Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Catholic Faith

Some of the greatest Christians around are Protestants. Their faith in Jesus is truly amazing. Their love of scripture is something that all Catholics need to emulate.  However, some of their attacks on the Catholic Church are just plain wrong.  This article hopes to answer some of these attacks with some Catholic "quick hits", from the Bible.

“Catholic Church Tradition is not of God. Only the Bible alone is inspired.”

The New Testament speaks of a rock that followed the Israelites in the desert (1 Corinthians 10:4), “Moses’ seat” (Matthew 23:2), Jannes and Jambres opposing Moses (2 Timothy 3:8), the prophecy that the savior shall be called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23), and the dispute over Moses’ body (Jude 1:9).   Please show me in the Old Testament where these things are. If you can’t, then these things are an example of Tradition being used in the New Testament.  The New Testament also says that The Church is the pillar and bulwark of Truth, not  scripture alone  (1Timothy 3:15).  Paul says to hold fast to the Traditions he taught, either in writing or by word of mouth (2 Thessalonians 2:15).  The Bible says that Christ is The Head of His Church (Ephesians 5:23), so by attacking His Church, just like Saul did, you are attacking Jesus Himself (Acts 9:4).  If Sacred Tradition (what all generations of the Church have taught) is ignored, then the alternative is that heretical popular doctrines of the day, like homosexual marriage, cloning, abortion on demand, embryonic stem cell research, etc., will start to be accepted by pastors and churches who want to be called modernistic, and who don't want to offend the popular culture. This can currently be seen in the Anglican and Episcopalean Churches, as well as some other protestant churches. These formerly evil things become part of their church doctrine by a simple majority vote of the delegates to their conventions.  Vice should never become virtue by popular vote. Isaiah 5:20 says "woe to them who call evil good and good evil." When Tradition is not present in a church, this is exactly what happens, and is happening now before our very eyes.

“Good Works have nothing to do with getting into heaven. Faith alone is what gets you into heaven.”

Matthew 5:16 commands us all to do good works as a way to let our light shine before men, so as to give glory to God.  In Matthew 25, at the final judgment, only the people who performed good works got into heaven (Matthew 25:31-46). The people who did not were banished into hell. In those verses, Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of our brethren, we do to HIM! In the book of James, God declares through Scripture that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-17). Who wants dead faith?  Dead faith is no faith at all. True faith in Jesus has good works embedded in it.  Paul says that scripture makes you complete by equipping you for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus says that we will do greater works than He did (John 14:12).  The only useless kind of works are old Jewish works of the law (Galatians 3:10), like circumcision, ritual hand washing, and dietary laws.  These useless works of the law are certainly not good works, which we have to do as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ, and which we were created for (Ephesians 2:10).  Hebrews 10:24 says to stir up one another to "love and good works", which indicates that love and good works GO TOGETHER.  1 Timothy 6:18 says that the rich are to also be rich in good deeds, so that they can attain heaven.  Titus 3:8 says that those who believe in God must do good deeds, because they are excellent and profitable.  Catholics, just like Jesus Christ and his apostles,  don’t do good works in order to be saved; rather, we do good works because that is what Jesus expects us to do if we truly have faith in Him.  Doing good deeds is the imitation of Christ's life on earth, who raised the dead, healed the crippled, and made the blind see. St. Paul says that there are three things that abide;  faith, hope, and love, and THE GREATEST of these is LOVE, not faith (1 Corinthians 13:13).

“The Eucharist is only symbolic.  I can’t see any difference between a consecrated host and a plain host.”

