Claim 3: Catholic Worship is Idolatrous (Part 2)

2.     Bones & Relics

The author shows little demonstration of Holy Scripture. Does the touch of Christ’ cloak not heal a woman (Mt. 9:20-22), St. Peter’s shadow not heal in Acts (Acts 5:14-16), the handkerchief and aprons of St. Paul heal diseases and drive out demons (Acts 19:11-12)? What about when the bones of Elisha brought a dead man to life (2 Kgs. 13:20-21)? The list of Scriptural proof goes on with many more sacramental objects, such as, Elijah’s mantle, Aaron’s staff, etc.

Challies’ claim is strongly opposed to the testament of Scripture. Greater homework and honesty in research needs to be exercised. I understand the problem having formerly read the Scriptures from the lens of my Protestant tradition. “Blip verses” such as, “baptism… now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21) get ignored or swept under the rug with a shrug of the shoulders. Because they do not fit what pastor said. We resigned thoughtfulness in thinking the passage could not possibly mean what it said. As a former Baptist, when our young adults group read through 1 Peter, we unintentionally skipped conversation on the meaning of said verse. We were more interested in the “how do we apply this to our lives (in 21st century USA),” rather than asking “how did Christians in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. centuries interpret this Tradition of Holy Writ?” It was so much a part of the tradition of Protestant culture that we did not recognize our frequent biblical and intellectual dishonesty. A few significant select verses did not exist on the forefront of our consciouses like; Paul’s charge to participate in the Breaking of the Bread daily, James’ discourse on works completing Faith, and Jesus’ teaching that the Word of God is primarily Himself (not the Bible) and is freely given in the Eucharist (cf. Jn 1:1, 14; 6:56; Lk 22:19).

3.     Iconography – Graven Images

The Church venerates images in the same way Challies venerates pictures (a “graven image”) of his loved ones. Certainly, adherents to Protestantism keep photographs of family and friends on refrigerators and in their wallets, yet, are ever so slow to grasp this contradiction. Furthermore, do they not annually put out little “graven images” of the Nativity every Christ-mass (clearly, a Catholic holiday) season? Little figurines of the Holy Family are set up as a shrine to reflect the mystery of the Incarnation, however, Protestantism does not recognize this duplicity. Do Protestants pass by the famous Iwo Jima statues, or the Lincoln Memorial, and cry, “IDOLATRY!”? No.. Why? Because they rightly understand it is not idol worship to merely have a statue. It calls to mind the actions and glory of the ancestors and history we revere. Why not implement such art to draw hearts upward in prayer?

Shortly after quoting the commandment to have no graven images, the Protestant skips the “blip verse” commandment to build the statues of the cherubim. “…in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim”. [26]

The Image of God has been fully realized in the person of Jesus Christ; it is the pharisees who argue against Him. Why is it that Protestants find themselves at the logical conclusion, though haphazardly, with the pharisees, as if the Image of God is yet to be revealed? In fact, this is more reminiscent of Islam forbidding any images of their prophet.

If Protestantism desires to remain consistent on this point, they would do well to destroy all Nativity sets, this Billy Graham statue, dolls, figurines, photographs (on Facebook too!), and memorial sites. In fact, having a cell phone with a background picture of the Prince of Peace ought to be held culpable.

Next Post:
Appendix 1:
A Practice Inconsistent with “Earning” Salvation: Infant Baptism


26. CCC, 2130.

Claim 3: Catholic Worship is Idolatrous (Part 1)

1. Mary and Saint “Veneration”

Challies fails to define “To venerate” after stating it is nuanced.  It does not mean “idol worship” as he seems to presuppose, rather, a Google search would have aided him in finding the definition, “great respect; reverence”.

How is this different than having “great respect” for Great grandfather Arthur, who served in WWII. As his descendants we desire to emulate the virtue of his courage, valor, loyalty, and sacrifice displayed in a time of great hardship. We do not bow down to him in adoration nor do we offer sacrifice to him as a deity, yet, we do revere him and desire to model the virtue he embodied. This veneration does not diminish the respect we have for his fellow soldiers or superiors; rather, it demonstrates their excellent qualities as well. In a greater way than we ever could, Jesus, being perfect, obeyed the Ten Commandments to their fullness; thus, honoring His mother Mary. No Catholic venerates Mother Mary more than her Son, Jesus.

