Answers to Catholic Answers

Envoy Magazine is a Roman Catholic apologetic publication dedicated to the following:

"Envoy is a bimonthly journal of Catholic apologetics and evangelization. Its mission is to present the truths of the Catholic faith in a fresh, contemporary style, featuring today's top Catholic writers, full-color graphics, and an upbeat and innovative format" (pg. 2 inside cover of Volume 7.4).

In this rejoinder we wish to interact with one of the articles found in this issue of Envoy written by Tim Staples under the heading of Nuts & Bolts entitled the "Top Ten", According to St. John.

The premise of Staples' article is to answer, from the Bible, a series of questions asked by non-Catholics seeking to lead Roman Catholics out of the Roman Catholic religion.

Produced below are eight of the ten questions sent to Envoy Magazine, along with Roman Catholic answers according to a Roman Catholic interpretation of the Bible. We have chosen eight because two of the questions are weak and not really pertinent to the Roman Catholic religion. This exchange is important for all of us since we are able to eavesdrop on a Roman Catholic theologian giving a defense of the hope in him.

We have set forth the questions asked of Rome followed by the Roman Catholic response. Then we have presented our answers to the Roman Catholic answers. Hence, our title is Answers to Catholic Answers.

Question #1

"EXODUS 20:2-5 explicitly condemns images and statues, yet Catholics have both in their churches." Why?

Roman Catholic response:

"THE TEXT READS: You shall not make for yourself any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God" (Emphasis ours)

"The key is the phrase: bow down to them or serve them. It's obvious that God did not condemn statues absolutely because just five chapters later he commanded Moses to make two enormous statues to be placed over the holiest of all places, the Ark of the Covenant."


CWRC- A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism response:

The spin here is that Rome does not actually worship or bow down before their statues so as to worship the stone or relic or painting. Hence, in Rome it is all right to have these sorts of things as an aid to worship God. But this is missing the point. Not even the pagan cultures worshipped the material stone or carving or drawing. The pagans worshipped the god behind the stone. The same could be said of Israel and the golden calf. It was the god behind the calf that they began to worship. This god was a god of their imagination. The imagination runs wild when anything on earth is pictured for a god. This is the problem with Rome's spin on the crucial question of bowing down to images and idols. The language of the Council of Trent is very informative here.

"Moreover, that the images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints are to be placed and retained especially in the churches, and that due honor and veneration is to be given them; not, however, that any divinity or virtue is believed to be in them by reason of which they are to be venerated." (Trent 25th session).

The English dictionary uses the word veneration and worship synonymously. There is not much difference in the English. Take careful note that the Greek translation of the OT (The LXX) translated the Hebrew term (Shatah - English: bow down) with proskuneo. This Greek word is given this definition by Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, a common Greek lexicon.

"used to designate the custom of prostrating oneself before a person and kissing his feet, the hem of his garment, the ground, etc. the Persians did this in the presence of their deified king, and the Greeks before a divinity or something holy;" (pg.723). (Emphasis ours)

A Greek reading the OT in his own language, which was used extensively by the NT writers, would have read "you shall not bow down (prostrate oneself or kiss) them (the images)." Yet, this is exactly the Roman Catholic practice.

Trent is clear that there is not to be a thought of divinity or virtue in the images but yet veneration of them is due. Trent says equally clear that images are to be erected for the church and that they are to have veneration and honor given to them. The reason given for this by Trent is that "but because the honor which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which they represent, so that by means of images which we kiss and before which we uncover the head and prostrate ourselves, we adore Christ and venerate the saints whose likeness they bear (Trent 25th Session). (Emphasis ours)

The text of Scripture forbids the making for yourself an image that you would bow down to. Yet, Rome insists that they can prostrate themselves and kiss an image while giving the image veneration simply because they say that they are truly worshipping the one true God who is behind the image. How does one worship the one true God by doing exactly what the one true God forbids?

Moses was very exact in his exhortation to the nation of Israel.

"'Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God (Lev 26:1, NIV).

Rome spins this to say, "It's OK so long as you do not worship or serve the idol." But, since stones cannot speak and pictures cannot talk and relics cannot write notes it is left to the imagination of the one giving veneration or prostrating himself or kissing the stone to convince himself that he is really worshipping Jesus Christ. How odd when it is precisely Jesus who says to us in unambiguous clarity that we are not to go down this road! Christians know better. We hear the clear voice of Jesus Christ and do not need to worship God through an idol or a carved stone.

21 "Jesus declared, 'Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth'" (John 4:21-24, NIV).

Also, we abhor the RC practice of worshipping the false god of Mary. To say that God is worshipped by prostrating oneself and giving veneration to a statue of Mary is a glaring example of how the carved idol, so preeminent in RC culture, has become such wretched idolatry!

Question #2

"MATTHEW 20:20-28 condemns the human tradition of hierarchy. There is no hierarchy in the Church according to Jesus."

Why does Rome have a hierarchy?

Roman Catholic response:

"THE TEXT READS: Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to [Jesus], with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for somethingCommand that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom. But Jesus answered You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve"

"This text doesn't condemn hierarchy. It teaches that the hierarchy who 'are over [us] in the Lord and admonish [us]' (I Thess. 5:12, cf. Heb. 13:17) ought to govern in the image of Christ, who washed the feet of the apostles. Jesus also said to the apostles:

'As my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint a kingdom for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'

Jesus is the King of Kings in a kingdom. And he clearly established a hierarchy in the kingdom as Ephesians 4:11 indicates: 'And [Christ's] gifts were that some should be called apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers' The Church is called the Kingdom of Heaven/God' scores of times (see Matt. 13 etc.) in Scripture whose hierarchy is endowed with the authority of Christ to speak for him (see Matt. 10:40, 18: 15-18). That's hierarchy!"
CWRC response:

Matthew 20:20-28 perhaps is not the best choice of Scripture to use to refute the Roman Catholic hierarchy. This passage of the Bible speaks more to the issue of servant leaders than to the governance established for the Body of Christ. Hence, it is easy for the Roman Catholic apologist to dismiss any claims from this text that Rome's hierarchy is contrary to Scripture.

