Choosing my religion: why I am not Roman Catholic

I’ve decided to spend some time writing extremely short explanations about why I am an evangelical Protestant Christian instead of anything else.

I have two aims.

First, I want show how an honest person can evaluate rival religions using the laws of logic, scientific evidence and historical evidence. Second, I want people who are not religious to understand that religions are either true or it is false. Religions should not be chosen based where you were born, what your parents believed, or what resonates with you. A religion should be embraced for the same reason as the theory of gravity is embraced: because it reflects the way the world really is.

Why I am not a Roman Catholic

  1. To be a Roman Catholic, you need to believe in Papal infallibility in matters of dogma.
  2. In 1950, the Pope pronounced the assumption of Mary to be infallible dogma.
  3. This pronouncement was solicited by a petition featuring over 8 million signatures.
  4. There is no historical record of this doctrine in the Bible.
  5. No early church father mentions the assumption until 590 AD.
  6. Documents dated 377 AD state that no one knows how Mary died.
  7. The assumption appears for the first time in an apocryphal gospel dated about 495 AD.


I only cite Roman Catholic sources for my facts.

6. “But if some think us mistaken, let them search the Scriptures. They will not find Mary’s death; they will not find whether she died or did not die; they will not find whether she was buried or was not buried … Scripture is absolutely silent [on the end of Mary] … For my own part, I do not dare to speak, but I keep my own thoughts and I practice silence … The fact is, Scripture has outstripped the human mind and left [this matter] uncertain … Did she die, we do not know … Either the holy Virgin died and was buried … Or she was killed … Or she remained alive, since nothing is impossible with God and He can do whatever He desires; for her end no-one knows.” (Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. 78.10-11, 23. Cited by Juniper Carol, O.F.M. ed., Mariology, Vol. II (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1957), pp. 139-40).

7. “The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in certain transitus–narratives of the fifth and sixth centuries. Even though these are apocryphal they bear witness to the faith of the generation in which they were written despite their legendary clothing. The first Church author to speak of the bodily ascension of Mary, in association with an apocryphal transitus B.M.V., is St. Gregory of Tours.” (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford: Tan, 1974), pp. 209–210).

It should be noted that the apocryphal gospel in which the doctrine of the assumption of Mary first appeared was condemned as heretical by two Popes in the 5th and 6th centuries. However, I was not able to find a CATHOLIC source for this fact, so I deliberately chose not to use it in my case.

I am not saying that Roman Catholicism is necessarily WRONG, I am just explaining why I am not a Roman Catholic. I hope that my Roman Catholic readers will not be too angry with me for disagreeing with them on theology. I will try not to test your patience too often like this. I would encourage everyone to be as civil as you all have been so far, and I will be extra vigilant in filtering comments.

73 thoughts on “Choosing my religion: why I am not Roman Catholic”

  1. faith or belief is not only based on scriptures, its the miracles performed and done by catholic saints believer and the blessed Virgin Mary. You believe in God the Father but do you recognized the Blessed Virgin as the Mother of all Nation. That’s why i call it family, father and mother with all their children.


  2. Hello,

    I’m from the Philippines and I’m Roman Catholic. Here in our country, the predominant religion is Roman Catholic.

    Those are interesting facts you mentioned, but somehow I find that they’re not enough to somehow undermine my belief in the Blessed Mother.

    I understand my faith in her in this way. We venerate her because she was, after all, Jesus’ mother. So, in a sense, she’s rightly to be called, the Mother of God, for Jesus is God. We venerate her because she’s holy, and was made holy because of God’s grace.

    Also, how are we to take account of all the apparitions of Mother Mary recognized by the Catholic Church as authentic throughout history?

    My family and I, so with all of our relatives, loved ones and friends, have a strong affection for her as our Mother, but she’s only holy because God’s grace is upon her. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but somehow through our experience throughout our lives, we can say that she is very real.

    God bless!


    1. Thanks for your comment.

      I am not really trying to undermine your faith! I am just trying to explain why someone on the outside like me may not want to become a Roman Catholic.

      I am actually discussing this issue with an Indian Roman Catholic woman, as well. Please feel free to leave more comments on other topics!


      1. I have to disagree with this WK. We need to be able challenge and question bad thinking where ever it is found, especially when that bad thinking doesn’t just distract from the gospel but when it prevents people from accepting it.

        In countries like the Philippines, millions of people die every day devoted to Mary or to the Catholic Church who know nothing about who the real Jesus is. If we don’t challenge that thinking, who will?


        1. Surely you do not contradict the early reformers like Luther who expressed and acknowledged their gratitutde to the Church for preserving Scripture and handing it down from one generation to the next.

          Again, there are good arguments to be made friend, but you aren’t currently using them. Less catch phrases more substance please.


          1. Yes, I do agree that God has always preserved His people. The problem I have is that Roman Catholics always seem to define the church as only them when clearly many of the Roman Catholic teachings that differentiate them from Evangelicals were made mandatory at the Council of Trent in the 16th Century.

            And because Luther isn’t infallible, I can contradict him in the areas of his beliefs that weren’t true. By the way, didn’t the Roman Catholic Church teach the world was flat and that they should burn Jews and Bible translators at one point?.

            And maybe I’m wrong but “less catch phrases and more substance please”, sounds like a catch phrase to me.


          2. You clearly don’t understand what was done at the Council of Trent.

            And if Luther did not get it right, and the Catholics before Luther did not get it right, yet you clearly have it right… when did we start getting it right? That’s what the Mormons say, you know, that at a certain point in history Joseph Smith finally got it right for the first time, because everyone had gotten it wrong since Jesus.

            Either God preserved His Church and His People or he didn’t, but the two arguments contradict. But those are the problems one arrives at, contradictory beliefs, when you follow an unbiblical tradition of man.


    2. Hi Dante,

      I’m Filipino too and know what you are talking about.

      But can I ask you a question? If you can’t explain why you are devoted to Mary, then why be devoted? If Mary is holy because she is the mother of God, then doesn’t mean God is even more holy? Are you devoting your time and energy to Mary when ultimately that praise should go to God Himself?

      I was debating a friend about Mary. She said that she talked to Mary so that she can convince Jesus to listen to her. But if Jesus is the most loving, kind and powerful God that He claimed to be, I asked her, why do we need to talk to anyone else?

      Dante, if there is only one God, then why devote yourself to someone other than that God?


      1. The creator can be praised by praising his creation.

        There are good objections to Marian devotion, but you haven’t employed them.


        1. “The creator can be praised by praising his creation.”

          That’s a claim LCB, not an argument. Where’s your proof? This is especially true when you read Exodus:

          2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;

          3 Do not have any other gods before me.

          4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

          5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,

          My question to my Catholic friend was never answered by her and I noticed not by you either.


