Why We Still Disagree
A Reformed and Evangelical Response To Catholic Doctrine
500 years ago, on 31st October 1517 Martin Luther began a movement of protest against the Roman Catholic Church's departures from the Biblical faith. Over 50 years ago, Vatican II brought some commendable changes to their church, such as encouraging Catholics to read their Bibles in their own languages. Despite this, Reformed and Evangelical Christians continue to hear the voice of Christ speaking to us through the Word of God and urging us to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) Therefore, with Christian love and seeking the eternal welfare of and blessing of all who seek to be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, we present these affirmations of Biblical truth and denials of the worrying departures from Biblical truth that we see persisting in Catholic doctrine.
I have been humbled the complexity and sheer quantity of Catholic doctrine, together with its historical and intellectual depth, and admit that this may have caused me to misrepresent Catholic doctrine. I would gratefully receive any clarification or correction if I have born false witness to Catholic doctrine.
I have also tried to faithfully summarise and apply the Scriptures in a way that harmonises with the the Reformed Confessions of the Westminster Standards, the Belgic Confession, The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dordt. I would also gratefully receive any clarification or correction if I have failed to do this.
Rory McClure, 31st October 2017.
The Authority of the Bible
We affirm with Christ the supreme authority of the written word of God, (Jn 10:35, 17:17, Matt. 22:29). We affirm that apostles only acknowledge the authority of the Jewish Hebrew Scriptures, today found the 39 books of the Old Testament (Rom 3:2). We affirm that Christ gave such authority to His Apostles that all who would hear them would be hearing the voice of Christ Himself (Lk 10:16). By this authority, the Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to write new Scriptures, today found the 27 books of the New Testament (Jn 14:26, 17:8, 14, 2Pt 3:15-16). Christ defined His true disciples as being those who abided in His word (Jn 8:31, 47, 2John 9), and so as these books were read and taught, Christ's sheep heard Christ's voice speaking to them (Jn 10:2-4, 16) and they followed Him to become one flock under one Shepherd. Because His flock abided in His word, they copied them and shared them with other like-minded churches (Phil 2:2, 1Th. 5:27, Col. 4:16). In all these ways, Christ used each of the 27 books of the New Testament to call His flock together, so that by speaking to His flock through them, He could define the identity, doctrine, mission and governance of His church. (2Tim 3:16-4:4). Christ continues to do this to this day. We therefore receive the 66 books of the Bible as the written Word of God and as the only rule of faith and practise.
We deny that “It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books.” (CCC 120). We further deny that Christ ever authorised His church to use tradition to perpetuate and transmit to every generation all that the church is, and all that she believes in her doctrine, life and worship. (CCC 78).
The Infallibility of the Bible
We affirm that the only infallible interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself and that only the voice of Christ speaking through His word the Bible has the authority to infallibly define all elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed. (John 10:35).
We deny that Christ has given the Roman Catholic Church the gift to “infallibly define all elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.” (CCC 100, 2035)
The Authority of the Preacher/Teacher
We affirm that Christ gifts and calls men of known integrity to the office of preaching and teaching (1Tim. 4:14, 5:17, 3:1-7). Their authority rests only on the Word of God. Therefore they must teach the whole counsel of God, and sound doctrine that agrees with the words of Christ and accords with godliness (Acts 20:27, Titus 2:1, 1Tim 6:3). They must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, correcting their opponents with gentleness. (2Tim 2:24). We affirm Christians ought to meekly and eagerly receive their preaching and teaching, (Act 17:10), and have a willingness to respect their office, submit to their teaching and imitate all that is loving and faithful in their lives (1Th 5:12, Heb 13:7, 17). However, we also affirm that every Christian also has the duty and the right to examine the Scriptures daily to see if the things they are being taught are so, (Act 17:10, Jam 1:21), while humbly acknowledging that the Apostolic warnings about false teachers could also apply to themselves (2Tim 4:3-4, 2Pet 2:1, 1Tim 6:3-5).