Catholics do not “pray to” (in the way Protestantism understands) the Holy Ones (saints), rather, we “humbly request” (definition of “to pray”) them to intercede for us. This is no different than asking a spouse, friend, brother, or mother to intercede for you. It does not differ because we have Eternal Life. To disagree is to side with the Sadducees; do we not serve the God of the living and not the dead? Our communion with them is not lessened when they enter into the fullness of life. They remain, in a greater way, part of the Vine. How dare we to cut them off simply because we cannot see them. Jesus, who is fully human, communed with the “saints,” Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration. If Catholics are guilty of “saint worship,” than the conclusive extension of said logic applies to Jesus.

In the same way, a person in Protestantism asks someone, who they readily identify with, to intercede for them, so do the faithful of the Church ask those Saints to intercede for us (cf. Hebrews 12:1 and 1 Tim. 2:1-3). We have great confidence in this because no unholy person may stand before the face of God (cf. Rev 21:27), and the prayers of the righteous availeth much (cf. James 5:16). Just as the Mother of God interceded on behalf of the people at the Wedding Feast of Cana (cf. John 2:1-4), so do we now recognize she intercedes for us at the Eternal Wedding Feast of the Lamb, along with all the other saints below the Altar (cf. 6:9-11). And she is always pointing toward her Son saying, “Do whatever He tells you” (cf. John 2:5).

The piece fails to adequately understand “worship”. The term is used by The Church in an ancient sense and was not simply developed 180 years ago in the United States with the advent of Fundamentalism. “…In common speech worship means adoration given to God alone. In this sense Catholics do not worship Mary or any of the other saints. But in older usage the term worship means not just adoration of God but the honor given to anyone deserving. It comes from the Old English weorthcipe, which means the condition of being worthy of honor, respect, or dignity. To worship in the older, larger sense is to ascribe honor, worth, or excellence to someone, whether a sage, a magistrate, or God. But there are different kinds of worship as there are different kinds of honor. The highest honor, and thus the highest worship, is given to God alone [sacrifice], while the honor or worship given to living men or to saints in heaven is of a different sort. Idolatry thus does not simply mean giving worship (in the old sense) to living men or to saints; it means giving them the kind reserved for God. …Consider how honor is given. We regularly give it to public officials. In the U.S. it is customary to address a judge as ‘Your Honor’. (It has been the British custom to address certain magistrates… as ‘Your Worship’…)”. [24]

The Jews believe in intercession of the saints as well, if only partially. They believe the “Archangel Michael protects and prays for the people of Israel (Dn. 10:21, 12:1).” And, “In the second century before Christ, the deceased High Priest Onias was seen praying for ‘the whole body of the Jews with outstretched hands’ (2 Mac 12:15).” Furthermore, and quite astonishingly for those in Protestantism, “For centuries, Jews have made pilgrimages to the Tomb of Rachel, considered the third holiest shrine of Judaism. Faithful Jews… praying… knowing that God will answer prayers through the intercession of Mother Rachel” [25] because she is “weeping for her children” (Jer 31:15).

To maintain consistency, Challies should no longer pray for anyone or ask anyone to intercede for him. Of course, that would be absurd, but consistent.

If Challies would have read the catechism for himself he would have read, CCC 2113:

“Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc.”

Here is a link to understand The Intercession of the Saints. It is a biblical and historical understanding. Quotes from the earliest Christians attest to the validity of interceding/praying for one another.

St. Augustine of Hippo said,

“A Christian people celebrates together in religious solemnity the memorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and so that it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers” (Against Faustus the Manichean [A.D. 400]).

A Note:  This is also discussed in this post: Wait, What?!? You DO Worship Mary!?!

Next Post:
Claim: Catholic Worship is Idolatrous (Part 2)


24. Keating, Fundamentalism and Catholicism, pg. 259-60.
25. Taylor Marshall, The Crucified Rabbi, pg. 171.

Claim 2: The “Roman” Catholic Church is not the Church

A Note: It is one thing to engage with and argue against the evidence and claims of the Catholic Church.  That is a respectable position that opens the door for dialogue.  It is another thing entirely to label them unprovable without argumentation, especially as an easy historical case could be made that the burden of proof rest upon the one in protest.

