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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Gay lobby awakening in New Zealand



I have been keeping up with cases overseas, mostly in the United States, where people’s religious freedom has been infringed because they do not wish to participate in a same-sex “wedding”. Photographers, bakers, venue hosts and others have been sued because they will not provide their services, which they provide to heterosexual couples, to a same-sex couple, as it goes against their religious beliefs.

Now, the debate has made it to New Zealand. A function centre in Lyttleton (near Christchurch) has changed their policy on hosting same-sex weddings after a complaint was filed with the Human Rights Commission. The news article can be viewed here. I should note that the business is not explicity Christian but according to the article it does have an “evangelical Christian background”.

Under the Human Rights act of New Zealand, it is forbidden to discriminate against potential customers, meaning that if you allow straight couples to hire it for a wedding, you must also allow homosexual couples to hire it.

When the same-sex “marriage” bill was being pushed through Parliament, the Select Committee charged with the bill said the following: “It is our intention that the passage of this bill should not impact negatively upon people’s religious freedoms… The bill seeks to extend the legal right to marry to same-sex couples; it does not seek to interfere with people’s religious freedoms.’”

While marriage celebrants are exempt from performing marriages that contravene their religious beliefs, such freedom apparently doesn’t seem to extend to those in the wedding industry. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if the function centre had not changed its views. Or what would happen in a similar situation when Christian business owners are put in the same situation.

What people don’t get is that Christian business owners who refuse to offer their services for a same-sex “wedding” are not discriminating against homosexuals. They are objecting to taking part in a same-sex so-called “wedding”. I’m sure that the wedding photographers in the United States, for instance, would have no problem taking a graduation photo of a homosexual. They just object to taking part in a ceremony that they goes against their beliefs.

For an analysis of the event from a conservative viewpoint, see lobby group Family First New Zealand’s take.

Let’s hope we don’t get to the point that it has gotten to in Canada and parts of the US where people are facing repercussions for voicing their objections to same-sex “marriage”. Pray that we Christians in New Zealand will still have our religious freedom.

 Note: I personally have nothing against homosexuals. I don't hate them. But I do believe that what they are doing is sinful, just like I believe that a heterosexual couple who aren't married but are having sex are sinning. Therefore I want them all to come to Jesus and place their trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Refuting Answers to 'Catholic Myths'



The other day I came across an article on a Catholic site entitled ’10 Things Catholics Are Tired of Hearing’ on Catholic365.com. The article supposedly provides a defence of certain Catholic practices that Protestants criticize them for. However, their arguments don’t stand up under close scrutiny, which I will put them under.

Myth Number 1: Catholics worship statues

 “In this country [the USA], approximately 51.5% of people are Protestant Christians. Realistically, most of these families have pictures in their home, which is completely normal, right? Right. They have pictures of their loved ones, both living and deceased. Is it not hypocritical then to say that Catholics are idol worshipers, when these families have portraits of their loved ones on the walls? If these Protestant families can have pictures of Uncle Bernie and Mawmaw hanging on the wall, then most certainly the Church can present pictures of our beloved Jesus, his disciples, and the saints”

 Yes, most Protestants have pictures of family members in their houses. But to take this and equate it with the Catholic practice of statue “veneration” is rather absurd. We do not pray either to the pictures or the people in the pictures. We do not bow down in front of these pictures. We most certainly do not light candles before them. Catholics do all of these to their statues. Secondly, we do not know what Jesus and Mary looked like. The Bible does not give a physical description of either of them, even though Jesus was the most important man who ever lived. Both of them were Middle Eastern Jews who probably had darker skin, not like the vast majority of images in Romish churches today which depict both of them as Caucasian. So Catholics are “venerating” statues of unknown men or women that are labelled as Jesus or Mary. How would you feel if you saw a poster of your name under a picture of someone completely different? Why would you do such a thing to Jesus or Mary?

