Tag Archives: Catholicism

Sacramentalism vs. Faith

I’m going to go into a pretty deep subject here, and it is always good to define terms and look to scripture before discussion.  The main themes in this article are sacramentalism, faith, and grace.

What is sacramentalism? First, an attempt at a neutral, secular, definition: Dictionary.com gives these two definitions for “sacramentalism:” 1) a belief in or emphasis on the importance and efficacy of the sacraments for achieving salvation and conferring grace. 2) emphasis on the importance of sacramental objects and ritual actions. Sacramentalism, in church terms, is usually defined also by example.  Those denominations that practice and believe in sacramentalism have various sacraments that are used within their churches. Examples include baptism, communion, marriage, confession/penance, confirmation, ordination, last rites, foot washing, etc… etc… Sacramentalism, as defined in the earliest tradition is indeed a vehicle for grace; a “special” way of receiving the grace of God through action.

Faith. I won’t spend too much time here on faith, as I’ve defined it previously in another article here: What is Faith? The important points that pertain to this current conversation is that it is by grace we are saved through faith.  Faith is trusting with great confidence, not just a head belief, but an actual trusting with confidence.  Of course, when Christians talk about faith, we mean faith in God.

Grace. I’ve also defined and discussed grace in a previous article here: What is Grace? Grace is unmerited or unearned favor.  Again grace is God’s to bestow.  God’s grace is a marvelous thing, and we should desire it in our lives, in fact, God’s grace is necessary for salvation, and for forgiveness.  It should be no wonder that the topics of sacramentalism, grace, and faith are so important in Christendom, and rightfully so.

The main area of debate surrounds the idea of the sacraments as vehicles of God’s grace.  Do the “sacraments” literally convey God’s grace to us in a special, or mysterious way that is unattainable any other way?  Do the sacraments contribute to our salvation?  What does scripture reveal to us about these things? (I’m not debating whether these actions are good or bad; obviously the ones called for in scripture serve their purpose and are a good thing.)

Well, there are no references to “sacraments” or sacramentalism in scripture.  I mean that in the sense that those words never appear there.  Now, of course baptism is mentioned, and taking the bread and wine, foot washing, marriage, etc… However, go to a search engine and do a search on “grace.”  Grace is not seen in connection with these acts.  When these acts are described, grace isn’t connected to them.  Grace and faith, on the other hand are clearly connected by the writers of scripture and these are both rooted in and spring from Christ.  Bear with me:

John 1:16-17 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Romans 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience  to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Ephesians 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.  Amen.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

What’s my point?  There are certain denominations, such as the Roman catholic church, the United Methodist church, and others, that still, in the face of scriptures on grace, insist that grace is tied into the sacraments, instead of being unmerited favor from God.  Notice that, in the case of salvation, that we are saved by grace through faith, not a sacrament.  That instantly defeats any notion put forth that we must be baptized in water in order to be saved.  Also, note that the common benediction when you look up grace scripture, like in Ephesians 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. There’s no jumping through hoops, no need of an intercessor or mediator between you and God; we’ve already got one: Jesus Christ.

In Christ, grace is ours and we already have direct access to the throne of grace.  When Christ died for us the veil in the temple was rent from top to bottom giving us direct access to God.  God gives us grace, and it is connected with faith in Christ.  All these churches peddling the idea that sacraments convey grace, or are used as a vehicle for grace, are muddying the waters with something not to be found in scripture.  What leaps to mind, as my brother pointed out, is the quote by Kirk in one of the Star Trek movies; “What does God need with a Starship?”  God does not need a vehicle to convey Grace; God Himself is that vehicle.  For those in Christ, a huge victory was won when we could go directly to the throne of grace with no need of any vehicle, and salvation is by grace through faith.

