Catholicism Calmly Considered – John Boruff

A co-worker of mine gave me a copy of Stephen Ray’s Finding the Fullness of Faith, which is an anti-Protestant polemical teaching designed to convert evangelicals to the Catholic Church. This co-worker in turn had been given this CD by a Catholic co-worker. I will examine some of the major statements made in this CD, and reply…

1. “We wouldn’t have the New Testament without the bishops of the Catholic Church” (Track 3, 3:31). Ray makes this argument throughout the CD in several places. Firstly, while evangelicals consider the Bible to be the supreme authority of faith, Catholics consider their church, and particularly the pope and his bishops (the Magisterium), to be the supreme authority of faith. The Bible is a secondary authority to a Catholic. Secondly, the bishops who canonized the New Testament were the ones present at the Synod of Hippo in 393 A.D. under the leadership of Augustine. I think it is a great stretch of the imagination to call Augustine a “Catholic” in the sense we understand that term today: someone who, for all intents, considers the prayers of Mary essential to salvation, the pope to be the supreme authority of faith, Purgatory to be a real place, etc. No such especially Catholic doctrines are found in Augustine’s massive City of God. The explanation is easy. Augustine was a church father, but not a Catholic. For this reason, both Luther and Calvin relied heavily on Augustine in their theology; and so did many of the Puritans. Why would they have done this if Augustine taught Catholic dogmas? They would certainly have condemned him and all of his theology as antichrist! Thirdly, it is arguable that the Roman Catholic Church, with all of its pet doctrines, with its papal infallibility doctrine, etc, did not fully come into being until the 1200s. However, many essential Catholic practices existed before the absolute authority of the pope was taught. As early as 451 A.D., the Council of Ephesus approved of devotion to Mary as the Mother of God; and before that a church father named Methodius was praising Mary in 305 A.D. So, while it could be argued that Marian ideas were present with some of the bishops who canonized the Bible along with Augustine, it was still not an official church doctrine at that time; and neither was papal infallibility. These are two major strikes against the idea that the Catholic Church produced the Bible. Without the absolute authority of the pope and Mary to lean on for salvation, both medieval and modern Catholic faith falls apart; and both of these things were not established dogmas at the time of the Synod of Hippo, which canonized the Bible.

2. “We had gone to a church that had tried to go back to the blueprints of the New Testament, which is impossible by the way” (Track 5, 1:37). Wow. I can’t believe he said that. Don’t you think its possible that God would honor your faith if you were just taking God’s Word on faith and trying to put it into practice? Yet, Ray goes on to say that because the Catholic Church had already been established, there is no need to cut down the corrupted tree and plant a new one. Compromise, in other words.

3. “Martin Luther opened the Pandora’s box” (Track 6, 2:00). By this Ray is saying that Luther and the Reformation opened up the door for all of the cults, heresies, and denominations that exist today. Theological confusion was unleashed. What a blaming game! Heresies existed in the early church (Gnostics, Judaizers), the medieval church (Albigensians, etc), etc. Luther merely opened the door for freedom of thought: and that in turn opened the door to the good, the bad, and the ugly. Luther’s intentions were only for good: to purify the Christian faith: that salvation by faith as preached by the apostles and the book of Romans, might be the staple of Christian spirituality, and that Bible study might become the source of theology.

4. “If a Methodist sins against a Baptist, which church will judge it?” (Track 7, 00:36). This is a “wise guy” almost facetious way of handling Matthew 18. Christ is head of the church invisible! Let Him be the judge! (Col. 1:18).

5. Some Catholic ideas are in the writings of some early church fathers. Ray makes this point many times; and its true, I admit it. But it does not make these things correct, because they contradict the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” By the word “Scripture,” Paul means the Bible. 66 books. Not the Apostolic Fathers and not the Ante-Nicene Fathers. The Bible. That’s it. So, that’s my authority. Those other writings can help in many ways, just like modern theology books, but they are not Scripture and are not written by the twelve apostles or their cohorts.

About John Boruff

John Boruff is a husband, father, blogger, and insurance agent.
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9 Responses to Catholicism Calmly Considered – John Boruff

  1. Cecelia says:

    I’m Catholic. Like many others, I left the church and joined a Protestant church. After many years I returned. I don’t believe the way to salvation is through Mary nor do I believe the Pope is the ultimate faith authority. In fact, I don’t personally know a single practicing Catholic who believes either of those things. What we believe is that Jesus is the way to salvation and the Pope is our church leader and an authority as a moral compass. We also believe other writings and modern theology books are helpful, but the Bible is the final authority. Our own faith in God and belief in Jesus Christ is the way of salvation. I do question some of the Catholic tradition, but see my participation as an exercise of faith in God. In the end, I believe God looks at the intent of our heart and our sincere desire to serve him.