We deny that a faithful Christian “ought to receive with docility [teachability] the teachings and directives that their pastors give them.” (CCC 87)
The Authority of Tradition
We affirm that in the period prior to the completion of the New Testament, the first churches were reliant on the direct teaching and example of the Apostles (1Cor 11:2, 2Thes 2:15). However, we also heed Christ's warning that tradition has the power to make void the Word of God (Mk 7:13) and Paul's warning that human tradition can take the church captive by philosophy and empty deceit (Col 2:8). Therefore we also affirm that by the time the apostles had completed the books of the the New Testament, they had included within them every tradition that Christ wanted to His church to maintain throughout the ages.
We deny the authority of any tradition that is not taught in the Bible. (Mk 7:8-13, Col 2:8, 2Th. 2:2, 2Jn 7-11)
We affirm with sadness and understanding, that during the persecutions of the second and third centuries, the church allowed aspects of her faith and practise to be conformed to the Greco-Roman World and to be taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition (Rom 12:2, Col 2:8). With disappointment, we affirm that even after these persecutions, these traditions continued to grow unchecked by the Word of God.We therefore reject the authority of these traditions, the doctrines they teach and the governance of the church they developed. We affirm that they came from human precepts and teachings, which had an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but had no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Col 2:22–23).
We deny that these errors were sufficient to cause the gates of hell to prevail against Christ's church (Matt 16:18) or that Christ's kingdom failed to be an everlasting kingdom, or that His dominion failed to endure throughout all generations.” (Psa 145:13)
The Authority of the Church
We affirm that, as the pillar and buttress of the truth (1Tim. 3:15), the church has the duty to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) by using creeds, confessions of faith, catechism and statements of faith, together with the insights of gifted men of God, as aids to clarify, summarise and teach the truth which God has already revealed in the Bible.
We deny that “the task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, consisting of the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.” (CCC 85). We further deny that, “in order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on the Church a share in his own infallibility and by a "supernatural sense of faith" the People of God, under the guidance of the Church's living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."” (CCC 889).
The Authority of the Head of the Church
We affirm that there is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ, (Col. 1:18, Eph. 5:23), that He is our High Priest (Heb. 4:14), that He is the one Chief Shepherd of the entire flock (1Pet. 5:4, Jn 10:15), and that Christ alone had the right to exercise full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church (Col 1:15-20), and that He alone has a power which He can always exercise unhindered (Matt 28:18, Eph 1:20-23).
We deny that the Pope is the head of the church. We further deny that 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, and that he has a power which he can always exercise unhindered. (Matt. 23:8-10, 1Pet. 5:1-4 CCC 882)
Human Inability And Our Total Dependance On God's Grace
We affirm that, on the day that Adam sinned against God he spiritually died, just as God promised. As humanity's covenantal representative, Adam's sin was imputed to all of humanity and therefore we are all conceived in sin, born in iniquity, dead in trespasses and sins, blinded by Satan and under his power, and therefore no one is righteous, no, not one, no one seeks for God because every intention of the thoughts of their hearts is only evil continually, and all their righteous deeds are like a polluted garment in the eyes of God. (Gen 2:17. Ps 51:5, Eph. 2:1, 2Cor 4:4, Rom 3:10–11 Acts 26:18,Gen 6:5, Is. 64:6).
We deny that Adam's sin means that “human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence.” (CCC 405).
We affirm that God would have remained good, just and holy, if He had chosen not to have had mercy on anyone. (Rom 9:18, Josh 11:20, Rom 1:24-32, Is 27:11).
We deny that God was ever under any obligation to save anyone. (Rom 9:18).
We affirm that justification depends entirely on God, who must give us mercy that we do not deserve and cannot earn. (Rom 9:16, Eph 2:4-5, Titus 3:3-5, Col. 2:12)
We deny that justification depends on human will or exertion, or that man must cooperate with God in order to participate in it. (Rom 9:16, John 1:13)
Baptism, Justification And Good Works
We affirm that, just as the one complete act of physical circumcision was given to Israel as an outward and visible sign of their membership of the Old Testament covenant community and was intended to point them to their inward need for God to circumcise their hearts in one complete act, (Deut 10:16, 30:6, Rom 2:29, Col 2:11), so also the one complete act of physical baptism with water (Eph 4:5) was also given to the church as an outward and visible sign of our membership of the New Testament covenant community, to illustrate our salvation (Titus 3:5-7) and to point us to the one complete act of justification (Rom 3:23-26) that results from the Holy Spirit baptising us (1Cor. 12:13) into Christ's life, death, burial and resurrection, (Rom 6:3-4, Col 2:11-12), and thereby guaranteeing for us complete forgiveness of sin (1Cor. 6:11) and eternal life that can never be lost. (Jn 10:28).