Notice too, that one of the early apostasies was that one of the vehicles of grace is sinning.  Romans 5:20 listed above speaks to that.  Should we sin in order to get more of God’s grace; of course not!  How many times do we also need to be told that grace doesn’t come through works?  Grace, remember, is unmerited favor.  Those that believe in the sacraments are actually advocating grace comes through action, instead of faith, which is completely contradicted by scripture.  Now, am I saying that we should not take communion or be baptized?  Not at all.  If you want to call these “symbols” of faith, I’m all for it.  The term “ordinances” is often used to show that particular churches do NOT see these actions as sacramental, but rather acts that show forth the faith that is already there.  In the case of communion, it is clear in scripture that we are doing the act in remembrance and are showing forth Christ by performing the act.

In the near future I hope to write more articles touching upon these things, and bringing some of this to light that believers sitting in different denominational pews may not realize their denominations are pushing and preaching.  These things also are connected with church “hierarchy” which, if defined by things like “ordination,” can split the body of Christ into those supposedly gifted in some way above and beyond the rest of us when it comes to administering the “sacraments.”  It also has implications for the oft repeated phrase; Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship.  The idea of “sacraments” makes Christianity into religion once more, and constrains our relationship with God, which is a no-no. More to come…


Filed under Catholicism, Christianity, Communion, Theology, Uncategorized

Dead saints omniscient?

I was just reading a RC question and answer forum, and a question about prayer to “saints” came up; Does one have to pray out loud for the saints in Heaven to hear them?  Good question, and one which I hope shows the person is really thinking through this praying to anyone other than God situation.  The way the RC presents prayer to the dead, they (the dead saints) would have to be omniscient in order to explain how they could hear unspoken prayer.

The priest that answered the question underscored this with his reply; yes, the dead saints can hear your thoughts, no need to pray aloud.  Hmmmm….. this whole thing just once again backs up the point; we should only be praying to God, He is the omniscient one, He is the one that we abide in and who abides in us.  Christ is our mediator, and the Holy Spirit is our intercessor; we don’t not require the intercession of any of our dead fellow saints (all believers are saints).  There is no scriptural evidence that the dead saints can hear our thoughts.

Folks, direct all your prayers to the Lord, not to any fellow creature.


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Sidetrack; More talk about transubstantiation…

I have more to write on my Romans passages, but I was reading in Matthew last night, and came across another example of the Lord using a food parable to get His point across in a similar manner that He was attempting to do in John 6.  Of course, John 6 is the often referred to chapter in John when someone is trying to promote the idea of transubstantiation.  You can read my post on that chapter, and transubstantiation here: John 6 and Transubstantiation (pt. 1).

Let’s look in Matthew;

Matthew 16:5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

First notice that the apostles tried to take Christ literally.  He’s talking about bread and leaven…He must be referring to the literal, right? Nope.  Next notice that Jesus does not correct them outright; He makes them get to the conclusion on their own.  He gives them the non-sinful equivalent of an eye roll.  They do eventually catch on to the truth themselves; Jesus was being metaphorical.

I also note that when He brought used the idea of bread and leaven here, that He was speaking about doctrine.  That further supports that idea that He was also speaking of doctrine, or partaking of the the words of life, in John 6, not His literal body.

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Marcus Grodi, The Journey Home; Ten verses master list…

I’ve completed my series on Marcus Grodi’s list of ten verses (presented on The Journey Home on EWTN) that he says made him reconsider the Roman church.  These are verse he states that he never really “read” before in protestant circles, even when he was a preacher; verses that he felt contributed to his eventually becoming RC after they were brought to his attention.  I’ve taken each verse and examined it within its proper context, and even language when necessary.  In short, I see no evidence that these verses support an RC position…quite the opposite in fact.  Each link will take you to my blog post that is dedicated to that verse(s).

