Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Reformation: Christ Alone

Christ Alone
   Salvation is only by Christ and Christ alone. This was the cry of the Reformation as it opposed the Catholic church. Rome confessed that Christ was the Savior, but then added to this teaching just as they did (and do) to so many others. Salvation is not by Christ alone. Salvation in Catholicism is through Christ, the church, and the mass.
   Rome asserts that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic church. This means that only Catholics are true believers. All others are lost and doomed. Why is this? It is the Catholic church that possesses and gives grace through the sacraments and the mass. Only Rome teaches the word of God and the traditions, which reveal true religion and holiness, properly.
    Why is this? Because they have the mass. The mass is a celebration wherein the elements of the Eucharist (bread and wine) actually become the body and blood of Christ and are viewed as another sacrifice on the behalf of the living and the dead. The mass is a continuation of Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross- there is no salvation without it in the Catholic scheme. It is through the mass that Christ communicates his grace to the Catholic church. Salvation belongs to the Catholic church because they alone possess the grace of God and the truth of Christ's continual sacrifice.
   The gateway to the mass (and the sacraments that will be covered in another article) is baptism. Infants are baptized in an effort to wash away original sin. Baptism then is necessary for salvation. It makes a new creature out of the baptized and joins them to the church. The Catholic church associates baptism with regeneration, confusing and combining the two.
   Is this really what they taught? Not only did they teach it, they still do. Let their sources speak for themselves (Quotations are taken from the Council of Trent, Vatican II, and The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
And because that Christ, our Redeemer, declared that which He offered under the species of bread to be truly His own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church of God, and this holy Synod doth now declare it anew, that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation. (Trent, Session XIII, 75)
And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propritiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. The fruits indeed of which oblation, of that bloody one to wit, are received most plentifully through this unbloody one; so far is this (latter) from derogating in any way from that (former oblation). Wherefore, not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those who are departed in Christ, and who are not as yet fully purified, is it rightly offered, agreebly to a tradition of the apostles. (Trent, Session XXII, 145-146)
CANON I.--If any one saith, that in the mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God; or, that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat; let him be anathema. CANON II.--If any one saith, that by those words, Do this for the commemoration of me (Luke xxii. 19), Christ did not institute the apostles priests; or, did not ordain that they, and other priests should offer His own body and blood; let him be anathema. CANON III.--If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema. CANON IV.--If any one saith, that, by the sacrifice of the mass, a blasphemy is cast upon the most holy sacrifice of Christ consummated on the cross; or, that it is thereby derogated from; let him be anathema. CANON V.--If any one saith, that it is an imposture to celebrate masses in honour of the saints, and for obtaining their intercession with God, as the Church intends; let him be anathema. (Trent, Session XXII, 149)
The Most Blessed Eucharist contains the entire spiritual boon of the Church... that is, Christ Himself, our Pasch and Living Bread, by the action of the Holy Spirit through His very flesh vital and vitalizing, giving life to men who are thus invited and encouraged to offer themselves, their labors and all created things, together with Him... So priests must instruct their people to offer to God the Father the Divine Victim in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and to join to it the offering of their own lives. In the spirit of Christ the Shepherd, they must prompt their people to confess their sins with a contrite heart in the Sacrament of Penance, so that, mindful of His words: "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand" (Matt. 4:17), they are drawn closer to the Lord more and more each day. (Vatican II, 325)
Because it is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice. the sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: "This is my body which is given for you" and "This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood." In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he "poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit: [Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper "on the night when he was betrayed," [he wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit. The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: "The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different." "In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner." (CCC, 1365-1367)

The Eucharistic sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed who "have died in Christ but are not yet wholly purified”... (CCC, 1371)
The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation." The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ. Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. "The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession." (CCC, 1376-1378)

It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. and it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice. (CCC 1410)

By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity. As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God. (CCC, 1413-1414)
If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only erased, or not imputed; let him be anathema. (Trent, Session V, 23)

For, by baptism putting on Christ, we are made therein entirely a new creature, obtaining a full and entire remission of all sins... (Trent, Session XIV, 90)

This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved. (Vatican II, 20)

Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.” (CCC, 1213)

The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. (CCC, 1257)

By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God. (CCC, 1263)

Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte "a new creature," an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature," member of Christ and coheir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:
- enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in Baptism. (CCC, 1265-1266)

Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism. (CCC, 1277)

