Arch Bishop Fulton Sheen said there are not 100 people in the US that hate the Catholic Church but there are millions that hate what they mistakenly think the Catholic Church teaches. I am a convert to the Catholic Church so I had to work through all the questions and arguments against the church before I considered entering the church. I am going to go through a number of the Common Objections to the Catholic Church quickly but remember much more can be said on each topic discussed.
The major thing that made the Catholic church not even a possibility for me as a protestant was Confession. I would say to myself “why confess your sins to a priest, confess to God alone. He is the only one who can forgive sin. There is nothing even close to a confession in the bible.” I was wrong. Like many Protestants who read the bible, they read right over it and miss it. They read the bible with whatever faith tradition’s glasses they have on. I had Mennonite glasses which allowed me to fly right over John 20:21-23. This verse was what put the Catholic Church on the table for further investigation back when I started listening to Catholic radio. This is what John writes John 20:21-23 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Now looking at the verse we have Jesus telling his disciples that whoever sins they forgive they are forgiven. Which the protestant might say that’s not confession that is what Jesus told us to do in the “Our Father” Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others. The catch is, he also says whoever sins you retain they are retained. That would be contradictory to Matthew 6:15 which says ”But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” So Jesus wasn’t talking about personal sin to one another. 2 Cor 5:18 says “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; Paul was a priest and just like in the old testament, people went to priests to when they sinned. Lev 5:5-6 says “When a man is guilty in any of these, he shall confess the sin he has committed, and he shall bring his guilt offering to the LORD for the sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.
Tertullian wrote in 203 ad On Repentance and in chapter 10 he talks about people not wanting to go to confession.
"[Regarding confession, some] flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness"
The second big thing I had to deal with was the Papacy. I use to wonder why Catholics paid so much attention to an old guy thousands of miles away. He is only a man. If someone would have said he is the successor of Peter, I would have investigated the church years before the time I actually did. What is the relationship between Peter and the pope I would have asked and then I would have found out something crucial. The pope can trace his office back to Peter. If we look in Acts 1:24-26 we see Judas’ office gets Matthais as his successor. How much more would the head of the apostles have a successor? Peter was given a special office apart from the other apostles in Matt 16:18-19 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. "And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." He was given the keys to kingdom which is also explained in the Old Testament. Is 22:22 The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open. Isaiah 9:6-7 and Lk 1:32 says that Jesus will sit on the throne of David and his reign will be forever. So just like in David’s kingdom, Jesus has someone in charge of the keys. Is 22:21 says that he will be a father to the nation. The term pope comes from the word papa or father. Protestants will interpret Matthew 16:18 as Jesus referring to himself as the rock that he will build his church but a close look at Greek and Aramaic would show that the rock is Peter. The New Testament was written in Greek. Matthew 16:18 would read you are Petros and on this Petra I will build my church. Petra is the feminine form of the word rock. So in translating Peter they used the masculine form Petros. But they will argue back that Pretros means small stone and Petra means large rock. In certain forms of Greek that is so but not in the Koine Greek that this was written in. Jesus and the apostles spoke Aramaic so the parts of the bible where Jesus is speaking is a translation from Aramaic to Greek. So what Jesus said was you are cephas and on this cephas I will build my church. In other words you are rock and on this rock I will build my church. If Jesus wanted to call Peter a small stone he would have used the Aramaic word kevna which would translate to the Greek word Lithos. We should also remember that Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter a name that no one else had before that time and whenever a name change occurs in the bible something important going on. Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Isreal.
. You sometimes hear about the chair of Peter. That was a fulfillment of the chair of Moses in the Old Testament. Mt 23:2"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat. There was always someone in charge of interpreting scripture and leading the people. After Moses died Joshua was his successor. Peter had his successors too, Linus, Cletus, Clement and so on. Pope Benedict XVI is the 265 successor of Peter.
Irenaeus of Lyons in 180 AD gives us an early listing of this succession in his work Against Heresies (Book III, Chapter 3) Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority -- that is, the faithful everywhere -- inasmuch as the Apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those who are everywhere.
He goes on to list 12 successors to Peter up to that day in paragraph 3.
Origen lived from 185-254 AD and wrote in De Principiis (Book IV)
"You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head-that is why he is also called Cephas ['Rock']-of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all"
Jerome, [347-420 AD] The Dialogue Against the Luciferians chapter 23
"[Pope] Stephen . . . was the blessed Peter's twenty-second successor in the See of Rome"
Papal infallibility often gets criticism because it gets confused with the word impeccability. Impeccability is not being able to sin where as papal infallibility is a charism that is given to the pope in which he is prevented by the Holy Spirit to teach error in faith and morals to the faithful from the chair of Peter. The pope can sin like the rest of us and he goes to confession regularly. Papal infallibility is does not mean that you can ask the pope for the wining lottery numbers and he will be right. It is only when he is teaching faith and morals from the seat of authority, the chair of Peter and he is binding all the faith to it.
One argument used against papal infallibility is found in Gal 2:11-16. This is where St Paul rebukes St Peter for not eating with gentiles in order to not offend certain Jews. Jews would not eat with gentiles but now as Christians there isn’t a reason not to eat with non Christians. This is not an example proving papal infallibility doesn’t exist because this is not doctrine but discipline and Peter is not living up to his own teaching.
Sometimes people will argue that Peter couldn’t have been the first pope because he was married quoting Mt 8:14 And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. This is another example of discipline not doctrine. If Jesus would have made it a requirement then it would be doctrine but he didn’t.
In scripture we can find traces of papal infallibility with close inspection. The first place is
Mt 16:18-19 which I already mentioned.
Earlier in Matthew’s gospel in chapter 7 Jesus talks about building upon two foundations, one on a rock the other on sand. The one who builds on a rock is wise because it will withstand the storm but the one who builds on sand is foolish because the house built upon it will be destroyed. Now Jesus said he is going to build his church on the rock. Would Jesus build his church on a foundation of sand that in the future would be destroyed from teaching false doctrine? Of course not. He said the gates of hell would not prevail against his church. If his church started teaching false doctrine then it would cease to be his church and thus the gates of hell would prevail. Papal infallibility is merely Jesus’ way of ensuring that the church will not teach error.
Another passage we see this is Lk 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Jesus tells Simon that Satan wants to temp all of the apostles to lose their faith but Jesus says only to Peter that he prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. Jesus tells him to strengthen the other apostles which shows that Peter will be a center hub of unity as we see St Jerome in his letter 15 to Pope Damasus he says it is his duty to consult the chair of Peter.