I would like to point out that papists believe there are certain images of Mary and Jesus that were purportedly painted by Luke the evangelist, but we have no way of knowing if they really were painted by him or not. Most of them are probably just legends and there is no way to verify them, even if the images were carbon dated to the right era. One such image, the Black Madonna of Czetochowa, has been carbon dated to the 5th century (Olsen, B. (2007). Sacred places Europe: 108 destinations. CCC Publishing.)


Myth Number 2: Catholics pray to Mary instead of God
While some ignorant medieval people may have been guilty of this sin, the majority of Roman Catholics pray to both God and Mary. However, the author goes on to state 

 “We don’t pray to Mary, we ask her to pray for us, just as a Protestant asks their deceased grandparent/parent to watch over them”.

This is blatantly false. For a start, I am a Protestant and I do not ask my deceased relatives to watch over me. Maybe some people who call themselves Protestants do so, but Christians are not to pray for or to the dead.

Secondly, Mary is no longer on earth, so we can’t just talk to her. When contacting Mary, Catholics do exactly the same things that they do when they pray to God – they close their eyes and form requests either spoken or said. Secondly, Catholics do pray to Mary. An Italian bishop called Alphonsus de’ Liguori wrote a horribly blasphemous book called The Glories of Mary. It has a chapter called “Prayers to the Divine Mother For Every Day of the Week”. So much for not praying to Mary. The prayer to be said on Saturday contains the following words “Take me under thy protection, and this will be enough: yes, for if thou dost protect me I fear nothing: nothing for my sins, for thou wilt obtain for me the remedy for the injury I have inflicted upon myself; nor from the demons, for thou art more powerful than all hell united; nor from Jesus my Judge himself; for by one prayer of thine he is appeased. “ (Liguori, A. (1888). The glories of Mary. New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons. Emphasis mine.)

To elevate Mary to such a level where she has power of Jesus is absolute blasphemy and idolatry. This is not honouring to God and Roman Catholics need to repent of such abominable practices.

Myth No 3: “The saints can’t hear your prayers, because they are dead”.
The article states
“I beg to differ. Since when is anyone who is in Heaven considered dead? We call it the afterLIFE for a reason. In fact, there is biblical proof that the saints can hear our prays (sic):
-Revelation 5:8 “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.””
For a start, the Greek word translated as “God’s people” is ἁγίων (hagiōn), which is more literally translated “saint”. However, Romanists have changed the meaning of the word “saint”. In Scripture, “saint” is a synonym for “Christian”. All Christians are saints. Therefore, the passage could equally be referring to the prayers of the saints on earth, and does not necessarily refer to dead saints praying to God in heaven.

Secondly, there are Biblical passages which suggest that those in heaven are not aware of what happens on earth.
““Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.”’” So they brought back word to the king.” (2 Kings 22:20)
“For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, And Israel does not recognize us. You, O Lord, are our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name.” (Isaiah 63:16)

Myth Number 4: “Mother Mary isn’t important, she’s just like anyone else”
The article states
“If our Blessed Mother isn’t important, then every female would have had an immaculate conception. For this reason, that is why the declarative statement above doesn’t make sense. Of course Mother Mary is important, she gave birth to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
For a start, the doctrine of the immaculate conception (which refers to Mary herself being conceived in her mother's womb, not Mary conceiving Christ) was only declared to be a dogma in 1854. One of Rome's greatest theologians, Thomas Aquinas, did not believe in the immaculate conception.

Of course we as Protestants consider Mary to be important. We agree with Mary’s statement in Luke 1:48 that all generations will call her blessed. But calling Mary “blessed” is a long way from praying to her, making statues that are supposed to be of her, and believing that she can appease Jesus with a single prayer. In fact, by doing these things, papists are dishonouring Mary.

Myth Number 5: Catholics made up all their rules
The article states
“Every single tradition we have in the Catholic Church, namely during Mass, has biblical roots. Not to mention the fact that Jesus was the founder of our Church. I don’t know about you, but Jesus doesn’t make mistakes.”
For Jesus being the founder of the Roman Catholic church, see my reply to myth number 7 below. Yes, Romanists have Bible verses that they use to back up their practices and beliefs. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons do the same. Just because you can pull out some Bible verses to back up your beliefs and practices doesn’t mean that they go back to Jesus and the apostles.