However, the English word hierarchy means, "a system of church government by priests or other clergy in graded ranks" (Webster's New World Dictionary, second edition, pg. 661). This English word 'hierarchy' is not used in the Bible. As far as the principle of a government by graded ranks is concerned, this too is foreign to the text of Scripture.

When Rome says that the Bible does not "condemn" something and therefore it is permissible we should take careful notice. For the Bible does not condemn each and every kind of nonsense. But this does not make what is not specifically condemned appropriate. Since the Bible does not introduce us to a hierarchy, we would have to bring together the pages of Scripture to make a good and necessary deduction that a hierarchical form of governance for the Body of Christ is inherently taught in the Bible.

Toward this end Rome labors in vain. We notice that Rome assumes that the leadership pattern established in the Body of Christ is a hierarchy without one shred of biblical data to support the hypothesis.

Tim Staples says simply, "This text doesn't condemn hierarchy". It teaches that the hierarchy who are "over [us] in the Lord and admonish [us] "etc. The trouble is that the New Testament does not give to us the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, Archbishops and Priests! The second problem for Rome and Staples is that the Bible never refers to the simple Elder/Bishop [1] (two words used interchangeably for the same exact position) model of Church governance as a hierarchy. The Roman Catholic hierarchy model is Rome's way of foisting onto the text the pattern that they have invented and developed. It has no foundation in the Bible.

Tim Staples runs way out of bounds by trying to re-invent the text of Ephesians 4:11 to prove a hierarchy. Here is the text:

7 "but to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,

'WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH,

HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES,

AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.'

9 (Now this expression, 'He ascended,' what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith" (Eph 4:7-13, NASU).

In the first place, if this text taught a hierarchy it would be Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor/Teachers. It would not be Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Archbishop and Priest! But the text teaches nothing of the sort. This text refers to the gifts that God has given to the Body of Christ to help equip the saints for effective service. Those who are to govern the Body of Christ are not even mentioned here. They are the Elders/Bishops clearly marked out in 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1 among other passages of Scripture.

5 "The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless-not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it" (Titus 1:5-9, NIV).

Staples solicits Matthew as a proof text for what he assumes and fails miserably to prove. He states boldly:

"The Church is called 'the Kingdom of Heaven/God' scores of times (see Matt. 13 etc.) in Scripture whose hierarchy is endowed with the authority of Christ to speak for him (see Matt. 10:40, 18: 15-18). That's hierarchy!"

While it is true that the parables of the Gospels equate the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God with the Body of Christ the word hierarchy is never used to describe the endowed authority of Christ to speak for Him. The Church speaks for Christ when applying the Word of God and correcting all manner of heresies that are the constant enemy of the Kingdom of God. The responsibility to maintain the integrity of the Body of Christ does not fall upon any alleged hierarchy but upon duly recognized Elders/Bishops (two different terms for the exact same position) within each local assembly of the Body of Christ.




[1] The two Greek words used interchangeably in the New Testament pattern of church governance are episkopon (English: bishop) from which the Episcopalian denomination derives its name; and presbuteros (English: presbyter) from which the Presbyterian denomination derives its name. These two words are not to be confused with the Roman Catholic Bishop who bears no resemblance to the New Testament church leaders who are clearly delineated in the Bible.

Question #3

"MATTHEW 23: 5-7 condemns the use of clerical dress, yet we see Catholics and some Protestants who are in league with 'the Whore' doing exactly what Jesus rejects."

Why?

The Roman Catholic Response:

"THE TEXT READS: They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men.

The wearing of 'clerical dress' and 'phylacteries' was God's idea according to Scripture. In Exodus 28, God gave explicit instructions to Moses regarding the 'clerical dress' of the High Priest. God calls them 'holy garments' in verse 2. And Deuteronomy 11:18 says:

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sing on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes

Jesus is not contradicting these Scriptures. Notice, he says, 'They make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long (emphasis added).' The problem was the Pharisees were doing these things 'to be seen by men.' rather than to signify their service to God and the People of God. That's what Jesus condemned."
CWRC response:

It is perfectly clear that Jesus was not condemning the dress code of the priests of the Old Testament. Nor was He contradicting the cultic attire of Old Testament saints. God gave these kinds of things to the nation of Israel to set them apart and serve as reminders of their unique status before God. It is obvious that Jesus is decrying the pride and arrogance of those who would parade their religious pomp in apparel to be noticed by men. But this kind of explanation does nothing to advance the propriety of a New Testament dress code to identify a New Testament priesthood that is contrary to the very heart of biblical revelation. What was good for Israel is not good for the New Covenant in Christ. Christ came to bring a New Covenant wherein priests are not necessary as Jesus is now the one and only high priest for His people. Hence, the garb of the Roman Catholic cleric is worse than broadened phylacteries and lengthened robes! At least in those cases phylacteries and robes were appropriate reminders of the Old Covenant. But what does the priestly dress of the Roman Catholic religion stand for? It stands only for the Roman Catholic insistence that God has created another priestly class to stand between Him and His people. But this is entirely foreign to the Scriptures. There is most certainly not a New Covenant priesthood. Hence, the garb of Rome is an offence and not a reminder of anything remotely concerned with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Since there is no need of a New Covenant priesthood, there is no need for special attire as though some were endowed with priestly functions. Yet, this is exactly what the Roman Catholic priesthood believes. It all folds together in that the RC religion believes its priests are especially designated by God to re-present the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on a bloodless altar for forgiveness of sins. When one examines the reason behind the special dress of RC priests, it is clear that their dress is but a symptom of a dreadfully misguided religion.

23 "Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever" (Heb 7:23-28, NIV)

Question #4

"MATTHEW 23:9 explicitly condemns calling anyone 'father upon earth' and yet Catholics call their priests 'father' in direct violation of God's Word."

Why?