Pope is the Antichrist
There are a some Protestants that believe the pope is the antichrist that is talked about in 1 John and implied in Revelation. The antichrist is someone who imitates Christ and denies the father and the son. This idea came up around the time of the reformation in the 16th century because the early Protestant leaders were in the process of breaking away from what everyone recognized as the authentic Church of Christ, governed by the authentic Vicar of Christ. Since breaking with such a body is inconceivable to any one determined to follow Christ’s will, it was necessary for Protestant leaders to deny that the Catholic Church and pope and label it as the harlot of Babylon and the antichrist.
Showing that the pope is not the antichrist is easy. They have been saying that the pope was the antichrist for centuries and yet none of them fit the description of the antichrist. The pope doesn’t deny Jesus or the father thus is not an antichrist.
1 Jn 2:22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
1 Jn 4:3 every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of Antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already."
2 Jn 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
The word antichrist only appears 4 times in the new testament and all appear in Johns epistles not in Revelation.
As a protestant we didn’t have a priesthood because a priest offers sacrifices to God. For us, we just went straight to Jesus. After all Jesus was a once and for all, one time atonement for man. 1 Tim 2:5 which says there is only one mediator between God and man, being Jesus. But that verse is speaking of a specific kind of mediator. Any one who prays for someone else is a mediator between God and man. Protestants believe in a universal priesthood of all people which is also a catholic belief also. The difference is that Catholics also have a ministerial priesthood. 1 Pt 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. This is the verse for a universal priesthood and we can see the exercise of this universal priesthood in this verse. Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
However there is also a ministerial priesthood. Jesus gave his authority to the church. We see this in Jn 20:21-23, Mt 16:18 but also in this verse. Jas 5:14-15 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. This verse is distinct because it specifies to call for the elders of the church. The greek word for elder is presbyteroi which gets translated to the german as priester which is where we get the English word priest. This passage doesn’t say to have just anyone come and pray for the sick person and anoint with oil. It is only the elders that can have the authority to forgive sins and heal the person which shows that there is ministerial priesthood in the new testament.
Calling Priests Father
Protestants like to jump on Catholic’s for calling priests father. They quote Mt 23:9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. They’ll say see you Catholics don’t read your bible. Jesus says right there, call no one on earth father. If Jesus was talking in an absolute sense here, then the verse just prior to it should be taken in an absolute sense also. Mt 23:8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. He says here that you aren’t to be called rabbi (which means teacher) but they don’t have a problem calling someone teacher.
If Jesus is speaking absolutely about calling no one on earth father then Paul frequently breaks this command while under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Rom 4:16 says that Abraham. is the father of us all. In Acts 22:1 he says brothers and fathers listen now to my defense. 1 Cor 4:14-15 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Acts 7:2 Stephen says brethren and fathers listen.
Priests are called father just like dads are called father. Dads are responsible for the nourishment of their children. Priests are responsible for the spiritual nourishment of the faithful especially in the Eucharist. Dads are responsible for the teaching of life to their children. Priests are responsible teaching everything you need to know how to have eternal life. When you fall and scrape you’re your knee your dad puts a band aid on it to make it better. When you fall into sin the priest is there for you in the sacrament of reconciliation and makes you better while acting in the persona Christi (the person of Christ).
Protestants don’t like priestly celibacy because they say it goes against Gods command to be fruitful and multiply in Gen 1:28. Basically what I have found is that if something has a catholic label on it they automatically label it as bad and read right over the scripture that supports it when they read their bible. Jesus was celibate and he taught that it was good to imitate him. Matt 19:10-12 His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry." But He said to them, "All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: "For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it." Paul taught that being celibate was a good thing. 1 Cor 7:32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord-how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world-how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world-how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
Protestants may quote 1 Tim 4:1-3 that says Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. The first thing is the Catholic Church holds marriage as honorable and a sacrament of divine institution. Priests in the Latin rite willfully give up marriage to a woman so that can devote everything to the lord.
The main thing is the context of this verse. Who was Paul talking about? It wasn’t the Catholic Church because he was one of the first leaders of the Catholic Church. St John Chrysostom writes in the late 4th and early 5th centuries that Paul is foretelling the heresies of the Encratites, the Marcionites, and the Manicheans. The Albigensians were another group that came later in the 12th and 13th century. These Heresies taught that there was a god of good and a god of evil. The god of good was the god of the spiritual and the god of evil was the god of the physical. They taught that everything physical was bad. They condemned marriage as evil because of the physical marital act.
Some try to tag sex abuse to celibacy. This is however not factual.
According to a survey by the New York Times, 1.8 percent of all priests ordained from 1950 to 2001 have been accused of child sexual abuse. Dr. Thomas Plante, a psychologist at Santa Clara University, found that “80 to 90% of all priests who in fact abuse minors have sexually engaged with adolescent boys, not prepubescent children and almost all the priests who abuse children are homosexuals.
According to a 2000 report to the Baptist General Convention in Texas, “The incidence of sexual abuse by clergy noted that in studies done in the 1980s, 12 percent of protestant ministers had “engaged in sexual intercourse with members” and nearly 40 percent had “acknowledged sexually inappropriate behavior.”
Finally, in the authoritative work by Penn State professor Philip Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests, it was determined that between .2 and 1.7 percent of priests are pedophiles. The figure among the Protestant clergy ranges between 2 and 3 percent.[
In secular schools one study concluded that more than 60 percent of employees were accused of sexual abuse in the New York City schools. So we can see that celibacy is not the cause of sex abuse for it is much higher among protestant clergy and in secular systems. The reasons these others don’t get media attention like the Catholic Church does is that lawyers don’t make as much money suing an autonomous church when they can sue an entire Catholic Diocese. Also the media hates the Catholic Church because it is THE voice on morality. The church stands against everything the media loves like abortion, promiscuity, fornication, contraception
We need to realize that priests can sin just like us. They broke their vow that they willingly took. No one forced them. If we look at the divorce rate which is at 50% that means at least 50% of married people broke their vow that they willing took at their wedding to be faithful until death. So Priests are doing far better than everyone else about being faithful.
