Dialog with a Roman Catholic Reader

Feedback to Christian Data Resources Re. Scott Hahn

It is easy to make assumptions and presumptions of one's thought processes as you have of Scott Hahn's conversion story. However, when you study other materials, Justification, Paul's Catholic Gospel, or debates against other Protestant Minister's, such as the debate with Dr. Knudsen, you see that your simple handling of "one-liners" from Scott Hahn's conversion story do not suffice.

I am not a professional scripture scholar, merely a layman who has been both in and out of the Catholic Church. It was the complete disregard for obvious scriptural themes in non-Catholic bible studies that brought me back to the Church.

I'm not a professional, but I can argue from the bible Justification, and Church authority. I can point out the deficiencies in most of the many different interpretations of Sola Fide (as if it means the same thing in the 30, 000 different denominations). You can argue this all from the bible alone, but then when you look at the historical church from the writings of the early Church, Ignatius, Clement of Rome, Iraneaus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and the list goes on down through the centuries; the church is decidedly Catholic in its beliefs and interpretation of the Holy Writ.

If you're open to an honest dialogue, I would be willing to discuss any of these issues. As for being open minded until your brains fallout, I've seen the brains of many close minded "intellectuals" spilled on the floor unable to honestly answer hard questions Catholic Apologists have put before them. The issue of "The Tradition of the Canon" being one of the greatest. How many books belong in the New Testament, why do you believe it is only the 27? Jesus, nor his Apostle's ever commanded that anything be written, much less collected into one book? Simple questions, hard answers.

p.s. Are you related to Steve Weber, author of "Tender Warrior"?

Response from Christian Data Resources Re. Scott Hahn

Thanks for your insights. Yes, I'm open to an honest dialogue.  However, due to my schedule, I hope that E-mail dialogue will suffice for you.

You're the second person to respond with an argument concerning the tradition of the Canon. Perhaps there is more to it than I realized, and maybe you can help me to clarify the issue. I think the best way for me to start is to take you through my previous experience on this subject.

Protestant View on the Canon of Scripture

The feedback for the Hahn article is documented on my web site, and you can see where one reader responded as follows: "First, from your article entitled, 'Where Did Our Bible Come From', comes the following quote: 'This Bible has stood the test of time, and I am satisfied with it by my faith, but not by the scientific proof of human effort. Faith is believing in things unseen. If there ever were scientific "proof" of the Canon, I would not be able to accept it, otherwise my faith would no longer be faith. It would then be believing in what we can see, and even an unbeliever can do that.'" Then he goes on to cite what he felt was an inconsistency by my calling for scientific proof of transubstantiation.

My response to him would have been (he wasn't in the mood for dialogue) as follows: I think the difference is that scientific proof is possible on the one hand, but not on the other. I believe it would be relatively easy to scientifically verify or disprove transubstantiation. However, I don't see how it's possible to scientifically prove God's intent for the contents of the Canon.

Is this similar to the argument you're presenting, or have I missed the

By the way, no, I'm no relation to the Steve Weber who wrote "Tender



Feedback to Christian Data Resources

Catholic View on Sola Scriptura (the Canon of Scripture)

I'm not talking about scientific proof. The argument is based on the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura, that Scripture is wholly sufficient, yet Scripture does not tell you what books should be included as scripture. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever give us a list. While as Catholics we agree that scripture is materially sufficient, and perfect, we do not agree that it is the sole source of information. Why not? We agree that the New Testament is true scripture and that it came from Jesus through the Apostle's, but why? Christ never wrote or commanded the Apostle's to write scripture. Once again, the Apostle's never gave us a list of Inspired Writings, so how do you know what books belong and don't belong in the New Testament? Well because of the Tradition of the Canon, but that tradition was not solidified until the late 4th, early 5th Century. Here is an essay from my Webpage:

I'm glad you brought up Sola Scriptura, because I think it is the first place to begin. I can argue Catholic theology from the bible alone, but this always ends with one or the other person saying, "You are misinterpreting the Sacred Writ", which is why there are over 30,000 non-Catholic Christian denominations claiming to be right, and claiming to go by the bible alone.

It reminds me of what Luther said shortly before his death, echoing the words of St. Vincent of Lerins in the 5th century: "It appears that there are as many interpretations of the bible as there are men."

I hope this helps us to begin our conversation.

God bless you, with love in Christ Jesus.

Response from Christian Data Resources

Protestant View on Sola Scriptura

Thanks for your most recent note. I thought it best to respond by editing your note below and responding to each item separately:

The article on my web site entitled "Where Did Our Bible Come From?" addresses the issue of the Canon, including the Apocrypha.

I would argue that the Holy Spirit did "command" the apostles to write the books of the New Testament, just as He did the prophets to write the books of the Old Testament. The apostles were compelled by the Spirit (Acts 20:22, 1 Corinthians 9:16), and God is omnipotent (Matthew 19:26), so He was able to use men to record His word as He purposed.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." God inspired the writing of the Scriptures, and the Scriptures themselves claim to be inspired. I believe that this claim of inspiration in a faultless book is a very powerful argument.

In addition, I believe that it's quite amazing that the Bible constitutes 66 books by 40 different authors, and yet it folds together into one complete book. The odds are staggering that the 40 authors of this large book agree with and complement each other even though most of them didn't know each other, and some lived some 1300 years apart from each other. It's almost as though, within the pages of Scripture, He did give us a list.

In addition to the arguments in the aforementioned article, I would cite Revelation 22:18 here: "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book." Although some argue that this is only referring to the book of Revelation, I interpret it in light of all the scripture which had been inspired by the Holy Spirit. I believe that God is omniscient (Psalms 147:4-5), and that he knew and foreordained His plan of providing us with His Word (Exodus 5:16, Romans 9:17ff, Philippians 2:12ff). He knew what would be scripture, and when the last book was completed, He put this ominous warning at the end of it.

I think it's fair to throw the ball back into your court for now. Why should I believe that men today can provide new scriptures? Even if I do, how do I know who to believe? In Matthew 24:5, Jesus said, "For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." Should I believe the Pope, or Joseph Smith, or David Koresh, or those who claim to have the gifts of tongues or prophecy? I find any argument here to be quite weak in comparison to the claim of inspiration of the Scriptures.



Feedback to Christian Data Resources

Catholic View on Sola Scriptura

I've read your article on where we got the bible. I won't go into what was said about the "Apocrypha" too much, as there is no need to muddy the waters on the Old Testament, when I can argue my point on the New Testament Canon alone, especially when you make some of the same questions in your article that I proposed to you, without giving any answers:

Why don't we include the gospel of Barnabas?

One could ask why we don't include a whole host of books claiming to be apostolic: The gospel of Peter, The gospel of Paul, The acts of Peter, the acts of Paul, the gospel of Thomas. All 1st century books claiming apostolicity, yet thrown out by two Church councils.

What about those books certain local churches rejected as you pointed out: Hebrews, Revelations, 2 Peter, etc.? Why do we include them and not the others? It is simply the tradition handed to us from two Church councils.

I might note, that while the purpose for Carthage was to re-emphasize the New Testament Canon, the council did provide a list of Old Testament books, as did Damascus, which included the "Apocrypha", and there are many early Church Fathers who uphold this, St. Augustine included. Unlike the New Testament, the need to "formally" include an Old Testament Canon did not arise until the Reformation in the 16th century.

My point is all Protestants, some blindly, accept the "Tradition of the Canon" as binding tradition apart from Scripture itself, which flies in the face of Sola Scriptura which claims that scripture is not just materially sufficient, but formally sufficient.

If God through the Holy Spirit can guarantee infallible books, why would he not also guarantee an infallible decision on which books are scriptural, and how they are to be interpreted, especially when he promises as much:

John 14: 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, Matthew 28: 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,

Please allow me to recap problems with Sola Scriptura, that have not been answered:

1. The Tradition of the Canon is truly binding tradition, which is found outside of scripture itself. The canon was a decision by men who were, either fallibly or infallibly considering the contents of a library (which is where the word bible comes from), by which all Christian could turn to know God and his will.

