Friday, October 12, 2012

Baptism



Baptism
A look at the arguments of the varying interpretations of baptism.
A comprehensive list of Early Church Father references of baptism.

There are many interpretations of baptism: baptisms done by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling, baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name only, in the name of the creator, redeemer, and sanctifier. There is paedo baptism which is the baptism of infants but is not regenerative. There is oiko Baptism which is the baptism of households. There is credo baptism which is the baptism of believers and can be either regenerative or non regenerative. Then there is the Catholic belief of baptismal regeneration and is preformed on infants or adult converts.
I recently listened to a debate between Rev Bill Shishko and Dr James White on baptism. It was interesting, both are Calvinists who go by sola scriptura (bible alone) yet Shishko was for paedo and oiko baptism and White was for credo baptism. The debate could have ended 5 minutes in if they would have looked at what the disciples of apostles taught about baptism and whether that was inline with scripture or not. Since that isn’t going to suffice here in this article we are going to look at these things. 
I’ll start where I was 7 years ago in the Anabaptist position. The Anabaptist position is credo baptism. When we chose that Jesus is our Lord and savior we had a little preparation class before we were baptized to make sure we knew a little about our faith and then we were baptized in front of the congregation. The whole point of this baptism was to show the congregation that we professed faith in Jesus. Apart from this what was the point I wondered. Salvation Army doesn’t even baptize at all. We see many cases in scripture that show when people came to faith they were baptized. One place I want to look at is Acts 8:27-38. Here we have an Ethiopian eunuch who came to Jerusalem to worship and was on his way home in a chariot reading the prophet Isaiah. He said he didn’t understand it so Phillip explained it to him and about Jesus. As they came to a body of water the eunuch asked to be baptized and Phillip said if you believe you may. So they went into the water and he was baptized. Now in this case I don’t see baptism as a public profession of faith because the only believer to profess it to was Phillip. Another case in Acts 16:33 Paul and Silas’ jailer and his household were baptized in secret at midnight with no one else to publicly profess faith to. This next verse scholars aren’t exactly sure what these people were doing but two things are for certain; 1 is baptism was not a public profession and 2 baptism had something to the resurrection of our bodies. 1 Cor 15:29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 
When we see baptisms of believers in scripture the Catholic Church has no objection. As I said the Catholic Church baptizes adult converts who profess faith in Jesus but there is more teaching about baptism in scripture that points to something much deeper behind baptism along with something that baptism does. For instance 1 Pet 3:20-21 which mentions that Noah and his family were saved through water and that BAPTISM which corresponds to this NOW SAVES YOU. Now the huge question here is how in the world can baptism save you when that was the point of Jesus dying on the cross. We have to ask the question how Jesus applies to us the sanctifying grace that He purchased for us on the cross. The answer to this comes at the end of vs 21 which says: “not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. Jesus chooses baptism as the channel in which his saving grace is applied to us through the resurrection of Christ. What I encounter with people who do not accept baptismal regeneration is they cannot understand that we can be saved by Jesus’ atoning work on the cross and that he chooses to apply that grace to us through the channel of baptism.
In Jn 15 Jesus explains that he is the vine and we are the branches. In Rom 11:11-24 Paul explains that we as branches have been grafted IN. There are only 2 places that mention how to get into Christ and both of them explain it is through baptism. Gal 3:27 “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Rom 6:3-4 “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” These two verses also further explain 1 Pt 3:21 and how baptism saves us through the resurrection and how through baptism we can tap into its saving power. In fact we see numerous other passages that show that baptism is for the remission of sins and in the normative course necessary for salvation. 
Mk 16:15-16 “And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” This passage does not say just believe but combines believe and baptize with the copulative kai. The argument against this passage is that it doesn’t mention baptism when it says the one who doesn’t believe being condemned. Mentioning being condemned for not being baptized would be redundant because if you don’t believe you wouldn’t be baptized. We see the same language that was used in Mk 16:16 as we do in Acts 2:38 “And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In this passage it says things are for the forgiveness of sins. This passage presents problems if we take a believers baptism view because the person is saved before they are baptized which is backwards to this passage. Whatever baptism is for in this passage is the same repentance is for because we have the copulative kai again.  Do you repent because your sins have been forgiven or do you repent so that your sins can be forgiven? 
Acts 22:16 “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” In this verse we again see baptism is for the forgiveness of sins. In this instance we see baptism is for washing away sins. As we continue to look through scripture we see baptismal language of washing away sins being used in relation to our justification and sanctification. The greek word for baptize is baptizo and one of the meanings is to wash so keep that in mind in the next 3 verses. 1 Cor 6:11 “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Eph 5:26 “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” Tit 3:5 “he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” We can also see that there is more to baptism than a symbol in Eph 4:4-6 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” One aspect of this verse is that it says there is only one baptism. At the church I was at anyone who wanted to rededicate their life to Christ could be baptized again. This practice is in line with the belief of baptism as a profession of faith but here we see there is only one baptism. Also protestants have at least 2 baptisms: a water baptism and a spirit baptism which goes against this verse. Catholics have one baptism of water and spirit. Why is it in this verse that we have one Lord, one faith, one God and in the middle of this list of very important aspects of our faith do we find baptism in there? If baptism is just symbolic I don’t see why it is in this list but if baptism is the means in which Jesus applies his saving grace to us then I can see that that is pretty important and fitting in this verse.
