Catholic Dogma Answered Scripturally
All Bible quotations come from the Authorized Version in English AKA the King James Version
Does the "Roman Catholic" Church hold
the Holy Grace of God to be dispensed at the will of the church clergy and not
the Free Will of God?
This is two questions in one. The first question is whether the RCC has the actual possession of the Grace of God. The second question would then be "does any man have the right to dispense the Grace of God by his own will".
First, let us deal with the higher question, which is the latter question. Can man dispense the Grace of God (pardon for sins, a Divine thing) in his own will?
The only scriptures that indicates any right of the Christian to have any authority in spiritual situations is found in Mathew 18:18-20,
"Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
(This is the passage in the gospels where Christ explains that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.) and, in Matthew 18:18,
"Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
In both passages we have the identical words; the identical phrase. In the first passage we have the wonderful revelation that upon the Petros, the rock not Peter (Petras, stone, which Jesus identifies as Peter's name before using the word Petros, rock, to refer to the foundation of His church). He establishes that the followers of Jesus, the Christ, would have the authority to bind things. This is in full agreement with the Chapter 18:18 statement.
Some would immediately like to say that this proves that the "church" has the authority to bind sin and to dispense the Grace of God as it wills. The problem is this. In Chapter 18, our Lord first explains that there should be NO greatness in the church. All should be as children, 18:1-.
"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus,
saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
By definition, children are those who do not have authority one over the other. All are equal in subjugation to the authority of their parents. As to who the parent of Christians is, Jesus, God Incarnate, has said,
So, we know that if we are Christians we are subject to our Heavenly Father, God, not men. And most importantly, those who are supposed to be Christians but will not be subject to God are defined in Hebrews 12:6-8 as
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
So, if we are not subject to the authority of God and will not bear His correction, we are not His children. We are then not Christians but bastards, infidels.
This doctrine given by God, Himself, and in other books from His Holy Word, completely is in conflict with a church having power over the each other. He established above that He was God, He was Lord of all and He would chastise His children. We may visit this point later, but, let us return to the main issue. Can man mete out the Grace of God?
We have so far established that some authority was given to the followers of the Christ. The RCC would like to hold that this authority was given just to the disciples. However, let us read on in Matthew 18:15-20,
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Here our Lord reveals that we must forgive everyone for every sin against us. He makes NO allowance for the withholding of mercy and grace. Therefore, the church (even if it did have the authority to dispense the Grace of God) has no ability to withhold it from anyone. They could not make any demands or conditions. This disagrees with the RCC dogmas that protest that none are saved unless they submit to the authority of the RCC. This disagrees that the RCC can withhold pardon of sins unless the sin is confessed to an official clergyman of the RCC. Everything that Jesus taught just in these verses prevents the RCC from being able to dispense any granted Grace from anyone who calls on the name of the Lord, Jesus the Christ.
On the contrary, thus far we see Jesus demanding that all should be forgiven; that all should be equal little children; and that when any two are gathered in His Name, there He is with them. This indicates that the authority granted by God is granted to all Christians not just to clergy (priests). He has made promises here to all of us. He has indicated that we are all equal. Before leaving this point, let us overlay another scripture precious to the RCC that relates to this one and reiterates that Jesus is speaking here to all believers and not the church clergy. That scripture is the place where Jesus, the Christ, taught the disciples how to pray, Matthew 6:5-34 (It's long, but, very important. Please, read the entire pasted text.)
"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Now if Jesus had only been speaking to the disciples in the previous passage, then, He would have only been speaking to the disciples in this lesson. We know that He was speaking to all of us in both places as He said the same things. He said we must forgive everyone. He taught us that we must be doers of His Word not hypocrites like the Pharisees who did their alms giving to impress men, who prayed arbitrary repetitious prayers not praying from their hearts, who fasted in order that they might gain honor of men and not God. If this teaching and the other were directed just to the disciples, then how comes it that we are told that the "Our Father" prayer is to be prayed by all? If the prayer is to be prayed by all of us, then, the promises and commandments are made to all of us. If we are not partakers of the promise that where two or three of us are gathered in the name of Jesus the Christ, He is in our midst, then, we are not entitled to pray using the words of the "Our Father". It is just that simple. Either both are for all or both are for disciples only. And, if they are for disciples only, they died with the disciples as none of them are alive to this day.