Do you have a soul?  Yes?  Then please show it to me.  Does gravity exist?  Then please show me what it looks like. Has anyone ever seen the wind, or just the effects of the wind?  What does air look like?  Catholics walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Every Sunday Catholics say that we believe in all things seen and unseen, from the Nicene Creed formed in 325 AD.  Jesus said at the Last Supper, “This IS my body” (Matthew 26:26), not “This represents my body.”  Paul says that if you eat the Eucharist without discerning THE BODY (1 Corinthians 11:29-30), then you eat it to your own condemnation, and could get sick and die.  Jesus Himself says His Flesh is real food and His blood is real drink (John 6:55). Just like the old Adam physically ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and died (Genesis 3:3-17), just so, we are to physically eat Jesus’(the new Adam, 1 Corinthians 15:45) flesh (John 6:51-56) from His tree (the Cross, Acts 5:30) and live forever.  When Jesus says that “the flesh is useless” (John 6:63), He is not referring to His flesh (John 6:51: 54: 55: 56), but rather our flesh in general. Otherwise, it would mean that Jesus’ flesh is useless, which would negate everything He just said in the entire chapter of John 6.  We also have the writings of the disciples of the apostles, the early Church Fathers, like Iranaeus and Ignatius.  These early Church Fathers, many of whom were martyred for the faith at the Colosseum in Rome, were taught what to believe by the apostles. In no case did they ever say that the Eucharist is symbolic;  rather, they said that it is indeed the flesh of Jesus Christ.  Many Protestants refuse to read their writings, saying proudly that "they aren't biblical".  They then pick up and read the writings of Max Lucado and Billy Graham!  These early Church Fathers, at the risk of their very lives,  handed on the gospels and the epistles to all future generations, before there even was a New Testament, which didn't come about until the late 4th Century.  Their writings should at least be read from a historical context. To ignore them is to ignore Church history, which some protestants really believe started in the 16th Century with Martin Luther.

“It is forbidden to pray to the saints. You can only pray to God. The saints are dead, and it is forbidden to contact the dead.  Besides that, in 1 Timothy 2:5, the Word of God says that there is ONE Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ.”

In Genesis 30:14, it says, “Then Rachel said to Leah, "Give me, I pray, some of your son's mandrakes."  In Genesis 40:8, the bible says that Joseph prayed to his fellow captives as follows: “They said to him, "We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them." And Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, I pray you."  To pray means merely to ask; it does not mean to talk to God only. Look it up in the dictionary. And the saints are not dead, they are alive. Jesus says that  "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:32).  Paul says that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, in Hebrews 12:1.  Witnesses have to be alive in order to testify on our behalf to the supreme judge.  In Revelation 6:10, we learn that the saints in heaven know what is going on down here on earth.  In Luke 16:24, we learn that dead people in hell can communicate with the very dead Abraham. In Mark 9:4, the "dead" Moses and Elijah appear to Jesus and communicate with Him regarding his exodus from earth. People who believe that being dead in the body is also dead in the soul are called atheists, not Christians. It would be sinful to conjure up a dead person, like Saul did with Samuel (1 Samuel 28:14), in order to gain hidden knowledge (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).  But asking for intercession (1 Timothy 2:1) from live, holy people is very biblical, due to the power they have (James 5:16, 2 Peter 1:4). Revelation 5:8 and 8:3 plainly state that the saints and angels present our prayers to God in the form of incense.  Saints pray alongside of us to Jesus as our intercessors. They do not stand "between" us and God.  And they can pray for us when we are asleep, 24/7.  There is indeed one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ.  And what is He the mediator of?  Paul says in Hebrews 9:15 and Hebrews 12:24 that Jesus is the mediator of THE NEW COVENANT, not prayer.  Intercession in prayer does not equate to being the mediator of the New Covenant;  they are 2 entirely different things.  The saints are equal to the angels, and are His sons, according to Luke 20:35-36.  John 17:20-23 says that the saints are one with God, and that He has given them HIS glory.

“Catholics break the biblical command to not call anyone on earth father by referring to their priests as Father”.

