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Questions From Catholics


Answers by Donna Morley





Introduction by Donna Morley: Over the last few years I have received emails from Catholics who have asked me some good questions, and have made some thought provoking statements. I’ve decided to collect some of the more common questions and comments and provide them here for those interested.





Why don’t you believe the Apocrypha is part of the Bible?



The earliest manuscripts of the Bible did not include the Apocrypha. I know you would disagree with me on this. But historically, the Apocrypha was included into the Catholic Bible by the Catholic church in the year 1546. Here are some other reasons why the Apocrypha can't be considered part of the Bible:


1) Some of the church fathers emphatically opposed the Apocrypha: Origin, Tertullian, and Athanasius. If you read the Old and New Testaments, you will not find any prophet, apostle, or Jesus Himself quoting from it. Even when 1 Maccabees was written, the prophetic period had ended (1 Maccabees 9:27).


2) There are some factual errors. For instance, take a look at the Book of Judith. It calls Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians (see Judith 1:7), yet he was king of Babylon (Daniel 1:7). Also the Book of Judith conflicts with apocryphal book Baruch which says Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon (Baruch 1:9).

 

3) There are teachings in the Apocrypha that conflict with the Old and New Testament. For instance:

 

Prayers are offered for the dead (2 Maccabees 12:41-46; contast this with Hebrews 9:27; John 3:36). There are no second chances for the dead.
Let's not forget the thief on the cross. He had no time to get baptized; no time to be good, but because he embraced Jesus Christ, Jesus said to him, "I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:24). As we see, no one would need to pray for the thief when he was dead, helping him get out of purgatory. No, instead, through Jesus Christ alone he immediately goes to Heaven. Anyone of us who commits our entire lives to Jesus Christ will indeed go directly to Heaven (1 John 5:11-13).

 

Suicide is justified (Maccabees 14:41-46. Contrast this with the man whose life is full of distress but he places his trust in the Lord, Psalm 31:15).

 

Atonement and Salvation comes by Almsgiving (Tobit 4:11; Sirach 3:3, 29. Contrast this with what the New Testament says about Salvation: Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).

 

Cruelty to slaves is justified (Sirach 33:25-29. Contrast this with Deuteronomy 23:15-17).

 

An apocryphal book appears to accept lying. In the Book of Tobit, the angel Raphael lies to Tobiah and later to his father Tobit (Tobit 5:1-7). It was no small lie. And yet, Raphael is not regarded as a "fallen" angel. In fact, every October 24 a Mass celebrates him as an archangel.


Now, take a close look at Judas Maccabee's words towards the end of 2 Maccabees: He says,

 

I will bring my own story to an end here too. If it is well written and to the point, that is what I wanted; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do....so a skillfully composed story delights the ears of those who read the work. Let this, then, be the end. (2 Maccabees 15:37-39)


The Bible, God's Divine Word, would never say of His own Word, "if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do." And even the Jerusalem Bible (the Catholic Bible) admits that the book of Tobit has oriental folklore.



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Why don’t you believe we should pray the rosary? The rosary is built around Jesus---meditating on His life, ministry, passion and resurrection.



Interesting statement. How does the rosary build around Jesus, meditating on His life, ministry, passion, and resurrection? One of the prayers in the rosary is the Hail Mary. This is recited 150 times. We certainly can’t say this prayer is built around Jesus. Nor does it allow one to meditate on His life, ministry, passion and resurrection. Nor, are you even praying to Jesus. You are praying to Mary (who cannot hear our prayers).

Additionally, while Catholics believe it's Mary who is our mediator between God and man, this is not what the Bible tells us. . God's Word tells us that Jesus is our one and only Mediator. "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all..." (1 Timothy 2:5).

It's not Mary who intercedes for us, but Jesus Christ and His Spirit. His Word tells us:

"He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:27).

"Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." (Romans 8:34).

When Mary was with 150 others praying in the upper room (on the day of Pentecost). On this day, it would have been PERFECT occasion for everyone to go to Mary and ask her to intercede for them, yet they didn't. Mary was just like everyone else, praying to the Lord.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together..." Acts 1:13-15).


You are asking her to PRAY for you...now and at the hour of your death. Wouldn't it be better to go directly to Jesus, the LIVING Lord? Rather than pray the rosary, wouldn’t it be better to talk to Jesus? We can praise Him, thank Him, share our inner thoughts with Him. He wants a personal relationship with us—and, He certainly doesn't want us focusing upon Mary.


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You have said Jesus doesn’t want us to pray repetitiously. Jesus was condemning vain repetition, not all forms of repetition. The Greek word battalogeo here means to "repeat idly" or "Meaningless and mechanically repeated phrases" as in pagan modes of prayer, prayer uttered without proper reverence or respect. God sees the heart, the inner dispositions of the worshiper (See Is 1:11-15, Mt 7:20-23, 15:9) not mere outward appearances.



I agree with you that the Greek word is battalogeo, again meaning, to “repeat idly” or “meaningless and mechanically repeated phrases.” Now, seriously consider. When praying the rosary, you are praying the Apostles' Creed once, the Our Father ten times, the Hail Mary one hundred and fifty times, and the Glory Be ten times. Don’t you think this is quite repetitive? Don’t you think this could get people to the point of reciting the prayers without much thought? As a former Catholic I always prayed the rosary without much thought. To be honest I often prayed it with the thought, “I can hardly wait to get this overwith!”


The Catholic Saint Joseph Daily Missal taught me that,


* If I pray five decades of the Rosary--on my behalf or on the behalf of a dead family member or friend, I or the deceased one, would get 5 years off the time we spend in Purgatory (praying the Rosary is viewed in the church as a type of Indulgence).


* If I was to recite five decades of the Rosary in unison with others, publically or privately, I earn ten years off of Purgatory.


* I was able to gain an additional 10 years off if I recited in unison the Rosary with my family.


* If I was praying the Rosary while driving a car or doing housework, I was guaranteed to get time off Purgatory, but there was a condition–I had to at least have the Rosary hang around my neck or be attached to my person (such as a sweater I might be wearing), while I was praying.


None of the above is biblical, and actually these are false promises being made to the people--people that even sincerely are repetitively praying the rosary so that they could get time off in Purgatory or a dead family member off. This is not Christian teaching. It is false.


True prayer, like true worship centers on God's glory, not on man's needs (such as praying to get out of Purgatory). It's to acknowledge God's sovereignty, to see the display of His glory, and to obey His will.


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Why don’t you believe we should put Mary in an exalted place? Wouldn’t Jesus desire that we exalt her? And, why not pray to her? Mary is our intercessor, just like she was at the wedding when she asked Jesus for more wine.



I don’t believe Jesus would have us exalt Mary. Read the New Testament and you will see, during Christ’s earthly life, that He never gave His mother an exalted position. Christ spoke to Mary as "woman" (John 2:4, 19:26-27). When a woman in the crowed, shouted out to Jesus, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts at which You nursed" (Luke 11:27), this would have been the perfect time for Jesus to tell everyone to exalt Mary--to worship her, to pray to her--even after she is dead. Instead Jesus responded by saying, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God, and observe it." (Luke 11:28).


