(Originally printed in the Winter 2007 Issue of the MCOI Journal beginning on page 1)
On April 22 of 2005, I was surprised to come across the Special to the Tribune section of the Chicago Tribune with the headline: “Evangelical Christians have hailed the ‘Purpose Driven’ Philosophy; now a local Catholic church will host a conference espousing it” by Sean D. Hamill. Knowing that Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Community Church, had been ordained as a Southern Baptist, there seemed to be a disconnect going on here. After all, Southern Baptists and, in fact, most Baptists, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and Reformed denominations at one time did not view the gospel of Rome as anything other than a false gospel. Well, perhaps this Catholic Church was using the program without the knowledge of Rick Warren or his staff. I was disabused of that thought as I read the article, a copy of which is posted on the FACTNet Discussion Groups at the time,1“Evangelical Christians have hailed the “Purpose Driven” Philosophy; now a local Catholic church will host a conference espousing it” by Sean D. Hamill, Chicago Tribune, April 22 of 2005 and discovered Saddleback Community Church was guiding the 40 participating churches to be Purpose Driven Roman Catholic Churches:
But the internationally famous pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and his Purpose Driven staff know that mainline Protestant, and especially Catholic, churches have been slow to warm to the message readily picked up by more evangelical congregations.
They hope that a three-day conference at Holy Family Catholic Church in Inverness starting Monday will change that by attracting leaders of more conservative branches that have been reluctant to pick up on the Purpose Driven model.
“That’s our prayer,” said Pastor Brett Schrock, Purpose Driven’s director of strategic relationships, who will be one of three people to speak at the conference, which will not include Warren. “We’re excited by this because we’re seeing God unify his churches.”2“Evangelical Christians have hailed the “Purpose Driven” Philosophy; now a local Catholic church will host a conference espousing it” by Sean D. Hamill, Chicago Tribune, April 22 of 2005
My confusion began to give way to understanding a month later as I read the transcript of Rick Warren’s participation in the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: Myths of the Modern MegaChurch:
And, you know, growing up as a Protestant boy, I knew nothing about Catholics, but I started watching ETWN, the Catholic channel, and I said, “Well, I’m not as far apart from these guys as I thought I was, you know?3Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: Myths of the Modern MegaChurch; https://www.pewforum.org/2005/05/23/myths-of-the-modern-megachurch/
Could it be that any difference between what Rick Warren believes and what he was hearing on ETWN are in non-essential areas? He doesn’t tell us. It seems that to Warren, training Roman Catholic churches how to fill up their buildings is no different than training Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc. Are their views on salvation, authority, Mary, and the Mass pretty much in agreement, but none of us realized it? Or is it that Rick Warren and Rome hold these views in common but Evangelicalism and Protestants do not? However, if the former is true, then does this mean that the Reformation was just a useless waste of time, energy, and lives? Did the Reformers bring about a useless split, or are there serious differences in essential teaching? If the latter is true, then is Rick Warren to be trusted as an Evangelical leader? After all, he did say that he’s “not as far apart from” those he watched on ETWN as he thought, but he didn’t say that Evangelicals and Protestants were not as far apart as he thought. It seems the best source to go to in order to answer this question is Rome itself and to compare and contrast the claims of Rome with what Scripture teaches.
One of the more critical questions to answer in this life is the one of salvation. There are a variety of options to choose from, but only one is true. It is like the television show Deal or No Deal on a metaphysical scale. The difference is we get to look inside the case before making a decision. If one is an Atheist or practices certain forms of Buddhism which are atheistic, there is no salvation. In these views, we are simply cosmic accidents living on an accidental planet for a few, short, meaningless years and will die and cease to exist. Nothing we have done or anyone else has done will matter, because the entire universe will cease to exist, and that’s it.
The Eastern religions teach that we are recycled over and over through reincarnation in order to work off bad “Karma” from previous lives until we eventually become one with the all. Again, there is no personal salvation, since “we” cease to exist. Or more to the point, “we” never existed anyway, because we are only an illusion in an illusionary universe that doesn’t physically exist. The claim in Hinduism is that “all is Maya” or “all is illusion.”