2. While a few books in the bible claim for themselves to be inspired, most do not.

3. The bible itself professes that men need "stable leaders" to teach them the truth of the word:

Hebrews 5:12 says, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of God's word."

Acts 8:30 says, "Do you understand what you are reading?" Then verse 31 says, "How can I, unless someone guides me?"

2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

4. The bible itself witnesses to the fact that Jesus built a Church, and that Church has the authority to bind and loose here on earth: Matthew 16:18... I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 18:18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Authorship denotes authority, where doe the authority to properly interpret Scripture reside, with every individual, or groups of like-minded individuals, or within the structures of the Church God created to preach and teach the good news?

Response from Christian Data Resources

Protestant View on Sola Scriptura

Thanks for your latest note, and your patience with my slow response. (Sorry, if I got a little carried away below, but you must have struck a nerve.)


I'm a little concerned that your arguments sometimes sounded as though you were arguing atheism instead of Catholicism, especially when you cited that most books in the Bible don't claim inspiration. The inspiration of the Bible ensures total inerrancy in both words and thoughts. I don't see any errors in it, and despite human efforts, it has consistently stood criticism, and its truths have been confirmed by other writings and archeology. However, it seems as though you have a lot of concern about the set of books included in the Canon, so I need to ask what may be a sensitive question: Do you reject the authority of the Bible? Why or why not? If you reject its authority, then my arguments are moot since you're rejecting the basis for what both Catholics and Protestants believe about God. If you accept the authority of the Bible, is it only because of direction from the Pope?

The Canon

I take exception with your statement that "The canon was a decision by men, ..." Just as God used fallible men (filled with the Holy Spirit) to write the books of the Bible without error, why couldn't He have used the councils to finalize the Canon (again, this is moot if inspiration is rejected)?

Authority of the Bible

History has shown us why God chose the plan He did in order to give us a closed Canon. Without it, His Word would get polluted and distorted. Islam has added the Koran; Christian Science has added "Science and Health with a Key to the Scriptures"; Mormonism has added the Book of Mormons and decrees by their apostles; Catholics have added the Apocrypha and decrees by the Pope; and, Charismatics have added new prophecies through tongues and visions. Yet, our inspired Bible warns us about these things:

- "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons" (1 Tim. 4:1).

- "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves" (Matthew 7:15).

- "Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5)

- "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people" (Matthew 24:10-11)

- "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-- if that were possible." (Matthew 24:23-24)

- "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute." (2 Peter 2:1-2)

- "Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:2-4).

- "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30).

- "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Tim 4:3-4).

- ". . . always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7).

- "Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:30-32).


I think the weakest of your arguments has to do with the fact that the Bible commands the teaching of God's Word. Of course, the Bible is supposed to be taught, but I don't think this can be stretched to include extra-biblical sources from the Pope or others.


In response to your question about how we should properly interpret the Bible, the Bible teaches that this responsibility rests with the individual. Acts 17:11 says that the most noble Christians were those who "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." He gave us His Word so we could know, understand and believe the truth (John 17:17). One of the blessings of salvation which God gives us is an individual priesthood (1 Peter 2:5,9). Ephesians 2:18 says, "For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." Hebrews 10:19-20 says, "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, .. ."We're told to each carry our own load (Galatians 6:5), just like Job (Job 19:4).

Protestant View on Tradition

I believe it is Catholicism, not Protestantism, that reveres tradition. Mike Gendron says it better than me:

Over the years many traditions have crept into the Roman Catholic Church, nullifying the Word of God and His saving grace. The following list shows a steady departure over the years from the pure Gospel of salvation. Each tradition goes directly against the truth of Scripture. Roman Catholics are required to believe all the doctrines of their church.
431 Proclamation that infant baptism regenerates the soul.
500 The Mass instituted as re-sacrifice of Jesus for the remission of sin
593 Declaration that sin need to be purged, established by Pope Gregory I.
600 Prayers directed to Mary, dead saints, and angels.
786 Worship of cross, images, and relics authorized.
995 Canonization of dead people as saints initiated by Pope John XV.
1000 Attendance at Mass made mandatory under the penalty of moral sin.
1079 Celibacy of priesthood, decreed by Pope Gregory VII.
1090 Rosary, repetitious praying with beads, invented by Peter the Hermit.
1184 The Inquisitions, instituted by the Council of Verona.
1190 The sale of Indulgences established to reduce time in Purgatory.
1215 Transubstantiation, proclaimed by Pope Innocent III.
1215 Confession of sin to priests, instituted by Pope Innocent III.
1229 Bible placed on Index of Forbidden Books in Toulouse.
1438 Purgatory elevated from doctrine to dogma by Council of Florence.
1545 Tradition claimed equal in authority with the Bible by the Council
of Trent.
1546 Apocryphal Books declared canon by Council of Trent.
1854 Immaculate Conception of Mary, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX.
1870 Infallibility of the Pope, proclaimed by Vatican Council.
1922 Virgin Mary proclaimed co-redeemer with Jesus by Pope Benedict XV.
1950 Assumption of Virgin Mary into heaven, proclaimed by Pope Pius XII.

You nullify the Word of God by your traditions that you have handed down" (Mark 7:13)

(end of Gendron article)

Protestant View on Sola Scriptura

From Mike Gendron:

The Bible gives overwhelming evidence as to why Scripture must always be our sole authority for faith. The Word of God is pure, perfect, inerrant, infallible, living, truth, light, holy, eternal, and forever settled in heaven. It illuminates, cleanses, saves, frees, guides, converts, heals, quickens, judges, and sanctifies. It also brings conviction, gives knowledge, gives wisdom, produces faith, refutes error, searches the heart, equips for every good work, and is used as a weapon. The Word of God is even exalted above the very name of God. Have you read Psalm 138:2? Compare this with tradition ... Jesus told the religious leaders of his day that their tradition was nullifying the very word of God. Yet the religious leaders of today continue to do the same and deceive their followers. Because of this we must take the exhortation of Peter seriously ... that is we ought to obey God rather than men.

For Christians, the Scriptures provide the only objective basis for authority while the indwelling Holy Spirit provides illumination, conviction and discernment. This dual authority, the Spirit of God working with the Word of God, is sufficient in all matters of faith and Christian living. Catholics, on the other hand, submit to a dual authority of tradition and Scripture, under the subjective interpretation of their church. The pope, speaking for the church, is said to be infallible in matters pertaining to faith and morals. You ask, "Where does it say that Scripture alone should be the authority for faith?" Is "Sola Scriptura," the battle cry of the Reformers, found in the Bible? There are at least nine biblical justifications for the authority of Scripture alone:

1) All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God and useful for reproof and correction of error (2 Timothy 3:16). Since Scripture is used to correct and reproof then it must be the authoritative standard by which everything else is judged for its truthfulness.

2) Jesus said, "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:34). The character of God is on the line. "God is not a man that He should lie ... and hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good (Numbers 23:19). Submitting to the authority of God's revealed word will guide us in His perfect will.

3) Christ used the authority of Scripture to rebuke Satan's attempt to deceive Him (Matthew 4:1-11). He gave prepositional statements to accurately convey the truth that Satan attempted to distort. Jesus was our perfect model for rebuking deception.

4) Jesus used the authority of Scriptures to rebuke false teachers (Matthew 22:29). The only way false teachers can be confronted and exposed is in the power of God's Word.

5) Repented sinners are saved by hearing and believing the Word (Ephesians 1:13-14). The integrity of the Gospel must be maintained and proclaimed for true conversions.

6) Jesus prayed for Christians to be sanctified (set apart) by the truth of His Word (John 17:17). Christians must separate themselves from apostate churches and false teachers. God uses division to show those in His approval (1 Cor. 11:19).

7) One must continually submit to the authority of Scripture to be a disciple of Christ (John 8:31). Those who follow the traditions and teachings of men are often led astray.