If a group of Hindus who had never read the Bible and knew nothing about Christianity crash-landed on a desert island along with a crate of Bibles, and they started reading the Bibles, would they come to believe in the Mass, prayers to Mary, the papacy or any of Rome’s distinct doctrines? No they wouldn’t.

Myth Number 6: “God said to confess sins to Him, not a priest.”
As is to be expected, the article cites James 5:16 ““Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed”

Notice the verse says “to one another”. This implies that the priest is under just as much duty to confess to a layman as the layman is to confess to the priest.

Also the Romish priesthood system has no basis in the New Testament but is a much later invention. The Greek word πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros) means ‘elder’, not ‘priest’, which in Greek is ἱερεύς (hiereus) and is not used in the context of Christian ministry. For more information see the chapter entitled "The Priesthood" from Lorraine Boettner's book Roman Catholicism.

The article mentions Jesus giving the disciples power to forgive sins, which they claim is passed on to every priest. For a start, in most cases Rome’s apostolic succession can only be traced as far as sixteenth century Cardinal Scipione Rebiba, as I show in this article. Secondly, the Greek in the original passage is in the perfect passive, best translated into English as ‘have been forgiven’. The apostles could pronounce believers’ sins forgiven through believing in the Gospel of Christ. More on this can be found here.

For a much more detailed treatment of confession, see the two chapters on Penance from the book A Manual of Romish Controversy by R. P. Blakeney, available for free from the Internet Archive.

Myth Number 7: Catholicism is a cult.
The article simply states “Jesus Christ founded this Church more than 2,000 years ago, I would hardly call it a cult.”

This statement assumes that the modern Roman Catholic church is the same church founded by Jesus. This is blatantly false. For a start, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox trace their lineage back to Christ as well, so Rome is hardly the only player in the game. Secondly a good reading church history will show that many of the things that the Romanists (and  so-called “Orthodox”) believe and practice, such as prayer to Mary, do not go back to Jesus and the apostles but are later inventions.

Myth Number 8: Catholics aren’t Christians
The article states
“The word Christian is associated with anyone who follows Christ’s teachings, and since the Catholic Church does just that then we are to be called Christians. Not to mention Catholics were actually the first Christians.”
For Catholics being the first Christians, see my reply to myth number 7. Being a Christian is more than following Christ’s teachings – it’s having a life-changing experience that involves God making the Christian into a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17) removing his heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36) and the Holy Spirit coming to indwell a person.

Would you consider a man who believed in Jesus and followed his teachings but also prayed to the Hindu god Ganesh to be a real Christian? Of course not. So why should we consider someone who prays to a goddess in all but name to be any different? The Bible says that idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of heaven but will go to hell (1 Corinthians 6:9, Revelation 21:8).

There are essential doctrines of Christianity, and salvation by grace through faith alone is one of them (Romans 3:28, Ephesians 2:8-9). Rome violates this doctrine, therefore Rome is not Christian.


Myth Number 9: Catholics added books to the Holy Bible
The article states
“This one is so hilarious it hurts. For 300 years there was no Bible, only random writings from the prophets like St.Peter etc, until the Catholic monks compiled and canonized what is now known today as the Holy Bible. (That is until the Protestant Reformation occurred, in which one man *Martin Luther* removed 7 books). Ouch.
As for “Catholic monks” compiling and canonizing the Bible, refer to myth number 7.The 7 books mentioned were infallibly added to the Catholic canon in 1546 at the Council of Trent. Church fathers have different lists of the books. Cardinal Cajetan, well known for examining Martin Luther, did not recognise at least 4 books of the Apocrypha as Scripture. For more on this topic, watch this debate between Dr James White and Gary Michuta.


