Friday, May 18, 2007

A Brief Glimpse At Why I Am Not a Catholic

This isn't is honor!"You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God." (Lev 26:1)

"Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made. " (Isa 2:8)

"so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth," (Phil 2:10)

I have recently been thinking about the reasons why I am not a Catholic, in light of the Frank Beckwith situation. I honestly have never seriously studied Catholicism in depth but I have enough of an understanding to know that over half of the practices and doctrines are not remotely Biblical. I mean I see images like the one above and then I read scripture like the citations above and I see something is wrong. There is simply no way you can read a passage like Leviticus 26:1 and then go bow down before a statue of Mary and not see a problem.

The whole notion that you do not set up a figured stone and bow down to it is pretty straight forward. Yes I know there will be semantic word plays with honor and worship and dulia and latria when it comes to Mary. I can't see that stuff as anything other then word games to justify something that is radically out of step with the teaching of the Bible.

I will give a brief list of Catholic doctrines and my reason why I don't believe should see a pattern here, I will start with some of the Maryology because it is just so out there.

1.) Catholics believe in praying to Mary, many will stress that they DO NOT worship Mary though. She just carries their prayers to God for them.

RE) Where in the Bible do we see anybody pray to Mary? Where in the Bible do we see any of that stuff talked about?

Also, how does Mary hear and respond to millions of prayers given to her every hour across the world? If somebody asked me how God can do this, well that is simple, God is Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent...Mary is Omni-nothing, finite. So how is this possible?

2.) Mary was a virgin all her life. "Perpetual Virgin", her and Joseph never had sex or other children.

RE) No the Bible implies Joseph and Mary had sex AFTER Jesus was born, and that they had children:

"When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus." (Matt 1:24-25)

"And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you."" (Mar 3:32)

3.) Mary was taken up into heaven like Christ, "The Assumption of Mary".

RE.) Not in the Bible anywhere.

4.) Mary was sinless.

RE.) Not taught in the Bible anywhere. In reality the Bible implies she was sinful because she offered a sacrifice at the temple after giving birth, it was a sin offering that was to be made. Only sinners need sin offerings.

"And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." (Luke 2:22-24)

NOTE!) Now out of all of this it is not my goal to drag Mary down, I am just trying to strip her of her divinity. Mary is not divine, she was a regular person, one who happened to be chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. As such Mary does have a place of honor in Biblical Christianity. However we don't pray to her, bow down to pictures and statues of her, or make up stories about her talking about her sinlessness and how she ascended into heaven.

5.) Prayers to the saints in general is a good practice.

RE.) Again not Biblical. Paul never prayed to anybody but God in the name of His Son, though there certainly were men and women of old who certainly were "saints" in the Catholic sense. None of the apostles ever prayed to anybody but God, Peter never said "Father Abraham! I need you to intercede for me!". If they didn't do it and they constantly said to follow their example maybe it's a bad idea for me to make images of dead godly men and bow down and pray to them...maybe.

Finally, I just want to add the main reason for my rejection of Catholicism, which is based on the nature of the gospel. The gospel Jesus preached was not the mass, or absolutions, or relics. The gospel Christ preached was His sacrificial death sufficient to save those who looked to Him ALONE, by faith ALONE. The gospel is by it's nature monergistic as one hymn writer put it:

"Nothing in my hand I bring
simply to Thy cross I cling
naked come to Thee for dress
helpless look to Thee for grace
foul I to the Fountain fly
wash me Savior or I die"

Catholic doctrine teaches a faith in Christ plus my own merit, again there is much semantic word play here but that is really what it boils down to. I have heard countless people say what's the big deal? Why do we need to be divided from Catholicism? My simple response is this: because we love the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now I could go on but that would get into the more technical areas of the mass the need of a priesthood and the papacy itself, none of those things are scriptural. I do not want to take them up now simply because each of these subjects is like a rabid dog running loose at a buffet table it will get messy trying to pin him down.

So perhaps in the future I will tackle these more central issues, as it is all I have done is chop a few of the fingers off of the errors in Catholicism, I have yet to thrust my sword into the heart of the errors. My goal with this post was to show the clear pattern that one sees when he starts to question Catholic practice...they are unbiblical at best and in direct antithesis with Scripture at worst.