Mary cannot intercede for us in prayer for a few reasons. First, a dead person cannot intercede for a living person. As you recall in her requesting wine at a wedding (John 2:3), Mary was alive. Secondly, there is only one mediator between God our Father and man and that’s Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5, John 14:6). Take a look at Acts 1:13, 14. You will find followers of Jesus praying in the upper room. Mary was in this room with them. Now, notice. They are all praying to God. Not one of the believers thought of going to Mary and ask her to pray for them.



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Why don’t you believe Mary was a “perpetual virgin?” I believe she was, as my church teaches. For instance, didn’t she question the angel, since she had not been with a man? And, why did Christ entrust His mother to John from the cross in John 19:26-27? Had there been other siblings, they would have cared for His mother. I think these are some strong reasons to believe Jesus didn’t have siblings. Offer me proof otherwise.



The only proof I can offer you comes from the Bible. In the Holy Scriptures we can find that Jesus did indeed have brothers and sisters (see Matthew 13:55,56 & more). The Catholic church teaches otherwise, saying that the individuals mentioned weren’t really brothers and sisters, but only Jesus’ cousins. This is an impossibility. Consider. The word for cousins is anepsios. This word is used in Colossians 4:10. The word used referring to Christ's brothers is adelphos. The word used referring to Christ's sisters is adelphe. These are the words used in Matthew 13:55,56 and other verses.

 

Adelphos literally means brother, and adelphe literally means sister. Both mean "one born from the same womb." Scripture says that Joseph kept Mary a virgin until she gave birth to a Son (Matthew 1:25). Notice the key word, “until.”

 

You are absolutely correct that Mary did question the angel. She had not been with a man, so how in the world could she be pregnant? This would indeed prove that Mary was a virgin. Now, let’s add one thing to this scenario. Mary wasn’t married yet. So, of course she would be a virgin. But, this certainly isn't a defense for perpetual virginity. After the birth of Christ, Mary showed love to her husband in the natural way all married couples show love towards one another. Scripture even says that a husband isn't to deny the wife, and the wife is not to deny the husband (1 Corinthians 7:2-5).

 

You asked me specifically: Why did Christ entrust His mother to John from the cross in John 19:26-27? Had there been other siblings, they would have cared for His mother. The answer to your questions is that, at the time of Christ's death, Jesus most likely didn’t trust his brothers. The Bible reveals that, at the time of his death, they were not believers in Him (John 7:5). Actually the scriptures say that the brothers took offense at Jesus (Mark 6:3). His brothers sarcastically challenged Jesus to go ahead and enter Judea, despite the fact they knew that Jesus was unwilling to walk there, and knowing the Jews were seeking to kill Him there. They didn't seem to care about Christ’s safety nor His message of eternal life. Although we have no scriptural explanation, perhaps their lack of spiritual interest, as they were growing up, could be the reason why Christ's parents kept the rest of the family home when they took Jesus to the temple. As we know, Jesus was very much interested in spiritual things (Luke 2:39, 46-49).

 

It is understandable then, at His death, why Jesus didn't want to entrust his brothers to his mother. John who took Mary into his home from that day forward reported that "not even His brothers were believing in Him" (John 7:5). As we know, Jesus had a very close relationship with the apostle John. It's understandable then, that Jesus wanted his mother in the home of a godly man than for Mary to go back home to his unbelieving brothers (some of whom would come to a belief in Christ).

 

Let's take a look at Jesus' brothers–James, Joseph, Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55):

 

James: One of the four brothers of Jesus (Matthew 13:55). Paul the apostle confirmed that James was the Lord's brother (Galatians 1:19). James was at first unconvinced of Jesus' claims. James, and his brothers, at one point even tried to persuade Jesus to drop His controversial ministry because they thought that Jesus was mad. It was not until the resurrection that James was committed as one of Jesus' followers. Paul the apostle points out that Christ appeared to James after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). From that point on, James was identified with the disciple group in Jerusalem. He was part of the group waiting in the Upper Room before the ascension and Pentecost, and within ten years became the leader in Jerusalem of those who acknowledged Jesus as Lord. As a symbol of the respect he enjoyed in Jerusalem, James became known as "the Just." The Apostle Paul, shortly after his dramatic conversation, came to Jerusalem and called on James. When Peter escaped from prison and fled to the house of Mary, Mark's mother, he asked that a word be sent to James (Acts 12:17) Later, when the conservative followers of Jesus were uneasy because Paul was preaching to Gentiles, James was one of those who presided at the conference at Jerusalem and issued the agreement whereby Paul was approved as the apostle to the non-Jews (Acts 15:13-25, also Galatians 2:9). At this same meeting, Jesus' two other brothers (Judas and Silas), who had since believed Christ were also mentioned at this meeting, in a letter (Acts 15:27). After reading the letter from the Jerusalem conference, Judas and Silas were greatly encouraged (Acts 15:32). A few years later, when the tensions over the question of whether a man could be a Christian without first being circumcised as a Jew made a second conference necessary, James was looked to for council. He proposed the solution which vindicated Paul (Acts 21:18-23-26). Paul reported to James after his third missionary journey, and was warned by James of the plots against him. James was the author of the Epistle of James, a short letter packed with references to Jesus' teachings and paraphrases of the Sermon on the Mount. Paul's reference in 1 Corinthians 9:5 indicates that James was married.

 

Joseph (also called Joses, Matthew 13:55, 27:56; Mark 6:3; 15:40, 47)). He was embarrassed and annoyed by the publicity and controversy Jesus was stirring up. Joses was probably a part of the family delegation which tried to bring Jesus to Judea (John 7:3-5). Unlike Jesus' other brothers, James and Jude, we aren't told if Joseph (Joses) ever came to believe in Jesus.

 

Simon (not to be confused with Simon Peter). He was also a brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55) He may have never come to belief in Jesus either. Along with his other brothers, Simon took offense at Jesus (Mark 6:3), and most presumably also tried to bring Jesus to Judea (where the Jews wanted to kill him, John 7:3-5).

 

Jude (also referred to as Judas). Like his brothers, Jude took a very dim view of his brother Jesus' claims and ministry at first, and did not believe in Jesus until after the resurrection. He then became a staunch member of the small, harassed group of believers, but never gained the prominence that James, his brother did. In fact, Jude preferred to refer to himself modestly as "James" brother (Jude 1).

 

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If the Bible is the only foundation and basis of Christian truth, why does the Bible itself say, that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth? It also says that the Catholic Church is the “Light” and the “city set on a hill” found in Matthew 5:14.



I do know that Jesus says He is the truth (John 14:6) and He is the Cornerstone. He is our Foundation, which includes His Word, the Bible.


