Former Eastern Orthodox (Joshua Shooping) priest who returned to Protestant Faith explains some key reasons and his book, “Disillusioned”- icons in worship context and the EO demand that one has to venerate them with affection; the over-exalting of Mary in the EO canonical prayers, and the exclusive claims that EO makes for itself as the only true church. It seems also that the tendency of EO communities to become cultural enclaves is also part of the problem. (Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Serbian, etc.) Shooping has been on Gavin Ortlund’s You Tube channel at least twice and Tony Costa’s You Tube also. (see 3 videos below)
Check out Joshua Shooping’s book, “Disillusioned”. All of his points are documented from EO sources in that book. It seems Amazon or some kind of extension is blocking me from linking to his book here. However, I was able to copy the image of the book.
Shooping is now a Protestant pastor in the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church. (think A. W. Tozer and A. B. Simpson) He knows Church History and the EO sources well and historical theology. He discovered Penal Substitutionary Atonement in the early church fathers.
One of the highlights for me of attending Together for the Gospel (T4G) in April (11-13, 2016), was hearing this man, Phillip Jensen here. Mark Dever interviews Phillip Jensen, the author of the gospel tract, “Two Ways to Live” and also one of the main mentors of those that wrote the concepts in the book, “The Trellis and the Vine”. Take note of other books mentioned by Dever that Jensen has written, and the ministry of Mathias Media.
The Theme of the Conference was “We are Protestant” and had lots of the Reformational sayings and emphasis the whole time. Excellent!
Jensen has a delightful sense of humor and interesting story. We need more Reformational Anglicans like this!
The authors of The Trellis and the Vine write:
“Col and I have been writing this book, often without realizing it, for most of the past 25 years. . . . None of it would have happened without the extraordinary influence and friendship of Phillip Jensen, who has been there all along, who taught and shaped us profoundly, and who was instrumental in forming both MTS (Ministry Training Strategy) and Mathias Media.” (The Trellis and the Vine, page 5)
What Phillip Jensen said about the Anglican Church was very interesting, especially how the Oxford Movement of the Tractarians, one of the main leaders being the famous John Henry Newman, who went on to convert to Rome, actually corrupted the Anglican Church. They took the Anglican Church away from the great doctrines of the Reformation and emphasized external rituals and things like bishops mitre hats, etc. (the “smells and bells” of High Anglicanism) He points out that Anglicans did not wear bishops mitre hats until after Newman and the Tractarian movement influenced them. (from late 19th Century onward) Also interesting was Jensen pointing out that after that, the Anglican Church influenced by the Oxford Movement slowly drifted into theological liberalism.
The Oxford Movement of the Tractarians did not affect his group of Anglicans in Australia, Jensen points out.
Another book that Jensen mentions: The Masters of the English Reformation. (About William Tyndale, Thomas Bilney, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer). Notice that Henry VIII is not considered a good person to consider the leader of the English Reformation, as he was actually very Roman Catholic in his theology until the day he died. He was just angry with the Pope for not giving him an annulment; and he lived a very debauched life and committed adultery a lot, it seems.
Jensen has some good insights into University Campus ministry: “they are always 18 years old” (when you do campus ministry, every year, a new group of 18 year olds enter ); and “teach what the Bible says on two subjects that University Students are interested in: Sex and Predestination”.
It is actually the text of the book of Galatians that pounds Roman Catholicism! (by application, Eastern Orthodoxy and other ritualistic and external-oriented churches also.)
Anthony Rogers continues in his series on Galatians and the last 5 have been especially good. The video above is from May 1, 2022. It is actually the text of Galatians and Spirit-filled application of the text that is pounding their man-made traditions and false externally oriented religions.
Please listen to all five lectures, if you have time. Anthony continues to carefully exegete Galatians 1:6-10, and applies the exegesis to his ongoing defense of the Protestant Reformation doctrines, especially justification by faith alone, against the arguments of Roman Catholicism and the arguments of William Albrecht and Sam Shamoun. By application, the book of Galatians pounds the other external, ritualistic, works-righteousness religions that claim to be apostolic. They eventually added so many other things to the gospel that those other doctrines, practices, dogmas, rituals, man-made traditions actually eclipsed the teachings of the NT about God’s grace, man’s inability, and justification by faith alone. The book of Galatians is a powerful apologetic against both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy (and also the Assyrian Church of the East and the Oriental Orthodox churches), since these 4 branches of early Christianity drifted into an emphasis on external rituals and church hierarchy and sacraments, and man-made traditions, rather than Biblical exegesis and truth.
Anthony did a lot of great background into the word “gospel”, demonstrating from Isaiah 40, & 52-53 that the good news was about the coming Messiah, who would be the suffering servant, who would die for sins and rise from the dead. Be sure to listen to the details.
Starting around the 1:35:00 mark in Rev. Anthony Roger’s teaching in the above video (May 1, 2022), on Galatians 1:6, after pointing out that Simon Magus was not changed (not regenerated) by his water baptism (see Acts 8:13, 21-23), Anthony gives a very powerful quote from R. Alan Cole and his commentary on Galatians:
“Of course, as Paul frequently says, the cross is always a stumbling block to natural men and women. (1 Cor. 1:23) Judaizing in the Galatian sense may not remove the cross all-together, but it does save from persecution because of the cross. (Gal. 6:12), and no doubt the desire to escape persecution was one Galatian motive for accepting circumcision, a Paul bluntly says. Perhaps there was something of the lure of the outward and impressive as opposed to the inward and spiritual. Judaism was a very visible religion in many ways in the ancient world, and even to keep Jewish festivals and food laws would give Gentile Christians a ‘stake’ in an impressive external system, as impressive outwardly as anything in their former paganism.” (R. Alan Cole, Commentary on Galatians, p. 38) [my emphasis on the outward, impressive, visible, external]
Note again that Simon Magus’ water baptism did not change or regenerate him. (see Acts 8:13, 21-23) Also, would you not assume that Judas Ischariot was baptized in water? (see John chapters 1-4) Some of the disciples of Jesus were disciples of John the Baptist first. We would reasonably assume that the others also got baptized in water. (see John 1:29-42; John 3:22; 4:1-2) John 13:9-11 and 15:3 confirms this. Jesus says to Peter that the disciples are clean, except Judas Ischariot. Water baptism with the right words said over a person does not regenerate a person. A person is born-again by the Word of God, the preaching of God’s word (1 Peter 1:23-25) and the Holy Spirit. (John 3:3-8) “you were born again . . . through the living and abiding word of God . . . and this is the word that was preached to you”. (1 Peter 1:23-25) The “water” there in John 3:5 is about internal cleansing by the Holy Spirit, as Ezekiel 36:25-27 confirms. “water and Spirit” in John 3:5, go together as a cleansing of the heart by the Spirit of God when we hear and understand the gospel preached, and then repent and trust in Christ to save us from our sins. As Peter said, “cleansing their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9) Water cannot change the heart or soul. That is why Jesus rebuked Nicodemus for not understanding the OT teaching, since he was “a teacher of Israel” (John 3:10) and should have know the OT texts that Jesus was alluding to. The Holy Spirit is sovereign and “blows” where ever He wills and desires. (John 3:8) God the Holy Spirit causes regeneration and the ability to repent and turn away from idolatry. (1 Thess. 1:9; Acts 5:31; 11:16-18; 2 Timothy 2:22-24) Notice that Ezekiel 36:25 says that God will sprinkle clean water on them to cleanse them from their idols in their hearts. (see Ezekiel chapter 14 – “idols in their hearts”, v. 3, 4, 5, 6-7) All four Gospels and Acts repeat this teaching: Jesus said, “John baptized with water, but I will baptize with the Holy Spirit”. John did the external rite in water, but Jesus is the one who really regenerates people in their hearts.