Praying to Mary
Praying to Mary and the saints cause problems with non catholics because they view it as worship. The word pray merely means to ask for something. When we pray to Mary we are asking her to pray for us. Mary and the saints don’t have the power to answer prayer in and of themselves. A common verse protestants use to refute this is 1 Tim 2:5 that says there is only one mediator between God and man referring to going straight to Jesus with your petitions. This verse however is referring to a specific type of mediator concerning salvation. If I asked you to pray for me because I was about to go into open heart surgery would you? I don’t know any Christian that would say no why are you wasting time with me why don’t you go straight to Jesus. St Paul speaks constantly that Christians should pray for one another. We are all members of the body of Christ whether we are on earth or in heaven and death cannot separate Christ’s body. Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
So why is it good to asks saints in heaven to pray for us? Because the prayers of a righteous man has great power James 5:16. Who is more righteous that the saints that are united with Christ in heaven. In Rev 5:8 there are saints in heaven presenting prayers to God from the faithful who are on earth. Jer 15:1-2 shows that people in the after life (in this case Samuel and Moses) are aware of what we are doing, are concerned for us and petition God on our behalf. Jer 15:1-2 says “Then the LORD said to me, "Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! And when they ask you, 'Where shall we go?' you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD: "Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence, and those who are for the sword, to the sword; those who are for famine, to famine, and those who are for captivity, to captivity."'Origen wrote in 233ad and he says But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep.
Rosary and vain repetition
There are 53 Hail Mary’s in one set of mysteries of the Rosary. That’s enough repetition for protestants to quote Mt 6:7 which says “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” The thing here is the word vain. In Rev 4:8 we have an example of repetition that is not vain. Rev 4:8 says “The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" Jesus tells us to be persistent in prayer and gives a parable in Lk 11:5-8 showing this: Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; 6for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; 7and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' 8"I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
The Hail Mary’s are merely the background music that allows our minds to focus and meditate on the mysteries of the life of Jesus. The practice of prayer beads started out in among the desert fathers in 3rd century who used the beads to keep track of the 150 psalms that they were praying everyday. They also used the beads to the Jesus prayer or the Our Father. It is also tradition that form of the Rosary that we have now was given to St Dominic in 1214 by an apparition of Mary.
Hail Mary Prayer
Protestants have a problem with the Hail Mary Prayer also but it is a very scriptural prayer. Lk 1:28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women Lk 1:42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Lk 1:48 Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Catholics believe that by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, Mary was preserved free from all stain of original sin. "The Immaculate Conception was defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Being defined so late in history Protestants will argue that the Catholic Church added traditions of men that aren’t biblical. The problem with the logic of this argument would also mean that the trinity and the hypostatic union were also man made tradition. The trinity was defined 300 years after the death of Jesus at the Council of Nicea in 325ad and the Doctrine of Jesus being 100% man and 100% God was at the Council of Chalcedon in 451ad. Just because it was defined later doesn’t mean that it wasn’t believed before.
Protestants will quote Rom 3:23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Since all have sinned Mary wasn’t conceived without since. There are a lot of exceptions to this verse. Jesus wasn’t a sinner but the verse says all have sinned. Babies aren’t old enough to be held accountable for personal sin. Mentally retarded don’t have the capacity to understand good from evil. 1 Jn 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
This is another verse quoted however this is talking about personal sin not original sin because the next verse says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. You don’t confess original sin you confess personal sin.
They will quote LK 1:46 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Even Mary says she needs a savior so she had to have sinned is the argument. To understand this better this analogy is often given. If we were walking side by side and up ahead is a huge hole. If we keep walking straight I will walk beside the hole but you not seeing the hole, will surely fall in. I have two ways of saving you. One way is after you fall in the hole by pulling you out. The other way is by stopping you before you fall in the hole. In both cases a savior was needed. Mary needed a savior but by a special act of God she was saved before she fell into sin.
It was more fitting for Mary to be pure from sin to carry Jesus in her womb other wise she could have died. In the old testament when the Priest went into the temple once a year in the Holy of Holies he had to go through a purification process. They would tie a rope on the high priests leg because occasionally a priest wasn’t pure enough and he would die in the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was the most holy place on the planet. It was where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and where the holy spirit in the form of a cloud was. So for Jesus to be in the womb for 9 months it would have to be pure.
The Angel Gabriel called Mary Full of Grace in Lk 1:28. If a glass is full of water is there any room for anything else? If she is full of grace is there room for sin?
I’ll give you one more verse for the Immaculate Conception. Gen 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Jesus always called Mary woman so we can make this connection. Whenever the bible talks about the seed of someone, it is always the seed of the man not the woman, (seed being offspring). In Revelation 12 we see who that woman is. Rev 12:5 she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, Revelation 19:15 explains that Jesus is that child. So the mother of Jesus is Mary. The word enmity means hostility or at odds with one another. So if Mary had sinned at some point in her life she would have been in league with Satan hence no enmity. If you read Revelation 12 there is a dragon (Satan) chasing after Mary but he never catches her. This is an illustration that she never was captured or enslaved to sin.
Mary the Ark of the New Covenant
It was understood by the fathers of the church that Mary was the ark of the new covenant. The ark of the old covenant was a box made of the purest materials (especially Gold) Mary was pure, conceived without sin, and virgin. The ark of the old covenant carried the Ten Commandments which was the word of God in stone. Mary carried Jesus who is the word of God in the flesh. The Ark carried manna which was bread that came from heaven to feed the Israelites. Mary carried Jesus who is the living bread that came down from heaven. Jn 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world
The Ark carried the staff of Aaron which was the symbol of the priesthood. Mary carried Jesus the high priest. The Ark of the Old Covenant stayed in the hill country for 3 months prior to coming to Jerusalem. The Ark of the New Covenant visited her cousin Elizabeth for 3 months.
When David meets the ark coming to Jerusalem he says in 2 Sam 6:9 "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?". When Elizabeth meets Mary coming to her Elizabeth exclaimed under the inspiration of the holy spirit in Lk 1:43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? In Revelation 11:19 John sees the temple in heaven opened and he sees the ark. We need to remember that there weren’t any chapter breaks in the original text so in the next verse (Rev 12:1-5) instead of describing the ark which no one has seen for 600 years he describes a woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet in and as I mentioned we find out later that this is Mary but this can also be symbolic of Israel and Church.
Assumption of Mary
This woman we see on the first level being Mary has a body in heaven which is our belief that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. In other places like in Rev 6:9 and Rev 20:4 when people are seen in heaven it mentions their souls not their bodies because unlike Mary we don’t get our bodies until Jesus returns at the second coming
Being assumed into heaven is not unbiblical either because Elijah and Enoch were assumed in the Old Testament. Heb 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 2 Kings 2:11 Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. The remains of every one of the apostles are in Catholic Churches and pilgrims come to visit the relics. With as much esteem as the early church gave to Mary if Mary had remains on earth there is no doubt we would know where they were and pilgrims would be visiting them. However no such place exists showing Mary has her body in heaven.
