Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. If you’re a new listener to the program, we’ve been going through Dave Hunt’s book, In Defense of the Faith—chapter by chapter, question by question. The book contains many, many questions. These are questions that have been asked of him over his what? fifty, almost sixty years of ministry. I won’t make it that early, but probably fifty years of ministry, right, Dave?
Dave: A bit more than that, but that’s all right.
Tom: Okay. And they are difficult questions in some cases, certainly when men begin to handle religion, they tend to mix their own ideas in. So, there’s a lot of confusion out there about what the Bible says, about what people understand about it. But nevertheless, the Bible claims to be God’s truth. Jesus said to His Father in a prayer for believers, “Sanctify them according to thy word; thy word is truth.” And if that’s the case, then, Dave, there shouldn’t be any kind of question that we can’t bring to the Bible and, as believers, those who abide, or continue, in God’s Word, we ought to be able to have an answer.
Dave: Well, the Bible’s been under attack like no other book for centuries, and skeptics are, some of them are very sharp, very intelligent, critics, atheists—and they have gone through the Bible with more than a magnifying glass, I guess—an electron microscope, you could almost say—determined to find some contradiction, some unscientific statement, something that can’t be defended that isn’t true. So, there are some difficult questions, but, as you said, Tom, if the Bible is God’s Word, it’s impregnable—and indeed it is. We cover a lot of those questions in this book.
Tom: And, although Dave’s book In Defense of the Faith is based on his experience with people and certainly his study of God’s Word, the name of this program is Search the Scriptures Daily. We don’t want you taking Dave’s word or my word for something. Hopefully we can point to and help in an understanding about God’s Word. But the bottom line rests with those who would receive it. You have to search the Scriptures daily as the Bereans did to make sure these things are according to God’s Word—true to His word.
Dave: And if this is God’s Word, then we had better believe it, and if we don’t, we are making Him out to be a liar.
Tom: Right, and to take it a step further, we don’t want them to be just hearers of God’s Word but doers as well.
The first question: ”If a Roman Catholic believes wholeheartedly in the Lord Jesus Christ and is committed to serving Him as his Lord, and if he believes that the only way his sins can be forgiven is through Christ’s death as atonement for those sins, and the believer’s repentance, isn’t he saved? Suppose a person has salvation by faith alone; does he lose that salvation by believing in infant baptism? Does he lose his salvation by believing that communion is really the body and blood of Christ, as the Lord said it was? Does he lose his salvation if he believes in purgatory?”
Dave, obvious problems here—the person is speaking in contradictions. Now I’d like you to start, and I’ll pick up on some of this. Having been a Roman Catholic for about 32 years of my life and a believer for about 25, that is, call me an evangelical, a born-again Christian, someone who believes the Bible is inerrant, is my authority, and most of all is sufficient for all that I need, as the scripture says, “all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
Dave: Well, Tom, first of all, nobody loses their salvation. So, if they are saved, they don’t lose their salvation. So, the questioner says, “Well, if after they get saved they believe in infant baptism…” or, you know, various things. The question is, did they believe in those things…two questions: we’re talking about a Roman Catholic. They believed in those things before…
Tom: Had to.
Dave: Then how could they also believe the gospel? Okay? Or, if they were supposedly an evangelical Christian and then they became Catholics and believed in these things after—we’re talking about, when I say, “these things,” something that contradicts God’s Word, contradicts the gospel. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes it. So we must believe the gospel. Now, you can’t believe two contradictory propositions—that’s just basic.
Tom: Let me give them two. This person talks about faith alone, believing in Jesus and salvation coming to him or to her by faith alone. But then this person talks about purgatory. If you believe that Jesus paid the full penalty for your sins and you can only receive salvation by faith and by faith alone, then what’s purgatory? Well, purgatory is really the belief—it’s not in the scripture; it’s something that the Catholic Church has developed through their extrapolation, or whatever, through tradition—it is actually from the Apocrypha, but the point is that if you believe in purgatory, then you don’t believe that Jesus paid the full penalty for your sins because a Catholic must go to purgatory to have his sins expiated through his own suffering. There’s a contradiction.