I must respectfully disagree when you say that the Catholic Church is the "light" and the "city set on a hill" found in Matthew 5:14. Take a closer look at this verse. Jesus is speaking to a multitude of people who wanted to follow Him. After giving his famous Sermon on the Mount speech, He told these dear followers that they are the “light of the world.” Their light is so bright that it’s like “a city set on a hill” that cannot be hidden. Nowhere do we see Jesus saying that the “Catholic Church” is the light of the world. As we know, the Catholic church hasn’t had a great history---from the Inquisition, up to the charges we’ve heard in the last few years regarding sexual molestation. You of course, would say that it’s not the entire church that caused these sins. I would agree with you. It was ungodly people in the church that caused them–who of course could never be considered as “Light.” The godly--true followers of Jesus(which can be classified as a "church" rather than a building as the church)--are the only ones that can be the “light of the world.” Of course, it’s through Jesus–the true light (John 8:7), that we are even able to reflect His light.


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You have said that Catholics can know about their salvation based on 1 John 5:13. That is a bit too simple. As far as 1 John 5:13 yes, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I'm also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).


 

A person who is truly saved cannot loose their salvation. So why work at “being saved” and why “hope that I will be saved?” You are not being saved, if you are already saved. The verses you gave me do not prove your point that you are "being saved." Notice:


1 Corinthians 1:8 is a confirmation of salvation--a guarantee. We are "confirmed" to the end. Not that we hope to be confirmed. No. We are already confirmed.

 

2 Corinthians 2:15 is talking about the person who can spiritually appraise, not salvation. The mature Christian, who is led and taught by the Spirit, "appraises all things." For instance he can scrutinize, sift, and thereby understand all things; but unbelievers and even carnally-minded Christians cannot appraise (understand) spiritual things.

 

Philippians 2:12 doesn't prove anything about you "being saved" nor does it mean that you have to "work out" your salvation.” Look at this verse closely. Paul is telling the Philippians not to rely on him. they need to stand on their own feet, knowing God was working in them (Philippians 2:13). Fear and trembling refers to having a healthy fear of not wanting to offend God.

 

If you believe that you must work for your salvation, then why did you give me the scripture verse Ephesians 2:8? The verse tells us that we are saved not by ourselves, it's a gift of God, not as a result of works.

 

I firmly believe that faith without works is dead (James 2:20), but genuine faith cannot be dead (James 2:14, 18, 20). True faith believes what Jesus says (John 11:25; 1 John 5:13), it relies upon His righteousness (Philippians 3:9). Therefore, works are a result of my salvation--not the cause of my salvation (see John 6:28-29).


Salvation isn’t based upon relying on any church–Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc. Nor is salvation based upon the sacraments, good works, or praying the rosary to get someone out of purgatory into Heaven. To each individual, salvation is based upon their trusting in Jesus alone for their salvation.


I encourage you to look up the following Scripture verses: Acts 16:30-31; Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12; Acts 10:43. When we know we are trusting in Jesus for our salvation, we won’t be working towards salvation, nor hoping for it. We’ll know we have it:


And the witness is this,

that God has given us eternal life,

and this life is in His Son.

He who has the Son has the life;

he who does not have the Son of God

does not have the life.


These things I have written to you

who believe in the Son of God,

in order that you may know that

you have eternal life.

(1 John 5:12-13)


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If the authors of the New Testament believed in Sola Scriptura why did they sometimes draw on oral Tradition as authoritative as God's Word? (Matt 2:23, 23:2, 1 Cor 10:4, 1 Pet 3:19, Jude 9, 14, 15).


Also, if the early Church believed in sola scriptura, why do the creeds of the early Church say, "We believe in the holy catholic church" and not we believe in Holy Scripture? I have many more questions but I wanted to offer some that made Sola Scriptura difficult.



You have provided two thought provoking questions, which need to be answered in depth. So, let me address first, the scripture verses you gave me that you believe support oral Tradition over Sola Scriptura:


Matthew 2:23, is not based on oral tradition. It's speaking about a prophecy fulfilled. Big difference.


Matthew 23:2 is not an endorsement for Tradition. See my comments below regarding this verse. And, read Mark 7:1-23. Jesus is rebuking the traditions of the Pharisees and the scribes.


1 Corinthians 10:4 is not another tradition, nor an endorsement to specifying what people should eat, such as fish on Friday’s during Lent. If you notice, this is about all Israelites eating the same spiritual food. Paul is not speaking of God's working in the spirits of individual Israelites. He could not do that because many of them did not believe in Him. Look at verse 6, God wasn't pleased with most of them because of their wicked desires. Paul is not speaking about some sort of spiritual tradition, he was speaking about their sustenance and how that came about. It is true that God spiritually strengthened the Israelites who believed in Him. But He provided physical food and drink through spiritual means, for all of Israel, believers and unbelievers alike. The Lord miraculously provided manna for food (Exodus 16:15) simply because there was nothing to eat in the desert. Also, there was nothing to drink, so the Lord spiritually provided water (Exodus 17:6). In this sense they were all spiritually sustained—not from any sort of tradition, but from the Lord spiritually providing them food and drink from Heaven. Obviously, you can't call eating some sort of spiritual tradition. You eat because you must live, not to uphold some tradition in order to get to God.


1 Peter 3:19 is not about tradition. This verse is a reference to the preincarnate Christ preaching through Noah to those who, because they rejected that message, are now spirits in prison. There isn't any continual preaching to the spirits in prison, there is no continual tradition going on here.


Jude 9, 14, 15 is not about tradition either. Verse 9 is about Michael disputing with the devil about the body of Moses; verses 14 and 15 is the ancient prophecy of judgment against the wicked (prophecy found in Genesis 5:19-24; cf. Hebrews 11:5-6).


Here's what God says about tradition:


Jesus was asked a question of the Pharisees and scribes saying, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?....Jesus answered, "And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? He went on to say to them: "...you invalidate the Word of God for the sake of tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophecy of you saying, "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teachings as doctrines the precepts of men." (Matthew 15:2-3, 6-9)


Paul the apostle said, "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 (Colossians 2:8).


Now Paul does say, "stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us" (2 Thessalonians 2:15), speaks of all the teachings Paul had shared with the Thessalonians. He advised the same thing of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11:2).


In sharing his testimony of how he came to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Paul had said that as Jew he was "advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions." He came to discover that "man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified" (Galatians 1:14; 2:16 ).


Christ rebuked the Jewish people who became secure in their Jewish traditions verses a personal relationship with God. Jesus also rebuked the Jews for calling their religious leaders "Rabbi." He then tells us, "And do not call anyone on earth Father; for One is your Father, He who is in Heaven" (Matthew 23:9). As we both know, the Catholic church calls the pope "Holy Father" and the priests "Father."


During Lent, you and I both know that each Friday Catholics are not to eat meat and only have fish. It use to be that this could be a sin if we did have meat. While the church has been a bit more lenient on this, committed Catholics still adhere to the "fish only" during Lent. Paul rebuked those who "advocate abstaining from foods (such as meat), which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:3).


Another part of the Church's tradition is participate in repetitious praying. Jesus told the apostles, "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetitioun, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." (Matthew 6:7).