Be sure to listen to Anthony’s lecture – he points out in the middle of quoting this from R. Alan Cole that Muslims stumble over the cross (the substitutionary blood atonement of Christ on the cross) just like modern Jews who reject Jesus as Messiah do. Anthony also notes the external rituals and art (icons, statues, architecture, etc.) of both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy are part of the alluring attraction why many in the past 30 years have turned away from Evangelical faith to Roman Catholicism or E. Orthodoxy. The “smells and bells” or “bells and whistles”. The rituals and icons and such are something to see and touch and feel and taste – like the bread and wine in the Eucharist, oil in chrismation and other anointings, the water of baptism, icons and statues of praying to the saints, relics, incense, priests with their pomp and ceremony and special clothes and hats, incense, etc. This emphasis on external things seems to be some of what the apostle Paul is getting at when he talks about “the elementary principles of this world” (Colossians 2:8; 2:20-23; Galatians 4:3, 9-10) See this post for more on Roman Catholicism and “the elementary principles of this world”. It is amazing that people are attracted because of art and icons and rituals and “smells and bells”, bread in a tabernacle, genuflecting toward the bread because they believe it is literally Jesus! Amazing! The apostle is amazed! (Gal. 1:6) The apostle Paul was amazed because of the greatness of Christ alone and grace alone and His gospel of justification by faith alone. Christ alone is so wonderful, why would anyone want to desert Him for a system of works, efforts, rituals, prayers to Mary, performing the 6 of the 7 sacraments, the sacramental treadmill of “on and off”, having justification and then loosing it by mortal sin and then gaining it back, and then repeating that cycle until you die, etc. ? (the Holy Orders is only for ministers) And having to face burning of fire in satis passio for decades or centuries in Purgatory? (modern RCs claim that it is not a time thing in Purgatory, nor a literal place or literal fire, but a sudden rush of cleansing that prepares the believer to enter into heaven.) But for centuries the Roman Catholic Church taught that the suffering of satis passio (their sufferings that satisfy God’s justice) was for time periods in Purgatory. (years, decades, centuries, etc.) (from the time of the Crusades, 1095 to 1500s and even beyond, into the 1600s-1800s – maybe even up until Vatican 2 in the 1960s)
Another great insight, that Anthony brought out, is the connection of Galatians 1:6 with Exodus 32:8.
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you for a different gospel . . . ” Gal. 1:6
God said to Moses about the people down below: “They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” Exodus 32:8
One of the arguments that Roman Catholics and E. Orthodox apologists make is that the early church could not have turned aside so quickly in the second century from the Biblical Christianity of the first century, which includes all of the 27 inspired / canonical books of the NT. All 27 scrolls existed in the first century, written around 45-96 AD. I am not arguing that the church disappeared or blinked off or when into total apostasy. No knowledgable Protestant about Church History makes that argument. But since it was possible for people to turn aside so quickly into apostasy in Galatians and Exodus 32, it is possible for a local church to quickly allow some false practices and false doctrines in, and at the same time have many good things. Also, in Rev. 2:4-5, all the churches in Revelation chapters 2-3 eventually disappeared from history and Islam conquered them. There are early errors and mistakes and false doctrines, but they do not constitute total apostasy. The early church of the first 4-5 centuries has much great and wonderful things – the definitions of the Trinity and the 2 natures of Christ, the confirmation of the canon of Scripture; being faithful in persecution, and other great things. In the second century, the mono-episcopacy (exalting one bishop over the plurality of elders for each church) seems to be a quick change from a plurality of elders for each church (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-4 and also 1 Clement 42-44. 1 Clement agrees with the Biblical data. The transition and change was from 1 Clement (plurality of elders for each church) to Ignatius’ writings – mono-episcopate. (40s AD to 96 AD) This is a fairly quick change and emphasis in Ignatius’ writings around 107-110 AD) Other early mistakes: baptismal regeneration, calling the Eucharist a “sacrifice”, infant baptismal regeneration – (the first clear reference to infant baptism began around 215 AD – Hippolytus), NT office of priests, a wrong understanding of “apostolic succession”. True apostolic succession is holding to what the apostle’s taught in Scripture, not some secret oral teaching that was not eventually written down in Canonical Scripture, and only centuries later developed or brought out in history. These things were wrong, but they did not constitute total apostasy. The church still existed all through history, even with many errors. (see Ephesians 3:21 – the church “to all generations”) That some false teachings crept into the church does not contradict Jesus promise in Matthew 16:18. See Gavin Ortlund’s excellent videos on historical theology vs. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The link is to one of his videos, but there are many more there at his channel.
Another great quote is from Ronald Fung and his commentary on Galatians:
@ around 1:47:00 of Anthony Rogers lecture
“The Galatians desertion of God was accompanied, and indeed demonstrated, by their transference of allegiance to “a different gospel”. The phrase is unlikely to have been used by the persons mentioned in the next verse as a description of their own doctrine; since they in opposition to Paul insisted on the necessity of circumcision and other requirements of the Jewish law (cf. 5:3; 6:12.), they are more likely to have regarded their own teaching as the “full” or “complete” gospel (cf. 3:3 where the word translated “to make . . . perfect” may reflect their vocabulary), measured by which Paul’s preaching appeared in their eyes to be but a truncated gospel”
(Ronald Fung, commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, at the place where he comments on Gal. 1:6) (my emphasis)
Listen to Anthony’s comments in between the quotes. This is what many Roman Catholic apologists say today, that Protestants need the “fullness” of the gospel, and the “complete” gospel – with the Papacy, Purgatory, Transubstantiation, Indulgences, priests, penances, and Marian piety (practices, prayers to her, icons, statutes, etc.), other doctrines, and all the RC dogmas about Mary.