   This is the teaching of the Catholic church. When the reformers went back to Scripture, they discovered that the gospel is Christ. Salvation is through Christ alone. Not through Christ, the church, the mass, and baptism. The result was an attempt to reform the church by ridding it of the mass and all the false teaching associated with it. Christ was proclaimed, many of Rome's captives were set free by the truth of Christ, and reform was instituted. Protestants split from the Catholic church and thundered the Bible's message of solus Christus, or Christ alone.
    Christ alone is the mediator between God and man. He is the Prophet, Priest, King, Head of the church, and only Savior. Christ offered himself as the one and only perfect sacrifice in the place of sinners. His sacrifice was sufficient- it propitiated the wrath of the Father for the sins of his children. There is no need for another atonement. Salvation, then is found only in Christ. Away with another supposed atoning sacrifice in the mass.
   What do the scriptures say?
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned- every one- to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Is. 53:4-12)

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matt. 1:21)

Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. (Acts 3:22)
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1Cor. 15:3-5)

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus... (1Tim. 2:5)

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. (Heb. 7:23-28)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1Pet. 2:24)

   Clearly, Christ is the only Savior. Nothing needs to be added to his perfect work. The Son took on flesh, was born of a woman, lived a perfect life, obeyed the Father, bore the sin of the elect, endured the shame and suffering, died a cursed death under the wrath of the Almighty, was buried, and raised on the third day. What Christ did was sufficient for our salvation. In fact, he cried, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). He did not cry, “What I began, the church in Rome will perfect and finish.” Or, “I started your salvation. Now you must add to it the continued sacrifice of the Eucharist, then you may be saved.”
   Christ is precious. He is our everything; he is our all in all. Christ is our Head, Shepherd, Prophet, Priest, King, Righteousness, Light, Mediator, Advocate, and Propitiation. He is the Rock, Bridegroom, Door, Gate, Lamb, Redeemer, Son of God, Son of Man, Suffering Servant, Way, Truth, Life, and Prince of Peace. Christ is the Holy One of God, adored by the heavenly host, the Father’s Beloved, infinite in beauty and splendor, worshiped by angels, and obeyed by all creation. He is all-wise, full of grace and mercy, patient and loving, powerful and just. Christ is sufficient, worthy, excellent, to be desired above all, magnificent, regal, amiable, eminent, glorious, and resplendent. Who could ever begin to comprehend his manifold illustriousness? He should be treasured, obeyed, feared, sought, trusted, followed, hallowed, worshiped, and magnified. Not the church. And definitely not the mass.
   It is all about Christ, and Christ alone. After all, Christ is: Advocate (1 Jn. 1:21), Almighty (Rev. 1:8), Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13), Amen (Rev. 3:14), Apostle (Heb. 3:1), Author of salvation (Heb. 2:10), Branch (Jer. 23:5), Bread of life (Jn. 6:35), Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4), Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), Deliverer (Rom. 11:26), Door (Jn. 10:7), Eternal life (1 Jn. 1:2), Glory of the Lord (Is. 40:5), Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:14), Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14), Head of the church (Eph. 5:23), Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2), Holy One (Ps. 16:10), I Am (Jn. 8:58), Immanuel (Matt. 1:23), King (Matt. 21:5), King of kings (1 Tim. 6:15), King of the nations (Rev. 15:3), Lamb (Rev. 5:6), Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), Life (Jn. 14:6), Light of the world (Jn. 18:12), Lion from the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5), Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8), Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), Messiah (Jn. 1:41), Mighty God (Is. 9:6), Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), Prince of peace (Is. 9:6), Prophet (Lk. 24:19), Ransom (1 Tim. 2:6), Resurrection (Jn. 11:25), Rock (1 Cor. 10:4), Son of David (Matt. 9:27), Son of God (Lk. 1:35), Son of Man (Jn. 5:27), True God (1 Jn. 5:20), True Vine (Jn. 15:1), Truth (Jn. 14:6), Way (Jn. 14:6), Word (Jn. 1:1), and Word of Life (1 Jn. 1:1).
   Let the true church say, “Amen!”