8) Christ rebuked the religious leaders for nullifying the Word of God with their tradition (Mark 7:13). Any tradition that nullifies the Scriptures must be exposed and renounced so others will not be deceived.

9) The Scriptures were written to all Christians, not to popes and Magisterium to be interpreted for lay people. Anytime we allow others to interpret God's word for us, we leave ourselves open to deception.

God foreknew the teachings and traditions of men would become corrupt and would lead many astray. In His wisdom, He left us with His Word, the only objective, absolute authority for truth, to lead us back to Him. It is pure, powerful, perfect, inerrant, infallible, living, holy, eternal, and forever settled in heaven. It illuminates, cleanses, frees, guides, converts, quickens, judges, sanctifies, brings conviction, gives wisdom, produces faith, and refutes error. Can you describe tradition in the same way God describes His word? Why would you want to add anything subjective to the objective standard God has given us?

Catholics will also argue that we would not have the Bible today if it were not for the Catholic Church. Did the Catholic Church really determine which books to include in the Bible and protect it throughout the centuries? I believe we have the Bible today in spite of Rome, who kept it hidden in a dead language for hundreds of years (Latin). In recent history Catholic priests refused to absolve the sins of any person who had possession of a Bible, until it was returned. Catholics must consider the following facts about the Bible:

1) Since the books were written under the inspiration of God, they were canonical the moment they were written. A council was not necessary to affirm what was already true. No book became canonical by the action of a church council. What the council did was determine which books did not meet the tests for canonicity.

2) All the Old Testament books are quoted in the New Testament except Esther, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. None of the books of the Apocrypha, which the Catholic Church added to its canon in the 16th century, are quoted.

3) The New Testament books had certain tests for canonicity. They either had to be written or backed by an apostle (Mark by Peter and Luke by Paul). They also had to be circulated and accepted by the majority of churches. By the second century only the 27 books that now make up the NT were accepted by the people of God. Each book had to reflect internal consistency and character with other Scripture.

4) Peter referred to the letters written by Paul as Scripture (2 Peter 3:16).

We have the infallible Word of God today because almighty God has protected it and will continue to do so (Matthew 5:18).

(end of Gendron article)

Also, the following questions from my previous note remain unanswered:

Why should I believe that men today can provide new scriptures? Even if I do, how do I know who to believe? In Matthew 24:5, Jesus said, "For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." Should I believe the Pope, or Joseph Smith, or David Koresh, or those who claim to have the gifts of tongues or prophecy? I find any argument here to be quite weak in comparison to the claim of inspiration of the Scriptures.



Response to Christian Data Resources

I usually don't allow myself to get side tracked from the issue I am discussing, in this case Sola Scriptura, however I knew I had seen this list before and I couldn't resist answering some common objections, and errors promoted by this list.

I'm not sure if you've heard these arguments or not, or if you are aware of the problems with the some of the dates, or the topics.

Have you ever read Karl Keatings book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism? Most of this list is dealt with rather rapidly in chapter two of Catholicism and Fundamentalism. The list is from a book Karl calls, "The anti-Catholic Source Book", Lorraine Boettner's Roman Catholicism.

I have actually answered some of these objections before in an article that used to appear on the Catholic Insight homepage.

I have provided the references we find in scripture, which are confirmed as true apostolic teachings by the early church fathers.

Catholic View on Infant Baptism

431 Proclamation that infant baptism regenerates the soul. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, chapter 14

Mark 10:13 And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them.(Picture) 14 But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of

God like a child shall not enter it." 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him."

The interesting thing about this verse, was the promise given to Abraham Genesis 17, was initiated when the male child was an adult? No, eight days old. There was a dispute in the early church, not as to whether infants should be baptized, but should it occur on the eighth day:

St. Cyrian of Carthage - Letter of Cyrian and his Colleagues in the Council to the number of sixty six to Fidus 251 A.D.

As to what pertains to the case of infants; you said they ought not be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judged that the mercy and grace of God ought not to be denied to any man born.

If, in the case of the worst sinners and of those who formerly sinned against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from Baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, ha has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he approach more easily to receive the remission of sins because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another.

Jurgens, Fathers volume 1, pg 233

So, we see infant baptism being taught long before Boettner's 430 A.D. date. Acts 16:14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.

She was baptized with her household, this would include her husband and children, even infants.

1 Corinthians 1:16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanos. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)

1 Corinthians 6: 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

1 Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

What are the effects of baptism? According to Paul: regeneration, sanctification, and justification.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Now I've heard many people say "John 3:5 has nothing to do with water baptism", but look at the evidence:

John 1:32 And John bore witness, "I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you

see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'

In the immediate preceding text, Jesus is baptized with the Spirit ("penuma", wind) descends (from above, "anothen") upon Jesus. Jesus tells Nicodemus, unless you are born again ("anothen", from above) you have no life in you, then of course comes John 3:5, but then what happens immediately following the discourse with Nicodemus and in the immediate context:

John 3:22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized.

John 3:25 Now a discussion arose between John's disciples and a Jew over purifying. 26 And they came to John, and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him." 27 John answered, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven.

Immediately following the discussion with Nicodemus, Jesus does what? He baptizes, and John the Baptist gives us the answer at the back of the book:

"No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven." The Greek is he who is "anothen," from above.

We can argue back and forth as to whether my interpretation is correct, but don't' take my word for it. What did the Christians closest to the Apostles teach, some who were taught directly by the Apostles?

St. Hippolytus of Rome - The Apostolic Tradition 251 A.D.

Let them remove their clothing. Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves, let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them.

Jurgens, Fathers volume 1, pg 169

Origen - Homilies on Leviticus 244 A.D. Baptism is given for the remission of sins; and according to the usage of the Church, Baptism is even given to infants. And indeed if there were nothing in infants which required a remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of Baptism would seem superfluous.

Jurgens, Fathers volume 1, pg 208

Origen - Commentaries on Romans 244 A.D.

The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving Baptism even to infants. For the Apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries, knew that there is in everyone the innate stains of sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit.

Jurgens, Fathers volume 1, pg 209

Catholic View on Transubstantiation

1215 Transubstantiation, proclaimed by Pope Innocent III. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, pg 42

Like the word Trinity, a technical word coined to teach the truth about our belief in One God with three divine persons, each eternally God; Transubstantiation is nothing more than a technical term coined to explain the mystery of the bread and wine changing into the body and blood of Christ.

The question then becomes did the Church invent the belief that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ: is Christ truly present in the Eucharist and was this first taught in 1215? What does the bible say, and what do the early church fathers say the Apostle taught them regarding the Lord's Supper?

I intentionally broke up the following passages to facilitate my comments.

1 Corinthians 10:16 says, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar?"

The cup of Blessing, the third cup of the Passover liturgy is the cup Jesus uses to establish the New Covenant which we celebrate. Look at the words Paul uses, a participation in the body and blood of Christ. Does he believe this is purely symbolic? No way, he immediately compares our sacrifice, the Eucharist (bead and wine) to the pagan sacrifices: "are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar?"

We see the author of Hebrews (which I believe is Paul) making a similar

Hebrews 13:9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

Look at what he is implying: the food of their sacrifices does not give grace, and they cannot eat of the food of our altar, which does provide grace to strengthen our hearts.

1 Corinthians 11: 20 says, "When you meet together, it is not the Lords supper that you eat."

The Lords Supper, instituted by Christ during the Passover liturgy.

1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes.

Standard stuff.

1 Corinthians 11:27 says, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks

the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself."

If it is only a symbol, how can we be guilty of eating or drinking in an unworthy manner? He tells us directly, anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, Jesus' body, eats and drinks judgment upon himself. Paul is teaching the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Ignatius of Antioch

"I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible" (Letter to the Romans 7:3 [A.D. 110]).

Ignatius of Antioch

"Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes" (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2-7:1 [A.D. 110]).

Justin Martyr

"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus" (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).

Irenaeus of Lyons

"If the Lord were from other than the Father [and thus capable of performing miracles], how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?" (Against Heresies 4:33-32 [A.D. 189]).