Dave: Yeah. First of all, we must believe something to be saved. We must believe the gospel. The Ethiopian eunuch said to Philip, “Here is water. What doth hinder me from being baptized?” Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart…” or, Romans:10:9: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus….” Now it doesn’t mean there is just somebody named Jesus but who He really is and what He has done, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Now a Catholic believes that Christ was raised from the dead, but they have a different Jesus if they go by the Catholic Church. You mentioned purgatory. It’s very clear that, as you said, sins must be expiated either in this life or in purgatory, where you are purged by the flames.
Tom: But that’s the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Dave: That’s right, this is what the Catholic Church says. This is Vatican II—this is down through the centuries. Well, then, as you said, you can’t believe that Christ died for your sins. The Bible says very clearly, “Once and for all…that Christ paid the penalty once…” and the same thing with the Mass. If you believe that He is being—well, let me quote what the Catholic Church says about the Mass. This is from a Catholic dictionary: “The Mass is a truly propitiatory sacrifice, which means that by this oblation the Lord is appeased. He grants grace and the gift of repentance and He pardons wrongdoings and sins, even grave ones, for it is one and the same victim—He who now makes the offering through the ministry of priests and He who then offered Himself on the cross.” So, Christ is still being offered. In fact, the Catholic boasts: “We have Christ on our altar. He is being offered.” And they say this little wafer is the body and blood of Christ.
Tom: And out of the Catechism, the term is “immolated,” which means to kill as a sacrifice. That’s what the priest does when he says Mass—Christ is immolated on his altar. It’s pretty straightforward.
Dave: Our Lord is immolated offering himself to the Father for the world’s salvation through the ministry of priests. Now, He didn’t need the ministry of priests when He offered Himself on the Cross, did He? Now we have degraded the sacrifice on the Cross; now the Catholic Church says, “Well, yeah, but that wasn’t sufficient.” Now the priests are offering Him again.
Let me read it once more: Vatican II says, “The Mass is, ‘a sacrifice in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated. Our Lord is immolated, offering himself to the Father for the world’s salvation through the ministry of priests.’”
Now Jesus, before He gave His Spirit into His Father’s hands—He said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my Spirit”—just before that He said, “Tetelestai,” a Greek word stamped on promissory notes, on documents, and so forth, that meant Paid in Full. He did that without any priests, no Catholic priests—the Catholic Church didn’t even exist. Now the Catholic Church says, “But He is still being offered. The priests are offering Him, and it is a propitiatory sacrifice. It brings forgiveness of sins,” and so forth. Now, that is a direct contradiction. You can’t possibly believe—you can’t possibly have your faith in Christ and His once-for-all sufficient, “It is Finished” sacrifice on the Cross and believe that He is still being offered—that the priests, now, are offering Him for the forgiveness of sins. So you have to decide what you believe.
Now whether this person was a Catholic before they came to Christ and they still believed that when they supposedly got saved, then they were never saved, because they never believed the gospel. If they got saved, you know, they supposedly believed the gospel as maybe a Methodist or a Baptist or whoever, and then they joined the Catholic Church and they began to practice the Mass, infant baptism, and so forth, well then you have to question what did they really believe. And I talk to people all the time who say, “Oh yeah, when I was in high school, I believed in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, but now I don’t know what I believe.”
Well, then, you couldn’t have had a very firm belief. Once you understand, once you are convinced, and you know that something is the truth, how could you possibly have that opinion changed, if it’s based on facts and you know it for certain.
So, Tom, you were a Catholic and you can speak to this issue better than I can, but I’ve talked to hundreds of former Catholics, and many of them have said, “When I became a Christian, when I became a believer, when I believed the gospel—I wanted to stay in the Catholic Church. I wanted to stay there to witness to others.” Now some of them have said, “But when I began to witness, they threw me out.” Others said, “Well, but I came into a deep conflict because I saw that what the Catholic Church teaches and what I was practicing is absolutely contrary to the Word of God, and which way am I going to go? I wanted to stay in the Church, my relatives, some of them are priests and nuns and so forth, but I can no longer participate in this because, you know, when I go to the Mass I’m pretending that this is the body and blood of Jesus being re-presented to the Father. It was contrary to what I now knew was the truth, and I was forced to leave.”