Let's not forget what Jesus said of the Pharisees and the scribes, that they were "invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down....if any man has ears to hear, let him hear...(Mark 7:13, 16).


Now, let’s address your question: “If the early Church believed in sola scriptura, why do the creeds of the early Church say, ‘We believe in the holy catholic church’ and not we believe in Holy Scripture?”


The creed in reference, The Apostle’s Creed, begins with the statement, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.” Out of the six stanzas of this creed, the statement, “We believe in the holy Catholic church,” is in the sixth stanza. This shows, that at least God comes first in this creed.


In regard to the statement about belief in the Catholic church, the word “catholic” doesn’t refer to the Catholic church, but to the universal church that consists of true followers of Jesus Christ. Look up in any dictionary and you will see, “catholic” simply means “universal.”


While I believe in the statements made in the Apostle’s Creed, as you do, we must keep in mind that creeds cannot help us with our salvation. It's only through the living and abiding Word of God that we can hear the message of God's salvation (1 Peter 1:23). So, rather than put our trust in “one holy catholic church,” how about putting our trust in “Jesus and His Holy Word.”?


Lastly, I would like to address your comment, “I have many more questions but I wanted to offer some that made Sola Scriptura difficult.” May I say, I don’t think Sola Scriptura is difficult at all. Nor do I believe that Sola Fide is difficult either (though you didn’t address this). Either you believe in God’s Word as final and sole authority or you don’t. One thing is certain--all things, including the church on earth, shall perish. The only thing that shall outlast this earth--and be preserved--is the Word of God (1 Peter 1:25). As the prophet Isaiah eloquently says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8, also see 1 Peter 1:25).


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It's wonderful that you love the Bible but where did it come from? Please read "Where We Got the Bible" by Henry G. Graham. The canon of the Bible was established by the Catholic Church and protected by the Church. History bears this fact that the very Bible often used against the Catholic Church belongs to the Catholic Church.



While the Bible was canonized by the Church, through the Council of Carthage (387 A.D.), and protected by the Church, we must give credit to the Holy Spirit who used approximately 40 writers to reveal God’s Word to mankind (see 2 Peter 1:20-21, also 1 Peter 1:12).


The Bible does not belong to the Catholic Church, but to the people---people who love and cherish it; who abide by its words.


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Why are there now over 34,000 Protestant denominations? Christ spoke about One Church. An invisible unity is not enough. There needs to be visible unity. Even on the main "essentials" there is discord. This speaks highly of the need for authority.



I would be interested to see your list of 34,000 denominations. Might it include false religions? Many Christian denominations have the same Statement of Faith. Despite all the denominations out there, my authority is not the church. It’s Jesus Christ and His Word. Jesus says, “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). The Bible says that Jesus “is the head over all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:10).


Also, you mentioned that there needs to be visible unity. Has not the Catholic church gone through diverse changes throughout the years? Can we say there is unity in the Catholic church? Isn't there differences of opinions within the Catholic denominations in regard to birth control, "priests and marriage", and other important issues? And what about the current and very terrible sin of the priests who have been immoral? Why did the church keep this secret for so many years--keeping these men in the ministry, and hurting others? The Bible says that the church is suppose to take the Matthew 18 approach of confronting the sin before the congregation and asking the person to leave unless he repents.


The Catholic church has gone through other dark and ungodly times—popes excommunicating one another–the Inquisition, the burning of people who sought to reform the church, and burning those who no longer saw the need to attend Mass, preferring to read the Bible. This was prior to the Reformation. Then of course, who can forget the actions of the Catholic church, burning Joan of Arc and then 500 years later canonizing her as a Saint. By the way, the Bible says that all true followers of Christ are saints (Romans 8:27; Romans 12:13; Romans 15:25-26; Romans 15:31; Romans 16:2, 15 and many, many more verses.)



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Among the Christian churches, only the Catholic Church has existed since the time of Jesus. Every other Christian church is an offshoot of the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox churches broke away from unity with the pope in 1054. The Protestant churches were established during the Reformation, which began in 1517. (Most of today’s Protestant churches are actually offshoots of the original Protestant offshoots.)


Only the Catholic Church existed in the tenth century, in the fifth century, and in the first century, faithfully teaching the doctrines given by Christ to the apostles, omitting nothing. The line of popes can be traced back, in unbroken succession, to Peter himself. This is unequaled by any institution in history.



Take a look at history by reading the early Church Fathers those who were with the apostles. As Christ said, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Certainly the sinful natures of many members should have ruined it centuries ago. Why is it still around?



If you firmly believe that the Catholic church existed since the time of Christ (installing Peter as the first pope), then we must ask---was God rebuking the Catholic church in His Word?


Consider what God has been rebuking since the time of Christ:

He rebukes the traditions of men (Matthew 15:2-3, 6-9; Mark 7:13,16; 1 Corinthians 11:2; Galatians 1:14, 2 Thessalonians 2:15).


He rebukes repetitious praying, such as praying the rosary (Matthew 6:17).


He rebukes calling its spiritual leaders “Father” (Matthew 23:9).


He rebukes the “abstaining from foods” (like during Lent, see 1 Timothy 4:3).



There is much, much more. Again, we have to ask----was the Catholic church being rebuked by God, if it was there since the time of Christ? And, if so, why does the church still hold to the traditions of men? Why does the church still encourage repetitious praying? Why does the Church call its priests “Father?” And why continue to abstain from certain foods during Lent? Why does the church go against what God wants?


If God isn’t rebuking the Catholic church, then could it be that the Catholic church---the Church we know--came later? I believe the Church of God evolved into what you call the Catholic church. During the time of Christ, there was no bishop in Rome. History clearly shows that the first pope was not Peter but Gregory I was the first man-made pope in 590 A.D.


What you had during the early church were autonomous congregations. The apostle Paul didn't use force to have authority, he let the church run by itself.

Secondly, the church is judged by the Scriptures. The church in Galatians was out of line with Scripture. They were getting legalistic, therefore, Paul had to rebuke them. In Revelations 2 and 3, Christ judges individual congregations. The church stands or falls based upon it being biblical or not.


You brought up Christ's words "the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church." This is speaking of the true church. And, what is the true church? The true church consists of Christ, who holds the priesthood forever (Hebrews 7:23-24). The true church consists of born-again believers (John 3:3) who are part of "a royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9). The true church began the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and continues to grow as more people repent of their sins, and commit their entire lives to Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18).


You also mentioned history of the Church Fathers who were with the apostles. There were only a few church fathers that were with them (Clement, I believe was with John). Very few church fathers knew the apostles. And, it is my belief that the church fathers who were with the apostles–followed God’s Word. Thus, they were against traditions, repetitious praying, etc. They prayed to Jesus, not Mary or the other saints.


Yes, Christ promised to be with His church throughout time—but again, the church is not a building, but consists of Christ's true followers. He says to them, "lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). He has left us His Helper, the Holy Spirit, who indwells in each and every true believer.