          1. “4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

            What about the cherubim in the Covenant Box and the Holy Temple, both of which God approved of and consecrated? And by the way, Catholics don’t worship anyone but God.


          2. If you think Catholics are worshipping statues than you really ought to do some more digging into Catholicism, because we don’t worship statues.

            You may be surprised to discover that the anti-Catholic bigotry you’ve been exposed to is espoused by those who benefit (usually financially) from anti-Catholic bigotry, and who benefit from keeping the truth away from you. What spirit is it that would seek to deny you basic facts about a matter? Surely it is not the Holy Spirit.


      2. Hi,

        It’s nice to find a fellow Pinoy here. :)

        It’s difficult to explain why we have a devotion for her. :)

        Of course, God is infinitely more holy than Mary; Mary is only holy because of Him. We simply have an affection for her because she is Jesus’ mother, that’s all. Of course, all praise and worship is due to God, but we still pray to her.

        Yes, there is only one God, of course! But we are not equating Mary with God, heaven forbid!


    3. Sorry Dante – I forgot to ask one more question. What is your evidence for these apparitions? Anyone can claim to see anything extraordinary but what is your proof they happened? It is not our job to disprove any claim that people make – it is the job of the person who made the claim to prove that the claim is true.

      We have to do that when we talk about the bible the historicity of the resurrection and the existence of God.

      If these apparitions are true, then you should be able to prove that they happened.


      1. You may find it helpful, Canbuhay, to consider the words of GK Chesterton (who was speaking to materialists, but whose words also apply here):

        Any one who likes… may call my belief in God merely mystical; the phrase is not worth fighting about. But my belief that miracles have happened in human history is not a mystical belief at all; I believe in them upon human evidences as I do in the discovery of America. Upon this point there is a simple logical fact that only requires to be stated and cleared up. Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. The open, obvious, democratic thing is to believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a miracle, just as you believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a murder. The plain, popular course is to trust the peasant’s word about the ghost exactly as far as you trust the peasant’s word about the landlord. Being a peasant he will probably have a great deal of healthy agnosticism about both. Still you could fill the British Museum with evidence uttered by the peasant, and given in favour of the ghost. If it comes to human testimony there is a choking cataract of human testimony in favour of the supernatural. If you reject it, you can only mean one of two things. You reject the peasant’s story about the ghost either because the man is a peasant or because the story is a ghost story. That is, you either deny the main principle of democracy, or you affirm the main principle of materialism — the abstract impossibility of miracle. You have a perfect right to do so; but in that case you are the dogmatist. It is we Christians who accept all actual evidence — it is you rationalists who refuse actual evidence being constrained to do so by your creed. But I am not constrained by any creed in the matter, and looking impartially into certain miracles of mediaeval and modern times, I have come to the conclusion that they occurred. All argument against these plain facts is always argument in a circle. If I say, “Mediaeval documents attest certain miracles as much as they attest certain battles,” they answer, “But mediaevals were superstitious”; if I want to know in what they were superstitious, the only ultimate answer is that they believed in the miracles. If I say “a peasant saw a ghost,” I am told, “But peasants are so credulous.” If I ask, “Why credulous?” the only answer is — that they see ghosts. Iceland is impossible because only stupid sailors have seen it; and the sailors are only stupid because they say they have seen Iceland. – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


        1. Again this is a non-argument LCB. Of course I believe in miracles and the supernatural. But given your logic here, every supernatural claim and belief should be believed as long as it has some claim of Christian origin! Given your argument, you’d have to accept every miraculous claim by every Catholic and even the Catholic church doesn’t do that – that’s why they have investigations.

          I believe in the claims of the early witnesses of Christ (otherwise known as the New Testament) because there’s good reasons too. But what are the good reasons to believe in the Mary apparitions? Why should I believe them if some of those comments contradict the teachings of the original eyewitnesses of Jesus (let alone the OT).

          Compare what Paul writes in Romans 5:

          Romans 5
          Results of Justification
          1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

          2through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

          3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;

          4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

          5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

          6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

          7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.

          8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

          9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

          To this prayer to “Our Lady of La Salette”:

          Remember, dear Lady of La Salette, true Mother of Sorrows, the tears which thou didst shed for me on Calvary; be mindful also of the unceasing care which thou dost exercise to shield me from the justice of God; and consider whether thou canst now abandon thy child, for whom thou hast done so much. Inspired by this consoling thought, I come to cast myself at thy feet, in spite of my infidelity and ingratitude. Reject not my prayer, O Virgin of reconciliation, convert me, obtain for me the grace to love Jesus Christ above all things and to console thee too by living a holy life, in order that one day I may be able to see thee in Heaven. Amen.

          If Christ has already saved us by His grace, why does Mary have to be the one convert us and obtain grace for us? This is not simply asking Mary to pray for us. This is asking Mary to obtain our salvation, which clearly contradicts the passage in Romans.

          The question is not that we don’t accept miracles. The question is which miracles we should accept.So far, there have been no good reasons given to accept claims of Marian apparitions.


          1. “If Christ has already saved us by His grace, why does Mary have to be the one convert us and obtain grace for us?”

            Christ saved us by His grace, yes. But it’s a gift, and we attain salvation by accepting it. We also have a choice of rejecting it and be doomed. Now, to accept that salvation, one needs the conversion of the heart. Conversion of the heart can be only brought about by Christ, Himself. Since you quoted Paul, I’ll ask you this question. What would you call Gentiles becoming believers by the preachings of Paul? Conversion? Yes, it IS conversion. But this only means Paul acted as an instrument to the conversion. That’s because he brought the knowledge of Christ to those people and only with that knowledge people can actually accept or reject Him. Mary acts as an instrument as well.


          2. Again, when you embrace unbiblical traditions of man like once saved always saved, instead of relying on what Scripture teaches about salvation being an ongoing process (where we have been saved, are currently being saved, and yet also will be saved in the future, as Scripture clearly teaches), these things are much harder to understand.

            Also, when you ignore how Scripture teaches that the Church on Earth is intimately connected to the Church in Heaven, and how we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and how the saints in heaven beseech God on our behalf, and how the prayers of the Holy are more pleasing to God, then you will most certainly have great trouble understanding the events God continues to work in human history.

            Again, I urge you to consider your sources and how a spirit leads you away from the truth and into unbiblical traditions of man.


      2. Well, I don’t have proof for these apparitions bro. I haven’t investigated each of these apparitions myself. My faith basically lies on the trust that I have on the Catholic Church. If they recognize these apparitions as authentic, then I have a reason to believe that because I’m a Catholic — I simply trust the Church.

        Also, there must really be something to these apparitions, bro. I can’t brush them off as, say, hoaxes or the products of delusions.