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Reformation: Scripture Alone

Scripture Alone
   Scripture alone means just that, the word of God and nothing else. This was the position of Protestants and Protestant churches opposed to the stance of the Roman Catholic church during the Reformation and throughout the next centuries. The main point of contention was over authority. Was God's word the sole authority of the church, or was something or someone else needed? What was Rome's position? What did the Catholics teach regarding Scripture? What did the reformers and their followers teach regarding authority? More importantly, what does the word of God teach concerning itself and the authority of the church?
   We begin with the Catholic church. We study Catholicism to better understand where we as Protestants came from, what we believe, and why we believe it. Their authority comes from Scripture, the Magisterium, and councils. Scripture is considered to be the inspired word of God according to Rome. However, they add a number of books to the canon known as the Apocrypha. These are viewed as Scripture by the Catholic church, but not by Protestants. These books are not inspired, quoted by New Testament authors or Christ, or recognized by the Jews as belonging to the Old Testament. They contain many fanciful teachings and even contradict accepted canonical books and doctrines.
   The church of Rome not only adds to the Bible, they also elevate traditions to the level of Scripture. Many extra-biblical traditions are seen as authoritative along with or alongside the word of God. Authority belongs to the Magisterium as well. This is made up of the pope and bishops. They interpret Scripture and tradition then hand it down to the other faithful Catholics. Councils also hold a place of authority. They are referred to and upheld as authoritative. So, the sole authority does not belong to Scripture. It is shared between the Magisterium, councils, and the Bible.
   Why is this an issue? When Scripture is not recognized as the only authority in the life of a Christian and in the church, the door is then opened to believe and teach unbiblical doctrines. It also produces a hierarchy of power. The person who interprets God's word has the power and authority. He sits atop his mountain and rules and reigns over the hearts and minds of the people. The very people he ought to be caring for, he is enslaving. Followers are held in bondage by traditions and the words of man, instead of being liberated by Christ and his words of freedom.
   Do not take my word for it. Let us look at the very sources of the Catholic church. The Council of Trent met at several points between 1545 and 1564. This happened to take place during the heyday of the Reformation. Vatican II met between 1962 and 1965. Both of these produced sources that Roman Catholics hold as authoritative statements of their faith and practice. Then, in 1994, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (will be abbreviated as CCC) was published. These were chosen because they are both historical and contemporary. They represent the official teaching of the Catholic church five hundred years ago and today. I will simply reproduce quotes from Catholic sources on the teaching of Scripture and authority. There is no commentary needed.

[S]eeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament-seeing that one God is the author of both --as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ's own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession. (Trent, Session 4, pg. 17)

But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema. (Trent, Session 4, pg. 18)

Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort. But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church. whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed. It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls. (Vatican II, 103-104)

Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal. Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own "always, to the close of the age. Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence. The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus' teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. the first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition. Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium. (CCC, 80-83)

The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith. (CCC, 85-86)

It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls. (CCC, 95)

The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him. (CCC, 100)

But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. (Vatican II, 30)

In this Church of Christ the Roman pontiff, as the successor of Peter, to whom Christ entrusted the feeding of His sheep and lambs, enjoys supreme, full, immediate, and universal authority over the care of souls by divine institution. Therefore, as pastor of all the faithful, he is sent to provide for the common good of the universal Church and for the good of the individual churches. Hence, he holds a primacy of ordinary power over all the churches. (Vatican II, 283)

The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered. (CCC, 882)

The Lord made St. Peter the visible foundation of his Church. He entrusted the keys of the Church to him. the bishop of the Church of Rome, successor to St. Peter, is head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church on earth. The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls. (CCC, 936-937)

   This is what Rome taught, still believes, and upholds. The reformers, upon reading Scripture for themselves, began to see things differently. Being illuminated and enlightened by the word of God and the Spirit, many men desired to see the Catholic church reformed. Scripture was preached from pulpits and translated into the languages of the people. Until that time, Scripture was available in Latin. Most were uneducated and illiterate. The Reformation changed all of that. Commentaries and biblical books were written. Scholarship increased. Biblical schools were built. And sound confessions of faith and godly music was composed. All of this stemmed from the affirmation that Scripture, and Scripture alone, was to read and understood by God's people. Truly, a reformation was sparked. The world was turned upside down and forever changed. Thanks be to God!
   The church was called back to the scriptures and only the scriptures. Scripture is the single source of Christian revelation. Scripture alone is needed for salvation and sanctification. It alone is sufficient for faith and life. The church has no other authority- God and his word is its authority. The Bible is the perfect, inspired, infallible, sufficient, infallible, and authoritative word of God. Away with councils, extrabiblical books, traditions, and the pope!
   I will not quote reformers. They desired to go back to the sources, or Scripture, so we will only quote the word of God. What do the scriptures say?