Galatians was written just before (48 AD) the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. (49-50 AD) The same kind of group that was troubling the Galatians was there in Jerusalem in Acts 15. There was a group from James – (Galatians 2:11) that Paul called “false brethren” (2:4) These men were not approved of by James (Acts 15:24) – they were Pharisees (Acts 15:5) who were adding other requirements to faith in Christ. Praise God that Peter, the suppossed first “Pope”, said “cleansing their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9), in harmony with Sola Fide for justification. The background to Galatians in Acts 15:1-11 shows that the Judaizers wanted much more than just circumcision and food laws to be obeyed in order to be saved. Acts 15:5 and all of Galatians shows they wanted the Gentiles to obey ALL the law of Moses. All includes the moral law. (Galatians 3:10-13)
But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” Acts 15:5 – the “and” (παραγγελλειν τε ) =(the infinite παραγγελλειν = “to command”, “to instruct”, “to charge”, “to order”, “to direct” with te/ τε demonstrates it was more than just circumcision. Galatians 3:1-5 shows it includes all efforts and works of trying to be perfected. The Greek conjunction te/τε many times carries the idea of “both and” – connected with another infinite “to keep” or “to observe” τηρεῖν (the law of Moses). Galatians 4:3 and 9-10 demonstrates it was also the calendar/ seasons/ Jewish feasts that were part of the Mosaic law. Galatians 3:10 demonstrates that it was “everything” in the law. Galatians 2:11-14 shows it included the food laws and washings and ceremonies of separation. Roman Catholicism, by adding works, merit, efforts to keep the 5-7 sacraments (one is only for married people and the other is only for priests – “holy orders”) until you die, and adding prayers to Mary and the saints and other rituals and ceremonies – shows they replaced the old Mosaic law with new laws and works and efforts to be finally justified.
Segway Back to November-December 2021
Getting back to the issue of churches that emphasize external rituals and things you can see, smell, touch, and feel – Now, for the next part of my post – I am going back to November – December of 2021, the beginning of when Sam Shamoun came out more directly rejecting the Protestant Reformation and justification by faith alone:
I was amazed that Qai, an Eastern Orthodox, thought that his video was impressive. (from Dec. 18 2021, at the beginning of the controversy between Sam Shamoun and Anthony Rogers.) Anthony was not mocking the meaning of the cross of Jesus – His atonement and it’s power. Rather he was talking about the bare ritual of crossing oneself, as if by itself, by the ritual itself, that it has power. In Qai’s video, there is no intellectual argument, no content of doctrine or text or Scripture, no reasoning from Scripture, just something to watch and see and supposedly, “be awed over”. It is not impressive at all. It is dead externalistic religion, especially because this is mostly Russian Orthodox ceremonies (maybe there are others of the greater orthodox communities in the video), especially Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, who supports Putin in his evil aggressive and unjust war against Ukraine, and according to many, had ties to the KGB, along with Putin, during the Soviet era. See the video that Michael Lofton did on Putin and Kirill with a Ukrainian Catholic. Also, see Jordan Peterson’s (the Canadian Psychologist) rebuke of Putin and Kirill. (Google it)
Back in November – December of 2021, Shamoun put forth William Albrecht to debate Anthony Rogers on justification by faith alone, but Albrecht keeps stalling and seemingly does not want to debate. I was disappointed that the debate did not take place on June 20, 2022. Anthony Rogers is giving William Albrecht until October 31, 2022 to debate. (according to one of the recent videos that I watched of Anthony’s) To get all the details, you would have to listen to all of Anthony’s series on Galatians and the back and forth since that time. I have a full time ministry with Iranian Christians, all former Muslims, and teaching them the Bible, Theology, hermeneutics, church history, apologetics, etc. in their language, Farsi; so therefore, it is very difficult to keep up with all the details of these 2-3-4 hour YouTube podcasts by both Anthony and to see what Shamoun is saying or what William Albrecht is saying on his podcasts. Watching Sam Shamoun is generally a waste of time, but sometimes I have to check him out, to see what is going on.
Sam Shamoun also got Robert Sungenis (another Roman Catholic) and Perry Robinson (Eastern Orthodox) to do some YouTube lectures to try and refute Anthony Rogers and the Protestant Reformation. (Back in November-December of 2021) I actually stayed up until 3:15am and watched and listened to Perry Robinsons 5+ hour lecture response to Anthony Rogers. (December 11, 2021) (too much to try and cover in this post. I hope someday to understand it fully. A lot of Perry’s response depends on knowledge of Greek philosophy, Plotinus, Neo-Platonism as the background for Marius Victorinus’ commentary on Galatians. (and also Ephesians) I confess I don’t understand enough of those subjects to interact at this point. Staying up that late exhausted me, and ruined the next day for me. I want to go back and take more notes, and comprehend better, but I have not had time to devote to it again.
In the video with Perry Robinson and Qai, I just want to highlight a few things:
There is no healing apart from repentance.
Overall, Qai and Perry did a much better job than Sam does, by sticking to argumentation, although they criticize Anthony for not engaging them, but they forget that from the beginning, Anthony has clearly said that he was going to debate William first, then deal with their arguments! But William keeps delaying the debate! Sam Shamoun admitted he needs healing from his “fight-back”, angry (pugnacious), vengeful nature. (minute 7:23, video from April 12, 2022) But Sam, the only way to find healing is by real repentance. There is no healing without repentance. And there is no repentance without the Spirit of God’s working in the heart to give the power to repent. (Acts 5:31; 11:16-18; Acts 16:14; 2 Timothy 2:22-24; 2 Corinthians 4:6; John 6:44, 6:65) Maybe he has repented of his pugnaciousness and vengeance and dirty talk and cussing and insults in the past 3 months. I just watched (what a waste of time, but I did it, in order to catch up and be able to document things) some of one of his recent videos (on Sola Scriptura and the Eucharist – July 28, 2022), and wow, he is still cursing and insulting and bullying every one who disagrees with him and who tries to challenge him. I have not had time to listen to much beyond that one. I do appreciate that Sam seemed to show some sign of humility and brokenness and he is trying hard to overcome all his problems. (in the video with Qai and Perry Robinson) He prays a lot at the beginning of his videos, with prayers like this: “Lord over come my flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit”, etc. He honestly seems to be “trying” (passionate and repetitious prayers on every video to overcome sin, lusts, gluttony, etc.) , but not understanding the gospel of grace, since he now rejects the Protestant Reformation in favor of an external system (including prayers to Mary) and yet staying in abeyance between the 4 so called “apostolic churches”. He repeats this sentiment a lot: “Lord, keep me from becoming what I hate”) By repeating that so much, does that indicate that he actually has become like what he hates? He seems to be trying hard to overcome his problems. He has lost a lot of weight and that is good, as he talks about his bondage to food. Good. I commend him for that. But is his “trying” human efforts without the power of the Holy Spirit? (see Galatians 3:1-5 – “having begun by the Spirit, are you now perfected by the flesh?” He was praying to Mary for a while on his videos; but as far as I can tell, he does not do that recently. ( I admit I have not listened to very much of Sam Shamoun in the last 3 months, as he is, for the most part, really a waste of my time. That is why it took me so long just to make this blog