Anonymous said...


yes you are plain and simple RIGHT ON HERE.

I have recently come to conclude what Paul concluded long ago and far away from Eureka:::>

2Th 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.
2Th 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
2Th 2:9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,
2Th 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
2Th 2:11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,
2Th 2:12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Why does God send a "strong" delusion?


Bob said...

Hey Michael,
Good to hear from you! I haven't seen you drop in here lately... I do dearly miss the North Coast, the green hills and the Redwood trees. Lisa and I were tenatively planning a trip but it doesn't look like it will happen in the near future.

But hey thanks for the Scripture, it certainly does speak to the reality of unbelief. said...

Hi Bob,

2 Peter 1:4 talks about sharing in Christ's divinity.

I think this where we get praying to the saints and how they can hear us. I don't pray to saints so I use "us" conservatively.

This is one of the reasons I really want to hear Beckwith talk about all of these points...but otherwise, I'd agree with you on your suppositions...

Lastly, I would add a verse reference to Mary offering a sacrifice after Jesus' birth for those without a bible in hand...

MelissaB said...

Hi Bob,
I share some of your concerns about some points of Catholic doctrine. My cautionary point is about jumping directly into Scripture. Catholicism does introdice mediating tradition, but we all do! There are a lot of things in our doctrine that don't have a clear place in Scripture. You may have read some of the controversies over the formation of the doctrine of the Trinity. Both sides used Scripture, and both sides used is rationally. But the Spirit of God was with the church and that was what pervailed. I would just say be careful about wanting just you and your Bible. So much, from the Nicene Creed to the Trinity to original sin had to be processed through the church councils or through theologians (like Augustine).

Also, Catholics actually do have completely Scriptually based reasons for everything you mentioned in your post. I would suggest you read through the catechism sometime if you are interested in knowing more. I don't find the arguments compelling and I believe that God works through reformation so I am not bound to the Catholic church's stance. But I would definitely check out what they have to say first.

Bob said...

Eh, I don't know althought the phrase "Original sin" or the word "Trinity" are not in the bible the teaching certainly is. Yes the other side the Pelagians and Arians cite texts but simply put they are in error not embracing the whole word of God. Psalm 51 and Romans 5 unambigiously teach Original Sin. The Trinity is also certain from the conclusions that Christ is Divine yet communicated with the Father. I just don't think it is as muddy as some make it to be. Now I think there are a lot of extra biblical things we have baptized but not these central truths.

Bob said...

Also, just because there are differences of interpretation does not make them equally valid. I resist with all my intellectual might the pitfalls of Postmodernity.

melissajacob said...

That's what I mean. A lot of people had to interpret to get the doctrine of the Trinity. It didn't come about ex nihilo. It didn't even come from any exact passage but from the whole canon. Have you read much on Pelagius? He saw himself as a church reformer and was accepted by the bishops for a long time, as was Julian. All that to say, I think it has more to do with who uses the best argument ("embracing all of God's word") and more to do with the way the Holy Spirit sanctifies the church.

And out of curiousity, would you put Catholic beliefs about Mary in the infant baptism category (as in lots of opinions are okay) or Trinity (imperative that all Christians have unified acceptance)?

Plus, it's really not postmodernity at all. There are a lot of orthodox Christian traditions which do interpret Scripture differently than, say, does a Calvanist. This is far from postmodernity as it has been going on since the first century. It's actually a pre-modern phenomenon.

BobbyT said...

As a former Catholic, I would have to agree with you Bob.

True:We had been always told to pray to Mary and all the saints. As a matter of fact, it was because God couldn't handle all our prayers,too busy or not enough time, I guess.

Mary has her own prayer-"The Hail Mary". Each day of the year is dedicated to a particular saint. You can pray to them for safe travel, find lost objects, sell your house (bury a statue of St. Joseph in your front yard for a quick sale), etc.

Mary was sinless- she had to be according to tradition, in order to conceive Jesus, who was without sin. So, in turn, logically then, her parents would have had to be sinless to produce sinless Mary, and their parents had to be sinless, and their parents, etc. (you get the picture).

The same with her virginity after marriage. She had sons and daughters according to scripture after Jesus, but somehow she remained a virgin. I don't know, I don't find that anywhere in scripture.

Assumption of Mary in Heaven. Yes, because there is no mention of her dying and being buried in the Bible. Therefore, we can assume that she must have been assumed (is that right?)". I guess Joseph was assumed also, since there is no mention of his death or burial either. Maybe, Timothy and Titus too, who knows.

Proper exergesis of the Bible means "taking out" from the text, and not "putting in" to the text.
Unfortunately that is all my brothers in the Catholic denomination rely on. I encouage them all to please read the Bible, and let Scripture interpret Scripture. Be like the Bereans, and search the scripture for the truth to test all teachings.

Mary was a wonderful woman who obeyed God and did what was asked of her. She stepped aside when Jesus' ministry started. She never tried to upstage Him, but only to support Him. She would never had wanted to be placed on the same level as Jesus then or now.

Works were taught as producing Faith. However it is Faith that produces works. And by Faith we are saved so no man may boast.

You are right on Bob about how Roman Catholics perceive their faith, and how they sometimes,error in Christian doctrine and Bible literacy.

Keep up the good work on your writings. Enjoy my Grandaughter's birthday today. Love you Geneva!Poppy. Hi and love to Caleb and Lisa too.

Bob said...

Hey Melissa, (Nice visit last week BTW I wish I wasn't working so much though...) anyway you wrote:

"That's what I mean. A lot of people had to interpret to get the doctrine of the Trinity. It didn't come about ex nihilo. It didn't even come from any exact passage but from the whole canon."

What it seems to me is that what you are saying is that all theologizing is just subjective interpretation. I agree that there is subjectivity involved here but that doesn't mean all interpretations are equally valid. So I disagree, I CAN point to passages that support the Trinity and I think it is also a clear logical deduction based upon Christology (His divinity) and there being only One God.

"And out of curiousity, would you put Catholic beliefs about Mary in the infant baptism category (as in lots of opinions are okay) or Trinity (imperative that all Christians have unified acceptance)?"

No not at all. Catholic beliefs about Mary have no merit at all, issues over who should be baptized have Biblical merit in that the Bible says "Baptize in the name of the Father..." Catholic beliefs about Mary really are just borrowed pagan goddess capital. They are not scriptural at all. Whereas paedo and believer baptists both agree that baptism should be done on Biblical grounds...the murky area is WHO should be baptized.

Biblically there is no precedence of prayer to saints, nevertheless Mary, bowing to statues of saints for help, Mary's sinlessness, Mary's assumption etc. These are not even remotely Biblical and thus are in a different catagory of error then differing views on the sacrament of baptism. This of course presupposes sola scriptura. Without that all this bizarro world theology does seem to make sense.

"Plus, it's really not postmodernity at all. There are a lot of orthodox Christian traditions which do interpret Scripture differently than, say, does a Calvanist. This is far from postmodernity as it has been going on since the first century. It's actually a pre-modern phenomenon."

True, but that is not what I am referring to. What I am carping at is the notion that because there are so many differing interpretations we simply can not say ONE of the is right and the others wrong. To do so would simply be closed minded and arrogant/ignorent. I kind of smelled the overtones of that kind of thinking in what you said earlier. And that I think is a very postmodern attitude toward theology.

Hey Mr.T! Good to here from you! It was nice to read of your perspective having been a Catholic yourself. I honestly wondered how the assumption of Mary could even remotely be made to at least appear Biblical. As you said the fact that the Bible never talked about her death and burial shows she was taken up without dying. That seems like the only way to make this extra biblical idea seem like it is in fact biblical. Of course you pointed out the logical problems with this...Obviously on the same logic a case could be made that Joseph was taken up too.

Praise God for men like Luther and Calvin who stood up to these dreadfully heretical ideas being passed off as "Christianity". Oh and Geneva is having a good B-Day.

melissajacob said...

1) Subjectivity and movement of the Holy Ghost are two very different things

2) It would be really great if you actually read about Mary from Catholics

3)Again, saying that the movement of the holy spirit is necessary for proper judgment in doctrinal affairs, a Spirit that transcends rationality is far from post-modern, anything goes or take your pick. It just means, don't put all your eggs in that basket