We also see baptism being of both water and spirit and shows that this is how we become one body in 1 Cor 12:13 “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” We see in Mt 28:19 Jesus says to make disciples and says how to do it which is by baptism: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” 
The culmination of all these verses showing baptism is for the forgiveness of sins we have the very words of our Lord. Jn 3:5 “Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” The only place in the bible that talks about being born again and it is referring to baptism. There is no mention of accepting Jesus as Lord and savior to be born again. Now people may say it doesn’t say baptism here. I have heard the argument that the water is referring to amniotic fluid and thus physical birth and spiritual birth. If this is the case why even bring up physical birth. It is obvious one must be in existence if they are to enter the kingdom. This passage’s focus is on a second birth not the first. Also viewing water here as the word of God by using Eph 5:26 doesn’t make sense either. This verse says “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word”. It doesn’t say the water is the word it says water with the word. We could even see this passage as support for baptism because the word could represent the words of invocation while pouring the water during baptism.  Jn 3:5 is by far the most quoted verse by the early church fathers as you will see at the end of this article and every single one of them saw this verse as speaking of the necessity of baptism for the entry into the kingdom.
Let’s look at water and spirit else where in the bible to help us understand this better.
God starts new things in the same way with “water and the Spirit“. We first see water and spirit with the first creation. The earth which was covered with water and the spirit hovered over the waters and from the water emerged, land, man, and God’s first creation (Gen 1:1-2). A new humanity was started with Noah through water and spirit. The ark went through the water and a dove (representing the Spirit) hovered overhead with an olive branch. The nation of Israel was created through the water of the Red Sea (baptism) with the cloud and fire of the Holy Spirit overhead. 1 Cor 10:1-2 “For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. 2 And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea.” In this verse we actually see baptism tied into water and spirit. Ezekiel describes what the New Covenant will look like and he said we will be sprinkled with clean water and His Spirit will be placed in us. This is what Ezekiel says. Ezek 36:25 “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Mk 1:8, Mt 3:11, Lk 3:16, Jn 1:33, Acts 1:5, Acts 11:16 recall that John the Baptist baptized with water only but HE will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. This is what we saw in Acts 2:38-39 (which was Peter first sermon after Pentecost) that people who are baptized would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, right before saying you must be born of “water and the Spirit” had just gone down into the water of the Jordan and the Spirit came down and landed on his head in the form of a dove (Mt 3:16, Jn 1:29). When Jesus finished speaking about being born again the next thing we read him doing was baptizing people in the Jordan with his disciples (Jn 4:1-2). 
One argument against baptismal regeneration is that Cornelius in Acts 10:45-48 had the Holy Spirit fall upon him before he was baptized. This is not contradictory to the baptismal regeneration view. 1 Cor 12:3 says that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit did not work before baptism there would never be any conversions. The difference is this was not regeneration.
Another argument against baptismal regeneration is if baptism is so important why does Paul say in 1 Cor 1:17 that Christ did not send him to baptize, but to preach the gospel. This is how Tertullian (160-240ad) answers this objection in his treatise on Baptism chapter 14.
“But they roll back an objection from that apostle himself, in that he said, "For Christ sent me not to baptize;", as if by this argument baptism were done away! For if so, why did he baptize Gaius, and Crispus, and the house of Stephanas? However, even if Christ had not sent him to baptize, yet He had given other apostles the precept to baptize. But these words were written to the Corinthians in regard of the circumstances of that particular time; seeing that schisms and dissensions were agitated among them, while one attributes everything to Paul, another to Apollos. For which reason the "peace-making" apostle, for fear he should seem to claim all gifts for himself, says that he had been sent "not to baptize, but to preach." For preaching is the prior thing, baptizing the posterior. Therefore the preaching came first: but I think baptizing withal was lawful to him to whom preaching was.”
John Chrysostom answers this objection also in Homily 3 on 1 Corinthians (347-407 ad)
Still a man of no singular excellence is able to baptize, but to preach the Gospel there is need of great labor. Ver. 15. He states also the reason, why he giveth thanks that he had baptized no one. What then is this reason? "Lest anyone should say that ye were baptized into my own name"
Another argument against baptismal regeneration is that baptism is a work and Paul says in Eph 2:8-9 that we are saved by faith and not of works lest any man should boast. No one boasts about being baptized because it is something done to you. It is also not a work of man but a work of God as the Lutheran work Apology XXIV 18 says.
Another argument against baptismal regeneration is concerning the thief on the cross who recognized Jesus as the King of heaven. They say he could not be baptized and Jesus said he would be with him in paradise. God does not require the impossible. In instances of invincible ignorance, or impossibilities God can save those in a special mean. For example someone who is martyred for the faith and has not yet been baptized this is called a baptism of blood. We can see a type of this in Mk 10:38 and Lk 12:50 where Jesus refers to his death as a type of baptism. There is also what is called baptism of desire in which if the person would have known baptism was necessary they would have been baptized.
Another aspect of baptism is its typological significance with circumcision. Col 2:11-12 mentions that baptism is the circumcision of Christ. When we look at typology the Old Testament type is always inferior to the New Testament archetype so in this case baptism is greater than circumcision. What was circumcision?  Gen 17:11 “You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.” In this verse we see that circumcision is a sign of the covenant not of faith. Gen 17:14 “any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” In the Old Testament we see that if you are to be in covenant with God you must be circumcised. So if baptism is greater than circumcision then baptism must at least be necessary as we saw in Jn 3:5 and other places. Circumcision was done on the eighth day after birth (Lev 12:3). So we see that in the Old Covenant infants were included into the covenant because of the faith of their parents. 