If, however, we continue to exist after the death of the body, and there is a God to whom we are accountable, then the answer to this is critical—perhaps, the most critical question to answer in this life. (Of course, Judaism and Islam have different views of what happens after death which we will not be able to address in this article, as we are focusing on Roman Catholic vs. Evangelical and Protestant beliefs.)
There was a time that Rick Warren taught that salvation was by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, which is why this new revelation from him triggered my concerns. I am unsure what he currently holds in this respect.
When Luther called the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on salvation into question and argued for salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, the church convened the Council of Trent to respond. The Council met in Northern Italy in the town of Trent over three periods of time, 1545-1547; 1551-1552; and 1562-1563. The Council members issued a number of decrees—all of which served to codify and reaffirm Roman Catholic doctrine. Some of those decrees, called “canons,” concerned the doctrine of justification. Four of these are important in answering our question.
CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.
CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.
CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.
CANON XIV.-If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.4The Council of Trent, The Sixth Session – Justification Canons; http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/counciltrent.html
This all seems clear enough. If one believes in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, they are to be “anathema” according to Trent. But what did “anathema” mean to the Council of Trent? It was a particular ritual which was performed to consign the one anathematized to eternity with Satan:
While “minor excommunication” could be incurred by associating with an excommunicate, and “major excommunication” could be imposed by any bishop, “anathema” was imposed by the Pope in a specific ceremony described in the Pontificale Romanum. Wearing a purple cope (the liturgical color of penitence) and holding a lighted candle, he, surrounded by twelve priests, also with lighted candles, pronounced the anathema with a formula that concluded with the phrase: “Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive (Name) himself and all his accomplices and all hi abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment.” The priests responded: “Fiat, fiat, fiat” (Let it be done), and all, including the pontiff, cast their lighted candles on the ground.5quotes and italics in original, Anathema in the Catholic Church, Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anathema#Anathema_in_the_Catholic_Church
Rome’s essential view is salvation is something that happens organizationally—specifically through the organization of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church believes and, in turn, gives, supports, and feeds one’s ability to believe. One must cooperate with grace through faith, good works and by participating in the sacraments. The Roman Catholic sacraments are not optional; they “are necessary for salvation.” In fact, we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church under the heading “IV. The Sacrament of Salvation”:
¶1129 The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. “Sacramental grace” is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament. The Spirit heals and transforms those who receive him by conforming them to the Son of God. The fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior.6Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p292; quotes and italics in the original
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also states:
¶181 “Believing” is an ecclesial act. The Church’s faith precedes, engenders, supports and nourishes our faith. The Church is the mother of all believers. “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother.” (St. Syprian [sic], De unit. 6:PL 4, 519)7 Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p48; quotes and italics in the original
According to paragraph 182, the Church determines what must be believed for salvation:
¶182 We believe all “that which is contained in the word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed.” (Paul VI, CPG,§20)8Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p48; quotes and italics in the original
As we compare and contrast this with Scripture, we begin to see a different gospel officially coming from Rome versus the one we find in Scripture. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 10:9-13:
… that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart a man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” (Capitals indicate passage from Old Testament quoted in New Testament)
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians what the saving Gospel was that he delivered as of primary importance to them.
Now I make known to you, brethren, the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
Salvation coming by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is a constant theme in Paul’s writings. In Ephesians 2:8-9, he even promotes the very doctrine that Rome officially teaches is false, and for which, Rome would have to anathematize him—the Apostle Paul!
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Weare not saying that Rick Warren does or does not agree with Rome on the issue of justification. As I mentioned earlier, we are unclear on his current position on this. I am simply demonstrating that Scripture doesn’t agree with Rome on these very essential points of justification and salvation. Roman Catholicism officially teaches what only can be called a “Jesus-plus” plan. It is Jesus plus the acceptance of the Roman Catholic Church as Mother. Jesus plus participating in the sacraments which as Rome stated, “are necessary for salvation” (italic theirs). Scripture on the other hand teaches a “Jesus-only” plan.
I could devote an entire article or even an entire book just to the comparison of official Roman Catholic teaching vs. Scripture regarding salvation, but an underlying question must be addressed. Who or what is the ultimate authority? Without answering this question, we are destined to futile and fruitless discussions as we are ultimately talking different languages. Again, this was part of the battle during the Reformation. Is the authority “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone) or “Sola Roma” (Rome alone)? The answer to this question is foundational to answering other essential questions.
