What's Wrong About Being a Protestant? (Part Two)
Last month, we looked at three reasons that those who dislike or disagree with Protestants give during debates. Most of these are simply preconceived ideas that, when examined under the scrutiny of Scriptures, are false and aimed at misleading others from the truth. Part two continues with more of Cardinal Ratzinger's article entitled, "33 Multifarious Errors of Protestantism." As previously mentioned Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI.
But first I'd like to mention how insistent many people are to include works as part of their Gospel beliefs. When shown the verses of Scripture that can be shared with them about how we are saved by faith alone without works, such as Ephesians 2:8,9 that says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast...." To this verse they go to James 2:17 which says, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." or even verse 2:24 that tells us clearly, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." So before you know it, they seemingly have you wondering if James and Paul are contradicting each other. No, because if you continue with the next verse in the Ephesians example, verse 2:10 adds, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." So by including verse 10, we see that the works are evidence that is supporting the person's declaration of having been saved, not as a means to obtain Salvation.
This also shows how smoothly the Bible has been established as being error free. But to this reasoning comes the answer of many that they aren't doing their works, they are doing "the works of Jesus and what He gave us" or else they'll explain that Paul meant the works of the Jews or Romans, not the Sacraments started by Christ. Sure Paul told us in Philippians 2:12,13, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." But he isn't telling us to work to get saved, but rather to express the fact that just because we're saved doesn't mean we won't be tempted. Jesus was tempted and now as a believer, Satan wants to nullify our work and we should expect him to send arrows at us as well. That's where the continuous works are involved on our part, as it will take extreme awareness of Satan's subtle attacks and temptations, and we fight him continuously. So we can see that it isn't a matter of believing in Paul or James but knowing that works are a result of being a believer. Hence, we trust in what Jesus did alone for our sins without works.
Next, they seem to think that because one believes in being eternally saved, they think that means we now we have a free "sin all you want to" license. This is precisely what Paul addressed in Romans 6:1, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" The answer is given to us by Paul in the rest of Chapter six with verse 22 telling us, "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye haveyour fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." In other words, before we were slaves to sin, but now we are free to serve God and not to sin. Our assurance is based upon knowing that Jesus took our sins to the cross and that at judgment day, we'll be seen in His righteousness.
Another misconception noted in Cardinal Ratzinger's letter is a combination of how he explains that Protestants misinterpret and/or take Scriptures out of context. The claim is based upon how Protestants "choose a Bible verse or two in a vain attempt to prove a point. In doing so, the protestants omit key information by being oblivious to the surrounding text and thus slant the truth." He continues his article by saying that Protestants "fail to take into consideration several things like the Senses of Scripture, which passages should betaken literally, allegorically, as a parable, etc...."
However well intended he means, I know that as a Bible Believer that the opposite of this is the truth, at least for Christians. I'll use two examples from recent incidents on-line in which we protestants were considered to be misinterpreting or taking Scriptures out of context and therefore we are asked, "Are going against Jesus again and against what is clear in the Bible?" One is about the practice of praying to Mary. Is this determined to be idolatryor not? When we quote 1 Timothy 2:5 which says, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," we are given verse 1 Timothy 2:1 as why we're supposedly in error. It says, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men," adding that Mary is just another intercessor. When we point out that when she was on Earth, she would have been a good intercessor, but now she is in Heaven. To this we are told that God is a God of the living and that we know Mary is alive with Christ in Heaven. The difference is that they won't acknowledge that in verse one, intercessors are referring to people alive physically and not those in the next realm, as if their being in Heaven allows all Christians to be mediators. The Bible also tells us that we should not seek the dead on behalf of the living in Isaiah 8:19. For God is a jealous God and there are no others (Exodus 34:14), but by praying to or anyone else, they are assuming that she has capabilities to hear and respond as if she was a god.
Secondly, Cardinal Ratzinger's article states that Protestants "will take the whole Bible literally, except for John Chapter 6, of which they say is symbolic." Read the chapter for yourself. This is the same Jesus from John chapter 4 that says He had real food that the disciples didn't know about, meaning the words of the father. It is the same Jesus that told us how man is not defiled by anything that enters the mouth for that just goes through the body and out again (Matthew 15:11 to 17). And this is the same chapter in which Jesus says one whom eats his flesh will never hunger or thirst again, or die, but we see Christiansdoing this every day. Then He even confirms that He was speaking in spiritual ways in verse 6:63, just as he does when He says that He is a door (John 10:9), or a vine (John 15:1,4,5), the light (John 8:12), or the way (John 14:6). There is nothing unusual aboutJesus speaking in a spiritual or symbolic manner.
In closing, I want to encourage Bible following Christians to continue in their desires to follow the Jesus of Scriptures and don't get too discouraged when we are accused of notbeing in the Body of Christ. Hopefully these last two months have helped you see that the spiritual battle is not just a local issue of bad circumstances, but rather the conflicts are for real and we can expect struggles in today's world. The lumps and hardships will continue as Jesus said they would in John 15, but we must continue to plant the seeds, for how will they know unless someone tells them? In the end, we know who wins and we arecommended by Jesus Himself in John 8:31+32 with these words, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."