One of the biggest objections to infant baptism is that infants cannot realize their sins and need of a savior. Well right here we see that infant Jews were included into the covenant when they couldn’t realize their sins and need of a savior. In order to stay consistent with typology the New Covenant cannot be worse than the Old. This is why we can’t say that New Covenant children have to wait until they are grown up to be in covenant with God because that would be worse than the Old Testament. We can also see a foreshadowing of this reality in 1 Cor 10:2 which says that the Israelites were ALL baptized in the sea. This is referring to the Red Sea and there were hundreds of thousands of people who passed through it including children. 
 We can see New Testament evidence of this in Lk 18:15-16 “and they brought unto him also infants, that he might touch them. Which when the disciples saw, they rebuked them.16 But Jesus, calling them together, said: Suffer children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” This verse doesn’t mention baptism but it mentions that infants are to be included into the kingdom of God which is what we have seen the purpose of baptism is. What is the fate of those infants who die in those denominations who say justification by faith alone? Are the mentally retarded excluded from the kingdom of God in these denominations? Nothing shows better that we believe salvation is a gift than our belief in infant baptism. Infants utter helpless being brought into the body of Christ by baptism based on the faith of their parents. We can see that the faith of the parents can speak for the child in Mt 9:2 “Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” In this verse it was the faith of the men who brought the paralyzed man who moved Jesus to forgive the sins of the man who was helpless. 
A big argument against infant baptism is that there isn’t any instance in the bible of infants being baptized. There also isn’t any instance of children growing up and being baptized later. We do see in Acts 2:39 right after Peter said repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the holy spirit he says this promise if for you and your children. It is possible that this is referring to later generations but the first meaning in the greek word for children (teknon) used here means child, son or daughter which seems to suggest their current children. If this is the case with their current children then I don’t see that they could be of the age of reason because I don’t see why he would have added children if they could act as an adult and chose for themselves. There are also a couple instances where we see entire households being baptized like in Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, 1 Cor 1:16. It is not absolutely certain that there were infants in these households but we can’t rule it out either.
I had mentioned oiko baptism in the beginning and this is something some Presbyterians argue for as an argument for infant baptism. The argument follows Old Testament circumcision in that everyone in the household followed the faith of the head of the house. Although this is an argument for infant baptism it doesn’t hold true in every case. In the case of Lydia in Acts 16:14-15 Lydia’s household is baptized but Lydia is not the head of the household. Also baptism in the new covenant is for men and women unlike the Old Covenant which was for males only. In the Old Covenant circumcision of the head of the household was extended to the women under the head of the household. In the New Covenant this is not the case for the wife because she needs to be baptized also. I am not aware of people saying that it is impossible to be married to someone of a different faith. If the oiko baptism principle was the case then the wife would have to be baptized for them to be married. We also don’t see any mention of this in the fathers. They baptized their infants because of what baptism did.
One argument against infant baptism says that Jesus wasn’t baptized as a baby. That’s right but that doesn’t affect our argument just like adult converts being baptism doesn’t negate infant baptism. John’s baptism was also not Christian baptism. John did not baptize using the Trinitarian formula and his baptism did not result in regeneration. The people John baptized were people who were repenting so Jesus did not even need to be baptized. It is interesting that the fathers of the Church said that Jesus not needing baptism when he went into the water he sanctified the water for our baptisms. (Jerome dialogue against the Luciferians par 6, Ephriam of Syria on Epiphany). If this is the case it makes the words of Jesus in Mt 3:15 make a lot of sense. In this verse John doesn’t want to baptize Jesus but Jesus replied “allow it now for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” What righteousness would be fulfilled if Jesus’ baptism did not accomplish what the fathers said?
There are some groups that say the only valid baptism is being immersed. This comes from passages of people going into water and being baptized. This is why it is nice to have an authoritative Church that can speak for Christ in answering these questions. We do know that at Pentecost in Acts 2 there were 3000 people baptized that day and yet there aren’t any bodies of water around this area. The Didache which was written in 70 ad isn’t an inspired book but is a witness of what the early church was doing. In chapter 7 it says “baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water (moving water like a river). But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.”
There are some groups that say you should only be baptized in the name of Jesus only. The reason for this is the instances in the bible when people are baptized it says be baptized in the name of Jesus. We can tell by the witness of what early church was doing that they were not baptizing using the formula of Jesus’ name only but the Trinitarian formula that we see in Mt 28:19 where Jesus explicitly commands the baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Why then are they saying in scripture to be baptized into Jesus’ name? There are a couple reasons. I think the main reason is they were baptizing in the name as in (in the authority of) Jesus. For example a police officer may say stop in the name of the law. He is acting by another authority. Another reason would be to distinguish the baptism of Jesus with the baptism of John. In Acts 19:2-3 it is asked if some disciples received the Holy Spirit and they replied that they didn’t know a Holy Spirit existed. Paul then asked “in what then were you baptized?” (implying if they were baptized correctly the Holy Spirit would have been mentioned). They then answer into John’s baptism. 