        Sister Lucia Dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Mary in Fatima, devoted her whole life to her by becoming a cloistered nun. I believe she really saw what she and the other children said and testified they saw, for why devote your whole life to that belief so selflessly?


  3. I’ll pre-strike my favorite cord:

    For primary sourcing on what does Catholicism say about itself, I can recommend .

    I’m one of these folks that grew up watching horror movies, which therefore made me a complete and perfect expert on Catholicism… NOT! I’ve found it to be a fantastic resource.

    Here’s one that may blow a common misconception out of the water: Go there and look up answers to what happens if a child dies w/o being baptized. I bet it’s the same answer you give in your church, or near enough…

    Group8bsmc1a: I think I can safely say that all Protestants recognize that Mary played a very special and important part in God’s unfolding plan of salvation for all mankind. What is not accepted is that she lived a sinless life, or that we should pray through her (or any other intercessor). Much can be said for church history and tradition, lives of the saints and the martyrs, and the ways these uphold and bless the church. But those doctrines aren’t just absent from the bible, they seem to flatly contradict it.

    Is that seen as an allowable contradiction, or is it not seen as a contradiction at all?


    1. I would argue that they are not a contradiction at all.

      Consider it this way: The canon of scripture (as Luther acknowledges) was at least assembled and preserved by the Catholic Church. The year 400 is a nice round number for this.

      Many of the major doctrines and dogmas that cause Protestant objections on the grounds of ‘being against scripture’ were also in place by then.

      Why would the people who assembled the scriptures, and were often reading them in their original language in essentially the same cultural context, and who were only a few generations removed from the Apostles, believe things that were flatly contradictory to the Scripture they assembled?

      It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. These were generally smart guys. Many of whom memorized the entire scriptures by heart.

      Either the people who came right after the Apostles believed the wrong things, and the people who put the scriptures together believed the wrong things, and everyone else from say 400 to 1517 believed the wrong things… and only in 1517 did people learn how to really read the scriptures and only in 1517 did Christians start believing the right things… or the the people who said “Hey you all got it wrong or the last 1400 years, we’ve got it right for the first time in history” were wrong.

      Which seems more likely?


      1. This is the typical argument for the authority of the Catholic church. But once again this is flawed reasoning. Even before examining the actual specific debates (which LCB fails to discuss) there are already problems with this logic.

        First, we don’t determine truth by a vote throughout history. In other words, right and wrong are not determined by how many people throughout history believed something. Right and wrong are determined by whether or not it is accurate – did it really happen? Did, in this context, Jesus really teach that one Roman man who’s never been married has the authority to decide who goes to hell or heaven or who is in or out of Christ’s body?

        For most of Roman Catholic history, that church insisted that the world was flat – but the church corrected itself because of facts not because they took a vote.

        Secondly, because truth is our authority, Evangelicals don’t believe that everyone from 400 to 1517 were wrong about everything! We can’t contradict truth and claim to follow the God of truth.

        Catholics always like to claim that the only church that existed was their church at that time. But clearly the church throughout history didn’t believe what they do today.

        The reason why Luther and the Reformers was not excommunicated right away was because many of the issues they raised were being debated inside the Catholic Church! The Council of Trent had to restated the Catholic church’s position on Mary, indulgences, faith, grace etc. because these things hadn’t been so clear before.

        Even Christian thinkers and writers like Pascal held on to some of the same ideas modern Evangelicals hold today.

        Thirdly, the Roman Catholic church did not give any authority to scripture. You write LCB that the RC’s put the Bible together. But that’s not true. They put together the cannon of scripture by studying which ones had authority already because they were written by apostles or friends of the apostles. As JI Packer says, they did not confer authority to the scriptures. They recognized the authority that was already there. In other words by putting the Bible together, they used the same criteria we used today to accept if something is worth believing: is it true? Was it written by reliable eyewitnesses? Is what they believed trustworthy?

        The question I pose to you again is where your evidence that we should believe specific Catholic teachings such as:

        – The perpetual virginity of Mary
        – The infallibility of the Pople
        – Praying to the dead
        – Requiring membership in the Roman church for salvation
        – Receiving God’s grace by our works (sacramental grace)

        These are not minor disputes among Christians. These are essential doctrines that affect our right relationship with God.


        1. I am sorry WK, just this last question to Canbuhay. Catholics pray to the dead? Really? That is so untrue!


        2. “For most of Roman Catholic history, that church insisted that the world was flat.”

          The post goes downhill from there.

          It’s unfortunate that you have been exposed to so many falsehoods. I wonder what spirit it is that teaches you these falsehoods?


  4. 1. Correct. I wish all Catholics acknowledged this :( Seriously though, props on getting the usage of dogma correct (which is different from doctrine, and Papal Infallibility is a Dogma).

    2. Also correct. She was assumed into heaven, unlike Jesus, who ascended into heaven.

    3. The petition is irrelevant, the relevant fact is the papal declaration.

    4. If your argument is a lack of scriptural support, then the real argument you are making is that the Church does not recognize sola scriptura.

    5. I feel your overall argument here is a bit disingenuous. If this teaching were changed, would you be Roman Catholic? Or alternatively, if you came to believe this teaching were true, would you be Roman Catholic?

    I have significant doubts. In the other posts in the this series we’ve dealt with deal breaking issues within the faith. The fallibility of the Koran, the erroneous cosmology of Hinduism.

    I don’t think that this is really your deal breaking objection, as I shared with you in emails. I could rally facts, discuss the historical sources, discuss the theology behind this… and even if I did convince you if the truth of the assumption, I am not exactly convinced you would follow the evidence and become Catholic (Roman or otherwise), because your real objection seems to be sola scriptura.

    6. I sincerely hope you do a post on Orthodoxy. The orthodox do not believe in the assumption, and have a… more nuanced… understanding of papal infallibility. Why, then, are you not orthodox?


    1. I actually agree with what LCB on some of these points. What LCB fails to mention is that the Orthodox believe Mary was resurrected three days after her death like Jesus, an idea that we reject as Evangelicals.

      I’d like to see your facts and evidence, LCB. But when you start by saying the problem is Sola Scriptura, then that’s not really the problem. The problem is that you take a priori that the Roman church has an authority to determine what is true. Just like anything, including the Bible, they can’t just proclaim what they believe is true – they actually have to show good reasons why it is true.


      1. “Orthodox believe Mary was resurrected three days after her death like Jesus”

        No, they don’t. That is not a formal belief of Orthodoxy.


  5. LCB,
    You make some good points concerning Sola Scriptura. The “Assumption” is believed by many Orthodox people, but your right in that it is not dogma (something one must believe). I actually thought that WK might pick on the “Immaculate Conception”.

    Why not Orthodoxy?


