JW: The Church which you teach has the keys to the kingdom and the only one with authority from Christ, the Pope which you teach is infallible on matters of faith and morals has many times persecuted, killed, and even burned people because they would not follow your teachings. It seems to me that if we are to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and since he had ample opportunity to kill people who would not follow him, but he chose rather to love and even pray for those who did not believe in him. It seems to me the Church that you love so much has been and is in error today.
Can you please explain to me how you can justify a group who has killed between 50 and 150 million people as being Christ like?
May the Lord open your eyes to the glory and light of Christ,
Brother John W
You are using the “your church has sinners” argument, and it is fallacious.
First, no one is denying that the Catholic Church has sinners. It is precisely why Christ established His Church – to save sinners. Just because its members sometimes stray, that doesn’t mean that it was not founded by Jesus Christ to teach His infallible truth.
Second, Protestants have unfortunately also killed Catholics. I don’t judge Protestantism (or Catholicism) based upon the conduct of their members. I judge them based upon whether they teach the truth in accordance with Sacred Scripture and Tradition. There is a big difference. If you judge truth by conduct, then you should throw out your Bible, because all its authors were sinners.
Third, why don’t you point out all of the great Catholic saints throughout history as well? If you want to focus on conduct as your litmus test, then the Catholic Church has produced holy men and women par excellence. St. Francis, St. Therese, Mother Theresa, and thousands and thousands like them.
Fourth, if you want to talk about conduct and the preservation of life, the Catholic Church has done more than any other institution to preserve and defend life. It has led the world in this regard, through its teachings about abortion, contraception, homosexuality and other life issues, while many of the Protestant sects have buckled in compromise.
So, John, the issue isn’t conduct. It is truth. You claim to be a Bible-believing Christian. If that is true, then believe what Jesus says in the Bible. Jesus said He would build the Church upon the rock of Peter, and give Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus conferred these distinctions upon Peter alone, not the other apostles. Paul says that the Church, not the Bible, is the pinnacle and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). Jesus says when there is a dispute, take it to the Church, not the Bible (Mt 18:18). This is the Church that Christ built upon Peter and his 264 successors. So, if you are not a member if this Church (which is the Catholic Church), then you are a Protestant. May God give you His grace as you seek the truth.
JW: I am one who trust that Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth, he was born of the virgin Mary, he preached repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. I am one who believes in the Jesus who raised the dead, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and stated: He that believes in my hath everlasting life. I believe in the Jesus who said: Before Abraham was I am. I am one who believes in the Jesus who died upon a bloody cross for all of my sins, he washed my sins away by his blood and his blood alone, then he was buried and rose again. He is now seated at the right had of the Father and ever lives to make intercession for me.
J. Salza: I agree with you on these points. But let me ask you something. If you have been born again and are already saved, then why does Scripture say Jesus continues to make intercession for you? Why wasn’t your one-time acceptance of Christ as your personal Lord and Savior enough?
JW: I have been born again and made into a new creature in the image of Christ and old things have passed away and all things are now new. Jesus Christ lives in me because I have been crucified with Christ. I have been saved by faith alone in Jesus alone.
J. Salza: Unfortunately for you, no where does the Bible say we are saved by faith “alone.” This is a novel idea that was unknown to the Church until Martin Luther introduced it in the 16th century. In fact, the Bible negates that false proposition by declaring that we obtain salvific justification by works and NOT by faith alone. Again, you claim to believe in the Bible, but you are not following what the Bible says.
JW: I am a believer in Jesus, I am one who would have been called a Christian by those who hated Christ in the book of Acts, and I am one who would have been killed by the Catholic Church for refusing to denounce that faith alone in Jesus alone is all that is required for my salvation, and I would have been killed by the protestants for my belief in Baptism by immersion! I will neither follow a Pope, nor Calvin for my salvation, rather I will follow the Lord Jesus Christ!
J. Salza: Once again, you advance the novel, theological invention of faith “alone” as the sine qua non of salvation. Please tell me where the Bible says we are saved by faith “alone” – book, chapter and verse. Also, if you claim that you are following Christ, then you must follow what Christ taught, namely, that He would build an infallible Church upon Peter, to whom He would give the keys of authority and the charism of speaking for heaven.
JW: I am not asking whether or not the Church history of the Protestants or Catholics is correct. I simply ask how a Church that is drunk with the blood of saints can be correct in theology. Let me ask: you plainly stated the Catholic church has sinners, is the Pope a sinner, does he make mistakes or is he “as the Holy Father” above sin?