In Acts 8:16 there are two possible interpetations for what is going on. This is the verse: “for it (Holy Spirit) had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Either there were people going around baptizing with the Jesus only formula and this verse shows that it is an incorrect baptism because the Holy Spirit was not given or the Holy Spirit mentioned here is referring to the sealing of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in confirmation. The second seems plausible because Phillip (only a deacon) can not confirm because only bishops can do that. This would explain why they have Peter and John come down to do it. Either way it supports the Catholic position.
Lastly I want to look at Heb 6:4-6 “For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost 5 Have moreover tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,6 And are fallen away: to be renewed again to penance, crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making him a mockery.”
What is going on in this passage? Thomas Aquinas points out that this passage is referring to being illuminated through baptism. Take a look at the early church father references below and you will see that they very often referred to baptism as illumination. If this passage is not talking about baptism then this verse makes no sense. What would the illumination be, the tasting the heavenly gift be, and partaking of the Holy Spirit be and how would those things relate to falling away and not being able to be restored? If we are talking about some type of spiritual or intellectual accent then why can’t they return to their prior state? The logical answer is that we are illuminated through baptism in which we receive the Holy Spirit where we taste the heavenly gift. Aquinas notes that Augustine says this passage does not say it is impossible to repent but it is impossible to be renewed. Those who fall away cannot be restored through baptism again because there is only one baptism. 

Click Here for 18 pages of Quotes from the Early Church Fathers.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Examination of Conscience for middle school and up

This is an Examination of Conscience for middle school and up. Go Here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Purgatory


The history of purgatory is very old. It goes back to at least second century BC. We first see the concept of purgatory in second book of Maccabees. If you don’t have this book in your bible then your version was printed after the late 19th century. This is when it was taken out of the bible by protestants. In second Maccabees chapter 12 we read of Judas Maccabeus’ victory in battle. In verse 40 when he went over the battlefield he found that only soldiers on his side who had died where the ones who had sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbid the Jews to have. In verse 42 this is what we read he does for those slain: “and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out.” Verse 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.” In these verses we have people praying for the dead. If the people are in heaven then they didn’t need prayers. If they are in hell then the prayers can’t help them. So the only alternative is some other place where prayers can help. You can call it whatever you want but we call it purgatory. This practice of praying for the dead has even been retained by Orthodox Jews today, who recite a prayer known as the Mourner’s Kaddish for eleven months after the death of a loved one so that the loved one may be purified.  How can our prayers help people in purgatory? In Mt 8:13 and Mk 7:26-29 Jesus heals two people solely because he was asked by people of faith who asked on the behalf of others.
            Purgatory can easily be understood by two biblical concepts, the first being that sin has consequences even after being forgiven and the second that nothing unclean can enter heaven. We see the first in 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." Sin has two kinds of consequences, one kind being eternal and the other temporal. When we commit a mortal sin our eternal consequences is eternity in hell. If that sin is confessed and repented of, then it is forgiven but you still have the temporal consequences. Think of it like this: If a child breaks their window the father will forgive the child but will withhold allowance money to help pay to have it replaced.
            A common objection against purgatory is that Christ’s atonement took away all the punishments due to sin and clothes the person with Christ so God sees Christ and not us therefore we are perfect and not needing purification prior to entering heaven. We read in Rev 21:27 that nothing unclean can enter heaven. If you are really dirty but wearing a shiny Jesus shirt you as a person are still unclean. The soul needs to actually be clean not just declared to be clean. God is not into legal fiction. He doesn’t declare something to be that really is not what he said it was. When God declares something by the power of his very word the thing obeys. If God said my shirt is green but I am wearing an orange shirt, by his word my shirt would change so that God wouldn’t be lying.  Heb 12:14 says “Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Why are we to strive for holiness if we are already perfect in the sight of God? In Mt 6:12 we ask God to forgive us our sins. If our sins our already forgiven why are we asking for forgiveness? In reality to have your soul completely free from sin and the temporal punishment due to that sin and even the attachment to sin that you aren’t committing 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. We can see this in a vision given to Zechariah. It is full of purgatorial imagery such as fire, filthy clothes representing sin, and clean clothes being given.
Zec 3:1-5 says “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” 5 Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by. “
We also see this in 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. Mt 12:32 "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Augustine in the City of God Book xxi ch 24 (354- 430 ad) wrote this concerning this verse: For were there not some whose sins, though not remitted in this life, shall be remitted in that which is to come, it could not be truly said, "They shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in that which is to come."
            Paul describes purgatory most clearly in 1 Cor 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. Jude reaffirms what Paul says in Jude 1:23 save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
One common argument against purgatory involves the thief on the cross in Lk 23:43. Jesus tells the good thief who professed faith in Jesus that this day the thief will be with him in paradise and not after a hundred years in purgatory. The first thing is that Jesus didn’t go to heaven that day. That was 40 days later but that is beside the point. It is hard to determine time passed in purgatory since it is outside of time like heaven and hell. Purgatory is also not necessarily a place but a state of purification.
It is often thought that purgatory is a second chance to get out of hell which would mean it is another means of justification. This is not correct. Purgatory has nothing to do with justification. Anyone who makes it to purgatory was already justified. If someone commits a mortal sin and is unrepentant that person is going to hell and not purgatory. Purgatory has to do with sanctification. Sanctification has to do with how holy a person is. So a person who goes to purgatory needs this as a final stage of sanctification before they can get to heaven because everyone in heaven is perfectly sanctified.
Another objection is that purgatory was invented to make the Church rich because the Catholic church says you have to pay for masses to be said for the person to get them out of purgatory. For one the Church doesn’t say you have to have a mass said for the person.