One of the Ten Commandments given us by God was to “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother.”  It doesn’t say “Dad”; it says Father.  Paul says that he is our father in Christ Jesus in 1 Corinthians 4:15. In James 2:21, James refers to Abraham as our father.  In 1 John 2:14, John is writing to the fathers.  Hyperbole is used in the Bible in several places, in order to make a point. The point with “call no man on earth your father” (Matthew 23:9) is to let us all know that our Heavenly Father is the Father of us all (“Our” Father).  Other examples of hyperbole would be “all have sinned” (Jesus, 1 day old infants, people born with brain damage have not sinned), and “all Israel will be saved” from Romans 11:26 (Israeli murderers, robbers, sorcerers, fornicators, etc., who do not repent will not be saved).  Jesus says in Luke 14:26 ,"If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Does anyone really think that statement by Jesus is to be taken literally?  And in America we have this holiday called “Father’s day”. Do you celebrate this day with Catholics?

“The Catholic doctrine of Purgatory is made up. It has no biblical basis.”

The book of Daniel says that the very throne of God is fire: “As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire.” (Daniel 7:9).And when God speaks, fire issues forth from His mouth: “A stream of fire issued and came forth from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. (Daniel 7:10).  In the New Testament, at Pentecost, God the Holy Spirit appeared as non-consuming tongues of fire to the apostles (Acts 2:3).  God also appeared as a non-consuming fire to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2). And then there are these 2 verses of scripture that talk about God and fire: Hebrews 12:29: "For our God is a consuming fire."1 Peter 1:7: "The  genuineness  of  your  faith,  more  precious  than  gold  that is perishable  even  though tested by  fire, may  prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  In Matthew 12:31, Jesus told the parable about blaspheming the Holy Spirit (not believing that the Holy Spirit can save you, no matter what – the sin of despair), and said that anyone who does blaspheme the Holy Spirit  "will not be forgiven in this age or the age to come" (Matthew 12:32).  Since sins aren't forgiven in Hell, and those in Heaven are already forgiven for their sins, then this one statement indicates another place after death where sins can indeed be forgiven.    In the First Book of Peter 3:19 and 4:6, Peter says that after the crucifixion and death of Jesus, that Jesus "went to speak to the spirits in prison", which means that there is a place people go to after they die that is a prison and not heaven nor hell. When Jesus told the parable of the man beating up others who owed him money, after he himself had been forgiven his debts (Matthew 18:23-34), He said “And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart" (Matthew 18:34-35).  Since there is no release program in Hell, and no one wants to ever leave Heaven, this also indicates that there is another temporary place of torment where saved sinners go who have been forgiven their sins, but who have not paid all of their debt, down to the last penny, for their sins. In fact, in Matthew 5: 25-26, Jesus says “Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.”  Isaiah was caught up into heaven and had to have his unclean tongue cleansed with a burning coal by a seraphim (the angels closest to God, who’s very name means burning one (Isaiah 6:5-7).  The Bible also says here that Isaiah’s guilt was taken away. Why purgatory?  It is a blessing because of what the bible says in Revelation 21:27 – “Nothing unclean shall enter heaven”.   So unless you are perfect with God when you die, you have no chance to get into heaven, unless you are purged of your sinfulness first.  And besides all of that, there is 1 Corinthians 3:11-15: For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw --  each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

"Catholics need to be “born again” in order to be saved."

Finish the sentence.  The sentence says that you must be born again of water and the spirit in order to be saved (John 3:5).  This is a clear reference to Baptism (Matthew 3:16).  We know from Matthew 3:16 that the Spirit comes to us at Baptism. The phrase can also be translated "born from above" in addition to "born again". Catholics have been baptized and this is no longer an issue.

"Catholics need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

Catholics consume the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ at every Holy Communion (John 6:56).  Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are living tabernacles of Christ  immediately after receiving Holy Communion.  You can’t get more personal than that.

You cannot lose your salvation, even if you commit what you Catholics call a mortal sin. Once saved, always saved. And besides, all sin is equal."

Jesus says in Mark 13:13 that you have to endure to the end to be saved.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27 that he pummels his body lest he himself should be disqualified from heaven after preaching the gospel.  Peter says in 2 Peter 2:20-22 that if you go back to your old ways of sin after following Christ, your new sinful state in life is worse than the first time you were a habitual sinner.  Paul says in Hebrews 10:26-29 that if you sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of truth, a fury of fire will consume you.  The Spirit of God rested upon Saul in 1 Samuel 10:6, and then the Spirit left Saul in 1 Samuel 16:14.  Concerning mortal sin, John says in 1 John 5:16-17 that there is indeed a thing called mortal sin, which he recommends not even praying about.  Also, in John 19:11, Jesus himself talks about Judas having the GREATER sin.