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29)

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Ps. 19:7-11)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Ps. 119:105)

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Is. 55:10-11)

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me... (Jn. 5:39)
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (Jn. 17:17)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2Pet. 1:19-21)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2Tim. 3:16-17)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2Tim. 4:1-4)

   Clearly, Scripture is enough. The church has all it needs in the word of God. Scripture is the churches standard and rule. There is nothing in the inspired word of God about a pope, magisterium, invention of traditions, or anything else Rome teaches. The Bible teaches that Scripture is sufficient- it is the final authoritative norm for the church. Everything and everyone must submit to the word of God.
   Now, believers are encouraged to read the word of God, listen to sound preaching and teaching, call pastors who will faithfully proclaim God's truth, and thank God for his word that is made readily available. Men of the past fought and died so that the scriptures could be granted to every man in his own tongue. Treasure the word of God. Store it in your heart. Beware of the traditions of men. Submit to the word of God. Do not add to or take away from God's holy word. Read, memorize, study, pray, and apply God's truth. Remember, Scripture is sufficient for salvation and sanctification- everything the Christian needs to know about God, his will, his salvation, and how to honor and glorify him in life and death. Protestants are called the “people of the book” so we ought to be in the book. Take up, read, and feed on God's holy word.
   Sola scriptura, or scripture alone, is the dividing line between Catholics and Protestants. Rome will not confess Scripture alone. They confess Scripture, but will not add the word “alone.” Why? Because of corruption, greed, power, and a host of other reasons. Protestants, on the other hand, willingly confess and profess that it believes and cherishes the doctrine of Scripture alone. And not just the doctrine, but Scripture itself. We need no other authority than God and his word.   

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Introduction to the Reformation: Part 2 of 2

Teaching of the Reformation
Scripture alone (sola scriptura)
   The reformers believed that Scripture was the only source of Christian revelation. The cry of the Reformation was “sola scriptura” or “scripture alone.” Scripture, not tradition or the words of mere men, was and is God's sole authority in the church. The word of God is inspired, sufficient, infallible, and authoritative. The Apocrypha was not thought to be inspired or canonical. The scriptures were proclaimed and translated in the languages of the people. The word of God was being heard, read, treasured, obeyed, understood, preached, and sung. Regular people, not the educated alone or priests, were able to read the Bible for themselves. This was unheard of before the Reformation. The Reformation was also a revival!
   I will not reproduce quotations from the reformers here. They went back to the scriptures, so that will be what I do- quote the word of God. Note also that the word “alone” is key to the doctrines of the Reformation. Rome will not use the word “alone.” Without that word, the doors are opened to a myriad of corruptions, errors, heresies, false-hopes, and false-conversions. With the word “alone” those doors are shut and sealed. They serve to guard the bride of Christ from unchaste suitors and adulterous evils. That one word changed the world. That one word turned the world upside down. Praise God!
Quotations from Scripture
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Ps. 19:7-11)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Ps. 119:105)

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2Pet. 1:19-21)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2Tim. 3:16-17)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2Tim. 4:1-4)

Christ alone (solus Christus)
   Christ alone is the mediator between God and man. He is the Prophet, Priest, King, Head of the church, and only Savior. Christ offered himself in the place of sinners as the one and only perfect sacrifice for sin. There is no need for a continual sacrifice. Salvation is to be found only in Christ. Salvation is found in the person and work of Christ, not in a ceremony, traditions, works, or the church.
Quotations from Scripture
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus... (1Tim. 2:5)

Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. (Acts 3:22)

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. (Heb. 7:23-28)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1Pet. 2:24)
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Grace alone (sola gratia)
   Salvation is only by the grace of God. Salvation is God's free gift accomplished by the death and resurrection of Christ.  This is the work of God alone- man does not cooperate with God or add to his salvation. This salvation is wrought by the Spirit through the proclamation of the gospel. Man does not merit the grace of God by observing the sacraments. Salvation is by grace alone, not by grace and the works of man.
Quotations from Scripture
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ---by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:4-9)

[W]ho saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel... (2Tim. 1:9-10)

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? (Rom. 10:14-15)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Tit. 2:11-14)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Tit. 3:4-7)