We deny that the physical circumcision of Jews immediately sacramentally conferred circumcision of the heart to them. (Rom 2:28-29). In the same way, we also deny that that the one complete act of physical baptism with water immediately sacramentally confers regeneration, forgiveness and justification through union with Christ's life, death, burial and resurrection. We further deny that it only establishes cooperation between God's grace and man's freedom and only makes the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life a possibility based on our willingness to continue to cooperate with God. (CCC 537, 638, 818, 977, 978, 985, 1446, 1992,).
We affirm that justification is a legal declaration of God (Rom 8:1, 33), graciously given to us as a free gift of God (Rom 5:16-17), bought for us at the expense of the blood of Christ alone, (Rom 5:9), received by faith alone (Rom 5:1, 3:24, 27) by believing that when Christ was on the cross, God was imputing all our sins onto Him and fully punishing them there (Rom 3:25), and that God now also imputes to our account the full righteousness, holiness, obedience of Christ (2Cor 5:21, 1Cor 1:30, Phil 3:9). We further affirm that justification fully displays the glory of God and of Christ, and guarantees the gift of eternal life (Eph 1:3-12, Rom 8:29-30).
We deny that, in order for us to keep our justification, or to recover it once we have lost it, we must seek absolution, do acts of confession, penance, fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and satisfaction, suffer temporal punishment due to our sins, earn or pay for indulgences and spend time in purgatory in order to be purified and achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. We further deny that justification does not always achieve its goal of the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. (CCC 2020, 1424, 1434, 1471, 1030)
We affirm that God's purpose for justifying us was to “redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14,). Therefore, everyone who has been justified by Christ will go on to obey His commandments out of a love for Him. (Matt 7:17, Eph 2:10, Jn 14:15) and seek to close the gap between the righteousness that God has already imputed to us (1Cor 1:30, Heb 10:10) and the righteousness that the Holy Spirit is working out in us (1Th. 4:3, Heb 10:14). We further affirm that a faith that does not bring forth the fruit of new obedience is a dead faith (Jam 2:17, 26, Matt 7:21-23) and that such a person is self-deceived. (Jam 1:22).
We deny that it is necessary to sustain justification by doing the good works demanded by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The Impossibility Of Doing More Than Our Duty
We affirm that the moral standards of God are infinitely high and therefore the duty that God requires to merit His reward is perfect, perpetual obedience to the entire Law of Moses. (Matt 5:48, Rom. 10:5, Jam 2:10). We affirm that, since the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and since each one shall bear his own load, then even if a man could be perfectly obedient to the Law of God, all that he could earn would be his own salvation (Ezek 18:20, Gal 6:4–5, Lk 10:26-28). We affirm that Christ kept and fulfilled the entire Law and merited God's reward. However, it is only by virtue of the unity of His human nature and His divine nature that His righteousness was endowed with infinite value. This alone made it possible for God to impute the perfect righteousness of Christ to many. (Matt 5:17-18, Phil. 2:8, Rom 5:19). We affirm that God's purpose for forgiving and justifying us was to uphold law of God, enable us to continue in the perfect law of liberty, keep His commandments and do good works. (Rom 3:31, Jam 1:25, Titus 2:14, 3:8, 1Jn 5:2-3,). We affirm that even after our justification Christ still commands us to be perfect, even as our heavenly Father is perfect and that even after we have done all that He has commanded, all we can say is, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ( Matt 5:48, Luke 17:10). We affirm that any system of merit and reward that was dependant on the cooperation of man would be a cause for his boasting. (Rom. 3:27, Eph 2:8-9).
We deny that even the perfect obedience of Christ was sufficient to go beyond the duties the Law of God required and qualify as a work of supererogation deserving of additional reward. We deny that God's grace in Christ has allowed Him to lower His infinitely high standards to the level where a justified Christian can do more than Christ Himself was to do and not only do their duties, but also go so beyond them as to gain additional merit and reward. We therefore deny that through the justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ, and by our filial adoption making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of His grace in us, and by the Holy Spirit and by charity moving us, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. (CCC 1992, 2010, 2009).