    1. In my emails I suggested to WK that the Immaculate Conception would be a better topic to pick on.

      If the Immaculate Conception is true, the Assumption follows logically pretty quickly.

      All we really have here is a well disguised Sola Scriptura argument. The argument really amounts to:

      I. I believe S.S. is true and those faiths that don’t are false
      II. The Catholics don’t believe SS is true.
      III. Ergo I believe that Catholicism is false

      There is an appeal to a specific non-S.S. based belief to try and bolster the argument, but it still ends up being “It isn’t in scripture.”

      That is also why I called it disingenuous. Does the authority of Church Fathers actually mean anything to WK? I don’t think it does, because the Church Fathers clearly don’t support S.S. and clearly do support things like the Eucharist, the Sacramental Priesthood, etc.

      So, it only ends up being a back door sola argument.


      1. No, that isn’t what I said at all. My argument was that there was no historical record for nearly 600 years. It was made up, and it was made infallible 1950 because enough people voted for it. The assumption of Mary is the most clear cut example of what causes thoughtful Protestants to shrink away from Roman Catholicism, and this is the example we must discuss, because belief in the assumption is NON-NEGOTIABLE for Roman Catholics.


        1. Is your argument that there is no historical record for 600 years and that is why it is wrong? But there is an historical record, you are simply not presenting all the evidence and are dismissing evidence that doesn’t fit your narrative. You have presented erroneous facts in this regard. Perhaps you might wish to consider that your Protestant apologetic sources are biased and are not providing you with an accurate understanding of this matter.

          Or is your argument against papal infallibility? If your argument is against Papal Infallibility, then argue against Papal Infallibility. If you are arguing that the Assumption of Mary disproves Papal Infallibility, well, you certainly have a long way to go since your argument ends up amounting to “it’s not scriptural.” Your historical record argument is certainly lacking for reasons describe in this post and in my post above, since you don’t regard the Church Fathers as authoritative. Further a significant ‘arumgnent from silence’ can be advanced.

          Or is your argument that a vote was taken? So the Pope changed the timeless teaching of the Church because of a petition? This merely shows a misunderstanding of the historical events that lead to the declaration of the dogma, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the power of petitions within the Church (which is about zero).

          So, to recap, you are making the wrong argument and the argument you are making you are making in the wrong way. Your evidence is erroneous and your goal and aim are not clear.

          Finally, lacking clear evidence to the contrary (as exists to disprove traditions of man like sola scriptura) the best you can arrive at is a probability argument, and a VERY weak probability argument when we consider what Scripture has to say about things like future miracles and what scripture shows happening to Enoch and Elijah. At that juncture you’re simply making the same error as the uninformed atheist– confusing a judgment on probability with a judgment on possibility.

          You are capable of doing significantly better.

          Further, you may wish to consider the alternative– that you are wrong.


          1. It’s a very simple objection. Just tell me the sources for the assumption of Mary in the Bible and in the early church fathers through the first 500 years. That’s all I want. And I want them to be explicit: no parallels, no mysticism. It doesn’t take a lot of writing, a point form list with quotations if I need them will be fine. One source per century, and one source from the Bible. Do the best you can.

            This is infallible dogma. You’re making the claim. So show me the data to support it!

            And be nice. I’m being nice.


          2. Switching to bullet point form to make sure folks can follow my line of thought:

            1) It is not a simple objection, you are being disingenuous because it is not your real objection.

            2) “Just tell me the sources for the assumption of Mary in the Bible ” That is your real objection. Your REAL argument is “Catholics do not believe in Sola Scriptura and do not follow it.” So make that argument, instead of trying to play a rigged game.

            3) “and in the early church fathers through the first 500 years” But you don’t acknowledge those sources as authoritative. Even if I were to provide them, you don’t acknowledge them, and alternatively, there are not enough of them, or that particular Church Father doesn’t count. Again, your argument is disingenuous.

            4) If your argument were sincere, you would also freely acknowledge that if the truth on this or a similar matter could be proved, you would become Catholic.

            But you won’t acknowledge that, because (again) your real argument is Sola Scriptura. Your entire argument is “Assuming that Sola Scriptura is true…” and I do not concede that point.

            5) Since your argument is actually about “which authority is definitive” we can simply change the presumption and burden of proof by assuming a different authority– the authority of Ecumenical Councils and Sacred Tradition. But what is your objection to them? Again– “Sola Scriptura.” This further reveals the disingenuous nature of your argument, because it is asserting one form of authority over and another a different form of authority, and then proceeds to make an argument from authority.

            6) It can thus be seen that your entire perspective is centered around Sola Scriptura.

            7) As such, I propose applying the same standards to Sola Scriptura that you have applied to other faiths, namely, is it internally consistent or internally contradictory. When the internal consistency test is applied to S.S., it falls apart because it is an ‘unbiblical tradition of man’ and not internally consistent. Even S.S. must make an appeal to a different form of authority in order to maintain itself.


          3. 1) This is my real objection.

            2) Let’s drop the requirement for a Bible reference completely. Just do #3 below.

            3) I need a reference to the assumption from a church father in the first 500 years of church history. 1 per century is better to show that this is the constant teaching of the church. And you can’t use sources that were pronounced to be heretical by the Pope of that time.

            4) I have other arguments. This isn’t my only one.

            5) You need to show me the data.

            6) You need to show me the data.

            7) You need to show me the data.

            Remember this was pronounced as INFALLIBLE DOGMA. I need to see the data.


          4. Firstly, your request for Church Father based evidence is difficult to take seriously, because you don’t accept the Church Fathers as authorative. If you did you would be with the Church Fathers in believing in the Eucharist, the Sacramental Priesthood, the oneness of the Church, and so on. But you do not believe those things. I can only conclude that the Church Fathers are not infact authoritative for you.

            But, onward we go:

            00-99: If we give Revelation a date of 95, which almost assuredly would have been after Mary’s death & assumption, we can place Revelation in this category. Revelation 12 (written by John, to whom Mary was entrusted) shows her in Heaven.

            100-199: The lack of relics serves as a profound argument. When we consider sources such as “The Martyrdom of Polycarp” there can be no doubt of the tremendous importance placed by the Early Church on relics. Yet, no claims were made of Marian relics (whose relics would have certainly been highly prized).

            Bear in mind this point, not only were no relics claimed in the early Church, but to this day no relics have been claimed to be of Mary.

            200-299: John Rylands Papyrus #470, dated to apx. 250. It contains a prayer to (used to) Mary as the “Mother of God” the “Theotokos.” As with most Church beliefs, they existed firstly as beliefs orally communicated and held, and were later written down. This shows us not only the ancientness of the Theotokos tradition (to be later solidified in Ecumenical Councils), but also the ancientness of praying to Mary.