Some Protestants will make the claim that Mary had other children after Jesus. They will quote Mt 13:55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joses and Simon and Judas? The main thing about these passages is that there is no Hebrew word for cousin. Brother’s was often used in place of cousin or close relative. One biblical example in found in Genesis. Gen 14:16 Abraham calls Lot his brother but as we see in Genesis 11:27 Lot is really his nephew. At the foot of the cross we also see that James and Joses are the sons of a Mary but this is Mary wife of Cleopas not Mary mother of Jesus. And we can determine this by putting side by side Mt 27:56 with Jn 19:25. Jn 19:25 says those at the foot of the cross were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag'dalene. Mt 27:56 gives the same order but in reverse and leaving out Mary mother of Jesus saying Mary Mag'dalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zeb'edee. Another passage used is Gal 1:19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. We know that there were only two apostles named James. One was the son of Zebedee and the other was the son of Alpheus so these can’t be Jesus’ blood brothers.
Another verse they will quote is Mt 1:25 but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus. The word until suggests that Joseph knew Mary after Jesus was born. Matthew as the writer who was writing to Jews was putting emphasis that Mary was a virgin during the pregnancy with Jesus because the Jews knew the prophecy in Isaiah about a virgin birth. Until can also be used so that it doesn’t imply an action afterward. 2 Sam 6:23 And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child until the day of her death. Until here doesn’t imply that she had a child after her death.
If Jesus had brothers he wouldn’t have given the care of his mother to John at the cross in Jn 19:27. In Jewish culture the oldest son would have taken care of the mother in case of the death of the husband. Joseph being dead Jesus would have given Mary to the next oldest brother. Sometimes they will say his brothers didn’t come to faith so he gave her to John instead. Jesus would have done a disservice to his mother and shunned his brothers by giving Mary to be cared by John whether those brothers were of faith or not it wouldn’t have mattered.
Queen of Heaven
Mary being described as queen is different from when we normally think of a queen. We think of the queen as being the wife to the king but to ancient Jews it was the mother of the king. Jesus is the king of heaven and earth thus Mary is the queen. Jesus as king takes the throne of David. Lk 1:32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. So to see what Christ’s kingdom looks like we look at David’s Kingdom. 1 Kings 2:19 Bathsheba therefore went to King Solomon, to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her and bowed down to her, and sat down on his throne and had a throne set for the king's mother; so she sat at his right hand. Then she said, "I desire one small petition of you; do not refuse me." And the king said to her, "Ask it, my mother, for I will not refuse you." So we see Solomon (David’s son and successor to the throne) had a throne for his mother and bows to her. The king bows to no one but God and his mother. This verse is also one of the bases for praying to Mary and asking her intersession. The verses just before the one I read Adonijah asks Bathsheba to ask the king for Ab'ishag the Shu'nammite to be his wife an we see Solomon’s response. I cannot refuse you. That doesn’t mean that we can get whatever we want if we ask Mary to pray for us but is shows that the mother of God is a powerful intercessor.
Protestants don’t like the idea of queen of heaven because they think we make Mary a deity. They will quote Jeremiah 7:18 which the apostate Jews were making offerings to a queen of heaven as well as worshipping other gods. They will argue that God condemned them for worshiping the queen of heaven so condemns us for having a queen of heaven also. Just because the bible talks about a false queen of heaven doesn’t mean that there isn’t a true queen of heaven. They also worshipped false gods. Does that mean that there isn’t a true god? We don’t worship Mary either. We honor Mary the way Jesus honored her. We already talked about how Mary is the woman in Revelation 12 well this is what verse 17 says: Rev 12:17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. The offspring of Mary are those who keep the commandments of God. Therefore Mary is our mother also.
Purgatory is another thing Protestants claim isn’t in the bible. Lk 23:43 is sometime used to prove this. This is the thief on the cross whom Jesus says this day you will be in paradise. They say see he said this day not after a hundred years of purgatory. A couple of things: 1 Purgatory is outside of time so we don’t know how to measure time there and 2 it is the belief of St John Chrysostom and St Cyril of Jerusalem that Christ was pleased with his confession of faith that Jesus discharged his sins including guilt and punishment. The history of purgatory is very old. It goes back to at least 100BC. We first see the concept of purgatory in 2 Mac 12:45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin. Now Protestants don’t have this book in there cannon but for them it is at least a historical witness. In this verse we have people praying for the dead. If the people are in heaven then they don’t need our prayers. If they are in hell then our prayers can’t help them. So the only alternative is some other place where prayers can help. Jews pray to this day pray a prayer known as the Mourner’s Kaddish for eleven months after the death for the loved one’s purification.
Purgatory can easily be understood by two biblical concepts. The first being that sin has eternal and temporal consequences. When we commit a mortal sin our eternal consequence is eternity in hell. If that sin is confessed and repented of, then it is forgiven but you still have the temporal consequences as we see in the case of David. 2 Sam 12:13-14 David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die." Think of it like this: If when I was younger I break my window, my dad will forgive me but he will take away a month of allowances to help pay to have it replaced.
The other biblical concept is that nothing unclean will enter heaven (Rev 21:27). . We read that in Heb 12:14 Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. To have your soul completely free from sin, the attachment to venial sin and the temporal punishment due to that sin at the time your death is hard to do but not impossible. Steve Ray (a catholic convert and apologist) says that purgatory is like the front porch of heaven. Before you can enter you must take off your muddy boots and dirty clothes.
Paul describes purgatory most clearly in 1Cor 3:12-15 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Paul explains that our works are manifest in two ways. Our good works are presented as gold, silver, and precious stones which get purified in the fire. Our sin is presented as wood, hay, and stubble which get burned off. He says that he will suffer loss but still be saved. Paul can’t be talking about heaven here because there isn’t any suffering in heaven. This can’t be hell because people in hell don’t get saved.
One more verse for purgatory. Heb 12:23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. Here we have spirits made perfect so that would mean that there is some process in which the soul goes from imperfect to perfect.
