As a Catholic blogger, I’ve immersed myself into joining several social media blogging groups in order to help my articles gain more traffic. Most of the groups I am involved with are the generally non-denominational Christian bloggers groups. While my articles are mostly well-received in Catholic circles, general Christian sites tend to be a mixed bag. Most Christian bloggers are quite pleasant to engage with, whereas others who hold fundamentalist views can be quite hostile towards anyone who expresses anything that resembles Catholic belief.
I have no shortage of experiences in dealing with fundamentalist, anti-Catholic rhetoric, so receiving such criticism is to be expected. Even the Bible tells us, “Thine enemies will be they of your own household!” So in lieu of this laborsome exchange, I decided to turn it into a blog article!
The following is my attempted rapid-fire response to a fellow Christian blogger who commented on my piece A Response to John Piper on Catholicism in a Facebook blogging group. Bear in mind, I had to lightly edit to make this exchange easily readable. His responses will be labelled in blue and mine will be in black. I have also attached ‘side links’ to my other articles which were not part of the exchange.
My issue with Catholicism lies within basic fundamental Biblical questions. Why do Catholics follow so closely to an unbiblical theology? In other words, the Bible CLEARLY states that much of what Catholics believe (or practice), is completely unbiblical:
My answer to your first statement lies with your understanding of the word ‘unbiblical’ and the fact that the Bible itself does not state that it itself is the sole authority. In fact, I would argue that the use of ‘Bible alone’ (aka Sola Scriptura) is a self-refuting, manmade doctrine of the 16th century and nowhere found in Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Regarding the above verse, ‘all scripture’ would have included several writings outside of the canon we’re familiar with including the Jewish Talmud, the Book of Enoch and the Septuagint (which contained all 7 books of what you call the ‘Apocrypha,’ but what we call ‘Deuterocanonical’). Even the original King James Bible contained those 7 books until they were later removed.
Paul even emphasizes a number of times throughout his Epistles that the church is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim. 3:15) with Christ as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).
See my article: Does the ‘Bible Alone’ Put God In A Box?
I will answer your points in the order you have presented them:
1. Why do you baptize babies? The Bible is CLEAR, “Repent, and be baptized.” A baby cannot repent, and baptism saves NO ONE! We are saved by grace, through faith.
The Bible does not state that babies are forbidden from baptism. Paul states that baptism is the New Circumcision (Col. 2:11-12). Jesus even states not to withhold children from Him (Matthew 19:14). The text in Luke 18:15 says, “Now they were bringing even infants to him” – the Greek word brepha means “infants.” The book of Acts even states that entire households have been baptized (Acts 16:15,33, 18:8). This does not imply that babies ought to repent, but that they ought to be ‘grafted’ into the Kingdom of God as an act of obedience of offering our children to God.
The Bible also states that those who believe and are baptized shall be saved but those who do NOT believe will not be saved (Mark 16:16). When viewed in the context of other verses, baptism and belief need to good hand-in-hand just like faith and obedience (James 2).
This does not mean that those who aren’t baptized aren’t saved. The thief on the cross was told he would meet Christ in Paradise on the day he died (Luke 23:39-43), which means that God’s grace is not limited by personal circumstances.
See my article: In Defence of Infant Baptism
2. Why do you pray to (or through) Mary? Or to ANY saint? The Bible CLEARLY states,” There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”
Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, that is correct (1 Tim. 2:5). But when you pray for someone in your life, you are ‘mediating’ to Christ for that person. The person you’d be praying for may be free to approach Christ on his own, but if nobody prayed for each other that would imply that the Body of Christ does not work in unison.
Hebrews 12:1 states we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, which are the saints and angels in Heaven. Revelation 5:8 describes the saints in Heaven as presenting the prayers of the people on earth to God. This does not imply that humans and angels are omnipresent or omniscient, but if dead people are not aware of what is happening on earth, this would imply that there is no eternal life after life on earth.
The Bible does not state that prayer is synonymous with worship. Prayer can be an act of worship, but the Bible also presents prayer as an earnest request between humans. Two examples in Scripture would be when Abraham pleads to Sarah (Genesis 12:13) and Bathsheba makes a request of King Solomon (I Kings 2:20), the KJV has them say: “I pray thee!”
3. Why do you confess to priests? The Bible makes it CLEAR, “Jesus is our High Priest.” He died on the cross for our sins which made it possible for man to now go DIRECTLY to God (the veil between the sanctuary and the holy of holies was split in two, signifying that there was no longer a need for a priest to absolve you of sin).
The Bible clearly states that Jesus gave the Apostles authority to forgive sins (John 20:23). It is not the priest himself who forgives sins, but Christ alone who forgives through the priest by His own apostolic authority. The priesthood of all believers (as mentioned in 1 Peter 2:5) does not imply that authoritative priests are abolished – it implies that we as believers are all ‘mediators’ to lead people to faith in Christ. The student is not greater than the teacher (Matt 10:24).
Jesus died once for all for the forgiveness of past and present sins, but nowhere does it state that future sins are forgiven. Having faith in Jesus does not mean people do not struggle with sin after initially having faith. This is why the Bible says to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16, 1 John 1:9), to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phillipians 2:12) and he who endures until the end shall be saved (Matt. 24:13). When people say they confess their sins directly to God, that leaves me quite skeptical whether it’s an excuse to conceal from others what is hidden within, since the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9). Regular confession implies a tangible practice of dying to one’s self everyday (1 Cor. 15:31-33).
See my article: Why Bother Going To Confession?