I remember sitting in Warsaw, Poland, talking with the—at that time—the leader of the Catholic Charismatic Movement. That’s another subject, Tom. About 70 million Catholic charismatics, and they’ve been supposedly baptized in the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues, and so forth, believe the gospel, and yet they are more in love with Mary, they are more in love with the Mass, they have become more devoted Roman Catholics than they were before—now that’s a contradiction! And I remember reasoning with this man, and he was telling me—and I came to the conclusion he really believed the gospel—and he was telling me, “Yes, but I want to stay in so that I can witness.”
I said, “If you witnessed openly, you tell the priest what you believe, or you tell these people the truth, and the truth you will have to tell them is that the sacrifice of the Mass is not biblical. As soon as you do that, you will be thrown out. But as long as you stay there and you participate in this, then you are not only condoning but you are giving your approval of this.” We had a long discussion, and he didn’t tell me at the time, but I learned later—he left the Catholic Church. He couldn’t possibly believe two contrary things and be true to both of them at the same time.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, a couple of things here. People say, “Oh, there they go! They’re dealing with Catholicism again; they’re bashing Catholics, and so on.” How could I possibly…I have loved ones, I have family members, who are Roman Catholics, and I love them so much! Why would I want to bash? What’s the point of it, Dave, what would it get us? What we want is for Roman Catholics to search the Scriptures, to come to their own conclusions. I mean, Dave, you just said earlier, they will not find these things in the Bible that they practice as Roman Catholics.
That’s what happened to me. As I began, after becoming a believer, as I began to search through the Scriptures, more and more the baggage that I sort of brought with me, beliefs and ideas that I had, I couldn’t find them in the Word of God. Now there are people who, Dave, just as you said, the Catholic charismatic renewal movement, there is also a movement called Evangelical Catholics. Now, there’s an interesting contradiction because they claim to be evangelicals, and they claim to be Roman Catholics. But an evangelical is one who—it’s the Word of God that is his or her authority. It’s what they look to. So now, how can you be both, when one thing, point after point after point, contradicts—one contradicts the other.
It is difficult. A person who is seeking truth begins to recognize some things in the Church, and, you know, many Catholics, if you look at some of the teachings of the Church, there have been surveys that said as many as 70 and 80 percent don’t believe what the Church teaches in major areas, whether it be contraception, even abortion—those numbers are pretty high. So, they are in a mode to say, “This I believe, and this I don’t believe.” But let’s take that a step further. I do believe that there are many—I can’t say many—but Catholics do come to Christ. They do believe the gospel—not because of what the church teaches but in spite of what it teaches. And then, now they have the problems, “Do I stay? Do I leave?” and there are a lot of factors that are problematic for them, family members, persecution, things that they have to deal with. Even the idea, as you mentioned earlier, that they have to stay and witness and be used. But there’s no feeding, there’s no teaching, and it’s—in a sense, it’s hypocritical because…or, I will take it a step further, it’s really a deception, because if you’re there and you recognize that the Mass or everybody going up to receive communion—well, I’m not going to look on it as the body and blood, soul and divinity, you know, of Jesus Christ that I am taking into my stomach. I’m just going to look at it as a memorial.
But the priest says—holds up the host, the wafer, says, “The body and blood of Christ.” And if you say, “Amen,” and you don’t believe it, you’re lying, it’s as simple as that. Not only are you propagating this delusion, at best, it’s a problem.
Dave: Well, Tom, let’s put it in these terms: “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.” If you do not believe the gospel you are not saved.
Tom: Whether you’re a Baptist or a Methodist or a Catholic.