Irenaeus of Lyons

"He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life - flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?" (ibid. 5:2).

Clement of Alexandria

"'Eat my flesh,' [Jesus] says, 'and drink my blood.' The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, He delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children" (The Instructor of Children 1:6:43:3 [A.D. 191]).

Catholic View on Confession to Priests

1215 Confession of sin to priests, instituted by Pope Innocent III. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, pg 43

James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders (Presbyters from which the English word priest is derived) of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

These verses cover two sacraments: anointing of the sick, and confession. He will be forgiven; why, because the priest has prayed over him.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another. Who is the one another? The word "Therefore" ties this sentence back to the previous sentence where we are told to call for a presbyter.

Matthew 9:5 says, "For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk? 6 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he then said to the paralytic--'Rise, take up your bed and go home.' 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men."

God has given men the authority to forgive sins:

John 20:2 says, "And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'"

Just as in John 3 we see Jesus baptizing through the apostles, Jesus truly does forgive our sins through the priest.

Ignatius of Antioch

"For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ" (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 [A.D. 110]).

Ignatius of Antioch

"For where there is division and wrath, God does not dwell. To all them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop" (ibid. 8)

Irenaeus of Lyons

"[The Gnostic disciples of Marcus] have deluded many women. . . . Their consciences have been branded as with a hot iron. Some of these women make a public confession, but others are ashamed to do this, and in silence, as if withdrawing from themselves the hope of the life of God, they either apostatize entirely or hesitate between the two courses" (Against Heresies 1:22 [A.D. 189]).


"[Regarding confession, some] flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness" (Repentance 10:1 [A.D. 203]).


"[T]the Church has the power of forgiving sins. This I acknowledge and adjudge" (ibid. 21).


"I hear that there has even been an edict set forth . . . The Great Pontiff--that is, the bishop of bishops [i.e., the pope]--issues an edict: 'I remit, to such as have discharged penance, the sins both of adultery and of fornication" (Modesty 1 [A.D. 220]).


"[The bishop conducting the ordination of the new bishop shall pray:] God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Pour forth now that power which comes from you, from your Royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and which he bestowed upon his holy apostles . . . and grant this your servant, whom you have chosen for the episcopate, [the power] to feed your holy flock and to serve without blame as your high priest, ministering night and day to propitiate unceasingly before your face and to offer to you the gifts of your holy Church, and by the Spirit of the high-priesthood to have the authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command" (Apostolic Tradition 3 [A.D. 215])


"[A final method of forgiveness], albeit hard and laborious [is] the remission of sins through penance, when the sinner . . . does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine, after the manner of him who say, 'I said, "To the Lord I will accuse myself of my iniquity"'" (Homilies in Leviticus 2:4 [A.D. 248]).

Cyprian of Carthage

"The Apostle likewise bears witness and says: ' . . . Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord' [1 Cor. 11:27]. But [the impenitent] spurn and despise all these warnings; before their sins are expiated, before they have made a confession of their crime, before their conscience has been purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest . . . they do violence to his body and blood, and with their hands and mouth they sin against the Lord more than when they denied him" (The Lapsed 15:1)

Cyprian of Carthage

"Of how much greater faith and salutary fear are they who . . . confess their sins to the priests of God in a straightforward manner and in sorrow, making an open declaration of conscience. . . . I beseech you, brethren, let everyone who has sinned confess his sin while he is still in this world, while his confession is still admissible, while the satisfaction and remission made through the priests are still pleasing before the Lord" (ibid. 28).

Catholic View on Praying to Mary

600 Prayers directed to Mary, dead saints, and angels.

The following is my fully biblical argument that was promptly removed from the Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries Bulletin Board:

The idea of intercessory prayer to the Saints is not based on one simple bible verse, a solitary proof text. The teaching comes to us through the Apostle's and is evident in the writings of the early fathers. The teaching is found in Scripture by dove tailing several teaching that are apparent truths on their own.

You have been partitioning the arguments to attack the whole, please allow me walk you through to show you how the teaching, which was given to us through the Apostle's is found in Scripture.

As Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, we are all part of the same body. Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Colossians 3:15.

We are called to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is because we are united to the one mediator between God and man that we can and do pray for one another: 1 John 5:16; 1 Timothy 2:1-5.

The saints are not dead, but alive in Christ. Something Jesus taught quite plainly: Matthew 22:32, Mark 12:26, Luke 20:38.

We are all the body of Christ, but they are more perfectly united to Christ than we are in our present state: 1 Corinthians 13: 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So, faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The Saints in heaven are united in glory with God, and know what is happening here on earth: Hebrews 12:1; Luke 9:30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.

Revelations 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;

They are offering to the lamb, the prayers of the saints on earth who are still undergoing trials.

Revelations 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?

Again we see the souls of the martyrs in heaven, keenly aware of what is happening on earth.

In 1 Samuel 28 we see Saul calling upon the prophet Samuel, who had died a faithful servant of God, to help him resolve his problems:

1 Samuel 28:11 Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" He said, "Bring up Samuel for me." 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul." 13 The king said to her, "Have no fear; what do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I see a god coming up out of the earth." 14 He said to her, "What is his appearance?" And she said, "An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe." And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance.

15 Then Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" Saul answered, "I am in great distress; for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do." 16 And Samuel said, "Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy? 17 The LORD has done to you as he spoke by me; for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. 19 Moreover the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines."

20 Then Saul fell at once full length upon the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel;

In Luke 16 the lord doesn't argue that those in Hades/Sheol (The man is not in hell, a soul in hell has no capacity of love. This man calls Abraham "Father", and Abraham calls him "Son".) can intercede on behalf of us here on earth, he assumes we know it.

Now Vic made the argument, "this cannot be the same Lazarus who was raised because of verse 26." However, verse 26 is in response to the rich man's request to send Lazarus to him with water.

Afterwards the man petitions Abraham for a second favor:

27 And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'

Does Abraham say, "No, he cannot go back there?"

No, he simply says, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.'

Does the man stop his petition? No he continues: 'No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'

Jesus isn't arguing that souls of the dead can make petitions on our behalf, he assumes it.

In summation, all those who are united in Christ are called to make prayers and supplications for one another, 1 Timothy 1-5. Death does not separate us from Christ, but unites us more closely allowing us to see him face to face, Revelation 5:8, 6:9; Hebrews 12:1; Luke 20:38, 1 Corinthians 13:12. We who are in Christ continue to pray for others when we die, Luke 16, Revelations 5.

We have heard all the excuses why one argument doesn't stand by itself here and there, but I hope I have showed, through a comprehensive look of the scriptural references, where the biblical evidence, for this truth delivered to us from the Apostle's concerning prayers to the saints, exists in Scripture.

Once again the argument does not boil down to it is unscriptural, but "I refuse to accept what the Church teaches regarding the interpretation of scripture as true."

What does the early church teach regarding this practice:

Clement of Alexandria

"In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]" (Miscellanies 7:12 [A.D. 208]).


"But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep" (Prayer 11 [A.D. 233]).

Cyprian of Carthage

"Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides [of death] always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence the first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father's mercy" (Letters 56[60]:5 [A.D. 253]).


"Atticus, sleep in peace, secure in your safety, and pray anxiously for our sins" (funerary inscription near St. Sabina's in Rome [A.D. 300]).


"Pray for your parents, Matronata Matrona. She lived one year,
fifty-two days" (ibid.).


"Hail to you forever, Virgin Mother of God, our unceasing joy, for unto thee do I again return. Thou are the beginning of our feast; you are its middle and end; the pearl of great price that belongs unto the kingdom; the fat of every victim, the living altar of the Bread of Life [Jesus]. Hail, you treasure of the love of God. Hail, you fount of the Son's love for man. . . . You gleamed, sweet gift-bestowing mother, of the light of the sun; you gleamed with the insupportable fires of a most fervent charity, bringing forth in the end that which was conceived of thee . . . making manifest the mystery hidden and unspeakable, the invisible Son of the Father--the Prince of Peace, who in a marvelous manner showed himself as less than all littleness" (Oration on Simeon and Anna 14 [A.D. 305]).