entry. I have spent enough time on him just doing this post. Sam: staying in abeyance between these 4 external churches, for so many months, reminds me of: “How long will you go on limping between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21) [yet the Eastern Orthodox Churches anathematize the Assyrian Church of the East and the Oriental Orthodox Churches (Coptic Church, Armenian Church, Syrian Jacobite Church) ) As the apostle says to the Galatians, “I am amazed that you so quickly left Christ and left the true gospel for something else”. (my paraphrase) – “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6) I really do pray for Sam Shamoun regularly, he has a lot of good material and information on Islam and apologetic material, when he sticks to the texts and reason and argumentation. (the good material is especially at the answering-islam.org site. (started by Jochen Katz, a German brother) His new blog, “answering Islam blog” has some of his older material vs. Islam, but also lots of material that is promoting the claims of the Roman Catholics and other more ancient churches that claim to be apostolic – on Mary, Eucharist, baptism, quotes from early church fathers, etc.) I have told him this (about his good material) many times, at first privately by emails, since 2012. But his anger and pugnaciousness, dirty language, etc. when Muslims fight back, especially against Muslims and anyone who disagrees with him makes him a bad witness. I pray the Lord will show him the greatness of the true gospel and let the love of Christ flood his heart. He has changed religions several times over the years. He grew up in the Assyrian Church of the East. I remember in one of his debates against a Muslim, he admitted he was persuaded or tempted for a while by the racist Islamic sect “The Nation of Islam”. (Wow !) That is amazing that anyone could be deceived by that wicked cult (Elijah Muhammad, Lois Farakkan, etc.) He was a part of fundamentalists Baptists groups for a while and read “Jack Chick tracts”. How many different fundamentalist Baptist or other Evangelical churches did he leave over the years? I did see another recent program where he and the Roman Catholic guy were trying to make the case that Colossians 1:24 indicate our sufferings contribute to our salvation. Many Roman Catholics use this verse in their apologetic for Purgatory. My friend Rod Bennett did just that – he used Colossians 1:24 as a proof text for suffering in Purgatory. It is amazing to me, since this verse in context is talking about our sufferings when we evangelize and preach the gospel and spread the truth to people and cultures and areas not yet evangelized – not purgatory!! Sam does not take the sufferings that the Muslims dish out to him in the way that the NT commends to us – he responds in anger and fighting back and name-calling. He is doing the very opposite that the apostle Paul was communicating in Colossians 1:24-25 and context. There is nothing lacking in the power or value or merit in Christ’s sufferings/ afflictions/ atonement. (Hebrews 10:10-14; Romans 3:21-26; 1 Corinthians chapters 1-2; Galatians 2:21) The only thing lacking is in evangelism, in suffering for righteousness sake by turning the other cheek and being humble. Sam admitted that Qai turned the other cheek and was acting like Jesus, when Qai rebuked Sam for the Nestorianism doctrines in the Assyrian Church of the East. The “lack” that Paul is talking about in Col. 1:24 is suffering humbly without fighting back, in evangelism and missions to the Muslim world (and others: Hindus, Buddhists, Tribal peoples, Chinese, and atheists / secularists, or with western secularists / leftists, cultists like Mormons, etc. or those who think they are Christians by their baptism or church going (if they respond with anger and name calling) – the apostle Paul says the only thing lacking in Christ’s sufferings are the presentation of those sufferings in evangelism to those who have not heard the gospel yet.
2. In the April 12 video, Qai and Perry began their prayer towards the end (at the 2:26:00 mark) of the video to Mary, the Theotokos. That was very telling. “thee we magnify” “O Theotokos”, etc. Now, Protestants can agree that Mary is Theotokos – “the one who bears God and gave birth to God” (that Jesus is God, the eternal Son, Word, 2nd person of the Trinity) – Jesus was always God in the womb of Mary (Luke 1:34-35); in fact both God and man, the “God-man”. That Jesus was God from conception (Matthew 1:18-21 and the creeds: “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary”) points to His pre-existence in eternity past. (John 1:1-5; 17:5; Philippians 2:5-8) But the church after the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD took that principle about Christ too far and began to make the title more about Mary than about Jesus Christ and His Deity. Eventually, more and more prayers to Mary and praises of Mary with icons and later, statues in the west, became the common piety among both the eastern church and the western church. Even Allan Ruhl, a Roman Catholic who I frequently ask questions and debate with on Twitter, admitted that there is no doubt that after 431 AD, piety and prayers to Mary, and doctrines about Mary really took off and increased. This is just wrong and unBiblical to pray to Mary. This is another example of the externalism and ritualism that eclipses true heart religion. The prayers to Mary, along with the icons and statures, praises to Mary, doctrines of Co-Redemptrix, Co-Mediatrix, Advocate, and also the dogmas (at the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 533 AD – Perpetual Virginity of Mary, 1854- Immaculate Conception of Mary, 1950 – Bodily Assumption of Mary) all together eclipse heart-faith in Christ alone. They over-exalted Mary beyond the revelation and content in the New Testament. Qai and Perry’s prayer violates Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:1-2.
“Whenever you pray, pray in this way, “Our Father . . . ” (see Matthew 6:9-10 and Luke 11:1-2)
Obviously, because the Trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, there is nothing wrong with praying to the Son or to the Holy Spirit, but there is something wrong with praying to Mary and her icons and statues of her.
Eventually, after Mary, Qai did pray to Jesus and the Trinity, but it is truly amazing to begin prayer to Mary, mixing her into prayer to God. There is no objective way to distinguish between latria (worship) and dulia and hyperdulia. Even the apostle John was rebuked for worshiping and bowing down to an angel. (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9) See my other articles on Mariology and Mariolatry and Roman Catholic false doctrines and practices.
3. Qai and Perry are right, as far as I know, about the quotes that were thought to be from Jerome about justification by faith alone – they are actually from Pelagius. I am not a scholar, but try to study Patristics and check quotes and context as much as time will allow me. And I can answer their question that they proposed to Protestant scholars who are trained in historical theology, such as Michael Horton, Kim Riddlebarger, R. Scott Clark, Robert Godfrey (all 4 are Reformed/Presbyterian) and Rod Rossenblat (Lutheran): “Did Pelagius teach the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone?” – my answer: No. R. Scott Clark agreed that Pelagius did not teach the Reformation doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone – I agree that Pelagius did not teach justification by faith alone as understood by the Protestant Reformers. Augustine certainly did not think that Pelagius was correct on grace, salvation, and free-will vs. the bondage of the will. Since Pelagius was wrong on grace and the bondage of the will, and justification by faith alone is based on Grace Alone, then Pelagius meant something else. What Pelagius meant, is another long discussion that I don’t even know if I could figure out at this point. One of the best books on Augustine and his views on grace, salvation, free-will, and faith – is Nick Needham’s compilation: The Triumph of Grace: Augustine’s writings on Salvation. (Grace Publications, 2000) Reading that should convince anyone that Pelagius did not have the Reformation doctrines of grace, free-will, faith, salvation.