"You Catholics say that the Mass is an unbloody sacrifice of Jesus. The bible says that Jesus died once for our sins. Why do you keep on crucifying him again and again on that altar?"

Malachi 1:11 says that “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.”  This is a prefigurement of the Mass that Jesus initiated at the Last Supper, when He said “Do THIS in memory of me”.  The definition of the word THIS is that the changing of the bread and wine into His Body and Blood (Luke 22:19-20) must be perpetuated for all time.  The Eucharist is the replacement for the Passover meal that the Jews ate – a meal that saved them from physical death, and used unleavened bread.  The Eucharist also uses unleavened bread, and saves us from spiritual death.  The priest is not "re-sacrificing" Jesus over and over again. Rather, the original sacrifice is made present once again, through time and space, for us here now to enter into.  If you've ever watched the same movie repeatedly, the actors aren't redoing their original acting over and over again.  It is just re-presented again, in the original form.  The same goes for the Mass.

"Why do you have Jesus hanging from a cross in every Catholic Church?  Don’t you know that He is risen?"

Like  St. Paul,  the  Catholic Church  preaches  Christ  crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23).  By looking at the crucified Jesus on the cross, it is a constant reminder to us all that Jesus said that we, His followers, must pick up our own cross and follow him (Matthew 10:38). Meditating on the crucifixion of Jesus is healing for our soul (Isaiah 53:5).

"It is forbidden to have statues, and yet, you Catholics have statues in all of your churches.  This is idolatry!"

It certainly would be idolatry if any Catholic thought that the plaster and paint before him in the form of a person was actually a god. When God wrote this Commandment, the Israelites at that very moment were worshipping an Egyptian god, the golden calf (Exodus 32:4).  They were worshipping it as a god.  It is not forbidden to have statues. The Ten Commandments were carried around in the Ark of the Covenant, which had 2 statues of angels on top of it (Exodus 25:22).  Solomon had statues of cherubim in his magnificent temple (Ezekiel 41:19).  Moses had a serpent statue made in the desert, so that all who looked upon it (not worshipped it), would be healed of snake bites (Numbers 21:8).  When people stand up, place their hands over their hearts, and pledge allegiance to a red, white, and blue colored piece of fabric, that is only honoring what it represents, it is not worship. The exact same thing goes for statues.  The devil uses evil imagery on TV, in the movies, on web pages, in magazines, and on billboards to ensnare humans every day; conversely, the Catholic Church uses sacred imagery and art to inspire people to holiness.  When you look at a picture of your dead child or parents and start crying, you are not “worshipping” the picture; it is only a reminder of what the person looked like.

Mary couldn’t have been immaculately conceived. Paul says in Romans 3:10….”there are none righteous, no not one”.

Paul was quoting Psalm 14 (“It is written”), which is referring to atheists. In the book of Luke, there are at least 3 people in the New Testament who are righteous – Simeon (Luke 2), Elizabeth, and Zechariah (Luke 1).  The angel Gabriel called Mary “full of grace” before she conceived Jesus in her womb (Luke 1:28) – that must make her righteous in the eyes of God, to be “full of grace”. And besides, we had all better be righteous, or we won’t make it into heaven (Matthew 5:20).

"The Rosary is nothing but repetitive prayer, which is forbidden by scripture, in Matthew 6:7."

