Apologetics for the Masses #434 - What Do Catholics Believe, From a Protestant (Part 3)

Bible Christian Society


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Dismantling a Protestant's Skewed View of Catholicism 

General Comments

Hey folks,

     Just a reminder that if you live in the Birmingham area, I'm sponsoring a luncheon on December 2nd, at the Vestavia Country Club, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM.  The luncheon will feature a dialogue between Rabbi Adam Wright, of Temple Emanu-El here in Birmingham, and Fr. Ryan Muldoon, who is a priest at St. Patrick's parish in Yorktown Heights, NY.  They will be discussing Passover and the Eucharist.  It should be a very interesting dialogue to listen in on.  Cost is $25/person.

     You can register for the luncheon here: https://cbapn24.wildapricot.org/sys/website/?pageId=7741.

     Space is limited and we're getting a lot of interest for this, so if you plan on attending, better to register sooner rather than later. 


     Finishing up my analysis of the article, "What Do Catholics Believe?" by Lisa Loraine Baker.  You can read the entire article here: What Do Catholics Believe?   There is more to the article than what I've looked at in these two newsletters, but the rest of the article doesn't directly attack any particular Catholic doctrine as does the 1st half of the article, so I decided not to bother with it.

     I hope you have been able to see not only how badly some Protestants misrepresent Catholic teaching, but how easy it is to counter this inexcusable ignorance - not only directly, but by going after the underlying assumptions that are the basis for so much of the bad theology that Protestants believe in.

     By the way, a few folks looked into Lisa Loraine Baker and found that she has a website through which you can contact her.  So, I sent her an email letting her know that I was analyzing her article about Catholic teaching and gave her a link to last week's newsletter.  Haven't heard back from her yet, but I'll let you know if I do.


What Do Catholics Believe? Lisa Loraine Baker
Priests/Confession: Roman Catholics believe sinners must go before a priest for absolution of sins. It is true that we are to confess to one another (Mark 11:26; James 5:16), but the priest is inadequate to forgive a person’s sins against God because he, like the Levitical priest, has sins of his own to confess to God.

The account in Luke 5:21-26 is pointed; God alone can forgive man’s sins against Him. And 1 John 1:9 refutes the belief that a priest’s intervention is necessary. The verse reads, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The pronoun, “He” refers to God. Psalm 32 is another sterling example of how we can come before the Lord with our petitions for forgiveness.

Only Jesus’ perfect atoning work brings forgiveness to we who believe in Him and ask for His forgiveness. The Bible takes an emphatic stance that Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:27), and no mere man can grant the forgiveness of sins that cleanses the sinner.


My Comments

     At least she recognizes that we need to confess our sins to one another - she cites Mark 11:26 and James 5:16 as her reasons for saying so.  My first question to her would be: Do you confess your sins to others?  I would highly doubt that she does so.  And, does your church teach that everyone needs to confess their sins to one another?  Again, I highly doubt it.  Yet, it's what the Bible tells us to do, as she herself recognizes. Next, I would ask her: If you don't confess your sins to another person, even though the Word of God tells us we should, does that affect your salvation at all?  Of course, her answer would be, "No, it has no affect on your salvation."  Which begs the question: Then why do it?  If it is meaningless, why do it?  And, if it is meaningless, why did Jesus tell us to do it?

     She then goes on to say that "God alone can forgive man's sins," as opposed to men (priests) being able to forgive sins.  Once again, putting her ignorance of Catholic teaching on display.  Catholics believe that God, and God alone, forgives sins.  Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph #1424: "...since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent 'pardon and peace.'"  God alone forgives sins, but He exercises that forgiveness through the office of the priest.  Catechism, Paragraph #1441: "Only God forgives sins."  I don't think it can be much clearer that Catholics do not believe the priest can forgive someone's sins by, and of, his own power and authority.  Again, God's power and authority, but He chooses to exercise that power and authority through the office of the priest. 

     Her citation of 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins...," in no way contradicts Catholic teaching.  It says, "If we confess our sins...," it doesn't say, "If we confess our sins to God alone..."  After all, she's already stated that we have to confess our sins to one another.  So, confessing your sins to a priest fits perfectly with what is said in 1 John 1:9. 