1. Apostolic Succession

Challies quickly inserts his presumptions into his argumentation without offering any evidence. He begins with assumptions, argues with them, and concludes with them. At least he partially understands succession, “Rome claims to trace her lineage in an unbroken line that extends all the way back to the apostle Peter…” He continues, “I do not recognize such lineage and, therefore, do not recognize such authority. Her claims are unprovable and represent a distortion of the Bible’s claims about Christ’s church.” What Mr. Challies, the sola authority, is really saying is, “I disagree with her, therefore she isn’t the church,” exercising a disabled cognitive ascension in differentiating between a subjective and an objective truth. The logic looks akin to, “Since I can’t be convinced of Her claims they are obviously unprovable. If they were provable, I would have to admit I am wrong and She is right.  So, She is not the Church.  She actually is so much not the Church that She is a false Church, though, I can’t actually identify the true Church. Why? Because R.C. Sproul said so.”

He claims it to be “unprovable” without evidence. So let us provide him with some evidence. “If it is archaeological evidence he wants, he can turn to John Evangelist Walsh’s The Bones of St. Peter, which recounts in detail the excavations under the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. If he wants literary or historical proof, he can turn to a reference work such as Jurgen’s The Faith of the Early Fathers, which quotes sixteen passages from early Christian writers attesting to Peter’s being in Rome and dying there. In fact, we have more sources citing Peter’s presence in Rome than we have affirming Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon”. [18] And if it is proof of succession he desires, the names are listed in any encyclopedia. The second pope “was Linus, as a few moments’ research would have shown”. Challies “made no effort to look at even plainly secular sources (forget Catholic sources) in developing his critique”. [19]

Jurgen’s The Faith of the Early Fathers, even goes on to quote the Church Fathers in saying, “Peter established his See at Rome and made the Bishop of Rome his successor in the primacy” [20].

The authoritative role that Peter is given is evident when he receives the keys of the kingdom, after being promised by the Faithful God that the Church would be built upon him.  This is the fulfillment of the prophecies in Isaiah 22:20-23; “On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah I will clothe him with your robe, gird him with your sash, confer on him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key* (Key: symbol of authority; cf. Mt 16:19; Rev 3:7) of the House of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one will shut, what he shuts, no one will open. I will fix him as a peg in a firm place, a seat of honor for his ancestral house.”

These said servants, typologically point (foreshadow, as in “Adam is a type of Christ”) to Peter as steward of the kingdom. The servant is not the King Himself, but his Vicar.

Near the end of the second century, Irenaeus mentioned that Matthew wrote his Gospel, “while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church”.  He said the two departed from Rome, perhaps to attend the Council of Jerusalem, and he noted that Linus was named as Peter’s successor – that is, the second Pope – and that next in line were Anacletus (also known as Cletus) and then Clement of Rome. [21]

…Peter was first in authority among the Apostles. When they were named, Peter almost always headed the list (Mt. 10:1-4; Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:14-16; Acts 1:13); sometimes it was only ‘Peter and his companions’ (Lk 9:32). Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles (Mt 18:21; Mk 8:29; Lk 12:41; Jn 6:69), and he figured in many of the most dramatic scenes (Mt 14:28-32; 17:24; Mk 10:28). On Pentecost it was he who first preached to the crowds (Acts 2:14-40), and he worked the first healing (Acts 3:6-7). And to Peter came the revelation that Gentiles were to be baptized (Acts 10:46-48). [22]

And sometime after Simon’s new name is given (name changing is certainly not a meaningless gesture in Jewish culture), is he not promised, “Whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:19). “Here Peter was singled out for the authority that provides for the forgiveness of sins and the making of disciplinary rules”. [23] For where do we go when someone needs disciplined on account of licentiousness? Are they privately summoned before the Bible (which, by historical fact, was not in existence yet), or are they to be summoned before the authority of the Church (Mt 18:15-17)? It is not the Bible that is “the pillar and bulwark of the truth,” but the Church (1 Tim 3:15). Jesus did not institute or promise a book – but a Church.

A quick resource, Peter the Rock, by a former Southern Baptist, who found his way Home to Jesus’ Church.  For a thorough examination of the Papacy, see Stephen Ray’s book, Upon this Rock (I’ll buy it for you, amlewis937@gmail.com).

Jesus came to establish One Church, One Body, and One Bride, not 30,000+ denominations; He is not a polygamist. To remove the institution of the visible organic Body from the Head, for an invisible body (bodies aren’t invisible) or “Churchless Christianity,” is to participate in the beheading of Jesus. This is not so in the Catholic Church. We are not a people of a book, like the Muslims. We are a people of a Person.  A Person whose body is the Church and whose word is repeated through the ages by that Church in the Holy Writ and Sacred Tradition. The Bible did not slide down a rainbow; it was authoritatively canonized nearly 400 years after Jesus established the Church and gifted to us by the Church councils who themselves received it as custodians, not masters. Which leads us to ask, who was the authority during this time? Sola scriptura, by mere logic, reason, and historical data, holds no weight.