The Roman Catholic Response:

"MATTHEW 23:9 READS: 'call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.' In context, Jesus condemns the usurpation of the name Father as it is applied to God, not the use the term 'father.' In Luke 16:24, Jesus calls Abraham 'Father Abraham' as does St. James in James 2:21 and St. Paul eight times in Romans 4:1-18! St. Stephen calls the elders of Jerusalem 'fathers' in Acts 7:1 and St. Paul refers to himself as 'father' in I Corinthians 4:14-15. Remember, Jesus is speaking in the context of a Roman Empire where the emperors were worshipped as 'Father' of the Empire. Jesus warns both the Jews of his day and us not to all into the sin of thinking too highly of ourselves and not to usurp honor that is due God alone. Ephesians 3:14-15 (DRV) says, 'Giving thanks to the Father from whom all paternity in heaven and on earth is named." True fatherhood, both in heaven (i.e. 'Father Abraham') and on earth (i.e. 'Father Paul' - cf. I Cor. 4:14-15) participates in the one, unique Fatherhood of God; it does not usurp it."
CWRC response:

We reproduce the text in question here for all to see:

8 "But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matt 23:8-12, NIV).

It is readily conceded that the thrust of Jesus' exhortation is to end once and for all the specious practice of persistently placing man and his erroneous religious convictions between God and man. Jesus says a few verses earlier of the religious leaders of His day, "They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders" (Matt 23:4, NIV).

So then the question should be asked, "What was the intent of Jesus when He said to not call anyone a Rabbi, father, teacher or master on earth?" Rome misses the point with its notion that Jesus was correcting only those who wished to "usurp" the name of the Father as it is applied to God. No one in Israel would dare make himself out to be God or try to take the name of God or Father to rob God of His rightful status. After all, this is exactly the charge brought against Jesus that He was making Himself out to be God or at least the equal of God. No, the problem with Israel's religious establishment was that they stood between God and man in a self appointed position that demanded religious servitude. In this passage Jesus is alluding to what is to come. He will be the mediator of a New Covenant, and all who come to the Father in heaven will come directly through Him and not through earthly fathers. Also, all who are His own will be blessed with the Holy Spirit of promise Who will guide men in the truth in things pertaining to God. Thus, Jesus is promising direct access to God without human mediation.

Now comes the Roman Catholic religion whose priests, called "fathers", are situated between God and man in a similar posture as these Pharisees, masters, fathers, teachers and Rabbis of the time of Jesus. Nowhere will the New Testament use the term "father" to set apart a class of priests to mediate between man and God. Paul will not do so. His use of Abraham as a father is historical and appropriate by way of illustrating a man of faith who stood before God alone without any human mediation. Paul's use of "father" is restricted to his unique role as a bearer of the Gospel in the lives of those he evangelized and is not to be confused with the role the religious leaders of Israel had assumed.

In Rome, her adherents are required to call those hearing their confessions and performing priestly rituals "father". This religious and spiritual context of the word 'father' is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ forbids. What could be more evident than the fact that the Roman Catholic "father" stands between God and man?

When modern day Rabbis, and masters and priests, convince the illiterate and poorly schooled that they are the ones to whom men should appeal for religious truth, and create a dependency among men on their assumed priestly crafts or esoteric teachings; they fall under the same condemnation as those of this text, and should not be called "father" in any sense, especially a spiritual one. Rome has consistently explained away this passage of Scripture thinking that it is immune to correction. Yet, in the final analysis Rome has violated and continues to despoil the essence of this teaching and stands under the condemnation of God for ignoring the gist of Jesus' teaching to call no man your "father" here on earth, for you have one Father and He is in heaven.

Question #5

"1 TIMOTHY 2:5 teaches that Christ is the 'one mediator' between God and men, yet Catholics teach that both priests and saints in heaven are 'mediators' in violation of Holy Writ."

Why?

The Roman Catholic Response:

"THE TEXT READS: 'For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.'

Yes, Jesus Christ is our one mediator. The Catholic Church agrees. However, not only ordained priests, all Christians are called to be mediators of God's love and grace in Christ as member of his body and members of a royal priesthood (cf. Eph. 1:22-23, I Peter 2:5-9). The definition of a priest is a mediator between God and men, or an intercessor. Hebrews 7:24-25 tells us:

[Christ] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Intercessor and mediator are synonyms. Yet, in the same text of I Tim. 2, St. Paul says we are all called to intercede 'for kings and all who are in high positionsthis is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior' (see verses 1-3).

An apostle is, by definition, 'one who has been sent' with the authority of the one who sent him. He is a mediator for the sender. Right after St. Paul tells us that Christ is our 'one mediator' he then says, in verse seven, 'For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle' In other words, in I Tim. 2:1-7, St. Paul calls us to intercede because Christ is our one intercessor and for this reason St. Paul was sent as an intercessor to the world!"
CWRC response:

The Roman Catholic spin here is a sleight of hand spin that plays fast and loose with the New Testament. The foolishness begins by the admission that Jesus is our one mediator and then proclaiming that all Christians and ordained priests are called to be mediators. How can Jesus be our one mediator with countless others also being our mediators? No explanation is given. Is Jesus a special mediator? Is Jesus just one of the many mediators? Is the mediation of Jesus different from all the mediators? Rome is silent here. No wonder, because Rome cannot defend its proposition that Jesus is one of many mediators.

In the first place, it is not true that all Christians are called to be mediators of God's love and grace. This claim is not true. It does not even make sense to say "that all Christians are called to be mediators of God's love and grace" Love and grace are not mediated. The word "mediate" means to stand in the middle between two parties in hopes of bringing them together. Rome twists and invents a new nuance to the word "mediation" because Rome wants us to believe that the word mediator is just another word (synonymous) for the word intercession. But this too is false. The Greek word mesites (English: mediator) is used all of six times in the New Testament. In all cases, except Paul's reference to Moses as the mediator of the Law of God in Galatians 3, the word is used of Christ and Him as a unique mediator. There is another Greek word that is translated intercession and is used of those making intercession on behalf of others to God (Greek: enteuxis - English: petition or prayer). This word is found in 1Timothy 2:1 and 4:5. These two words (petition and mediation), and the concepts they convey, are hardly synonymous. They are in fact quite different.