Perry has an extensive article at his blog/web-site, “Energetic Procession”, demonstrating the quotes are not from Jerome, but from Pelagius. He also links to the R. Scott Clark audio where he answers Perry’s question – around 48 minute mark to the end. One of the frustrating realities of church history is that the Roman Catholic Church claimed forgeries for centuries to bolster its claim on the Papacy. (Donation of Constantine, Transitus literature on Mary, and others) Another problem is that academia over the years is finding out that many more other writings were forgeries or given the wrong author. Some of the quotes said from Jerome, were in the Migne collections of Greek and Latin Patrology original sources. Recently, the scholars have realized these are from Pelagius. There are many other forgeries and recensions. One thinks of how Ignatius’ original 7 letters where expanded in the 4th century beyond, and many other writings.
4. Qai and Perry asked Anthony, “why now?” (Why are you confronting Sam on his behavior and anger just now, why not before when he was Evangelical?) – why did you not confront Sam earlier? I don’t know the details of if or when or what Anthony may have said to Sam, (or David Wood or Vocal Malone, or anyone else, if they tried to help Sam Shamoun during those years.) It seems that they were trying to be patient and understand his problems as part of the sanctification process. After all, no one is perfect, and we continue to battle the flesh and sin until the day we die. Maybe they tried to help him, but it seems Sam refused to listen or change. What I know is that I tried to appeal to Sam privately since 2012 by email about his methods and behavior and anger and insults and pugnaciousness, but he never listened and in fact always turned on me with insults, and uses bullying and manipulation tactics, and attacked me and claimed he was right and was acting like the prophets and apostles and Jesus, who called the Pharisees snakes and they all sometimes called heretics names, and mocked them, etc. Sorry Sam, but you are no prophet nor apostle.
John Bugay at Triablogue, back in 2015 did a series of excellent articles on Gregg Allison’s book, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice”
I remember seeing them at the time and reading some of them, but I must have forgotten. I have Allison’s book and it is good, of what I have read.
Allison posits that Roman Catholicism has 2 root principles:
Nature-Grace – the grace comes to human through physical objects, creation objects
Christ-Church – that the Roman Catholic Church on earth is the only true Church that Jesus founded, and is actually the extension of Jesus’ incarnation in this world and only the RCC dispenses grace to people.
What struck me was the “nature-grace” principle of Roman Catholicism. Eastern Orthodoxy seems to have the same principle = God’s grace is conveyed to a person by means of literal physical things – water in baptism, bread and wine in the Eucharist, oil in chrismation or anointing – and I would add, through touching statues or praying to, kissing icons or staring at them and repeating the EO “Jesus Prayer” (an acquaintance of mine recently told me he stares at an icon of Jesus and says the EO Jesus prayer over and over for hours, trying to deal with sin, etc.) over and over, or relics and pilgrimages and church buildings and giving alms to the poor and doing other external works.
The focus and emphasis on physical things seems to be what Paul is rebuking the Colossians and the Galatians for: rebuking them for legalism, putting philosophy over Christ, external works, asceticism and mysticism.
“the elementary principles of this world”
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.
Galatians 4:9 -11
8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.
What prompted me to remember these articles by John Bugay and Allison’s book, is seeing some of Allison’s videos and the listening to the content and remembering and then pulling the book back out and reading more of it, skipping around.
John Bugay has provided a great diagram of the essence of Roman Catholic understanding of itself, that only she can dispense grace into the world.
Two videos that made me get out Allison’s book again:
“Is the Reformation Over?” – answer: No.
Austin Suggs of “Gospel Simplicity” interviewed Gregg Allison on Roman Catholicism:
Just a friendly push back on a common meme from Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox folks: They say since the early church did not have all the NT books in one place or list, until either Origen’s list (around 250 AD) or Athanasius’ famous list in 367 AD; and Protestants trust the early church in coming to the final conclusions on the NT canon, therefore Protestants are inconsistent for not trusting the early church fathers on other issues that they talk about in early 2nd Century going forward. (like the mono-episcopacy (Ignatius, around 107-110 AD; or the “real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, or baptismal regeneration, or priests and apostolic succession, etc.)
They say, “the Bible did not exist yet”. Except all those books did exist as individual scrolls rolled up in the first century. (45-96 AD)
The doctrine of “Sola Scriptura”, does not mean “SolO Scriptura” (“all by myself in the woods with me and Jesus and my bible” = no church, no pastors / elders (presbyters), no guidance, creeds or councils) or “I use the Bible alone” – rather it means “The Bible is the only infallible rule for faith, doctrine, practice” – “only infallible rule”, not “only rule”. (of course you know this) The primitive church DID have the Scriptures in the OT (T.aN.aKh.) (Torah, Nebiim (prophets) and “Khetovim” (writings = wisdom and poetic books) and various churches had copies of some or several of the NT gospels and / or letters at a time; (it took time for all the churches to get all the 27 scrolls at their particular church), the NT writings as individual rolled up scrolls, sent to different places / different churches. There was no such thing as a book with a binding (in the 1st century AD and in most of 2nd century; it was just becoming more common in the third century.) as we know it today. Later, in the second half of second century, is when they started flattening the rolled up scrolls out and tying them together with string – the first “codexes” – flattened out and tied together. Biblion βιβλιον and Biblos / βιβλος in the NT meant “scroll” (individual document rolled up) or “what was written on”, or “document” or “certificate”; not a book with a binding like we have today.
Therefore, to expect a “canon list” in first and second century is anachronistic. Origen (around 250 AD) actually gave the first complete 27 book list of the NT (see Kruger’s article) that is the same as Athanasius’ famous Festal Letter 39 in 367 AD. Irenaeus (180-202 AD) and Tertullian (190-220 AD) quoted from or cited as inspired from 22 out of the 27 scrolls. Even earlier than Origen’s list is the famous Muratorian canon, around 170 AD, which has most of the NT books, (20-23), but the original extant document was corrupted (rotted away) at the beginning and end, so we only have a fragment of it. (which is true of lots of NT manuscripts – all we have are fragments.)
the documentation of Origen’s list of the 27 NT canonical books – by Dr. Michael Kruger.
10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #10: “Athanasius’ Festal Letter (367 A.D.) is the First Complete List of New Testament Books” – Canon Fodder
Kruger writes and quotes from Origen:
we have a list by Origen more than a century earlier (c.250), that seems to include all 27 books. Origen, in his Homilies on Joshua, writes:
So too our Lord Jesus Christ…sent his apostles as priests carrying well-wrought trumpets. First Matthew sounded the priestly trumpet in his Gospel, Mark also, and Luke, and John, each gave forth a strain on their priestly trumpets. Peter moreover sounds with the two trumpets of his Epistles; James also and Jude. Still the number is incomplete, and John gives forth the trumpet sound through his Epistles [and Apocalypse]; and Luke while describing the deeds of the apostles. Latest of all, moreover, that one comes who said, “I think that God has set us forth as the apostles last of all” (1 Cor 4:9), and thundering on the fourteen trumpets of his Epistles he threw down, even to their very foundations, the wall of Jericho, that is to say, all the instruments of idolatry and the dogmas of the philosophers.