St Augustine wrote in his work The City of God Book 21chapter 13 written in 419 Ad says
"Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment"
Tertullian wrote in 216 AD in his work On Monogamy chapter 10 he says
"A woman, after the death of her husband . . . prays for his soul and asks that he may, while waiting, find rest; and that he may share in the first resurrection. And each year, on the anniversary of his death, she offers the sacrifice"
First an indulgence is an act of charity or penance done that reduces the temporal punishment due to sin. I just talked about temporal vs. eternal. In the analogy I gave about the window an indulgence could be like this. Say my dad said my allowance will be taken for a month to help pay for the window but in the first two weeks I do extra things to help around the house my dad may say ok you have paid enough. We need to be clear when it comes to indulgences that we do not buy forgiveness. Forgiveness has already been obtained. We can not lessen our temporal punishment by own merits but Christ’s merits working through us. The authority in which indulgences are given stem from passages I already mentioned: Mt 16:18, Mt18:18, Jn 20:23 all having to do with binding things on earth that will be bound in heaven. It is a common misconception that the Catholic Church sells indulgences. There were abuses in which some people did sell them but the Church never taught that and the Council of Trent specifically condemned that.
To most protestants baptism is a public profession of faith that one makes when they have accepted Jesus as lord and savior so to them baptizing infants who have not sinned and can‘t know of their need for a savior, can‘t be baptized. To understand New testament baptism we need to understand Old Testament Circumcision. Circumcision was the way the people in the old testament entered into the covenant relationship God promised to Abraham. Circumcision was done on the 8th day after birth. It turns out that Jewish babies couldn’t have knowledge of sin either or know the need to be in covenant with God. In the new covenant Jesus wanted a way for all people to enter into covenant with God not just a specific race. 1 Cor 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Paul makes the connection between circumcision and baptism saying in Col 2:12 that “baptism is the circumcision of Christ.” Jesus feels that baptism is so important that in order to be born again, one must be born of water and spirit to enter the kingdom of heaven in Jn 3:3-5. Gal 3:27 and 1 Cor 12:13 which I just mentioned show that through baptism we enter the body of Christ. Baptism indeed washes away all sin prior to baptism: Acts 2:38-29 “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and receive the gift of the holy spirit. This promise is for you and your children”. Titus 3:5 says “you were saved by the washing and renewal of the spirit.” 1 Pt 3:21 “Baptism now saves you”. What it says at the end of 1 Pt 3:21 is key to understanding how baptism can wash away sin and it says “through the resurrection of Christ”. Through baptism we are buried with Christ so that we to may rise with Christ. That is precisely how Rom 6:3-5 puts it. Some say that the thief on the cross couldn’t be baptized yet Jesus says is going to heaven. In instances when it is impossible to be baptized then the Baptism of desire is sufficient. God isn’t going to require the impossible.
Irenaeus of Lyons in the Fragment 34 from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus in 190ad said
"'And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan' [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: 'Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven' [John 3:5]"
Sacred tradition is something not understood by protestants. When they hear tradition they connect it to the traditions of men that the Pharisees had made and Jesus rebuked. What they don’t realize is that they interpret the bible through a faith tradition. The Lutheran faith tradition says we are saved by faith alone. The Baptist faith tradition says baptism is symbolic only. The Calvinist faith tradition says that we don’t have free will and that everyone that is going to heaven has already determined at the beginning of the world. The problem with these traditions is they are not old enough. They are only 500 years old. They cannot be traced back to the teaching of the apostles. How can we give some proof that our beliefs can be traced back to the apostles? The early church fathers is the witness that we need to do so.
The bible wasn’t meant to be a text book to train people everything about how to manage the church. Some things were written down and some were taught orally. 2 Thess 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. 1 Cor 11:2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. This next verse really interested me because Paul tells the Corinthians that he wrote to them prior to 1 Corinthians. 1 Cor 5:9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; Why wasn’t this letter included in the bible? If Paul wrote things and they aren’t in the bible how much other teaching might they be missing if they don’t believe in the oral teaching of the church. The bible even says that everything isn’t explicitly found in the bible. Jn 21:25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. The doctrine of the trinity is one. If you were to read the bible with no prior knowledge it would be very difficult to come up with that doctrine. Now if the Church told you there are 3 persons but one God you could read the scriptures and build the evidence for that. The Jehovah Witnesses have the bible but they don’t believe in the trinity. That is an essential doctrine and we rely on tradition and magisterial teaching for it. There are over 30000 protestant denominations who believe in the bible alone or sola scriptura. That is 30000 differences in opinion on who is right when interpreting scripture. They will say the Holy Spirit will lead me into all truth quoting Jn 16:13. The problem with that verse is Jesus was talking to the apostles which were the teaching authority of the church. The Holy Spirit doesn’t lead people into confusion. The Holy Spirit doesn’t tell one denomination that baptism is essential for heaven and tells another that it is meaningless. The scripture verse always used to support sola scriptura is 2 Tim 3:15-17 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. The problem is when Timothy was in his youth none of the New Testament wasn’t written yet so Paul is talking about the old testament. If you would ask them “what is the foundation of truth”, they would most likely answer without hesitation, the bible. The problem is the bible says 1 Tim 3:15 the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth
Going by the bible alone one should find a passage in the bible teaching the bible alone but there isn’t any. The bible doesn’t say what books belong in the bible. So they are unknowingly not going by the bible alone. They are relying on an authority outside of the bible. If you would ask them “how do you know that the book of Mark is inspired”? Mark wasn’t an apostle. How do you know that the Mark that was inspired wrote the book of Mark and not some other Mark. Sacred tradition and the authority of the Catholic Church is the only answer that can be given.
The Dueterocannonical Books/ Apocrypha
The Catholic church sometimes gets accused of added books to the bible. “I absolutely agree”. The Catholic Church added the 27 books of the New Testament because Matthew, Mark, Luke, John etc were Catholic Bishops. This is not what they are talking about however. They say that the Catholic Church added the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees along with parts of Esther and Daniel at the council of Trent in the 16th century. This is not correct. The cannon of the bible was pronounced authoritatively as an apostolic tradition at the Council of Rome in 382ad, the Council of Hippo in 392ad, the Council of Carthage in 397ad, the Council of Carthage in 419ad. All of these councils had the books that are currently in our bible. There wasn’t a debate about the cannon until Martin Luther started questioning the canonicity of these books as well as some new testament books. This is why Trent had to say the cannon is not up for debate these are the books of the bible period. One argument used is the Jews don’t have these books in their bible. The Jews at a gathering of prominent rabbis in Jamnia in late 1st century chose to exclude those books partially because Christians were quoting passages like Wisdom 2:12-22 which is an explicit prophecy about Jesus. Also because there weren’t existing Hebrew copies of those books. In 400 BC Alexander the Great conquered the known world making Greek the primary language. After a century, Greek was more known than Hebrew. So that more scribes and Pharisees could read the scriptures and read it to the people, it was translated into Greek. The Greek Septuagint (which had the dueterocannonical books) was the closest thing to an Old Testament canon at the time of Jesus. 2/3rds of the Old Testament quotes cited in the New Testament are found word for word in the Greek Septuagint. Even the first edition of the King James Bible had them in. It wasn’t until the early 1800s that they weren’t in the bible.