J. Salza: The Catholic Church was built with the blood of the martyrs. All the popes of the first centuries of the Church were murdered for Christ. They took the seat of Peter even though they knew it meant certain death. That is why you have the Christian faith to begin with. The Catholic Church gave us the Bible – it wrote, translated, preserved, protected, and transmitted the Scriptures to us. It was the Catholic Church who also determined the canon of Scripture. If you believe in the Bible, then you believe in an infallible decision of the Catholic Church. All this poses quite a problem for you. And yes, the popes are all sinners and can make mistakes in matters of conduct or opinion.
JW: Do you deny that in Vatican 2 Mary is termed as Co-Mediator?
J. Salza: Vatican II did not say that, but if the Church ever does, it would not be problematic. Jesus Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man, but Jesus can decide how he wants to employ his mediation. That is why when Paul says that Christ is the only mediator, he also appeals for mediation from others besides Christ! We are all subordinate mediators in the one Mediator.
That is why you can pray for me and I can pray for you. The Father accepts our prayers when united to those of His Son. This is also why Paul says that he makes up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church (Col 1:24). Were Christ’s sufferings lacking? Of course not. Then why did Paul write this? Because God accepts Paul’s subordinate sufferings and mediation when united to those of His Son. This is part of the mystery of the Church and the communion of saints.
JW: Let me take it one step further, you said that conduct was not as important as truth. The fact is truth changes how we conduct ourselves. Jesus said you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. How can people who know the truth of Christ conduct themselves any other way than in a Christ like manner? How can they kill people?
J. Salza: Let me ask you a question. Do you sin? How can you continue sinning if you have been saved by Christ? The answer is that we have free will and can chose sin instead of Christ. Jesus did not take away our free will. We can still sin, even though Christ has redeemed us. We can know the truth, and the truth can set us free, but then we can turn around and reject the truth and go back to our sinful ways. That is called free will, and Scripture is replete with warnings about not abandoning the truth we have come to know.
JW: That is my question, How can a holy infallible man kill others who will not follow the Church? My argument is valid, my question is valid.
J. Salza: The popes are not infallible in their conduct or private opinions. If they were, they would be “impeccable.” Christ promised infallibility to His Church, not impeccability. Infallibility deals with the truth that the Church teaches, not how her members conduct themselves. This is why Jesus said to Peter, “Whatever you bind or loose on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:18). This deals with Peter’s teaching authority, not his private conduct. You must understand this very important distinction.
JW: The one I follow is the Lord Jesus who came into the world to save sinners not kill them, he came to save them from their sin and make them into new creatures. He came to change sinners from what they were into what God wants them to be.
J. Salza: I believe the same thing. The only difference is that I believe what Jesus has taught us in Sacred Scripture about His Church and the authority He granted to His apostles and their successors. The Bible is the Word of God, but it is not the only authority for Christians. It can’t be, because it cannot interpret itself. The Bible directs us to an authority outside of itself to understand what it actually means. This is why Catholics have the greatest love for Scripture. We want to ensure that it is properly interpreted, and not abused with false and heretical interpretations that continue to divide the body of Christ.
JW: How can a true Church use the rack, the iron lady and so many other instruments of Cruelty and still be considered the true Church?? How can you say they teach truth when their actions say different, Jesus said by their fruits you shall know them!
J. Salza: I can also ask how Protestants could have killed Catholics if they really had the truth. You have proven only that Christians are sinners. This should be no surprise to any of us. All the apostles were sinners as well. Did that mean they had no authority? Of course not. I know of no better “fruit” of the Catholic Church in recent times than what we witnessed with Mother Theresa. And there are thousands of other Catholic saints who did likewise. Further, how could a loving God command His leaders in the Old Testament to slay women and children? Will you accuse God of “cruelty”? Let God be the judge of sinners, not me or you.
JW: I want you to understand I do not hate Catholics, Protestants, Muslims or anyone else. I simply want people to know the truth of Christ. You are correct in stating that Christ came to save sinners. I hope you personally know the Christ of the Bible. The Christ who changed me from a Drunkard, A fornicator, a vile wretch into a new man. Have you been born again??? Do you know that when you die you will be received into heaven not because of your good works but because Christ died for you???
J. Salza: God bless you for changing your life. Persevere in your faith. But Jesus wants you to have the fullness of His truth which He has entrusted to His Holy Catholic Church. Continue to study the Scriptures and read the writings of the early Church Fathers. They all claimed membership in the Catholic Church.
JW: I am a Bible-believing Christian, and I believe the word of God in its entirety. You are making a mistake that almost everyone makes with regards to scripture interpretation “That is taking a scripture from here and there” and patching a doctrine together to fit what you believe or what some other man has taught you. The fact is Jesus did build a Church, and that Church has himself as the chief cornerstone and there are very specific offices that were established within the Church.
1Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
You can read the scriptures from beginning to end and you will find no mention of a Pope, Cardinal, and so on. But according to your belief since Jesus made Peter the Pope and the 200 and some odd men after him Popes, they can bind what they desire on earth, that is make new offices for the Church and even make Nuns and so forth and that is right even if there are no supporting scriptures. In other words the scriptures must be interpreted by the Church, and if there are no supporting scriptures for a teaching, then what the Church has to say is as good as scripture, Is that a fair assumption? And if the Church (Made up of a Pope, Cardinals, Priest and so forth) tells me that praying to Mary is OK (Even though there is no scripture to support it)it is right because God gave that authority to the Church/Pope?
Why with that view it must be OK to teach indulgences, praying to the saints, Purgatory, or any other doctrine…. As a matter of fact it must be that Gods spirit is not the final authority on bible interpretation, but the Church. And since that is the case, the Church can say its OK to persecute people who do not believe the same as we do and it must be right?
You see, you keep avoiding the question at hand, and that question is how can a true Church teach something contrary to Gods word (Namely killing people in the name of the Church) You have avoided the question. You say you are the true Church, if that is the case why would you kill people? Has a Pope ever called for the killing of innocent people, study this out? It was not simply sinners within the Church that killed People, it was the Catholic Church that persecuted and burned people alive.
My faith is based upon nothing less and nothing more than Jesus. Please answer the question as presented, did the Catholic Church (as an official act of the Church) kill people in the name of Christ? If the answer is yes then it must be that it was right due to the fact that the Catholic Church is the true Church and gives us the true meaning of Gods word!
John, you must listen to God, if it is wrong to kill people who are not Catholics, and if it is wrong to persecute people at the hands of the Catholic Church, then you must admit that the Catholic Church has had error in it, you must admit that the pope himself can be in error even in matters of what is right and wrong, You have already said the Catholic church has sinners in it, you have already stated the pope is not infallible, and if that is the case how do I know what is right and wrong? By what a man who is a sinner that is killing people tells me? Or rather by what the word of God teaches?
I ask again, as an official act of the Church was anyone ever burned, killed or persecuted? Did any pope ever commission the killing of innocent people? I can’t ask it any more plain than that.
As far as responding to faith alone goes I will leave that for later, I want to know if the Catholic Church officially killed people in the name of Christ “Did they bind killing people on earth” and what changed that binding?
J. Salza: John, in the Old Testament God gave his chosen leaders the authority to execute people for their sins and heresies. Killings have also occurred in the New Testament, by both Catholics and Protestants. I am not condoning this type of conduct (although I bet if the Church executed heretics and sinners today we wouldn’t have a Church poisoned with liberal theology, Modernism and sexual deviants). As I have stated over and over again, the issue is not whether Catholics killed Protestants or vice versa. Let me concede for the moment that Catholics did kill. This only proves that the Church is full of sinners. There is a distinction between the truth the Church teaches and the conduct of her members. What in that statement is not clear to you? There is a distinction because the Church is both human and divine.
Let me put it another way. The Church teaches that it is wrong to kill. This does not guarantee that a Catholic will never kill someone, does it? Just because a Catholic kills someone, that doesn’t negate the truth of the Church’s teaching that we are not supposed to kill. The issue is doctrine versus conduct. I hope you can understand this simple distinction.
You want to keep harping on the conduct of certain members of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages instead of exegeting Scripture. This does not get us anywhere. I can provide you with a laundry list of Catholic saints who shed their blood for Christ. If the latter does not convince you that the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church, then you cannot use the former to convince me that it isn’t. You see? If you really want to engage in a tug-of-war of good versus bad people in the Church to determine truth, then that is your prerogative. But that is not how the Bible instructs us to determine the truth. The Bible tells us to listen to “the Church” (Mt 18:18). So let’s stick with Scripture in this discussion, John, because that is evidently your only authority.
JW: OK, lets stick to scripture… Praise the Lord… You say we are to listen to the Church (Matt 18) Which passage by the way clearly deals with Church discipline, not matters of Bible interpretation!
J. Salza: Matthew 18 does not say the issue is about “church discipline.” It could be about discipline, but it could also be about doctrine. The passage doesn’t say. In either case, the bishops of the Church have the authority to make definitive decisions by virtue of the keys given to Peter. That is why Peter is given the singular authority to bind and loose in Matt 16, and the apostles are given the collegial authority in Matt 18. The power to bind and loose flow from the keys, and the keys were given to Peter alone.
