Sunday, January 13, 2008

St. Peter's must need a face lift


I was Roman Catholic for my upbringing. I mean no disrespect to my former priests and well-meaning teachers. There are many people I love who are still members of the Roman Catholic Church. I never take joy in calling out the error I witness in the RC Church, it constantly grieves me, but it has to be done.

The Roman Catholic Pontiff, Benedict XVI, has resorted to the scam of issuing "indulgences" again. The Roman Catholic church teaches that indulgences can reduce time in purgatory or grant a pardon all together. Purgatory, according to extra-biblical Roman Catholic teaching, is a kind of spiritual waiting room - for people who do not go directly to heaven or hell after death - to purify souls of residual sin before they enter heaven. Such a doctrine finds no backing in Scripture and the extra biblical sources that appear to promote such an idea are spurious at best. The concept of "residual sin" and purgatory runs directly opposite of the Bible's teaching concerning Christ's atonement and the complete satisfaction of God's justice and wrath by the death of Christ. The entire book of Hebrews serves as an argument against the concept of residual sin, not to mention a polemic against the idea of an ongoing mediatorial priesthood. Seriously, the biblical doctrines of sin, Christ, redemption, etc., all strike down the hideous concept of an indulgence. You will recall Luther's Sixteenth Century protest against the sale of indulgences to raise funds for the building of St. Peter's Basilica. Many will cite John Tetzel's indulgence sale campaign as the key tipping point for Luther's nailing of the 95 theses on the castle door at Wittenberg and the beginning of the Reformation. The bulk of Luther's protests were aimed at indulgences and papal authority.

For years, while not renouncing the shameful practice, the Roman Catholic Church has not outwardly promoted the issuing of indulgences. The Reformation was the impetus to stop the sale of indulgences, but it did not stop the Pope from granting them for whatever reason he wanted.

Well, apparently, Pope Benedict XVI is back at it. Technically he is not selling indulgences, instead he has authorised special indulgences to mark the 150th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's reputed appearance at Lourdes. At Lourdes, France, the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared to a young girl named Bernadette on eighteen separate occasions in a small rock grotto beginning in the year 1858. There were no other witnesses. A miraculous freshwater spring, said to have healing powers, began flowing at the grotto. Catholics visiting the site within a year of December 8 will be able to receive an indulgence.

Here's some quickie protests against the Pope's actions- for the sake of time, let's just leave out the foundational protest concerning the complete unbiblical nature of the Papal office itself:

1. No man has the authority to forgive sins.

2. There is no such place as purgatory.

3. Mary should not continue to be called "The Virgin", she had children after Jesus. Enough said.

4. Whatever or whoever appeared at Lourdes, I don't think it was Mary. Even if it was, so what?

5. There should be no hint of Mary being able to grant some kind of merit or provide forgiveness for sins. This is the work of Christ alone.

6. If Pope Benedict has the ability to grant such an indulgence, why does he not do more? What about Catholics who visit Israel, where Jesus trod? What about Catholics who visit Rome? Why is he so stingy with the forgiveness of sins if it's just a matter of a person earning forgiveness by visiting some place he says they should visit.

7. Call me a cynic, but I wonder if there is a cost to visit the Lourdes site? I'm guessing there is. Does the Vatican need an addition? Does St. Peter's need a face lift? I'm curious.

8. The whole concept of indulgences is a gross offense against the perfect, sufficient, finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ- the one, true Head of the Church.

9 comments:

Rick Calohan said...

Tony did you get your Mass will be said in your name for a whole year card? My Psychic Lebanese Catholic Aunt sent our family one. My mother in law in the Philippines wanted to send Holy Water for when our son is born. Dorothy warned her that sending liquids over 3 ounces are not permitted and besides you know Rick, he would just pour it out. I love my Catholic brethren I just pray that the Lord’s grace will open their eyes to their silly superstitions and manmade non-biblical traditions that have blindly lead them astray.

My favorite Reformer is John Knox. I know that he did not write in great length like Luther or Calvin, but to me he embodied the spirit of the Reformation when he was a galley slave. Though Knox never credited himself for doing this, many believe that the person in the story truly revealed his character. As the story goes, a Mass was conducted and a statue or a portrait of Mary was presented among the slaves in chains. By the time it reached Knox, he replied, “Trouble me not; such an idol is accursed; and therefore I will not touch it.” His captors insisted, thrust it to his face, and placed it in hands. That was a big mistake. Knox threw the idol overboard into the river, and said, “Let our Lady now save herself: she is light enough; let her learn to swim.”

In your exposition of Hosea you have brought to our attention syncretistic worship, and considering the people I know who are Catholic it saddens me that they are either unaware of their unfaithfulness by selling indulgences, elevating Mary as a co-Redeemer, the belief in that the efficacy of the seven sacraments are channels of grace and paths to salvation. I pray that the Lord will open their eyes, their hearts, and minds to the Word of God, and not the word of a man who wears a funny pointed hat claiming to be the Vicar of Christ, when all he truly is the Bishop of Rome.

grj said...

Tony,

I value your teaching greatly.
My cousin is attending seminary teaching with the Catholic church, and him and I have begun a dialog regarding the teaching of the RC church v. Reformed theology. Pray with me that he will see RC teaching for the falsehood that it really is, and how this teaching, in essence, denies Christ and His finished work.

I am grateful that God in His providence has had you share this message just now as it will be invaluable in our discussion.

It amazes me to what depth we are all capable of sinking to. It is indeed terrible that the RC church still continues to repent of her sins and the false teaching that has so long came from the pope(s).

Thank God for the restraining power of the Holy Spirit, and for His work in the hearts of His elect children, for without His grace and mercy we could all still be left in the depths of darkness.

tom kessler said...

I can't believe it is still happening today.

"I never take joy in calling out the error I witness ...."

On a differant slant to the above quote.

The grace I have seen Redeemer show others regarding secondary issues has really changed my attitude. I am no longer trying to split hairs and divide on secondary issue (most of the time), but rather consider others with a different opionion my brother and sister in Christ.

Frontier Forest said...

Reading Tony’s observations and the powerful testimonials, it just amazes me how so many RC traditions and teachings seems to be borderline, if not down right idolatry! If anyone has ever been to St Peters Basilica, I am sure they have witnessed the long lines of folks waiting to rub the right foot of the bronze statue of St Peter, sitting on a throne. Presumably sitting at the Right Hand of God. His foot is almost entirely rubbed off! Maybe the Pope is raising money for a foot-lift?
I can say that the 1943 movie The Song of Bernadette , staring Jennifer Jones is a very moving movie that we always watch during Lenten Season. The story does prepare my heart for Easter. Like Tony said, “true or not“ salvation is not about Mary!

malcol said...

I love the guy in the picture's gown, but someone should tell him his purse is on fire. Dare you to post this

grj said...

Tony,
Please correct the comment I made to say:
" It is indeed terrible that the RC church still continues to NOT repent of her sins and the false teaching that has so long came from the pope(s)."
Please forgive the mistake...

AJF said...

I understood what you were saying Greg.

Kampfgruppe-H said...

And now for the smart nosed comment...The "Virgin" appeared to me in my morning breakfast. I kid you not, she is staring up at me from the depths of my French toast. I'll probably put the toast up for sale on e-bay.

Phantom495 said...

The smoke kinda looks like a scary demon with a white beard...Well I figured if Malcolm can be a smart-alec why not...