All Christians may pray and petition and have intercession in communication with God with the idea of prayer and supplications to the Lord on behalf of others. But Christians do not mediate before the Lord on behalf of others. In short, to pray is not to mediate!

The English word "mediate" means "to settle by mediation; bring about conciliation" and the word 'mediation' in English means "the act of mediating; friendly or diplomatic intervention, usually by consent or invitation, for settling differences between persons, nations etc." (Webster's New World Dictionary, pg. 881).

The Word of God states plainly that Jesus Christ is the one and only mediator completely qualified to stand between sinful man and God the righteous judge. He alone can bring the two parties together through His perfect sacrifice.

15 "For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant" (Heb 9:15, NIV).

"You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel" (Heb 12:23-24, NIV).

The question that is most pertinent in light of Jesus Christ being designated as the one mediator between God and man is whether one can approach God through any other person or in any other way. Rome says "yes," for in their religion there are many mediators who stand between God and man. But the Word of God is sure and certain. Christians may and must go directly to Jesus Christ as their one and only mediator in all their prayers, supplications and intercessions. Furthermore, access to Jesus Christ is direct and unhindered. Unlike Rome, which has many mediators to get to the one mediator, Christians go directly to Jesus Christ.

"For it is declared:

'You are a priest forever,

in the order of Melchizedek.'

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

The Lord has sworn

and will not change his mind:

'You are a priest forever.'

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them" (Heb 7: 17-25, NIV).

Tim Staples would have us believe that Paul was a mediator because he was an apostle. This too is a leap of illogic. He confuses one sent with a message of the one and only mediator with mediation itself! Paul confirms his ministry of preaching and teaching the Word as an apostle because he was given the responsibility of announcing the good news of the mediation of Jesus Christ. Paul did not mediate anything. He announced the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and proclaimed Christ as the one and only mediator!

"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle ( I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth" (1 Tim 2:1-7, NASV).

Question #6

"MATTHEW 26:28 explicitly says that everyone is to drink of the cup of communion, yet Catholics have withheld the cup from the laity for centuries and often keep it from the laity even to this day! Once again, Jesus' word takes second place to the Pope's traditions."

Why?

The Roman Catholic Response:

"THE TEXT READS: And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, 'Drink of it, all of you.'

In context, Jesus only gave the host and the cup to the twelve apostles (see verse 20). This is one reason why it is necessary for the priest at Mass to receive both the host and the precious blood. However, when St. Paul teaches the faithful in Corinth about receiving Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist, he says:

'Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord' (I Cor. 11:27, emphasis added).

According to St. Paul, if the faithful receive one species - that is, either the host or the cup - they have received the entire body and blood of Christ.

There is certainly nothing wrong with receiving both species. The Catholic Church, in fact, encourages the practice today. It has a fuller symbolic value. But according to the Bible, it is not necessary for the faithful to receive both for them to receive Christ in communion."
CWRC response:

Let us begin where Rome begins. They say that their priests deserve ("it is necessary") to receive both the bread (Catholic: host i.e., actual body of Christ) and the wine (Catholic: actual blood of Christ) because Jesus Christ, at the last supper, gave the bread and wine only to the twelve. By what stretch of the imagination does a Roman Catholic priest become one of the twelve to whom Christ personally gave the elements of the last supper? Such logic and reasoning defies all rationale biblical interpretation. Why not give the bread and wine only to twelve selected Cardinals administered by only the Pope at Rome? At least this might follow the logic of Rome's insistence that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth and the Cardinals his closest followers. One cannot possibly strain simple logic far enough to contain such an unwarranted assertion much less try to prove it biblically. Yet, like so many things of Rome, here it is stated boldly as though anyone could see plainly that this sort of biblical interpretation is natural and ordinary!

It is not natural and ordinary at all. It is just the opposite. It is contrived and made up to fit the practice of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. This kind of interpretation leads to the defense of giving only half of the elements prescribe by the Lord to the Roman faithful.

Trying to defend this practice of giving only the bread at their communion, Rome appeals to the apostle Paul's writing in 1 Corinthians 11:27.

27 "Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world" (1 Corinthians 11:27-32, NSAU).

In a hopeless attempt to add meaning to the apostle Paul, Rome seeks to separate the elements of the Lord's Table by interpreting the text to be actually sanctioning the eating of the bread only or drinking of the wine only. They take Paul's words, "whoever eats the bread OR drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner," as insinuating that it is perfectly fine to receive one or the other. Also they take Paul's words, "shall be guilty of the body AND the blood of the Lord," as insinuating that taking only the bread or wine is the equivalent to taking both. This is clever, but is this the teaching of the text? No, it is not.

On the night of His betrayal the Lord gave both the cup of wine and the bread to all of His disciples. This established the giving of both elements to all within the Body of Christ. To withhold one or the other as if it did not matter is to deny the clear cut command and example of the apostle Paul.

23 "For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.' 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor 11:23-26, NIV).

A Christian cannot "do this in remembrance of me" if the cup is deliberately withheld. The two fit together. Both the bread and the cup are essential to complete the example and obey the command. In the passage used by Rome to prove the opposite the rest of the verses are left out. 1 Corinthians 11:28 states emphatically: "But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup."

Rome spins madly here to get around a clear cut command and example. Why? Like most things in Rome, their religious practice seeks some sort of validation from some part of Scripture. They have failed again and again. This is no exception.

Question #7

"EZEKIEL 18:20 condemns the human tradition of original sin. This heresy that teaches people are punished in Hell for the sin of our first parents has infected most of the so-called 'Protestant' world as well as Catholic, but its roots can be found in the 'whore of Babylon', the Catholic Church."

Why?