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You say that we must become born-again to enter heaven. You quote John 3:3. Yet, John 3:3 is also translated as "born from above." Nicodemus goes on to say that can't refer to the womb and Jesus answers in John 3:5 no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. This is talking about baptism, not being born-again.



Let’s clarify this a bit. I am sure you noticed, in the following verse that Nicodemus asked Jesus the question, "How can a man be born again once he is old?" (John 3:4). Obviously Nicodemus knew that Jesus wasn’t talking about baptism, otherwise he would have no reason to question about re-entering “his mother’s womb and be born.”


What Jesus said in John 3:5, is that you can't be begotten of water alone (Nicodemus who lived in the very area that John the Baptist was baptizing with water, knew about baptism). The issue here, isn’t that baptism causes salvation. No, the issue is one of being born-again. It’s about spiritual regeneration.


Being born-again is a spiritual rebirth “through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23); in Christ we are a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17); we are reconciled to God through Christ (2 corinthians 5:18).


Now, we can understand Christ’s words more clearly, “Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again” (John 3:7).


God's Word makes it clear that baptism doesn't save a person, we must be born-again (John 3-3), where we go through a spiritual rebirth. Let me illustrate why baptism doesn’t work as a way to be saved. A year ago, “Fred” thought he was dying. Family members told him to quickly get baptized in the Catholic church, just to play it “safe.” So he did. After Fred’s baptism, he's still very much alive and the same old person---he still swears like the dickens, has an anger problem galore, and continues to have no interest in God or His Word. It's clear, water baptism doesn't cause spiritual rejuvination. Only through the Holy Spirit can we be born-again, spiritually rejuvinated.


Sadly, because Fred was baptized, he feels confident he now has "a chance" at "maybe" getting at least to purgatory instead of hell. See the need to be begotton of the Spirit? The heart, soul, and mind must be renewed in the Spirit. The Catholic church does not teach this very important point. A few sprinkles of water just doesn't cut it.


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Where in the Bible is God's Word restricted only to what's written down?



Paul the apostle said that anyone who preaches contrary to the gospel (God's Word) is to be accursed. We are told not to receive teaching outside the Word of God (Galatians 1:9, 10).


The apostle John said that no one is to add to the words of the Bible. If they do, "God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book." (Revelation 22:19-19).


In Proverbs we can read, "Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His Words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar." (Proverbs 30:4).


We are told that truth has been given to us once and for all (Jude 3). We don't need anything more than God's Word.


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Where does the Bible claim to be the sole authority for Christians in matters of faith and morals? If we are each making our own interpretation, how can we in good conscience call anything heresy or bind another Christian to a particular belief?



God claims the Bible (the Old and New Testament--66 Books) to be the authority. He used approximately 40 writers, "men moved by the Holy Spirit," as they spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20-21, also 1 Peter 1:12).


The authority also comes from what God, through the Holy Spirit, says of His Word: "All scripture is inspired by God...." (2 Timothy 4:2).


God's authority tells us His word is "indestructible" (1 Peter 1:23).


God's authority tells us that His word endures forever (1 Peter 1:24).


Through Peter, God tells us, "Now this "word" is the gospel which has been preached to you." (1 Peter 1:25).



The above verses show us that the Bible is the sole authority for us in matters of faith and morals. Again, “all scripture in inspired by God” and is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:16). I believe this qualifies the Bible to be the sole authority in matters of faith and morals.


You mentioned that we can all have our own interpretations of the Bible. A person’s own interpretation comes when they don’t have the Holy Spirit. But, when a person has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, they do not interpret Scripture--the Holy Spirit dwelling in them does. The Spirit operates and communicates the same truth to all born-again Christians. Those who do not have the Spirit could quite easily take Scripture and create heresy from it--that's why we have cults and false religions today. But, again, they do not have the Spirit of God directing them and teaching them.


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The verse from Romans says all men have sinned but what about aborted children? Mentally handicapped persons who have no capability to understand sin? What about infants and young children who die before being taught about sin? Those are a few exceptions. And, what about Mary? She lived a pure and sinless life? How else could God have chosen her to be Jesus’ mother? I believe that Mary is the ark of the new covenant, a tabernacle that had to be suitable to hold our Lord, a pure and holy resting place before His birth.



You have addressed two main issues here. One about sin, the other about Mary. Let’s start with sin. Through original sin, as Paul tells us, all, which would include aborted children and the mentally handicapped, are sinners: "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Romans 5:12, also see Romans 5:15-19, and Romans 3:23). This is why the Grace of God is so important. It's His undeserving mercy upon our souls, that He offers us eternal life. And certainly, our dear Lord's abundant Grace is bestowed upon aborted children and the mentally handicapped, as well as children who die before the age of accountability--there is no limbo for these children to go to, as I was taught when a Catholic.


Now, I must ask. Where in the Bible does it say that "Mary is the ark of the new covenant, a tabernacle that had to be suitable to hold our Lord, a pure and holy resting place before His birth"? With all due respect, I do not agree with man-made opinions. I only hold to what the Bible says.


What made Christ's birth a holy one, was not due to the condition of Mary's womb (a human tabernacle to hold Jesus before birth), but due to Him being begotten of God, the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18, 20; Luke 1:34-35).


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I don’t agree with your view on repetitious praying. Nearly all Christians accept and repeat prayers and creeds. The psalms are filled with repetition - Psalm 136 - God's love endures forever is repeated in 26 straight verses. Look at Daniel 3:19-23 who sing the same phrase "bless the Lord" over and over. Look at how often "holy, holy, holy" was repeated by the angels or "alleluia" in the Book of Revelation.


And, do Christians not repeat the Lord's Prayer often, perhaps many times in a day? Spouses, for instance, may tell each other the same phrase, I love you, in many tones and times, but it's still repetition but certainly not vain repetition.



The Psalms were just that—SONGS. The Psalms were the songs the Jewish people sang. The Psalms are like a chorus. It might have been antiphlanal–where one side sings a few lines, and the others sings the chorus.


I took a look at Daniel 3:19-23, as you requested, and I do not see, in the Jerusalem Bible [the Catholic Bible], nor in any other version, not even one "bless the Lord." Perhaps you accidently gave me the wrong scripture reference? If not, if you go down a few verses, I see Nebuchadnezzar respond by saying, "blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego” (Daniel 3:26 NAS).


In regard to the angels in Revelations, they too were singing (not praying). And, there is another difference. These are angels. These are not humans who have a one-on-one personal relationship with God. Not once do you see John, while in Heaven, speaking in repetition to Jesus. You also see the angels, speaking other things also. Yes, they did say "Allelluia" in praise to God, but they didn't just repeat it over and over. No, look at what they were singing in Revelation, 19:1-8. They were not words given out of repetition. Also, you see them shouting, "Amen! Praise and glory, wisdom, and thanksgiving and honor, power and might to our God forever and ever. Amen! (Revelation 7:12). Obviously, the angels weren't robots.


Now, addressing your question: Do Christians not repeat the Lord's Prayer often, perhaps many times in a day?