Faith alone (sola fide)
   Justification by faith alone was the central issue during the Reformation. The very gospel was at stake. If the gospel was at stake, then souls were at stake as well. That was the case back then, and still remains the case today. Protestants and Catholics proclaim a radically different gospel. Ironically, the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Christ and his imputed righteousness alone is proclaimed primarily in the epistle to the Romans- the very name of the church (Roman Catholicism) that denies and corrupts it.
   Justification is only by faith in the person and finished work of Christ. Salvation is merited only by Christ and must be accepted by faith. Sinners are declared righteous by God because of Christ's righteousness being imputed to them as a free gift. Faith is the believing, resting, receiving, and trusting Christ and his righteousness. This act of faith is not a work- faith itself is the gift of God. Also, justification is not sanctification. The justified are progressively sanctified, or made more like Christ. Those who are declared righteous will slowly be made righteous by the Spirit working in them. Justification cannot be lost or undone. Those whom God justifies, he will glorify.
Quotations from Scripture
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Rom. 3:21-25)

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith... (Phil. 3:8-9)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Cor. 5:21)

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way;and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Is. 53:5-6)

God's glory alone (soli Deo gloria)
   God gets all the glory. There is no glory reserved for man, the church, the dead, other sacrifices, sacraments, or any other person, being, or thing. God does all things for his honor and glory. This includes creation, salvation, the spread of the gospel, the destinies of mankind, the life of the church, and the conquering of sin, Satan, death, and evil. God is jealous for his glory- he will not give it to another.
   God is manifoldly glorified, beyond compare, in the wrath-absorbing, atoning death of his Son and our enjoying the benefits of it, and worshiping God because of it, and suffering the sin-slaying effects of it, and becoming more like Christ as a result of it, and desiring more of the Spirit that was given as a gift purchased by it, and aching to conquer the enemies that were defeated and doomed by it, and hungering for sweeter communion that was made possible by it, and thirsting for more of God's glory that was revealed by it, and longing to be in the presence of the thrice holy, majestic, sovereign, beautiful, Lord of the universe that was accomplished by it.
   God is not glorified when his chief means of being magnified is marred and mutilated beyond recognition. When the doctrine of Christ and his salvation is altered, God cannot be pleased. The redemption of fallen humanity is the central theme throughout Scripture. When God is replaced by man in the scheme of salvation, man is deified and receives all the glory that belongs to God. When, by false religion, man is deified, God is humanized. God is not glorified when his glory is given to creatures, or when the efficacy of Christ's death is rendered insufficient and given to a ceremony, or when Mary is elevated to a sinless position as mediator, or when a mere man is elevated to Christ's vicar, or when the work of Christ is rendered impotent and the works of man are declared sufficient.
Quotations from Scripture
I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. (Is. 42:8)

I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. (Is. 43:6-7)

For my name's sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. (Is. 48:9-11)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 11:33-36)

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!' And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 'Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.' (Rev. 4:8-11)

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.' Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!' And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Rev. 5:8-14)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.' (Rev. 7:9-12)

Results and effects of the Reformation
  1. If there was no Reformation, there would have been no pilgrims, and therefore, no America.
  2. Before the Reformation, the Catholic church governed Europe; the Reformation affected politics, law, and government by causing a separation between church and countries.
  3. The word of God was translated into the languages of the people; before the Reformation, the Bible was only available in Latin.
  4. Protestant denominations were formed due to religious freedoms brought about by the protests and reforms.
  5. There was a tremendous increase in biblical scholarship, theological books, commentaries on Scripture, biblical and exegetical preaching, biblical schools, confessions of faith, godly music, and literacy.
  6. There was an increase in scientific investigation; prior to the Reformation, the Catholic church controlled all investigations and endeavors.
  7. The Reformation resulted in the freedom to follow individual conscience; people were freed from religious bondage.
  8. The Reformation led to the rediscovery of the gospel and an increase in missions.
  9. The Reformation impacted the economy by stressing a hard work ethic and godliness in all vocations.
  10. The Reformation stressed biblical and doctrinal accuracy which culminated in the priesthood of all believers, biblical leadership, the word of God centralized, biblical worship, and justification through faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone as found in Scripture alone for the glory of God alone.
   Truly, the Reformation was used by God for the glory of God. Protestants must continue to thank God for removing the darkness and revealing the light. He raised up godly men and gifted them in order to invoke change in the religious climate. And change occurred. It must continue to occur. The Reformation is not over. As long as the bride of Christ is on earth, she remains imperfect and weak, vulnerable and susceptible to error and attack. She must continue to be purged of all evil and sin.
   The Reformation is not over. It must continue. It is an ongoing work. We must not stop or give in. There remains false gospels and false religions in the world. Many name the name of Christ but deny him by their doctrine and actions. We Protestants must stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before and by the grace of God and for the glory of God, lead the church into holiness, doctrinal purity, gospel accuracy, biblical literacy, and Trinity centered worship. We must proclaim that the scriptures alone teach salvation in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, all for the glory of God alone. To God be the glory, now and forever, amen! Soli Deo gloria.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Introduction to the Reformation: Part 1 of 2