Matthew 6:7 says not to heap up empty phrases, like the Gentiles do.  The vocal part of the Rosary is made up of the Our Father, the Glory Be, the Apostles Creed, and the Hail Mary.  The Our Father is right from the Bible, the Glory Be says “Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.”  The Apostles Creed comes to us from the Apostles.  The Hail Mary comes to us from Luke, where the words of Gabriel (Hail Mary…) and the words of Elizabeth (blessed art thou…) are joined with the exhortation for the intercession of Mary, from John 2 (the waiters asked for Mary’s intercession to her son regarding no more wine).  Anybody who compares these biblical prayers to the “empty phrases” that the Gentiles used when praying to Isis, golden calves, and sun gods is really stretching it.  Jesus Himself repeated his prayer to God the Father at least 3 times in scripture during the agony in the Garden (Matthew 26), which, by the way is one of the 20 non-vocal meditations of the Rosary, which come to us from scripture.  In Revelation 4:8, the 4 living creatures in heaven say the same prayer over and over again, day and night, without ceasing.  Of course, no one should just say the prayers of the rosary without meditating on the meaning of the 20 mysteries.

"There is nothing in the Bible that says we have to worship Mary, like you Catholics do. She was just an ordinary woman like all women."

The Bible says that Mary’s soul, still very much alive and well as are all souls in heaven, magnifies the Lord (Luke 1:46).  The Bible also says (Luke 1:48) that ALL GENERATIONS are to call her blessed (and presumably to really mean it, and not just pay lip service).  Like the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant (Hebrews 9:4) which carried manna from heaven, the word of God, and the rod of Aaron that was dead and came back to life, Mary, in her womb carried Jesus who is the bread of life (John 6), the Word made Flesh (John 1), and who also was dead and who came back to life. Her adoptive son, St. John, says in Revelation 11:19 that he sees the long lost Ark of the Covenant. In the next sentence he describes the Ark as “A Woman (Genesis 3:15) clothed with the sun” (Mary appeared as a Woman Clothed with the Sun at Guadalupe, in 1531).  Catholics do not worship the very much alive (Matthew 22:32) Mary, but we do ask for her very powerful intercessory prayers (1 Timothy 2:1, James 5:16) alongside of us and Jesus, not between us and Jesus.  After all, if we are to imitate Jesus who honored his mother and father, shouldn't we do the same?  And if  we want Jesus to be our brother, doesn't that automatically make...Mary...our...Mother?  And besides all that, we know from Luke 6:43 that a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  In Luke 1:42 , we learn that Jesus is the fruit of Mary's womb, so if Jesus is pure and holy, then so must Mary be, although she is not a goddess.  Luke 1:30 says that Mary had found favor with God BEFORE conceiving Jesus in her womb.  In Luke 1:28 Gabriel calls her "full of grace" before the incarnation; one cannot be full of grace and have any sin, otherwise she would not be full of grace.  There is a huge difference between the veneration due to Mary and the saints and the worship to God alone, just like there is a huge difference between the honor you must give your earthly mother and father and the worship due to God alone.

The Catholic Church added seven books to the Old Testament at the Council of Trent, following Martin Luther’s Reformation in the 16th Century.

This is totally false.  These seven books, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Judith, Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon, and Sirach were put into the Bible by Pope Damasus I way back in the late 4th Century.  They were approved at the Councils of Hippo in 393 AD, and the Council of Carthage in 397 AD.  Look it up!  They were written in Greek, so the Hebrew speaking Jews didn’t consider them to be from God.  However, the Greek speaking Jews at the time did, and they remain in their bible to this day. Luther, some 1100 years later, removed them from the Bible, under his own authority (infallible?), because they didn’t agree with his own personal opinion of what the Bible should have said.  The Council of Trent, which corrected all of the abuses that started the Reformation (the selling of indulgences), in response to Luther taking them out of his personal bible, merely reaffirmed that they were scriptural.  As proof of this, in the century before Luther, these books were published in the Gutenberg Bible.  Protestants adhere to the Catholic Tradition of having 27 books in the New Testament, which was also decided at the Councils of Hippo and Carthage in the late 4th Century, but then strangely disbelieve the Catholic Church when it comes to the Old Testament. The Wisdom of Solomon is actually mentioned in the New Testament, in Luke 11:31 and Matthew 12:42.  An interesting coincidence is that the Protestant Bible has 66 books in it. Six is the number of incompleteness in the Bible, as in 666.  The Catholic Bible has 73 books in it. 7 is the number of completion (God rested on the 7th day after creation, 7 Sacraments, 7 days in the week, forgive someone 7 times 70, etc.). Three is the number of the Blessed Trinity.