Another argument they may give is those books aren’t quoted in the New Testament and thus not inspired. In which case you can respond: “going by that logic then Esther and number of other books aren’t inspired either.” There are few quotes though but that is not how we determine canonicity.
The Mass and the Eucharist
The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of Christ on the cross on calvary. It is the very same sacrifice re presented to us at mass. That may sound a little funny but God is outside of time. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was an act so powerful that it transcends time and space. It applied to the people who died before Jesus and it is applied to us 2000 years later.
When I first heard the word Eucharist I didn’t have any idea what it was. I looked it up in the dictionary and my first response was “yeah right”. “It’s only symbolizes Jesus’ body it isn’t his body.” When I started to investigate in the new testament to find where the lord’s supper or communion was symbolic I couldn’t find. I assumed at the last supper when he said this is my body and this is my blood that he was talking symbolically. I mean the bible is full of symbolism and basically if it seems weird, it is probably symbolic but Jesus says this is my body, not this represents my body or symbolizes my body.
Jesus powerfully teaches about the Eucharist in the gospel of John chapter 6. Jn 6:48-58 I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."
Protestants will say its only symbolic because Jesus said he was the door to heaven and a vine. The difference with those verses and these in John 6 is everyone Jesus was speaking to knew he was speaking symbolically when he said he was a door and vine. They didn’t react “oh how can he say that he is door when he is a living breathing human being”.
In verse 66 in John Chapter 6 (7 verses after Jesus finishes explaining the Eucharist) Jesus’ disciples (not the apostles) quit following him because they were taking him literally and could not accept the teaching. Whenever his followers misunderstood what Jesus meant Jesus corrected them like in Mt 16:5-12. Jesus lets his followers go because there was no need to correct what they were thinking because they had got it right and rejected it.
For me to understand the Eucharist I had to see how it was linked to the Old Testament Passover sacrifice. In Exodus we read about how while still in captivity in Egypt, an angel of death would enter the land and kill every first born male. To protect Israel from this they had to sacrifice a lamb with out defect and eat the lamb. Eating the lamb was not optional they couldn’t eat lamb shaped cookies if they didn’t like lamb. If they did they would have found first born males dead the next morning. These things parallel so closely with its new testament fulfillment in Mass. At Mass we offer the one sacrifice of Jesus on the cross which is re presented not repeated. In Malachi we read a prophecy about a pure future sacrifice that is offered continuously around the world. Mal 1:11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. The only pure sacrifice is that of Jesus. This is the sacrifice of the mass. Mass is continually being said around the world just like Malachi prophecies. It is estimated 350000 masses are said a day around the world. That means every second 4 masses start and only at mass is the only ever pure sacrifice, Jesus’ once for all sacrifice is re presented to us. Like the lamb in the old testament, Jesus is called the Lamb of God by John the Baptism. He was with out sin so there was no defect. Like the in the old covenant they ate the sacrificial lamb so we eat the sacrificial lamb in the new covenant when we receive communion. This next verse also shows that bread and wine are not symbolic for eating it unworthily causes damnation upon oneself. 1Cor 11:27-29 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks damnation upon himself.
Ignatius of Antioch in 107ad wrote an Epistle to the Smyraeans in chapter 6 saying
"Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes" (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110]).
Faith and Works
Some say that Catholics work their way to heaven. This is not true. That was a heresy called Pelagianism which the Catholic Church condemned at the council of Ephesus in 431ad. We believe in salvation by grace alone just like the protestants do. However don’t believe all you need is intellectual accent but that we are to cooperate with God with the help of his grace. Any thing that we do is because as Gal 2:20 says I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me
James really makes it clear that we need faith along side of works. Jas 2:14-26 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.
Some will argue that James is talking about justification before men. However James gives analogy of body and spirit to faith and works to show both are necessary for life. Also the examples he gives of Abraham shows that no one was around for people to see his faith.
Pretty much all protestants believe in faith alone and that we don’t have to do anything other than accept Jesus as personal Lord and savior to get to heaven. Catholics agree with protestant that salvation can be granted initially to those who believe in Jesus. For example: The thief on the cross next to Jesus was saved by his faith. With the thief being on the cross, he couldn’t get baptized, or receive the Eucharist. Once one believes he hasn’t secured his salvation for the rest of his life. We can see this all throughout the bible. We need to be merciful to others: Matt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. We need to forgive people who sin against us as it says in Matt 6:15. We need to do the will of God: Mt 7:21 "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
We need to be baptized: Jn 3:5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. We need to feed the hungry and clothe the naked as it says in Mt 25:32-46. In this passage the only difference between those who went to heaven and those that went to hell was what they did or did not do. It is interesting to note that some of the people that didn’t feed the hungry and clothe the naked called Jesus lord. “Lord when did we see you hungry?” This suggests that at least some of them had accepted Jesus as there personal lord and savior but didn’t have works.
In Mt 19:16-21 Jesus was traveling and he was asked by a rich ruler specifically what he needed to do to get to heaven. Jesus didn’t say just believe in me. He said keep the commandments. Keeping the commandments would be something we need to do wouldn’t you agree?
Now all of these verses show that we need to do something to get to heaven but we need God’s grace to do all of those things. Now protestants will give you a lot of verses that look like works aren’t important like Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God-- not because of works, lest any man should boast.
This verse is contrasting working solely to get to heaven without believing. It is an either or statement not a both and. We would also agree that initial justification is solely a gift through faith but to maintain a right relationship with God we need to cooperate with his grace and be obedient to faith which means doing the things I just mentioned. Another passage used is Gal 2:16 yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.
At the time Paul is writing his letters there were a group of Jewish Christians who are called Judeizers. These Jewish Christians believed that the Gentile Christians should follow all of the laws of Moses. This is what Paul is addressing in Galatians. The works of the law were all of the statutes that they were required to keep in the old Covenant. Paul is telling them there is no salvation in the old covenant because it has passed away and is fulfilled in the new covenant in Christ Jesus.