How God Accepts And Rewards Our Good Works
We affirm that the only way that God can remain just and holy and at the same time accept our imperfect works of loving obedience, is to accept them by virtue of of the imputed righteousness of Christ and purified from their defilement by virtue of His sacrifice on the cross. We affirm that, when we are motivated by gratitude and a love for Christ, by abiding in Christ and by being strengthened by His Spirit, we are able obey Christ's commandments and bring pleasure and glory to God (Col 1:10-12, John 14:15, 15:4-6, Rom. 8:4-14 Phil 2:13, 1Jn 3:22, John 15:8). As a result, we can be rich in good works, we can lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, in the hope of winning a full reward (1 Tim 6:18-19, Matt 6:20, 2Jn 1:8). Nevertheless, whatever crown of righteousness may be our reward, we will cast it down before the glorious throne of Christ and count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. (2Tim. 4:8, Rev 4:10, Phil. 3:8). We affirm that this this leaves us with nothing boast about in our salvation, justification and sanctification, and gives God all the glory. (Rom. 3:27, Eph 2:8-9, 1Cor. 10:31).
We deny that a Christian can ever exceed his duties before God and merit for others the graces needed for their sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. (CCC 2010)
The Lord's Supper / The Mass
The Nature Of The Incarnate Body And Blood Of Christ
We affirm along with the definition of Chalcedon, that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man in two natures, unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference of the Natures being in no way removed because of the Union, but rather the properties of each nature being preserved. We further affirm that, because the properties of each nature have been preserved, the Son of God's divine nature was not confined within His human nature, either when He lived on earth (Matt. 14:25, Job 9:8), nor when He suffered on the cross, died and was buried (Jn 10:17), nor now that His resurrected and glorified human body has ascended into heaven (Eph 4:10, Col 1:17). We also affirm that His incarnated human body is currently seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven (Heb 1:3, 10:12-13, Eph 1:20, Act 7:55-56).
We deny that the Lord Jesus Christ would deliberately deceive the five senses of His people (1Jn 1:1, CCC 1381), that He would fail to preserve the properties of His human nature, and that He would violate the truth of His incarnation, by changing and confusing the properties of His body and blood in order to make them look, taste, smell, feel and sound like bread and wine. We further deny that the properties of His human nature can be confused with His divine nature, nor can they be changed by His divine nature, in order for His body and blood to simultaneously exist in multiple locations at the same moment. We finally deny that the human body and blood of Christ returns to earth millions of times before His glorious second coming (Matt. 24:23, Heb. 10:12, Act 1:11).
The nature and the purpose of the Lord's Supper
We affirm that Christ gave His church the Lord's Supper to present to our our bodies the needs of our soul. Before the Lord's table (1Cor. 10:21), we draw near to the throne of grace with confidence that we may receive mercy and find grace (Heb 4:16). There, we humbly examine ourselves, confess our sins to Him and seek His life and strength to forsake them (1 Cor 11:27). There, as a priesthood of believers (1Pet. 2:5) we raise our hearts to the Lord and humbly ask the Spirit of Christ to unite us to our place alongside Him in heaven (Eph 2:6) and by doing so, bring us into communion with Him and with each other, as members of His mystical body (1Cor. 10:17). There, as we eat the bread, we believe that that, even as this food gives life and strength to our earthly bodies, even so we are feeding our souls with the spiritual life and strength that can only come from our participation in Christ's body, which once had to hang on the cross to propitiate the wrath of God due to our sins (1Jn 4:10). There, as we drink the cup, we believe that, even as this drink gives life and strength to our earthly bodies, even so, we are quenching the thirst of our souls with the spiritual life and strength that can only come from our participation in the blood that Christ once had to shed to atone for our sins. In this way we discern the body and blood in the Lord's Supper (1 Cor 11:27-29) and in this way we eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood with the assurance of eternal life (John 6:53-54). There, were are reminded again that we were ransomed from our futile ways by the blood of Christ (1 Pet 1:18-19), so that we could receive all the blessings of the New Covenant and fulfil its obligations (Luke 22:20, Jer 31:31-34, Titus 2:14). And there we can have a foretaste of of the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). This is the only way we may have communion with Christ's human nature in heaven until the Son of Man leaves His Father's right hand (Dan 7:13-14) and comes to earth again in glory (1Cor. 11:26). All these blessings can only be received by faith alone, and do not involve any change in the bread and the wine.
