Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
How False Piety Subverts, and Often Completely Reverses, the Truth
03/25/2011 - James WhiteI think I have developed "follow the link clickitis," as have most other modern info-maniacs. You scan through topics in your RSS feeds, click on interesting topics, then click a link in the interesting article, and eventually you find yourself off in the wilderness somewhere twenty minutes later wondering how you got there in the first place. It was on one of these little journeys that I ran into this webpage. I think I got there because I saw Jimmy Akin mentioning something about a breaking scandal about this man. In any case, I have no interest in that (I honestly hope it is untrue, and I am tired of post-modernist secularists adopting the "if they are religious--any kind of religious--they are guilty until proven innocent" mantra). Instead, I have kept this page open in Chrome for a few days, looking for a few moments to comment on it. Then, yesterday, I happened to flip over to the local Immaculate Heart radio station and I heard a familiar voice--familiar in the sense that I have heard it before. And lo and behold, who was it? I had never heard the man identified before, but I happened to tune in at the end of a program so his name was given: John Corapi. Same fellow. Evidently he's quite big on that radio network.
In any case, when I read the summary of his teaching, I was struck by the reversal of biblical and simply Christian truth it represented. Note first the name of his order, "the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity." The Trinity is, in fact, most holy (because God is, by nature, holy); but the Trinity has no "Lady," capitalized L or otherwise. The Trinity is a divine and eternal truth about the nature of God, and the Trinity has not adopted, nor needed, a Lady, consort, mediatrix or anything else. But then note the first "pillar" of Corapi's teaching: "Love for and a relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary which leads us into a vibrant and loving relationship with Jesus Christ." There is everything good about seeking to establish a "vibrant and loving relationship with Jesus Christ." But there is only one means of so doing: the Spirit of the living God applying the truth of the gospel, resulting in the renewing, growth, grounding, and sanctification of God's elect people. We are led into such a relationship by the work of the Spirit conforming the believer to the image of Christ. Mary has nothing to do with it. Mary, like any other godly example, can be used by God to encourage believers, but it is a reversal of the biblical and spiritual order to place love for her, let alone the utterly unbiblical concept of a relationship with a fellow believer who has gone on to be with her Savior, as the means that leads us to the fulfillment of God's purpose, that being a vibrant and loving relationship with Christ.
Having missed the reality of Christian teaching on the centrality of Christ through the exaltation of Mary to a position that is not only dishonoring to Christ, but dishonoring to the true, historical, believing, redeemed woman named Mary, Corapi's next "pillar" misses the centrality of Christ's finished and completed work through his promotion of Rome's gospel-destroying "the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice" heresy. While there is great benefit in meditating upon the gospel, upon the entire revelation of God found in Scripture, and especially upon the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no benefit at all from sitting in front of a piece of bread that has been, allegedly, transformed into the body, soul, blood and divinity of Jesus Christ, so that you think you are literally in the presence of Christ. Such magical "theology," the result of many centuries of devolution from the truth, has nothing at all to do with the glorious truth that 1) Christ has died once for all, never to die again, His work completed; 2) He has entered into the Holy Place in heaven, there to appear in the presence of the Father in the place of all those who are called and united with Him, His High Priestly work not being a secondary addition to His sacrifice, but the fulfillment thereof; and 3) Christ is always present with His people by His Spirit. We do not need tabernacles and monstrances or celibate sacramental priests or any of this Christ-dishonoring, gospel-destroying tradition--the revelation given through Christ and His Apostles is sufficient, and down through the centuries His people have rejoiced in His presence with them by Word and by Spirit.
Of course, the final pillar makes perfect sense, given what has come before. Why does Corapi teach these things in direct opposition to divinely revealed truth in Scripture? Because Scripture is not his final authority. In fact, it is not his authority at all, for he has subjected himself to another authority, a separate one, that being the Pope and the Magisterium of the Roman Church.
Such summaries of Roman teaching are a constant reminder of the need to proclaim clearly and forcefully the gospel of God's free grace to those who have been bound by such error.
Challenging Your Rome-Colored Glasses - Set Aside Your Anachronism
03/02/2011 - Tur8infanSuppose you are reading through the writings of Gregory of Nazianzus and you hear him say that either the apostle Peter or the bishop of Rome is "entrusted with the chief rule over the people, in other words, the charge of the whole world." Would you think that he was affirming the universal jurisdiction and primacy of the Roman see? I think a lot of folks who have joined the Roman communion would think that way.
Likewise, if you are reading through Athanasius and see him talking about the bishop of Rome in these terms, "he is the pride of the Church, fighting for the truth, and instructing those who have need, they should not resist such an one, but rather accept his good conscience," many of my readers of the Roman communion would draw a similar inference that Athanasius is affirming Roman primacy.