Statues and Different 10 commandments
When some protestants see statues of saints in churches they label it as idol worship. They will point to their listing of the 10 commandments that say thou shalt not make any graven images. This commandment isn’t against making the graven image, it is worshiping the image. We can be certain of this because just 5 chapters after the ten commandments are given, God commands Israel to make graven images.
Ex 25:18-20 God tells them to make two golden Cherubim and put them on the top of the ark of the covenant (which was the holiest place on the planet at the time. In Num 21:8-9 the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
Statues are merely holy reminders. They remind us of the saint that has won the race and is now in heaven. They remind us of there example of holiness. It is like how you have a picture of your family on your wall. You don’t worship the picture it reminds you of a place and time and the good memories that go along with it.
Protestants often blame the Catholic Church for changing the Ten Commandments so that they can worship idols. The way that protestants arrange the commandments are like this. 1 You shall have no other gods before me 2 You shall not make any graven images 3 You shall not take the lords name in vain 4 Keep the Sabbath day holy 5 honor your father and mother 6 you shall not murder 7 you shall not commit adultery 8 you shall not steal 9 you shall not lie 10 you shall not covet.
The Catholic Church didn’t re arrange commandments rather it has a better understanding of the order which follows closer to the Dt 5 list versus the Ex 20 list. Also if you count all the thou shalt’s you get 12 commandments. The second commandment in the protestant order is not against making graven images it is against the worship of them. That is the same thing as the first commandment. So in the Catholic list those two are together and to get ten commandments we split the protestant’s tenth commandment in two. Our 9th commandment is you shall not covet your neighbors wife and 10th is you shall not covet your neighbors goods. St Augustine ordered it this way with the understanding that your neighbor’s wife is not the property of the neighbor. In this order the 7th commandment and the 9th are linked as well as the 8th and 10th. The 7th is you shall not commit adultery and the 9th is you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. These two commandments deal with desires of the flesh. Coveting your neighbor’s wife is stepping stool to adultery. The 8th commandment is you shall not steal and the 10th is you shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. These two commandments deal with the desires of material things. Coveting your neighbor’s goods is the stepping stool to stealing the goods.
Some people like to say that the Catholic Church was founded by emperor Constantine in the early 300s ad. This is not even close to being true. As I already showed from previous quotes from Church fathers our catholic beliefs were being taught prior to Constantine. There are two events which people point to show that Constantine founded the Catholic Church. The first was the edict of Milan in 313ad. Despite popular opinion this edict did not make Catholicism the state religion. What it did was make Christianity legal. Prior to this it was illegal and many Catholic Christians were being killed for it. The other event was the Council of Nicea in 325 ad. This was called by Constantine however he didn’t have any influence on the decrees of the council. I suggest you google nicea creed to see what the bishops declared at that council. Among which declared was that Jesus was God going against a large heresy going on at the time known as arianism. Constantine himself wasn’t even a Catholic Christian. As I mentioned in the baptism section. It is baptism that makes one a member of the body of Christ which is the Church. Constantine wasn’t baptized until he was on his death bed and it was preformed by an Arian bishop which is questionable that this baptism was even valid.
Another thing brought up against the Catholic Church is that it burned bibles, chained them and prevented it from being translated into the vernacular to keep people ignorant of scripture and thus in their grip. This is simply is misunderstood. It did burn bibles but that was because it had grievous errors in it such as thou shalt commit adultery, Mk 7:27 said let the children be killed first instead of filled first. They did chain bibles but that was so people wouldn’t steal it just like they use to do to the telephone books and bank teller pens. Bibles were very expensive because they were hand written so they did it so every could had access to it. The Church did not try to keep people ignorant of scripture by not printing the bible in the vernacular. In fact prior to the reformation there were Danish, Polish, , Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, French, Bohemian, English, and there were even 18 German translations prior to Martin Luther. David Curry did a study on how much scripture is read in church services and found that it is read 7% of the time in Evangelical churches, 2% in Fundamentalist, and the highest of all of them was 26% in the Catholic Church. The mass is drenched in scripture. There is more than just the Old Testament, New Testament, Gospel, and Responsorial psalm. Many of the prayers come from scripture as well. So even if people could not read the Catholic Church has made it a priority that the faithful hear the scriptures.
The Inquisition is another thing that people sometimes mention. The inquisition’s purpose was to protect the people by preventing the spread of heresy which was considered worse than murder because heresy kills the soul which is worse than the body. Paul said in 2 Tim 2:17 that heresy will spread like gangrene so the thinking of the time was to remove the gangrene so it would not kill the rest of the body.
The Bible itself records instances where God commanded that formal, legal inquiries—that is, inquisitions—be carried out to expose secret believers in false religions. In Deuteronomy 17:2–5 God said: "If there is found among you, within any of your towns which the Lord your God gives you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing his covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, and it is told you and you hear of it; then you shall inquire diligently and if it is true and certain that such an abominable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring forth to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones."
It is clear that there were some Israelites who posed as believers in and keepers of the covenant, while inwardly they did not believe and secretly practiced false religions, and even tried to spread them (cf. Deut. 13:6–11). To protect the kingdom from such hidden heresy, these secret practitioners of false religions had to be rooted out and expelled from the community. This directive from the Lord applied even to whole cities that turned away from the true religion (Deut. 13:12–18). Like Israel, medieval Europe was a society of Christian kingdoms that were formally consecrated to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is therefore quite understandable that these Catholics would read their Bibles and conclude that for the good of their Christian society they, like the Israelites before them, "must purge the evil from the midst of you" (Deut. 13:5, 17:7, 12) Which Paul repeats this principle in 1 Corinthians 5:13.
These same texts were interpreted similarly by the first Protestants, who also tried to root out and punish those they regarded as heretics. Luther and Calvin both endorsed the right of the state to protect society by purging false religion and many Catholics were killed under King Henry VIII who was the head of the Anglican Church.
Queen Isabella of spain approved the inquisition in 1480 which was 1 month after Muslims invaded the Itallian town of Toronto killing 12000 and selling 10000 into slavery and 20 years after the fall of Constantinople. It was in the shadow of this that the inquisition was used to determine people who were pretending to have converted to Catholicism in order to infiltrate the government. So today it would be like a communist masking as an American in order to infiltrate and destroy the established democracy. To this day this is treason and is punishable by death in the US.
