Christian congregations, can get someone sent to Hell.  Which means that differences in the beliefs of the various Christian faith traditons cannot simply be glossed over because they can, and do, have very serious eternal consequences.   

20) Did the Apostles teach different doctrines to different people? Yes or no?

This question is a follow up of sorts to #19, and the answer, of course, is "No."  The Apostles all taught the same doctrines…ALL the same doctrines.  After all, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit was to guide them into all truth.  If they are guided into all truth, then they cannot help but teach identical doctrines…they cannot help but teach the same truths…to all the different peoples they came across.  Again, from 1 Cor 11:18-19, it is obvious that there were those among the Corinthians who believed different doctrines.  Who taught them these different doctrines, the Apostles?  I don’t think so. 

Well, if the Apostles didn’t teach different doctrines, then why is it okay for the pastors of today’s thousands upon thousands of Protestant denominations to teach different doctrines one from another?  And, if it wasn’t okay for the Corinthians to hold to different beliefs…beliefs that caused division within the Christian congregation…then why is it okay today for Protestants to hold to different beliefs…beliefs that cause division within Christianity?  This whole business of not only ignoring doctrinal differences within Protestantism, but actually justifying them with this essential vs. non-essential garbage is something that has no biblical basis whatsoever.  Yet, Protestants don’t ever give it a second thought, and they continue to rail constantly against Catholics for the "un-biblical" nature of our beliefs (according to their fallible interpretations of the Bible).

So, our job is to get Protestants to think about things like that by asking questions like these.  If Pastor Johnson says, "Yes," then the next question is: Please show me where the Bible says such a thing, or: How can that be if they were all inspired by the same Holy Spirit? If he says, "No," then the next question is: Then why do you believe it’s okay for the different denominations to do that very thing?

21) Did the Apostles and other leaders of the early Church believe it was okay to have false doctrines within the Church? Yes or no?

If he says, "Yes," I would ask: Please show me where the Bible ever teaches such a thing.  Hint: it doesn’t.  If he says, "No," then the next question is: Then why do you believe it’s okay for any denomination that has one or more contrary doctrines from yours, to do so?  And he does believe it is okay to do so, at least, as long as these false doctrines are "non-essential."  You can also ask: Please tell me where the Bible ever once mentions that there is such a thing as a "non-essential" doctrine.  

In 1 Tim 4:1, Paul even states that there will be those who fall away from the faith by believing false doctrines.  The Church was founded by Jesus Christ.  It teaches the truth and nothing but the truth, unless one believes that the true Body of Christ can teach error.  Also, Scripture tells us Satan is the father of all lies.  So, if there is false doctrine, that doctrine is the spawn of Satan, and believing something that is of Satan would never meet with the approval of the Apostles and other leaders of the early Church.   So, again, if the Apostles and other leaders of the Church did not believe it was okay to have false doctrine within the Church, why do so many Protestants believe otherwise by saying that it’s okay to believe in false "non-essential" doctrines, as long as you believe in the "essential" doctrines?  Nowhere is such a thing even hinted at in the Bible.

22) Did the Apostles break fellowship with those who were teaching different doctrines than they were teaching? Yes or no?

If he says, "No," because he is trying to be ecumenical towards other Protestant denominations, then you have ample biblical evidence to show otherwise.  If he says, "Yes," then you ask: Well, why don’t you do the same?  Paul commands Titus to "have nothing more to do with" any man who is "factious," after he has been warned once or twice (Titus 3:10).  Or, as the King James Bible puts it, "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself," (Titus 3:10-11).  So, reject the heretics…those that believe and teach different doctrines.  Break fellowship with them.  Yet, Protestants, for the most part, all believe it’s okay to worship and fellowship with those who believe and teach different doctrines and that there is absolutely no problem in doing so.

23) Did Jesus and the Apostles demand conformity to the doctrines they taught? Yes or no?