     Does she believe sinful men are able to physically heal others?  I'll bet she does, after all, the Bible has numerous examples of that occurring.  Did they perform these healings, and sometime resurrections from the dead, by their own power?  No!  It was by the power of God.  God's power to heal, exercised through men.  But, these men were sinners, so doesn't that make them "inadequate," to use her word, to heal others.  No, it doesn't.  Because, again, they are not the ones doing the healing...God is.  So, just as sinful men can physically heal others, by the power and authority of God, just so sinful men (the priests) can spiritually heal others, by the power and authority of God.  Where in Scripture does it say God does not use sinful men to accomplish His purposes?!

    Finally, she states that "The Bible takes an emphatic stance that Jesus is our high priest...and no mere man can grant the forgiveness of sins that cleanses the sinner."  Where, may I ask, does the Bible say that "no mere man can grant the forgiveness of sins that cleanses the sinner?"  It appears that she is not familiar with all of Scripture.  In John 20, on the night of His resurrection, Jesus says to the Apostles, "Whosoever sins you forgive are forgiven them, whosoever sins you retain are retained."  Seems like Jesus is giving these men the authority and power to forgive sins, doesn't it?  And, in Matthew 9:8, it says that the crowds glorified God, "Who had given such authority to men."  What authority had God given to men?  Well, we find the answer to that in verse 6: "authority on earth to forgive sins."  God gave the authority on earth to forgive sins to men...plural...the Bible tells us.  Lisa Loraine Baker says the Bible does no such thing.  Should we believe the Word of God or the Word of Lisa Loraine?


Lisa Loraine Baker

Eucharist/Transubstantiation: Roman Catholics believe, during the communion service, the elements they partake, (the wine and the bread) become the actual blood and body of Jesus. Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-23, and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 are the texts which command our regular observance of the Lord’s Table to remember what He did for us. When Jesus said, “this is My body” and, “this is My blood,” He spoke metaphorically. He died once for all sins. To say His literal blood and body are still essential today for salvific work is to say His work on the cross was incomplete at best and ineffective at worse.


My Comments

     I love how she just authoritatively declares: "He [Jesus] spoke metaphorically."  That is her private, fallible, non-authoritative interpretation of Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, 1 Cor 11.  So, Jesus said, "This is...;" Lisa Loraine Baker says, "This is not..." Again, Word of God vs. Word of Lisa Loraine.  There is nothing in any of those passages she cites that suggests Jesus is speaking metaphorically.  Nothing!  In fact, in 1 Corinthians, notice she cites verses 23-26, but not verses 27-29.  In verse 27, when referring to the Eucharist, it says that if anyone eats or drinks in an unworthy manner, they will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.  How can you profane the body and blood of the Lord, if it isn't the body and blood of the Lord?!  If it's just a piece of bread and some grape juice?  And in verse 29, it says that if you eat and drink without discerning the body, then you eat and drink judgment upon your self.  How can you discern the body if, again, it isn't the body?! 

     Plus, she never even mentions John 6:51-58.  You must eat My flesh and drink My blood.  My flesh is food indeed and My blood is drink indeed.  And how everyone who heard Him on that day took Him to be speaking literally, and not metaphorically.  If I ever get the opportunity, I will ask Lisa to read John 6:51 very carefully.  Then, after she has done so, I will ask her: "It says the bread Jesus shall give us to eat is the flesh that He will give for the life of the world.  When did Jesus give His flesh for the life of the world?"  She will, undoubtedly reply, "On the Cross."  And then I will ask: "Was the flesh on the Cross real, or metaphorical?"  If it was real, then the bread that He wants to give us to eat is His real flesh that was sacrificed on the Cross, not His metaphorical flesh. 

     And, no, Lisa, your statement: "To say His literal blood and body are still essential today for salvific work is to say His work on the cross was incomplete at best and ineffective at worse," is not an accurate statement.  Because it is the same body and blood today as it was 2000 years ago.  Do Protestants not say, when they believe they are saved, that they have been "covered in the blood of Jesus"?  Have you been covered in the blood of Jesus?  Was that His real blood or His metaphorical blood?  If you were covered in the blood of Jesus when you were saved, does that mean that His work on the cross was incomplete or ineffective? 

    What she has essentially done here, is give us her beliefs, based on her fallible interpretation of Scripture, and then by her own authority, simply declared her beliefs to be true.  And, since her beliefs are true, then that means that Catholic beliefs are necessarily false.  She cites a few Scripture verses, but simply declares that, in all of those verses, Jesus was speaking metaphorically.  How do we know He was speaking metaphorically?  Because she says He was.  Well, that's good enough for me...