When a Catholic requests a memorial Mass for the dead—that is, a Mass said for the benefit of someone in purgatory—it is customary to give the parish priest a stipend, on the principles that the laborer is worth his hire (Lk 10:7) and that those who preside at the altar share the altar’s offerings (1 Cor 9:13–14). This money goes to the parish priest, and priests are only allowed to receive one such stipend per day. No one gets rich on five dollars a day, and certainly not the Church, which does not receive the money anyway.

Some early church teaching on Purgatory

Tertullian On Monogamy ch 10.1 [160-240 AD]
Cyprian of Carthage Epistle 51 par 20 [200-270 AD]
"The strength of the truly believing remains unshaken; and with those who fear and love God with their whole heart, their integrity continues steady and strong. For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace [i.e., reconciliation] is given. Yet virginity is not therefore deficient in the Church, nor does the glorious design of continence languish through the sins of others. The Church, crowned with so many virgins, flourishes; and chastity and modesty preserve the tenor of their glory. Nor is the vigor of continence broken down because repentance and pardon are facilitated to the adulterer. It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory; it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord"
Cyprian of Carthage Treatises attributed to Cyprian On the Glory of Martyrdom 13 (200-270 ad)
You read that it is written, that we must pay even the uttermost farthing. But the martyrs alone are relieved of this obligation; because they who trust to their desires for eternal salvation, and have overcome their longings for this life, have been made by the Lord's precepts free from the universal suffering. Therefore from this especially, beloved brethren, we shall be able to set forth what great things the virtue of martyrdom is able to fulfil.
Cyril of Jerusalem Catechetical Lecture 23 par 9 [315-386 AD]
"Then we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition; next, we make mention also of the holy fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep, and, to put it simply, of all among us who have already fallen asleep, for we believe that it will be of very great benefit to the souls of those for whom the petition is carried up, while this holy and most solemn sacrifice is laid out"
Gregory of Nyssa On the Soul and Resurrection (325-386 ad)
Just as those who refine gold from the dross which it contains not only get this base alloy to melt in the fire, but are obliged to melt the pure gold along with the alloy, and then while this last is being consumed the gold remains, so, while evil is being consumed in the purgatorial (3) fire, the soul that is welded to this evil must inevitably be in the fire too, until the spurious material alloy is consumed and annihilated by this fire.
Gregory of Nyssa On the Soul and Resurrection (325-386 ad)
Let us not then be weary in giving aid to the departed, both by offering on their behalf and obtaining prayers for them: for the common Expiation of the world is even before us. Therefore with boldness do we then intreat for the whole world, and name their names with those of martyrs, of confessors, of priests. For in truth one body are we all, though some members are more glorious than others; and it is possible from every source to gather pardon for them, from our prayers, from our gifts in their behalf, from those whose names are named with theirs. Why therefore dost thou grieve? Why mourn, when it is in thy power to gather so much pardon for the departed?
John Chrysostom Homily 3 on Philippians ver 24 [347-407 AD]
"Weep for those who die in their wealth and who with all their wealth prepared no consolation for their own souls, who had the power to wash away their sins and did not will to do it. Let us weep for them, let us assist them to the extent of our ability, let us think of some assistance for them, small as it may be, yet let us somehow assist them. But how, and in what way? By praying for them and by entreating others to pray for them, by constantly giving alms to the poor on their behalf. Not in vain was it decreed by the apostles that in the awesome mysteries remembrance should be made of the departed. They knew that here there was much gain for them, much benefit. When the entire people stands with hands uplifted, a priestly assembly, and that awesome sacrificial Victim is laid out, how, when we are calling upon God, should we not succeed in their defense? But this is done for those who have departed in the faith, while even the catechumens are not reckoned as worthy of this consolation, but are deprived of every means of assistance except one And what is that? We may give alms to the poor on their behalf" (Homilies on Philippians 3:9–10 [A.D. 402]).
Augustine of Hippo The City of God Book XXI ch 13 [354-430 AD]
"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" (The City of God 21:13 [A.D. 419]).
Augustine of Hippo The Care to be Had for the Dead 1:3 [354-430 AD]
"We read in the books of the Maccabees [2 Macc. 12:43] that sacrifice was offered for the dead. But even if it were found nowhere in the Old Testament writings, the authority of the Catholic Church which is clear on this point is of no small weight, where in the prayers of the priest poured forth to the Lord God at his altar the commendation of the dead has its place" ( [A.D. 421]).