So, James White was correct to say that the canon is an “artifact of revelation”. (Scripture Alone, p. 101) The evidence of inspiration / God-breathed quality and existence of the 27 books written from about 45 AD to 96 AD (Canon 1 = existence, revealed, inspired – 2 Tim. 3:16-17) – Canon 2 – the list discovered, discerned in a process by the church and sifted through and discerned over the false writings) – the Canon lists in Origen (250 AD, see Michael Kruger’s article), Athanasius, Councils, that Irenaeus and Tertullian around 180-200 AD list 22 of the 27 NT books; etc. are artifacts of God’s revelation through the apostles (Peter, John, Paul, Matthew) and their helpers (Mark writing for Peter, Luke’s 2 writings, James and Jude, Hebrews (probably Barnabas, per Tertullian; and internal evidence of the Levitical details; see Acts 4:36 (from tribe of Levi, accords with the knowledge in the book about the details of the Levitical priesthood and temple sacrificial details, etc.) ; and he hints at who he is at the end of the letter in Hebrews 13:22 – “this letter of exhortation/encouragement” – Barnabas was known by the Apostles as “the son of encouragement” ) it makes sense that Barnabas wanted to leave his name off, in light of the disagreement with Paul that he had over John-Mark, Acts 15:39). Barnabas was focused on the content and doctrine, not personalities. But, granted, another theory of the author of Hebrews is that it was a sermon of the Apostle Paul that was translated into higher Greek by Luke, who wrote his gospel and Acts, and both are higher level of eloquent Greek. I see no problem with accepting the historical evidence that Mark wrote the gospel according to Mark, wrote for Peter, from his action sermons, according to Irenaeus and others, that the disciple Matthew wrote Matthew, and that Luke the physician and fellow traveler missionary on the Apostle Paul’s missionary team wrote Luke-Acts, and that they carry apostolic authority. (or that Hebrews in inspired and apostolic and God-breathed, etc.) Believing that in no way is inconsistent with not believing other man-made traditions of church history that seem to contradict the God-breathed Scriptures.
(Photo of ancient church ruins in Philadelphia of Revelation 3:7-13 & a Mosque in between) Even Philadelphia eventually left it’s first love. (see Rev. 2:4-5)
The ruins of columns of an ancient Byzantine church in the ancient city of Philadelphia, now called Alashehir, Turkey. The Turks did not live in the modern land what is called “Turkey” today; in the NT days it was Asia Minor, Anatolia, Galatia, Cappodocia, Bythinia, Pontus, Phrygia, and Armenia. The Seljuks Turks first came to Turkey in the east in 1071 and defeated the Byzantines at the battle of Manzikert near Van. The Arab Muslims had been trying in the late 600s – 700s to conquer Turkey, after they already conquered the Levant Middle East and Egypt and North Africa and Persia. (634-900s AD) Then the Ottoman Turks defeated the Byzantines in Contstantinople in 1453 after the many wars and battles of the Crusades period of 1095-1299 and beyond. Notice the Islamic minaret in between the ancient church ruins. Like the church at Ephesus, the church in Philadelphia eventually left its first love also. ( Revelation 2:4-5) Even though, at the time, Jesus commended that church, along with Smyrna. But all the churches of Rev. 2-3 and Galatia and Colossea and Cappodocia were eventually wiped out by Islam. Every generation is responsible for the great commission in their own time. Just because a land had the gospel before in history, does not mean that it should not have the gospel preached again to that same land, because the people are different; different ethnicities, and different generations.
The early church had “quickly deserted Him who called you by His grace” (Galatians 1:6) and eventually, the churches in Revelation chapters 2-3 did the same thing. Note also how quickly the Hebrews turned away from the true and living God in Exodus 32:8, to make a golden calf and call it “Yahweh”, the God who brought them out of Egypt.
They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a cast metal calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’”
As Protestant Evangelicals committed to God’s Word and our local churches, and wanting to understand church history from a Biblical perspective, we need to be reminded of several things:
1. Individual local churches and whole denominations have later failed, become apostate, or were conquered or destroyed in history; and that does not contradict the promise of Matthew 16:18. That even in the Scriptures, at that time in history, individual churches were very quickly drifting away from the truth of the gospel. Galatians 1:6-9
The promise of Matthew 16:18 is to the Universal Invisible Church of all true believers in every generation. Ephesians 3:21; Rev. 5:9; 7:9; Ephesians 1:22-23 – “the fulness of Him who fills all in all” = all kinds of people in all kinds of places / or all times of history. Ephesians 5:25 – the church was purchased by Christ. (Acts 20:28; Rev. 5:9) As the gospel goes forth through evangelism, missions, church planting, the church is spreading out in history into all kinds of people in all kinds of places at all times.
As Athanasius said about the Arian heretics who had taken over the churches, to encourage the true believers in the faith: “they (the Arian heretics) have the places (buildings), but you have the faith” (Festal Letter 29)
This shows that they can drift and cease to be true churches. God warned all the churches by His warning to the first church there in Revelation 2, Ephesus: “If you don’t repent, I am coming in judgment and I will remove your lamp stand, unless you repent.” (see Rev. 2:4-5) All the churches in Revelation 2-3 were eventually conquered, first by the Goths, then by Islam. Smyrna (modern Izmir) goes back to Polycarp and Rev. 2; but today, it is gone. There are others very small, house churches, alive, biblical churches, underground, evangelical, Protestant, refugee minorities in other parts of Turkey. There are those that have gone to reach out to the Turkish and Kurdish Muslims. And refugee minority churches among Iranians are very numerous and alive. Indeed, a claim to faith without the good works of evangelism and missions is a dead faith. The older churches of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, because of their Dhimmi status under Islam, compromised a long time and don’t do much outreach to the Muslims.
Liberal churches and denominations today who don’t believe in the Deity of Christ or the Virgin conception of Christ, or the literal resurrection of Jesus, or affirm the LGBTQ agenda and don’t think homosexuality is a sin, they also have left the faith, even though they may have some people, “pastors” and buildings.
– “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:6-9
2. Sola Scriptura is taught in principle here in Galatians chapter 1. The fact that the apostle Paul considered his letter, by him writing it, and using these words, ” . . . so I say to you now . . . “(v. 9) shows that he is communicating in the same way that Jesus did when Jesus said, “have you not read what God saidto you?” ( see Matthew 22:31). The Scriptures are “God speaking”. Paul considered his letters, as “God speaking”, as “God-breathed”. (see also I Corinthians 2:13; 4:6; 7:40; and 14:37) That, and along with the fact that this gospel and his apostleship was not from men or humans or by the agency of man” (verse 1), shows that he knew His letters were authoritative and had the God-breathed quality of Scripture. This demonstrates, in principle, that the canon existed before being called “canon”, that is, the historical ontological existence of the books of Scripture was at the time of writing (48-70 AD or 48-96 AD) “canon” (which was a measuring rod that eventually meant, “standard”, “rule”, “principle”, “criterion”, “law”, before it meant “list”. See Galatians 6:16; and a textual variant at Philippians 3:16 for this meaning of the Greek word, “kanon”.); and was before the human process of the early church of discerning, sifting, and putting all the 27 books “under one cover”, so to speak.