JW: You see, not only do we need to stick to the scriptures but we need to stick to the context that is clearly revealed in the passage.
J. Salza: Where does Scripture say that “we need to stick to the scriptures”? Actually, Scripture doesn’t say that. Scripture says that we are to obey both Scripture AND tradition (2 Thess 2:15). You are operating under this premise throughout the dialogue, but it is a premise you have not proven.
JW: In this passage if the Church, which by the way is made up of people “where 2 or 3 are gathered in the name of Christ” agree as touching anything “again the context is discipline of a wayward member” then it will be binding.
J. Salza: First, Jesus is speaking to His apostles only, not to the Church at large. Second, it begs the question what Jesus means by “Church.” Jesus is telling us that the Church is the final arbiter on matters of the Christian faith, not the Scriptures. Since Jesus said this Church is built upon the rock of Peter, it can point only to the Catholic Church (the only Church that claims and proves to be built upon Peter).
JW: So here is my question, How can I listen to a Church “Who you say teaches the truth”, when they teach things that are clearly contrary to the written scripture such as: Indulgences, purgatory, praying to Mary and the saints, Rosary prayers, hail Mary’s, or that a Pope is just as infallible as the word of God!
J. Salza: You listen to the Church because that is what Jesus commands you to do. This is what He tells you to do in Matt 16 and 18. This is why Paul calls the Church, not the Bible, the pinnacle and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). You are again operating under the following fallacy: that “they teach things that are clearly contrary to the written scripture.” In saying this, I in no way intend to downplay Scripture. It is the revealed written word of God. But in obedience to Scripture, we must also listen to the Tradition that the apostles handed down to us.
That having been said, there is solid Scriptural support for every single item you listed. I go in great detail in my book explaining the biblical basis for all these doctrines. But second, I must point out again that your premise that it must be “clearly in Scripture” is false. Scripture doesn’t say that all Christian teaching is to be found in Scripture. Scripture tells us to obey Tradition as well. These teachings were handed down from the apostles to the early fathers of the Church, who wrote about these things in great detail.
JW: Well, here we go again, your answer is this: The Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus Christ started, they teach the truth, and even if its not clear in Gods word the Church is the one who tells us what scripture means, they have the final say so because Jesus handed the keys to Peter… So if they teach that babies need to be baptized to have their sins washed away then it must be right even though we have no supporting scripture!
J. Salza: There you “go again,” presuming that it must be in Scripture. This is not so. Nevertheless, the Bible does teach that babies must be baptized. When Peter in Acts 2:38-38 says that the promise of baptism is to you and your “children,” the word for children (from the Greek teknon) means infant. It is the same word used in Acts 21:21 to describe eight-day old infants. So Peter says that baptism is for infants. This is why you see entire households being baptized in the book of Acts. The word for household (Greek, oikos) would include infants and children. Paul also says that baptism is the new circumcision. If babies had to be circumcised and baptism is the new circumcision, then babies have to be baptized. Your other problem is that you cannot find one passage in Scripture that says babies should not be baptized. The burden is on you to prove your case, but you cannot.
JW: Basically you say the Passages in Matt 16 and Matt 18 clearly teach that whatever the Catholic Church interprets the word of God to be is right because they are the true Church!
J. Salza: What Matt 16 says is that Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom and the authority to bind and loose. That Peter was able to receive a divine revelation from God and communicate it without error is the basis for papal infallibility. Whenever Peter officially speaks on a matter of faith or morals (like a statement on Christology, for example), it is without error. God protects His Church from going off the rails, so to speak. The popes exercise this divine authority only sparingly, and usually only when they need to clarify a doctrine or expel heresy.
JW: But here is the problem with that Logic, you have already admitted the Catholic Church has sinners, thus that means they are not perfect, and if you study it out you will find that the Pope had even commissioned the Jesuit’s to kill who I would term Christians. It is a verified fact that Catholic Priest “The ones who you say are in the true Church” have even Molested little Children. this being the case that must mean the Pope and for that matter the Cardinals are not without error. And that being the case it must mean they are not perfect with regards to scripture interpretation. So what you are telling me is to listen to a Church that is imperfect with regards to Bible interpretation!
J. Salza: You still don’t understand the difference between Christian doctrine and personal conduct. How come you don’t understand this difference? I can say that adultery is wrong and then go and cheat on my wife. Would my conduct mean that my teaching was wrong? No. It would only mean that I am a hypocrite and a sinner. But my teaching would be true. God did not promise that His leaders would be sinless.