            300-399: Epiphanius wrote in 377, Ephraem was clear in 373. By this time apocryphal accounts containing stories of Mary’s assumption were alsobeginning to circulate. What is key here is that a whole host of highly highly regarded Church Fathers did not take other regarded Church Fathers (like those listed above) to task for a false belief in the Assumption. Again, the argument from silence is very profound in this case. These folks were contemporaries of giants like Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, and Athanasius. This is an era of patristics that is defined by a constant refutation of false beliefs, and by the men who gathered to gather and formed the biblical canon. Considering their massive output, their silence on the matter is not insignificant.

            400-499: It is in this era (after the clear establishment of the canon of scripture by the Catholic Church) that the apocryphal gospels began to significantly circulate. A number of them contained assumption accounts, perhaps the best known of which was the “Transitus Maria”, the outgrowth of the intense Marian devotion in the Christian world. In a primarily oral society it is important to recall that the literature reflects the beliefs already held. Eventually these non-canonicals would be rejected… on the grounds that they were non-canonical, not on the basis of their content. Again, we must consider that even the Church fathers who explicitly rejected those works did not reject their content (as they would reject the content of some non-canonicals). Rather, they were rejected because they weren’t part of the Catholic established canon. “Transitus Maria” was incredibly widespread, and copies of it exist in a multitude of languages. Further, when we consider the Council of Ephesus (where Mary was formally declared Theotokos), we must also consider the context of why many giants were pushing for a formal declaration of Mary as Theotokos, because of intense pre-existing beliefs.

            By the year 500 there can be little doubt that significant devotion existed to Mary, especially under the title of Theotkos. The apochryphal literature of that was widely widely circulated in 450 can probably found its earliest roots around the year 250 (as is suggested by some syriac versions of the text), and the widespread nature of the text across the Christian world shows that, though the text was rejected from the bible, the beliefs contained therein were not and the giants of the era did not see fit to refute them.

            By 600 the Dormition (and Assumption) are openly discussed in the East and in the West among Church Fathers. It is only in the 650s and later that we start finding what appear to be objections to the assumption (Adamnan), after that a century later we have a forgery from Ambrosius Autpertus, and a century after that we have another forgery from Paschase Radbert.

            You may not place much credence in the argument from silence presented at various points, but it is such a significant level of silence that it ought to be seriously considered because the silence is really quite stunning. This is most profound in the matter of relics and in the matter of silence condemning what was clearly becoming a widespread belief in the early Church.

            What also is clear is that there is not significant opposition to the Assumption for hundreds of years.

            Now, shall we discuss how the Church Fathers believed in the Eucharist, were priests and Bishops, prayed to the saints, and so on?

            But, how fortunate are we that God finally decided to draw humanity out of the darkness of Catholicism, which lasted for hundreds of years, to separate us from the ignorance of the Church Fathers, and to finally re-establish true beliefs on Earth after allowing false beliefs to flourish for so long. Thank God for the genius of American Protestantism, which for the first time since the Apostles believes the right things and does exactly what God wanted. Those poor souls that knew the Apostles and lived in the first few generations after Christ, they were so lost in darkness.

            Also, where is the scriptural proof that Mary was buried and remains in her grave?


      2. Again, I would disagree that the Immaculate Conception requires an Assumption. The Orthodox are open to the idea of the Immaculate Conception but reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Assumption.

        Even if Mary was conceived sinless, how does that necessitate that she couldn’t die? Jesus died and was sinless.

        That being said, I think WK should be able to give good reasons for Sola Scriptura.

        The Roman Catholic problem has been that they teach we should believe certain things that contradict what the teachings of the original eyewitness of Jesus taught because other people who came later who never met Jesus, who had their own cultural biases believed them (BTW, how can you be a universal church and be Roman?).

        The question here is not that all truth is contained in Scripture. The question here is if we accept the truth that is in scripture, how then can we accept teachings that contradict what we already accept as true, even if it comes from a good source?


        1. The Orthodox do not believe in the Immaculate Conception.

          Since they don’t view Original Sin the way the West does, it isn’t a big deal for them. Most Orthodox will hold that Mary was free of personal sin, but I’m not sure if that’s even been formally defined.

          Further the assumption doctrine is silent on if she died or not (the leaning of the majority of theologians on the topic is that she did die). It merely states that at some point before, at, or after, the end of her life she was assumed body and soul into heaven.


  6. Orthodox believe in the Dormition, which is practically the same thing as the Assumption. So this post doubly applies — except that the Orthodox don’t believe in papal infallibility.


    1. According to wiki (and to my Orthodox friends), many of the teachings in the RC church is tolerated in the Orthodox church. The Dormition was about how she died but was resurrected three days later which is very different from the Assumption.


  7. I, as an Orthodox Christian, have no problem with any of the WK 7 points. The assumption, though celebrated with the Dormition, is NOT a dogma of the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church actually agrees with many of the protests of the reformation. I don’t think it is fair to try and put the Orthodox Church in the same hat as the Roman Catholic Church. This fact is well demonstrated in the book “Light from the East” by Protestant James R. Payton published by Intervarsity Press.


    1. “how was Mary conceived sinless from a sinful mother?”

      And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?

      Is it not at least possible that Mary was conceived without sin, by a miracle from God? Or does your false tradition of men also tell God what he can and can not do?


      1. LCB,

        Mary herself called God her savior, which means she was a sinful person. If she was not a sinner, she wouldn’t need a savior. There is nothing in Scripture about Mary being sinless or a perpetual virgin. Scripture says “all have sinned” – not “all except Mary.”


        1. Before I demolish your argument I will give you the opportunity to revise it, so as to make sure you are presenting me precisely the argument you wish to make.


          1. Yes, that is my argument. Mary called God her savior, did she not? Does a non-sinner need a savior? – If so, from what? Does not Scripture say that “All have sinned?” Is not Mary part of “all”?

            My argument is that Scripture makes no hint of Mary being a perpetual virgin or sinless.


          2. Let us start by examining your understanding of scripture, which is erroneous because you don’t submit to the authority of the universal magisterium of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as Christ established and the Apostles taught.

            You assert

            I. “Scripture says that all have sinned” Or variously phrased “All men/humans have sinned.” And that this applies to all human beings without reservation.

            II. Jesus Christ was fully man

            III. This implies that Jesus was a sinner.

            Alternatively, we can do this a different way–

            I. “Scripture says that all have sinned” Or variously phrased “All men/humans have sinned.” And that this applies to all human beings without reservation.

            II. Jesus Christ was not a human, but merely wearing the guise of a human, and thus not a sinner

            III. Your erroneous interpretation of scripture forces you to make Jesus not fully man.

            Let’s cut to the heart of the matter and discuss Sola Scriptura, since that’s the only substantive objection to Catholicism that has been presented thusfar.