The Roman Catholic Response:

"THE TEXT READS: "The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.' This text condemns sons being put to death for the sins of their fathers (see verses 10-19). The Catholic Church agrees. She has never approved of the death penalty for the innocent. If we apply this text in a spiritual sense to Hell, the Church again agrees. No one has ever or will ever go to Hell for anyone else's sin; including original sin. God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. Although original sin 'is proper to each individual [it] does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants.' This sin resulted in Adam and Eve's loss of original holiness while it also 'affected the human nature that they would then transmit [to all of us] in a fallen state.' Original sin is taught in the New Testament as well. Sin, death, decay and concupiscence are not what God created us to experience. In fact, God could not be the source of such imperfection. He can only create perfect natures because he is infinitely perfect. According to Gen. 1:31, God made us in perfect happiness and harmony. The fall was the result of the abuse of God's perfect gift of free will. This fall from grace is described in Romans 5:12, 15, 18-19: 'therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinnedFor if many died through one man's trespassThen as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous.' Our intellects are darkened (cf. Col. 1:21), our wills are weakened (cf. Romans 7:19) and we experience decay and death because of this fallen nature we have inherited. But we still merit eternal reward or eternal punishment by our free choices. We can be made 'partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption of concupiscence which is in the world' (II Peter 4:1) through faith in Christ. Or, apart from grace, we can remain, "by [fallen] nature children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3). But, according to Scripture and the Catholic Church, no one will be punished with death - physical or spiritual - for anyone's sins, except their own!"
CWRC Response:

The text of Ezekiel reads as follows:

19 "Yet you ask, 'Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?' Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. 20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him" (Ezek 18:19-20, NIV).

From this it is instantly recognizable that the righteous son of an unrighteous man will not share the guilt of his father's sins. This is without exception since the fall of Adam. No man will carry the burden of guilt or be punished for what his father has done. Likewise, no man can expect to gain the praise, respect, love, and character value of his father. He will be judged upon his own sins and merits. Neither shame nor fame will be attributed to him by what his father has done.

This being said, it is quite another matter when it comes to our first parents, Adam and Eve. Ezekiel cannot be applied to override the equally clear teaching of Scripture that Adam has a lot to do with the condition of mankind.

Rome does not give much of an answer to this charge that people are punished in hell by the sin of their first parents. Tim Staples seems lost in trying to lay to rest this accusation. He seems to try to find a middle ground between such a stark allegation and his own Roman Catholic dogma. In this case it is essential to give a good biblical reply. In so doing, the Roman Catholic answer and the objection given in the question will be dismissed. Here are Staple's counter points followed by a biblical rejoinder from CWRC.

STAPLES: "No one has ever or will ever go to Hell for anyone else's sin; including original sin."

CWRC: The use of the term "original sin" is not found in the Bible. The concept of original sin, as applied by Rome, can only find its connection with Scripture by identifying it with the sin of Adam. The text of Scripture mentions two antecedent sins prior to the sin of Adam. Eve was first beguiled and prior to her there was a catastrophic sin in the heavenly places culminating in the casting out of Satan. So, the assumption is that original sin references only Adam's disobedience to the command of God. The theological question then is "what connection does Adam's sin have on the rest of mankind?" In Tim Staple's opinion, Adam's sin cannot be conceived of as the cause of condemnation. This presents insurmountable problems for Mr. Staples. In the first place his own Roman Catholic baptism is designated as a sacrament that removes original sin. It is the original sin of Adam, passed along to his descendants, that is alleged to be washed away in the waters of Roman Catholic baptism. If no one will ever go to hell for anyone else's sin, then why demand an infant and adult baptism to take away original sin?

"For in virtue of this rule of faith handed down from the apostles, even infants who could not yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this reason truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that in them what they contracted by generation may be washed away by regeneration. If anyone denies that by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original is not remitted, or says that the whole of that which belongs to the essence of sin is not taken away, but says that it is only canceled or not imputed, let him be anathema" (Council of Trent, 5th Session).

In the second place, the Bible is very clear. Condemnation does come through the sin of one man. It is the singular sin of Adam that condemns all to hell. Each and every person born into the human race shares the guilt and sin of Adam. Adam was our Federal Head and when he sinned we all were condemned in him. This is the thesis of the apostle Paul in Romans, chapter five. Notice the text with appropriate highlights given below.

12 "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned - 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 5:12-21, NASB).

STAPLES: "God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God, (a mortal sin), is necessary, and persistence in it until the end"

CWRC: The spin is on here as well. Rome uses carefully selected terms to persuade the ignorant of God's ways, which always leads the person to Rome's doorstep. In reality, while it is true that the word "predestine" (Greek: proorizo) is not used in a context of predestining someone to hell; it is used on four occasions in context to describe God predestining His elect to heaven. Election and predestination to Heaven are reserved by God, in His infinite mercy and sovereignty, to those whom He has determined to give to His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God is lucid on this matter although very humbling.

3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment-to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory" (Eph 1:3-14, NIV).

STAPLES: "Although original sin "is proper to each individual [it] does not have the character of personal fault in any of Adam's descendants."

CWRC: Mr. Staple's does not speak for his own religion here. Rome does not teach an absence of the guilt of original sin. Rome teaches that guilt and the whole of that which belongs to the essence of sin is taken away in baptism. Listen to the Council of Trent:

"If anyone denies that by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted, or says that the whole of that which belongs to the essence of sin is not taken away, but says that it is only canceled or not imputed, let him be anathema" (Council of Trent, 5th Session).

Without the spin of the modern Roman Catholic apologist, it is evident that the guilt of Adam's sin needs to be washed away in the waters of Roman Catholic baptism. Where there is guilt there is fault.

STAPLES: "This sin resulted in Adam and Eve's loss of original holiness while it also "affected the human nature that they would then transmit [to all of us] in a fallen state."

CWRC: This sentence does not make any sense. It can only be assumed that the sentence "affected the human nature that they would then transmit [to all of us] in a fallen state" means that Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants a human nature from their fallen state. But this says nothing of the guilt and condemnation of the nature transmitted to their descendants. Mr. Staples has avoided the issue. It means nothing to say that Adam and Eve transmitted a human nature that was affected by their sin if the nature of the affectation is not explained. The Bible is unmistakable in that the sin of Adam carries with it both guilt and a fallen nature that are transmitted to his descendants. The resulting state of depravity in Adam's descendants includes the guilt of Adam's sin and the sin nature. Men sin because they are born sinners. This is the natural state of all of mankind. It comes from Adam and is pandemic to the world in which we live.