Introduction to the Reformation

Introduction
   Why study the Reformation? Why look at the Catholic church before and during the Reformation? As Protestants, we study the Reformation and Roman Catholicism to better understand where we came from, where we are going, what we believe, and why we believe it. We also learn from the past in order to not repeat it. Knowing history, especially the Reformation era, will serve as a guide to lead, a template to emulate, a harbinger to warn, a mirror to reflect, and a tool to sharpen. The Reformation and studies of the reformers do not take the place of Scripture. But, they do serve as examples to follow. We must learn from those who came before and not make the same mistakes.
   The Reformation was a major movement that aimed at reforming or purifying the Roman Catholic Church. The dates for the reformation are approximately 1517-1648; there were attempts at reforms prior by John Huss, John Wycliffe and others. The reformation was both positive and negative. It was positive toward the truth but negative toward error and falsehood. Philip Schaff provided a helpful summary:
Romanism and Orthodox Protestantism believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and in one divine-human Lord and Saviour of the race. They accept in common the Holy Scriptures and the ecumenical faith. They agree in every article of the Apostles' Creed... But Romanism holds also a large number of 'traditions of the elders,' which Protestantism rejects as extra- scriptural or anti-scriptural; such are the papacy, the worship of saints and relics, transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the mass, prayers and masses for the dead, works of supererogation, purgatory, indulgences, the system of monasticism with its perpetual vows and ascetic practices, besides many superstitious rites and ceremonies.
Protestantism, on the other hand, revived and developed the Augustinian doctrines of sin and grace; it proclaimed the sovereignty of divine mercy in man's salvation, the sufficiency of the Scriptures as a rule of faith, and the sufficiency of Christ's merit as a source of justification; it asserted the right of direct access to the Word of God and the throne of grace, without human mediators; it secured Christian freedom from bondage; it substituted social morality for monkish asceticism, and a simple, spiritual worship for an imposing ceremonialism that addresses the senses and imagination rather than the intellect and the hearts. (History of the Christian Church, vol. 7, pg. 5)

   At the heart of the Reformation was the desire to purify the church of God, rid it of corruption, remove false doctrine and traditions, and get back to the scriptures and biblical and Christ-centered worship and practice The Reformation centered around a series of questions: What must man do to be saved? How can a sinner be justified before a holy and righteous God? Who defines the gospel? Who or what has authority in the church? Who interprets Scripture?
Corruption in the Catholic church
   There were many ungodly and iniquitous things happening within the Catholic church prior to and during the Reformation. The church was corrupt. Often, the rottenness began at the top and flowed down. This was one of the major motivations of the Reformation- to purge the church of its abuses and unbiblical practices and teachings. Not every church was corrupt, nor did the corrupt churches have all of the degenerate implementations mentioned below. These abuses were widespread, but not all of the church or its leaders were corrupt in all of these matters. And, those who were corrupted, were not necessarily corrupted in all of these areas. Nonetheless, the church was polluted and needed purifying. Listed are a few of the prominent corruptions:
-Simony: the sale of church offices; led to unqualified people becoming bishops and cardinals
-Pluralism: the holding of more than one office at a time; based on money and led to abuses and irresponsibility
-Absenteeism: officials not participating or accomplishing duties but still receiving payment and privileges
-Indulgences: the sale of salvation; absolution and forgiveness for money; led to many abuses; took advantage of the poor in order to gain wealth or finance construction.
-Nepotism: favor shown to relatives; unqualified people elevated to positions above other more qualified people
-Immorality of papacy: some popes had affairs, children out of wedlock, and concubines
-Clerical ignorance and immorality: many priests were illiterate; accepted sexual favors for absolution
Teaching of the Church of Rome
Scripture, authority, Magisterium, and councils
   The Roman Catholic Church believes the scriptures to be the inspired word of God. However, they add a number of books to the canon and elevate traditions to the level of Scripture. As a consequence, their many extra-biblical traditions are seen as authoritative along with the word of God. The sole authority does not belong to Scripture alone, but is shared between the Magisterium, councils, and the Bible. Scriptures can only be interpreted by the magisterium, which includes bishops and popes. The result- a monopoly on the interpretation and application of the word of God and control over the masses.
   Quotations will be reproduced from actual Catholic sources in order to show that what is written is indeed taught by the church. Three sources will be consulted. The Council of Trent met between 1545 and 1564. The primary task of the council was to solidify the church's teaching. These meetings took place during the height of the Reformation and may be seen as an answer to the teachings of the reformers or a counter-reformation. Vatican II will be referenced. This council met during the early 1960's. Finally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be sited. This is the most modern and complete source of the Catholic church and its doctrine having been written in 1994.
   These three have been selected because they represent the Catholic faith during the time of the Reformation through today. These demonstrate what the church believed and taught five hundred years ago, and also what they continue to teach. The Catholic church that exists today is the same church that existed during the Reformation. In fact, other doctrines and false beliefs have been added since, so in actuality, it is not the same church. The church that exists today may be worse and more corrupt!
Quotations from sources
[S]eeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament- seeing that one God is the author of both- as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ's own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession. (Trent, Session 4, pg. 18)