          3. LCB,
            Paul’s context saying “all have sinned” was not including Jesus, who is God in the flesh, nor did he include Jesus as the man – Jesus was the object of salvation needed for all who sinned. Mary is not God, nor was she the mother of God; God eternally existed. She was the mother of the humanity of Jesus.


  8. Wintery Knight,

    You have given a salient reason for not being Catholic. If you cannot affirm what the Church teaches, then you should not belong to the Church. In fact, the Catholic Church teaches that if you in the heart of you “well-formed conscience” dissent from Catholic teaching, then you must follow your conscience. Catechism Catholic Church, para. 1790 (“A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.”)

    So, believing as you do, according to the Catholic Church, you have an affirmative obligation to “not be Catholic.”

    Having said that, let me offer an alternative perspective. LCB has laid out the historical antecedents for the doctrine of the Assumption. I think that we ought to be able to stipulate that there must be some historical evidence for the doctrine. Unless one is an unredeemed bigot, one would have to concede that the Catholic Church brings with it a deep reservoir of historical experience, depth and talent. Pius XII was not a stupid man, nor were the theologians who Pius could call upon. If there was absolutely no evidence for the doctrine of the Assumption, it would not have been dogmatized.

    But you say that you are not convinced by that evidence. Fair enough. My point would be on the lines of the reasoning used by William Lane Craig that the probability of the truth of a proposition is dependent not just on the facts adduced for the proposition but also on the background facts.

    In that case, I would argue that Jesus established a church, Jesus taught that the Church should be listened to, Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church, Jesus taught that this Church would survive until His return,etc. The question is, therefore, where do we find that Church? Well, we find it at least in the Orthodox and Catholic churches, which can trace their lineage back to the apostles. Both churches affirm the doctrine of the Assumption.

    Based on that background information, I think that I personally would have to be particularly obtuse or confident of my intellect or suspicious of the institution established by Jesus to disagree.

    Your original post raises an that it might be good to address. You observe that the Bible does not mention Mary’s Assumption. It may or may not, but this requires some detailed explanation – or theology – about why it needs to be mentioned in scripture. This argument gestures at what J.P. Moreland has described as an evangelical “overcommitment” to the Bible as a matter of epistemology.

    In that regard, we might note that the canon does not identify what the canon is. The only way to identify the canon is to look outside the text, or, as St. Augustine observed, “I would not believe the Gospel were it not for the Church.” [Against the Manichees, I.5.]


  9. Is it not at least possible that Mary was conceived without sin, by a miracle from God? Or does your false tradition of men also tell God what he can and can not do?

    LCB, I mean this in the nicest possible way, but if I didn’t know better I’d swear that someone was impersonating you. You are tyically so fact-based and impecably reasoned. But for you to say we have a false tradition for relying on scripture to know that Mary was a great woman but still a sinner is more than odd.


      1. I am not sure what your point is here. If you are implying that being filled with the Holy Spirit means that John was sinless then you are mistaken.


          1. John the Baptist was sanctified in his mother’s womb. In other words, he was made to conform to God’s life and be without sin. Assuming that he thereafter stayed in the grace of God – and we have every reason from the Bible to believe that he did (Luke 7:28 9″among those born of women, no one is greater than John”) – he would then have experienced the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), the effect of which would have been to enable him to avoid sin.

            In other words, relying on scripture, we can make the argument that John the Baptist was not a sinner – in the sense of having been culpable of personal sin, albeit since he was sanctified in the womb, but after conception, he may still have participated in original sin.

            That seems very straightforward to me from the datum that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb.

            For what it’s worth, the Eastern Christian Churches celebrate the Feast of the Conception of John the Baptist.

            Do you have a different understanding for the meaning of “filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb”?


          2. Every Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit at the time he is born again, yet we still sin. So you are saying that John the Baptist’s indwelling of the Spirit kept him from sinning but is unable to keep Christians from sinning after salvation? Seems convoluted to me.

            John the Baptist was sanctified – set apart – for service. There is no hint that he was without sin.


          3. I thought that the issue was about scriptural support for claims. Where is the scriptural support for the proposition that a man sanctified in the womb, and described as being greater than any man born of woman, committed personal sin?

            Or is this some tradition or magisterial teaching for some of the churches of the Reformation?

            I would note in support of my claim, the traditional teaching of St. Augustine that the propensity of those of us filled with the Holy Spirit in the ordinary manner to sin stems from the habits we develop as sinners, which attract us back to our sins. Would someone sanctified in the womb have such habits? There is no reason to think so.


          4. The problem is what you mean by sanctified. All it means is “set apart,” which in his case was set apart for service. It doesn’t mean he was set apart to be sinless – no justification for that, no other place in scripture where that is the definition.

            To be a great man, greater than all other, does not therefore make him sinless. That is a non-sequitur.


  10. Sola scriptura is a common authority. The only common authority. Therefore, we always turn to it for disputes.

    The Marian doctrines came from outside the Bible. You can’t read the NT and take it seriously. Do a word search on Mary and see how she basically vanishes after the beginning of Acts, and even that with only a passing mention.

    Great lady? Yep. The Catholic version of her being accurate? Not at all. It just detracts from Jesus 24×7.

    If someone wants to learn about her as a hobby, go right ahead. But to say she warrants the prayers, kneeling to, etc. is unwarranted.


    1. Just to let everyone know, I am cleaning up comments if I find parts that are too inflammatory. For example, no accusing everyone else of heresy and stuff. I am not saying anyone in particular did that, but I just want you to know that I don’t want everyone to be too mean to one another. Try to be nice.

      Sorry if I accidentally cut muscle while removing some fat.


  11. A devout mother’s prayers are efficacious. Mary was the ultimate devout mother. Her prayers are efficacious, and I will continue to ask her intercession.

    It was the Church’s tradition and authority that presented us with the canon of scripture. Therefore, no “sola scriptura” for me. rather, I rely on sacred scripture AND sacred tradition AND the magisterium. These three do not contradict each other.


    1. Where does Scripture say those who have died are praying for us? Where does Scripture say that we are to ask the dead to intercede for us? Why do we have to pray to Mary when Jesus is our intercessor and mediator? Where does scripture say we are to pray to ANYONE but God (including trinity)?

      The Church used the O.T. canon as it was canonized by the Jews. The N.T. books were accepted as Scripture during the first century. The RCC came a long time afterwards. The N.T. church relied only on Scripture, and the Bereans were counted as noble for checking them against Paul’s teachings. Any “tradition” of the church always lined up with Scripture.