Born-again Christians do pray daily to the Lord, but "no" they don't recited the Lord's prayer "often, perhaps many times in a day." That was not Jesus' intention in teaching the apostles how to pray. He was teaching the apostles (and us today) how to pray personally to Him, not to simply recite his words. How much thought goes into that after reciting over and over and over and over and over again?


The apostles did not ask Jesus to teach them a prayer but to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). In a nutshell, though I could write paragraphs on each bold word of "the Lord's prayer," I will lightly touch on what Jesus taught.


The Our reflects unselfishness. He shares Himself with us, and isn’t ours to keep to ourselves. He belongs to us all, and we need to share Him with others, in deed and in prayer.

 

Father reflects family devotion. In prayer, we need to be reminded of the fact that God isn't "some being out there." No. He is our Father. He loves us, and wants us to be personal with Him in our praying. He wants to talk to Him in a personal way.


Hallowed be Thy name reflects reverence to God in prayer.


Thy Kingdom Come reflects loyalty. Our kingdom is not of this world, but up above. Our praying should reflect our hope in our future home.


Thy will be done reflects submission to God's will, rather than our own. We need to be praying for God's leading in our lives.


Give us this day our daily bread reflects dependence upon God's provision for our all things in our lives.


Forgive us our debts reflects penitence. We need to continually be repenting to God, rather than to a priest. God alone forgives sins (Matthew 6:12; 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 43:25). We can repent daily, in prayer.


Do not lead us into temptation reflects humility. We need the Lord's strength to help us from falling into sin. We need to pray for that strength.


But, deliver us from evil reflects protection and deliverance. We need to pray for protection and deliverance as we go through difficult things in life, and the temptation to sin.


In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gives a comprehensive view of all the essential elements of righteous prayer, every one of which centers on God. We can call them the "p's" for prayer: acknowledging His paternity, priority, program, plan, provision, pardon, and preeminence. Each element is overloaded with meaning, and allows us to pray in pure devotion.


Lastly, addressing your statement, “Spouses may tell each other the same phrase, I love you, in many tones and times, but it's still repetition but certainly not vain repetition.”


Saying I love you, in many tones and many times, is not repetitious praying–because we aren’t saying it over and over at one time. We say “I love you” daily, throughout our married life. And, I do tell the Lord, all the time that I love Him yet, I admit, not a 150 times in one sitting. I think my dear Lord understands what I am telling Him the first time. And, going back to my husband, I think he would think we didn't have much of a relationship if I, like a parrot, repeated the very words he spoke to me--verse by verse of his recitations--without ever expressing my own thoughts and words to him. Certainly the Lord would feel that his followers didn't have much of a relationship with them if they just recite His words verse after verse, rather than express their own thoughts and words to Him.


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If Jesus condemned all oral tradition, why does He bind His listeners to oral tradition by telling them to obey the scribes and Pharisees when they sit on Moses' seat? (Mt 23:2)



Matthew 23:2 is not an endorsement for Tradition. Look at what Christ is saying. He tells the crowds, "The scribes and the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers; therefore, do everything and observe everything they tell you. But do not follow their example.”


Jesus was warning the people about the scribes and Pharisees. He didn't want anyone to follow anything they were doing–including their traditions. He wanted to point out their hypocrisy.


Jesus said to them, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you frauds! You are like white-washed tombs, beautiful to look at on the outside but inside full of filth and dead man's bones. (Matthew 28:27).


He continues on telling them that they present to all a "holy exterior while hypocrisy and evil fill you within." (Matthew 23:28). He also rebuked them of the tradition of erecting tombs for the prophets and decorating the monuments of the saints. (Matthew 24:29).


After more rebukes he says, "Vipers' nest! Brood of serpents! How can you escape condemnation to Gehenna?" (Matthew 24:33).


In regard to their traditions, Jesus rebuked them big time (see Mark 7:1-23).


Remember what else He says to the Sadducees? "You are badly misled because you fail to understand the Scriptures and the power of God." (Matthew 23:29). Yes, they were men of tradition...but it disgusted Christ for they were into their traditions but not into the Scriptures or the power of God. Christ is obviously showing us that we can't get to Him through tradition.


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Dr. Scott Hahn has brought thousands and thousands of Catholics the truth of the Catholic Church with his books, tapes and a web site. He was a Protestant pastor whose conversion story has opened our eyes to the treasures of the Church.



I am quite familiar with Dr. Hahn, and have to say I do not agree with him theologically. One difference, out of many, is his view of the papacy. He defends Peter as being the first pope, because of the usage of the word “petra” (which means Rock).


Though quite simplistic (I could get more detailed) let me just point out that Peter could not be called Rock as Dr. Hahn teaches. Peter was called Petros. In the Greek it means, "a small moveable stone." The word Petra in the Greek is Rock. It literally means "an immovable foundation.


Whenever Petra is used in the New Testament, it's referring to Jesus. For instance "the rock (Petra) was Christ" (1 Corinthian 10:4). Peter said that Christ is the "Cornerstone" (1 Peter 2:5-8), not himself. Peter referred to himself only as a "fellow elder." (1 Peter 5:1)–never the head of the church. Only Jesus is the head of the church.We can even go to the Old Testament to receive confirmation that God is the Rock (Psalm 18:31; Isaiah 44:8). Just for clarification, Peter was at times also called Cephas (Galatians 2:11-21) and Simon (Mark 1:29-34–compare with Matthew 8:14-17 and Luke 4:38-41).

Interestingly, while I don’t believe Jesus wanted to start a lineage of popes, Paul the apostle would seem a better candidate for pope than Peter. It seemed Paul had greater authority when he rebuked Peter in Galatians 2:11-21. Peter wasn’t preaching heresy but he wasn’t preaching the gospel of grace either. Under pressure from the Hebrew Christians, Peter decided not to eat with the uncircumcised Gentile believers. When Paul heard about this, he confronted Peter saying, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:14). Another interesting point is that Paul was single, whereas Peter was married. (Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-34; Luke 4:38-41). According to the Catholic church, wouldn’t marriage disqualify Peter from being a priest, let alone a pope?


The bottom line is, if you look at Church History, the first pope was not Peter, but Gregory I, who started the papacy in 590 A.D.




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Among the Christian churches, only the Catholic Church has existed since the time of Jesus. Every other Christian church is an offshoot of the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox churches broke away from unity with the pope in 1054. The Protestant churches were established during the Reformation, which began in 1517. (Most of today’s Protestant churches are actually offshoots of the original Protestant offshoots.)


Only the Catholic Church existed in the tenth century, in the fifth century, and in the first century, faithfully teaching the doctrines given by Christ to the apostles, omitting nothing. The line of popes can be traced back, in unbroken succession, to Peter himself. This is unequaled by any institution in history.



Take a look at history by reading the early Church Fathers those who were with the apostles. As Christ said, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Certainly the sinful natures of many members should have ruined it centuries ago. Why is it still around?



If you firmly believe that the Catholic church existed since the time of Christ (installing Peter as the first pope), then was God rebuking the Catholic church in His Word?