"Therefore, we pray thee, the most excellent among women, who glories in the confidence of your maternal honors, that you would unceasingly keep us in remembrance. O holy Mother of God, remember us, I say, who make our boast in thee, and who in hymns august celebrate the memory, which will ever live, and never fade away" (ibid.).


"And you also, O honored and venerable Simeon, you earliest host of our holy religion, and teacher of the resurrection of the faithful, do be our patron and advocate with that Savior God, whom you were deemed worthy to receive into your arms. We, together with thee, sing our praises to Christ, who has the power of life and death, saying, Thou art the true Light, proceeding from the true Light; the true God, begotten of the true God" (ibid.).


"Mother of God, [listen to] my petitions; do not disregard us in adversity, but rescue us from danger" (Rylands Papyrus 3 [A.D. 350]).

Cyril of Jerusalem

"Then [during the Eucharistic prayer] we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition . . . " (Catechetical Lectures 23:9 [A.D. 350]).

Hilary of Poitiers

"To those who wish to stand [in God's grace], neither the guardianship of saints nor the defenses of angels are wanting" (Commentary on the Psalms 124:5:6 [A.D. 365]).

Ephraim the Syrian

"Remember me, you heirs of God, you brethren of Christ; supplicate the Savior earnestly for me, that I may be freed through Christ from him that fights against me day by day" (The Fear at the End of Life [A.D. 370]).

Ephraim the Syrian

"You victorious martyrs who endured torments gladly for the sake of the God and Savior, you who have boldness of speech toward the Lord himself, you saints, intercede for us who are timid and sinful men, full of sloth, that the grace of Christ may come upon us, and enlighten the hearts of all of us that so we may love him" (Commentary on Mark [A.D. 370]).

The Liturgy of St. Basil

"By the command of your only-begotten Son we communicate with the memory of your saints . . . by whose prayers and supplications have mercy upon us all, and deliver us for the sake of your holy name" (Liturgy of St. Basil [A.D. 373]).


"Aschandius, my father, dearly beloved of my heart, with my sweet mother and my brethren, remember your Pectorius in the peace of the Fish [Christ]" (Epitaph of Pectorius [A.D. 375]).

Catholic View on Relics

786 Worship of cross, images, and relics authorized. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, pg 40

Catholic View on Canonization of Saints

995 Canonization of dead people as saints initiated by Pope John XV.
1000 Attendance at Mass made mandatory under the penalty of moral sin. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, chapter 20

Hebrews 10:25-26 is a classic example of Paul teaching this in Scripture.

Catholic View on Celibacy of Priests

1079 Celibacy of priesthood, decreed by Pope Gregory VII. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, pg 41

Catholic View on the Rosary)

1090 Rosary, repetitious praying with beads, invented by Peter the Hermit.
1184 The Inquisitions, instituted by the Council of Verona. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, chapter 23

Catholic View on Indulgences

1190 The sale of Indulgences established to reduce time in Purgatory.
1229 Bible placed on Index of Forbidden Books in Toulouse.

Unfortunately, Lorraine Boettner, who only produced vague, and very few, references made errors:

First, The index was established in 1543.

Second, there has never been a Church council held in Valencia Spain, and if there had been it could not have occurred in 1229 as Valencia was held by the Moors up to the year 1238.

Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, pg 45 He deals with the objection in more detail than I have here.

Catholic View on Purgatory

1438 Purgatory elevated from doctrine to dogma by Council of Florence. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, chapter 16

Catholic View on Tradition

1545 Tradition claimed equal in authority with the Bible by the Council of Trent. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, chapter 10

Catholic View on the Apocrypha

1546 Apocryphal Books declared canon by Council of Trent. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, pg 46

Catholic View on the Infallibility of the Pope

1870 Infallibility of the Pope, proclaimed by Vatican Council. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, chapter 18

Catholic View on Mary

1922 Virgin Mary proclaimed co-redeemer with Jesus by Pope Benedict XV. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, chapter 22

1950 Assumption of Virgin Mary into heaven, proclaimed by Pope Pius XII. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, chapter 22

I can go into more detail or answer any of your questions on most of these, but as you can see, this got very long winded just answering a few objections, and I couldn't go into great detail or answer all the objections you might have to what I've written in this letter.

Response to Christian Data Resources:

I do not know if you have had a chance to read through all of these Biblical and Apostolic Teachings found in the Catholic Church. I know I covered a large amount of information: Baptism, the Eucharist, confession to a Priest, and the communion of Saints.

I would be interested in any feedback or direct objections to the comments I made on these subjects, or the biblical references I gave.

I was wondering if I could also get you to comment on your interpretation of Luke 2:35 where Simeon inspired by the Holy Spirit says: 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."

Response from Christian Data Resources

Protestant View on Infant Baptism

Mark 10:13-16 - Refers to salvation, not infant baptism.

Genesis 17 - Refers to circumcision, not infant baptism.

Acts 16:14 and 1 Corinthians 1:16 - There's no indication of infants here. If anything, 1 Corinthians 1:16 indicates that Paul did not place major emphasis on water baptism, as Catholicism does.

1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:5, 2 Corinthians 5:17 - These refer to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, not water baptism, and definitely not infant baptism. The Scriptures speak of seven baptisms (the baptisms of:
- Moses
- John the Baptist
- Jesus
- The cross
- Fire
- The Holy Spirit
- Water

If these are confused (such as the baptism of the Holy Spirit and water baptism), great distortions of scripture can, and do, result.

Protestant View on Transubstantiation

1 Corinthians 10:16, 11:23, 27 - What do these verse say was eaten? Bread (not Christ's body). Also, there is no mention of any "mystery" of transubstantiation. We have no reason to ignore the symbolism here while we respect it in verses where Jesus makes analogies about "being" other inanimate objects, like John 6:41,48,51 (bread), John 8:12, 9:5 (light), John 10:9 (gate), John 10:11,14 (shepherd), and John 15:1,5 (vine).

Protestant View on Confession to Priests

John 20:2 - No, this verse doesn't say that "God has given men the authority to forgive sins," as you say. "It was not the work of the disciples to forgive sins, but the work of the Holy Spirit through the disciples as they fulfilled the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Christ gave the disciples authority to state that forgiveness of sins was possible." Falwell, pg. 2123.

Protestant View on Praying to Mary

Your arguments indicate a confusion between intercessory prayer and prayer to saints. Furthermore, prayer to Mary isn't mentioned anywhere. I suppose I have an aversion to trying to make Scripture say what we would like to believe (which is usually possible, with enough effort), when the true message is so clear by just reading the Scriptures and believing what we read (Matthew 18:3). Why must we employ complex algorithms of possibly-connected verses that most people can't understand? This technique tries to force Christianity into the errors of the ancient Babylonian mystery religions, Mormonism, Greek Allegorism, and Masonry. Why build a matrix of scripture connections to show that we should pray to the saints, when hundreds of verses clearly indicate we should pray to God, the Father?

Concerning Luke 2:34-35, I don't know what you're looking for here, but here's my interpretation: Simeon told Mary that her son would face tremendous opposition, and this would hurt her, like a sword piercing her soul. Her son would cause many to rise (accept salvation) and many to fall (reject salvation), and these consequences would reveal what they really thought about her son. (What are you looking for?)



Response to Christian Data Resources

I am responding in the love of Christ, so I hate to sound adversarial, but I notice you did not make any comments on my interpretations of Jesus Baptism through his baptizing (through the Apostle's) found in the Gospel of John chapters 1 through 4 and Acts 2:38; nor did you have anything to say regarding James 5:14-16 in the terms of the anointing of the sick and confession. In fact the only comments you made were, what I call standard arguments, the same ones I hear over and over again, arguments based on the presumption of the Protestant interpretation of the Gospel.