Dave: That’s right. Now why would we even emphasize this? Because the eternal destiny of souls depends upon it. This is what the Bible teaches. This is not our teaching—this is what Jesus Christ said; this is what the apostles taught, and this is the Scripture, the Word of God. Therefore, we are concerned for the souls of Roman Catholics because they are being led astray. Their hope is in their Church.
And you mentioned so many of them, 70 to 80 percent, disagree with the Church on—well, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, abortion, and yes, celibacy, and so forth. But none of those issues will save you, and even people who stop going to the Catholic Church—they have become disillusioned with the Catholic Church, as you know—maybe they go to Mass on Easter and Christmas, but when they die, they want a Catholic funeral. They want the priest to give them the Extreme Unction, the last rites…
Tom: The viaticum, which gets them at least to purgatory.
Dave: Yes, and they want prayers afterward. So, they are still trusting in the Church for their salvation; they are trusting in the rituals, the sacraments, what the priest can do for them— they are not trusting in Jesus Christ, and they do not believe that Christ once and for all paid the full penalty for their sins, and all they need to do is trust Him for their salvation. But this is the gospel, and if they are not trusting Christ for their salvation, but they are trusting to Christ plus something else, then they are not saved! It’s that simple.
So this is the issue, and this is why we are concerned about this. Now, Tom, we live in a day of ecumenism. We live in a day when people…it’s popular to say “We’re all taking different roads to get to the same place.” When it’s popular to say, “Come on, don’t be narrow-minded and dogmatic! Live, and let live—don’t just split doctrinal hairs, don’t be so narrow-minded.” But, Tom, it’s not being narrow-minded. We’re not splitting doctrinal hairs. You can’t believe two contradictory propositions at the same time.
So what it boils down to, Tom, is, well, “It really doesn’t matter what you believe, so long as I’m sincere, it’s going to be okay, and God is going to accept me.” This is the attitude that they have, but you would know, and you could certainly speak with authority from experience. They are really trusting in the Church.
Tom: Dave, there is no doubt about it. But you know, the thing that’s really…
Dave: “This is the oldest…and the largest…and most highly honored, and look at the influence the pope has around the world! How could one billion people be wrong?” and so forth.
Tom: But, Dave, what’s getting to me more and more—as you know, six years ago I was involved with a number of other gentlemen putting together—not really a ministry, but we called it a cooperative—that is, many ministries that were involved in evangelizing Roman Catholics—we put together an organization called Reaching Catholics for Christ.
Now the main opposition to an organization like that, which we have seen over the years, having conference after conference, comes from the evangelical leadership and the evangelical community!
Now, Dave, the issue that you present—you’ve given your perspective, I’ve given some of mine. Let’s go to the Scriptures. Is this kind of splitting hairs? Does it not mean anything? and so on. Let’s go to Paul. Let’s go to the Epistle to the Galatians. Let me read to you, this is starting with chapter 1, verse 6. Paul is talking to believers here. You could say, “Well, these were evangelicals,” that’s where I’d like to put this. He says, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him who called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”
Anybody who looks to baptism or church attendance, and so on, are adding things to the gospel. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
Now he said it once. Verse 9, he is going to say it again: “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Dave: Anathema, amazing! Paul anathematized those who preached a false gospel. The Roman Catholic Church has more than a hundred anathemas. In the Council of Trent, for example, anathematizing, cursing, those who preach the true gospel. But, Tom, our concern is for the eternal destiny of these dear people, for the eternal destiny of everyone, whether Muslims or Catholics, or whoever they are, and there is only one way: “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leads to life.” Jesus said, “Few there be that find it.”
And if we reject the full payment that Christ has made for our sins upon the Cross—we add anything to it, we look to a church, we look to a priest, we look to rituals, sacraments, our own good works—we have rejected the offer of salvation that He has given us. We have rejected the payment He has made, and we have said it is not enough, and we have rejected the gift of eternal life, and that is our concern. Don’t look to some church, and don’t look to us, but look to God and to His Word, and see what He has to say because He has the final word on this. One day we will give an account to Him.