Although Rome claims a high view of Scripture, historically Rome has not trusted laymen with it. The College of Cardinals was established in 927. About 300 years later, in 1229, the Council of Valencia placed the Bible on the Index of Forbidden Books. Laymen were forbidden from reading the Scriptures. With the elimination of the Scriptures as the reference point, other “official” teachings were introduced. Purgatory was proclaimed as a dogma by the Council of Florence in 1439. The Doctrine of the Seven Sacraments (the ones which now “are necessary for salvation”) was affirmed in 1439. The Council of Trent declared that tradition was of equal authority with Scripture in 1545. The Apocryphal books were added by the Council of Trent in 1546. These books were necessary to support the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, because it isn’t found elsewhere in Scripture.
The Immaculate Conception of Mary (the teaching that Mary was born sinless and never sinned) was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Pope Pius the IX also proclaimed the Syllabus of Errors in 1864 and this was ratified by the Vatican Council. The Syllabus of Errors condemns freedom of religion, conscience, speech, press and scientific discoveries which are disapproved by Rome. It also asserted the Pope’s temporal authority over all civil rulers. The infallibility of the Pope was proclaimed by the Vatican Council in 1870 and Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (The claim that Mary ascended bodily into heaven shortly after her death) in 1950. (See the evolution of Roman Catholic Dogma)
What we have just witnessed in this brief history is the elevation of Rome as the final arbiter of truth with the introduction of the College of Cardinals, the dismissal of Scripture, the introduction of false teaching and the subsequent reaffirmation of Scripture, but only on an equal level with tradition and the teaching Magisterium.
¶883 “The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.” As such, this college has “supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.”9Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 234; quotes and italics in the original
The belief that Scripture and tradition are on an equal footing is not something with which Rome once simply toyed, but it is actually the current official teaching of Rome:
¶81 “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”
“And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound, and spread it abroad by their preaching.”
¶82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”10Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 26; quotes and italics in the original
Of course, the College of Cardinals did not exist prior to 927 and the infallibility of the Pope did not exist prior to 1870. If what the official teaching today claims is true, then there was no way to know God’s truth prior to 1870. (Oddly enough, that is the same decade the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society—a.k.a. Jehovah’s Witnesses—came into existence, and it makes the same “organization-only” claim about how God transmits His truth; but that is another story for another day). We read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
¶85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.11Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 27; quotes in the original
In looking at someone’s official teaching, it is important to follow the pea and not get distracted. So far, they have officially stated that Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, tradition is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and they are on an equal par with one another. They have also said that the teaching Magisterium (the College of Cardinals in conjunction with the Pope) is the sole “authentic” interpreter of Scripture and tradition. This automatically elevates Rome over both Scripture and tradition, and it makes understanding what God desires for us to know to be “Sola Roma” or “Rome Alone.” Lastly, the official position from Rome is not only that the Magisterium is the authentic interpreter of Scripture and tradition, but they are the infallible interpreter:
¶890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abide in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:
¶891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith – he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. … The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in the Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,” and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.” This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.” 12Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 27; quotes and ellipsis in the original
What we discover from Scripture itself is quite different. According to Jude 3, revelation was entrusted to the saints—that is all true believers13In Ephesians 4:11-12, the Apostle Paul talks about the various functions given various people in the church “for equipping the saints,” believers, “to help build up the Body of Christ” the Church “in order to become mature”—not only a select “elite” class, and it was done “once for all.” In Scripture, we do not find a human as the head of the Church, but rather, according to Paul in Colossians 1:18 at least, Christ is the “head of the body, the church.” We do not find Peter acting in some “papal authority,” but he is very clearly called to task by the Jewish believers in Acts 11! Additionally, in Acts 15, James—who wasn’t an apostle—is the head of the church (in Jerusalem). (See also Galatians 2:9.) The idea of obeying infallible interpreters seems to be somewhat shot in Acts 17 while Paul teaches in Berea. The Bereans didn’t just take the Apostle Paul’s word for it, but they did their own research and study. As a result, the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to commend them as being “… more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) We also learn from this passage that Scripture is the only authoritative and infallible interpreter of Scripture.