Luther says on this text: “Here then is a plain text like a thunderbolt, wherein Paul subjects both himself and an angel from heaven, and all others, doctors, teachers, and masters, to be under the authority of the Scriptures.” (Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, quoted in Tabletalk Magazine, January, 2009, p. 29.)
“In spite of this emphatic denunciation so many accept the pope as the supreme judge of the Scriptures. “The Church,” they say, “chose only four gospels. The Church might have chosen more. Ergo the Church is above the Gospel.” With equal force one might argue: “I approve the Scriptures. Ergo I am above the Scriptures. John the Baptist confessed Christ. Hence he is above Christ.” Paul subordinates himself, all preachers, all the angels of heaven, everybody to the Sacred Scriptures. We are not the masters, judges, or arbiters, but witnesses, disciples, and confessors of the Scriptures, whether we be pope, Luther, Augustine, Paul, or an angel from heaven.” Luther, Galatians, at 1:9, see, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/galatians.iv.html
3. Remember Sola Fide, the heart of the gospel. “Alone” (Sola) in the phrase, is the same as “apart from the merit and condition of works”. We should celebrate Luther’s insight by reminding ourselves of it – this is dramatically illustrated by the old Black and white movie of Martin Luther from 1953.)
The Roman Catholic Church had drifted from the Scriptures and the truth of the gospel and replaced it with ceremonies, relics, indulgences, prayers to saints and Mary, exalting Mary too much; the treasury of merit, purgatory, baptismal regeneration as the ex opere operato work that causes regeneration and initial justification, mortal vs. venial sin categories of being able to loose real justification; and good works as conditions for regaining and keeping justification, and other “sacramental treadmill” works such as transubstantiation and confession to a priest. The result being that no one could ever be sure they were even justified or saved. The Eastern Churches also “left their first love” (Rev. 2:4-5) and replaced true faith and true doctrine with icons, mysticism, philosophy (Colossians 2:8), man-made traditions (Mark 7:1-14), ceremonies, rituals, and unBiblical ideas of man’s ability to choose and original sin (the east did not accept Augustine’s theology of original sin); icons and prayers to Mary, exalting Mary, etc. Although the East was not as bad on some things like the western Roman Catholic doctrines on the Papacy, Purgatory, indulgences, and the East allowed clergy to be married; they still had many problems and false doctrines.
Against those that murder babies in the womb and those politicians who support it.
Against those who give puberty blockers to children and mutilate them. Against Doctors, Big Pharma, government, politicians, liberal media, educators, administrators, teachers, all who promote the LGBTQ agenda. It was shocking to hear that Pediatrician in Matt Walsh’s documentary, “What is a Woman?” admit the things she does to “affirm” little children in their gender confusion and give puberty blockers (chemical castration). She is suppossed to be a trusted doctor! Woe unto you! (Matthew 18:6-10)
94 O Lord, God of vengeance, God of vengeance, shine forth! 2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth, Render recompense to the proud. 3 How long shall the wicked, O Lord, How long shall the wicked exult? 4 They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves. 5 They crush Your people, O Lord, And afflict Your heritage. 6 They slay the widow and the stranger And murder the orphans. 7 They have said, “The Lord does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.”
This is an excellent examination of some of the aspects of what drives Evangelical Protestants to convert to Roman Catholicism (and I would add that conversions to EO have similar aspects.)
Basically the root of this Psychology is the demand for absolute certainty about doctrines, interpretations and church and unity, and thinking that the RCC and Papacy gives you that absolute infallible certainty. God never expects humans to have kind of certainty. We can have creaturely reasonable certainty about God and Christ and salvation (1 John 5:13; Romans 8:28-39; Philippians 1:6), but God never expects the attribute of infallibility from us as humans. The same goes for the RCC Pope and Papal claims of 1870. There is no such quality as infallibility for the bishop of Rome!
Matt Fradd of “Pints with Aquinas” said, “I could never be Protestant” (because of the desire for absolute certainty about doctrines that Protestants disagree with other about). Matt seems like a really nice guy and having a burger and beer with him would be cool; but I say: “I could never be Roman Catholic because of all the man-made traditions (Mark 7:1-23; Matthew 15:1-20; Colossians 2:8) (slowly developed doctrines over centuries) that the RCC has added to “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”. Jude 3
As Geoff (A Goy for Jesus) said in his video, “the last link in the chain is always your own mind and decision to trust the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church”. (my paraphrase)
Roman Catholics have been using tactics on Evangelicals for the past some-odd 30 years, especially since Scott Hahn and Gerry Mattatics’ conversion to the Roman Church – (based on Cardinal John Henry Newman’s ideas, skepticism, development of doctrine theory, acorn to oak tree, etc. ) – they say basically – “you are leaning on your own mind and your own interpretation to decide what church to be apart of.” “you are your own Pope” – this is exactly what my friend Rod Bennett kept saying to me over the years.
The quotes by Raymond Brown are especially enlightening. Be sure to listen to the whole video.
Basically, “The Roman Catholic Church does not change her official stance in a blunt way.” Raymond Brown (from my memory) – I am going to type it up later with the references and add to this article.
This (psychology of wanting to have absolute certainty) is exactly what happened to my friend Rod Bennett. (click on the side bar category for articles on Rod Bennett). Rod was looking for 1. certainty (especially over different interpretations of certain passages of Scripture.) Rod kept asking me, “how do you know for sure?” – about everything we debated over for 8 years. 2. history – connection with church history through the ages and 3. unity (he was sick of all the disunity of Protestant denominationalism), and only found those things when he submitted to the Pope in Rome. (authority) – Gregg Allison mentions those 4 aspects in the video below that is from Scott McKnight’s helpful article, “From Wheaton to Rome”, in the Journal of Evangelical Theological Society.
Gregg Allison makes some great points here in the video below.
One of the best things about Dr. Allison’s analysis is the 2 Axioms of Roman Catholic Theology:
It seems to me that the Eastern Orthodox Churches have the same basic paradigm:
The Nature – Grace principle. That God’s grace enters our souls through physical things – like water, bread, wine, oil – I would add church buildings and architecture, statues, icons, trafficking in relics, incense, rosary beads, etc. see my article “Christ’s Incarnation Sanctified Matter?”
The Christ – Church principle – The Roman Catholic Church declares itself as the one true church on earth and the extension of the incarnational body of Jesus on earth.
Two excellent series by Dr. Jordan Cooper, a Lutheran minister. As a committed Protestant, Evangelical, Reformed Baptist, I agree with him on these issues. Excellent analaysis. I am making my own comments here and there, but please listen to Dr. Cooper’s arguments.