Your position is also inconsistent because every author of Scripture was a sinner, and you still believe in Scripture! Moses was a murderer, but you still believe in the Pentateuch, right? David was an adulterer and murder, but you believe his Psalms were inspired, don’t you? Peter and Paul were both sinners, but you still believe in their epistles, correct? So tell me, if these sinful men can teach without error, why can’t others do so as well?
JW: First of all you have failed to do proper Exegesis on Matt 16. Peter, look the word up in the Greek means- Small Rock, Rock= Large, massive rock. Thou art Peter (A small stone) and upon this Rock (Large Stone) Will I build my Church!
J. Salza: This argument has been addressed countless times. Greek nouns have grammatical gender requirements. Thus, Greek requires a masculine noun to describe Peter, a man. That is why the Holy Spirit translated petra into Petros, because the rules of Greek required Him to do so. Your other problems are that Scripture never defines Petros as a small rock, and doesn’t limit petra to large rocks (see 1 Pet 2:8, for example, which is what you quote below. Petra is used to describe a small rock that causes stumbling, not a large rock formation).
JW: Maybe we ought to listen to the one whom you claim is the first Pope with regards to what this scripture means…..
1Pt 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Peter understood clearly what Jesus Christ said in Matt 16: Peter I am building a spiritual kingdom, instead of an old testament temple I am building a Church that will be made up of all classes of people, from every tribe and nation. I am the Rock Peter, I am the chief corner stone and each member of my Church will be a living stone placed into my spiritual kingdom or temple. You will be a living stone that rest upon the cornerstone. Peter you are a small Rock, But I am the chief Rock…
J. Salza: Nothing in Scripture supports your contention that Peter is just a “small” rock. Further, such argumentation does not stand to reason. Jesus blesses Peter for receiving a divine revelation from the Father. You are arguing that Jesus was renaming Peter a small pebble to somehow diminish or even punish him right after blessing him for his infallible declaration? This argument is ludicrous. Moreover, if Jesus wanted to call Peter a small rock, he would have used the word “lithos,” not “Petros.”
JW: Look at these passages:
1Co 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (Note the same Greek word “Petra” meaning large rock is used in Matt 16, 1Pt 2:8 and 1Co 10:4) The rock is clearly Christ and not Peter.
The wise man built is house upon what???? Peter or Petra?????? The ROCK, who is Christ the Lord….
J. Salza: Your exegesis is faulty for two obvious reasons. First, Jesus called Simon the “Rock” in John 1:42, so we don’t even need Matt 16:18 to prove Peter is the rock!
Second, your exegesis assumes attributions used in Scripture can only be applied to one person. This, of course, is not true. For example:
- in Ephesians 2:20, the apostles are called the foundation of the Church;
- in 1 Corinthians 3:11, Jesus is called the foundation of the Church.
- In 1 Corinthians 3:12, the faithful build upon the foundation;
- in Matthew 16:18, Jesus builds upon the foundation.
- In 1 Peter 2:5, the faithful are called the stones of God’s spiritual house;
- in Acts 4:11, Jesus is called the stone of God’s house.
- In 1 Corinthians 3:16, the faithful are the temple of God;
- in Apocalypse 21:22, Jesus is the temple of God.
- In Acts 20:28, the apostles are called the bishops of the flock;
- in 1 Peter 2:25, Jesus is called the Bishop of the flock.
If Scripture applies the words “foundation,” “builders,” “stones,” “temple,” and “bishop” to both Jesus and His faithful, nothing prevents Scripture from applying the word “rock” to both Jesus and Peter.
JW: No man is the head of the Church, Christ is the Rock, the head…. No where in scripture will you find a man as the head of the Church, the Bible clearly states that Christ is the head… Peter knew he was not the ROCK, Christ is the rock..
J. Salza: Jesus is the head and rock of the Church, but as Scripture teaches, Jesus shares these attributes with Peter. END.
JW: I can’t make you see the truth, this is left up to the spirit of God. CHRIST IS THE ROCK, NOT PETER. PETER WAS A MAN CALLED BY GOD TO BE AN APOSTLE…. But he was no Pope….
J. Salza: I have already demonstrated the error of your position.
JW: We will agree about one thing: The scriptures plainly teach of the Catholic Church
1Tim 4: 1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
I must get back to work…. I work for a phone company as an Engineer, and I also Pastor a Baptist Church… I guess I have sounded as though I am attacking you and for this I apologize…
J. Salza: John, I know you are not attacking me. We are both in this for the love of Jesus and the truth. You probably don’t come across Catholics very often who know the Scriptures. I do, and I hope I have provided you some insights. I would rather we focus on specific issues than take a shot-gun approach. If you wish to continue the dialogue, please write back.