Augustine of Hippo Enchiridion ch 69 [354-430 AD]
Augustine of Hippo Enchiridion ch 110 [354-430 AD]
"The time which interposes between the death of a man and the final resurrection holds souls in hidden retreats, accordingly as each is deserving of rest or of hardship, in view of what it merited when it was living in the flesh. Nor can it be denied that the souls of the dead find relief through the piety of their friends and relatives who are still alive, when the Sacrifice of the Mediator [Mass] is offered for them, or when alms are given in the Church. But these things are of profit to those who, when they were alive, merited that they might afterward be able to be helped by these things. There is a certain manner of living, neither so good that there is no need of these helps after death, nor yet so wicked that these helps are of no avail after death"
Augustine of Hippo Enchiridion ch 67 [354-430 AD]
It is believed, moreover, by some, that men who do not abandon the name of Christ, and who have been baptized in the Church by His baptism, and who have never been cut off from the Church by any schism or heresy, though they should live in the grossest sin and never either wash it away in penitence nor redeem it by almsgiving, but persevere in it persistently to the last day of their lives, shall be saved by fire; that is, that although they shall suffer a punishment by fire, lasting for a time proportionate to the magnitude of their crimes and misdeeds, they shall not be punished with everlasting fire. But those who believe this, and yet are Catholics, seem to me to be led astray by a kind of benevolent feeling natural to humanity
Augustine of Hippo Enchiridion ch 68 [354-430 AD] 
But as these most plain and unmistakeable declarations of the apostles cannot be false, that obscure saying about those who build upon the foundation, Christ, not gold, silver, and precious stones, but wood, hay, and stubble (for it is these who, it is said, shall be saved, yet so as by fire, the merit of the foundation saving them, must be so interpreted as not to conflict with the plain statements quoted above. Now wood, hay, and stubble may, without incongruity, be understood to signify such an attachment to worldly things, however lawful these may be in themselves, that they cannot be lost without grief of mind. And though this grief burns, yet if Christ hold the place of foundation in the heart,--that is, if nothing be preferred to Him, and if the man, though burning with grief, is yet more willing to lose the things he loves so much than to lose Christ,--he is saved by fire. If, however, in time of temptation, he prefer to hold by temporal and earthly things rather than by Christ, he has not Christ as his foundation; for he puts earthly things in the first place, and in a building nothing comes before the foundation. Again, the fire of which the apostle speaks in this place must be such a fire as both men are made to pass through, that is, both the man who builds upon the foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, and the man who builds wood, hay, stubble. For he immediately adds: "The fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." The fire then shall prove, not the work of one of them only, but of both. Now the trial of adversity is a kind of fire which is plainly spoken of in another place: "The furnace proverb the potter's vessels: and the furnace of adversity just men." And this fire does in the course of this life act exactly in the way the apostle says. If it come into contact with two believers, one the Lord," that is, building upon Christ the foundation, gold, silver, precious stones; the other "caring for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife," that is, building upon the same foundation wood, hay, stubble,--the work of the former is not burned, because he has not given his love to things whose loss can cause him grief; but the work of the latter is burned, because things that are enjoyed with desire cannot be lost without pain. But since, by our supposition, even the latter prefers to lose these things rather than to lose Christ, and since he does not desert Christ out of fear of losing them, though he is grieved when he does lose them he is saved, but it is so as by fire; because the grief for what he loved and has lost burns him. But it does not subvert nor consume him; for he is protected by his immoveable and incorruptible foundation. CHAP. 69.--IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE THAT SOME BELIEVERS MAY PASS THROUGH A PURGATORIAL FIRE IN THE FUTURE LIFE. And it is not impossible that something of the same kind may take place even after this life. It is a matter that may be inquired into, and either ascertained or left doubtful, whether some believers shall pass through a kind of purgatorial fire, and in proportion as they have loved with more or less devotion the goods that perish, be less or more quickly delivered from it. This cannot, however, be the case of any of those of whom it is said, that they repentance their sins be forgiven them. When I say "suitable," I mean that they are not to be unfruitful in almsgiving; for Holy Scripture lays so much stress on this virtue, that our Lord tells us beforehand, that He will ascribe no merit to those on His right hand but that they abound in it, and no defect to those on His left hand but their want of it, when He shall say to the former, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom," and to the latter, CHAP. 70.--ALMSGIVING WILL NOT ATONE FOR SIN UNLESS THE LIFE BE CHANGED.  We must beware, however, lest any one should suppose that gross sins, such as are committed by those who shall not inherit the kingdom of God, may be daily perpetrated,and daily stoned for by almsgiving, The life must be changed for the better; and almsgiving must be used to propitiate God for past sins, not to purchase impunity for the commission of such sins in the future. For He has given no man license to sin, although in His mercy He may blot out sins that are already committed, if we do not neglect to make proper satisfaction. [+] CHAP. 71.--THE DAILY PRAYER OF THE BELIEVER MAKES SATISFACTION FOR THE TRIVIAL SINS THAT DAILY STAIN HIS LIFE.  Now the daily prayer of the believer makes satisfaction for those daily sins of a momentary and trivial kind which are necessary incidents of this life. For he can say, "Our Father which art in heaven," seeing that to such a Father he is now born again of water and of the Spirit. And this prayer certainly takes away the very small sins of daily life. It takes away also those which at one time made the life of the believer very wicked, but which, now that he is changed for the better by repentance, he has given up, provided that as truly as he says, "Forgive us our debts" (for there is no want of debts to be forgiven), so truly does he say, "as we forgive our debtors;" that is, provided he does what he says he does: for to forgive a man who asks for pardon, is really to give alms. CHAP. 72.--THERE ARE MANY KINDS OF ALMS, THE GIVING OF WHICH ASSISTS TO PROCURE PARDON FOR OUR SINS.  And on this principle of interpretation, our Lord's saying, "Give alms of such things as ye have, and, behold, all things are clean unto you,", applies to every useful act that a man does in mercy. Not only, then, the man who gives food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, hospitality to the stranger, shelter to the fugitive, who visits the sick and the imprisoned, ransoms the captive, assists the weak, leads the blind, comforts the sorrowful, heals the sick, puts the wanderer on the right path, gives advice to the perplexed, and supplies the wants of the needy,--not this man only, but the man who pardons the sinner also gives alms; and the man who corrects with blows, or restrains by any kind of discipline one over whom he has power, and who at the same time forgives from the heart the sin by which he was injured, or prays that it may be forgiven, is also a giver of alms, not only in that he forgives, or prays for forgiveness for the sin, but also in that he rebukes and corrects the sinner: for in this, too, he shows mercy. Now much good is bestowed upon unwilling recipients, when their advantage and not their pleasure is consulted; and they themselves frequently prove to be their own enemies, while their true friends are those whom they take for their enemies, and to whom in their blindness they return evil for good. (A Christian, indeed, is not permitted to return evil even for evil. And thus there are many kinds of alms, by giving of which we assist to procure the pardon of our sins.