But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema. (Trent, Session 4, pg. 19)

It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls. (CCC 95)

Church and the mass
   Rome teaches that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. It is the Catholic church that posses and gives grace in the sacraments and the mass, and teaches the word and traditions which reveal the example of holiness. The mass is viewed as a celebration wherein the elements of the Eucharist (bread and wine) actually become the body and blood of Christ and are viewed as another sacrifice on the behalf of the living and the dead. Therefore, the mass is a continuation of Christ's sacrifice on the cross; there is no salvation without it. It is through the mass that Christ communicates his grace to his church. It is to the Catholic church that belongs salvation and the grace of God because they possess the truth of Christ's continual sacrifice.

Quotations from sources
If any one saith, that in the mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God; or, that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat; let him be anathema. (Trent Session 22, pg. 158)

If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema. (Trent Session 22, pg. 158-159)

It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. and it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice. (CCC 1410)
By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity. (CCC 1413)

As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God. (CCC 1414)

Merit and the sacraments
   Rome teaches that no one can merit salvation or justification at the beginning of conversion. However, believers can then merit grace for themselves and others needed for sanctification and eternal life. What God begins, man must finish. Grace is earned through the sacraments. These sacraments are powers that come from the body of Christ and give life. So, the sacraments, seven in number, are necessary for salvation.
   What this means is that salvation in the Catholic church must be earned. It is a works based salvation. Rome will deny this, but it cannot be avoided. Catholicism teaches that God initiates conversion, but then it is up to the Catholic to continue to earn his favor by celebrating the mass and observing the sacraments. One can never know if they have done enough. It is never enough! Catholics believe and teach that they must then suffer in purgatory for their sins. It follows then, that Christ's atonement is insufficient, that man must work to be saved, and a Catholic can never have assurance. What a horrid and joyless religion. There is no hope and there can be no salvation if it depends on depraved men and women to “save” themselves.

Quotations from sources
If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; or, that they are more, or less, than seven, to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; or even that any one of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament; let him be anathema. (Trent Session 7, pg. 54)

If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema. (Trent Session 7, pg. 54)

If any one saith, that by the said sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred through the act performed, but that faith alone in the divine promise suffices for the obtaining of grace; let him be anathema. (Trent Session 7, pg. 55)
Sacraments are "powers that comes forth" from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are "the masterworks of God" in the new and everlasting covenant. (CCC 1116)

The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. "Sacramental grace" is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament. the Spirit heals and transforms those who receive him by conforming them to the Son of God. the fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior. (CCC 1129)

Justification and works
   Rome combines or adds sanctification to justification. Justification is granted through baptism. The fruit of justification is not a declared righteousness (as Protestants believe), but the establishment of cooperation between God and man which results in merited grace in order to increase grace and love, attain eternal life, and gain temporal goods such as health and friendships. Rome's view of justification is not permanent; it may be undone by committing mortal sins (sins that destroy sanctifying grace and causes the supernatural death of the soul, as opposed to venial sins which do not destroy sanctifying grace and the soul remains alive). Justification then, in Catholicism, is conditional and dependent upon the faithfulness of the person. Grace, as noted above, is communicated through the sacraments and is necessary in order to be justified.