From the wrong assessment of sin and depravity come a number of useless statements mentioned by Mr. Staples in his attempt to answer this particular question. Here are some of them with refutation.

STAPLES: "Original sin is taught in the New Testament as well. Sin, death, decay and concupiscence are not what God created us to experience. In fact, God could not be the source of such imperfection. He can only create perfect natures because he is infinitely perfect. According to Gen. 1:31, God made us in perfect happiness and harmony."

CWRC: The original sin of Adam is indeed taught in the New Testament. It is taught as being the source of man's corruptions and the ground of the condemnation of all mankind. The fruit of Adam's sin is exhibited in the never ending torrents of sin produced by mankind. Also, Genesis 1:31 does not inform us that God created perfect natures. If Adam and Eve were perfect they would not have sinned against God. Here is what Genesis 1:31 says.

31 "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day" (Gen 1:31, NIV).

Rome spins "very good" into perfection to take God off its alleged hook. But there is no need to do so here. God created angels with the capacity to fall. God created Adam and Eve with the capacity to fall. God does not have this capacity. Only God is perfect. His creation will always be less than God. God chooses to preserve what He desires for His purposes. In Heaven the redeemed in Christ will be preserved eternally from falling into sin.

STAPLES: "Our intellects are darkened (cf. Col. 1:21), our will are weakened (cf. Roman 7:19 and we experience decay and death because of this fallen nature we have inherited. But we still merit eternal reward or eternal punishment by our free choices"

CWRC: If ever there was proof for the claim that the Roman Catholic religion and Christianity stand at eternal odds with each other, it is lies here in this short little quip asserted by the Roman Catholic apologist.

Rome believes essentially that the will of man was affected by the fall of Adam but not taken prisoner to the fallen nature of man. Hence, Rome denies the bondage of the will to the sinful nature of man. Rome believes that man can, with aid from the Holy Spirit but not enabled by the Holy Spirit, make a completely free and unbiased choice for Heaven or for Hell.

Let two things be perfectly clear to the reader. The first is that the sin of Eve and Adam did not take God by surprise as though He did not know that they would sin. Their sinning was according to His will which cannot be surprised or stultified (rendered ineffectual by events). The second is that the ability to disobey God in the Garden of Eden comes from the nature of their beings. They could have sinned and they did sin. They could have been beguiled and they were beguiled. In their human state they were susceptible to influences from without and within. They made an un-coerced choice but not an unbiased choice. We are convinced there is no perfect free will except that of God. All of created order is subject to God's inscrutable will and pleasure.

What of mankind after the fall of Adam and Eve? The Scriptures ignore man's claim of a free will. Scripture is clear that God must regenerate a man from above to give him any hope of spiritual life. The biblical doctrine of total depravity sobers man's avowal of his hoped for "free will" unbiased by his corrupt nature and unfettered by his sins. On the contrary, it is only the supernatural work of God which frees the bound will to see and surrender to the savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. This regeneration from above in turn brings a sure and certain change in life. This "born again" experience is the work of God in the heart of fallen man that brings life to those whose will is held captive in sin and utter depravity.

Christian theology shudders at the thought of "meriting eternal reward or eternal punishment by our free choices." This is man-made religion at its best and worst. This is hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians know better. They know that their hearts were wicked and deceitful by nature and that they were slaves of unrighteousness unable to effect a change or get their sins forgiven until God freed them to believe in the perfect atonement of a perfect savior.

In man's fallen condition he is by nature (his own) a child of wrath. He is only free to do what he wants to do and he never wants to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel is foolishness to the natural man and he is unable to grasp it let alone believe it. Rome insists on teaching that man has a free will to come to Christ and then offers religious rituals in an empty hope to keep man with God. The Bible cuts through all of this and tells it like it is. Man in his natural estate hates God and would kill God if he could. His will is bound in iniquity and in total bondage to his sinful nature. Man is as incapable of recognizing his need for a savior as a fish is of recognizing that he is wet! The myth of free will is the cornerstone for all auto soteric (self made and self saving) religions of which Rome is the chief.

Question #8

"Mark 16:16 says faith is necessary before baptism for salvation. Catholics, and again, some Protestants who follow 'the whore' baptize infants who cannot have faith."

Why?

The Roman Catholic Response:

"Before is not in the text. It simply says that both faith and baptism, as a universal norm, are necessary for salvation. However, both are required only of those who have the ability to believe and/or be baptized.

The thief on the cross (see Luke 23:42-43) was never water baptized in Scripture, yet Christ said he would make it to heaven. He did not have the physical ability to be baptized; therefore, his desire for Christ was sufficient.

In the case of a child before the age of accountability, he cannot believe because he doesn't have the faculties to do so. Does that mean he would go to hell if he dies before believing in Christ? Of course not! If he is not baptized, we 'can only entrust [him] to the mercy of God.' But we've already seen that he cannot be punished with eternal death.

So for the one who can believe, it is necessary for salvation. And for the one who can be baptized, baptism is necessary for salvation.

The question is: can a baby be baptized? Certainly. Let's look at the analogy of faith and circumcision from the Old Testament. Faith was certainly necessary for salvation in the Old Testament according to Hebrews 11:2ff, just as in the New. But this necessity of faith did not preclude circumcision as the covenant sign used by God to bring a child into a covenant relationship with himself long before that child could believe. The parents had a responsibility for the spiritual well being of their infant children.

Baptism is called 'the circumcision of Christ' in Col. 2:11-12. If babies were circumcised at eight days in the Old Testament, there should be no question that babies are to be baptized in the New Testament! Baptism takes away all sin (Col. 2:13, Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21), including original sin that is on the soul of every child (cf. Romans 5:12) and initiates us into the body of Christ (Romans 2:27-28, 6:3-4).

Further, baptism is part of the promise that St. Peter explicitly says is for 'your children' in Acts 2:39. Speaking to a crowd of thousands of Jews, they would have known exactly what he was talking about because they had been circumcising their children for 2,500 years! Religion was a family affair for them!