The Inquisition Only had jurisdiction on professed Catholics. There were muslims and jews in spain at the time and they were not bothered by the inquisition. When there was a suspect there was a 30 day grace period were if someone came forward they were given a penance and it was over. If some one was accused there had to be at least to witnesses before any evidence was considered. Any false testimony was harshly punished. Many people preferred to have their cases tried by ecclesiastical courts because the secular courts had even fewer safeguards. In fact, historians have found records of people blaspheming in secular courts of the period so they could have their case transferred to an ecclesiastical court, where they would get a better hearing. We must also remember that the kingdoms mentioned before that it was under the laws of the kingdom which it was illegal to be a heretic with the punishment being a penalty of death carried out by the kingdoms authorities. It was just the Catholic Church that determined if they were heretics or not.
Most of the time the numbers presented that the Catholic Church killed are grossly inflated from 9 to 150 million. This is just ridiculous. That would be enough to kill all of Europe. Even liberal numbers are under 6000 over the 600 years that it was going on. There were times of abuses because people sin in no matter what church you are in. The main thing to consider is that the inquisition was meant for the protection of the common good.
Sometimes the Church gets accused of being anti science. This can’t be farther from the truth. An example commonly brought up was a situation with Galileo. Galileo ascribed to a scientific system founded by a Catholic named Copernicus. Copernicus didn’t want to publish his work due to ridicule by contemporaries but only did published his work at the requests of Cardinal Shoneburn and Bishop Giese. Copernicus dedicated his work to pope Paul III. Galileo came to Rome in 1611 and set up shop in a garden of Cardinal Bendeni. The church was not opposed to him researching. The only time they did sound the alarm was when Galileo was insisting that the Copernican doctrine be taken as absolute truth without answers to all of the objections. So the church wasn’t hindering science but wanted to not be hasty in making conclusions until there is substantial proof. The Church did not persecute Galileo but put him under house arrest in the papal palace for his obstinance. Catholics have been the forerunners in Science. It was the Catholic Church that started the college system. Louis Pasteur a catholic invented pastuerization, Alexander Fleming invented penicillin. Gregory Mendel was an Augustinian priest and he was the father of modern genetics. Many Jesuit priests were great scientists. The Vatican even has its own observatory so there is really no historical basis for saying the Catholic church is anti science.
Sometimes people say that the Church is legalistic because of the laws it has. If you take basketball for example. When that game was first invented it probably had less than a dozen rules. Then the more that it got played situations occurred where more rules had to added to ensure fairness. Like what do you do if buzzer rings ending the game 1 second before the ball goes threw the hoop. Would that shot be good or not? The Church has been around for 2000 years and many situations have come up that rules had to be added. Like is a mormon baptism a valid one or would they have to be properly baptized if they were to convert. The rules are to protect the faithful in the common era. God gave us rules to follow also. We call them the ten commandments and those aren’t optional. Other rules given are to help the faithful grow closer to God like it requires fasting on Good Friday as a way to recall the death that Jesus endured for us. These are good things and I would rather rely on the wisdom of a 2000 year old Church than myself trying to reinvent the wheel. Some say they don’t like how the Catholic Church tells you what you have to believe. Did Jesus tell the apostles the truth and then say but if you don’t agree you can start your own denomination and teach what you believe? No. Truth is truth and it is the Churches job to defend truth as 1 Tim 3:15 says. Jesus speaking to the first leaders of the Church said in Lk 10:16 "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."
Harlot of Babylon
Some people think the Catholic Church is the harlot of Babylon that is spoken of in Rev 17. These people point to two main verses to "prove" that the woman (the harlot) is the Roman Catholic Church. Those verses are: 1) Rev 17:9 This calls for a mind with wisdom; the seven heads are seven hills on which the woman is seated, and 2) Rev 17:18 And the woman that you saw is the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth.
"See," they say, "the seven hills means Rome, which is a city that sits on seven hills. The Catholic Church is headquartered in Rome. And, Rome was the great city that had dominion over the kings of the earth. Therefore, the harlot of Babylon is a world-wide religion that is based in Rome." The problem with these two assumptions is that Vatican City in on one hill that is not a part of the seven hills which is on the other side of the Tiber river and the Catholic Church doesn’t have dominion over the kings of the earth.
There two things to look at in these verses in Rev 17. There is the harlot and the beast that she is sitting on. Rev 17:3 and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. And, Rev 17:9 This calls for a mind with wisdom; the seven heads are seven hills on which the woman is seated. What we have here is the seven hills pertain to the beast on which the woman is seated, not the woman herself. The beast is symbolic of Rome and the Roman Empire.
The harlot is clearly identified as a city, not a Church. This city is Jerusalem.
The harlot of Babylon is referred to as the "great city," in Rev 17:18 and in a few verses in chapter 18. Knowing that, if you look at Rev 11:9 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the GREAT CITY which is allegorically called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. The "great city" is where their Lord was crucified. Their Lord was crucified in Jerusalem.
The nation of Israel was often referred to in the Old Testament as a harlot because Israel quite often would forsake worship of the one true God, and would worship of false gods instead. Quite often the relationship between God and Israel is described in marital terms. Therefore, when Israel would forsake her true Spouse, she was described as a harlot...a whore. Hos 9:1, "Rejoice not, O Israel! Exult not like the peoples; for you have played the harlot, forsaking your God. You have loved a harlot's hire upon all threshing floors."
Rev 17:16 "And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the harlot; they will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh, and burn her up with fire. If the beast is Rome (or the Roman Empire), and the harlot is Jerusalem, then we can see a clear connection When Jerusalem was sacked and burned in 70 A.D by Roman General Titus thus leaving the city naked and burned up with fire, just like the Bible says. Rev 17:6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." Jesus further affirms Jerusalem is the harlot by what he says to the scribes and Pharisees in Mt 23:33-38. "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah...O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you...Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate."
Notice Jesus sends the saints to Jerusalem and they will be killed and crucified and scourged and persecuted. So Jerusalem will be drunk with the blood of the martyrs and saints of Jesus, just like the harlot of Babylon. Now if you compare verse Mt 23:38, about Jerusalem being forsaken and desolate with Rev 18:21-24...these verses describe a city that is pretty much forsaken and desolate. And if look closely at verse Rev 18:24 "And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth." Well, if the blood of all who have been slain on earth are found in the harlot of Babylon; and the blood of all the O.T. prophets and wise men and scribes, and the blood of those sent by Jesus who are yet to be crucified, killed, scourged, and persecuted are upon Jerusalem (Matthew 23), then it looks, again, like Jerusalem is the harlot of Babylon.