5 Reasons I am Not Roman Catholic
Papacy – totally unBiblical and does not stand up exegetically or theologically or in early church history
2. The Saints – praying to dead saints and all the piety revolved around that – statues, graves, trafficking in relics, (same goes for icons in EO). Praying to the dead, even though they are alive in heaven with God, is a form of worship, therefore idolatry, therefore sin and wrong.
3. The Sacrifice of the Mass – besides what Dr. Cooper argues, the Scriptures are clear that the historical event of the cross was a “once for all sacrifice” (see the many times this is taught in Hebrews chapters 7-10; Romans 6:10; 1 Peter 3:18)
10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. Hebrews 10:10-14
4. The Inconsistency of the Roman Catholic Church – claims to be same from beginning yet has morphed and changed a lot, especially after 500s to the Council of Trent (1545-1563), then post Trent, to 1870 and to 1958, then pre-Vatican 2 vs. Vatican 2 (1963-1968) and post Vatican 2 – a real change and inconsistency and contradiction to its own claims.
5. Justification – the biggest reason. Scripture trumps the Roman Catholic Church on this issue. Romans, Galatians, the Gospel of John, Acts, Philippians 3:9; Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 John and 1 Peter – the Roman Catholic view does not stand up to exegesis of Scripture and consistent theology.
Cooper could not resist to also name a 6th reason at the end:
6. The Marian Dogmas
I would also add Transubstantiation, Purgatory, Indulgences, treasury of merit, ex opere operato priestly powers and probably some other things also.
The Apophatic Method – this is a key understanding of the entire spirit of Eastern Orthodoxy and how mysterious it seems to be because it can only emphasize what is not, rather than what is.
Neo-Platonic Theosis – a friend of mine recently converted to EO and his emphasis is staring at an icon and repeating the “Jesus Prayer” (Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner) over and over and he said that is part of the process of theosis.
Justification – the Eastern Orthodox Church rejects the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, so a lot of the same issues on this come up in dealing with Roman Catholicism.
Augustinianism – The EO rejects that aspect of Original Sin that understands that mankind is both sinner in a corrupted nature and legal guilt from birth.
The Role of Images (icons)
I would add that Eastern Orthodoxy just seems to go over-board on the external rituals, ceremonies (smells and bells) trying to create religious feelings.
This comes across really clear by this videobelow made by an Eastern Orthodox who goes by “Orthodox Shahada” – Shahada = “testimony” in Arabic. He made this after Anthony Rogers began criticizing Sam Shamoun and Sam’s recent apostasy of rejecting essentials of Protestant Biblical Faith (Sola Fide, Sola Gratia (thinking a person is not dead in sin and unable to come to Christ – Total Depravity; and that one can choose Christ out of their own free will is denial of Sola Gratia) Romans 9:16 – “It does not depend on the man who wills or runs, but on God who has mercy”; Sola Christus (adding Mary as a mediator is a violation), Sola Scriptura (adding many man-made traditions – Mark 7:1-23), Soli Deo Gloria – works and external rituals take away from God’s glory) – Sam started praying to Mary and saying formulistic prayers of repetition and in a mantra like way, and making the sign of the cross – thus violating Matthew 6. Anthony was correct.
The EO and Roman Catholics and other ritualistic groups got offended and accused Anthony of actually mocking the Cross of Christ itself.
Orthodox Shahada’s only answer is to show a really ritualistic, externalistic EO ceremony with Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (who really seems to agree with Vladimir Putin and his unjust and evil war on Ukraine.)
Anthony Rogers was obviously not speaking against the Cross of Christ – he was not speaking against the reality of the historical event of Christ’s crucifixion and the power and theology of the cross – Jesus’ death on the cross which was an effective atonement for sins.
He was saying that just doing the physical ritual of the hand motions does not have Spiritual power in itself. Shamoun’s sinful anger and name calling and reviling and abusive language and bravado and over the top macho-ism discredits him. That is not a proper way to win Muslims, (or Jews or other Unitarians) even though a lot of his articles had good content when he sticks to the texts of the Bible and Qur’an and Hadith and makes intellectual and reasonable arguments.
The emphasis of the video of the E. Orthodox ceremony seems to be on ritual and ceremony and physical things, not on Spiritual truths. “the flesh profits nothing, the words I speak are spirit and life” John 6:63 Isaiah and Amos rebuked the Jews of his day for their empty rituals. (Isaiah 1:10-17; Amos 5:18-24)
An Eastern Orthodox in the com-box accused me of being Docetic and Gnostic. Nuts!
No; since I reject both Docetism and Gnosticism. I fully believe in the incarnation of Christ and His historical real physical death on the cross and bodily resurrection. I am not rejecting all matter. Creation is good, created by God for us – bodies, food, marriage, rest, green pastures, oxygen, trees, bread, wine, meat, etc. 1 Tim. 4:3-4 and 1 Tim. 6:17 ” . . . God, who provides us with everything to enjoy”. The Protest was right against the Roman Catholic Church and Papalism, that had perverted the gospel. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, Tyndale, and Jan Hus and John Wycliffe before were right vs. dead rituals and sacramentalism, and false doctrines. Over-exalting Mary in icons and statues (RCC) and praying to her is idolatry. I commend the Eastern Orthodox on it’s stance vs. the Papacy and the RCC requirements for all priests to be celibate. It is good that EO does not believe in purgatory and does not make Marian dogmas of 1854 and 1950 to dogma.
2 Kings 18:3-4 Even a good thing originally commanded by God (Numbers 21, the bronze serpent), can become a mere physical object of worship that is turned into idolatry.
The EO guy accussed me of Gnosticism again. No, we believing Protestants agree that Gnosticism is wrong and a terrible heresy and Irenaeus was right. It is actually you who are making a false dichotomy and not dealing with the reality of the meaning of Isaiah 1:10-17; Amos 5:18-24; John 6:63 and John 3:6-8. the flesh profits nothing – John 6:63 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
There are many things I appreciate about EO and some of their areas that we would agree on. I appreciate Arch-priest Josiah Trenham’s videos and have learned a lot about EO from them.
See more here. – I have a long article on agreements and disagreements with Josiah Trenham.
Although I disagree with many issues, he is understandable. I read his book, Rock and Sand and listened to several of his videos; especially the one on critiquing the Roman Catholic Church – you guys (EO) were unjustly slaughtered at the 1204 fourth Crusade. What a shame and scandal on the RCC! The EO is right vs. Roman Catholicism on the Papacy and Purgatory, and clerical celibacy – they are all wrong!
Also, I think Jay Dyer did a great job in his debate vs. the Muslim debater, Shabir Ally.
I never said the actions of the body don’t matter – obviously fleshly bodily sins are wrong and sin and God condemns – drunkenness, gluttony, fornication, adultery, stealing, murder. Roots of sin are internal. Mark 7:20-23; Matthew 5:21-30 But external sins are also sins and worse for consequences.
I am pretty sure that the The clip from Anthony Rogers that Orthodox Shahada made, comes from this for fuller context: