Week 3 APO102 – Roman Catholicism

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Chapter Summary

Luther’s 95 Thesis

The Basic Outline

I. The Divide in Historical Context

II. The Doctrinal Differences

III. Doctrinal Differences Today

I. The Divide in Historical Context

Watch a 15 min video on the Reformation Here[1]

Britannica on the reformation Here

1. The Protestant Reformation

“Frequently the Reformation is described as a movement that revolved around two pivotal issues. The so called “material” cause[1] was the debate over sola fide (“justification by faith alone”). The “formal” cause was the issue of sola Scriptura, that the Bible and the Bible alone has the authority to bind the conscience of the believer. Church tradition was regarded with respect by the Reformers but not as a normative source of revelation. The “protest” of Protestantism went far beyond the issue of justification by faith alone, challenging many dogmas that emerged in Rome, especially during the Middle Ages.”[2]

The Five Solas – Internet article Here[3]

Sola Golria – The Tie that Binds the Solas Together Here[4]

5 books of the 5 Solas Here[5]

2. The Protestant Reformers

Pre Runner’s:

  • John Wycliffe (c. 1320s – 1384)
  • Jan Hus (c. 1369 – 1415)

Notable Reformers:

  • Huldrych Zwingli (1484 –1531)
  • Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)
  • John Calvin (1509 – 1564)

3. The Protestant Reform

Documents worth reading:

A Timeline and document summary is available here[1]

Wycliffe – De Ecclesia “On the Church”[2]

Huss – 6 Errors[3]

Luther – 95 Thesis[4] other key writing summarized here[5]

Zwingli – 67 Articles

John Calvin – Institutes of Christian Religion[6]

II. The Doctrinal Difference

1. Primary Differences

a. Source of Authority

Protestant:

Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone was the desire of those who wanted to reform the Catholic church and make the Bible the only (and final) authority on faith and practice. This began c.500 years ago but was officially rejected by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent (1545-1563).

Sola Scriptura is a direct contradiction of Sacred Tradition

Catholic:

Scripture and Sacred Tradition

Sacred Tradition – the traditions of the church were considered as authoritative as the Scripture. Functionally, however the traditions interpreted the Scriptures and had the final word on all matters of doctrine.

Catholics, on the other hand, hold that… that there must of necessity be certain revealed truths apart from those contained in the Bible; they hold furthermore that Jesus Christ has established in fact, and that to adapt the means to the end He should have established, a living organ as much to transmit Scripture and written Revelation as to place revealed truth within reach of everyone always and everywhere.”[7]

The Council of Trent… contenting itself with saying that revealed truth is found in the sacred books and in the unwritten traditions coming from God through the Apostles; these were the sources from which it would draw.[8]

“Holy Scripture is therefore not the only theological source of the Revelation made by God to His Church. Side by side with Scripture there is tradition…”[9]

Read Scripture, Yes – Interpret It, No

Catholics are encouraged to read their Bibles but not to interpret it

They site Matt. 16:13-20 and interpret this to mean that only the Pope is allowed to interpret. This right was first given to Peter and by means of apostolic succession continues on in the Pope today. See Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 881, 882)

This interpretation of Matt. 16 was not held by the “Early Church Fathers”

“As regards Biblical interpretation properly so called the Church is infallible in the sense that, whether by authentic decision of pope or council, or by its current teaching that a given passage of Scripture has a certain meaning, this meaning must be regarded as the true sense of the passage in question. It claims this power of infallible interpretation only in matters of faith and morals, that is where religious or moral truth is in danger, directly, if the text or passage belongs to the moral and religious order; indirectly, if in assigning a meaning to a text or book the veracity of the Bible, its moral value, or the dogma of its inspiration or inerrancy is imperilled.”[10]

An Historical Refutation of the Claims of Roman Catholicism[11]

“Roman apologists historically have often resorted to the use of selected statements of major Church fathers, interpreting them as supportive of papal primacy. An example of this type of argumentation can be seen in the following references to the writings of Cyprian, Ambrose and Augustine by a Roman Catholic apologist:

St. Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258 A.D.) in his letter to Cornelius of Rome (c. 251 A.D.) speaks of the Church of Rome as the ‘chair of Peter (cathedra Petri)’ and ‘the principle Church in which sacerdotal unity has its source’ (Ep. 59, 14). St Ambrose (d. 397 A.D.) states that ‘where Peter is, there is the Church’ (Commen.. on the Psalms 40, 30)…St. Augustine’s recognition of the authority of the Pope is manifested by the famous words with which he welcomes the decision made by the Pope: Roma locuta est; causa finita est—Rome has spoken the case is concluded (Sermon 131, 6:10). Why does Augustine believe the Bishop of Rome has the final word? The answer is because the Pope is the successor of St. Peter—a fact clearly recognized by Augustine in his Letter to Generosus (c. 400 A.D.) in which he names all 34 of the bishops of Rome from Peter to Anastasius (Letter 53, 1,2).

The above arguments are very common…

An examination of the writings of the fathers does reveal the expression of a consistent viewpoint, but it is not that of the Roman Catholic Church, as the documentation of the major fathers of the East and West in this article will demonstrate…

In particular we will examine the comments of Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Eusebius, Augustine, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Theodoret, Cyril of Alexandria, Hilary of Poitiers, Jerome, Epiphanius, Basil of Seleucia, Paul of Emesa and John of Damascus.”[12]

AUGUSTINE

“In a passage in this book, I said about the Apostle Peter: ‘On him as on a rock the Church was built’…But I know that very frequently at a later time, I so explained what the Lord said: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,’ that it be understood as built upon Him whom Peter confessed saying: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and so Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church which is built upon this rock, and has received ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ For, ‘Thou art Peter’ and not ‘Thou art the rock’ was said to him. But ‘the rock was Christ,’ in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter. But let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable (The Fathers of the Church (Washington D.C., Catholic University, 1968), Saint Augustine, The Retractations Chapter 20.1).”[13]

b. The Basis of Salvation

Saved by Faith or Faith Plus “Works”?

Sola Fide – faith alone is needed for salvation

Seven Sacrament

  1. Baptism (Matt. 28:19)
  2. Confirmation (Jn. 14:26)
  3. Holy Eucharist (Matt. 26:26-28)
  4. Penance (confession or reconciliation; see Jn. 20:19-23)
  5. Anointing of the Sick (Jam. 5:14-15)
  6. Holy Orders (1 Tim. 3:1; 2 Tim. 1:6; Tit. 2:15)
  7. Matrimony (Gen.2:18, 21-25; Eph. 5:22-23)

Two significant differences: Holy Eucharist and Penance

  1. Holy Eucharist

Transubstantiation – the communion elements (bread and wine) become the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ in the process of Mass

Catechism:

“The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents [makes present] the sacrifice of the Cross… in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ Who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the alter of the Cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner”

Evangelical Protestants say that here is no need for repeatedly re-presenting Christ’s sacrifice.

  1. Penance (confession)

Good works done after confessing sin to offset the sin as a means of obtaining and maintaining salvation.

Note: Catholics differentiate between “mortal” and “venial” sins.

  • Mortal sins – big sins which are done “with full knowledge and deliberate consent”. The consequence for mortal sin is loss of sanctifying grace. If these sins are not confessed and forgiven, “It causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell” These include, but are to limited too (adultery, fornication, stealing and lying)
  • Venial sins – easily forgiven sins are less serious and can weaken a believer’s faith and believer’s moral fiber, but do not lose sanctifying grace. These sins include but are not limited too, white lies, over eating, speeding and immoderate drinking.

Confession of sin (Jam. 5:17) is good, but one believer cannot absolve another believer of their sins. There is “one Mediator” who is Christ.

2. Secondary Differences

a. Penance

Walter Martin Debate on the Penance and Confession Here[1] dated with some awesome background music

Def. – Good works done after confessing sin to offset the sin as a means of obtaining and maintaining salvation.

Note: Catholics differentiate between “mortal” and “venial” sins.

  • Mortal sins – big sins which are done “with full knowledge and deliberate consent”. The consequence for mortal sin is loss of sanctifying grace. If these sins are not confessed and forgiven, “It causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell” These include, but are to limited too (adultery, fornication, stealing and lying)
  • Venial sins – easily forgiven sins are less serious and can weaken a believer’s faith and believer’s moral fiber, but do not lose sanctifying grace. These sins include but are not limited too, white lies, over eating, speeding and immoderate drinking.

Confession of sin (Jam. 5:17) is good, but one believer cannot absolve another believer of their sins. There is “one Mediator” who is Christ.

Catholics are Saved by More than “Works”

Saved by the blood of Jesus and good works because, “man has to merit God’s grace of justification and eternal salvation.” Catholics do not believe that faith alone provides justification but, “Protestants do not see justification in this way.” People are declared righteous in God’s sight for their faith in Christ’s work on the cross (Rom. 3:21-5:21; 10:4; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 3:9). Protestant theologians call this imputed righteousness.

Sanctification: A Separate, Lifelong Process

Protestants see a distinction in the point of justification and the life long process of sanctification.