Quotations from sources
If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema. (Trent Session 6, pg. 47)

If any one saith, that he, who has fallen after baptism, is not able by the grace of God to rise again; or, that he is able indeed to recover the justice which he has lost, but by faith alone without the sacrament of Penance, contrary to what the holy Roman and universal Church-instructed by Christ and his Apostles-has hitherto professed, observed, and taught; let him be anathema. (Trent Session 6, pg. 48)

If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema. (Trent Session 6, pg. 48)

Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man. (CCC 2019)

Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God's mercy. (CCC 2020)

The pope, Mary, and the saints
   The pope is viewed as the Vicar of Christ (Christ's priest on earth), the pastor of the entire Catholic church, supreme, and possessing universal power over the church. Mary is revered with a special devotion. She is called the Mother of God and has been elevated to the place of co-Mediatrix (mediator along side of Christ). The saints are those who are more closely united to Christ. They intercede with the Father for believers and proffer or give their merits that they earned while on earth.
All of this is unbiblical. There is not a shred of evidence in Scripture that the church is to be ruled by a pope. Scripture knows nothing of Mary being a redeemer along side of Christ. Nor are merits transferred from saints to sinners. The heights to which the Catholic church has soured are repulsive. This is what happens, however, when Scripture is replaced with the teachings and traditions of men.

Quotations from sources
The holy Synod enjoins on all bishops, and others who sustain the office and charge of teaching, that, agreeably to the usage of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, received from the primitive times of the Christian religion, and agreeably to the consent of the holy Fathers, and to the decrees of sacred Councils, they especially instruct the faithful diligently concerning the intercession and invocation of saints; the honour (paid) to relics; and the legitimate use of images: teaching them, that the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer up their own prayers to God for men; that it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and to have recourse to their prayers, aid, (and) help for obtaining benefits from God, through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our alone Redeemer and Saviour; but that they think impiously, who deny that the saints, who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven, are to be invocated; or who assert either that they do not pray for men; or, that the invocation of them to pray for each of us even in particular, is idolatry; or, that it is repugnant to the word of God; and is opposed to the honour of the one mediator of God and men, Christ Jesus; or, that it is foolish to supplicate, vocally, or mentally, those who reign in heaven. Also, that the holy bodies of holy martyrs, and of others now living with Christ,-which bodies were the living members of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Ghost, and which are by Him to be raised unto eternal life, and to be glorified,-are to be venerated by the faithful; through which (bodies) many benefits are bestowed by God on men; so that they who affirm that veneration and honour are not due to the relics of saints; or, that these, and other sacred monuments, are uselessly honoured by the faithful; and that the places dedicated to the memories of the saints are in vain visited with the view of obtaining their aid; are wholly to be condemned, as the Church has already long since condemned, and now also condemns them.
Moreover, that the images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints, are to be had and retained particularly in temples, and that due honour and veneration are to be given them; not that any divinity, or virtue, is believed to be in them, on account of which they are to be worshipped; or that anything is to be asked of them; or, that trust is to be reposed in images, as was of old done by the Gentiles who placed their hope in idols; but because the honour which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which those images represent; in such wise that by the images which we kiss, and before which we uncover the head, and prostrate ourselves, we adore Christ; and we venerate the saints, whose similitude they bear... (Trent Session 25, pg. 233-235)

The Lord made St. Peter the visible foundation of his Church. He entrusted the keys of the Church to him. the bishop of the Church of Rome, successor to St. Peter, is head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church on earth. (CCC 936)

The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls. (CCC 937)

But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness, and so they turn their eyes to Mary: in her, the Church is already the "all-holy." (CCC 829)

"All generations will call me blessed": The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship. The Church rightly honors the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs.... This very special devotion ... differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration. The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an epitome of the whole Gospel, express this devotion to the Virgin Mary. (CCC 971)

We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ. (CCC 975)

The intercession of the saints. Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness.... They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus.... So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped. (CCC 956)

The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the trans-mission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were put in charge of many things. Their intercession is their most exalted service to God's plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world. (CCC 2683)