Moreover, imagine you are reading through Basil's works and you come across him describing Rome this way, "No one knows better than you do, that, like all wise physicians, you ought to begin your treatment in the most vital parts, and what part is more vital to the Churches throughout the world than [her]? Only let [her] be restored to harmony, and nothing will stand in the way of her supplying, as a healthy head, soundness to all the body." I am sure that my friends and relatives in the Roman communion will tell me that this means that Basil viewed Rome as the head of the whole church.
The more suspicious of you will be asking, Why did he use "[her]" there? What did it actually say?
Well, that's the rub: none of these quotations is about Rome or the bishop of Rome. The last is about Antioch (that's the "her"). The middle is about Basil. The first is about Athanasius.
We all know that Gregory of Nazianzus didn't think that Athansius was the pope (in a Roman sense) of the church. We all know that Athanasius didn't think that about Basil. And we all know (well most of us do) that Basil didn't think that the bishop of Antioch had universal jurisdiction and primacy.
We know that because the same Gregory wrote this about another bishop: "After that he is a pastor; indeed, the greatest and most respected of pastors. He does not preside merely over the church [of his city or of the city and surrounding area] which, thanks to him and his efforts, is famous to this day, but also over the entire western region and in effect even over the east itself, and the south, and the north, everywhere that he came to be admired." And no that's not about the Roman bishop, but about the bishop of Carthage, Cyprian (the full quotation is below).
Yet if those statements had been made about the Roman bishop, you can bet they would be plastered as seemingly irrefutable proof of their belief in the papacy. And if we suggested that they were just hyperbolic, we'd be told we were twisting the words of the fathers and so forth.
The real culprit here, however, is the informal fallacy of anachronism. The fallacy is simply assuming the papacy back into the early church. Positive comments in passing that support the person's preconceived ideas are taken as confirming it, despite the fact that a reasonably alternative interpretation is present.
My dear Roman-communion readers: challenge your Rome colored glasses. Set aside your anachronistic reading of the fathers, and discover that while they were not Reformed Baptists or Presbyterians in their ecclesiology, they were also not papal in their ecclesiology. Rome's historical claims, therefore, are false. The papacy was unknown to the early church fathers.
We're not suggesting that the fathers were right, nor that they should be made the standard. Like they did, we are saying that the Scriptures are the rule. Yet we are saying that Rome's historical claims - her claims that the fathers confirm her authority - are false.
More importantly, when you have seen that Rome's historical claims are false, turn to the Scriptures and read them without imposing your church's theology upon them. When you do so, you'll see that there is no papal ecclesiology, the distinctive doctrines of Rome are not taught, and there is almost no emphasis on Mary. You'll see the Word of God in a whole new light.
- TurretinFan ...
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Innocent IV as Reported by Von Dollinger
03/01/2011 - Tur8infanJohann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger wrote the important work, "The Pope and the Council." One of his interesting observations regarding the mutation of the papacy is this:
Innocent Iv. supplemented the hierarchical organization by adding a link hitherto wanting to the papal chain, when he established the principle that every cleric must obey the Pope, even if he commands what is wrong, for no one can judge him. The only exception was if the command involved heresy or tended to the destruction of the whole Church.[fn1](The Pope and the Council, pp. 161-62)
1. Comment, in Decretal. Francof. 1570, 555. Innocent wrote this commentary as Pope. He has openly told us what amount of Christian culture and knowledge, both for clergy and laity, suits the Papal system. It is enough, he says, for the laity to know that there is a God who rewards the good, and, for the rest, to believe implicitly what the Church believes. Bishops and pastors must distinctly know the articles of the Apostles' Creed; the other clergy need not know more than the laity, and also that the body of Christ is made in the sacrament of the altar.—Comment. in Decr. 2. Naturally, therefore, the laity were forbidden to read the Bible in their own tongue, and, if they conversed publicly or privately on matters of faith, incurred excommunication by a Bull of Alexander iv., and after a year became amenable to the Inquisition.—Sext. Dec. 5, 2.
I should note that apparently the summary above provided by von Dollinger has been picked up by others due to some sort of typo as being a quotation from Innocent III. Unfortunately, this has lead to a variety of spurious "Innocent III" citations both on the Internet and in print.
This "hand your mind over to the church" attitude is not a defined dogma, per se. However, when you think about it, it is the logical conclusion of a sola ecclesia mindset: just place implicit faith in the church and go about your business. Know that God exists and trust in the church that if you do what they say, you will be saved.
That's not the line we hear from Rome today, and Rome is no longer excommunicating laymen who speak not just privately but publicly about theological issues (not to mention reading the Bible in their own tongue). Is that for better or for worse?
I think it's for the better, since thinking critically about theology and reading the Bible in one's own tongue is the way that a person can become free from the tyranny of Rome.
May God give abundant grace so that this freedom of mind will bear fruit in repentance and faith in Christ alone (rather than in Christ as supposedly mediated by the Roman church) for salvation.