Also, baptism as the fulfillment of circumcision fits right in with the notion of 'household salvation' that we see all over the New Testament. When a parent comes to the Faith, they have the authority to bring their entire 'household' to the Faith (see Acts 11:14, 16:15, 31, I Cor. 1:26). There is no reason to believe children would be excluded." CWRC Response:

We set forth first the entire text of the passage in question.

9 "[Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 And when they heard that He was alive, and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.

12 And after that, He appeared in a different form to two of them, while they were walking along on their way to the country. 13 And they went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.

14 And afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.'

19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed"] (Mark 16:9-20, NASB).

This text is bracketed because the earliest manuscript evidence does not contain verses 9-20 in the Greek Text. The King James includes these verses with no asterisk. The NIV leaves them out entirely with a note explaining that they are not in the earliest manuscripts. So, we have a disputed text of Scripture and we must be careful.

We shall go forward with the assumption of the question that Mark 16:9-20 is a part of the inspired text. We do so because in this scenario it gets us to the point of the question.

It is unwise to frame the question to Rome in the manner in which it is stated. The way the question is declared gives the strong impression that baptism is necessary for salvation if one gets the order between faith and baptism correct. Evidently, the questioner has only a problem with baptizing infants who cannot believe rather than the entire concept of baptism being necessary for salvation.

Rome answers by agreeing that baptism and faith are both necessary for salvation as a universal norm. Rome and the questioner are in agreement. But we must strongly disagree with this implicit accord. Baptism is not necessary for salvation. Baptism is the response brought about by conversion to Jesus Christ. It is the effect of salvation but not the cause of salvation. The only instrumental cause of salvation is faith. Baptism has its place as a beautiful picture of identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ but is never given the purpose of bringing about salvation in the Bible.

We argue that baptism never stands alone as the event which brings about salvation or receptivity of the Holy Spirit. We find the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit given on the condition of faith without water throughout the Bible. We find that water baptism occurs after the event of faith in each and every recorded salvation experience in the Bible. The question is this. "Is Baptism necessary for salvation?" We argue that it is not. Baptism does not bring about salvation. Nor is it one of several conditions without which there can be no salvation. Nor is it the final step to effect salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith alone. It is conditioned upon repentance/faith with baptism as the ensuing event, which expresses the heart's desire of the saved to be identified with Jesus Christ.

In Acts 16:29-34 we are given a narrative of a conversion experience. The jailer at Philippi, given charge to guard Paul and Silas, ultimately asked them, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul told him "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved- you and your household." We read in the next verse that they spoke the Word of the Lord to them and to all the others of his household. After washing the wounds of his prisoners, the jailer and his household were baptized that very evening. We first notice the order of events. The message of salvation is spoken. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved╝" This message is followed up by the Word of God spoken to the Philipian jailer and his household. Then follows baptism.

Rome would argue that those baptized had received the sacrament of baptism and it was necessary for their salvation. Yet, that is not the message pronounced here in Acts 16. Also, Rome would argue for infants to receive Baptism in light of the fact that the household was baptized. However, against this is the text, which affirms that those who believed were baptized. "╝he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God -he and his household" (Acts 16:34).

Even more compelling is the testimony of Acts 10 wherein the Holy Spirit falls upon all those who heard the message of Peter. What was Peter's message?

"All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through His name" (Acts 10: 43, NASB).

While Peter is still speaking, the Holy Spirit falls upon those listening and they begin giving evidence by speaking in tongues. Upon seeing this, Peter asks, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water?" "They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have" (Acts 10:47 NASB).

Clearly we see both faith and the coming of the Holy Spirit precede water baptism. This is the order repeated again and again in the early conversion reports recorded in Acts. We find Lydia's heart opened by the Lord and then baptized in Acts 16. We find the Ethiopian eunuch baptized after having heard the good news explained to him by Philip. We find the apostle Paul baptized after coming to faith in the Lord. In no case does Baptism bring about salvation and in no case is baptism necessary for salvation. It does not stand alone. Baptism is always coupled with belief-repentance-turning and trusting Jesus Christ and His finished work at the cross.

Rome wants to make certain that there are exceptions to its faith/baptismal formula for salvation. Rome admits that the thief on the cross was not baptized and that children before the age of accountability cannot really believe. In both cases they are safe because they have not the "ability" on the one hand to be baptized and on the other hand, they have not the ability to believe. This is all summed up as follows:

"So for the one who can believe, it is necessary for salvation. And for the one who can be baptized, baptism is necessary for salvation."

Rome is simply wrong here. Baptism is not necessary for anyone's salvation. It is the response of those who have already been saved. It is not a condition of eternal life. A refusal to be baptized exposes an unbelieving heart but baptism adds nothing to the true heart of faith. The apostle Paul refused to confuse the preaching of the gospel with baptism while at Corinth.

17 "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (I Cor. 1:17, RSV).

We now turn our attention to the Romish practice of infant baptism. Initially, Mr. Staples resorts to the commonly mistaken and misapplied association between the OT practice of circumcision and the NT command to baptize. The argument so commonly reiterated is that because Israel circumcised her babies into the Old Covenant, then Christians ought to baptize their babies into the New Covenant. It is argued that baptism takes the place and form of circumcision in the Old Testament. This, of course, is a superficial treatment of both baptism and circumcision. Circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign and seal of his faith in God. Circumcision was given to the nation of Israel (the physical seed and household of Abraham, including Ishmael) as a sign of a covenanted nation. Those who wish to treat the two as one replacing the other tend to depict and classify circumcision with NT terminology reserved for baptism. They also explain the meaning of baptism with OT terminology reserved only for circumcision. This mixing of apples with oranges serves only to abuse the proper place of both. Baptism is a sign of the New Covenant in Christ and is set aside for those who are believers in Christ. Circumcision was a sign of God's covenant with a nation and was given as a national marker to those in the nation as well as their children. The circumcision of the OT did not serve as a suitable sign of being in Christ. Thus, the apostle Paul, along with all other believers in Christ, was baptized despite carrying on his body the mark of circumcision. The two are simply not the same nor do they signify the same realities. To make them the same and use this imaginary identicalness as the reason for infant baptism is foreign to the text of the New Testament.