Augustine of Hippo Confessions Book 9 Ch 8.36 [354-430 AD] 
For she, when the day of her dissolution was near at hand, took no thought to have her body sumptuously covered, or embalmed with spices; nor did she covet a choice monument, or desire her paternal burial-place. These things she entrusted not to us, but only desired to have her name remembered at Thy altar, which she had served without the omission of a single day; whence she knew that the holy sacrifice was dispensed, by which the handwriting that was against us is blotted out
Augustine of Hippo City of God Book 21 ch 13 [354-430 AD] 
But temporary punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by others after death, by others both now and then; but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But of those who suffer temporary punishments after death, all are not doomed to those everlasting pains which are to follow that judgment; for to some, as we have already said, what is not remitted in this world is remitted in the next, that is, they are not punished with the eternal punishment.of the world to come. Quite exceptional are those who are not punished in this life, but only afterwards
Augustine of Hippo on Care to be had for the Dead par 7 (354-430 ad)


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Finding Jesus' Church Through 9 Dimensions of Truth


The Church is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). But which church has the truth? Which church was founded by Jesus and which ones weren’t? Jesus’ Church can be proven through multiple dimensions of truth. There are 9 dimensions of truth that will be discussed to prove which church Jesus founded. They are: Scripture, Tradition, History, Apostolic Succession, Unchanging Truth, Time, The Miraculous, The Target of Satan’s Followers, and Logic. Take a few minutes to consider the following.
Tradition and History
I am going to lump these two together because one flows from the other. Tradition is the means in which God’s word has been transmitted from Jesus to the apostles and on to their successors (the bishops) throughout the centuries. This takes two forms: The written tradition which is the sacred scriptures and the oral tradition which is the faith that the apostles taught orally. If you read the letters of St Paul you will see a few patterns. One is that to each place he sent a letter to the faith was already taught either by him or someone else who had the authority of the apostles and was sent to teach. Paul was often correcting problems in his letters that were going on in the particular area. So now you have to think are these letters that were meant to correct problems sufficient to teach the entirety of the faith? Tradition is often thought of as a bad word but Paul tells the Thessalonians to keep the traditions of the apostles.
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.
So the question is now how can you tell the difference between traditions of men from the traditions of the apostles. That is simple. Jesus founded one church and those traditions that were taught by the apostles were also taught by the Christians in the first centuries of Christianity. An example of a tradition of men which is a doctrine held by many if not all protestant denominations is Sola Scripture which means the bible alone is a sole sufficient rule of faith. Sorry but there is not a single verse in the bible that supports this doctrine. Another example is that baptism is only symbolic. These are a few examples doctrines that were first taught to people in the 16th century.
All it takes is reading the writings of the early church to prove it. This is where history comes in. A look at history can easily show at what point in time any given doctrine first appeared. If a doctrine magically appears out of no where in the 16th century or later it can automatically go under the category of tradition of men for it is an idea completely foreign to the church in its earliest years. If you take the time to read the early church fathers you will see every Catholic doctrine being taught in the first 4 centuries of Christianity.
He is one example from St Ignatius of Antioch. He was a disciple of John the apostle and he writes not 10 years after the death of John in 107 ad and in his writings he calls the church Catholic as if it is common knowledge.
Ignatius of Antioch [50-117 AD] Epistle to the Smyraeans
See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church...