So, we see plainly from scriptures and teachings of God, that no man can withhold mercy from another and no man is granted, therefore, the authority to bind a sin against a man. We also see the rise in a doctrine of Christ that all are equals under His Authority. This would rule out the ability of any church body, congregation or ecclesiastical organization from claiming that they alone have the authority of God. You say, "how can you say this?" The answer is in all teachings of our Lord on hierarchy and position in the kingdom taught to the disciples. The Lord always abased prideful requests for authority and leadership. He always demanded that the Christians be servants and servants of each other. I cite the direct teaching of one disciple having leadership in Luke 22:24-32
And there was also a strife among them, which of
them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them,
In this DIRECT, unequivocal, point-blank, "plain as day" teaching on the church of God having any authoritative clergy that would rule over the members, He, God, says, "NO". The Lord even uses the example of a king to depose (pun intended) the use of a single leader of ecclesiastical authority as well as a body of leaders who might "exercise lordship over them" or who might "exercise authority upon them". His answer to leadership is servitude. He tells us to be servants one to another. In case this does not drive home the meaning of the Lord, let us look at what God, Himself, as the Christ did for His disciples to explain the total absence of an earthly sovereign over believers. In John 13:3-20, after the last supper,
"Jesus knowing that the Father had given all
things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel,
and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and
began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel
wherewith he was girded.
The direct statement of our Lord is clear enough that it does not need explanation. If God in the flesh can humble Himself to wash the filthy feet of men, how can we not see that we are all servants of each other? How can Christians demand that they have authority over other Christians when the Christ has said that He is our only Lord, our only Master and that we are to serve one another but bow only to Him?
This is a long discourse and not the most concise. However, the goal is to show through the Word that we must fear God alone. It is to point out that He alone is the Author and Finisher of our salvation and He has appointed no INTERMEDIARY but Himself. It is to show us that we are free from the lordship of any church that teaches us things contrary to the very Words of God. And the dogmas of the RCC that demand that we must submit to their sacramental system and their authority to be saved are dogmas in direct opposition to the plain teachings of the very God, and Lord, Jesus, that they claim to represent and obey. How can we be of Jesus the Christ if we disobey His direct teachings? It's simple. We cannot. When He teaches us that we are to serve one another and we do not do that, we fall under the correction of the Holy Word. If we do not repent and change our ways, we are condemned by that same Word. In Hebrews it said that if we will not submit to the correction of the Lord, we are bastards and not the children of God.
You must not fear the "authority" of the RCC as it is a usurpation of the Sovereign Authority of God over His Church. He will not lend His Divine Grace, Authority or Power to any body that disobeys His Word. Neither will He grant any authority over your eternal destiny to anyone other than Himself. Jesus the Christ said in Matthew 10:26-40,
"Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
He tells us not to fear those who will kill us for obeying Him or calling on His name. He points out that God should be feared as He alone has the right of judgment and punishment of the sinner. This shows that no church is granted that authority. Better to die a heretic at the hands of a church than to be guilty of disobeying the Lord. He also went on to give this promise.
"Are not two sparrows sold
for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without
your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also
before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me
before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send
peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against
his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law
against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his
own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not
worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not
worthy of me.
He encourages us that we are special to Him. He then warns us that His Words divides a household against each other. He warns that following Him is the most important thing. He explains that the man who counts the cost of following Jesus is not worthy of the Lord or His Calling. God grant you the strength and boldness to follow His Will and His Way above any teachings of men.