1) Proverbs 3:5-6; Catholic verses? Part 1

2) 1 Timothy 3:14-15; Catholic verses? Part 2

3) 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Catholic verses? Part 3

4) 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Catholic verses? Part 4

5) Matthew 16:13-19; Catholic verses? Part 5a and Catholic verses? Part 5b

6) Revelation 14:13; Catholic verses? Part 6

7) Romans 10:14-15; Catholic verses? Part 7

8 ) John 15:4; Catholic verses? Part 8

9) Colossians 1:24; Catholic verses? Part 9

10) Luke 1:46-49; Catholic verses? Part 10

Please do remember that I firmly uphold the fact that someone can be in/from the RC, or any other Christian denomination and be saved, and I have many good friends who are indeed RC.  As long as a person’s faith rests solely in God (The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), I do consider that person to be a brother/sister in Christ.  That being said, when I find teaching that contradicts scripture, no matter what denomination is putting it forward, I think it deserves to be discussed in a respectful manner, with our eyes toward discovering the truth with the help of the Holy Spirit.  If people read my “ministry reviews” they should be able to tell that I point out the flaws that I feel even my favorite teachers, and ministries have in their teachings…I did not write these blog posts to “pick on” anyone; rather I wrote them to make people stop and think and research these things to come to the truth…even myself if the situation warrants it, I always learn a lot from digging into scripture no matter what the reason.

Along those same lines, no one should ever blindly trust me to get something right; everything I teach or say should indeed be held up to scripture, and mulled over with the help of the Spirit.


Filed under Apologetics, Catholicism, Conversion, Theology

Feedback: The Ark of the Covenant; a type of Mary?

This post is in answer to a reader’s comment on Catholic verses? Part 10.  The claims actually come from here: A Biblical Defense of Mary.  The case is put forward that the Ark of the Covenant is a type, or foreshadowing, or symbol, of Mary.

This is not the case.  The Ark of the Covenant is a type of Christ, not of Mary.  This can be seen by examining what the ark was constructed of, and also what is in the ark.

Christ is both human and divine.  The ark is made up of wood, which represents humanity, and it is also made up of gold, which represents the divine.

Many people do not realize what was contained within the ark; The unbroken stone tablets that the ten commandments were written on/into, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and a gold pot full of manna.  Each of these, as well as the ark itself with it’s gold and wood, show forth Christ.

First, the unbroken tablets.  Notice that there were another set of tablets; the originals which Moses broke after coming down the mountain, and the second set which were, and are, unbroken.  The unbroken tablets represent Christ’s perfect keeping of the law; He never sinned and never broke a commandment.  It also represents Christ being the Word of God and keeping the commandments “within” Him.

Second, Aaron’s staff is included.  The budding of the staff represented God’s approval, or pick of Aaron as priest.  Of course, Christ is the High Priest, and God showed Him approval.  Also, the symbolism of the staff budding was something that was “dead” supernaturally coming back to life; a type of Christ’s resurrection.

Third, we have the golden pot full of manna.  Who is the bread of life?  Who is compared to manna?  Christ.

When we look at the Ark as the Ark of the Covenant, that would be the old covenant, we can clearly see that there is a “better” ark representing, being the heart of, fulfilling, providing, the new covenant…and that is Jesus Christ.

Many preachers/teachers have taught on this; Doc Scott amongst them.  This isn’t a new idea originating with me, and even more parallels can be drawn.  Always take an overall look at symbols and types because the detail has to match in the analogy.

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Feedback: Mary sinless, or in need of a Savior?

This post is in response to a comment left for me in my recent blog post, Catholic verses? Part 10.  The first part of the comment was pulled from this page: Immaculate Conception and Assumption, so I will deal with that website’s argument on the immaculate conception, and the comment in context.

“Let’s take the second citation first. Mary, too, required a Savior. Like all other descendants of Adam, she was subject to the necessity of contracting original sin. But by a special intervention of God, undertaken at the instant she was conceived, she was preserved from the stain of original sin and its consequences. She was therefore redeemed by the grace of Christ, but in a special way—by anticipation.”

There are several problems with this argument; first, God is no respecter of persons.  He treats all of humanity the same regardless of station in life, male/female, now Jew/Gentile, etc…  There is no scriptural evidence that it is any different in Mary’s case.  Mary herself made it clear that she did indeed require a savior.  Why do we require a savior in the first place?  Sin.