For 255 pages of Quotes from the Early Church Fathers go here:
More specifically about history is that of the history of the bible and how we got it as we have it today. A look at history shows that by the early 4th century there still was not a defined cannon of new testament scripture. There were books that are in the bible that were disputed by some people as to not being inspired and there were some books that are not in the bible were disputed by some people as being inspired. Now this is quite a dilemma especially for someone who holds the view of Sola Scriptura because how can one go by the bible alone unless someone with authority first tells you what the bible is. It is also clear that the first 300 years of Christianity operated without a defined cannon of scripture which shows that they relied on an authoritative church to teach the faith orally. So how did they decide what books were inspired scripture and what weren’t? It was the Catholic Church with the authority that Jesus gave to his Church as shown in (Mt 16:16-19) the authority to bind things on earth that would also be bound in heaven. They decided the books in 4 church councils the first in Rome 382 ad, Hippo 392, Carthage 397, Carthage 419. To read more about how we got the bible go here:
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic origin is claimed my many groups but the Catholic Church is the only one that can prove it. Every Catholic Bishop was ordained by a Catholic bishop that goes clear back to the first Catholic bishops that is to say the apostles. It is no secret to those who take the time to read the writings of the early church that the apostles where Catholic Bishops. The apostles ordained bishops by the laying on of hands. The authority that Jesus gave the apostles in Mt 18:18 and Jn 20:21-23 for example was passed on to the next generation in this way. St Paul tells Timothy in 1 Tim 4:14 and 1 Tim 5:22 to not neglect the gift that he received from the presbytery through the laying on of hands and to not be hasty in laying on hands on others. In order for someone to go and preach the gospel they had to receive authority and be sent (Rom 10:15). If someone did not get the authority through laying on of hands and started teaching things on there own and ordaining people the link is then broken. They have no authority of Jesus to be preaching and throughout history the people who did this fell into heresy. The Bishop of Rome for example that is to say the Pope can trace his office of Bishop back to the first pope that is to say St Peter. For a list of every one of the 266 popes and the years that they were pope go here:

Scripture
Some of things that the Catholic Church gets accused of for not following the scriptures are the Papacy, Infant Baptism, Confession, Salvation by faith and works, praying to Mary, etc. These things are found in the bible. In fact every Catholic Doctrine is found in the bible either explicitly or implicitly. For a brief explanation of each of these doctrines and where they are found in the bible go here: http://practicalapologetics.blogspot.com/2009/04/basic-apologetics-that-every-catholic.html
Unchanging Truth
Jesus’ Church is unable to change truth. Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church (Mt 16:18) so if truth changed then the gates of hell would have prevailed. So any church that has changed concerning truth is not Jesus’ church. A few examples are the seven books in the old testament that protestants call apocrypha. These seven books were considered inspired before the time of Jesus, at the time of Jesus and all of Christian history afterward. Protestants reject these books as uninspired writings. These books cannot be inspired for 2000 years and then all of the sudden in the 19th century they are not inspired when they quit putting these books in the bible. So this would be an example of truth being changed to read more about these books and why they should be included in the bible go here: http://catholicevangelism.blogspot.com/2009/06/how-we-got-bible-history-often-taken.html
Another example is contraception. Before the Anglican Lambeth conference in 1930 all Christian denominations taught that contraception is a grave moral evil. Now the Catholic Church is the only one that still teaches that. To read more about this go here:
Time
From its beginning in the first century the Catholic Church has been a rock throughout the centuries. It has survived and thrived for 2000 years. No institution in history has been able to come close to that. Only an institution that was started by God and maintained by God can be able to do this. If you look at Protestantism it started in the 16th century with 2 schisms and has split into 33000 schisms. Even current Calvinists don’t follow what Calvin taught completely.
The Miraculous
Heb 2:3-5 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
God continues to do miracles through his church. Throughout history many miracles have been preformed through Jesus’ church. From the early years of Christianity during the persecutions it manifested itself in the inability of his saints to be burned at the stake or the unwillingness of the lions to tear apart his saints. The witness of God’s power through his saints made Christianity grow stronger despite the fact that they would be killed for it. As the years moved past the days of persecutions the miracles changed in form. Saints who were so close to Jesus who died did not corrupt. After the fall of Adam and Eve death was the result and from dust we were created to dust we return. It is these saints who to this day after centuries of being dead still look as if they are sleeping. It was by a special grace that these people who were so close to God and far from sin who now remain incorruptible. Stigmata is another unique miracle. It is the 5 wounds that Christ bore that holy people receive. To better love Jesus they share in his sufferings in also bearing these wounds. These wounds do not heal and cause suffering. Eucharistic Miracles are miracles pertaining to Jesus’ real presence under the appearance of bread and wine in communion. These miracles have ranged from not only the changing of the substance of bread into Jesus but also the physical and visible attributes of bread change into real human flesh. Consecrated wine has changed into real blood which was lab tested for proof of its substance. Consecrated hosts have bled and hovered over people. People have survived by living only on Jesus in the Eucharist for as long as 13 years. All of these things have only happened in the Catholic. That is not to say that someone in a protestant church cannot be miraculously healed I am saying that these things are powerful and unique to the Catholic Church. To read more about these miracles and others go here:
The Target of Satan’s Followers
If you were Satan how would you set up worship of yourself that would be the most offensive against God? The answer is to take what God has revealed and do the opposite of it. Satanists have black masses. Their primary focus of the black mass is to profane Jesus in the Eucharist which was stolen from a Catholic Church. A real witch can tell the difference between a consecrated host (that is Jesus under the appearance of bread) amongst a thousand of unconsecrated host. To read more go here: http://practicalapologetics.blogspot.com/2009/05/even-satanist-know-which-church-is-one.html
Logic
The last dimension of truth is logic because it builds on all of the previous dimensions. There are many protestant doctrines that people hold to and believe that if these particular doctrines are not believed the person is not saved. However, if those beliefs were not taught in the early church or before 16th century then for these doctrines to be right that would mean that the very generation that was taught by the apostles messed the faith up so badly that there was no salvation between the 2nd and the 16th centuries. Does that make any sense at all? Or does it make more sense that Jesus came to earth and established a means of salvation and loves his people so much that he established a church to guard his truth so that people couldn’t corrupt it to the point of all loss of salvation. Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church (Mt 16:18). It would make Jesus a liar to say that successors of the apostles formally taught error that lasted for over a millennium..
Doesn’t it make sense that if the early church was called catholic, taught all of the current catholic doctrines, has a continuous link of authority from the apostles, has not changed truth, defined what the bible was, has manifested miracles that can only come from the power of God, and is the primary target of Satan’s followers end up being the only possibility as to being the Church that Jesus founded?