We deny that in the Eucharist the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained. (CCC 1374),
The nature of the union between the bread and wine
and the body and blood of Christ
We affirm that our union with Christ means that, because of the the true union of God and Man in Christ and because of the true union of our body and spirit, there can be a true union between the consecrated bread and wine ingested into our bodies and the spiritual life and strength ingested into our souls that comes directly from the body and blood of Christ, whose human nature remains in heaven. This union can only be established by the Holy Spirit working through the faith of the one receiving the bread and the wine.
We deny that by the consecration, the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. We further deny that 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)
The worship of the elements
We affirm that when the Israelites in the wilderness were being bitten by poisonous snakes, God used the bronze serpent Moses had made as a temporary sacrament to bring healing to all who looked to it by faith, By doing so, was intended to serve future generations as a type of Satan's poisonous curse on humanity and our only hope of salvation through Christ on the cross (Num 21:8-9, Jn 3:14-15). Nevertheless this object became an idol to the people of God and needed to be destroyed by Hezekiah, (2Kings 18:4). Even so, we affirm that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was given for the same purpose and that it too has suffered the same idolatry.
We deny the real presence of the body and blood of Christ under the species of bread and wine and deny that the Eucharist ought to be worshipped in any way or even by genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. (CCC 1378)
Mary, Mother of Jesus
We affirm that the Son of God was incarnated miraculously in the womb of the virgin Mary and that His human nature grew in her womb and He was born of her. (Matt. 1:23, Luke 1:27, 34). In this sense alone, along with the Council of Ephesus (431 AD), we acknowledge her as theotokos or “she who gave birth to one who was God.” We avoid the term “Mother of God” due to its obvious ability to be misunderstood.
We deny that after the birth of Jesus Mary remained a virgin. (Matt. 1:25)
The virtues that Mary shared with others
We affirm that Mary had many admirable qualities worthy of our imitation that she shared in common with other godly people in the Bible. We affirm that when the angel told Mary that she would conceive Jesus, she responded “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38), just as Rahab the prostitute also responded, “According to your words, so be it.” (Josh 2:21), just as David also responded, “let the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house be established forever, and do as you have spoken,” (1 Chr 17:23). We affirm with all generations that Mary was blessed among women (Lk 1:42, 48), but we also affirm that Jael was the “Most blessed of women.”(Judg 5:24). We affirm that the angel Gabriel said to her, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28), but just like her, we too have received the same undeserved favour and grace (Eph 1:6 Gk) and just like her, Noah, Jacob, Moses and countless others found favour with the Lord (Gen 6:8, 33:10, Ex 33:12) and just like her, Gideon, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin were also told, “The Lord is with you.” (Judg 6:12, 2Chr. 15:2).
We deny that, by her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. We further deny that she is a "preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church"; indeed, she is the "exemplary realization" of the Church. (CCC 967).
The shortcomings Mary shared with others
We affirm that the Gospels portray her has having the same faults common to others. We affirm that, like all other Jewish woman, Mary was made ritually unclean by her giving birth to Jesus, and like them she needed to “two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering.” (Luke 2:22-24; Lev. 12:1-8), and since she needed this sin offering, she also confessed her need for God to be her Saviour. (Luke 1:47). We affirm that Mary lost Jesus when He was 12 years old and when she found Him in the temple, she rebuked Him for being in His Father's house and she still failed to understand Him. (Lk. 2:42-50). We affirm that Jesus performed His first sign-miracle at the wedding feast at Cana, because after the people had drunk freely of the good wine and the wine had run out, Mary asked Jesus to turn water into more wine (John 2:1-11). In contrast, His second sign-miracle happened because an official asked Jesus to heal his dying son. (John 4:46-54). We affirm that during Christ's ministry, Mary did not hear the word of God and keep it, she did not honour Him, she thought Jesus was out of His mind and she failed to do the will of God and be one of His disciples. We affirm this because, if Jesus wanted to stress the unique and ongoing role of Mary in the life of the church and of every Christian, Jesus was given the perfect opportunity to teach this when a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” However, instead, He said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”” (Luke 11:27–28). We affirm this because when Jesus was in Nazareth, the people of His hometown recognised Him and even named His mother and brothers and Jesus responded by lamenting that even though He was a prophet, not even His own household gave Him honour. (Matt 13: 54-57). We affirm this because on another occasion when Jesus was teaching in Nazareth, His family was saying, “He is out of His mind,” and went out to seize Him. At the same time Jesus was illustrating their problem by warning that if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand and was teaching about people needing to be rescued from Satan's realm and having their blasphemies forgiven. Then Mary came with His brothers to where He was teaching and standing outside, they sent someone in to call Him to come. Rather than coming, Jesus denied that Mary was His mother and they were His brothers;, but instead pointed to those who sat around them and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Mark 3:21-35).