Challies reasons as if, The Lord poured out His Spirit, which will lead us into all truth, at Pentecost, then, He waited 1500 years to bless His “underground Church” with the supreme mediators Luther and Calvin.

Challies maintains he adheres to Protestantism because of R.C. Sproul; I converted to the R.C. Church because of Jesus’ faithful calling, promises, and New Covenant. Challies Christianity is traced to R.C. Sproul, mine, for two millennia back to the Patristic Fathers, The Apostles, and Jesus.

The article does eventually get around to quoting someone (without citation), yet, the subjectivism in no way supports his claim. The quote by, Leonardo De Chirico, places salvation emphasis on “personal relationship with Jesus (nowhere in the Scriptures or Tradition) and reading the Bible (excluding the illiterate and the first 400 years of Christians). This man accepts the New Testament written, compiled, closed, and given to him by the authority of the Church, yet, ironically uses his subjective interpretation of the Bible to reject the Church; how does he not view this as a contradiction of objective truth? The quote further demonstrates Evangelicalism’ inability to define what in fact is an objective Christian.

Next Post:
Claim: Catholic Worship is Idolatrous (Part 1)


18. Keating, pg 91-92.
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid, pg. 203.
22. Ibid, pg. 205.
23. Ibid, pg. 207.

Response to “Why I am not Roman Catholic”: Intro

Co-Authored by Adam Lewis and Spencer Hargadon

For about a week Adam Lewis and I will be putting out our response to this article: “Why I Am Not Roman Catholic”.  We will be snail mailing this to the author as well as it is the most efficeint way to reach him.

Intro:

Challies’ article quickly falls into typical errors and accusations commonly found within some forms of Protestantism.  Among them is the temptation to define his beliefs by articulating what he is against (Protests), rather than a profession of a universal (Catholic) creed and tradition.  These are his own words, “In this series I am exploring some of the things I do not believe as a means to explaining what I do believe” (Challies, “Why I Am Not Roman Catholic”). The response that follows is not an attack on Challies’ character (ad hominem) or a questioning of his devotion to the Lord.  In actuality, it presumes that he and his subscribers are of such character and devotion that they would not desire to bear false witness.

Let’s begin with the title. The title “Roman Catholic” is widely used in both the secular and religious world.  It is a title that can be used with no intention at all or, unfortunately, is used as a pejorative.  A kind of religious bigotry that largely comes from Protestantism’s Eurocentric worldview. Challies’ frequent use of “Rome” as interchangeable with the Catholic Church is reminiscent of the latter.  While the earthly Pastor of the Catholic Church is the Bishop of Rome, it is misleading to name all Catholics “Roman”. In the West, we are predominantly of the Latin (Roman) rite, however, there are over 25 rites (stylistic differences in worship, different ways of approaching Church disciplines, and diversity in theology, but unity in Doctrine), including Greek, Byzantine, Maronite, Coptic, and Syromalabar to name a few [1]. We are, after all, God’s universal Church…

The article is riddled with errors, however not all will be addressed since not all claims seem thoughtful enough to merit a response. For example, when Challies refers to “church history,” apparently it’s all the way back to the glorious ancient days of John Calvin and his murderous theocracy at Geneva. He also throws in (lacking a single footnote or example) the “long saga” of Protestantism’s fight against the Church. Hopefully, he does not intend to side with Albigensianism [2], which had such poor gnostic theology on the body that suicide was encouraged. This is the point, these appear to be scarecrow tactics as Challies creates a plethora of broad sweeping false dichotomies without precise definitions or clarity of his own personal theology. Thus, it is unreasonable to respond to all the false accusations, and quite difficult. Not because the fullness of Truth is on his side but because he never actually makes a solid or precise claim for himself, other than, “I was raised that way”. With an attempt at precision, we defend reasonableness, research, objective truth, and Our Lord’s Church, by confronting the major false accusations.  We hope to do so with, “gentleness and reverence, keeping [our] conscience[s] clear” (1 Peter 3:16).

As this work is co-authored we both contributed to one another’s efforts, but Mr. Hargadon was directly responsible for Claim 1 and the Appendix, and Mr. Lewis took on Claims 2 & 3.  Any personal ‘I’ statements found in those sections is indicative of that person.

Next Post:
Claim 1: Catholicism Denies the Gospel (Part 1)


1. https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/catholic_rites_and_churches.htm
2. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians”, pg 45.