Lisa Loraine Baker

Peter and the Pope: The Roman Catholic faith named the Apostle Peter as the first pope, using Matthew 16:18 as the proof text, where Jesus said to Peter, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Jesus is speaking of the truth Peter spoke in the preceding passage, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)]. Jesus builds His church.

An honest look at the text seems to indicate Jesus was in fact speaking to Peter as the rock, but of course not in the way Roman Catholics understand. Peter was the chosen tool used to build the church. Acts 2 gives the account of Peter as he obeyed the Great Commission. Also, if Peter was who Roman Catholics say, it makes no sense that Paul opposed him authoritatively at Antioch (Galatians 2:11-14).

Since its inception, the Roman Catholic faith has elevated the pope and church councils (concerning teaching authority) to the same level as Scripture, and their authority supplants that of Scripture. Yes, Roman Catholics believe in Jesus as the Son of God and the Bible as the inspired, error-free Word of God, but they also believe church tradition has a place of authority. Ultimately, the Roman Catholic leaders hold themselves as the final authority on Scripture’s meaning and application, not Scripture itself.


My Comments

     No, the Catholic Church did not use Matt 16:18 as a "proof text" by which to name Peter as the first pope.  Peter was the first pope - or the first leader of the church - before a single word of the Gospel of Matthew was ever written.  We use that text, among others, as evidence to simply show that Jesus in fact named Peter the leader of the Apostles and thus the leader of the early church.  We also have early Christian writings which corroborate that fact. 

     And, we use that text from Matthew 16 to show that Jesus said Peter was the rock upon which He would build His church.  She even says that "an honest look at the text seems to indicate that Jesus was in fact speaking to Peter as the rock."  But then she dishonestly states, "But of course not in the way Roman Catholics understand."  Oh, of course not!  Why not?  Because Lisa Loraine says so.  She tries to justify what she says by citing the incident of Paul opposing Peter, which he did when Peter hypocritically withdrew from being around Gentiles - since they were not circumcised - because he was being influenced by the Judaizers.  Hey, if the head of the church...the Pope...is doing something wrong, he should be told to his face.  That in no way, shape, or form has any bearing on Catholic teaching regarding Peter and the papacy. 

     Finally, she outright lies about Catholic teaching by saying, "Since its inception, the Roman Catholic faith has elevated the pope and church councils...to the same level as Scripture, and their authorty supplants that of Scripture."  That is a blatant lie!  Catechism, Paragraph #86, "Yet this Magisterium [the pope and church councils] is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant.  It teaches only what has been handed on to it."  The Catholic Church holds the Scripture as the highest authority.  The Pope and the Church Councils are the authentic interpreters of Scripture by the authority Jesus gave to His church.  They do not "supplant" Scripture, they teach and explain Scripture.

     Finally, I find her last sentence here to be pretty fascinating in terms of her inability to understand and recognize, at all, the implication of what she is saying: "Ultimately, the Roman Catholic leaders hold themselves as the final authority on Scripture's meaning and application, not Scripture itself."  Yes, that part she essentially got right!  The Roman Catholic leaders - the Magisterium - hold themselves to be the authentic interpreters of Scripture.  However, think about it.  What did she do throughout her article?  She held herself out as the "final authority on Scripture's meaning and application, not Scripture itself"!  She did exactly what she claims the Catholic Church shouldn't do.  For instance, at the Last Supper, the Scripture has Jesus saying, "This IS My body."  Nowhere does Jesus say, "This is a metaphor for My body." Yet, that is exactly how Lisa Loraine Baker interprets the Word of God.  She didn't let "Scripture itself" be the final authority, it was her interpretation of Scripture itself that is the final authority.  She, as so many Protestants like her, is completely blind to the fact that she doesn't believe in Sola Scriptura, she believes in Sola [Lisa Loraine Baker's fallible interpretation of] Scriptura. 

     The question then becomes, should I believe in Lisa Loraine Baker's interpretation of Scripture as being authoritative, or should I believe in the interpretation of Scripture of the church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit as being authoritative? 

Closing Comments

All in all, that article was a disaster in terms of communicating what Catholics believe.  It was not about what Catholics believe.  It was about what ignorant misguided Protestants mistakenly believe Catholics believe.  The author appears to be a professional writer.  As such, she should have done a better job of research for this article.  It's embarrassing.  The apparent inability to do even the slightest modicum of actual research into what Catholics believe, with the result being the continued spread of misconceptions, half-truths, and outright lies about Catholic teaching is a mark of shame on Protestants and Protestantism.  People who call themselves Christians ought to hold themselves to higher standards. 


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Apologetics for the Masses