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Questions to Ask Fundamentalist Friends

Question: How to you respond to the following challenge?

  • Do you baptise? (See Mt 28:19)

  • Do you accept a visible Church? (See Eph 1:22-23; Acts 16:5; 18:22; 1 Tim 3:15)

  • Do you accept the primacy of Peter? (See Mt 16:18ff; John 21:15ff)

  • Do you accept the Virgin Birth? (Lk 1:26ff)

  • Do you reverence Mary? (See Lk 1:48)

  • Do you believe Jesus to be both God and Man? (See 2 Cor 4:4; 2 Peter 1:16; Phil 2:9ff; John 1:1, 14; Col 2:9)

  • Do you believe in the Sacrifice of the Mass? (See 1 Cor 11:23-26; 1 Cor 5:7; Heb 9:26)

  • Do you believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? (See Mt 26:26-29; John 6:52ff)

  • Do you believe in the immortality of the soul? (See John 5:28, 29; 2 Cor 5:1-5)

  • Do you believe in resurrection of the body? (See Mk 12:18ff)

  • Do you pray for the dead? (See 2 Macc 12:45; 1 Cor 15:29)

  • Do you reverence the saints? (See Apoc 14:4, 5; Mk 9:4)

  • Do you observe Sunday as the Lord’s Day? (See Col 2:16)

  • Do you accept the power of the Church to forgive sin? (See John 20:23)

  • Do you believe in the Unity of the Church? (See Galatians 5:21, where St Paul says of those who provoke dissension that they ‘will never inherit the Kingdom of God.’)

If the answer to any of the above questions is “No” then a further question suggests itself: How can you continue to call yourself a Bible Christian?

Answer: The clever Catholic apologist attempts to impale Bible-believing Christians on the horns of a dilemma. He gives us two unpleasant options: either we accept every Roman Catholic dogma or else we deny the Bible. We are rather reluctant to do either one!

The whole thing turns out to be a false dilemma. There is a mixture of true biblical doctrines (which we readily accept) and a few distinctive Roman dogmas which we reject. We do not reject them because we disregard the Bible, but in fact, because we believe the Bible, and because we realize that the “proof texts” do not really prove that Roman position at all.

So, for example, to the first question (Do you baptise?), we readily answer “Yes” because baptism is a rite commanded by our Lord in the Holy Scriptures. Similarly we affirm the virgin birth of Christ, His Deity and humanity, the immortality of the soul and the bodily resurrection.

But to the question, “Do you pray for the dead?” we answer with an emphatic “No.” The Bible verses proposed in support for this practice are not proofs at all. Second Maccabees is an apocryphal book, it not part of the canon of Scripture; whereas 1 Corinthians 15:29 says nothing about praying for the dead. (We are not sure what ‘baptism for the dead’ means, even Catholic commentators disagree on its meaning, so how can this verse become the sure foundation of praying for the dead?) To learn whether we should pray for the dead or not, when we examine the hundreds of prayers recorded in Scripture, we find no precedent for this pagan practice.

We’re also asked whether we reverence Mary and the saints. Of course we do! We love and respect the saints, both the living and the departed. We meet the living saints every week in our church meetings, and we long to meet those who are already with the Lord, though for the time being we are separated by death and cannot communicate with them. On the other hand Catholics do not ‘reverence’ Mary or the saints. They dishonour them by making and bowing down before their idols, and attributing to them titles (e.g. "Mary our life, our hope") and functions ("mediatrix of our salvation") which belong to the Lord alone.

Further, we’re asked whether we accept the visible Church. Yes, we recognize both the visible and invisible aspects of the church of Jesus Christ. Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes a similar distinction: “The Church is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society and the Mystical Body of Christ” (paragraph 779). However, by accepting the “visible” church, we do not have to accept the hierarchical structure of the Rome institution. The church was “visible” well before the bishops of Rome ururped their proud and unbiblical claim to universal authority over the entire Church.

Do we believe in the sacrifice of the Mass? No! The Mass is an insult to Christ. Christ was offered once for all, and he is now sitting on the right hand of the Majesty on high. His sacrifice is not being “carried on,” “perpetuated,” “renewed,” and “re-presented” as claimed by the Catholic Church. The Bible texts simply do not teach any of that. On the contrary, the Bible is emphatic that the sacrifice of Christ was done once for all; it is complete and finished; the Lord’s Supper is the memorial and proclamation of the Cross, and not a propitiatory sacrifice.

Do we accept the power of the Church to forgive sin? Yes we do. The church has the power to forgive through the preaching of the Gospel. The church is also called to discipline obstinate members and to forgive the repentant. But that does not mean that we agree to the late invention of private confession to the priest, absolution, penance or indulgences.

Do we accept the primacy of Peter? No we don’t. Though prominent among the apostles, the apostle Peter never took upon himself the right of supreme authority, universal jurisdiction and infallibility, contrary to what is claimed by the modern bishops of Rome. Peter was a married man; the Pope is celibate. Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” The Pope says, “Silver and gold, I have plenty, but apostolic power I have none.” Peter preached salvation in Jesus name alone, the modern Popes gives hope of salvation to all religionists, whether they believe in Jesus or not!

One final example, “Do we believe in the unity of the Church?” Yes, we do. That’s why we receive all true believers, irrespective of their denominational affiliation, as dear brothers and sisters, and members of the one church, the body of Christ. Rome cannot discover the church beyond the confines of its boundaries: “The Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church.” By excluding non-Roman Catholic Christians from the church, the Roman magisterium injures the body of Christ to uphold its sectarian prejudice.

In conclusion, Bible-believing Christians answer “No” to some of the questions listed by the Catholic apologist because the Bible does not teach those specific Catholic doctrines. Indeed we appeal to our Catholic friends to examine their faith in the light of Scripture; hold on to what is good, and do not be afraid to discard those doctrines which are not biblical.

© Dr Joseph Mizzi