Myth Number 10: Catholics believe you can pay your way into heaven
This one actually is a myth. Catholics do not believe that you can obtain heaven through any form of payment. This comes about from the sale of indulgences in the 16th century. In Romanism, mortal sin has 2 consequences – guilt and punishment. Punishment is divided into 2 types: eternal and temporal. In confession, the guilt and eternal punishment is remitted. The temporal punishment remains (kind of like a cosmic bank account)  and must be remitted by penance, good works and gaining indulgences. If any remains at death, it must be paid off in purgatory. So when Johann Tetzel was selling indulgences, he wasn’t selling forgiveness of sins but remission of temporal punishment due to sin.

Conclusion
So, nine out of these ten Catholic myths have been debunked. The Romish church is an apostate church and teaches a false Gospel of salvation through faith plus works. The Bible says that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law (Romans 3:28) and that we can know that we have eternal life. So if you're a Roman Catholic, please put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation and leave the apostate church of Rome. What will you say on Judgement Day when God holds you at fault for breaking the First Commandment?

For an in-depth view of some of the material covered here, see A Manual of Romish Controversy by R.P. Blakeney, an Anglican minister. You can download it for free at the Internet Archive. Another good resource on Roman Catholicism is the Christian Apologetics Research Ministry (CARM) section on Roman Catholicism.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Romanists' Use of Hebrews 6:4-6 Backfires


I am in the habit of watching religious debates while doing my exercise at night. A while ago I just finished watching a debate between Dr James White and Robert Sungenis. Mr Sungenis is a Roman Catholic who has engaged in a number of debates with Dr White.

This particular debate was on the topic of ‘Predestination or Free Will’, with Dr White defending the predestination side and Mr Sungenis taking the free will side. It was a very good debate and Dr White clearly expounded the Reformed view of predestination. 

However, in his closing statement, Mr Sungenis said the following:
“I mean when you read Hebrews chapter 6 and it says you know those who have tasted the heavenly gift of God, you know they’ve walked the pathway with us, they’ve done all this, for them to fall away, it’s impossible to renew them to repentance. What are we going to do with that passage? Are we just going to say ‘Oh well that’s just a statement, that’s just a sort of after the fact kind of thing. No! This is a warning, this is a warning ‘Use your free will, okay?”

I have heard this passage in Hebrews 6 used before to suggest that one can lose one’s salvation. Let’s take a look at it:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

This passage states that those who have been enlightened and who have partaken of the Holy Spirit but then fall away cannot be renewed to repentance again, because they crucify Jesus again. In other words, those who have fallen away cannot return to the faith, if this passage is to be taken to mean that one can lose one’s salvation, as Mr Sungenis does.

The problem is that Rome does not teach that! There is no sin that Rome cannot forgive, provided one is truly repentant and goes through the proper channels (excepting the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which involves an unrepentant attitude). If you repent and go to confession, no matter what you’ve done, you can be forgiven (although certain sins require permission from the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome before absolution can be given).

 Before Vatican II, the Romish church used to enforce a major form of excommunication called anathema. This involved a ceremony with a bishop and twelve priests holding candles. The following was read out:

Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive (name) himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment."

The priests respond ‘Fiat! Fiat! Fiat!’ (‘So be it! So be it! So be it!’). The bishop rings a bell, closes a holy book and the priests extinguish their candles by throwing them to the ground. 

The excommunicant is declared to be condemned to hell, “so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church. His body is delivered to Satan “for the salvation of his soul”. Clearly this means that he or she has the opportunity to repent and come back.

So even Rome’s worst form of excommunication allowed for the penitent to return to the Church! It still holds a hope that the person will repent and save their soul on the Day of Judgement. Rome does not condemn anyone irrevocably to hell – she always gives an opportunity for the sinner to repent, go to confession and receive absolution of their sin and lifting of their excommunication. So this means that if Rome takes Hebrews 6:4-6 to mean that one can lose their salvation, they are shooting themselves in the foot because they allow penitent sinners to “be renewed again to repentance” when this passage of Scripture teaches that this is not possible.

Note: The Romish church does not use the anathema ritual anymore, nor does the revised Roman Pontifical have any solemnity for excommunication. In fact, she hardly excommunicates anyone at all - there are scores of priests and probably even bishops who believe heresy and are not censured by Rome at all.