4. Why a different Bible? The apocrypha books in the Catholic Bible were left out of the Protestant Bible because, for one, all of the books in the Protestant Bible were referenced by Jesus and / or the apostles. Not so with the apocrypha books. In fact, if they were to be included, they would often contradict the other 66 books of the Bible (Protestant Bible).
As stated at the beginning, the Deuterocanonicals were contained in the Septuagint – the Jewish Bible that was written in Koine Greek during the time of Jesus’ life on earth, as well as the original 1611 King James Bible. My apologist friend Dave Armstrong has an article that expands on what makes these books fitting in the Canon of Scripture:
5. Why do you teach that we get a second chance in purgatory? The Bible makes it CLEAR we get ONE life to get it right. Between the thousand year millennium and the new heaven and earth, there is NO mention of a purgatory, just judgement day.
You are correct that the Bible states we are destined to die once, then to face judgement (Heb. 9:27). But Purgatory is neither a ‘second chance’ nor an extension of Hell. People in Purgatory are already saved by God’s grace and are ‘transitioning’ into Heaven. The book of Revelation states that nothing unclean can enter into Heaven (21:27). Purgatory is the ‘shower’ before you enter Paradise. Even C.S. Lewis acknowledges that our souls ‘demand’ Purgatory.
The Bible does not explicitly mention the word ‘Purgatory’, but neither does it mention ‘Trinity.’ Purgatory is described by Jesus (Matt. 5:25-26) and by Paul (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). I write about it further in this article:
See my article: Why Purgatory Makes Sense
6. Why do Catholics believe that God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all SEPARATE beings? Jesus AND the apostles made it CLEAR, these three are ONE being with three natures (or manifestations).
No, the Catholic Church does not teach the Trinity are one person. That’s a misrepresentation of what we believe in and a heresy called ‘Modalism.’ We teach that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all equally God, but distinct from one another. Our position remains that it is a mystery beyond human comprehension.
See my article: In Defence of the Trinity
7. Why can’t priests marry? Even Peter, the PILLAR of the Christian church, was married, and Paul also mentions Peter and infers that other apostles were also married.
There are married Catholic priests. Byzantine Catholic priests are typically married, and I know one personally. Former Protestant ministers who convert to Catholicism often become priests. Look up Fr. Dwight Longnecker, who is a former Anglican priest and now a Roman Catholic minister. There are exceptions to the rule.
The vow of priestly celibacy is a practice that is both theological and canonical as expanded upon here:
Also see my article: My Response to Clerical Sexual Abuse
And with MANY more unbiblical practices, the list goes on. You see, the Catholic church does a ton of “traditional” and ceremonial stuff that have nothing to do with Biblical principles. Spiritually speaking, that’s dangerous.
There is a biblical explanation for every doctrine and we have plenty of resources that expand on it if you are willing to read about them. If you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there are footnotes to every paragraph that cite the texts in Scripture and writing of the Early Church Fathers. There is very little the Catholic Church has not wrestled with over its 2000-year history, and the Church considers the entire context of Scripture.
Also see my article: ‘Tradition’ Is Not A Dirty Word
It looks like you went through a lot of effort to take scripture out of context. I’ll only address your response to point #1. “The Bible doesn’t state that babies are forbidden from baptism?” The Bible also doesn’t state that babies should not be aborted. Or that we should abstain from pornography. But if we put a topic under the lens of “context,” of what the Bible says we SHOULD and SHOULD NOT do, God expects us to use the sense He gave us to discern. When babies die, they go to heaven. There’s no need for repentance, this is simply the grace of God. If the Bible keeps stating that one must “repent and be baptized,” then we must understand that “repentance” means “to CHANGE course.” A baby cannot repent and hasn’t yet a need to “change course.” And “baptism” means to immerse, or to dunk. Since it’s not practical to dunk a baby, Catholics “sprinkle,” which isn’t really even baptism anymore.
I can’t help noting your very words, ‘God expects us to use the sense He gave us to discern.’
Throughout this entire exchange, I’ve used what I believe to be ‘a sense of discernment’ to give you the biblical sources for Catholic teachings — and yet I don’t see you making any effort to convince me by citing any sources other than repeating pet-phrases like ‘the Bible is CLEAR’ in all-caps. That doesn’t add validity to your arguments. It just makes you look ignorant and antagonistic.
In order to understand the context of Scripture, extra biblical sources need to be considered to affirm the historicity of what is written, which is why the Church adheres to Prima Scriptura (the primacy of Scripture) as opposed to Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone).
True, the Bible does not state anything about abortion specifically, but the best answers we have from a ‘Sola Scriptura’ approach would be how the Babylonians sacrificed infants to Molech in Leviticus 18:21, as well as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ in Exodus 20:13. The most explicit mention of abortion comes from an ancient text called the Didache (Teachings of the Twelve Apostles). The Didache also explicitly talks about the method of baptism:
“And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19 in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whatever others can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.”
— Chapter 7
You can read the Didache in its entirety here:
Whether you agree with this method or not, many Protestant denominations, including Lutherans and Calvinists affirm the use of infant baptism as necessary for dedicating children to the Lord. Look up Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. The Catholic Church does not state that unbaptized babies go to Hell, but that we trust them to the mercy of God, which means we can reasonably hope they go to Heaven. (CCC 1283)
I’m sure you and I could argue about every little detail of Catholicism you find ‘unbiblical’ until the day Christ returns, so there’s very little I can do to convince you since we both know only the Holy Spirit can change hearts. The resources are there as I have posted them. Feel free to look them up to your heart’s content.