Sanctification – the progressive work of growing in Christ and becoming a mature Christian (Jn. 17:15-19; 1 Cor. 1:1,2)

  • Begins at salvation (Titus 3:5)
  • Continues all life (Phil. 2:12-13)

The Protestant view of the relationship between Good Works and Salvation: Good works are an expression of salvation not the final means of salvation (Eph. 2:8-10).

b. Purgatory

Walter Martin Debate on the Purgatory Here[2] dated with some awesome background music

Definition: Purgatory – a special place of cleansing where payment for sins is completed and believers are made fit for heaven (44)

(Not a torture chamber)

“Catholics believe they do not pay sufficiently the temporal punishment for their sins through their acts of penance. They still expect to face punishment for sins in purgatory.”

c. Indulgences

James White (with hair!) Debate on Indulgences Here[3]

Those in purgatory cannot help themselves but they can be helped by the good works of others and this includes the purchase of indulgences

Definition: Indulgences – “God “indulging” (being kind to) a believer by giving to the believer from an inexhaustible supply of spiritual merits that have accumulated in the Church’s treasury through the work of Christ and the prayers and good works of the Virgin Mary and the saints”

Indulgences are not for mortal sins but for the venial sins of Christians

Indulgences can be partial or plenary (only the pope can grant a plenary indulgence)

“According to the Catechism, the Church uses the power originally given to peter to bind and loose sins (matt. 16:19) and can intervene in favor of individual Christians by opening for them a “treasury” of the merits of Christ and the saints (the spiritual treasury of the Church).” (45)

An insufficiency train:

  • Christ’s death is insufficient thus penance is necessary
  • Penance is insufficient thus purgatory is necessary
  • Purgatory is too slow/long it can be shortened by an indulgence

From Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis

  1. This wanton preaching of pardons makes it difficult even for learned men to redeem respect due to the Pope from the slanders or at least the shrewd questionings of the laity.
  2. For example: “Why does not the Pope empty purgatory for the sake of most holy love and the supreme need of souls? This would be the most righteous of reasons, if he can redeem innumerable souls for sordid money with which to build a basilica, the most trivial of reasons.”

d. Mary

Walter Martin Debate on the Virgin Mary Here[4] dated with some awesome background music

Catholic’s super veneration of the Virgin Mary

Levels of worship:

  • Latria – adoration for God alone
  • Dulia – veneration due the angels and canonized saints
  • Hyperdulia – super veneration given only to Mary

Perpetual virginity continued after the birth of Jesus (c.400)

Immaculate conception – Mary was conceived with out sin and lived a sinless life (1854)

Assumption – she was taken up body and soul directly to heaven (1950)

Mediatrix – co-mediator with Christ between God and man

Redemptrix – Christ’s “Associate in the redemption”

III. Doctrinal Differences Today

1. Attempts at Unity

March 1994 ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) (RC and Protestants of all kinds)

  • Unofficial
  • Based in the Nicene / Apostles Creeds
  • The major issues remain unresolved

ECT 1997 Statement: “The Gift of Salvation”

  • Many question still remain

Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (1999) (between RC and Lutherans)

  • “Filled with vague language and still ignores areas of real difference.”

2. Dialaloging with your Roman Catholic friends

“A key to any real progress in the twenty-first century will be how willing both sides are to making Scripture – and only Scripture – the final authority.” (49-50)

Begin with Scripture – which is the common ground

Ask about the historical incongruence of Sacred Tradition let alone the incongruence between Scripture and Tradition.

_____________________________________

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZyVDPZ_XeM

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrn7L-84Co0

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PE915fBzB20

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnXu-io7QSI

[1] http://thecaveonline.com/APEH/reformdocument.html

[2] http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/huss-the-church

[3] http://www.doctrine.org/history/HPv1b3.htm#CHAPTER3

[4] https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/luther_martin/theses/95theses.cfm

[5] https://www.lucsa.org/uploads/Important%20Lutheran%20Documents%20of%20the%20Reformation.pdf

[6] http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes/

[7] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15006b.htm

[8] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15006b.htm

[9] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15006b.htm

[10] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15006b.htm

[11] https://www.christiantruth.com/articles/mt16.html

[12] https://www.christiantruth.com/articles/mt16.html

[13] https://www.christiantruth.com/articles/mt16.html

[1] Matter: a change or movement’s material “cause”, is the aspect of the change or movement which is determined by the material that composes the moving or changing things. For a table, that might be wood; for a statue, that might be bronze or marble.

Form: a change or movement’s formal “cause”, is a change or movement caused by the arrangement, /shape or appearance of the thing changing or moving. Aristotle says for example that the ratio 2:1, and number in general, is the cause of the octave. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_causes)

[2] https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/the-history-of-the-reformation/

[3] https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/the-five-solas-of-the-protestant-reformation.html

[4] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/tie-that-binds-solas-together/

[5] https://www.amazon.com/Five-Solas-Pack-Thomas-Schreiner/dp/0310533961/?tag=thegospcoal-20

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o8oIELbNxE&t=603s

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