  2. Farouk says:

    I’ve seen it all, originally coming from Islam I did some serious research into Christianity. I noticed similarities between Catholicism and Islam one of which was reciting repetitive prayers using beads (I think it’s called the rosary?). Almost every religion follows a prayer babbling approach, in Catholicism it’s receiving pardon/forgiveness of sins by completing a certain quota of reciting the hail Mary (Was the Blood of Jesus not suffice that we have to refer to a women born of flesh into sin?)… then there the statues and pictures of semiramis/”Mary”/Diana etc. Where clearly the bible says in Ex:20:4: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:” What about baptism by sprinkling water (unscriptural), eucharist?…. I can go on and on and I’m sure that the catholics can do similar to the current organised church.

    I knew a charismatic pastor that once said that when he was in the catholic church. He could go out clubbing/partying (not sure what you call it in your country) until 2am, sleep for 3 hours then wake up to get ready for church without being forced to. However after getting saved, to wake up at 8/9am was a problem. Humans love to go for what is easy, the adversary will fight and war against you when you’re doing the right thing.

    Back to my original point. I was not prepared to go from one form of bondage to another, I believe in a relationship with God.. I will not insult Him who is all Powerful and who’s Holiness can kill man by equating Him equal to man by saying that God Almighty has a mother which would make her superior to Him. Or that the Great Comforter, the Holy Spirit is in-suffice so we have to refer to Mary? Or that the constant intercession by Jesus Himself is not suffice and He needs the help of Mary or Pope’s etc. to help Him? Does this even make sense, coming from Islam there’s something we would not even consider doing logically e.g. certain Hindu religions worship the nastiest beasts, the most evil looking things in existence, I don’t need any special gifting to see that that is wrong.. likewise having an infallible God who created all things and all flesh, needs help from flesh?

    However unless the Holy Spirit opens people’s eyes, they will believe what they wish to believe… especially people who grew up following certain traditions and customs, they will always be right because that’s just how it is and how it’s always been and how it should be. I admit, I was blind but now I see.. I pray that the eyes of everyone’s understanding be open.

  3. Cecelia says:

    People of all religions go out “clubbing”. Many Protestant pastors and Catholic priests sin by adultery, lying, cheating, etc. Graven images could be the cross as well. How many Christians have grasped the cross on the chain around their neck when they say a prayer? How many Christians say a silent prayer to a deceased loved to help them out? How many Christians go to another Christian for prayer on their behalf? How many Christians have created a room/area for prayer in their homes with a picture of Jesus on the wall? I may be wring, but this article seems to have been posted to demonize the Catholic church. Catholic’s serve Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Stop nitpicking to find fault with others. Please remove the bean pole from your own eyes before pointing out the toothpick in someone else’s. I stand fervently behind my original comment.

  4. Farouk says:

    Recall in my comment I mentioned that the same can be argued by the Catholic church to Protestant churches. I also mentioned that I believe in a relationship with Jesus Christ who says if you love “Me”, keep My commandments. The original post by John was in response to Protestants being “demonized” (log in eye)… Perhaps I might have sounded harsh in my style of writing but I can assure you that there was no “demonization” intended. However I do not agree with graven images and the like… items like that show that we do not love Jesus… no matter what item it is.

    • Cecelia says:

      I respectfully appreciate your reply. Although there may be some disagreement about a few things, overall I do believe we share the acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

  5. John Boruff says:

    One of the biggest things I learned from the CD is that Catholicism is all about church authority. So, for Catholics like Cecelia, who are trying to live by faith in Jesus through involvement with the Catholic Church, I’m not so much addressing her. I’m addressing the theology and philosophy of Catholicism as a whole. Stephen Ray is a recognized Catholic apologist: so this article is only intended as a response to him. Ray says, in such and so many words, that the pope–and not the Bible–is the supreme authority for the Christian. For Catholic theology, the Bible is a product of the Catholic Church, and should not be read with Protestant eyes, but only with Catholic eyes. I personally have a real problem with that. Mainly because the Bible was written by prophets, apostles, and disciples of Jesus; and is clearly inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16). Whereas, the Catholic dogmas clearly contradict the Bible in many ways. See here –

    • Cecelia says:

      John, I do share your sentiment regarding Ray saying the Pope is the supreme authority for the Christian. Nor do I agree with Ray’s belief the Word of God is strictly limited to a certain group of Christians. Sometimes what people “say” (their intention) can be different from others “hear” (how its perceived) – depending on life experience or just the mindset they’re in that day. So I apologize for misinterpreting your original post. I certainly don’t want my Protestant brothers and sisters to think all Catholics always believe and think the same. In another words, we’re like all our other brethren in Christ – sometimes we agree or disagree about scripture and interpretation.

  6. Farouk says:

    Cecelia, I apologise for coming across in a bad way. I can sometimes verbalise what I need to say more effectively. I have a terrible style of writing haha. Thank you for being patient 🙂

    • Cecelia says:

      No worries my friend. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes what we meant to say can be interpreted differently by others. You are entitled to your thoughts and opinions, which I respect. I do welcome looking at other perspectives. Blessings to you and yours.

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