The Catholic Church's scandal where priests molested altar boys proves the Catholic Church is evil.

And what about the protestant Jimmy Swaggart visiting prostitutes on Bourbon Street?  The protestant Jim Bakker seeing a young woman on the side?  The protestant Jesse Jackson fathering a baby out of wedlock?  The protestant Al Sharpton making up the Tawana Brawley story?  The protestant Jim Jones murdering hundreds of his followers with poison?  The protestant Tony Alamo getting caught molesting young girls in Arkansas?  The protestant David Koresh molesting young girls in Waco?  The protestant Puritans murdering women in Massachusetts accused of being witches?  Do any of those protestant scandals "prove" that the Protestant Church is evil?  And besides all of that, there were scandals in the early church, namely that of Judas who sold Christ to the Pharisees so they could hand him over to the Romans, and that of Peter, who denied Jesus three times.  The Church survived those apostles, hand picked by Jesus Himself.  Sinful leaders of the Church do not necessarily equate to an evil Church. It only means that the leaders are human, not gods.

Mary had sexual relations with Joseph after Jesus was born (Matthew 1:25), & because the Bible says that Jesus had brothers (Matthew 13:55).

The first verse cited is Matthew 1:25:  but knew her not "until" she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.The word "until" does not necessarily mean a change in status after the event has passed. How many fathers have gone on trips and told their children to be good "until" I get back?  For sure, the father is not saying that the kids should start being bad after he gets back.  In Matthew 28:20, Jesus tells us all that He is with us always, "until" the end of the age.  Jesus is surely not implying here that He won't be with us in heaven after the end of our time here on earth.

The second verse cited is Matthew 13:55: Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

The word "brother" in the bible, "adelphos", also means kindred, brethren, or cousin.  Just like today, there are Christian brothers and sisters who are not blood related.  If Jesus had brothers, then He would not have entrusted "The Woman" (his mother Mary) to the apostle John at the foot of the cross (John 19:27).  Jesus Himself said that whoever did His will was His brother (Mark 3:35). 1 Corinthians 15:6 says that Jesus appeared to 500 brothers, which is proof that the word "brother" is not to be taken literally.  In 1 Corinthians 16:12, Paul calls Apollos his "brother".  In 2 Corinthians 1:1, Paul calls Timothy his "brother". In 2 Corinthians 2:13, Paul calls Titus his "brother".  In Philippians 2:25, Paul calls Epaphroditus his "brother".  In 2 Peter 3:15, Peter calls Paul his "brother".

Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Joseph would surely not have violated Mary's holy womb (Ezekiel 44:2), the pure Ark of the New Covenant.

The Catholic Church sold indulgences in the 16th Century, and that proves the entire Catholic Church is evil.

The Diocese of Mainz, where Luther was, offered indulgences (the easing of punishment after the guilt of sin is taken away through Confession) for people who donated money for the Vatican. Almsgiving is recommended by the bible in many places (Tobit 12:9, Sirach 3:30, Luke 12:33, Acts 10:4) for the atonement of sin.  There is nothing wrong with almsgiving.  The appearance of impropriety, however, where Luther saw all of this as the "selling of indulgences", is what precipitated his reformation.  This perceived abuse was only in the diocese of Mainz, however, and was not widespread.

All one has to do today to see the same kind of abuse is to listen to protestant TV preachers asking for a "faith offering, if this show has been a blessing to you", in other words, "give me money for the blessing I have just given you through my preaching".  And  besides that, they tell their viewers that if they do give a sacrificial offering to them, then that is a seed that will help them become wealthy in this life, something that is NOT in the New Testament, anywhere.  Real Christians know that the New Testament preaches against riches (James 1:11, James 5:1, Revelation 3:17), and only promises rewards in the next life (James 2:5, Luke 18:22).


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