Catholic View on Infant Baptism

One of the best prophecies of Baptism in the Old Testament is Ezekiel

Ezekiel 36:24-27 - 24 For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.

Notice the effects of this future oath (sacrament) of God, unlike the Old Testament rites which were not efficacious, the New Covenant rites do what they signify, precisely because it is God the Son through the Holy Spirit who performs the act.

The early Church from the earliest recordings showed that it was through baptism that the stains of original sin were removed, and that we are saved by Jesus Christ through baptism Romans 6, but made much more plain by in 1 Peter 3:20-21

Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Notice Paul doesn't make the argument that this is just the baptism of the Holy Spirit, something added to Paul's word by the Protestant presumption.

1 Peter 3:20-21...that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As I pointed out, the early church recognized baptism as the oath by Christ that washes away original sin, and brings us in, literally makes a born anew into the family of God, and should be extended to infants and children. In other words all the early Christian writings we have interpret the bible as the Catholic church does, which brings us to Genesis 17:

I know Genesis 17 refers to circumcision, but what did circumcision symbolize? Entrance into the Family of God through the oath (sacrament is the Latin word for oath) made to Abraham. You were initiated into God's family as a child at days old; now like the early Church, the first people to receive this oath (sacrament) were all adults, the youngest being Ishmael who was 13 years old, and it did not preclude adult converts from receiving this oath, but I'm sure it did discourage it.

In Acts 2:38 Peter proclaims:

8 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children...

Notice that the Bible speaks very clearly about the effects of baptism, and it doesn't make the false presumption that this means "baptism in the Holy Spirit". When Jesus is baptized in water the Holy Spirit ascends from above ("anothen") on Jesus, and when Jesus is teaching Nicodemus he doesn't separate them, he puts the two events together just as he did in John 1:

John 3:5 I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Once again the earliest writings applied this to all people including children.

In Acts 16:14 and 1 Corinthians 1:16, Paul is arguing against the people bickering over the fact that I was baptized by so and so, and their superiority over those baptized by someone else. He is not arguing that Baptism is unimportant. Secondly, nowhere does Paul make the separation between baptism of the Holy Spirit and water baptism as Protestants would have him make.

If he does, then why does Paul use the allegory of "washing": "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified ", "by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit"? If Paul made this distinction Protestants have him making, then why does he not say what you would expect him to say, that is why doesn't he leave off the allegory to washing, which is done with water, which is what Jesus, Ezekiel, and Peter plainly say elsewhere, and to which all the early church writings testify?

Why the reference to washing, if Paul makes the distinction you expect him to make?

1 Corinthians 6:11 - 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Titus 3:5 - he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit,

(emphasis mine) James White has refused to answer the question, Why does Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit use the allegory of washing with the reference to sanctification, justification, and regeneration which would imply the effects of water baptism as found in the early writings of the church.

"His answer to me, don't you think I understand what the Greek text is saying?" Implying that because I don't I am the one who fails to see the true understanding. However, as I pointed out to him, that breaks the precepts of the Baptist religion which states that "All men" can come to know the full truth through a basic reading of the bible. In essence, his answer was a non-answer, he refused to answer the question: why does Paul say something Protestants adamantly deny?

I will cover the other two issues, Confession and the Eucharist after we finish our discussion on Baptism.

Response From Christian Data Resources

Protestant View on Infant Baptism)

About the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it appears that this is the big issue here; i.e., the baptism of the Holy Spirit and water baptism, rather than infant baptism. I disagree that Paul makes no separation between the baptism of water and that of the Holy Spirit. I would cite 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 as a proof text: "12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So, it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."In my view Paul is clearly speaking of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the all-important means of being placed into the body of Christ. When we are baptized (identified) by the Holy Spirit, we are placed "in Christ" (identified with Him). Romans 6:3 says, "3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?"This was clearly prophesied by John the Baptist in Luke 3:16:"16 John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."This indicated that something greater than water baptism would come--the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16, Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit, "16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever."

By contrast, water baptism is a beautiful symbol of the baptism of the Holy Spirit which occurred previously when the sinner believed the gospel. Acts 16:30-31 says, "30 He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They replied, "believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."John 3:16 says, "16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:36 says, "36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." The water symbolizes Jesus, with whom we are identified when we believe the gospel message. As a proof text here, I would offer Acts 10:47-48: "47 'Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.'48 So, he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days."Obviously, these people had previously been baptized with the Holy Spirit and entered the body of Christ when they had believed, and now it was legitimate for them to offer a public symbol of what had happened to them through water baptism. It is through believing (repenting, or changing one's mind) through faith (and the associated baptism of the Holy Spirit) that places us into the body of Christ, not through water baptism or any other physical (work) ritual.

You asked, "Then why does Paul use the allegory of "washing?" Probably to stay consistent with all the other allegories in the Scriptures, such as physical circumcision being a symbol of the removal of the flesh from the heart. Romans 2:28-29 says "28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God." Just as the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the real baptism, and water baptism is a symbol of it, so is physical circumcision a symbol of circumcision "by the Spirit." In Galatians 6:5, Paul says, "15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation." He also said, in Philippians 3:3, that we shouldn't put confidence in these fleshly rituals: "3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh." In John 6:63, Jesus said, "63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life."

In fact, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 in itself contains an allegory: ". . . we were all given the one Spirit to drink." Why does Paul use an allegory? To help us understand something we can't see physically by comparing it with something that we can--a normal use of allegories.

Ironically, I also rely upon a different interpretation of one of the very Scriptures you used, 1 Peter 3:21:"21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. . ." What is the water? Peter plainly says it's a symbol of something that actually has saving power. What is it a symbol of? The baptism that has already occurred:the baptism of the Holy Spirit, when the sinner believed the gospel. In fact, he's emphatic to state that he's not talking about the baptism of the body into water: "not the removal of dirt from the body." This baptism (of the Holy Spirit) saves one through faith, through the power of the resurrection of Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast." Galatians 2:16 says, "16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So, we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."

In regard to my previous silence on Jesus' baptizing in John 1-4 and Peter in Acts 2:38, my interpretation says that Jesus and Peter (as well as John the Baptist and the other apostles), called for repentance (the change of mind, or faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) which saves the sinner, by Acts 16:31), and the consequential baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13) to be placed into the body of Christ, to be followed by a public and symbolic display of their faith through water baptism. Again, we're saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), not water (1 Peter 3:21). Regardless of this point, I see no Biblical reason for St. Cyrian to draw a direct analogy between water baptism and infant circumcision (which also had no saving power (Romans 2:28-29)). Neither do I see a single instance in the Bible where an infant was baptized. I know this doesn't make you happy, but neither "household" nor "children" implies "infant." In Mark 10:13-16, which you cited, people brought their children to Jesus, He touched their children, He told the others to let the children come to him, He held them, He put his hands on them, and He blessed them, but it doesn't say that He baptized them, that they were infants, or that water baptism followed the same rules as circumcision.

Protestant View on Confession to Priests)

You also asked about my silence regarding James 5:14-16 and confession to priests. Have we suddenly changed topics again, or did you not want to finish baptism first? Anyway, in all honesty, my silence was probably due to my lack of confidence in defending my views from this passage. My personal experience tells me that the book of James contains some of the most difficult passages for a Protestant to defend.(I'm giving you some credit here, but I can't say I agree, because the Holy Spirit hasn't taught me everything I need to know yet. Yes, I think you have the upper hand here, but rather than a crack in my armor, we should just consider that I'm still learning.) My official stance is that my hermeneutics doesn't allow me to structure an entire doctrine on a single isolated scripture text. I must admit that it says "elder" which implies what we would call the clergy ("priest" for you, and "pastor" for me). However, the confession part is "one to another," not to the elders or priests. Even so, my view is inconsistent because of my adherence to the priesthood of the believer (1 Peter 2:5,9), the privacy of that personal priesthood (Galatians 6:5), the nature of sin being against God rather than against not men (Psalms 51:4), and the imperative to confess directly to God (1 John 1:9). I suppose you could argue that I err here, and that my error is the reason I have sometimes prayed for a sick person who was never healed. How about you?Given your interpretation, have you found that you can claim James 5:16 and see physical healing through confession in every case?