Sin separates us from God, and there needs to be payment for sin.  Each of us have to come to terms with the fact that we are sinners.  Mary is never, ever, treated any different in scripture.  As I pointed out in a previous post; we can even become on par with Mary by living in faith and doing the will of the Father; Jesus makes that point very clear, declaring those who do these things His “mother.”  If Mary was immaculately conceived, it would  bar me from ever being called His “mother.”  We must each turn to God in faith in order to “tap into” salvation; there is no evidence that Mary is any different.

There also seems to be a confusion on that website about “sin.”  Sin is missing the mark of God’s perfection; it really is that simple.  The author says that children, because they are below the age of reason, cannot sin.  Not so.  Anything a child does that is not perfectly in line with God’s perfection and will is sin.  Now, their salvation and/or damnation (I’m not getting into the whole age of accountability discussion here) may hinge on the age of reason, but not whether or not they sin.

The author is trying to make the point that when Paul clearly says that all have sinned…that he really didn’t mean “all.”  A fundamental rule of Biblical interpretation is to look at the context, even when turning to the original language, context is a must.  In context it is clear that Paul really did indeed mean “all.”

Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

It’s quite clear in context.  The author then tries to say that if “all” means “all” that it applies to Christ too…big problem; there was the first Adam; specially made, no human father…clean, fresh, no sin.  Then scripture is clear; there is a last Adam, Christ; only begotten Son of God, no human father…clean, fresh, no sin.  This fact is held up for Christ alone, and no other.  The rest of us, who have human fathers, cannot be in the same league as Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

Well, the author goes on to try to make Mary into the new Eve.  Wait a minute; was Mary Jesus’ husband?  Nope.  Who is Jesus’ bride?  The Church.  Who was made from Christ, as Eve was made from Adam?  The Church.  The Church, the bride, is the new Eve, not Mary.  It is true that Eve was made without sin as well; as is the Church because she, the Church, is Christ’s body.

I will make another post soon answering the question; Is Mary a type of the ark of the covenant?

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Catholic verses? Part 10…

In the first part, I explained that Marcus Grodi, a convert to the Roman church (RC) and host on The Journey Home, has a list of ten verses that influenced him to consider conversion to the RC. The tenth and final verse is Luke 1:46-49.

Luke 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

I’ve written on Mary previously, but will add to the conversation.  Marcus focuses in on “all generations shall call be blessed.”  I have absolutely no problem with the idea in general…all generations, to my knowledge, agree that she was blessed by being asked to carry Jesus, and by the fact that she accepted.

Now, where the major differences come in, is that we protestants (in general) see what else this passage teaches us; Mary was in need of a saviour (“God my Saviour”), that implies she had indeed sinned, for that is what separates us from God and makes it necessary to have a saviour, and that she was just as sinful as the rest of us (“the low estate of His handmaiden”).

There is no implication of the claims that the Roman church makes about Mary.  She isn’t referred to here as the mother of the Church (or as the “Mother of God,” though Jesus is indeed God), nor is there any reference to the immaculate conception.  Just because we don’t see any evidence for the RC position on Mary, does not mean we dishonor the real Mary.

Marcus acts as though protestants view Mary as being “used” by God and then put to the side.  This isn’t the case, Mary modeled proper reaction to God when she agreed to God’s will in faith.  The protestant position would actually lend itself to seeing her as a role model in faith.  She was just like us; born with a sin nature, yet in this instance she responded in faith.

Jesus backs this idea up quite nicely; Luke 11:27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

As well as; Matthew 12:46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Note one more time that in verse 50, we are put exactly on par with Mary, as Jesus’ mother, if we do the will of the Father.  I see nothing in the Luke chapter 1 verses that supports the RC understanding of who and what they claim Mary to be.

I will be making one final post to wrap up these 10 verses, and list the links to all of them on my blog.


Filed under Apologetics, Conversion, Theology