      Consider the possibility that the Roman Catholic church may have introduced doctrines that are taken from pagan religions. If these doctrines do not square with the Bible, why should we accept them? The magisterium contradicts scripture often. There is no priesthood of men; all believers are priests in that they can go directly to God the father through Christ – there is no need for priestly intercession. The priestcraft of RCC is based on their belief that the church replaced Israel, which is unbiblical also. RCC set itself up as the authority and then, in circular reasoning, claims its teachings are authoritative, even when they contradict scripture.

      If Mary hears your prayers and all the prayers of all people everywhere, then she would be omnipresent and omniscient – there is no biblical warrant for this.


  12. The problem is what you mean by sanctified.

    To be “sanctified” has an established theological meaning. It means “to be made Holy.” It describes the end result of “sanctification” which is to be incorporated into the life of Christ and thereby to be made to conform to Christ, i.e., to be without sin. Cf. 2 Pet. 1:4 (“4 Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.” ); 1 John 3:6 (“No one who remains in him sins.”); See also 1 John 3:9.

    This is the meaning of “sanctification” accepted by Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Likewise, most forms of Protestantism recognize this meaning of “sanctification” and expressly teach it as a stage that follows “justification.” I have no idea if your version of Protestantism does not recognize “sanctification,” but most do, and so I submit that this is normally understood meaning of “sanctification.”

    All it means is “set apart,” which in his case was set apart for service.

    Sanctification doesn’t simply mean to be “set apart.” Things can be “set apart” for a profane purpose, and those things would not be “sanctified,” although they might be “desecrated.” Something is sanctified when it is set apart for holy service and as part of which the thing is treated as – or in the case of human beings filled with the Holy Spirit, actually made – holy and pure.

    It doesn’t mean he was set apart to be sinless – no justification for that, no other place in scripture where that is the definition.

    Again, being filled with the Holy Spirit means being filled with the life of Christ, which means sharing the life of Christ (2 Pet. 1:4) and not sinning while remaining in Christ. (1 John 3:6,9.) Then, there are the fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned by Paul in Galatians. All of which shows that reducing the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb” to “set apart for service” begs the question.

    To be a great man, greater than all other, does not therefore make him sinless.

    Please support by logic, anthropology or scripture the view that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer is unrelated to that believer’s propensity to sin.

    That may not be your real position, but it seems to be the position that you are taking right now.

    Personally, I think it is pretty clear from Scripture that the effect of grace is to strengthen the believer against the attraction toward sin.


    1. Okay, let’s flesh it out to mean “set apart as holy.” That still does not translate to “sinless.”

      Yes, the holy spirit give us grace to avoid sin as much as possible. But we still sin. 1 John 1:8. We are sanctified by the Spirit yet we still sin. John was sanctified by the spirit but there is nowhere in Scripture where it says he never sinned. That is eisegesis from the statement that he was sanctified from the womb. Set apart for holy service, not set apart as sinless. John was filled with the spirit in the womb, I was filled with the spirit in Jan. 1974 as a 22 year old. For neither one of us does that mean we won’t sin. Demonstrate from Scripture where it says John was sinless. If that was the case, why did not anyone – the gospels, Paul, Peter, in their letters say so?

      only one man was sinless – Jesus Christ, who as God could not sin.


  13. Okay, let’s flesh it out to mean “set apart as holy.” That still does not translate to “sinless.”

    The problem is that John was not “merely set apart as holy” – as if someone was taking a bit of cedar wood, waiving at it and thereafter describing it as “holy” – he was in fact “sanctified” – made holy by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb. That is what scripture says. Shouldn’t we take scripture seriously?

    “Holy” means “sinless.” That’s the point of all the scriptural verses I’ve been citing. Something is actually “holy” – not merely described as holy – when it is conformed to and incorporated to the life of Christ, who, as you point out, was sinless. Therefore, anything that shares the life of Christ, or which is conformed to the life of Christ, is also sinless. 1 John 3:6.

    The scriptural verses on this point are everywhere. I’ve cited a few. Is it really your view that when the elect share in the life of Christ in the Beatific Vision that they will still be sinners?

    Yes, the holy spirit give us grace to avoid sin as much as possible. But we still sin. 1 John 1:8. We are sanctified by the Spirit yet we still sin.

    It sounds as if you are saying that even with God’s grace – i.e., the Holy Spirit living within the believer – that you believe that it is not possible for the grace-filled believer to not sin, i.e., non posse non pecarre.

    I’m, of course, alluding to St. Augustine’s distinction of the man prior to grace and the man with grace. St. Augustine taught that without grace, a person is non posse non pecarre – not able not to sin. On the other hand, with grace, a believer is posse non pecarre – able to not sin.

    In other words, a person may sin after being filled with the Holy Spirit, but that is not a foregone conclusion.

    This conclusion is seen in 1 John. The verse you cite is referring to the person in whom grace is absent or has died; that person must repent and be converted and live in Christ. On the other hand, you will see in 1 John 3:6, 9, references to the notion that someone who lives in Christ will not sin. In other words, this is what St. Augustine is talking about.

    So, are you really saying that a person who is alive in Christ – who has not rejected Christ – is nonetheless non posse non pecarre – not able to not sin?

    If so, (1) how is this compulsion to sin stronger than the life of God in the believer and (2) if the compulsion is stronger than God does that mean that there is an evil deity at war with God?

    This, incidentally, is not an ill-considered question; it is, in fact, the very question that got Augustine thinking about grace, sin and the idea of posse not pecarre – he was debating Manichees who cited the Bible for the view that humans were compelled to sin and he had to explain why this was not the case.

    John was sanctified by the spirit but there is nowhere in Scripture where it says he never sinned.

    The Gospels say that John was sanctified in the womb, set apart for holiness and thereafter lived a life dedicated to holiness. Isn’t the burden on you to show your thesis from scripture – namely that such a person with such characteristics did sin? Isn’t the best evidence that he didn’t since he was (a) sanctified in the womb and (b) thereafter led what is described as a perfectly holy life?

    That is eisegesis from the statement that he was sanctified from the womb.

    Does “eisegesis” means that you don’t agree with the scripture verses, logic and background in orthodox theology I’ve marshalled?

    Set apart for holy service, not set apart as sinless.

    You keep saying that but you haven’t come to grips with the many, many scriptural precedents I’ve provided about what it means to be “sanctified.” In fact, you have offered not a single bit of scriptural support for the assertion that “filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb” means “set apart as Holy.”

    Clearly, John was set apart for a particular mission, but that is described in the other verses of Luke 1. The issue is what does the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb” mean? Wouldn’t it simply be redundant if it was just indicating that he had a particular temporal mission?

    John was filled with the spirit in the womb, I was filled with the spirit in Jan. 1974 as a 22 year old. For neither one of us does that mean we won’t sin.