Separate Feedback From Other Readers

Catholic View on Sola Scriptura

1) This is the true fact: Evangelicalism finds its roots in the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther (1483-1546) has developed two "Sola" doctrines. The first of these was "Sola Scripture", stating that the Scriptures alone were sufficient to provide all knowledge that God wanted Christians to have for salvation, the church, and the Christian life. According to this view, the Bible interprets itself, and anyone can come to a full knowledge of God's word by the help of the Holy Spirit, in other words, through individual interpretation and private judgment. It denies that any ecclesiastical authority can be binding upon the conscience. It was a reductionist reaction to the Catholic view of Scriptures and Sacred tradition.

Catholic View on "Sola Fide"

The second doctrine was "Sola fide" which meant that salvation was attained by faith alone. Martin Luther, in translating the Book of Romans into the German language inserted the word "alone" to explain the word "faith" (e.g. Rom. 3:28; 5:1) where the Greek original did not call for it..

The pivotal text was Romans 3:28. The inclusion of the word "alone" radically altered the meaning of the text and Paul's thought. Calvin said the whole of the Reformation would stand or fall on that verse and the newly devised interpretation.

Luther's two new doctrines eventually ruptured the unity of the Reformation movement and from there, you have Calvin.......until R.A. Torrey in 1903...

From 1546 to the current time, there are approximately 25,000 Christians denominations with different beliefs and about 5 new more denomination every month. This is hardly close to what you wrote "He (Martin) elevated grace... Whereas the Catholic Church (Catholic means universal) remains steady growth to about 1 Billion worldwide now and still growing...

The very bedrock upon which Protestant theology is founded became crumbled. A house build on sand will eventually show signs of serious structural problems (Mt. 7:24 - 25). Sola Scripture is nowhere taught in Scripture, nowhere even implied. The closest I came to establishing a biblical case for "Sola Scripture" was 2 Timothy 3:16 which was certainly not intended by St Paul as a proof text for the sole sufficiency of Scripture. In fact, if it were used in that way, the text would prove too much, since the term "Scripture" in this passage is referring to the Old Restatement (there was no new Testament yet) and would thereby exclude the New Testament from the proof

Jesus never promised us an authoritative book, nor did his apostles; rather he promised us a SINGLE AUTHORITATIVE and VISIBLE Church (see Mt 16:18 - 19; 18:17; Tim 3:15; 5:17)

Catholic View on Celibacy of Priests

2) This is the true fact:Take a look at 1 Cor. 7:7-9, Paul said that he thought celibacy was the best state in which to be (1 Cor. 7:26), noting that "he who is unmarried is concerned with God's claim, asking how he is to please God; whereas the married man is concerned with the world's claim, asking how he is to please his wife" (1 Cor. 7:32-33). When a man becomes a Catholic priest, he knows that he will not be able to marry. Marriage is a good thing (in fact Catholic acknowledge Christ elevate marriage to a sacrament), but it is something priests are willing to forgo for the sake of being better priest. No one is forced to be a priest or a nun so no Catholic is forced to be celibate. Celibacy is a disciplinary, not a doctrinal injunction.

Catholic View on Martin Luther

3) This is the true fact:Martin Luther's name, when written in Latin, also tallies 666, as do hundreds of other names. Bill Gates' name also is 666.

4) I would like to invite you to read a few Great Convert Stories by Prominent former Fundamentalist, Baptist, Methodist and Anglican Pastors who have converted to the Catholic Church after studying Scripture

1) Rome Sweet Home by Dr. Scott Hahn (Former Methodist Minister and Theology Professor)

2) Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David Currie (Former Fundamentalist preacher)

3) Crossing the Tiber by Stephen Ray (Former Baptist Minister)

4) The King's Highway by Kenneth Guidon (Former Jehovah's Witness Elder)

5) A Memory for Wonders by Veronica Le Goulard (Former Marxist atheist)

6) Newman: Towards the Second Spring by Michael Finch (Newman was a former Anglican Priest - a Theology professor at Oxford University in England)

The phone number to order those books is 1-800-651-1531 or you can buy them at any Catholic Bookstore

May the Holy Spirit bless you and remain in you forever, and one last statement

How can a Satan Church produce people like Mother Theresa who dedicated her entire life to practice what Jesus taught. Jesus said you can tell the tree by its fruit......

Catholic View on Martin Luther and Sola Fide

If anyone would take the time to study the real truth about Martin Luther, they would not call him a hero of anything. He was a vile wicked man. He was drunk, he had a filthy, vulgar mouth. Even his friends could hardly stand the garbage that came out of his mouth. He had no respect for women. The bible says plenty about breaking vows to God, but he caused many nuns and priests to forsake their vows, even going so far as to marry one himself. He had little use for many books of the bible, especially the ones that didn't agree with his heretical doctrines. As far as faith "alone", he added that word himself. It was not in the original Greek. These are his own words "If your Papist annoys you with the word [alone], tell him straightway: Dr. Martin Luther will have it so: Papist and ass are one and the same thing. Whoever will not have my translation, let him give it the go-by: the devil's thanks to him who censures it without my will and knowledge. Luther will have it so, and he is a doctor above all the doctors in Popedom." I feel sorry for Protestants who sit and listen to the lies their pastors tell them about the Catholic Church and are too lazy to study and find out the truth for themselves. Some of the greatest protestant theologians studied the Catholic Faith to prove it wrong and ended up converting themselves. Read about the "Oxford Movement." Anyone who wants to learn the truth about Luther can read "The Facts About Luther" by Tan Publishers. The Truth shall set you free.

Feedback to Christian Data Resources

Catholic View on Transubstantiation

I was reviewing some of the articles on your Christian Data Resources web site and I discovered the following blatant inconsistency in an argument you used to both defend a doctrine you profess while at the same time to attack a Catholic belief you do not profess.

Let me quote from the articles I am referencing.

First, from your article entitled, "Where Did Our Bible Come From", comes the following quote.

"This Bible has stood the test of time, and I am satisfied with it by my faith, but not by the scientific proof of human effort. Faith is believing in things unseen. If there ever were scientific "proof" of the Canon, I would not be able to accept it, otherwise my faith would no longer be faith. It would then be believing in what we can see, and even an unbeliever can do that."

Then, from you book review of Rome Sweet Home by Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn you attack his belief in the actual presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist with the following statement.

"I'm curious if the Catholic church would be willing to subject this miracle to scientific examination before and after the "miracle" of transubstantiation."

Perhaps your Catholic brethren are also, to cite you, satisfied with it by their faith and not by the scientific proof of human effort! Their faith is believing in things unseen, just like you. Or perhaps they are curious if you would be willing to subject the Bible to scientific examination for proof of its divine and inspired nature! Which according to your own words would result in your inability to accept it. Which way would you have it? You can't have it both ways!

You see, by basing your faith on a Bible only basis, you are believing in only what you can see because all you can see are inanimate words of ink printed on unliving paper. The Word of God is alive and can be found in completeness only in his established Church on earth, the Holy Catholic Church.

It is gratifying to see web sites like yours dedicated to the spreading of the good news and I encourage the well-meaning of your effort. But please be more consistent in your arguments defending your faith. Inconsistencies like the one I have pointed out to you lessen the effect of the good news. The tone of some of your articles and your shameful disrespect directed at the character of Dr. Hahn and his wife also gives away your anti- Catholic bigotry and your mean spiritedness.

If you care to respond to this note, my email address is . . . I do not intend to turn this into a debate. If you respond, I more than likely will not respond again.

Have you ever read in Matthew the story of the last judgment and how and why people are judged? What does Revelation say about Books and judgment? What does James say about faith without works? Once you separate faith and works (which always go together) you cease being biblical. Faith does not save us, nor do works nor does faith alone in Jesus. Faith means I have to do something--that makes it a work. Nope--we are saved in Jesus Christ only, since only He died.