If, "Yes," then why don’t you demand conformity from all of the Protestant denominations that teach differing doctrines?  If, "No," well, the Bible says otherwise: Paul to Titus, speaking of those who are bishops, that they should "Give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it," (Titus 1:9).  "Teach what befits sound doctrine," (Titus 2:1).  "Guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit," (2 Tim 1:14).  "That you may charge certain persons not to teach ANY different doctrine," (1 Tim 1:3) – no mention here that it’s okay to teach different doctrine, as long as it is "non-essential." Conformity to doctrine is commanded in all of these instances by Paul.  And we know that Paul is inspired by the Holy Spirit Who was sent by Jesus, so Jesus, as did the Apostles, does indeed demand conformity to the doctrines He taught. 

Which begs the question, why do Protestants think it’s okay to not have doctrinal conformity amongst the various denominations?  How can they think that the lack of doctrinal conformity could in any way be of God? 

24) Were the Apostles infallible in their teaching on faith and morals? Yes or no?

If, "Yes," then that means they had to have all taught and believed the exact same thing – even concerning so-called "non-essential" doctrines.  If, "No," then that means the Holy Spirit, who was guiding them into "all truth," could not be infallible.  The Apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth, as Jesus said they would be (John 16:13), had to have been infallible in their teaching on faith and morals.  They were teaching what they were taught by Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit.  Which means, they all taught one and the same set of truths.  Which means there is one, and only one, set of truths that it is okay to believe in and which everyone should believe in. 

25) Can you be “one” with someone who believes in false doctrines? Yes or no?

If, "Yes," how so?  How can you be in union with one who believes in error…in false doctrine…in lies, if you do not also believe those same lies and false doctrines and errors?  If, "No," then that goes against the false ecumenism Pastor Johnson pushes about being able to be one with those who do not worship at the same altar.  The answer, quite clearly, is no.  Jesus tells us He is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life," (John 14:6).  So, if He is the Truth, and we must know the truth to be set free (John 8:32), and it is only those who are "of the truth" who hear the voice of Jesus (John 19:37), then how can you be one with someone who does not have the whole truth, who may not have been set free, and who may not be hearing the voice of Jesus – a clear reference to Jesus as shepherd and His sheep hearing His voice.  Which means if you don’t hear His voice you probably are not one of His sheep.  Can a believer in the fullness of the truth be one with someone who has, at best, only partial truth?

26) In your church, can two walk together if they are not in agreement? Yes or no?

Pretty much the same question as #25 above, although I was asking specifically for him to answer about how this would work in his particular denomination.  You can do the same with someone from any denomination.  If, "Yes," please explain how so?  If, "No," then same rationale as above.

All of these questions above, #19 – #26, are pointed to one very obvious truth to Catholics, but a truth which Protestants tend to ignore because to acknowledge it would put them in a very difficult position.  And that truth is this: There is one body of doctrinal and moral teachings out there which has to be true in its fullness because it is the body of doctrinal and moral teachings taught by Jesus and His Apostles, defended by them, and then handed on from the Apostles to the next generation of Church leaders and then handed on by them to still others (2 Tim 2:2).  At the beginning of Christianity, there was one, and only one, set of true doctrinal and moral teachings.  Denominations – divisions based on differences in beliefs – were condemned.  They were not tolerated.  Yet, they are now, somehow, okay.  Why? 

If there is one body of doctrines that is completely true, and only one body of doctrines that can be completely true, then all of this garbage about essential vs. non-essential doctrines is shown to be exactly what it is – a justification for not facing the fact that there can be, at most, one Protestant denomination that has the fullness of truth, and that denomination is probably not yours (and we know it is none of them).  In essence, this essential vs. non-essential theological construct, is actually an admission that your church and most, if not all, the other Protestant churches around yours, are not the original Church that was founded by Jesus Christ. 

In Conclusion

I will answer the remaining questions in the next issue. I think it was better to stick to just the one main topic in this issue so as to not be jumping around with too many issues in one newsletter.

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Apologetics for the Masses