    It could, if you seek and obtain the further graces of perseverance and habitual grace. Insofar as you are conformed to Christ, you are posse non pecarre. Of course, you are also posse pecarre, which means that you have to pray for those graces and work on developing the habits that fighting off the concupiscence to which you are heir, all of which is strengthened by grace.

    Demonstrate from Scripture where it says John was sinless.

    I’ve demonstrated from Scripture the case for concluding that John was sinless. He was certainly sinless in the womb and he was definitely sinless when he was born.

    If that was the case, why did not anyone – the gospels, Paul, Peter, in their letters say so?

    Luke points out that John was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb. This fact was recognized by the Early Church Father’s indicating that John was born without original sin.

    only one man was sinless – Jesus Christ, who as God could not sin.

    Jesus certainly was sinless, but those who experience the Beatific Vision will also be sinless when they are with their Father in Heaven.

    Or do you believe that those who enter into the Beatific Vision will still be sinners?


  14. P.S. Bradley,
    Luke 1:15 says John would be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. Luke 1:41 also says Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Was she sinless from that point on? You are indeed reading into the meaning of the passage. Maybe I missed something, but where does it then say John was holy? (which again, my Vine’s says means sanctified, set apart). Just a minor point to make. We infer he was indeed set apart for a work because that is the story we read. But it never says he was sinless. Holy does not always mean sinless.

    Contrary to your claim, sharing in the life of Christ, as all Christians do, does not thereby make us sinless. It makes our sins covered over – forgiven.

    1 John 3:6 has to be taken in the context of 1 John 1:8. Every commentator I have ever read, and dynamic translations of the Bible render as such, explain that 1 Jn 3:6 is talking about a lifestyle defined by sin. For example, a person who claims to be a Christian but who lives in gross immorality of all types and is never repentant, is obviously not a Christian but a liar. 1 Jn 1:8 says if we say we have no sin we are liars. The two passages can’t contradict each other. Paul says “all have sinned.” No exceptions (except God/Jesus because the context is of the need for the savior Jesus). Not Mary, not John.

    By “Beatific Vision” I am assuming you mean when we die and are then with the Lord. Will we still be sinners? No – once we’ve been resurrected our sins will have been atoned for and we will no longer be able to sin – at least that is my understanding. I certainly don’t think we will be able to sin in eternal life. That doesn’t make any sense.

    Please don’t employ Latin. If you mean “not able not to sin” say so in English, please.

    Since Paul writes earlier than Augustine, I think we should favor the writings of Paul over the writings of Augustine.

    You say, “In other words, a person may sin after being filled with the Holy Spirit, but that is not a foregone conclusion.” This is true, but name me one person who hasn’t sinned. You may claim Mary or John, but the Scriptures don’t say anything to the effect, unless you read into it a meaning not there.

    You asked, “So, are you really saying that a person who is alive in Christ – who has not rejected Christ – is nonetheless non posse non pecarre – not able to not sin?” Well explain to me what Paul was talking about in Romans 7:14-25— as holy and set apart to God as Paul was, as dedicated as he was to following Christ (and I dare say none of us can come up to his standard), he still struggled with sin.

    You said, “…and thereafter lived a life dedicated to holiness.” But that does not imply a state of sinlessness. Paul was dedicated to living a life of holiness, yet he sinned by his own admission!

    You’ve not given any verses that say John was sinless. You “marshaled” one verse that says he was filled with the spirit and your logic is a non sequitur fallacy from that point on. Augustine may be your “background in orthodox theology,” but he was born 300 years after the events of the N.T. and is not to be held as a first person witness. He was not an apostle, nor was his teaching directly from God. If you leave Augustine out of the equation then what are you left with?

    You say John was “sanctified” and I said he was “set apart as Holy.” You say my definition is in error yet “set apart as holy” is the meaning of sanctified. You want sanctified to mean he was sinless. Holy and sinless are not always equal.

    You ask: “The issue is what does the phrase ‘filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb’ mean? Wouldn’t it simply be redundant if it was just indicating that he had a particular temporal mission?”

    No it would not. That is the way it was said. Since it was not said again, how can it be redundant?

    So are you sinless? Do you know anyone who is? If not, does that mean you don’t “seek and obtain the further graces of perseverance and habitual grace”?

    John being sinless in the womb and sinless when born is not the issue. I believe everyone is in that state. One in the womb or just born has not had the opportunity to sin. But translating that to a life of sinlessness doesn’t follow logically.

    What “Early Church Father” said John was without original sin? In fact, I’m not too keen on this “original sin” concept as some people seem to describe it. In my understanding from Scripture, we are all born with the sin nature and the propensity to sin. Babies and infants have not had much opportunity to sin, so they – in my belief (and I think I have scriptural warrant) – will go to be with the Lord if they die in infancy. So, where does the Bible say John was born without the sin nature? You have one verse which said he was filled with the Spirit – as if that immediately removes the sin nature? But then you have to explain why Scripture tells us about many people who were filled with the spirit and yet were still sinful people.


  15. WK, thank you for your immensely polite and respectful post. I believe that this is a premier example of what real ecumenism is at its best. Furthermore, I don’t get the feeling, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that you don’t dismiss Catholics as unsaved pagans doomed to Hell, but see us as fellow Christians that have something wrong in their theology. Not to diminish the importance of theological differences, but I take your post in the “mote and beam” way, and not in the “get behind me, Satan” way. Am I correct? Do you believe that the Catholic Church is one of the damaged splinters of Jesus’s church, or do you see Catholics as mere fuel for Hell’s fires?

    As to your specific issues, I have some questions I need to understand about your points for further discussion.

    First, can you define your understanding of papal infallibility? I don’t want to discuss what I see, but what you see.

    Second, you seem to reject the Assumption as a apparently made-up dogma driven by a popularity contest and nothing more. Is that correct?


    1. I think that you have to look at each individual Catholic and see how much they are influenced by the Bible and church history and how much they are influenced by the teaching of the Catholic church and then see if the disagreements in those authorities are about important issues like how we are saved and who saves us and what must we do to be saved.

      First question: you can’t be a Catholic unless you affirm all ex cathedra pronouncements of the Popes.

      Second question: Yes. There is no historical record of it for the teaching for hundreds of years. It was ratified in 1900 years after the fact. No one believed this for 700 years after the event is supposed to have happened and the driving force for ratifying it was not history.

      I’m not anxious to get into a public debate about this. Each person has to evaluate the Bible, and evaluate church history, and evaluate the claims of the Catholic Church and then decide for themselves. I think that the Marian doctrines are a particularly easy place to make the cut. I watched over a dozen debates on the Marian dogmas, Purgatory, Papal succession, indulgences, salvation, etc. before I made my decision. I recommend that others take the same approach. Formal debates are the best way to decide.


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