I continue with my replies to your replies to my rebuttal of your BIBONLY.25 file (this could, quite obviously, become somewhat comical if we keep the replies to the replies to the rebuttals going…)
I had last evening gotten up to discussing point 6 of the BIBONLY.25 file. I’d like to make some more comments on what you said there.
As one looks at the history of “Christendom,” one is rather quickly struck by the rapidity with which the teaching of the New Testament, particularly in regards to salvation by grace through faith, was altered and shifted in favor of those teachings that are so common amongst the religions of men–all the various “works salvation” systems. A rather logical reason seems to suggest itself, of course, in that a theo-centric system of salvation is unique, and is utterly opposed to the pride of man; hence, there will always be pressure against such a unique and pride-effacing teaching. As the Gospel went out into the world, those who embraced it often had great difficulties separating themselves from their former religious systems of thought, that placed either all, or at least some, of the responsibility for “salvation” upon the person. This is evident in many of Paul’s writings, for such tendencies showed themselves in the very earliest years of the church.
Once one begins to lose the proper perspective on salvation, many other things will start to go with it. The “vitality” of the Christian faith is lost when the Gospel is no longer taught, and it succumbs all too easily to the systems of religion in the culture surrounding it. This can be easily seen in the history of the Roman church. For example, when the Pope sent missionaries into various parts of Northern Europe, many times the peoples would be converted “en masse”–but, of course, they were not therefore converted to Christ, but to a new religion. They simply took their old gods, and changed their names into those of the Christian ‘saints’. There was no radical change in the people, no repentance from sin, no worship of the one true God–instead, there is a ‘mass’ conversion of a nation to a new religion. As more and more of these ‘mass’ conversions took place, the resulting “church” is a polyglot of differing religious traditions and beliefs, desperately held together primarily by political power, certainly not by a united commitment to one truth!
You said in your post, Scott, that you felt that certain of Roman Catholic beliefs were held quite early, and you would be correct (relatively speaking). Those Roman beliefs that interfaced well with pagan practices and teachings, which would mollify the new ‘converts’, were quickly “added” to the supposedly “Christian” teachings. Later, when some kind of basis for this addition of nonBiblical (anti-Biblical) doctrines and teachings was needed, the concept of “tradition” as a *second* and *separate* source of authority was developed. Note well, however: one will find an appeal to “tradition” early on, but *not* in this context; some early Fathers referred to the traditions or teaching as evidence of authority–NOT as the modern Roman Catholic does. Someone such as Ignatius, for example, will refer to his “pedigree” in regards to being taught by those who were taught by the Apostles because he was struggling against the gnostics and their claim to having a “further” source of authority than the Bible (should sound familiar); this does *not* mean that he was referring to some “extra-Biblical” source of revelation or even some “extra-Biblical” authority (such as the modern Roman idea of tradition).
Indeed, we should be *more* surprised that the process was not speedier in all its facets; that is, it did take place quickly (generally) in regards to those areas that are most offensive to the human spirit (salvation based fully and completely upon the grace of God, without even the slightest bit of credit going to man), but in other areas it proceeded more slowly. We should not be surprised, I say, because we can see within the time-span of our own century a similar process that has taken place much faster. The death of many “Protestant” denominations (spiritually speaking) has taken place within the lifetime of our own parents. Why have so many “Protestant” churches abandoned their historical heritage, and been so quickly transformed into something that only barely represents what they once were? They abandoned the high view of Scripture that was that of the prophets, the Lord Jesus, the Apostles, and the Reformers. They jettisoned the very substance of the Gospel by jettisoning the authority that brought to them true and sure knowledge of that Gospel–the Word of God. Today churches that one hundred years ago stood for the Gospel are little more than social clubs, utterly devoid of worship and the knowledge of God. If this can take place so quickly–in less than a hundred years in some cases–should we be surprised that by A.D. 700 we find “Christian” leaders preaching sermons on pagan topics? Indeed, Pat Freuler has provided to us recently a story about how they are holding New Age/Eastern mysticism seminars in places like Westminster chapel in London. Would we be correct, then, to say that the men who wrote up the Westminster Confession of Faith only 300 years ago in that place believed in New Age mysticism? Of course not. Even so, we should be wary of saying “well, since this person in A.D. 590 (like Gregory) believed in a treasury of merit, then people much earlier believed in that too. No, Paul certainly did not believe in any such thing, and neither did Luke or Matthew or the Lord Jesus.
But, I have digressed long enough. I plan, Lord willing, to put together some material soon on the specifics of a number of Roman dogmas, and deal with the supposed “Biblical” basis cited to support them, so I will move on to the next point for now.
POINT 7: Here the author, again misunderstanding the very topic he is addressing, says that the NT church could not have looked to the Scriptures as the sole source of authority, since the whole canon was not yet completed. You, Scott, simply followed his lead in your reply.
First, as I’ve said, when the apostles “reasoned from the Scriptures” and by them demonstrated that Jesus was the Messiah, what Scriptures were they reasoning from? And when the Bereans tested the teaching and preaching of Paul and Silas in Acts 17 by “searching the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so,” what Scriptures were they searching? Did Paul and Silas come to them and say, “hey, we have the apostolic authority, and we will tell you what the Scriptures say–we refuse to be placed in subjection to the Word of God–we will rule over the Word of God!” No, of course not, though this is what the Roman church does. It CANNOT subject itself to the rule of the Word of God, for it teaches so much that is opposed to the Word of God. So, it sets itself up as sole judge and arbiter, denying to anyone the ability to hold it to the standards of God’s revelation. But, I’m digressing again. The point is this: to be true, the Roman position must demonstrate that the Bible could not be the sole authority in spiritual matters today, because God chose to write the book over a period of time. Do you feel this is logical? If you miss the connection between the two points of the argument, you are thinking logically. Am I saying that the apostles did not have authority? No, I’m not. The Lord Jesus, obviously, had authority, too. But, if we look to His example, we find that though He Himself was the very author of the Scriptures themselves, He subjugated Himself to their authority and quoted them as the court of “final appeal” in His disputes! If the Lord Jesus did this, and found no need to say, “well, my dear Pharisees, if you had access to *the whole truth* and were not limited, poor souls, just to the Tanakh (OT), you would know…”, then should we not find ourselves in agreement with His example, if indeed we claim to be His true followers? We see this in the Apostles themselves. Though they did have authority, they did not arrogate to themselves a position superior to the Scriptures, but, recognizing their origin in God Himself, they based their teachings upon them, recognizing in their preaching the fulfillment of the Prophets. Never do they give even the slightest indication that there is some “other” source of revelation or authority outside of the Word of God. Never.
You said in your reply that Jesus “changed the current beliefs of some of the OT laws.” So? He never changed a single OT law, did He? He taught that He came to fulfill, not do away with, the Law (Matthew 5:17-19). You have failed to provide a single reason why I should not believe that the Scriptures are the sole and sufficient rule for Christian faith, utterly without need of any supplement or addition from a church that teaches doctrines diametrically opposed to those of the Apostles.
POINT 8: Here, Scott, you utterly failed to even address the issue of point #8. The statement of the author is that the NT was “placed under one cover” by the Council of Constantinople in 397, and that, therefore, “non-Catholics have derived their New Testament from the