Consider what God’s rebuking, since the time of Christ: He rebukes the traditions of men (Matthew 15:2-3, 6-9; Mark 7:13,16; 1 Corinthians 11:2; Galatians 1:14, 2 Thessalonians 2:15).


He rebukes repetitious praying, such as praying the rosary (Matthew 6:17).


He rebukes calling its spiritual leaders “Father” (Matthew 23:9).


He rebukes the “abstaining from foods” (like during Lent, see 1 Timothy 4:3).


There is much, much more. Again, we have to ask the question then, was the Catholic church being rebuked by God, if it was there since the time of Christ? And, if so, why does the church still hold to the traditions of men? Why does the church still encourage repetitious praying? Call it’s priests “Father?” And why continue to abstain from certain foods during Lent? Why does the church go against what God wants?


If God isn’t rebuking the Catholic church, then could it be that the Catholic church that we know of came later? I believe the Church of God evolved into what you call the Catholic church. During the time of Christ, there was no bishop in Rome. History clearly shows that the first pope was not Peter but Gregory I was the first man-made pope in 590 A.D.


What you had during the early church were autonomous congregations. The apostle Paul didn't use force to have authority, he let the church run by itself.

Secondly, the church is judged by the Scriptures. The church in Galatians was out of line with Scripture. They were getting legalistic, therefore, Paul had to rebuke them. In Revelations 2 and 3, Christ judges individual congregations. The church stands or falls based upon it being biblical or not.


You brought up Christ's words "the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church." This is speaking of the true church. And, what is the true church? The true church consists of Christ, who holds the priesthood forever (Hebrews 7:23-24). The true church consists of born-again believers (John 3:3) who are part of "a royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9). The true church began the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and continues to grow as more people repent of their sins, and commit their entire lives to Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18).


You also mentioned history of the Church Fathers who were with the apostles. There were only a few church fathers that were with them (Clement, I believe was with John). Very few church fathers knew the apostles. And, it is my belief that the church fathers who were with the apostles–followed God’s Word. Thus, they were against traditions, repetitious praying, etc. They prayed to Jesus, not Mary or the other saints.


Yes, Christ promised to be with His church throughout time—but again, the church is not a building, but His true followers. He says to His followers, "lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). He has left us His Helper, the Holy Spirit, who indwells in each and every true believer.


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You say that we must become born-again to enter heaven. You quote John 3:3. Yet, John 3:3 is also translated as "born from above." Nicodemus goes on to say that can't refer to the womb and Jesus answers in John 3:5 no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. This is talking about baptism, not being born-again.



Let’s clarify this a bit. I am sure you noticed, in the following verse that Nicodemus asked Jesus the question, "How can a man be born again once he is old?" (John 3:4). Obviously Nicodemus knew that Jesus wasn’t talking about baptism, otherwise he would have no reason to question about re-entering “his mother’s womb and be born.”


What Jesus said in John 3:5, is that you can't be begotten of water alone (Nicodemus who lived in the very area that John the Baptist was baptizing with water, knew about baptism). The issue here, isn’t that baptism causes salvation. No, the issue is one of being born-again. It’s about spiritual regeneration.


Being born-again is a spiritual rebirth “through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23); in Christ we are a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17); we are reconciled to God through Christ (2 corinthians 5:18).


Now, we can understand Christ’s words more clearly, “Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again” (John 3:7).


God's Word makes it clear that baptism doesn't save a person, we must be born-again (John 3-3), where we go through a spiritual rebirth. Let me illustrate why baptism doesn’t work as a way to be saved. A year ago, “Fred” thought he was dying. Family members told him to quickly get baptized in the Catholic church, just to play it “safe.” So he did. After Fred’s baptism, he's still very much alive and the same old person---he still swears like the dickens, has an anger problem galore, and continues to have no interest in God or His Word. It's clear, water baptism doesn't cause spiritual rejuvination. Only through the Holy Spirit can we be born-again, spiritually rejuvinated.


Sadly, because Fred was baptized, he feels confident he now has "a chance" at "maybe" getting at least to purgatory instead of hell. See the need to be begotton of the Spirit? The heart, soul, and mind must be renewed in the Spirit. The Catholic church does not teach this very important point. A few sprinkles of water just don't cut it.


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Where in the Bible is God's Word restricted only to what's written down?



Paul the apostle said that anyone who preaches contrary to the gospel (God's Word) is to be accursed. We are told not to receive teaching outside the Word of God (Galatians 1:9, 10).


The apostle John said that no one is to add to the words of the Bible. If they do, "God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book." (Revelation 22:19-19).


In Proverbs it states, "Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His Words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar." (Proverbs 30:4).


We are told that truth has been given to us once and for all (Jude 3). We don't need anything more than God's Word.


 ˜



 ˜


The verse from Romans says all men have sinned but what about aborted children? Mentally handicapped persons who have no capability to understand sin? What about infants and young children who die before being taught about sin? Those are a few exceptions. And, what about Mary? She lived a pure and sinless life? How else could God have chosen her to be Jesus’ mother? I believe that Mary is the ark of the new covenant, a tabernacle that had to be suitable to hold our Lord, a pure and holy resting place before His birth.



You have addressed two main issues here. One about sin, the other about Mary. Let’s start with sin. Through original sin, as Paul tells us, all, which would include aborted children and the mentally handicapped, are sinners: "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Romans 5:12, also see Romans 5:15-19, and Romans 3:23). This is why the Grace of God is so important. It's His undeserving mercy upon our souls, that He offers us eternal life. And certainly, our dear Lord's abundant Grace is bestowed upon aborted children and the mentally handicapped, as well as children who die before the age of accountability--there is no limbo for these children to go to, as I was taught when a Catholic.


Now, I must ask. Where in the Bible does it say that "Mary is the ark of the new covenant, a tabernacle that had to be suitable to hold our Lord, a pure and holy resting place before His birth"? With all due respect, I do not agree with man-made opinions. I only hold to what the Bible says.


What made Christ's birth a holy one, was not due to the condition of Mary's womb (a human tabernacle to hold Jesus before birth), but due to Him being begotten of God, the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18, 20; Luke 1:34-35).


 ˜


I don’t agree with your view on repetitious praying. Nearly all Christians accept and repeat prayers and creeds. The psalms are filled with repetition - Psalm 136 - God's love endures forever is repeated in 26 straight verses. Look at Daniel 3:19-23 who sing the same phrase "bless the Lord" over and over. Look at how often "holy, holy, holy" was repeated by the angels or "alleluia" in the Book of Revelation.


And, do Christians not repeat the Lord's Prayer often, perhaps many times in a day? Spouses, for instance, may tell each other the same phrase, I love you, in many tones and times, but it's still repetition but certainly not vain repetition.



The Psalms were just that—SONGS. The Psalms were the songs the Jewish people sang. The Psalms are like a chorus. It might have been antiphlanal–where one side sings a few lines, and the others sings the chorus.