In writing to the young pastor Timothy, the Apostle Paul tells him:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16 & 17)
Scripture is inspired and everything that we need pertaining to faith and a walk with God is found in it alone. The Apostle warns the Corinthians “not to exceed what is written” in 1 Corinthians 4:6. Strange Doctrines In the book of 1 Timothy, the Apostle Paul opens by communicating why he asked Timothy to stay at Ephesus. Earlier in Acts 20:28-31, Paul had met with the Ephesian elders, and he had charged them to:
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves, men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
It seems that they were less than successful, because he writes to Timothy, “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines” (1 Tim.1:3). As Paul progressed in his instruction to Timothy, he wrote, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” How does this impact the Roman Catholic teaching on Mary as the mediator of all graces and the mediator between the mediator (Christ) and the Father?
… it is right to say, that nothing at all of that very great treasury of all grace which the Lord brought—for ‘grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ [Jn 1.17] —nothing is imparted to us except through Mary, since God so wills, so that just as no one can come to the Father except through the Son, so in general, no one can come to Christ except through His Mother.14Leo XIII, Encyclical, Octobri mense adventante, Sept 22, 1891, ASS 24, 1891, p196
According to Rome, Christ is the head of the church, but Mary is the neck through whom all graces flow. As we just read, and as is further affirmed according to Rome, no one can be saved apart from Mary:
Hence that never dissociated manner of life and labors of the Mother and the Son … . there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother, not merely occupied in looking at the dreadful sight, but even rejoicing that ‘her only Son was being offered for the salvation of the human race; and so did she suffer, with Him, that if it had been possible, she would have much more gladly suffered herself all the torments that her Son underwent’ [St. Bonaventure I. Sent. d, 48, ad Litt. dub. 4]. Now from this common sharing of will and suffering between Christ and Mary, she ‘merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world’ [Eadmer, De Excellentia Virginis Mariae, 9] and therefore Dispensatrix of all the gifts which Jesus gained for us by His Death and by His Blood…. But Mary as St. Bernard fittingly remarks [De Aquaeductu 4] is the ‘channel’ or, even, the neck, through which the body is joined to the head, and likewise through which the head exerts its power and strength on the body. ‘For she is the neck of our Head, by which all spiritual gifts are communicated to His Mystical Body.’ [St. Bernardine of Siena, Quadrag. De Evangelio aeterno, Sermo X, a. 3. c. 3.]15St. Pius X, Encyclical, Ad diem illum, Feb. 2, 1904, AAS 36, 1904. pp453-54. quotes and ellipsis in the original
The official Roman Catholic teaching on communion or the Mass is that the wafer or “bread” mysteriously becomes Christ’s actual physical flesh, and the wine becomes His actual physical blood.
The claim is that “In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he ‘poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Thus, it is not simply a representation of the body, but it is the “very” physical body and “very” physical blood. Does it seem to you a bit of double talk has been employed regarding this point when the Catechism explains that the sacrifice is the same only different?
¶1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same; the same now offers through the ministry of the priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.”16 Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 344; italics and quotes in the original
Hmmm, the sacrifice is the same only different. This is reminiscent of my kids some years ago. We were driving somewhere, and one of them pointed at another vehicle and said, “That car is the same as ours only different.” We were driving a Ford, and the other car was a Chevrolet. Ours was new; the other was several years old. As I think about it, the only similarities were they both were cars, and both were similar in color (and even that wasn’t the very same color).
Rome’s claim is that it is the “very” (same, exact) physical body and only looks like a wafer and wine; but don’t be fooled; it is really physical flesh and physical blood. Christ was originally offered on the cross in a bloody sacrifice, and He is now offered on the altar in an unbloody sacrifice. It is done over and over, multiple thousands of times every, single day, around the world. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
¶1364 … “As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed’ is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.”17Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 344; quotes in the original
Other than those few “minor” things, it is identical. This calls in to question the Lord’s own words on the cross when He cried out, “It is finished” in John 19:30. The term was an accounting statement meaning, “paid in full.” In Roman Catholicism, the sacrifice is done repeatedly on a continual basis in another form. But why is this the case? The answer takes us back to the question of salvation with which we began. In the official teachings of Rome, we do not receive Christ by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but rather, we receive Christ ritually on a repeated basis.