Let us listen to the mighty assertions of Rome:

"Baptism is called 'the circumcision of Christ' in Col. 2:11-12. If babies were circumcised at eight days in the Old Testament, there should be no question that babies are to be baptized in the New Testament! Baptism takes away all sin (Col. 2:13; 11-12, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21), including original sin that is on the soul of every child (c.f. Romans 5:12) and initiates us into the body of Christ (Romans 2:27-28, 6:3-4)."

Let us answer these sweeping statements one at a time:

1. Is baptism called the circumcision of Christ in the same sense as circumcision was performed in the Old Testament? The answer is no! Here is the text of Colossians 2.
8 "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Col. 2:88-13, NASB).

We have underlined the portion of the text used by Rome to prove its position. We point out that the circumcision spoken of here is not the circumcision of the Old Testament. It is useful for the apostle to utilize circumcision language to illustrate a greater and new line of reasoning. In Christ all are made complete. In Christ all are circumcised with a special spiritual circumcision made without hands. This special circumcision is the removal of the body of flesh (elsewhere the destruction of the old man and liberation of the Christian from the bondage of sin and corruption) by the spiritual circumcision of Christ. As the OT demanded a cutting away of a portion of the flesh to identify with the Covenant God made with Israel, so the NT calls for a new and more significant "cutting away" of the "flesh" i.e. spiritual bondage by Jesus Christ. The picture of being buried with Christ in baptism (either at the point of belief i.e. spiritual baptism of being baptized into Christ and His Body, or physical baptism in response to conversion) is presented as occurring through faith. The language of being buried with Christ and being raised up with Christ is symbolic of the spiritual realities of being in Christ through faith. It has nothing to do with making NT baptism the same thing as OT circumcision.

2. Does baptism take away all sin? The answer is no! Circumcision did not take away any sins in the OT and baptism does not take away any sins in the NT. Both signs are significations of the realities they represent, but they are not sin forgiving events in the lives of those under whose jurisdiction they fall (OT citizens of Israel for circumcision and NT saints in Christ for baptism])

It is common for Rome to throw around Bible verses in an effort to add legitimacy to its claims. In this case, Rome appeals to the words of Ananias as repeated by the apostle Paul in the recounting of his call to Christ. But also, Rome throws in I Peter 3:21 as a proof text that baptism takes away all sins.

We point out instantly that the baptism of Paul and the subsequent statements by Peter in 1 Peter 3:21 are not referring to infant baptism. Rome, and others, find it convenient to take a verse dedicated to adult believer's baptism and use it as a proof for infant baptism. There are no infant baptisms recorded in the New Testament. Not one!

But what about Paul in Acts 22:16. Did he have his sins washed away in baptism? The answer to this comes in layers. First, water cannot wash away sins. The formal act of baptism has no power of its own to carry off sins. Second, there is no evidence in the New Testament that a power is given to a priestly class that has the capacity to make the waters become efficacious to forgive sins. Thirdly, Paul had been converted already to Christ and had been so recognized as a believer in Christ. The waters of baptism are not for the unbeliever but for the believer. The apostle Paul is no exception to this. Hence, it is the blood of Christ, gained by faith, which brings forgiveness of sins to the believer. Fifthly, and this is the most difficult to understand, the NT is not written as a systematic theology. Hence, there are statements made and events recorded, especially in the book or Acts, which beg for clarification in light of the rest of the NT. It is best to understand that in the historical context of the establishment of the church baptism and the formal expression of faith are almost indistinguishable. To believe is to be baptized and to be baptized is to believe. They are not quite synonymous but they are so closely knit that they are often used for each other. There are no un-baptized believers in the New Testament. All who believe are baptized. Baptism is the signature of faith in the NT and sometimes it is written in blood for those who joyfully come forward to publicly profess their faith in the waters of baptism. The moment of baptism is so tied into the moment of faith that, in the event of baptism itself the forgiveness of sins and the blood of Christ are so richly presented, that the NT puts the thing signifying (baptism) for the thing signified (faith) all in one breath.

Later in the development of the Body of Christ the event of baptism is set off from the moment of faith lest baptism be given supernatural powers and men abuse the baptismal font with unsanctioned and evil intent to gain spiritual ascendancy over others in the same vein as Simon Magus who, in ill-found zeal, sought to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit. Such is the case of Rome. Rome's magicians make magic of the water and apply it to both adults and unbelieving infants. This kind of abuse forces us to make doubly certain that the events of faith and baptism are not to be confused as one and the same.

3. In response to our stand, Rome appeals to 1 Peter 3: 21. Rome claims that baptism stands alone as the cause of salvation. The text is as follows:

"And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21).

This one little sentence, "baptism now saves you" is seized upon by Rome to prove that baptism stands alone as the cause of salvation. Again, we must emphasize that the verse says too much if Rome takes it in this manner. For, if baptism saves then there is no necessity for the remaining Roman sacraments, which also are said to be necessary for salvation.

However, contra Rome and the modern church of Christ baptismal regenerationists, 1Peter 3:21 does not teach baptism is necessary for salvation. Peter pictures baptism as corresponding to the waters into which Noah and his family passed safely at the time of the flood. As Noah and his family passed through the water safely in the Ark, so we pass through the waters symbolically in the New Covenant Ark of Jesus Christ. Baptism is a wonderful picture of passing through the waters of judgment safely having been put into Christ through faith. Noah and his wife, sons and daughter's in law were ceremonially cleansed by the waters of the flood and brought safely through the waters all at once. Baptism pictures our cleansing in Christ as well.

We thus depart for now from the "spin zone of Rome" and ask that all who are in Rome and out of Rome to be very, very careful with the Scriptures so as to put them together rightly. This often times is difficult and great effort and patience is needed to be a workman approved. But in the end these matters are of an eternal weight. Someone is right and someone is wrong. Someone has the gospel right and someone is eternally mistaken.

May the Lord give Roman Catholic people a conviction and a deep desire to search the Scriptures to see if these things are true.

By all mercy, in Christ, by faith alone,

RMZ



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