I took a look at Daniel 3:19-23, as you requested, and I do not see, in the Jerusalem Bible [the Catholic Bible], nor in any other version, not even one "bless the Lord." Perhaps you accidently gave me the wrong scripture reference? If not, if you go down a few verses, I see Nebuchadnezzar respond by saying, "blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego” (Daniel 3:26 NAS).


In regard to the angels in Revelations, they too were singing (not praying). And, there is another difference. These are angels. These are not humans who have a one-on-one personal relationship with God. Not once do you see John, while in Heaven, speaking in repetition to Jesus. You also see the angels, speaking other things also. Yes, they did say "Allelluia" in praise to God, but they didn't just repeat it over and over. No, look at what they were singing in Revelation, 19:1-8. They were not words given out of repetition. Also, you see them shouting, "Amen! Praise and glory, wisdom, and thanksgiving and honor, power and might to our God forever and ever. Amen! (Revelation 7:12). Obviously, the angels weren't robots.


Now, addressing your question: Do Christians not repeat the Lord's Prayer often, perhaps many times in a day?


Born-again Christians do pray daily to the Lord, but "no" they don't recited the Lord's prayer "often, perhaps many times in a day." That was not Jesus' intention in teaching the apostles how to pray. He was teaching the apostles (and us today) how to pray personally to Him, not to simply recite his words. How much thought goes into that after reciting over and over and over and over and over again?


The apostles did not ask Jesus to teach them a prayer but to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). In a nutshell, though I could write paragraphs on each bold word of "the Lord's prayer," I will lightly touch on what Jesus taught.


The Our reflects unselfishness. He shares Himself with us, and isn’t ours to keep to ourselves. He belongs to us all, and we need to share Him with others, in deed and in prayer.

 

Father reflects family devotion. In prayer, we need to be reminded of the fact that God isn't "some being out there." No. He is our Father. He loves us, and wants us to be personal with Him in our praying. He wants to talk to Him in a personal way.


Hallowed be Thy name reflects reverence to God in prayer.


Thy Kingdom Come reflects loyalty. Our kingdom is not of this world, but up above. Our praying should reflect our hope in our future home.


Thy will be done reflects submission to God's will, rather than our own. We need to be praying for God's leading in our lives.


Give us this day our daily bread reflects dependence upon God's provision for our all things in our lives.


Forgive us our debts reflects penitence. We need to continually be repenting to God, rather than to a priest. God alone forgives sins (Matthew 6:12; 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 43:25). We can repent daily, in prayer.


Do not lead us into temptation reflects humility. We need the Lord's strength to help us from falling into sin. We need to pray for that strength.


But, deliver us from evil reflects protection and deliverance. We need to pray for protection and deliverance as we go through difficult things in life, and the temptation to sin.


In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gives a comprehensive view of all the essential elements of righteous prayer, every one of which centers on God. We can call them the "p's" for prayer: acknowledging His paternity, priority, program, plan, provision, pardon, and preeminence. Each element is overloaded with meaning, and allows us to pray in pure devotion.


Lastly, addressing your statement, “Spouses may tell each other the same phrase, I love you, in many tones and times, but it's still repetition but certainly not vain repetition.”


Saying I love you, in many tones and many times, is not repetitious praying–because we aren’t saying it over and over at one time. We say “I love you” daily, throughout our married life. And, I do tell the Lord, all the time that I love Him yet, I admit, not a 150 times in one sitting. I think my dear Lord understands what I am telling Him the first time. And, going back to my husband, I think he would think we didn't have much of a relationship if I, like a parrot, repeated the very words he spoke to me--verse by verse of his recitations--without ever expressing my own thoughts and words to him. Certainly the Lord would feel that his followers didn't have much of a relationship with them if they just recite His words verse after verse, rather than express their own thoughts and words to Him.


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If Jesus condemned all oral tradition, why does He bind His listeners to oral tradition by telling them to obey the scribes and Pharisees when they sit on Moses' seat? (Mt 23:2)



Matthew 23:2 is not an endorsement for Tradition. Look at what Christ is saying. He tells the crowds, "The scribes and the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers; therefore, do everything and observe everything they tell you. But do not follow their example.”


Jesus was warning the people about the scribes and Pharisees. He didn't want anyone to follow anything they were doing–including their traditions. He wanted to point out their hypocrisy.


Jesus said to them, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you frauds! You are like white-washed tombs, beautiful to look at on the outside but inside full of filth and dead man's bones. (Matthew 28:27).


He continues on telling them that they present to all a "holy exterior while hypocrisy and evil fill you within." (Matthew 23:28). He also rebuked them of the tradition of erecting tombs for the prophets and decorating the monuments of the saints. (Matthew 24:29).


After more rebukes he says, "Vipers' nest! Brood of serpents! How can you escape condemnation to Gehenna?" (Matthew 24:33).


In regard to their traditions, Jesus rebuked them big time (see Mark 7:1-23).


Remember what else He says to the Sadducees? "You are badly misled because you fail to understand the Scriptures and the power of God." (Matthew 23:29). Yes, they were men of tradition...but it disgusted Christ for they were into their traditions but not into the Scriptures or the power of God. Christ is obviously showing us that we can't get to Him through tradition.


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Dr. Scott Hahn has brought thousands and thousands of Catholics the truth of the Catholic Church with his books, tapes and a web site. He was a Protestant pastor whose conversion story has opened our eyes to the treasures of the Church.



I am quite familiar with Dr. Hahn, and have to say I do not agree with him theologically. One difference, out of many, is his view of the papacy. He defends Peter as being the first pope, because of the usage of the word “petra” (which means Rock).


Though quite simplistic (I could get more detailed) let me just point out that Peter could not be called Rock as Dr. Hahn teaches. Peter was called Petros. In the Greek it means, "a small moveable stone." The word Petra in the Greek is Rock. It literally means "an immovable foundation.


Whenever Petra is used in the New Testament, it's referring to Jesus. For instance "the rock (Petra) was Christ" (1 Corinthian 10:4). Peter said that Christ is the "Cornerstone" (1 Peter 2:5-8), not himself. Peter referred to himself only as a "fellow elder." (1 Peter 5:1)–never the head of the church. Only Jesus is the head of the church. We can even go to the Old Testament to receive confirmation that God is the Rock (Psalm 18:31; Isaiah 44:8).


Interestingly, while I don’t believe Jesus wanted to start a lineage of popes, Paul the apostle would seem a better candidate for pope than Peter. It seemed Paul had greater authority when he rebuked Peter in Galatians 2:11-21.


Peter wasn’t preaching heresy but he wasn’t preaching the gospel of grace either. Under pressure from the Hebrew Christians, Peter decided not to eat with the uncircumcised Gentile believers. When Paul heard about this, he confronted Peter saying, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:14). Another interesting point is that Paul was single, whereas Peter was married. (Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-34; Luke 4:38-41). According to the Catholic church, wouldn’t marriage disqualify Peter from being a priest, let alone a pope?


The bottom line is, if you look at Church History, the first pope was not Peter, but Gregory I, who started the papacy in 590 A.D.




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Copyright © Donna Morley, 2004