¶1382 … To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.18Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 349; quotes in the original
This then explains the need to be affiliated with the organization of the Roman Catholic Church for salvation. The organization, through the priests, ritually dispenses Christ to the flock through communion. This “salvation” must be renewed on a continual basis, which requires the one looking for deliverance to return to the priest to be given salvation repeatedly as the priest repeatedly offers the sacrifice. Their ability to do this comes from Mary dispensing the graces since she is the neck through whom the graces flow; and there is no salvation apart from her. The priest is the mediator between the individual and Mary, who, in turn, is the mediator to Christ.
In actuality, the priest is viewed as having even greater power than Mary or even Christ, Who is portrayed as being at their mercy!
When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of monarchs and emperors: it is greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim. Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.19Rev. John O’Brien, Ph.D., LL.D., The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion; 18th printing 1974, Huntington, Indiana. Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1963; pp255-256; The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are official declarations by the Roman Catholic Church that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. These were applied to this work
How does this compare with what we find in Scripture? Is there to be a continual offering up of sacrifices, or was Jesus Christ correct when He said, “It is finished”? Hebrews 7:26-28 speaks directly to this question:
For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
The contrast here is striking! On the one hand, there are priests—who are themselves sinners—who are continually offering up an inferior sacrifice for themselves and others. On the other hand, is the sinless sacrifice Who offered up Himself once for all:
And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, (Hebrews 10:11-12).
This one-time sacrifice that is appropriated by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone gives us “shalom” or “peace” with God with such a binding assurance that the Apostle Paul writes:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
Deal or No Deal
At this point, all of us, including Rick Warren, have to make a decision. Is the gospel of Rome the same Gospel or a different gospel than Paul preached? The gospel of Rome is clearly different from the Gospel we find in the pages of Holy Writ. The Galatians who had been deceived into embracing a “Jesus-plus” plan gospel subsequent to hearing and accepting the true Gospel (“Jesus-only”), received some harsh words from Paul on this issue:
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-8)
Paul included himself in there. Even if he proclaimed a different gospel from the one, he originally proclaimed, he was to be accursed! If anyone—Paul, an angel from heaven or an emissary from Rome—preaches another gospel, the Apostle states, “… let him be accursed!” The Gospel is simple to understand, but not easy to accept, for it excludes any contribution we attempt to make to the equation.Ω
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|↑1, ↑2||“Evangelical Christians have hailed the “Purpose Driven” Philosophy; now a local Catholic church will host a conference espousing it” by Sean D. Hamill, Chicago Tribune, April 22 of 2005|
|↑3||Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: Myths of the Modern MegaChurch; https://www.pewforum.org/2005/05/23/myths-of-the-modern-megachurch/|
|↑4||The Council of Trent, The Sixth Session – Justification Canons; http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/counciltrent.html|
|↑5||quotes and italics in original, Anathema in the Catholic Church, Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anathema#Anathema_in_the_Catholic_Church|
|↑6||Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p292; quotes and italics in the original|
|↑7||Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p48; quotes and italics in the original|
|↑8||Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p48; quotes and italics in the original|
|↑9||Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 234; quotes and italics in the original|
|↑10||Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 26; quotes and italics in the original|
|↑11||Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 27; quotes in the original|
|↑12||Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 27; quotes and ellipsis in the original|
|↑13||In Ephesians 4:11-12, the Apostle Paul talks about the various functions given various people in the church “for equipping the saints,” believers, “to help build up the Body of Christ” the Church “in order to become mature”|
|↑14||Leo XIII, Encyclical, Octobri mense adventante, Sept 22, 1891, ASS 24, 1891, p196|
|↑15||St. Pius X, Encyclical, Ad diem illum, Feb. 2, 1904, AAS 36, 1904. pp453-54. quotes and ellipsis in the original|
|↑16||Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 344; italics and quotes in the original|
|↑17||Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 344; quotes in the original|
|↑18||Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC; p 349; quotes in the original|
|↑19||Rev. John O’Brien, Ph.D., LL.D., The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion; 18th printing 1974, Huntington, Indiana. Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1963; pp255-256; The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are official declarations by the Roman Catholic Church that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. These were applied to this work|