Catholic View on Imputation


I am indebted to those anointed with reformational insight for leaving me with the legacy of Sola Scriptura and, in principle, Sola fide. But during the process of developing a doctrine of justification by faith, the Protestant Reformers overreacted to their own correct moral and theological perceptions and imported the concept of the "imputed righteousness of Christ" into their new formulation. This concept alleges that the "alien" righteousness of Christ , that is, Christ's own sinless life and righteous death, are imputed to a believer as the believer's righteousness by faith, thereby making a believer righteous and justifying him. This idea gave certain relief to hungry souls rotting in the stench of indulgences and absolution,but not lasting liberty from the practice of sin. Not surprisingly, Protestantism historically has oscillated between antinomianism and legalism while searching for a real existential experience of righteousness, which the conscience intuitively knows is necessary for justification, but which the doctrine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness does not grant. Scholasticism and Aristotelian logic also nurtured this idea by creating a framework out of which the Protestant Reformers bifurcated justification and sanctification through the ensuing formulation of a discrete, sequential ordo salutis, which Protestants subsequently ratified, adopted and further developed. And today this idea persists due to scriptural errors inadequately challenged. Our mutual love for souls and of Sola Scriptura bids us as Protestants to further reform the Doctrine of Justification by Faith.

The Westminster Confession defines the Doctrine of Justification by Faith in this way: "Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone, nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ to them, they receiving and resting on Him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God."

There is truth here, but it is seriously weakened because of the following:
1. Although "to justify" (Gr. dikaioo) is certainly forensic and does not mean "infused" righteousness, it is wrong to say that we are justified "for Christ's sake alone" apart from anything He works in our hearts. The immediate ground of the forensic declaration of justification is our own actual righteousness produced in our lives by participation in the death and resurrection of Christ (remote ground) by faith: "For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, much more shall we also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom 6:5).

2. It is wrong to imply that "believing" is a "work" which must be denied status as imputed righteousness. Faith is a gift of grace which becomes our faith out of which good works are produced, and is itself not a work. Therefore, it is altogether fallacious to lump faith together with acts of righteousness and call them all "evangelical obedience".

3. The popular belief that believers will be saved in the Day of Judgment because of being "clothed with the righteousness of Christ" is unscriptural. Believers, however, will be clothed with garments in the Day of Judgment, but those garments will be their own righteous deeds (dikaiomata). Rev. 19:8 states: "And it was given unto her that she (the church) should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints". Furthermore, other texts also teach that in the Day of Judgment our deeds and words will be the ground of justification: Matt. 12:36-37, Matt. 16:27, John 5:28-29, Rom. 2:6, James 2:21-25, 2 Cor 5:10-11, Rev. 20:11-15, 1 Pet. 1:17.

4. There is no sound exegetical basis for reversing Paul's clear formulation that faith itself is imputed as righteousness. The Westminster Confession explicitly states that justification occurs "not by imputing faith itself". But that is exactly what Rom. 4:3, Gal. 3:6 and Genesis 15:6 explicitly state: "And Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him (for) righteousness." Faith was imputed for righteousness, not the righteousness of Christ. The grammar of the sentence indicates that the direct object is Abraham's faith. Technically, there can be no grammatical object with a passive. However, the subject of a passive verb is the object of the action. Even more compelling is the fact that the subject of the discourse is Abraham's faith, which is referred to no less than six times, and there is no mention of the righteousness of Christ in the entire chapter. Yet most Protestant theologians read the "righteousness of Christ" into the passage. If the grammar is slightly ambiguous, the context isn't, which Dr. Moo omits in his commentary. Dr. Moo also over-theologizes "eis" (as he does also by implication to the Hebrew "le") and reasons that the text means "to account to him a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him". According to Dr. Moo,"eis" carries with it the idea of "Christ's righteousness". But that is an exegetical error. "Eis" does not have enough semantic capital to carry this idea, and he imports "Christ's righteousness" into the passage. Also, if the preposition in Rom. 4:3 is important for Dr. Moo's theory, why does Gen. 15:6 omit the preposition? In addition, the OT texts Dr. Moo cites do not support his assertion that God accounts to Abraham "a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him." In Lev. 7:18 the unwillingness of the Lord to "impute" the sacrifice of a vow was because the flesh of the sacrifice was eaten on the third day, and thus the sacrifice offered by this Israelite would "not be accepted" because it was an "abomination". The Israelite that ate on the third day was morally unfit, and for that reason did not have the benefits of a righteous sacrifice imputed to him. The same principle applies in Numbers 18:27-30: Even though the Levites did not literally offer up grain from the threshing floor, it was imputed to them as such because it was the reward for their "service" (Num. 18:31). They were to reckoned with the grain of the threshing floor because they were morally fit to receive such a reckoning. Dr. Moo also uses the example of Shimei, and states that "Shimei is asking David to reckon or regard him in a way that does not correspond with the facts of the case." Contrary to Dr. Moo's belief, 2 Samuel 19:20 does not qualify as a "parallel" passage to Rom. 4:3. First, God is the one who reckons Abraham in Rom. 4:3 and David's reckoning of Shimei may or may not be parallel to God's. Second, Shimei himself is asking David not to impute his sin to him, and Shimei may or may not be asking parallel to what God would do. Third, Shimei is merely asking, and not making a declaration, whereas in Rom. 4:3 God made a definitive declaration about Abraham. Fourth, David's acquittal of Shimei's sin is because of Shimei's righteousness shown by his now humble heart, not in spite of it. Fifth, these are different passages dealing with different issues. Can Dr. Moo assert, without forcing his theology into the passage, that Shimei's request and David's reckoning of Shimei is prescriptive as to the nature of the imputation that justifies a sinner and "accounts to him a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him". Lastly, Dr. Moo uses the example of Phinehas described in Ps 106:30-31. However, as with the other passages, this does not prove Dr. Moo's assertion. The reason is that Phinehas was declared righteous precisely because he had done something righteous, an evidence that he had faith in God. Phinehas stood up and executed judgment on the man and the Midianitish woman and thus turned God's wrath away from Israel. And precisely because of this obedience he was reckoned as righteous by God.

These passages do not teach that righteousness is inherent, but neither do they teach that the reckoning was done apart from the moral and ethical condition of the object of that reckoning, and therefore do not support the notion that what is imputed to a sinner is "a righteousness which does not inherently belong to him." There is both a true and false statement in this assertion. God did not justify Phinehas based upon an "inherent" righteousness, but it was a righteousness which did belong to him. He was made righteous by participation (not imputation) in the righteousness of God through faith. For people who sin, their sin is reckoned as unrighteous (or not reckoned as righteousness), in harmony with their actual sin. For those obedient, their obedience is reckoned as righteousness, in harmony with their actual righteousness.

Righteousness is not inherent and we must be made righteous (Rom. 5:17-19) in order to be justified. How is it produced? Christ's righteousness must become our righteousness not by the method of imputation through faith, but by the method of participation through faith. Participation in the death and resurrection of Christ produces in our hearts actual righteousness, which then becomes the immediate ground of our justification. For God does not declare people righteous who are not actually, existentially righteous, in heart, word and deed.

Response from Christian Data Resources

Protestant View on Imputation

Thank you for your recent note concerning imputation. I'm sorry that I have been somewhat slow in replying. Part of this has been due to a time constraint, and part of it is due to the difficulty I find in preparing a response to your note. I'm not sure that I can satisfy you with an answer, but I'll try.

I appreciate your exegesis of Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, and Genesis 15:6. However, I would have to say that I do not use these passages to defend my stand on imputation. Rather, I think that Romans 5:15-19 is the only definitive passage. Even after carefully considering the good points you made, I believe that this passage (and perhaps this is the only passage) tells us that Christ imputed His righteousness to us (just as Adam imputed his sin to us).

Also, Romans 7:14-25 indicates to me that even Paul was not righteous in every word and deed.

Sorry if my view seems inadequate, but I do enjoy hearing yours.