We deny that the immaculate conception of Mary, that she was preserved free from all stain of original sin. We deny her perpetual virginity and her bodily assumption into heaven. We deny her singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians. We deny her roles of Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix. (CCC 966, 974)
The adoption of Mary
We affirm that as Jesus was dying on the cross He asked John to care for His mother Mary, (Jn 19:27), but we also affirm that this tells us about Jesus' obeying the law out of love (Ex 20:12) and it tells us nothing about Jesus urging all His disciples to adopt her as their mother. Instead, Paul tells us that the heavenly Jerusalem is our mother. (Gal 4:26, see Heb. 12:22-23).
We deny that Mary is 'clearly the mother of the members of Christ' ... since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head." and "Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church." (CCC 963)
Quotations from the Bible are from the English Standard Version
Quotations marked "CCC" are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1992.
A Catholic Response
By Father Tony Milner
31st October 2017
The Catholic Church Affirms:
That God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and has revealed his desire for the reconciliation of all human beings to himself, and has enabled that reconciliation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by the sending of the Holy Spirit. This revelation is communicated to us in the Church, particularly through the Scriptures, which the Church has the authority and the duty both to guard and interpret, so we deny that the Scriptures are self-interpreting.
That Jesus Christ instituted his Church with the Apostles as its first leaders, with Peter as their head, to hand on this self-revelation and message of salvation. That as he intended his Church to continue, so the apostolic succession of leaders – the handing on of the role – is according to the will of Christ, and remains in the Church to this day in the form of the episcopal ministry.
That membership of the Church is normally1 attained through Baptism, in which people are justified by grace, and are regenerated in grace so as to be freed from the slavery of sin and enabled to serve God in righteousness. This grace accompanies them through life through the grace and process of sanctification as they are conformed ever more closely to Christ. Should they still sin, the grace of repentance and forgiveness is always open to them, in particular (but not exclusively) through the sacrament of reconciliation which is commended for lesser sins and required for grave sins. It is possible for a person who has received the grace of justification to subsequently resist grace and fall into grave sin, and hence lose heaven.
That those who have died in Christ and are with Christ, awaiting the resurrection of the body, remain part of the Body of Christ, the Church. That ‘cloud of witnesses’ provides for us a sign of hope, a guidance for life, and as living in Christ, a source of intercession. They may pray for us in the same way as our fellow Christians here on earth may pray for us, and we may seek that intercession (though we are not required to do so).
That the Eucharist, as instituted by Christ, is both meal and sacrifice, in which we are united to the one sacrifice of Christ, and in which the risen Christ becomes truly present. That the Eucharist, in which the Scriptures are read and explained, and in which the bread is broken and shared, is the ‘source and summit’ of the life of the Church, since through it we have particular access to the one sacrifice of Christ, and in it we anticipate the heavenly banquet.
Foot note 1 Historically the Church has recognised the possibility, both of baptism ‘by blood’ – particularly in cases of those martyred while preparing for baptism – and of baptism ‘by desire’ – those who desired baptism but died before they were able to be baptised.
Father Tony Milner a priest of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton who is currently living in the parish in Dorking and teach a course at St John's Seminary Wonersh. Until recently he was the Theology Tutor at the Venerable English College, Rome and taught at the Gregorian University in Rome.